Reason's Nick Gillespie suggests that the national nightmare will continue.  "Come the end of the Senate trial that starts today, Trump will almost certainly still be in office, Democrats and Republicans will hate each other even more, and trust and confidence in Washington will be even lower than it already is."

The problem, he notes, is that the usual suspects in the usual venues will see in this manifestation of government failure a case for ... reforming and expanding the powers of government.
Again and again—and in countries all over the world—declines in trust of government correlate strongly with calls for more government regulation in more parts of our lives. "Individuals in low-trust countries want more government intervention even though they know the government is corrupt," explain the authors of a 2010 Quarterly Journal of Economics paper. That's certainly the case in the United States, where the size, scope, and spending of government has vastly increased over exactly the same period in which trust and confidence in the government has cratered. In 2018, I talked with one of the paper's authors, Andrei Shleifer, a Harvard economist who grew up in the Soviet Union before coming to America. Why do citizens ask a government they don't believe in to bring order? "They want regulation," he said. "They want a dictator who will bring back order."
Put another way, emergence is likely to produce better results, but emergence, being messy, is scary.


A British columnist called Vicky Spratt decries "The Dangerous Rise Of Men Who Won’t Date 'Woke' Women."  Apparently a British entertainer called Laurence Fox has stepped into it.
Laurence Fox – who you perhaps only knew as Billie Piper’s ex-husband because you’ve never seen Lewis (what?) – does not date “woke” women who he believes are being taught that they are “victims”, irrespective of whether they are right or not. He thinks that it’s “institutionally racist” to tell the story of the First World War in a racially diverse way, irrespective of the fact that Sikh soldiers absolutely fought for Britain. And he also doesn’t believe in white privilege, irrespective of the fact that he works in a painfully undiverse industry, was privately educated and comes from a wealthy acting family which is nothing short of a dynasty.
Sound the alarms, commence the deplorable shaming!
Fox is denying racism and sexism, irrespective of whether or not they exist. It’s nothing short of gaslighting. It’s all very Donald Trump. And as you would expect, the whole debacle has lit a fire under anti-woke poster boy Piers Morgan while gaining Fox thousands of extra Twitter followers.

I could go over all the things he’s said; I could use data to prove how wrong he is; I could express concern for his mental health (after all, who really enjoys arguing on Twitter?); I could make jokes about his behaviour. But all of that would be to seriously miss the point.

There’s nothing funny about the things Fox – or Wokey McWokeface as he now wants to be known – is saying. It’s also not particularly sad. It’s dangerous. He is just one very privileged man, and as a result of said privilege, has been given a platform. And he has used that platform to legitimise a bigger backlash against diversity and progress which is unfolding every single day in less public corners of the internet.

Not wanting to date “woke” women, far from being laughable, is actually one of the more insidious aspects of it. Spend an afternoon on any major dating app and you’ll come across (generally white) men saying openly sexist and misogynistic things.
The columnist knows these things because she recently had a bad experience with an online matching service.

The good news is people like her generally come with warning labels.  Gentlemen, you don't have to post annoying requests like "no psychos."  You also don't have to continue with a match that will only go nowhere.

Let the cads stay home nursing their beers, and the wokesters stay home nurturing their cats.



The last full day of operations of the North Shore Line was 20 January, 1963.

I've offered (autobiographical) retrospectives over the years.

The Chicago Tribune posted its own retrospective.

The first photograph is historic for reasons the captioner might not know.

Unattributed photograph retrieved from Chicago Tribune.

This Milwaukee Limited is loading passengers at the Dempster Street station in Skokie.  The station building still stands, it has subsequently been moved a few yards away from the tracks, and it's home to a coffee shop.  Look closely and you'll see a stack for a coal stove on several of the cars.  In later years, many cars received electric heat, but not lead car 765, as it was wrecked in a level crossing accident at State Line Road, and subsequently written off for scrap.

The slideshow captures the essential elements of the North Shore Line, including its use as the "Flying Streetcar," with the last load of boots returning to Great Lakes at the end of liberty, on the last night the railroad ran.  I can't vouch for that picture, that night was bitter cold and the recruits are in their summer whites.  Perhaps the reference is to the last train of the night.


The propagandists of Oxfam would like to guilt-trip the Ruling Class at their upcoming gathering in Davos, Switzerland. "Our broken economies are lining the pockets of billionaires and big business at the expense of ordinary men and women. No wonder people are starting to question whether billionaires should even exist."

They even provide an animated graphic. (Am I rude to ask how many billionaires might have been involved in making the graphic possible?)

Are there any questions?

Yes.  First, might it be possible that on average, each of the world's 4.6 billion people might have been made more than $2,136.55 better off by trades over the years it has taken for those 2,153 billionaires to emerge?

Second, why aren't those billionaires seeking even more money hiring that cheap labor in Africa?

Third, what could you do in the days of the Pharaohs to accumulate $10,000 (or its equivalent in shekels or talents or drachma or what have you) each day in the first place?  What magic is at work, and in what way is it more powerful than compound interest?

Fourth, in what way does "unpaid care work" differ from "Father earns, Mother keeps house?"  (How much trouble can I get into extending that argument? )

Fifth, might there be more efficient ways of discovering (jobs can never be created) those 117 million new jobs than by using government (including the institutions of the Davos international order) as tax collector and middleman?

Not for the Common Dreams types.
In a statement from the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation that acknowledged Oxfam's latest figures on global wealth inequality, commissioner Magdalena SepĂșlveda warned that "if multinationals—and the super-rich—do not pay their fair share of taxes, governments cannot invest in access to education, healthcare, and decent pensions, or take measures to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis."
Doesn't that presuppose that there are functioning governments, and people making money in the first place? Perhaps that's the case in the developed world, but in the impoverished places, the places under military or kleptocratic rule, in places where religious law overrules Scottish Enlightenment values?


