Barring signal troubles, links to any posts of substance ought to work.


Saturday was Milwaukee Transit Day at the Illinois Railway Museum.  That will be the last Milwaukee Transit Day for the time being, until more Milwaukee cars are operable.  Railroad preservation means lots of time and money to get things in a state of good repair.

Among the operable stock are refrigerated container trailer M-37, dump car D-13, and merchandise dispatch motor M-15.  We have the D-13 and M-15 as these were for many years the backup and main motive power for the Municipality of East Troy railroad; that's why M-15 has a linemans' platform and a snowplow on one end.  The M-37 served as a firefighting car at one of the Wisconsin Electric Power Company's coal-fired power plants.

That's North Shore Line line car 604, which also has a pole-setting derrick, useful in installing the overhead power lines, at far right.  That car also got to Milwaukee on maintenance trips.

The coal fired power plants had electric switching locomotives to bring the coal from railroad interchanges and push hopper cars into the car dumpers.  The two Milwaukee motors, L-4 and L-7, both require work.

Once upon a time, Seven had a small pantograph rather than the trolley poles.  The pole and cable reel are a way of operating a locomotive at a distance from the overhead wire, you just can't go farther than the cable reel will let you.

Milwaukee's street railway replaced streetcars with trackless trolley cars.  They look like buses, but in Wisconsin, they were regulated as streetcars, which led to more than a few speeding tickets issued by traffic officers that didn't get the memo thrown out in court.

Marmon coach 441 is signed to turn back at Oklahoma Avenue, which was a turnaround on residential streets.  The turnback at Electric Park looks more like the end of the line at Wilson Park.  The interchange between The Milwaukee Road and the interurban at Powerton, for coal deliveries, was a short walk from Wilson Park.

Once upon a time, it was possible to connect from a trolley coach on the Thirteen-Clybourn and Twenty-Muskego lines to The North Shore Line at Sixth and Michigan.  The North Shore would assign a combination car to selected Kenosha Locals (which continued to Waukegan.)  Use your imagination: that diner is a George Webb, and it's five burgers for five bucks if the Braves -- this is before 1963, remember -- score five runs.  (If you're paying attention, George Webb will be paying off on their "free hamburgers for twelve straight wins" this Thursday.)

The end of the summer tourist season is an opportunity for the museum to shuffle some of the stock around so as to make working on projects easier.  Here is Lake Superior and Ishpeming 2-8-0 No. 35, outside for a few days.  She's definitely intended to move heavy loads: note the large boiler, large cylinders, small wheels, and a tender booster to use excess steam on starting.

I'm not aware of any plans to return this kettle to service: it appears, however, to be a good candidate for an angel to adopt.

Here are more pictures from Saturday's event, at Hicks Car Works.

Our coverage of the 2017 event is here.  Note that Seven was hauling a short coal train.



I've had M. K. Beran's Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life in the stack of read but not reviewed books for some time.  His recent "Yale Law School Devours Its Own" prompted me to fish it out and get Book Review No. 27 into pixel form.

I'll keep it brief, as it covers familiar territory.  He refers to the "Castle People" where Angelo Codevilla would refer to the Chautauqua Class, or where Charles Murray would appeal to a "cognitive elite," or where Doug "Lumpy Rutherford" Schoen would see "Agora People" as Mad as Hell, and where Kurt Schlichter would have Kaden provoking the Militant Normals.

Mr Beran gets to his conclusion by an interesting road, invoking Emerson and Arendt and Obama and Lincoln and Trilling and Isaiah Berlin along the way.  (A twisting road will get you to Warsaw but you won't get bored.)

Turn to page xi.  "Even now, when they dominate the cultural heights, they are conscious only of a magnificent generosity of intention.  This is the pathology of the elites."  Yes, to the anointed, vision always excuses poor performance.

Poor performance there will be.  Onward to page 244.
The newly ascendant castle people [this book appeared shortly after Barack Obama's first inauguration -- ed.] are closer in their politics to the New Deal mandarins than they are to the [discredited -- ed.] financial wizards of the last two decades.  But however egalitarian their rhetoric, the new castle elites, like their predecessors, will almost certainly conform to the proprieties of castledom.  They will set themselves up in gaudy châteaus in prosperous suburbs, will send their children to private schools done up in revived Gothic, will not probably refuse invitations to appear in America's stud book, the Social Register.
It won't turn out well, because the aesthetic preferences of the Castle now include the impulses of Bettering the Agora Culture, or else.  Page 256.
In socializing away man's "anti-social" tendencies, the masters of the new social mystique nurtured not independent citizens, but passive conformists who would more easily acquiesce in the social-planning mandate.

As the agora shepherd gives way to the postagora social worker and guidance counselor, as the civic focal point ceases to transmit civic culture, the cruder democratic personality ... comes to the fore, and the castle once again becomes a threat to the community. For where agora culture has disintegrated, there is very little to prevent the castle elites from having their way. ... The citizen who, as a result of the paternal policy of the social state, is more acted upon than acting inclines to a fatal passivity.
That passivity is submission to the nudging or governance otherwise by Wise Experts.  Wise Experts, dear reader, are people who think they can ride emergence, or they are otherwise immune to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

That usually doesn't turn out so well.  (Gosh, in my search for posts about Wise Experts, I turned up a lot of posts that might suggest Castle Lords make poor shepherds!)

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)


Does Uber Kill? Yes, next question.
Cheaper ride-sharing makes the option of leaving your car in the parking lot after a few drinks more attractive, reducing the risk of fatal accidents. In fact, this was precisely the intuition [Chicago economist John] Barrios et al. had when they started their analysis. Yet, when they looked at the data on fatal accidents from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the answer was very different. Exploiting the staggered entry of ride-sharing into different cities, the authors were able to measure the changes in accident trends in the eight quarters that preceded and followed the introduction of ride-sharing. As the figure below shows, there is a rise in fatal accidents following the entry of ride-sharing into a city
On net, the ride-sharing services are a net loss in their markets.
If ride-sharing generates more costs than benefits, why has it become so popular? Do consumers irrationally ignore the costs? The answer is very simple: it is a classic externality. It’s not only the consumers of ride-sharing services that can die in accidents, but other drivers and pedestrians as well. Thus, the problem cannot be solved by banning or restricting ride-sharing services, but by forcing consumers to internalize the congestion costs via a gasoline tax or a congestion charge like the one developed in Singapore.
Perhaps that's not surprising. Uber and Lyft drivers, like their jitney predecessors of a century ago, need only consider the incremental cost of their trip, and the surge pricing contemporary information technologies make possible likely is an added inducement for for-hire drivers to get into the congestion.

On-demand cars for hire might have to consider the congestion costs in developing their fleet sizes.


Matthew Continetti takes stock.  Note, in particular, that tyrants overseas face new constraints.
Trump is establishing facts on the ground that constrain the despots' freedom of action.

