Originally posted on Quartz:
Bob Dylan’s songs often feature surreal and cryptic lyrics. Many academic papers and even entire college courses have been devoted to trying to interpret them.
The legendary singer songwriter is also extremely commercially savvy. He has a new album coming out next month, and in what might prove to be a clever stunt, he’s giving away 50,000 CD copies of it to members of the AARP (American Association of Retired People).
This is significant for the music industry, and we’ll get to that. But comments Dylan made in an interview with AARP Magazine to promote the album and the giveaway are arguably even more interesting:
The government’s not going to create jobs. It doesn’t have to. People have to create jobs, and these big billionaires are the ones who can do it.
This sounds like classic conservative economics, a surprising thing for the anti-establishment hero of the 1960s to say. Indeed,
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— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) January 26, 2015
[VIDEO] Reid’s Obstructionist-Era Senate Ends, McConnell Era Begins : Already More Amendments Voted On Than All Of 2014Posted: January 24, 2015
Largest Protest Since Houthis Rebels Swept into the Capital
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Tens of thousands of Yemenis marched in protest on Saturday against Shiite rebels who hold the capital, amid a power vacuum in a country that is home to what Washington describes as al-Qaida‘s most dangerous offshoot.
Some 20,000 hit the streets of the capital, Sanaa, where demonstrators converged on the house of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who resigned Thursday along with his Cabinet. It was the largest protest since the rebels, known as Houthis, swept into the capital in September.
Protesters carried banners and chanted slogans denouncing the rebels and demanding the restoration of the president. Scuffles involving knives and batons broke out in one instance in Sanaa when the rebels tried to block one procession, leaving two demonstrators and one Houthi injured. Read the rest of this entry »
— Robert Holguin (@ABC7Robert) January 23, 2015
BEIJING—Acknowledging that its current programs are insufficient to meet the needs of a fast-paced, 21st-century population, the Chinese Ministry of Justice held a press conference Friday affirming its commitment to fixing the nation’s crumbling reeducation system.
“We are falling well short of the reeducation needs of this country and failing a whole generation of dissidents. We need better reeducators who know how to use modern teaching and disciplinary technologies if we want to inspire our people to become fully subservient pawns of the state.”
According to government officials, the steady decline in the quality of reeducation is evidenced by the system’s serious overcrowding, dilapidated correctional facilities, and outdated propaganda materials, which have left a large percentage of China’s political prisoners unprepared for life as obedient citizens.
“For China to remain competitive, it is of the utmost importance that we hire administrators who have the passion and know-how to promote the inability to think independently.”
“We are falling well short of the reeducation needs of this country and failing a whole generation of dissidents,” said justice minister Wu Aiying, lamenting that many institutions currently rely on standardized reprogramming curriculums that haven’t been updated since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. “We need better reeducators who know how to use modern teaching and disciplinary technologies if we want to inspire our people to become fully subservient pawns of the state.”
“The last thing we want is for state prisoners to fall behind and end up getting stuck in the system for several extra years. If we get them out there, we know they can thrive as pliant mouthpieces for the Communist Party.”
“It is crucial that we find ways to attract the best instructors to our facilities, the devoted ones who aren’t just in it for the paycheck,” Wu added. “For China to remain competitive, it is of the utmost importance that we hire administrators who have the passion and know-how to promote the inability to think independently.”
Speaking candidly with reporters, several top Justice Ministry officials admitted that the majority of reeducators do not actively engage with China’s largest generation of prisoners to date, noting that most instructors lack passion and enthusiasm for their daily thought-suppression and punishment sessions. Read the rest of this entry »
New York Times Magazine forced to admit that Megyn Kelly might be great at her job
This piece from New York Times Magazine wouldn’t be all that remarkable were it not for who was writing it and who the subject was. It’s a rather rare moment when anyone from the elite enclaves of their Manhattan offices comes down to Earth and actually has something nice to say about any of the Fox News crew, and it’s a surprisingly candid and positive piece about evening desk host Megyn Kelly. But even for the honest appraisal, the author can’t seem to help acting surprised that Kelly actually takes people to task from both sides of the aisle in what he calls a “Megyn Moment.”
For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a Megyn moment, as I have taken to calling it, is when you, a Fox guest — maybe a regular guest or even an official contributor — are pursuing a line of argument that seems perfectly congruent with the Fox worldview, only to have Kelly seize on some part of it and call it out as nonsense, maybe even turn it back on you. You don’t always know when, how or even if the Megyn moment will happen; Kelly’s political sensibility and choice of subjects are generally in keeping with that of the network at large.
But you always have to be ready for it, no matter who you are. Neither Karl Rove nor Dick Cheney have been spared their Megyn moments, nor will the growing field of 2016 presidential aspirants, who can look forward to two years of interrogation on “The Kelly File.” The Megyn moment has upended the popular notion of how a Fox News star is supposed to behave, and led to the spectacle of a Fox anchor winning praise from the very elites whose disdain Fox has always welcomed. In the process, Kelly’s program has not just given America’s top-rated news channel its biggest new hit in 13 years; it has demonstrated an appeal to the younger and (slightly) more ideologically diverse demographic Fox needs as it seeks to claim even more territory on the American journo-political landscape.