I won't put this Inside Higher Ed passage in the same category of understatement as my title, which experienced readers will recognize from the day Challenger exploded.
Evergreen’s enrollment started dropping after the end of the financial crisis. To be sure, many colleges are dealing with low enrollment because of declining birth rates that have resulted in fewer Americans of traditional college age. But at Evergreen, enrollment has dropped by 1,000 students since 2017, to about 2,900, indicating something else might be at play. Of course, the strong progressive bent on campus might be a turn-off to some, especially after student protesters made national news in 2017 for occupying the president's office and calling for a professor to be fired.
The so-called progressives are learning another lesson, one that you'd think their older mentors might have raised, namely, that the only thing worse than grades and class ranks is the absence of grades and class ranks.
Now courses have been reorganized around 11 “paths of study,” with themes like political economy, math and computer science, food and agriculture, and Native American and indigenous programs. All courses will now be marked with their level, from introductory to advanced. The college, which has traditionally had a curriculum that changes every year, will now commit to a five-year plan of offerings.
That "political economy" course of study is probably heavy on Marx and light on Ricardo or Ely, but that's why we have school choice at the college level.

Read on, though, and note that history rhymes.
George Bridges, president of the college, said the student population at Evergreen now wants different things out of college than students who may have attended Evergreen in past decades. Evergreen’s acceptance rate is about 97 percent. The student population now has a high number of first-generation college students and military veterans. About half of all students are transfers from community colleges.

“They have a very different vision of what college would be and have different needs,” Bridges said. “They want to leave Evergreen with a degree they can use in a career, in a market,” and that’s explicable to employers. Students who attended in past decades grew up in a different economic climate, he said, and weren't seeking such specific outcomes.
Put another way, you can imagine no market tests, but you'd better conduct yourself as if your graduates are subject to market tests.


Two chroniclers of the Coastal Establishment, Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, have a new book out that will make the Credentialed Wise comfortable with their prejudices.  Here's how they describe a meeting Our President had with assorted Military Brass in the Sanctum Profanum in the Pentagon.  "One hundred fifty-​­two years after Lincoln hatched plans to preserve the Union, President Trump’s advisers staged an intervention inside the Tank to try to preserve the world order."  It continues, characterizing Our President as somewhere between misinformed and deliberately obtuse.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump’s knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.
Read on, though, and it sounds a lot like members of the Permanent Government chastising this outsider for daring to question The Way Things Are. "Rather than getting him to appreciate America’s traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses."  That's the conclusion, but perhaps the way in which the Experts delivered their message contributed.
Mattis devised a strategy to use terms the impatient president, schooled in real estate, would appreciate to impress upon him the value of U.S. investments abroad. He sought to explain why U.S. troops were deployed in so many regions and why America’s safety hinged on a complex web of trade deals, alliances, and bases across the globe.

An opening line flashed on the screen, setting the tone: “The post-war international rules-based order is the greatest gift of the greatest generation.” Mattis then gave a 20-minute briefing on the power of the NATO alliance to stabilize Europe and keep the United States safe. Bannon thought to himself, “Not good. Trump is not going to like that one bit.” The internationalist language Mattis was using was a trigger for Trump.
The reporters can't quite say "the presenters condescended to the deplorable," but read on and judge for yourself. "Trump appeared peeved by the schoolhouse vibe but also allergic to the dynamic of his advisers talking at him. His ricocheting attention span led him to repeatedly interrupt the lesson. He heard an adviser say a word or phrase and then seized on that to interject with his take."

The first observation Our President could have made is something along the lines of "look what all that complexity has gotten you."  Granted, not his style, but look at the fruits of nuance.
Trump mused about removing General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in charge of troops in Afghanistan. “I don’t think he knows how to win,” the president said, impugning Nicholson, who was not present at the meeting.

[General Joseph] Dunford [the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff -- Ed.] tried to come to Nicholson’s defense, but the mild-mannered general struggled to convey his points to the irascible president.

“Mr. President, that’s just not . . .,” Dunford started. “We’ve been under different orders.”

Dunford sought to explain that he hadn’t been charged with annihilating the enemy in Afghanistan but was instead following a strategy started by the Obama administration to gradually reduce the military presence in the country in hopes of training locals to maintain a stable government so that eventually the United States could pull out.
New president, new orders. The biggest mistake George W. Bush made after September 11 might have been to renounce his renunciation of nation-building wars: it doesn't matter whether it is he or Barack Obama saying "as they stand up, we stand down." Didn't happen, won't happen.  If you're a devotee of the permanent government, as Daily Beast writer Jamie Ross appears to be, it's more evidence that the current president is not competent.
One senior official summed up the meeting: “We needed to change how he thinks about this, to course correct... They were dismayed and in shock when not only did it not have the intended effect, but he dug in his heels and pushed it even further on the spectrum, further solidifying his views.”
I recall a famous course correction from nearly thirty years ago, namely President Clinton becoming upset that the financial markets (f***ing bond traders) could put a stop to any of his attempts to introduce Robert Reich and Hillary Rodham style socialism.  He triangulated, he got re-elected, he got serviced by Monica, and yet there were mutterings around the common room and in the pages of The Nation or The Progressive about "best Republican president ever."

Don Surber, whose loyalties are clearly with Our President, offers a different perspective.  That visit to the Sanctum Profanum, and the prepared presentations?
It is called condescension. Pentagon officials thought they knew more about geography than a man who built skyscrapers and resorts around the world.
That's a deflection: it's possible to have expertise in estimating the value of concrete and not grasp the utility of a garrison at Fort Sumter, but Our President is on stronger constitutional grounds rejecting the counsel of the Wise Experts.
The first thing a recruit learns in basic training is the chain of command. At the top is the commander-in-chief, the President of the United States. I do not care how many stars you have, the president is the commander-in-chief.
New president, new commander's intentions.
President Trump is in charge. They don't like it.

They are not dealing with another pushover president. That is the whole problem in Washington. None of the GS-18s or flag officers seem to understand that they ran the country wrong. The people elected Donald John Trump president to grab the bureaucrats by the eyeteeth and shake them.
Put another way, he's not going to triangulate just because the foreign service equivalents of the bond traders want him to.

The difference might be this: if President Clinton went ahead with his original intentions, we'd have had the macroeconomic torpor fifteen years before we got it.  If President Trump caves to the rent-seekers of the international order, he doesn't get re-elected, impeachment or not.