Trump has achieved all of these gains, in such disparate areas of policy, through totally unorthodox means. He brags, he intimidates, he pouts, he jokes, he insults, he is purposefully ambiguous, and he leaves no criticism unanswered. He is unlike any postwar American president, though he shares some qualities with LBJ and Reagan. He is frenetic and polarizing, a showboat and a salesman. His methods are over-the-top, combative, and divisive. In place of the politics of consensus he adopts the politics of confrontation. Where others mindlessly repeat politically correct clichés, Trump unequivocally challenges them. He has ushered in a new era of American politics by dissolving the varnish that for so long obscured fundamental cultural divisions between and within the parties. He is president of a country that is wilder, zanier, and more unpredictable than before. It is also stronger.

Donald Trump is putting the finishing touches on one of the most remarkable weeks of his presidency. For Republicans, it doesn't get much better than this.
Mr Continetti does not note that Our President also goaded the Democrats and their noisy allies in the #resistance into behaving particularly badly during and after the Kavanaugh confirmation.  The pundits like to tell us that midterm elections are about voting against:  yes, Democrats and their noisy allies of convenience will do so; so, too, are likely to be more than a few people who have argued with Team Trump and taken a dim view of the showboating and the tweeting.


It appears as though thought leaders in both major political parties are rallying their bases by characterizing the other party's base as a mob.

Mob action, and direct democracy, are dangerous places to go.  Here is a warning, on display in Bayeux Cathedral.

Cathedrals are excellent venues for instruction: the statuary, the stained-glass windows, the Stations of the Cross, and a series of panels illustrating fifteen centuries of Popes, French rulers, and events sacred and profane.

The balance of this post is profane, although no guillotines will be sharpened, or shotguns cleaned.

We'll start with Betsy Newmark calling out the deplorable-shaming Hillary Clinton to promise the leftist temper tantrum will end once Democrats get some power.  (What did I just tell you about power?)
Democrats can be civil, but that will only occur when they're in power. Until then, in her view, anything goes. See, she really does regard conservatives as deplorables. Notice her argument is that Democrats will continue screaming at Republicans until they get elected. Isn't that what screaming toddlers do when they're throwing a tantrum? It's hard to believe that a person with that attitude would lose to Donald Trump.

Republicans must be hoping that she'll keep putting herself out there saying such objectionable things.
It's also a lie: you know full well that a Democrat House will be a never-ending spectacle of investigations, impeachment hearings, and attempts to repeal tax cuts.

Mrs Newmark is the voice of reason this morning.  Here's Julie Kelly at American Greatness, telling the identity-politics harpies where they can stuff it.
Democrats cannot sway white women based on their ideas for the economy or national security or tax policy, so they’re left with coercion and intimidation. They want to shame white women voters into electing more Democrats by implying if we vote for Republicans, we are enabling and empowering rapists.

It is a highly cynical, if not craven, ploy with major implications for the health and sustainability of our political system. It does nothing to ensure the consideration of real sexual assault victims, assigns automatic guilt to half of the population based on gender, and empowers the peddlers of despair and racial hostilities. And it unfortunately guarantees the nation will suffer through many more horrific periods like the past few weeks.
But to the Angry Left, any invocation of "white women" is a whiff of Reactionary Mob Rule.  Here comes Nancy LeTourneau of the formerly sensible Washington Monthly.
It is very clear that, for our Founding Fathers, the idea that democracy would give equal rights to all men and women was viewed as providing an opening for mob rule. It was also clear that the mob they feared consisted of women, people of color, and the poor who didn’t own property. In other words, it was the triumvirate of sexism, racism, and classism. In their minds, it was the minority of white male landowners who were equipped to vote and govern.

Over time, our country has struggled with the dissonance of calling itself a democracy while originally limiting the vote to the minority of white men. Republicans are still working on those limits with their attempts to suppress the vote. But men like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Brett Kavanaugh have reason to fear the empowerment of what they so casually call “the mob.”
These United States are a constitutional republic, and, Howard Zinn-esque invocations of Popular Struggle notwithstanding, the extension of the franchise is written into the very Constitution that Mx LeTourneau implicitly criticizes in that passage.  Her conclusion is instructive.  "In any way that is meaningful, we’re still in the process of fighting a battle to live out the ideal of a democracy that empowers 'we the people.'" I'm not sure how constructive it is to invoke the intersectionality trinity in waging that battle.

Mx LeTourneau, however, is clarity personified compared with Gordon Adams.
White, male, religious extremism, backed by big money, is warping that mirror. This authoritarian extremism, cloaked in the language but not the reality of American history, has captured state houses, legislatures, courts, security forces, and, for now, the Congress of the United States and the White House, with all the executive power that office can control. It is a semi-visible, gradual coup d’état that’s well on its way to success.

In these times, I am starting to think, it is important not to listen, not to give respect to the siren songs of authoritarians. They are the distortions in a fun-house mirror. It is important to gather together, find common strength, to assert truth in the face of authoritarian fake news—starting now, with this election, which may be one of the last in which democracy can reassert itself as voting rights and citizen rights are slowly taken away.

Speak up. Support the anti-authoritarians. Get tough and real about this political battle. Start spreading the message everywhere it needs to be heard, at all levels. Reach out to those who are preoccupied with television shows and sporting events and have their eyes off the ball or are just plain tired of the political game.

At the dinner table, in social settings, remind them that this is not normal.
I bet he's real fun at Thanksgiving.


Inside Higher Ed's Colleen Flaherty looks at Colgate (better known for hockey) University's attempt to square continuing and fearless sifting and winnowing with the niceties of contemporary identity politics.
Some have long argued that rigorous inquiry and respectful debate do not stand in opposition. Indeed, the American Council on Education, backed by survey data, has stressed the importance of not “pitting” inclusion and speech against each other. Yet many if not most conversations about campus speech still revolve around two poles: absolute freedom of expression and the importance of creating an inclusive environment.
That last sentence poses a false choice. By construction, isn't an institution of higher education there to test truth claims, which means, to pick an extreme example, there's no reason to offer a platform to an advocate for astrology or a flat earth.

Thus, yes, I'm not enthusiastic about efforts by freedom of expression advocates to show universities up as censorious by inviting provocateurs with the intention of bringing out the worst in opposition.  Credentials, up to a point, matter.

The committee drafting the policy appears to understand matters similarly.
Colgate -- as a liberal arts institution -- should support “the rights of all community members to voice their views, even if unpopular, while helping them to likewise cultivate the habits of mind and skills necessary to respond effectively to views that they may find wrong or offensive.”

Colgate should endeavor to establish and maintain a “culture and community that will inspire its members to pursue knowledge with rigor and curiosity, speak and listen with care, and work so that even the quietest or most underrepresented voices among us are heard,” the committee wrote. And the university should educate all its members about its goals and values, in addition to “the importance of exercising our right of freedom of expression in a manner” that furthers those goals and values, “remembering that the exercise of intellectual freedom without consideration of these other values may cause needless harm to our community.”

Faculty, administrators, staff and students also should be encouraged to “model the civic behavior that forms the basis for the exercise of freedom of expression” within Colgate’s community. Consistent with the emphasis on free expression, the report doesn't call for those who lack in civility or respect to be punished.
There used to be such a thing as manners, but I suppose those are a hegemonic bourgeois convention. Among those manners: not encouraging people who say foolish things to continue, sometimes by offering refutations, sometimes by shunning.

