Your Morning Cup of Links

Happy Valentine’s Day, suckers. Flowers and candy? Forget that. Meat and booze bouquets are how you show someone you really care.

The most romantic classical music for Valentine’s Day. It’s a pretty great list, starting with one of my personal favorites, Korsakoff’s “Scheherazade.”

Continuing with the romantic theme, wink, wink, here’s William Faulkner explaining why writers should live in brothels.

In my opinion it’s the perfect milieu for an artist to work in. It gives him perfect economic freedom; he’s free of fear and hunger; he has a roof over his head and nothing whatever to do except keep a few simple accounts and to go once every month and pay off the local police. The place is quiet during the morning hours, which is the best time of the day to work. There’s enough social life in the evening, if he wishes to participate, to keep him from being bored…

President Obama proposed a pretty dramatic minimum wage increase in his SOTU address. A $9 minimum wage? Why not $90? A large minimum wage increase harms low skill workers and can increase unemployment. Keith Hennessey explains:

A minimum wage increase precludes employers from hiring, or from continuing to employ, those workers whose productive value to the firm is worth less than the new minimum wage. Like any price ceiling or price floor a minimum wage restricts supply, and an increase in the minimum wage restricts supply more. Raise the minimum wage and you will eliminate jobs for the lowest-skilled workers in America. Who are the lowest-skilled workers? Many of them are teenagers, new immigrants, and high school dropouts. They would be the most harmed by a minimum wage increase. Minimum wage increases are politically attractive because they sound like they’re going to help poor people and because the economic argument against it takes a little time and effort to explain.

Once again with today’s Democrats, it’s all about intentions, even if the results don’t actually help people.

Victor Davis Hanson has a great article outlining how unbelievably hypocritical Obama is. All politicians are, but this guy takes the cake. He condemned Bush’s counterterrorism policies as “criminal,” but has kept almost all of them and even expanded some (like the drone program); he ripped Bush for thinking he can “do whatever he wants,” which Obama does constantly, whipping out, or threatening to whip out, an executive order whenever he doesn’t get his way; and the latest example is the appointment of Jack Lew…

Obama also promised a radical reform, both legal and spiritual, of the big-money nexus between Wall Street and the federal government. He especially jawboned firms that had taken federal bailout money and then given big bonuses to executives who had overseen losses — while he made frequent promises of implementing fair-share taxation and ending offshore tax avoidance, lobbyists in government, and the revolving door. Obama’s two appointments to the position of secretary of the Treasury scarcely meet his rhetorical flourishes. Timothy Geithner was a confessed tax dodger in a fashion that was both trivial and selfish. Treasury designate Jack Lew took a million-dollar bonus while a grandee at Citigroup, an ailing company that was a recipient of massive infusions of federal cash. Recent disclosures suggest that Lew had Caribbean offshore investments in the very Potemkin building in the Caymans that Obama so dramatically derided as symptomatic of 1-percenter pathology. Former budget director Peter Orszag went from the administration into a six-figure job at Citigroup. By Washington standards, none of this is unusual; but by the standard of Obama’s own sanctimonious rhetoric it is shocking.

Brings to mind a verse from Moliere’s great character in The Misanthrope, Alceste:

“And not this man alone, but all humanity

Do what they do from interest and vanity;

They prate of honor, truth and righteousness,

But lie, betray and swindle nonetheless.

Come then: man’s villainy is too much to bear;

Let’s leave this jungle and this jackal’s lair.

Pablo Neruda’s body is going to be exhumed in Chile in an attempt to put to rest the controversy over the poet’s cause of death.

How’s Egypt doing two years after the fall of Mubarak? As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar:

“If thou consider rightly of the matter, Caesar has had great wrong.”

“Has he, masters? I fear there will a worse come in his place.”

And a worse has come in his place, with the reign of Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Two years after the refrain “the people want to topple the regime” filled Tahrir Square, it is now Egypt itself that is toppling. Street violence has pitted various groups against each other—anarchists against Islamists, policemen against protesters, men against women—and has left scores dead throughout the country. The economy is hemorrhaging reserves and incapable of securing foreign investment, while Egypt’s currency tumbles to record lows. The international community, captivated two years ago by the revolution, has little confidence that Egypt’s new rulers can make peace between the country’s feuding factions. If the conventional wisdom among Western policymakers holds that Egypt is too big to be allowed to fail, the stark reality is that by many measures it is already failing.

There is a potential silver lining:

The good news regarding Egypt is brief, but noteworthy: Those forecasts auguring from the entrails of Mubarak’s demise the birth of a universal Muslim Brotherhood-run caliphate stretching from North Africa to the Persian Gulf were off by a very wide mark. The Islamist organization, which has been building its political base and waiting in the shadows to take power since its 1928 founding, turns out to be incapable even of governing Egypt.

The Harry Potter books are getting new covers. Looks good to me.

Radiohead is getting back together for a ninth album? Happy Freaking Valentine’s Day!

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Filed under Literature, Music, Politics, Uncategorized

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