He might have had good reason to disregard those experts, anyway (with or without those denunciations of wimps and babies.)  Jacob Sullum expands.  "Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention. If you think that skepticism was naive, that was a welcome development. But the consequences suggest otherwise."

Mr Sullum wrote that essay in the immediate aftermath of Iran's terror master Soleimani being stricken from the duty roster.  Connecticut senator Chris Murphy predictably sought a partisan advantage that seems to have been overtaken by events (do the current rulers of Iran want to be the first Persian potentates to lose a fleet since Xerxes?); his faith in experts might well be misplaced.
Murphy is right that we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.
Indeed, each time Our President disregards or takes issue with the Wise Experts, he's keeping a campaign promise.


The Green Bay Packers earned a spot in the playoffs, a division title, a first-round bye, and a second drubbing in Santa Clara.  I'm hearing none of the "at the beginning of the season, if someone had told you" subjunctive stuff that often accompanies teams that chronically underachieve or that mount a surprising run.  Rather, the sports talkers and radio callers are wishing for regime change in the defensive coaching staff, and there are even people thinking about the succession at quarterback.  That might be a good thing, in the long run people hit what they aim at, and aiming at "good enough" isn't good enough.

Bart Starr was not Vince Lombardi's first quarterback.



Craig "Amtrak in the Heartland" Sanders evaluates the possible return of passenger trains to the Dixie Line.  "A Serious Proposal or Just a Talking Point for Public Consumption?"
The appearance of Ray Lang, Amtrak’s senior director of government affairs, at a meeting of the Tennessee House Transportation Committee was significant for a number of reasons, but two in particular stand out.

First, it was the first time Amtrak has named a specific route that fits the criteria that Anderson and Gardner have been talking up.

That route would link Atlanta and Nashville, but Lang also talked about extending a pair of Midwest corridor trains to Memphis.

Second, it offered concrete proof that Amtrak expects state and local governments to pay for its vision of the future of rail passenger travel.

It is not clear why Amtrak chose Tennessee as the opening act for what promises to be lengthy process.

Perhaps Amtrak has quietly sounded out other states on their interest in ponying up money for new rail passenger service and we just haven’t heard about it.

Or perhaps Amtrak projects the Tennessee routes as among the most likely to succeed.

The news reports out of the Volunteer State generally portrayed a favorable reception to Amtrak’s proposals with some legislators speaking well of the prospect of rail passenger service where none exists now.

Atlanta and Nashville have never been linked by Amtrak and Tennessee’s capitol has been off the Amtrak route network since the Floridian makes its final trips between Chicago and Florida in early October 1979.
In fact, Tennessee lost most of its passenger train service before Amtrak even became a thing, with the New York and Chattanooga Pelican (yes, there was a Chattanooga Choo-Choo although it never left The Pennsylvania Station at a quarter to four, nor did it serve breakfast in either of the Carolinas) and the Chicago and Atlanta Georgian gone by the end of the 1960s.  The less we say about the Floridian (hammered by bad Penn Central and Conrail track across Indiana, for a time combined with a Louisville to Orlando Auto-Train, and generally slow and undependable) the better.

But adding more lanes to Interstate 75 through that southern spur of the Appalachians is a losing proposition.
Other players in the process will also play a role in whether the trains operate.

Chief among them is would-be host railroad CSX.

CSX’s Covington fired a warning shot across the bow in saying, “introducing passenger trains to heavily used freight lines will be a complex, costly process.

“And I understand that you guys are hearing from your constituents about the crowded roads, and you’re obviously looking for solutions to that. But we want to make sure you do it in a way to make sure it doesn’t backfire and divert freight off the rails and onto the highways.”

That’s another way of saying that CSX will demand some very expensive infrastructure improvements as the price of agreeing to host the trains.

More than likely the price tag for those projects will be more than state lawmakers are willing to pay for a service that Amtrak said will lose money.
Whatever that additional cost will be, it is likely to be less than the losses the state highway commissioners incur each day that they persist in not treating their roads like assets.  Perhaps CSX might consider a more favorable attitude as well.  Union Pacific are getting a very fine intermodal corridor out of the upgrade of the Alton Route, and faster trailer and container movements from Mexico toward the Great Lakes that aren't battering the old Route 66 (yes, I know, that's Interstate 55) are the very opposite of a backfire.

The former Illinois Central might also benefit from an attitude adjustment.
Another player will be the Illinois Department of Transportation, which funds the trains now operating between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois, that Amtrak has proposed extending to Memphis.

Amtrak spokesman Magliari said it would be relatively easy to have the southbound Saluki and northbound Illini serve Memphis because Amtrak already has crews based in Carbondale who operate the City of New Orleans on host railroad Canadian National between Carbondale and Memphis.

But what looks easy or even possible on paper may not be so in practice. IDOT will want assurance that its interests won’t be harmed in any rescheduling of the trains.

An unknown about the additional service to Memphis is whether the state of Kentucky would be willing to help fund trains that run through their state.
That's yet another undoing damage that Amtrak previously contributed to: some years ago, the agency raised no objection to Canadian National removing the cab signals and one of the main tracks on the old Main Line of Mid-America, turning a 100 mph railroad into just another 79 mph line with a lot of freight train interference; and Amtrak inherited the vestiges of an Illinois Central corridor service in which several overnight trains between Chicago and New Orleans became day trains between Chicago and Memphis.

Frequency, connectivity, dependability.  Better, though, to be talking about the possibility of such things rather than lamenting their absence.


The prevarications of Elizabeth "Fauxahontas" Warren never cease to entertain.

Today, though, the entertainment is more of the form of two ancient shamans of the Technocratic Conceit throwing down as if in a no-holds-barred cage match.

Unfortunately, the senator from Voronezh Vermont wasn't quick enough to come back to her "You called me a liar ..." with the title line I proposed.  But the senator from Muskogee Massachusetts, in one minute, destroyed all the credibility of her "I think I'll have a beer" advert, and all to the great glee of Tucker Carlson.  "Elizabeth Warren is not someone you'd want to have dinner with - - that much is entirely clear. Tell her you're busy if she ever calls."