Deliberations continue in a similar form, hinting at bourgeois convention without quite saying so.
Spencer Kelly, task force chair and a professor of psychological and brain sciences, said that both Colgate’s and Chicago’s statements affirm academic freedom and freedom of expression as “foundational” for achieving the educational mission.

The key difference between the two documents, Kelly continued, is that “we recognize that while these principles are essential, they are not sufficient by themselves. They need help.”

A “healthy educational community” embraces the values of humility, good listening, empathy, curiosity and tolerance, Kelly said. And “we believe these values encourage speakers to think critically about what they say -- and how they say it -- in a way that ultimately encourages a more robust, insightful and productive discourse.”

Kelly said the following became something of a “mantra” to the task force: “With the freedom to express comes the responsibility to listen.”

The most effective communicators “don’t just open their mouths and haphazardly spill out whatever is on their minds,” he added. “They carefully listen to, or do their best to imagine, where their audience is coming from before they start speaking.”
That noted, there's still a lot of room for the kind of censorious virtue-signalling that sails under the rubric of political correctness.
Kelly reiterated that the statements are similar in their embrace of freedom of expression. But he noted that his committee intentionally avoided references to civility because the word is “often used by majority groups to suppress marginalized voices.” It instead outlined “community values,” to promote civility “organically, from the bottom up,” he said. Free speech is not just a market of competing ideas, but also “a way for a community to act cooperatively to accomplish shared goals.”

Colgate’s task force also acknowledged the “dangers of unfettered free speech,” Kelly said, in that historically marginalized groups may not have equal access to it, and “speech that harms is different than speech that offends.”
Dear reader, do you put "competitive markets allocate resources efficiently" or "institutions are civilization" on that continuum, and if so, where on the scale of harm or offense do you put them?


Here's something being built that might do more for the academic enterprise than the nutrition coaches.
A news conference was held Tuesday at Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center to announce NIU has joined the Illinois Innovation Network, in partnership with the University of Illinois system. Of the $500 million committed in the spring to IIN, $15 million will go toward the state-of-the-art facility on the far-west end of campus, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner. NIU will foot the other $7.9 million through in-kind contributions, private investment and donations, according to a news release from the university.
Christmas is coming. I can't guarantee I'll open my checkbook.
NIU President Lisa Freeman said the building, dubbed the Northern Illinois Center for Community Sustainability, will feature cutting-edge laboratories, classrooms, and collaborative spaces. Additionally, the 20-acre plot will provide space for greenhouses and field sites. An Allied Environmental Policy Institute and Environmental Law Clinic are also planned. Freeman said NIU's three foci through the partnership will be food systems, water resources and climate change.

"The goals are ambitious," Freeman said, "to be a local leader in food systems, climate change, and water research, to develop a talent pipeline for all aspects of community sustainability, to attract new sources of funding to support basic and applied research, education and workforce development, and to drive innovation and economic development."
All the usual buzzwords. Will anyone being talking seriously about closing the Lake Calumet locks?  Replacing the Byron Generating Facility with a state-of-the-art nuclear steam power plant?

The pocket agriculture campus will occupy vacant space all taxpayers paid for, thanks to a 2005 "porkulus" transportation bill whipped through the House by Northern Illinois graduate and disgraced House speaker J. Dennis Hastert.
NIU is the first non-University of Illinois institution to join the network, and is the fourth hub across the state, which also includes U of I campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield. A facility similar to the one that will be built in DeKalb will be erected in Champaign-Urbana, and then the other campuses will follow. Each center will capitalize on their respective university's strengths.

Freeman said next steps here will include focusing on architectural and engineering issues in the next year, with hopes to have the facility up and running in fall of 2021, and no later than 2022.
We'll be following developments.


Sonali Kolhatkar makes it clear voting for Democrats is simply an act of convenience.
If the past two years has taught us anything, it is that we must remove Republicans from power and do so with aggression and righteous anger. If that means replacing them with Democrats (or independents or third-party candidates), then that is our immediate task, first and foremost. Our next task is to hold Democrats’ feet to the fire with as much fervor as we demanded an end to Trump and Trumpism. It is imperative that we remember Democrats are politicians, not activists. They want power and have adopted lip service to the ideals of liberalism to get it. They are not inherently compassionate and progressive. It is we who are and we who must keep the fire under them alive.

So much depends on the outcome of the November midterm elections for our short-term national outlook. It is imperative that Democrats win, and win big, in order to bring the Trump agenda to a screeching halt. In the longer term, we ought to view the Democrats as part of the problem.
That's despite the rapprochement (if that's what it is) with North Korea and the renegotiation of the North American trade agreements, the latter being something Ross Perot and the industrial policy left could agree on.

Dear reader, view with extreme skepticism any political piece in which an advocate accuses her opponents of wanting power.  Government is force.  I would be particularly skeptical of any seeker of office that wasn't seeking power to do something.

It's even funnier to see "aggression and righteous anger" in the same paragraph with "compassionate and progressive."  Undermine them with mockery!



Longtime transportation writer and Passenger Rail advocate F. K. "Fritz" Plous explains.
Unlike the federal government’s other three transportation responsibilities—highways, civil aviation and waterways—Amtrak is not positioned alongside the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Aviation Administration and United States Maritime Administration on the USDOT org chart. It is not equal to those three agencies in status, budget, access to the Secretary or influence on national transportation policy. Most important,  FHWA, FAA and MARAD have missions, among them, building infrastructure. Instead, Amtrak is a federally owned corporation with no explicit mission except that of making a profit, at which it inevitably fails because it must compete against these two stronger agencies that earn no profits (and aren’t required to) and thrive on huge government subsidies that dwarf that of Amtrak.

With no goals, no growth strategy and no meaningful success/fail criteria, Amtrak’s management is left to freestyle. Any set of interests powerful enough to get its paws on Amtrak can play with it—and they do. The reason why Amtrak is subject to so many influences is simple: The U.S. has no passenger train policy. Absent a policy and a bureaucracy to administer it, passenger trains have no theme, no role in the nation’s pursuit of a larger objective, such as mass mobility in the service of economic growth.
In part' that's because the Wise Experts expected Amtrak to go away after a few years, with the government being able to say "We tried, but we couldn't do it." (That might be the rationale behind Ronald Reagan bringing the conductor's change-counting machine to a budget meeting back in the day.)

Much like other temporary arrangements, though, sometimes reality catches on.
As Rush Loving makes clear in his magesterial [c.q.] The Men Who Loved Trains, President Nixon agreed to sign the 1970s Railpax legislation that created Amtrak only because the congressional aides who drafted it persuaded him that Amtrak would last only about five years. Passenger train ridership had been slumping since the end of World War II, and as the nation transitioned to Interstate highways and jet travel, the slump turned into a plunge that all the experts deemed irreversible. No business had ever survived what amounted to a mass repudiation by its customers, and there was no reason to suspect that a battlefield tourniquet like Amtrak could staunch the hemorrhage. Because Amtrak was expected to go out of business, there was no attempt to reform it, update it or find a permanent place for passenger rail in the nation’s larger transportation policy.

