Thursday Open Comments

David P. Goldman has his say about Robert A. Zimmerman.

bob dylan press 1 .jpg

                          Americans Are Not a ‘Folk’ and Bob Dylan Is Not Our Poet                   

What passed for “folk music” in the 1940s and 1950s, by contrast, was the remnant of English ballad preserved in isolated Appalachian communities, as rediscovered by musicologists. Joan Baez made a specialty of such things. John and Alan Lomax gathered Appalachian music, African-American music, and other scraps and shards distant from the American mainstream as an expression of authentic “folk” culture. The entire “folk” movement was Stalinist through and through (including Woody Guthrie, who was a Communist Party hanger-on and probably a member. How do I know this? My late mother was Arlo’s nursery-school teacher in the Red Brooklyn of the 1940s).


Dylan understood the biblical self-creation that stood at the heart of American culture, and how easily American devotion could turn silly. His first electric efforts produced what I still think his funniest line: “God said to Abraham: ‘Kill me a son’/Abe said, ‘Man, you must be puttin me on.'” Dylan was clever and insightful, but also lazy and contemptuous of his audience. One gem per song was enough, he seemed to think. The gems tend to be buried in the predictable filler that makes up most of his lyrics. The genre he chose was in part responsible: it was lampoon of a lampoon, a send-up of a mock-up.


And so it is with Bob Dylan, parodist, satirist, scammer and snake-oil salesman par excellence. He never hid from us what he had in mind: he’s been playing with our heads since high school, finding the lever that loosened our tears, and our wallets. He caught a wave in the early 1960s with the folk revival movement, itself a hoax. We Americans are not a “folk,” not in the sense that Johann Gottfried Herder used the term. We do not have the deep memory of autochthonous roots that characterizes European cultures, the hand-me-downs of long-lost pagan experience. We are a people self-created by religious and political impulse.

Wednesday Open Comments


How seaweed eating super cows will save the world

Past studies found that around 90 percent of methane from cows actually stems from their burps, rather than gaseous emissions from the other end, and the UN report confirms this. Because of that tidy little tidbit, scientists have been working for years to fidget with cows’ digestive systems in an effort to reduce those toxic burps. In 2014, experiments found that adding garlic to cows’ diets could reduce their methane emissions by 40 percent but, at the time, they hadn’t yet determined how to keep the garlic from transferring to the flavor of the cows’ milk. A study the following year tinkered with the use of a controversial hormone treatment to speed up conception in young cows, translating into more milk production per cow without the need for additional land, thereby having the effect of reducing methane emissions for small farms. That technique has so far only been used in computer modeling, and is not expected to be introduced to living cows for quite some time, if ever.

Quit messing with my meat.

Weekend Open Comments


Make America Victorious Again

By Angelo M. Codevilla

Since Woodrow Wilson, Progressive Democratic and Republican statesmen have confused America’s interest with mankind’s. In practice, they have taken upon themselves the role of mankind’s stewards (or sheriffs, leaders, pillars of order, or whatever) and acted as if, in Wilson’s words, America has “no reason for being” except to “stand for the right of men,” to be “champions of humanity.” Accordingly, a series of statesmen has forsaken war and diplomacy for strictly American ends and with means adequate to achieve them, and adopted foredoomed schemes pursued halfheartedly—Charles Evans Hughes (commitment to China’s integrity and renunciation of the means to uphold it), Franklin Roosevelt (seeking world co-domination with Stalin and the U.N. to banish “ancient evils, ancient ills”), Harry Truman (pursuing peace through no-win war in Korea), Nixon/Kissinger (scuttling Vietnam to help entice the Soviets into a grand detente), George W. Bush (democratizing the Middle East because America can’t be free unless and until the whole world is free).


The U.S. government and the rest of the foreign policy class was on autopilot. On the basis of its own common sense and agenda, it counted Reagan an interloper and thwarted his proposals at almost every turn. Notably, it prevented his main departure from settled national security policy—Reagan, unlike the presidents who came before him and after him, wanted to defend America against ballistic missiles—from bearing fruit. The Soviets feared this most, and the U.S foreign policy class worked hand in glove with them to thwart Reagan. Moreover, by the end of the Reagan Administration the U.S. government was extending and facilitating untied loans to the Soviet government to keep it alive, a policy accelerated under George H.W. Bush. None should forget that, on August 1, 1991, as the Soviet monster was croaking, Bush read to an incredulous crowd in Kiev a speech drafted by Condoleezza Rice advising Ukrainians to be content as Soviet citizens. The foreign policy class and Ronald Reagan were from different planets.

and recall this,

“It is no coincidence,” as the Soviets used to say, that as America’s no-win policy in Vietnam was becoming undeniable and America’s third world creatures were reverting to type, growing disrespect for America burst into terrorism in the mid-1960s—tentatively at first, but growing in self-assurance and quantity as the U.S. reaction encouraged it. In December 1965 the Soviet Union gathered terrorist groups small and large in Havana for the Tricontinental Conference, whose symbol was a globe resting on crossed submachine guns and whose working groups examined techniques for terrorizing Americans. Terrorists from around the world exchanged best practices through World Marxist Review, published in Prague. Castro was the first to encourage would be revolutionaries to hijack airplanes to Cuba. Our foreign policy class refused to countenance responding forcefully to this act of war. Instead, it persuaded President Nixon to ban guns on commercial aircraft. The FAA also required passengers not to resist hijackers, a regulation that made 9/11 possible.

Read the whole thing.

* classic literary reference in the photo