I guess he, too, called her a liar on national television.
This time, CNN tells us -- this time -- Elizabeth Warren was being a 100 percent completely real. Not like that time she lied about her race or the time she lied about her job history, or the time she lied about her plan to finance universal health care without a middle-class tax hike.

No, this time for sure -- no question at all -- Elizabeth Warren is telling the whole truth and nothing but, and you'd have to be some kind of misogynist to doubt her. That's what they told us all night on CNN.

Now, why do they tell us that? Why lie to us? Simple. The Democratic National Committee is worried about Bernie Sanders. All those attacks on Wall Street offend donors.
That Wall Street money is also fretful about all of the plans coming out of the Warren Wigwam. Are they feeling sufficiently strong to back the former vice-president, or will we see another billionaire businessman mounting a hostile takeover, this time of the Democrats?

I bet that by year's end, "impeachment" is going to be well down on the list of 2020 political stories.


Welcome to raising your kids in Illinois.  At the end of the previous academic year, this was the state of affairs.
It's the same old story, year after year.  "The report said shortages were reported in almost every subject area, with foreign languages, special education fields and computer science leading the list of classroom subjects. There also were significant shortages of school psychologists and library and media specialists."
I'm reminded of that Soviet era joke that ends, "pull down the shades and pretend we're moving."  If insufficiently many people screen for the job, make the job easier to screen for.  "Someone who wants to be a teacher, someone who knows a test is coming up, can't prepare sufficiently for a basic skills test and the problem is the test?"

Read the details, and weep.
Kelly McConohy has spent 11 years working as a paraprofessional, assisting students with special needs at Glenview Middle School. She wanted to become a licensed teacher.

But even after earning a degree in educational studies, she couldn’t pass the state’s Basic Skills Test. The math portion, with 60 story problems, gave her the most trouble. That’s partly because, at age 52, McConohy hasn’t taken a rigorous math class in decades. But it’s partly because the test is tough. Only 31 percent of college students pass the math portion on the first try.

When the legislature eliminated that test, it cleared the way for McConohy to move to the next requirement — student teaching — which she began this week. When I spoke with her on Monday, after her first day, she sounded positively giddy.

“I love this job,” she said. “I’ve never loved a job before, I can honestly say. And this is a truly just so… it’s so my thing. I love it.​”

McConohy is still with the same students, in the same program, working with children who have emotional disabilities. At Glenview, it’s called the Success program, “because it’s more positive,” McConohy said.
Yes, calling troubled kids successful is part of the problem. It's that same college of education mindset that equips college graduates with a lot of self-esteem and darned little ability to, oh, pass the mathematics test.  Story problems?  Bet there isn't a "sand falls into a conical pile" question among them.

Maybe that's what makes the analytics guys in opinion polling or sports or option trading so obnoxious, having to deal with overconfident innumerates all the time.


Andrew McCarthy suggests that had evidence of state treason ever come to light, there would have been no protracted Mueller report.
If collusion with Russia had been fact rather than farce, Trump would never have made it to an impeachment trial. He’d have had to resign, Prior to November 8, 2016, Republicans were not the ones in need of convincing that Russia was a dangerous geopolitical threat. If it had been real collusion that brought Democrats around to that conclusion, the votes to impeach and remove would have been overwhelming.

And the timing would have been irrelevant. If Americans had been seized by a truly impeachable offense, it would not matter whether Election Day was two years, two months, or two weeks away. The public and the political class would not tolerate an agent of the Kremlin in the Oval Office.

If there were such egregious misconduct that the public was convinced of the need to remove Trump, such that two-thirds of the Senate would ignore partisan ties and do just that, there would be no partisan stunts. Democratic leaders would have worked cooperatively with their GOP counterparts, as was done in prior impeachments. They would have told the president: “Sure, you can have your lawyers here, and call whatever witnesses you want.” There would be a bipartisan sense that the president had done profound wrong. There would be a sense of history, not contest. Congressional leaders would want to be remembered as statesmen, not apparatchiks.

If there were a real impeachable offense, there would be no fretting about witnesses at the trial. Senate leaders would be contemplating that, after hearing the case extensively presented by both sides, there might well be enough votes to convict without witnesses. But if there were an appetite for witnesses, witnesses would be called . . . as they were in Watergate. And just as in Watergate, if the president withheld vital evidence of appalling lawlessness, the public would not be broadly indifferent to administration stonewalling.
Note though, that in the Watergate scandal, two years elapsed from "third rate burglary" to resignation, with each invocation of executive privilege being litigated in the courts.  What's going on now is more like that corrupt Washington establishment hanging on to as much of its authority as it can.
Why was the Democrats’ impeachment gambit driven by the election calendar rather than the nature of the president’s offense? Why were the timing of hearings and the unreasonable limits imposed on Republicans’ ability to call witnesses dictated by the frantic rush to get done before Christmas recess — to the point that Democrats cynically vacated a subpoena they’d served on a relevant administration witness, fearing a few weeks of court battles that they might lose?

Why did Democrats grope from week to week in a struggle over what to call the misconduct they accused the president of committing – campaign finance, extortion, quid pro quo, bribery? How did they end up with an amorphous “abuse of power” case? How did they conclude that an administration that goes to court rather than instantly surrendering potentially privileged information commits obstruction?

Why such tedious recriminations over adoption of Senate procedures that were approved by a 100–0 vote the last time there was an impeachment trial? Why all the kvetching over whether witnesses will be called when those procedures provide for the calling of witnesses in the likely event that 51 senators — after hearing nearly two weeks of presentation and argument from both sides — want to hear from one or two of them?
There are days when I suspect the worst fears of some populist pundits are correct: the Permanent Bipartisan Establishment still abhors Donald Trump's hostile takeover of the Republican Party, and the continued wrangling over process and ongoing introduction of new evidence protects business as usual, as well as putting that blemish on his Permanent Record.