But a funny thing happened on Amtrak’s way to extinction: success. People confounded the experts by starting to ride the trains again. Congress, the Administration and the railroad industry couldn’t believe it, and most of them still don’t.

Loving provides a hilarious account of how Washington’s decision-makers and the Class I railroads who were depending on them stood blinking and squinting like moles dragged out into the sunlight when predictions of the passenger train’s death proved exaggerated, and Americans started riding the trains again—and demanding more trains. Amtrak didn’t know what to do.

And it still doesn’t, because the decision to run more passenger trains over more routes to more destinations is not a commercial one that can be made by a corporation—even a federally owned corporation. It’s a high-level policy decision that can be resolved only by the establishment of a new National Transportation Policy that positions passenger train development at the same level of importance as highways and civil aviation and creates a new passenger rail policy and development organ occupying the same line on the USDOT org chart as the FHWA and the FAA.
It's clear, Mr Plous concludes, that business as usual isn't working.
Today, the U.S. faces a third transportation emergency characterized not by sudden breakdowns as in 1916 or the appalling epidemic of fatal airline crashes between 1952 and 1961, but by a long twilight mobility blight in which American travelers lose millions of hours per year stranded on backed-up highways trying to reach congested airports, where they will lose another hour in a bovine shuffle through a tedious security ritual that has turned the speed and convenience of air travel into a national joke.
Airways and roadways are congested in part because Our Political Masters will not take on the challenges of applying congestion pricing (although the punditry is beginning to catch on: there will be good news on that score coming up in a few days) and because nobody wants to admit that there are too many roads, bridges, and airports.

The freight railroads, on the other hand, are (understandably) reluctant to allow government passenger trains onto their tracks, but perhaps what Mr Plous is doing is reinforcing an argument Trains columnist Malcolm Kenton recently made.


The insurgency must continue.

Mark Davis urges voters in the swing states to turf out their Democrat senators.
Democrats who participated in the attacks on Kavanaugh are up for re-election in several Trump states.  They must be shown the door back to private life in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and North Dakota, and dare we dream, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

In West Virginia, Joe Manchin distinguished (and maybe preserved) himself as the lone yes vote for Kavanaugh in the party that otherwise savaged him.  President Trump is surely grateful, but he should not dilute his vocal support for Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey.
It is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But perhaps it is the end of the beginning.
Republicans, from the President on down, have finally sprouted spines that do not collapse out of fear over what Democrats or media tormentors might say.  Confronted with hideous attacks that have withered past GOP majorities, this Trump-infused army drew a line in the sand and refused to budge.
Senator Graham, for instance, might not be invited back to Meet the Press for some time, although I think it would be fun to see him go full naval officer on Chuck Todd.

Perhaps Neo-Neocon (a recovering Massachusetts liberal mugged by reality around September 11, 2001) has the best explanation for those former RINO squishes punching back.  It's a nine point argument: the bottom of the order comes through for Team Normal.
(7) At that point, it was the moderate wing of the GOP that was galvanized. They suddenly discovered that the rules they thought they’d been playing by all this time, the ones they thought at least some of their Democratic colleagues shared, meant nothing to the opposition. They either had never held them at all, or were more than willing to abandon them—and all sense of decency—in their lust for power.

(8) And that’s why it was the moderate side of the right that stepped up to the plate and delivered the goods in the Kavanaugh fight. Lindsay Graham, Susan Collins, Chuck Grassley, Mitch McConnell, all of them harshly vilified in the past by the more conservative wing of the party, found themselves uttering words that those who had previously reviled them were now cheering.

(9) Those words from the RINOs had more power to rally the base than if the same messages had been delivered by senators further to the right. The factor of surprise made for a much more attention-getting story. Lindsay Graham’s tirade was much more newsworthy because it came from Graham rather than, for example, Ted Cruz. But in addition, because one of the biggest beefs the far right had previously had with the RINOs was the latters’ lack of courage and fight, the experience of actually seeing and hearing those RINOs fight, and fight hard, did much to evaporate the base’s former reasons for despising them.
Dear reader, you must understand that "compromise" and "bipartisanship" are Democrat synonyms for "give us what we want." Sorry, no.  Welcome to the struggle, Senator Graham.

Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties.  Undoing fifty years of judicial error and misplaced faith in Governance by Wise Experts is going to be a long twilight struggle.
Republicans seem particularly energized, some even willing to sweep aside their NeverTrump neuroses and row along with the rest of us.   The challenging news is that this kind of resolve must be rekindled again and again and again.  If majorities in both houses of Congress can be preserved in November, those Republican members installed in January had better be ready to take the next hill, and the next and the next.  Do you think liberalism made its deep inroads with intermittent passion?  I have long opposed the ideology of the left while admiring and envying its tireless devotion.

It can be our turn if we are up to the task.   Let us bring Kavanaugh confirmation-style courage and energy to our fights for stronger borders, health care reform and fiscal sanity.  Maybe a uniquely brave wing of the GOP can even prod the President on spending cuts.

We fought for Brett Kavanaugh not simply to win him a Supreme Court seat, or just to bolster the Constitution.  This fight was necessary to deal a blow to the darkest of tactics and those who would deploy them.

They will not stop.  They will not slink away. They are not defeated.
We cannot rest until people are ashamed to publicly call themselves "progressive" in the current sense of the word.  Or, perhaps, until Democrat leaders change their message enough to be able to successfully campaign in the strongly Republican states.


Kevin Anderson of Manchester gets to the heart of the climate change matter.
Dress it up however we may wish, climate change is ultimately a rationing issue.

The responsibility for global emissions is heavily skewed towards the lifestyles of a relatively few high emitters – professors and climate academics amongst them. Almost 50% of global carbon emissions arise from the activities of around 10% of the global population, increasing to 70% of emissions from just 20% of citizens. Impose a limit on the per-capita carbon footprint of the top 10% of global emitters, equivalent to that of an average European citizen, and global emissions could be reduced by one third in a matter of a year or two.
Put another way, climate change activism goes Thorstein Veblen and Ken Galbraith one better by turning the operation of those mauve-and-cerise, air-conditioned sedans into Crimes Against Humanity, as simply deplorable-shaming Babbitts isn't enough.

That's not what the latest report is going to do, though.
Ignoring this huge inequality in emissions, the IPCC chooses instead to constrain its policy advice to fit neatly within the current economic model. This includes, significant reliance on removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere much later in the century, when today’s senior scientists and policy makers will be either retired or dead. Conjuring up such futuristic ‘negative emission technologies’ to help achieve the virtually impossible 1.5°C target is perhaps understandable, but such intergenerational buck-passing also dominates the IPCC’s 2°C advice.

To genuinely reduce emissions in line with 2°C of warming requires a transformation in the productive capacity of society, reminiscent of the Marshall Plan. The labour and resources used to furnish the high-carbon lifestyles of the top 20% will need to shift rapidly to deliver a fully decarbonised energy system. No more second or very large homes, SUVs, business and first-class flights, or very high levels of consumption. Instead, our economy should be building new zero-energy houses, retrofitting existing homes, huge expansion of public transport, and a 4-fold increase in (zero-carbon) electrification.
Where are the economic incentives to do these things?  Not necessarily in the various international agreements.  "Breakthrough analysts conclude that U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have actually fallen faster since 2010 than they would have had the the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade scheme been adopted by Congress. The U.S. trend toward lower carbon dioxide emissions was helped along by the global financial crisis, a weak recovery, and the ongoing switch from coal to cheap natural gas for electricity generation."

