What You Should Know: Hebdo/Obama/Ross Edition

Parisians defied terrorists and bought Charlie Hebdo in droves.

As New York Times media critic David Carr notes in his column, that’s great news for supporters of free speech, newspapers and satire. Also, terrible news for extremist radicals.08

The overwhelming response to the special issue of the newspaper, which normally has a print run of 60,000, is a sign that the citizens buying it wanted more than just a totem memorializing the fallen journalists; they were making an affirmative, political act, a vote in support of free speech. Just last month, consumers had responded in large numbers to the opportunity to stream “The Interview,” the Sony film that had been withdrawn from theaters after the studio was hacked by forces supported by the government of North Korea.

The message is clear and powerful: Dictators and rogue states are free to control what is seen by people who labor under their rule, but the rest of us have no interest in living like that, where others control the movies in theaters or the selections on newsstands. We may or may not all be Charlie Hebdo, but we certainly want to be free to read the paper if we wish.

Surprise, surprise: People disagree about whether Obama will be well-received by history.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

President Barack Obama is a divisive figure, so it should come as no surprise that New York magazine’s poll of 53 notable historians found that they, too, have various opinions about him.

They all agreed that Obama, as the first black president, will be remembered as a historic figure in at least that one regard. And they all cited the Affordable Care Act as the most consequential piece of legislation he’s signed into law.

Will history remember him well, though? The answers ranged from a resounding “Hell yes!” to a forceful “Are you kidding me?” Click here to read through historians’ responses.

As for an in-depth look as to why history might fondly look back on Obama, here’s New York columnist Jonathan Chait:

It is my view that history will be very generous with Barack Obama, who has compiled a broad record of accomplishment through three-quarters of his presidency. But if it isn’t, it will be for a highly ironic reason: Our historical memory tends to romance, too. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fatherly reassurance, a youthful Kennedy tossing footballs on the White House lawn, Reagan on horseback — the craving for emotional sustenance and satisfying drama runs deep. Though the parade of Obama’s Katrinas will all be (and mostly already have been) consigned to the forgotten afterlife of cable-news ephemera, it is not yet certain whether this president can bind his achievements into any heroic narrative.

 As for why not, The Weekly Standard‘s Christopher Caldwell:

Obama’s reputation will also have something in common with that of the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who believed history and technology have a direction and that his job was to align his country with it, no matter how illogical or undesirable it might appear to his countrymen. Like Gorbachev, Obama will be esteemed in certain quarters a generation from now, but probably more by foreigners than fellow citizens, and more by his country’s enemies than its friends.

President Ross received a 16-percent raise over break and proceeded to promptly withdraw his Nebraska candidacy.

Coincidence? Maybe. Great timing on the Board of Trustees’ part, though. More on the raise from CM Life:

George Ross
George Ross

While he is being considered for a position as president of the University of Nebraska, George Ross saw his base salary rise to $430,000.

Trustees have made it no secret that Ross’ status as one of four finalists for president of the University of Nebraska has made them more aggressive in keeping him at Central Michigan University. Several trustees voiced their support and asked him to stay at CMU during the Dec. 9 Board of Trustees meeting.

However, Kanine said the board did not compare salaries with the University of Nebraska in making the adjustment.

Nebraska President James Milliken was paid $431,276 before leaving the position in May 2014, just $1,276 more than Ross’ new salary at CMU.

Hmm, interesting.


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