Does the Permanent Political Class turning dubious conduct with respect to foreign aid for Ukraine into a Constitutional crisis say something about the vapidity of the appeal that sclerotic establishment otherwise has?
On Ukraine, nothing of consequence came of President Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop excesses. Sure, they ought to be a 2020 campaign issue. Democrats, instead, would have us exaggerate them into historically extraordinary wrongs. For that, you need gamesmanship. If there were real impeachable misconduct, there would be no time or place for games.
There's no consensus, yet, among Democrats on who their side of the binary choice is going to be. Unfortunately, the nominating convention in Milwaukee does not coincide with German Fest. I can think of no better occasion to tap a few kegs.  Muttering a few choice German expressions at Democrats optional.  Just don't make a drinking game out of each time Elizabeth "Fauxahontas" Warren says "plan" or Bernie "Statler" Sanders gives the "cut" signal to the band.


Craig Newmark notes that Ryen Russillo doesn't quite answer, "Why Is It So Hard to Draft NFL Quarterbacks?" Nor does he shed any light on what the supply elasticity of quarterbacks is.

It's not quite true that "For every [c.q.] Patrick Mahomes, there’s a Mitchell Trubisky."  It's more like 28 busts to 22 successes with five borderline hires in the past few years of first-round draft choices according to Mr Russillo, who watches Saturday pro football, er, the Southeastern Conference, regularly.

His assessment: the position is a difficult one to learn, and the usual quantitative stuff isn't precise enough to pick winners. (The extension to Ira Magaziner style industrial policy ought to be straightforward, but I digress.  There are cameo appearances by Ben Bernanke.)



This Saturday's not-regular-Saturday bridge column illustrates the pitfalls of attempting to describe a hand on incomplete information.

North deals, and the opening bid with a balanced hand and 16 high-card points is standard.  I'd like to think that raising to Two Spades with seventeen points is standard; that the simulation highlights the bid as some kind of a suggestion.  The North bot shows Clubs, with a notrump opening I figure there are game values in Spades, but the bot has other ideas.  That Four No Trump does not have a highlight on it indicating calling for aces, and the bot interprets my additional responses as a way to bid a grand slam in Clubs.

The opening lead is East's ♦7. We treat the North hand as the closed hand for counting losers.  In Spades, none, but note how useful the South hand would be as a dummy with Spades as trumps; in Hearts, there's one; in Diamonds none; in Clubs there might be two or three losers, even as trump.  Unfortunately the simulation is not an artificial intelligence that might see the value of stopping with game at Four Spades, especially with all those potential Club losers once the Ace is cashed.

And so it goes: win the opening lead with the Ace on the board; the ♣4 winkles out the Queen and now it's possible to run all the Clubs.  Perhaps it would have been wiser for me to draw trumps, establishing the ♣7 and ♣8 before going to work on the other suits, but I opted to use the high Diamonds in hand to discard some of the low Spades on the board, then cash the ♥ Ace, and then on the second round of Spades, east was out and ruffed with the ♣ Nine.  Now East can lead a low Heart to the Queen and West can return a Spade for another club ruff; as the North hand is a closed hand, there's a club ruff available there of the ♥ King, and the three remaining tricks are mine, but down three on a grand slam attempt isn't how any of this is supposed to work.


I've made this argument repeatedly and at length for years.

Perhaps Washington Examiner columnist Timothy P. Carney makes the point more succinctly.
Cultural liberalism is class warfare waged by the wealthy against the poor and working class. The privilege of the elite mostly comprises the norms, the models, and the community that support and guide people toward marriage and family. And that's one privilege too many elites would sooner keep to themselves.
Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds notes, "Roger Simon was pointing this out over a decade ago."

The deeper subtlety of Mr Carney's argument is that the socially transgressive stance of the cultural influencers is a pernicious form of "do what I say" (casual sex and drug use) when that is evidently "not what I do."  Specifically, "Americans in the upper class are much more likely to profess liberalized teachings on family and marriage while personally practicing conservative family values."

The trickle-down effect of Weimar mores on the living conditions of people living in modest circumstances has been something cultural conservatives have recognized long before Roger Simon had his road-to-Gomorrah moment: it's been around at least since Emmett Tyrrell wrote The Liberal Crack-Up, and that book was in print before an obscure vice-president named Dan Quayle made a cause out of the "lifestyle choice" of a television character called Murphy Brown.

Whether the Normals will figure out the success sequence on their own remains to be seen.



There's a large pile of books still to be reviewed, and I'll start the 2020 count with Mary Grabar's Debunking Howard Zinn: Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.

This Book Review No. 1 will not deal with the content of the book to any length, as I am more interested in its usefulness in helping teachers, whether as home-schooling parents or as employees of a school system, teach the controversies, where the book is deficient, than I am in the specific illustrations of elisions, omissions, and falsifications Ms Grabar points out.

I'm not a fan of People's History, and Ms Grabar located a review by Cornell's Michael Kammen who, years before I wrote that post, described People's History as a "scissors-and-paste-pot job."  Yup.  I'm troubled that some useful histories offering a different point of view, including naval historian S. E. Morison's investigation of Columbus's voyages are out of print and generally de-accessioned from the libraries.  On the other hand, the teacher or home-schooler wants to read up on the Founding or the Civil War or the Gilded Age or World War II, he's got to do his own research to identify where the controversies are introduced or contested,  That the Oregon Association of Scholars are conducting a campaign to get Debunking into public libraries and schools and supporting a talk by Ms Grabar at Portland State might be taking the fight to the enemy; and yet it's still going to be on that teacher or home-schooler to figure out what to do next.

That matters, as there is still much work to be done.  I borrowed my title from page 161 of DebunkingIt comes from Ronald Radosh, historian of inter alia several Communist plots and author of a generally favorable review that raises several of the points I could have raised here.  By all means, go there, read and understand.

Note, though, his conclusion.
Grabar has done a great service in writing the first serious book exposing Zinn’s scholarship and offering a corrective to his fables. It is unfortunate, however, that her book is not likely to receive the broad audience it deserves. It will likely be read by those who already know Zinn was an ideological partisan who used history to enforce his own political agenda. How better would it have been had a mainstream press undertaken this effort, one willing to buck convention and the publishing industry’s liberal clientele and give the book the chance it needs to effectively confront all those committed to what I call “the Zinning of America.”
Put another way, the book is a Regnery product, and, although the Regnery polemical touch is lighter than normal, that marque probably taints what's between the covers as not useful per se.  It's crucial, though, to understand that "Howard Zinn's truth" or "The Party's Truth" (Mr Radosh's original formulation) is something that's been granted legitimacy by the kind of radical skepticism that allows truth to be surrounded by a bodyguard of sneer quotes and falsehood, such as the smearing of Justice Kavanaugh, be rationalized as simply the accuser's truth.