Note also this: the carbon footprint of nuclear-steam electricity is smaller than that for coal or natural gas plants.  Bet on trade-tested betterments to make the automobiles more energy efficient, and expect the Wise Experts to be serious once you see a nuclear power plant put into operation.

Until then, well, Ed Driscoll found this.
Here’s my problem with climate change: everyone from “turn back the rising seas” Obama to the pastor of my local liberal church will eagerly assure me that Science has proved that the end is nigh; climate change isn’t just happening but is imminent. We or our children are about to witness the mother of all fiery crash-and-burns unless we repent and turn from our sinful ways. Time is running out. It was running out in 1989, then again in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2014, 2015…

It’s as if we’re on the plane — eating our pretzels, pecking at our laptops, trying to keep our toddlers entertained — and periodically the stewardess announces that the plane is about to tumble to the ground in flames and we’re all going to die. Then she brings the drink cart around, starts the in-flight movie, and goes back to her argument with the other stewardess about who forgot to put toilet paper in the first-class loo, or whether a businessman should be able to have three olives in his complementary martini.
Heck, I was around for the first Earth Day in 1970, and we shouldn't even be alive to read this.
[I]f the world is going to end, the people who do know and claim to believe need to walk the walk their talk implies. I need to see some white knuckles and mumbled prayers. I need to see Al Gore arranging teleconferences from his yurt, not luxury Davos getaways from his beachfront mansion; I need to see the Democratic Party setting aside the issues that can only be important when and if the world is not about to end.
Let's see how much attention they pay to Professor Anderson.


You knew Charlie "Prof Scam" Sykes would have something to say about the Grievance Studies hoaxes.
In a prank that is alternately hilarious, appalling, and disturbing, three puckish academics managed to place no fewer than seven “shoddy, absurd, unethical” articles in “respectable” academic journals that trafficked in the growing field of grievance studies—a field that includes gender and queer studies, critical race theory and a variety of post-modern constructivist theories now fashionable in the humanities and social sciences. If nothing else, they demonstrated that academic leftism is a target ripe for ridicule as well as outrage.
Harvard's Yascha Mounk reads the papers, so you and I don't have to.
Sokal Squared doesn’t just expose the low standards of the journals that publish this kind of dreck, though. It also demonstrates the extent to which many of them are willing to license discrimination if it serves ostensibly progressive goals. This tendency becomes most evident in an article that advocates extreme measures to redress the “privilege” of white students. Exhorting college professors to enact forms of “experiential reparations,” the paper suggests telling privileged students to stay silent, or even binding them to the floor in chains.
He goes on to suggest that there are still disciplines that don't test pc-positive.
There are many fields of academia that have absolutely no patience for nonsense. While the hoaxers did manage to place articles in some of the most influential academic journals in the cluster of fields that focus on dealing with issues of race, gender, and identity, they have not penetrated the leading journals of more traditional disciplines. As a number of academics pointed out on Twitter, for example, all of the papers submitted to sociology journals were rejected. For now, it remains unlikely that the American Sociological Review or the American Political Science Review would have fallen for anything resembling “Our Struggle Is My Struggle,” a paper modeled on the infamous book with a similar title.
That assertion is not totally true: I'm hoping to analyze how serious the hoax (it might be more accurate to say humor) articles in social science are in a subsequent post, and how flawed peer review in those disciplines might be.

But the fashionable nonsense is discrediting the academy.
If certain fields of study cannot reliably differentiate between real scholarship and noxious bloviating, they become deeply suspect. And if they are so invested in overcoming injustice that they are willing to embrace rank cruelty as long as it is presented in the right kind of progressive jargon, they are worsening the problems they purport to address.
What has the no-platforming of speakers and the hassling of public figures at meals been, if not rank cruelty presented in the right kind of progressive jargon? Bad ideas have consequences, and it's probably foolish to pick fights with people who own weapons and know how to use them.

As Steven Hayward quips, "[W]hen even Mother Jones can see through the fraud."  [Link added -- ed.]

What's that Insta Pundit line about how higher education will blame their reduced budgets on anti-intellectualism?


I don't know if anyone at the Northern Star reads Cold Spring Shops, but you don't need my background in political economy to recognize a troubling pair of stories.  First, there's the way the university serves the general population of students.
Located in various spaces throughout the Chick Evans Field House, the Huskie Food Pantry operates from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursdays throughout the academic year and twice a month during the summer. The service is open to all NIU students without meal plans.

Jennifer Van Ewyk, Huskie Food Pantry coordinator and assistant director for volunteerism through Student Involvement and Leadership Development, said recent changes within the Division of Student Affairs have prompted the food pantry to expand operations further.

“In the future, as space allows, we would love to have a more private space,” Van Ewyk said. “There’s a lot of stigma associated with using a pantry. One of our goals is to move into the Holmes Student Center once they’re done with renovations.”

Van Ewyk said in order to streamline operations and continue operating independently from university funding, the Huskie Food Pantry hopes to promote monetary donations among students. The pantry is currently partnered with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, which helps local pantries buy food staples and produce at discounted prices. With monetary donations, the Huskie Food Pantry can get the most value for the items it buys.

Van Ewyk also said more universities nationwide are beginning to embrace on-campus food pantries. With NIU’s efforts to combat food insecurity, she said the push is in context with a national movement.
I'm not sure how to square that "operating independently from university funding" with operating out of university spaces, whether at the former fieldhouse, the student center, or a less visible location.

Meanwhile, there are no such qualms when it comes to nutrition coaches.
Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Sean T. Frazier announced NIU will create the Northwestern Medicine Performance Center. The project to build the performance center will turn the existing weight room in the Yordon Center into a full-service sports performance area, including a nutrition center.

Frazier said gaining or increasing NIU’s competitive edge pertaining to the retention and recruitment of student athletes was a significant reason for the creation of the performance center. He said the Huskies want to recruit top student athletes and have to up their game to “keep up with Joneses” and fulfill their goals.

“It’s about recruitment of top-level Football Bowl Subdivision athletes,” Frazier said. “You separate yourself when you have a situation where you can bring in a student-athlete who is exceptional of what he or she does in that particular sport into a situation when you can have them condition at a high level, eat, develop physically and mentally and be able to do that and sustain that.”

Frazier said the performance center is going to change the dynamic of the young athletes who enter the NIU program. Brad Ohrt, director of Sports Performance, said he thinks this project is necessary for the recovery aspect of a student athlete’s workload.

“We went back after the 2016 season with football, took a look at our injuries, weight loss issues and performance, and it was a hard evaluation where we were in 2011-13 when we were doing a better job of feeding and taking care of our kids from a football standpoint,” Ohrt said. “That had fallen off during 2014-15, and I think it reared its ugly head and cost us in 2016. We turned around and we changed in the offseason of 2016, made some moves in 2017 and here we are in 2018. You have to learn from some of the things you’ve been through.”
You get into a positional arms race, there will always be some Jones to keep up with.