[VIDEO] White House’s Pay Gap for Women: Watch Valerie Jarrett’s Evasive Response When Confronted by Carly FiorinaPosted: January 21, 2015
Noah Rothman writes: As part of President Barack Obama’s annual effort to provoke Republicans and cheer up disheartened Democrats, the president touched on a theme that he has deployed effectively in the past that is designed to inflame tensions between the genders: The idea that women are systematically discriminated against in the workplace….(read the full text here, at Hot Air)
“The average female employee at the White House earns about $78,400, while the average male employee earns about $88,600. That’s a gap of 13 percent – the same percentage as 2009, when the average woman made about $72,700 and the average man earned about $82,000…”
…By the administration’s own dubious calculations, the White House pays women less than their male counterparts in similar positions – a condition that persists long after it was first revealed by investigative reporters.
“…Women tend to hold more junior positions than men, and among White House leadership just 53 female officials make more than $100,000 compared to 87 males who do.”
– CBS News report from June 2014
White House advisor Valerie Jarrett was confronted over this disparity, and the hypocrisy associated with the president’s regular hectoring of others for a sin in which he also indulges, by potential Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina on Wednesday in an appearance on MSNBC.
“I’m also struck by the fact that the single greatest impediment to equal pay for equal work is the seniority system, which pays not on merit, not on performance, but on time and grade.”
– Carly Fiorina
Fiorina noted that, not only are there already anti-discrimination laws on the books and if women are truly being discriminated against, they have a legal recourse. Moreover, she added, the president is not leading on the issue because he cannot even address the pay disparity in his own White House based on the administration’s problematic calculations.
“And who is it that supports the seniority system? Unions. Government bureaucracies. The vast majority of constituencies that the Democratic Party represents and who supports the Democratic Party.”
– Carly Fiorina
“In the White House, women do earn equal pay for equal work,” Jarrett replied unconvincingly. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON—Speaking to reporters as he ran a tattered extension cord along the House of Representatives rostrum this afternoon, Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that he had arrived early in order to set up a fog machine for tonight’s State of the Union address.
“This baby kicks out the fog like you wouldn’t believe, but you gotta give her plenty of time to warm up if you want the whole room to fill up real thick.”
said Biden while carefully mixing water and glycerin according to his own homemade “fog juice” recipe, which he explained he’d been using since his brief stint as a roadie on White Lion’s Pride tour in 1987.
“I wanted to do this thing up right with a whole laser rig and shit, but that would’ve set me back mucho dinero. But don’t you worry; Uncle Joe knows a few tricks with strobes that’ll get the crowd going.”
At press time, Biden was reportedly double-checking the timers on a set of flash pots in order to avoid another congressional aide losing their fingers in a pyrotechnic mishap. Read the rest of this entry »
As regulators weigh imposing net neutrality on the Web, Congress tries to pre-empt government overreach
Robert M. McDowell writes: The Federal Communications Commission is about to answer the most important question in its 80-year history: Does the agency intend to protect the open Internet, or is it lunging to seize unlimited power over the Web? We’ll find out on Feb. 26 when the FCC votes on “net-neutrality” rules that would treat the Internet like a public utility, with regulators potentially setting rates, terms and conditions for providers.
Meanwhile, the new Congress is maneuvering to change the net-neutrality equation, with hearings in the House and Senate beginning Wednesday. Republicans circulated draft bills on Friday to pre-empt the FCC’s overreaching new rules while still attaining the White House’s ostensible policy goals. Even congressional supporters of net neutrality, wary of increasing FCC power over something as vast and crucial as the Internet, are working to draft an alternative.
While Republicans and Democrats try to work out a deal, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler should hit the pause button on next month’s vote and let the elected representatives of the American people try to find common ground. At the end of this constitutional process, all sides may be able to claim victory.
“For opponents of new FCC rules, the bills could take Title II off the table; restore regulatory certainty; protect free speech; and create a legal firewall that would protect investment and innovation in the Web’s computer-network infrastructures from more government meddling.”
For years Washington has debated how to keep the Internet open and free from government or private coercion. Regulation proponents have argued that new rules are needed to prevent Internet service providers, such as phone, wireless and cable companies, from blocking or degrading the online content or applications consumers want. Though no market failure exists, and regulators have never conducted a study to diagnose the alleged potential illness, the FCC has twice tried to impose new rules on the Web. Each time it lost in court.
“This would also send a strong signal to foreign governments and international regulatory bodies that they should not smother the Web with antiquated rules designed in an era when people held their phones with two hands.”