It is useful for people, particularly people charged with the education of the young, to recognize nonsense masquerading as scholarship.  It is more useful for those people to be able to help the students in their care to understand the nature of the controversies and weigh the evidence.  Neither People's History nor Debunking contribute to that effort.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)


The speaker went on ABC's This Week, where Democrat operative George Stephanopoulos holds court, to the great amusement of Twitchy.  Leave aside the early-onset-dementia stammering and twitching, and she's simply a lay teacher carrying out Mother Superior's warning that there are some things that cannot be expunged.  "The President has been impeached – and no amount of gamesmanship from Leader McConnell will erase that fact."  That's legally and factually correct.  But will anybody give a d**n.  In another hundred years, will that impeachment be viewed by historians and chroniclers as simply a sad echo of Andrew Johnson running afoul of True Believers over the Tenure of Office Act?

Betsy McCaughey misses that Constitutional point, although she is almost certainly correct about what the rest of the year is likely to look like.  "Expect a short trial, an acquittal and no relief from the venomous anti-Trump rancor driving the Democratic Party. House Democrats are looking for new grounds to impeach. As if Congress had nothing better to do."


No, that's not a deluxe airplane or even a coaster wagon or a sled.  It's one of a fleet of trains once offered by the Nashville Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway, which covered the western slope of the Appalachians with fleets of trains linking Cincinnati with New Orleans and St. Louis or Chicago with Atlanta, and some of those trains once had through cars for and from Detroit or Florida points.  (The vestigial tail of this service continued to serve Cincinnati right up to Amtrak day.)

Now Amtrak are apparently interested in adding a regional rail service between Atlanta and Nashville.  As this service does not cover 750 miles, and the tracks are owned by CSX, the successor to NC&StL, it might be a long time from first stirrings to implementation.  It's probably not a good time for Better to be the enemy of Good Enough.  Let's get the trains running between Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Nashville (let's hope without any Andrews raids) and then we can talk about onward to Louisville and Cincinnati (and Detroit and Chicago and St. Louis) or toward Florida.


Never mind impeachment, Our President has submitted his budget request.

Permit me another aside: wouldn't it be refreshing if his Cabinet Secretaries simply submitted a one page executive summary of their activities and requests, and if he then, in proper business fashion, compiled those, added his own executive summary (fifteen or twenty bullet point on at most two pages) and turned that in to Congress as his report on the state of the union, then scheduled a rally in California or Virginia or Illinois or Iowa at the time the Speaker of the House has invited him to address that Joint Session of Congress?

On the other hand, going in front of those sleazy pontificators and mocking their conceits might have play value.  And there will be opportunities.
Could there be anything more cheering and cockle-warming than hearing that the Federal government might actually cut funding for [public radio]? (Though I seriously doubt that Trump’s budget proposal will literally END funding.) And can we do the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities next, please?
Yes, just as I've been encouraging for years.  That the agencies so named are regressive transfers to old rich people only makes their departure more desirable.


History Channel's Vikings, which first sailed some seven years ago, and I've long had reservations about the messing about with real history and the injection of contemporary sensibilities into the show.

We're supposedly in the closing episodes of this show, perhaps by the time the growing season begins in the Northlands, and that means all the principal characters will have to die off, or perhaps deliver the Holy Grail to a sinkhole in an island off the coast of Vinland.  Perhaps I should hold my tongue about Oleg the Prophet building a great gate in Kiev and other Orthodox trappings worthy of a Mussorgsky opera, while Prince Igor is being groomed to liberate some of the khanates from the Persians, or is it Polovtsians, or am I thinking about a Borodin opera.  That's currently a side story, and there's been nothing going on in England or Ireland as of yet.

On the other hand ... what follows contains spoilers ... Goofy King Olaf has failed in his attempt to install Bjorn Ironside as the first king of all Norway, and now he and the winner of the electoral college, King Harald Fairhair, are at odds, with Olaf musing about how the outcome didn't come out the way he rigged it and there's got to be a reckoning.  With Fairhair looking to send Ironside to join his parents (I warned you there would be spoilers) in Valhalla, there's likely to be another episode of Deep State Among the Deep Waters to come.  Because a new character named Erik, who might anticipate an early crosser of the Atlantic, are we going to see this Deep State eventually sink in the deep waters of Green Bay, which is, after all, the world's biggest fjord.

But then comes the strangest plot twist of all.  Hvitserk, the least relevant of Ragnar's sons with Aslaug the Usurper, has had some kind of mushroom, and a wounded Lagertha returns to Kattegat as a serpent with a long tail.  And thus the Seer has correctly foretold that one of Ragnar's sons will kill her.  That means there must be a memorable Viking funeral, and any funeral of a sufficiently high-ranking Viking must involve a human sacrifice, the attendant to serve at Valhalla.  (Permit me a theological digression, if Valhalla is in the spirit world, are attendants or golden goblets or silk curtains really required?  The extension to those "harps of gold" the Heavenly Host are playing on that midnight clear is straightforward.)

The sacrifice, though, introduces an interesting twist on equity feminism.  As Lagertha was the greatest of shield maidens in life, her attendant in Valhalla must be from among the shieldmaidens and consent to the one-way horse ride.  Torvi volunteers.
Torvi offering to kill herself was the curveball that came out of the blue. Being pregnant and recently losing another child, you would think she would want to make sure she and her family were kept safe.

It's difficult to make sense of what was going through her mind. There's no question about whether she looked up to Lagertha. They had one of the strongest bonds on the show.

This could show how much Torvi thought of Lagertha that she would give up her life as a mother to help her get to Valhalla. It would have been a shock if followed through with the plan.