Didn't I correctly anticipate the spin on making sure the footballers don't suffer from food insecurity? "I fully expect the university's Morale Conditioners to note that it's all donated money."  Yup.
Frazier said the facility would not come to fruition without the generosity of Northwestern Medicine and the donors. He said the project was 100 percent privately funded and donations the athletic department has received are worth more than half a million dollars.
In this instance, about a quarter of a million dollars in internal improvements.  It doesn't take a Ph.D. in economics, or a CPA, something the university is still good at producing, to understand that money is fungible.

I fully expect Northern Star writers to follow up on both these stories.


Reality began to dawn on Green Bay Packer fans.
As spring became summer and the team reported to St. Norbert for camp, fans saw nothing but familiar faces, grizzled veterans laden with championship jewelry, with a few empty fingers waiting for fresh bling.

Fact is, we didn't realize just how "grizzled" they truly were, and how they'd miss Lombardi's verbal whip. The coach went upstairs that previous winter, shedding his sideline duties to become a full-time general manager. The legend handed the reigns over to his defensive coordinator Phil Bengtson, quiet in demeanor but with fire in his face--literally, because it seemed there was always a cigarette smoldering in his head.
In part, the team was full of grizzled veterans returning (for one season too many?) because the Packers never found a successor to Jack Vainisi.
It was Vainisi, a scout from 1950 until his untimely death at 33 in 1960, who assembled the talent Lombardi would coach to five NFL titles. Vainisi also played an influential role in convincing the team’s executive committee to hire Lombardi in 1959.

In other words, without Vainisi there are no Glory Years. There is no Titletown, no Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown in the Ice Bowl, no Ron Wolf to resurrect the franchise in the 1990s – and get his name up on the façade – and no Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers to set records and win Super Bowls.
He had a pretty good run, in part because he was drafting toward the top of the board.
Consider the players Vainisi drafted: Jim Ringo in 1953, Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr in ‘56, Paul Hornung in ’57 and Jim Taylor and Ray Nitschke in ’58. He also signed Willie Wood as an undrafted free agent and facilitated trades for Willie Davis and Henry Jordan. All are in the Hall of Fame.

In addition, Vainisi drafted Max McGee, Bob Skoronski, Hank Gremminger, Ron Kramer, Dan Currie, Jerry Kramer, Boyd Dowler, Tom Brown and Bob Jeter, all of whom would start on championship teams.
Indeed, and Jerry Kramer recently donned the gold jacket.

It might be that Mr Vainisi also began the professionalization of college sports.
Jack Vainisi was just 22 and fresh out of Notre Dame when then-coach Gene Ronzani hired him in 1950 and put him in charge of player personnel.

In an era in which most teams drafted players based on what they read in media guides and magazines, Vainisi paid college coaches to fill out reports on their own players and opposing players. He then cross-referenced the reports and organized them in three-ring binders.

“Jack was a boy wonder,” Sam Vainisi said. “He was way ahead of his time.”

When the Packers were looking for a coach in 1959, Vainisi recommended Lombardi, the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator. Lombardi was wary of the team’s board, which he knew constantly meddled in football affairs. He told the board he would deal with only one man: Jack Vainisi.
He did not live to see the Packers play in the 1960 title game.

His successors in the scouting office never quite handled the problems of the succession.

Back to the reality article.
All of the familiar faces were in the usual places that September Sunday when the defending champs throttled lowly Philadelphia 30-13 at Lambeau in front of the usual packed house, Lombardi watching from his press box perch. One missing piece would haunt the club through the campaign and for several years to come as the rot set in: kicker Don Chandler retired in the off-season,and four replacements would try/fail to fill his square-toed shoes including the legendary lineman Jerry Kramer who started the season in that slot.

Bart Starr tossed two picks in a 26-13 loss to Minnesota in game two and three more in a 23-17 setback against Detroit as the Pack fell to an unheard of 1-2. Only the Bears stood between Green Bay and the cellar. They'd wax Atlanta the following week before going 1-3-1, leaving the Packers at 3-5-1 with five games to play. They'd [finish] up 6-7-1 with the eventual champion Colts (they were still in Baltimore then) applying the kill shot December 7, 1968 in front of a flag-waving sellout at Lambeau. When the reality set in that the game was lost and the era had ended, they rose as one to cheer long and loud for championships won, memories made, history secured.
No, history rhymes.
Sports Illustrated's legendary Tex Maule wrote that the Baltimore loss "was a microcosm of the whole unfortunate year for Green Bay", featuring four fumbles lost plus an interception and a four-yard punt by Anderson. The post-game Packers, wrote Maule, saw '68 as an interruption, not an end. "All the bad luck Green Bay escaped during the nine years under Vince Lombardi descended upon the team in Phil Bengtson's first season as coach," he opined, blaming what he deemed "the avalanche of injuries, bad bounces, missed field goals, and untimely penalties" for the team's first losing season since Lombardi's first year in the Fox Valley in 1959. Maule was wise enough to foresee what would doom the club as the 60's became the 70's. "Starr, when healthy, is still one of the most capable quarterbacks in the game," he noted, "but at 35 he has reached the age when injuries linger, and it would be foolhardy to expect him to grow sturdier in the seasons to come...The Packers will have to develop a good young quarterback and do so quickly if Bengtson is to duplicate the accomplishments of Lombardi."
Didn't happen.

Where are we now?
The Packers offense has struggled for most of the season — the 24 points scored in the second half of Week 1 remains a season high for a game — and Sunday was no different. They had some success running the ball but a 14-0 first-quarter deficit limited that. Aaron Rodgers lost multiple fumbles and the receivers didn’t consistently present themselves well. Mason Crosby missed three first-half field goals (five kicks total) and the special teams unit as a whole was undisciplined. The defense gave up big plays through the air and resumed making poorly timed penalties. No phase of the team had a good day.
Perhaps Mason Crosby has the yips, or perhaps he's getting old. Aaron Rodgers is at that age when injuries linger.
At 2-2-1 the Packers are the definition of mediocre entering the second quarter of the season, and they get an extra day to prepare for the San Francisco 49ers to come into Lambeau Field on Monday, Oct. 15. They’ll need a victory, and the following off week to continue to improve as the schedule is not favorable beginning Oct. 28 with back-to-back trips to Los Angeles to take on the high-flying Rams and then to New England to face the Patriots. They then get a short-week turnaround out to Seattle for a Thursday night game in Week 11.
It's not easy, but then, contemplating decline never is. Back to the history lesson.
1968 was an awful year, in the headlines and on the Green Bay sidelines. None of us foresaw what a cold year it would be and not even Green Bay Packers football could bring us out of that year's funk. It would take a while for the world to get a grip on what passed for normalcy. It took the Packers a whole lot longer, at least for a fan base that thought "normal" meant "championships."
Yes, and there's not going to be a redemptive Apollo 8 mission to show the Earth in perspective come Christmas.