The tragedy of this debate is that no one, including phone, wireless and cable companies, has ever contested the goals of keeping the Internet open. It has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was privatized in the mid-1990s because it is protected under existing antitrust and consumer-protection laws. Instead, the fight has been over how much regulatory power the FCC should wield. Read the rest of this entry »
In the early 1960s, hundreds of anti-Castro Cubans took refuge on the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay. Half a century later, two dozen of them still live here…
“Nobody, including the Iranians, has any faith in the fact that he will actually impose sanctions.”
On Friday’s Special Report, Charles Krauthammer said the Iranians do not believe President Obama will impose sanctions on their country if current negotiations fall through… Read the rest of this entry »
Charles Krauthammer writes: On Sunday, at the great Paris rally, the whole world was Charlie. By Tuesday, the veneer of solidarity was exposed as tissue thin. It began dissolving as soon as the real, remaining Charlie Hebdo put out its post-massacre issue featuring a Muhammad cover that, as the New York Times put it, “reignited the debate pitting free speech against religious sensitivities.”
“As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible.”
Again? Already? Had not 4 million marchers and 44 foreign leaders just turned out on the streets of France to declare “No” to intimidation, and pledging solidarity, indeed identification (“Je suis Charlie”) with a satirical weekly specializing in the most outrageous and often tasteless portrayals of Muhammad? And yet, within 48 hours, the new Charlie Hebdo issue featuring the image of Muhammad — albeit a sorrowful, indeed sympathetic Muhammad — sparked new protests, denunciations and threats of violence, which in turn evinced another round of doubt and self-flagellation in the West about the propriety and limits of free expression. Hopeless.
As for President Obama, he never was Charlie, not even for those 48 hours. From the day of the massacre, he has been practically invisible. At the interstices of various political rallies, he issued bits of muted, mealy-mouthed boilerplate. Followed by the now-famous absence of any high-ranking U.S. official at the Paris rally, an abdication of moral and political leadership for which the White House has already admitted error.
“On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington.”
But this was no mere error of judgment or optics or, most absurdly, of communications in which we are supposed to believe that the president was not informed by staff about the magnitude, both actual and symbolic, of the demonstration he ignored. (He needed to be told?)
On the contrary, the no-show, following the near silence, precisely reflected the president’s profound ambivalence about the very idea of the war on terror. Obama began his administration by purging the phrase from the lexicon of official Washington. He has ever since shuttled between saying that (a) the war must end because of the damage “keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing” was doing to us, and (b) the war has already ended, as he suggested repeatedly during the 2012 campaign, with bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda “on the run.”
During the White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest discussed the administration’s decision not to send a high-level official to a march honoring the victims of last week’s attack on a satirical newspaper and said the French ambassador would go to the White House later that day.
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) January 16, 2015
Anti-Castro Cubans fled to the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay 50 years ago—and never left…
For the Free World, an Old Challenge Returns: The Charlie Hebdo massacre has reignited debate over how much intolerance our society should tolerate
Michael Barone writes:
…It’s a difficult issue, one without any entirely satisfactory answer. And it’s a current issue in the days after 40 world leaders and the U.S. ambassador to France marched together in Paris against the jihadist Muslim murderers who targeted the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
English-speaking peoples, to use Winston Churchill’s phrase, have been dealing with this problem off and on for 300 years. In the late 17th century, most of continental Europe had established state churches and prohibited or disfavored other worship. England had an established church but also tolerated other forms of worship, including by Jews who were invited back into the country by Oliver Cromwell.
“European nations seem likely to recoil from a vaguely defined multiculturalism that endorses the isolation of Muslim communities and toward the sense, long stronger in America, that potentially intolerant immigrants should assimilate toward national norms of toleration.”
But the English people regarded the Catholic Church as a threat to their liberty. The English saw the great hegemon of the age, Louis XIV, as expanding the zone of intolerance through foreign invasion and the withdrawal in 1685 of tolerance of the Protestant Huguenots.
“In the 20th century, the problem of how far to tolerate intolerance flared with the growth of a significant Communist movement subordinate to the totalitarian Soviet Union.”
An earlier pope had called for the murder of Queen Elizabeth I, and a perennial English bestseller was Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, recounting the persecution of Protestants under her Catholic predecessor Mary I. So after the Catholic King James II was ousted in the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89, Parliament passed a Toleration Act that explicitly refused Catholics the right to hold public office or serve as military officers. There was a widespread belief that a Jesuit doctrine entitled Catholics to falsely swear oaths of loyalty if they had a “mental reservation.” Catholics, in this view, were intolerant and could not be trusted even if they swore they were not.
“Congress responded in 1940 by making it a crime to advocate the violent overthrow of the United States. Free-speech advocates argued this went too far; violent revolutionary actions might be proscribed, but people should not be punished for uttering words. I tend to take this view, but there are obviously serious arguments on both sides.”
America’s Founding Fathers took a different view. Read the rest of this entry »