For that, I'm thankful Gunnhild managed to talk her down from it.
What this reviewer doesn't tell you, dear reader, is that Gunnhild invoked tribal law. Because Torvi is with child (and why is it that any drama involving events of the seventeenth or earlier centuries always uses that locution?) the child has no agency to volunteer to be sacrificed, and thus Torvi gets a pass from being serviced by the priests before the angel of death stabs her.  Make of that what you will.  Ironside gets to Kattegat just in time for the conclusion of the funeral, with the flaming arrows melting the ice for what remains of the pyre ship to sink.  "Bjorn is going to be unpredictable following the death of his mother. He's lost everything, including the election that he was supposed to win."

I wonder if he will call the Kievan Rus a longship of deplorables when they show up to install Ivar as a Ukrainian puppet.


Either way, you're calling an audible that's likely to fail.
Instead of “It could be impossible,” say “The probability is 3%” or “The probability is 17%” or whatever.  Instead of saying, “It’s certainly possible,” say “The probability is greater than zero,” or “The probability is roughly 10%.”  Instead of “It mustn’t be inherently so,” say “The probability is only 86%.”  Do specific numbers seem overly precise?  Then switch to “highly unlikely,” “even odds,” “almost certain,” and such.
You don't sound more nuanced and erudite if you make like a weasel.  That's probably speciesist against weasels, to compare an academic with a weasel is disrespectful of weasels.
Outside of Grievance Studies, academics will crush you for unwarranted certainty.  Otherwise, though, you can qualify your assertions like an eagle – or like a weasel.  So why be a weasel?
Eschew obfuscation!



Yes, that's a regular talking point with Our President.  This time, though, it's the complaint of the communists self-styled progressives who think the presidential forum moderators in Des Moines last night were playing favorites.  Here's an excerpt, by all means read the column in full.
Jeet Heer, a national affairs correspondent at The Nation, wrote in a piece titled "CNN Has It in for Bernie" early Wednesday that "the big loser of the night was the network that hosted the event. CNN was so consistently aligned against Bernie Sanders that it compromised its claim to journalistic neutrality."

"CNN's treatment of Sanders raises a major problem that he's going to have to confront going forward: Some major players in the mainstream media are clearly unafraid to cover him in a biased and one-sided manner," Heer concluded. "But this problem also has an upside: Sanders thrives under adversity, and he can use these examples of bias to fundraise and to mobilize his base. The Sanders campaign is a gamble, and one major uncertainty is whether his base is strong enough to overcome consistently negative media coverage."
As if anyone took seriously CNN's claims to journalistic neutrality in the past quarter-century, but I digress. It's refreshing, though, to have the drive-by media taking incoming from their left:  the Common Dreams gripe about "centrist talking points" disguised as questions is simply my point about the sclerotic process worship of the Sunday shows, if from a different point of view.  It's providing great entertainment for Pajamas Media's Tyler O'Neil.  "If any candidate could be seen as the definitive winner, it was probably Bernie Sanders, because CNN's bias against him was palpable."

As to the forum itself, which I took a pass on, there being an instructive university event about the recent legalization of recreational weed in Illinois going on, it gave Reason's Nick Gillespie, no fan of Our President, no cause for optimism.
As a small-l libertarian who is unaffiliated with any party, my vote is up for grabs and I pay attention to these sorts of events out of more than just a sense of professional responsibility. There is plenty wrong with the country, on levels big and small, and politics can—and should—address some of that.

Yet listening to the candidates last night, I mostly didn't recognize the country they were describing. They live in a world where dark, shadowy forces—billionaires, corporations, Russian operatives especially—conspire with near-perfect success to make us all poorer and sadder, dumber and sicker, more alienated and hopeless. According to the candidates, nobody can afford the doctor, college, or child care. The whole planet may be baked in a decade because of fossil fuels, but we shouldn't really talk about expanding nuclear power or even using natural gas and fracking as a bridge fuel. Sexism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, police violence, and more are worse than ever.

Ironically, their collective inability to see little if anything positive in contemporary America mirrors that of the man they seek to remove from power. President Donald Trump's fixations are of course different but the net effect is the same: These are the end times unless I wield power.
The Democrats are the principal heirs to the Cult of the Presidency and to the conceit of Governance by Wise Experts: why should this year's offering be any different from any other offering?

Not only that, the overwhelming gloom and doom and sense of Crisis (the secession of eleven states is a crisis, a request by a president of another country's law enforcement information) might mean Advantage, Trump.
About a year ago, Trump spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), shortly after progressive Democrats unveiled the Green New Deal, a set of programs whose sponsors promised would radically transform many aspects of American life. Sensing an advantage, Trump uncorked a two-hour stemwinder that was by turns mean, nasty, funny, and, above all, optimistic about the future. I prophesied then that he might win the 2020 election because "Trump is becoming sunnier and sunnier while the Democrats are painting contemporary America as a late-capitalist hellhole riven by growing racial, ethnic, and other tensions." The president has since retreated back to his darkness and will likely stay there, especially as impeachment proceedings get underway.

But as incumbent, Trump merely has to hold onto office while his challengers need to vault into power. If last night's rhetoric is any indication, the Democrats might have one more thing to be depressed about after election day. More importantly for the rest of us, we will still be without a major political party that can paint a positive vision for the country. And voters like me will still be searching for presidential candidates for whom we can vote.
I'm not sure about that "retreated to his darkness."  On his rallies, Our President is treating impeachment as a laugh line, with ample opportunity to invoke early onset dementia and scrawny necks.  He's added to that a riff making fun of environmentally friendly appliances that don't work so well.

It's still over a month to the Illinois primary, which is open.  I'll pay a little more attention once Iowa and New Hampshire narrow the field.



My brother once attended Wisconsin - Milwaukee, or as we call it, University Close by the Lake Already (UCLA).  His son just earned a degree there, conferred in the December ceremonies at the old Milwaukee Arena, now primarily the home rink of the Milwaukee Admirals, although somebody paid to have it named UWM Panther Arena, and yes, the men's basketball team play there, generally before fewer than the 10,746 fans that traditionally watched the Bucks back in the day.

Tonight, though, Our President will be conducting one of his rallies in the Arena, concurrent with the tip-off of a home Bucks game, and counterprogramming the latest Democrat purity test show, which will be the final televised candidate forum before Iowans deal a few hands of cards and caucus.