Some things don't change.  Northern Illinois receiver Kenny Golladay is now playing on Sunday, for the Detroit Lions.
Lions coach Matt Patricia likes what he sees so far.

"There's a lot of different coverages that are coming his way, there's a lot of different fronts, doubles, bracket-type situations that he's running into. ... The great part about it is just his competitiveness overall," Patricia said.

"Doing the details, doing the little things – the blocking. Maybe some of the plays where he may draw a little bit more attention and free somebody else up. Those are big responsibilities in the offense and kind of help everything fit together for all the guys on the field."
The Lions and Bears are into their first seasons with new coaches and new systems, and they appear to be improving. The Vikings, on paper, still look formidable, although they, too, are having troubles on the field. The Packers: defensive letdowns, again, and troubling failures scoring touchdowns.



Book Review No. 26 is Clemson historian H. Roger Grant's Electric Interurbans and the American People.  I'm tempted to marvel simply that the product of an academic press (Indiana, in this instance) doesn't have a sub-title.  Yes, it has pictures, but no, it is not a Central Electric Railfans' Association style corporate history with rosters and notes on the disposition of cars.  It's closer in organization and scope to Frank Rowsome's old Trolley Car Treasury: there's the emergence of the cars, the prosperous years, the decline and fall, and the preservation, this time limited to the interurban (as opposed to the city and suburban) services.

It's the social history and political economy of the interurbans that give Grant's book its structure.  The electric car came along at an inopportune time: yes, it could overcome the inflexibility of the steam train with lighter construction, more frequent schedules, and the possibility of covering costs in more thinly settled areas.  Thus, between the electric cars and the introduction of rural telephones, rural folk could arrange the delivery of stuff or go into town for church or a social event or interact with a greater range of people or otherwise be spared the centuries-old idiocy of rural life.  Likewise, they could bring their goods to market, loading milk cans on the baggage section of the cars, or bringing the eggs into town and being home in time to make supper.

The timing was inopportune, though, as the private automobile, sometimes using the same electric technology, later with the Otto cycle engine, gave people even more freedom of movement (once the taxpayers started picking up the tab for improved roads, that is) and the private automobile provided courting couples with even more opportunities to escape eyes on the front porch as well as a safe space, if you will, for women who might otherwise be hit on on the electric cars.  Thus, although the interurbans made efforts to improve service and retain passengers, they "ran out of time."

There are probably additional research opportunities for people looking into how the extent of the market affects the division of labor.  As consumers used the cars (and later their flivvers) to comparison shop, creative destruction took place.  For instance, the merchants of Elyria, Ohio, complained that interurbans led to store closings: was that because shoppers could now discover lower prices in Lorain?  The beat goes on today.

Likewise, the contemporary light rail transportation lines have a lot in common with the lighter interurbans.  Heck, the Shaker Heights lines east of Cleveland and the Sharon Hill and Media lines west of Philadelphia are lighter interurbans.  Whether they provide "commuters and other riders alternatives to congested roadways, automobile wear-and-tear, parking costs, and gyrating fuel prices" (page 151) remains to be seen.  Perhaps, though, there will be a second interurban era.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)


The latter part of August and the first part of September were good opportunities to observe developments in O Scale.  Yes, I did spend some money and buy some stuff, but mostly it was observing what others were doing.

We'll start in the Capitol District, where the 2018 O Scale National Convention took place in Rockville, Maryland, an easy walk from the elevated trains and not far from the Maryland commuter trains, which only run week-days.

The theme for layout tours is Exquisite Modeling of Railroads that Maybe Shouldn't Have Been Built.  There are lots of pictures below the jump.



In some quarters, beer is now a political statement.  Seriously.

Look, the Superintendent is pleased that Justice Kavanaugh has been sworn in.

He's more pleased that the Milwaukee Brewers are still playing, with at least two more games at Miller Park.  (The Brewers clinched a playoff spot at Busch Stadium and finished a sweep of the divisional round at Coors Field.)

While the Cubs were collapsing, Oktoberfest season was winding down in Milwaukee.

You'd expect the Freistadt Alte Kameraden to be able to play their eponymous march without a conductor, and you'd be correct.

Yes, this travel report is from the end of September.

Yes, there is still unfinished business involving the Capitol Limited and two O Scale shows.

Yes, there are still crazy things going on in politics and the academy.

The Brewers will next play on Friday.  Perhaps I'll work some of the backlog off commencing Monday.

First things first.


During the War, the War Production Board allowed the South Shore Line to lengthen existing interurban cars so as to better transport the hordes of steel workers participating in the Midwestern Arsenal of Democracy.

The first car so modernized was Car 15, and the Central Electric Railfans' Association evidently had a paper allotment to publish a Bulletin, "The Modernization of Car 15," which in reprint form occasionally turns up in swap meets.

Lots of images below the jump.



City Lab's Jonathan English makes a provocative observation.
At the turn of the 20th century, when transit companies’ only competition were the legs of a person or a horse, they worked reasonably well, even if they faced challenges. Once cars arrived, nearly every U.S. transit agency slashed service to cut costs, instead of improving service to stay competitive. This drove even more riders away, producing a vicious cycle that led to the point where today, few Americans with a viable alternative ride buses or trains.
That's true up to a point: a full reckoning must consider both the PCC streetcar, an attempt to accelerate the modernization of the trolley to gain passengers, and the Pernambuco Tramway phenomenon, that bit of Progressive Era wishful thinking by which the fare must stay at a nickel because transportation is a fundamental right, or something.

Here's how it turns out.
Transit providers in the U.S. have continually cut basic local service in a vain effort to improve their finances. But they only succeeded in driving riders and revenue away. When the transit service that cities provide is not attractive, the demand from passengers that might “justify” its improvement will never materialize.
The rail transit crisis began, Mr English notes, with those Good Intentions.
By the 1920s, as the automobile became a fierce competitor, privately run transit struggled.

But public subsidy was politically challenging: There was a popular perception of transit as a business controlled by rapacious profiteers—as unpopular as cable companies and airlines are today. In 1920, the President’s Commission on Electric Railways described the entire industry as “virtually bankrupt,” thanks to rapid inflation in the World War I years and the nascent encroachment of the car.
The rent-seeking by the emergent highway lobby probably didn't help, either.  Mr English's next passage misses that.
The Depression crushed most transit companies, and the handful of major projects that moved forward in the 1930s were bankrolled by the New-Deal-era federal government: See the State and Milwaukee-Dearborn subways in Chicago, the South Broad Street subway in Philadelphia, and the Sixth Avenue subway in New York. But federal infrastructure investment would soon shift almost entirely to highways. A return to transit by Uncle Sam would not come for another three decades.
That shift didn't just happen. Yes, a military officer named Dwight Eisenhower had some logistics experience, and he was in a position to aid with the shift, but the automobile companies and the motor hobbyists had more than a little to do with it.