I noticed several speakers at the December commencement drawing attention to the university's ranking among the 131 universities ranked R-1 for research; and more than a few students and staff would like to have the university ranked among the numerous institutions ranked W-1 for wokeness.
In the latest sign that virtually everything is politically divisive, the location of President Donald Trump's Jan. 14 campaign rally has become something of an issue because it bears the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's name and its Panther mascot.

Opposition spilled across social media in the days following the official announcement, with commenters suggesting that it gave the appearance of UWM endorsing the event. Some went further, saying a Trump rally is the equivalent of a "hate rally" and questioning where the line is between free speech and what is acceptable at an inclusive, diverse public university.

Chancellor Mark Mone this week published a letter to the UWM community, noting first that UWM neither owns nor books the UWM Panther Arena. The university bought naming rights to the building in 2014 but has no control over scheduling decisions beyond its own events.

Mone went on to note the university has historically hosted presidential candidate visits from across the political spectrum and will continue to do so.

"As a public university, we do not restrict the use of our facilities based on the content of any individual or entity’s message," Mone wrote. "Such viewpoint neutrality is consistent with our commitment to free speech and academic freedom and is legally required of us as a public entity."
That's likely to get the chancellor in trouble with the woke crowd, as "viewpoint neutrality" is contrary to what Critique of Pure Tolerance teaches is "acceptable at an inclusive, diverse public university."

I have plans for this evening that don't include either the candidate forum or the rally.  Perhaps Our President will have an opportunity to acknowledge UWM as an unofficial host, or perhaps to suggest that "Keeping America Great" includes studying at the land-grants, mid-majors, and regional comprehensives.


Michael Reagan notes the non-happening of World War III, and the repeated use by Democrats of their same tired playbook.
It’s a cynical thing to say, but a new war in the Middle East with Iran was the last hope Democrats had to achieve their dream of unseating President Trump.

The Russian Collusion Hoax was a dud. The Trump Recession didn’t happen. Trump didn’t lose the trade war with China.

And impeachment — which Democrats claimed had to be hurried through the House because Trump was a mortal danger to the Constitution and America’s national security — has turned into a prolonged partisan dirty joke with no punchline.

As anyone over 40 knows, or should know, the hysterical fear of a Republican president starting World War III is nothing new for Democrats and the liberal media.
It's not the first time an aging party establishment clung to its cherished nostrums, is it?

Oh, sorry, wrong picture, that's not the lineup at tonight's Democrat debate.

The aspirants to the nomination, however, are going to party like it's 1984.
You’d think the Democrats would have learned something when their dire predictions about my father’s foreign policy didn’t pan out, but 40 years later fearmongering about war and other calamities is still one of their favorite go-to political weapons.

For them the sky is always going to fall the day a conservative Republican is elected president.

Grandma is going to die. The KKK will make a comeback. The economy will crash. World War III will start at noon on Inauguration Day.

Another major forever-war didn’t arrive in the Middle East this week because President Trump had the sense not to use Iran’s token, face-saving response to the droning of General Soleimani as a pretext to level Tehran.
Indeed, and, perhaps in an echo of 1989, the people of Tehran and the other cities of Iran will tell their leaders to stop lying and step out of line and disappear.


The Chicago Bears went from mediocrity to a double-doink and done in the playoffs to out of the playoffs, and the recriminations among the yellow weasels mustard eaters have begun, and current Bear quarterback Mitch Trubisky finds himself in a familiar position, namely the object of a quarterback controversy.  Here's how a Chicago Tribune sports pundit puts it.  From Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers, the Bears passed over 9 of the 12 quarterbacks in the NFL playoffs.

The list also includes Russell Wilson, and the punditry are particularly bothered by Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes being available when the Bears were on the clock the time they hired Mr Trubisky.

It might be that Bear management made the right decision given the information they had at the time, e.g. "Mahomes was criticized for improvising too frequently and becoming too much of a risk taker whose desire to hit the big play created a habit of frequently throwing the ball into coverage and hoping for the best" and "Watson’s 32 career interceptions at Clemson were seen as a red flag. There were additional questions about his slender frame and ability to hold up physically against NFL defenders."

And yes, multiple teams passed on the opportunity to draft Tom Brady ("Can you imagine if the Bears had a 2000 draft class that featured Urlacher and Brady?") and Aaron Rodgers (the Bears were still relying on Rex Grossman calling signals, and Cedric Benson at running back was not a bad choice) and a number of the current playoff quarterbacks, including Drew Brees and Russell Wilson were written off as "too small."

My quandary, though, is a different one.  Given the importance of the quarterback to a successful football team, and the multiplicity of Quarterback Prep high schools (and quarterback academies for middle-schoolers) and the efforts of colleges at all divisions (the current 49er quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, gave Northern Illinois fits in a cross-divisional game a few years ago, and he learned his craft as understudy to Tom Brady) why is there not a reserve army of underemployed quarterbacks ready to suit up and play at the professional level?  You'd think tightwad owners constrained by free agency and a salary cap would do everything in their powers to take advantage of such a situation.


I am not a fan of the so-called 1619 Project, and will continue to view with scorn the efforts of higher education to substitute its advocacy for serious intellectual inquiry. The good news is that Phillip W. Magness, whose efforts to fact-check the propaganda we noted recently, has provided a bibliography, in order that children of all ages might home-school themselves.
I make no specific endorsements of these materials beyond my own contributions to the debate, other than drawing attention to the arguments they contain as substantive avenues of engaging the topic. In compiling this list, I aimed to gather commentary on the project from across the political spectrum. The discussion following the project’s publication has since produced several detailed criticisms that delve deeply into the historical debates it raises over slavery and early American history.

Defenses of the project are noticeably more scarce. This is in no small part due to an unfortunate tendency of its supporters to attack the critics rather than the criticisms, with most of that taking place on insult-laden Twitter threads. Should a more substantive defense emerge at a future date, I will gladly add the link. However, efforts to fulfill this task to date have been both underwhelming and light on substantive engagement.
The bibliography in its present form includes a few general history sources so as to place the Times polemic in proper historical context.