There's a lot more in the essay, and I'm only focusing on the absence of investment in fixed rail transit.  I conclude with one other foreseeable consequence.  When somebody in Washington noticed there wasn't much capital spending going on, the Wise Experts said, let's subsidize it and see if we can come up with a catchy acronym or long title for the bill.  But they didn't think through the incentives.
The big investments of the revival era were too little, too late. They also began the ominous pattern of relying on federal funding for capital construction and scarce local dollars for operations and maintenance. Today, many systems have limited frequency and severe maintenance issues due to funding shortfalls over the decades. From New York to San Francisco to Chicago to D.C., virtually every major American rapid transit system has had a service meltdown as a result of chronic deferred maintenance.
The same thing is true of the road network. It's the ribbon-cutting phenomenon, isn't it: the local politician can hand over the keys to the shiny new buses, or cut the ribbon opening the new road or bridge, but there's nothing sexy in patching potholes.


I have trouble being able to think anything about politics other than it is so toxic that the worst get on top by default.  Perhaps it is that bad, according to Salena Zito.
One of the most common complaints heard on the campaign trail in 2016 was this: Of all the inspiring, hardworking, bright men and women in this country, how did it come down to a choice between two people who were not exactly the paragons of virtue?

The answer two years ago was that people in this country had such a low viewpoint of government and institutions, it was hard to get good people to be willing to be involved because they lacked faith to get involved. In retrospect, two years ago may seem like a kinder, gentler time. Today, given that character assassination comes first, and facts come later, why would any good person jump in?
Perhaps, though, the brawlers are there because the voters have been hard done by.  That's Michael Graham's claim, in Boston's Herald.
When picking a Supreme Court nominee devolves into investigating his high school yearbook; determining when he lost his virginity; and a porn star’s attorney with last-second accusations of a gang-rape club 34 years ago — when you turn politics into the WWE, can you be surprised when voters want the “Manhattan Mauler” on their side?

Now do you understand why people like my evangelical parents and longtime “principled conservatives” tossed their principles and backed a rude, foul-mouthed fighter­ like Donald Trump? They knew how ugly the fight was going to get.
Yes, call voters "deplorable" and then use every point of leverage to get your way, Constitutionality be hanged: it's not the American Way to just sit and take it.  "Democrats turned politics into a bare-knuckle, blood-letting cage match — so the GOP went out and got themselves a fighter."

Rich Lowry reinforces.
The attempted political assassination of Brett Kavanaugh is bad for the country, but good for a Trumpian attitude toward American politics.

The last-minute ambush validates key assumptions of Trump’s supporters that fueled his rise and buttress him in office, no matter how rocky the ride has been or will become.
But while the Democrats and their allies in the academic-entertainment-media complex change the rules to suit themselves and antagonize Normals, there are people who might be tempted to vote Democratic who are also displeased.
There is not, and has never been, a unified, hierarchical resistance in the United States – nor should there be. There are simply millions of Americans who know they deserve better. It is less a resistance than an insistence that privileged impunity will no longer stand. If there is a unifying theme, it is against corruption – a rallying cry for white-collar crime to finally be punished, a repudiation of policies that steal from the poor to line the pockets of predators. There are those who rage at senators who wish to promote a man repeatedly accused of sexual assault to the highest court in the country. That is not normal, and the resistance – regular people who ask for simple checks and balances on power – won’t stop fighting against it.
Perhaps it's simply rage that the Credentialed Elite runs things so poorly.  Author Sarah Kendzior sees a more general institutional failure, but on whose watch did that failure occur?
In 2017, democracy was defenestrated through the Overton window, as an administration run on alternative facts attacked the very concept of truth. The brazen lawlessness and audacious corruption of the Trump administration shocked many, but less so the residents in my state of Missouri, where decades of dark money and dramatic political strife had long prepared citizens for the worst.
Eventually, we'll come to regret the day putting truth in air quotes got out of the philosophy workshop.  But although she's of the left, this observation could be straight out of Pajamas Media.
Every time I leave St. Louis for a wealthy coastal city, I feel like Katniss in The Hunger Games leaving District 12 for the Capitol. It’s not a feeling I had much before 2008, but the recession had created such an enormously unequal recovery that it was noticeable in ways beyond sticker shock. “Your billboards sell things,” I said in wonder to an L.A. friend driving me down the busy Sunset Strip, where products and TV shows were advertised instead of drug rehabs or Jesus or simply blank space.
Yes, and there are tensions between the Democrat elites and the Democrat base.
The audiences in Los Angeles and New York were as concerned about the decline of democracy and erosion of rights as people back in St Louis. They had their own economic plight, better hidden; gentrification instead of abandonment; debt instead of deprivation. They had their own sleazy politicians. Their perception of progressivism was skewed by living in solidly blue states, where the question was not whether politics would move to the left but how far to the left it could go, but they organized in much the same way activists in Missouri did, and their efforts received similarly little attention from the national media. Once again, the bulk of activists I met were women.
She concludes, though, with a remark that might not be out of place in Reason.
But when you look at the landscape of 2018, what you are left with is a seemingly consolidating autocracy, steadily eroding checks on its power – having captured the executive and legislative branches, it now threatens to devour the judiciary – while facing off against millions of opponents waging small, local battles against corruption and cruelty. There is no unifying figure; nor is it wise to seek one. There is no easy solution; nor is it wise to feign one. There are only people who deserve better, and people fighting on their behalf.

Over and over, I have heard from people whose lives were turned upside down by the Trump administration in horrific ways, as well as those who have turned their own lives upside down to help them. That is the chaos of a country forced to surrender its delusions, but refusing to surrender its soul. We will never be the same America; none of us are the same people we were before November, 2016. All we can do is choose to be better. Unlike in so many other things, at least in that we have a choice.
Yes, and note that whatever consolidations the Trump style Republicans accomplish will be consolidations available to any other style of Republicans, or any style of Democrats.

Let's note, though, that any attempt to identify consensus on what "be better" looks like is probably futile.


They're learning that the hard way at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  "Some new faculty members have been hired to replace others who left, but more lower-paid adjunct instructors who don't do research also are now teaching classes, arguably diluting the expertise at a university that has a dual academic mission of research and access."  That's long been the challenge in Milwaukee, and for that matter, at any other university that simultaneously calls the U.S. News rankings fake yet hails any improvement in its placement.


Kurt Schlichter asks, So, What Are The Rules Anyway?

His summation: "I think there actually are no rules anymore. I think the elite is so terrified it is losing its power that it is tossing out the foundations of the society it is supposed to organize and manage, that is, the rules. I think our elite actually does not believe in rules, that their attempts at enforcing the rules are merely a grift designed to jam up Normals and provide a way to keep them in line."

That's not going to end well.

Jill Richardson, who probably would not get along with Kurt Schlichter on anything, observes, "If we taught men better ways of 'being a man,' we wouldn't have to teach women to cover their drinks."

Yes, her notion of "better ways" is laced with soy, and yet, her conclusion reads, "Maybe if we raised men to feel their full range of emotions, to feel confident in their manhood without violating women, and to respect the boundaries of others, we wouldn’t have to teach women to use the buddy system and watch their drinks."

The essence of the bourgeois norm is "respect the boundaries of others."

Fifty years of tearing the boundaries down and calling it social progress gets high school yearbook entries read into the Congressional Record, and not in a good way.