18.10.18

TAIL TRACK.

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

WHEN THE CARS WERE SERVICED AT COLD SPRING SHOPS.

Milwaukee's new streetcar will begin receiving passengers on 2 November.

That gives local historian John Gurda an opportunity to recall the cars of The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Company.  "Eastern capitalists joined with local leaders to create the Milwaukee Street Railway Company, a full-fledged utility that was the first in America to provide electricity for lighting, power and transit from a single central station under a single corporate ownership." That central station also provided spent steam for central heating, thus The Milwaukee Light Heat and Traction Company.

Today's cars might be a civic asset, or they might be a boondoggle.
Although The Hop is thoroughly modern, it is undeniably a streetcar system, and that, to some vocal critics, is the height of absurdity. Why, they ask, are we resurrecting a system that our grandparents abandoned? Why go back to the rust-streaked past when the future promises us driverless cars?

Why? Because The Hop could be the down payment on a system that clears the city’s center of its automotive clutter and speeds residents to jobs, shopping, home and recreation as efficiently as the cars of the John I. Beggs era — while it promotes development and creates tax base.

Could it happen? It will be years before we know for certain whether The Hop will be more than a novelty for residents and a curiosity for visitors. Milwaukee lacks the congestion that has made light rail a necessity in New York, Chicago, and even Minneapolis, but that could change as downtown continues to blossom. In the meantime, the tracks are down, the cars are here, and the rides are free.
There isn't going to be enough parking space for those driverless cars, let alone a business model to cover the costs of providing enough cars.

The residential development might already be taking place.
Now known as the Underwriters Exchange Building, it will be renamed Street Car Flats, said developer Paul Dincin.

His firm, Chicago-based Catapult Real Estate Solutions LLC, plans to begin renovations in February.

The project will convert the nine-story underused office building, 828 N. Broadway, into 73 apartments, Dincin told the Journal Sentinel.
The icon of Our Lady of Sewer Socialists is next door at Old St. Mary's Church.


The contemporary cars will not have to deadhead to Cold Spring Shops on the west side for maintenance.


Some of the older Milwaukee streetcars are still in preservation, in Wisconsin, in Illinois, and in Maine.

REDISCOVERING BOURGEOIS CONVENTIONS, AND EMERGENCE.

In Common Dreams, F. M. Lappé writes, "Above all, democracy is a cultural journey—not an end stage—headed towards widely dispersed power and away from concentrated control."

First a reminder: this is what concentrated control looks like.


Ms Lappé begins by arguing from the negative. "Elections plus a market do not democracy make." No, particularly if there are no limitations on what the governing classes get to do.

I give you Reason's J. D. Tuccile.  "A big change allowing people to peacefully pick the laws they live by while respecting their neighbors' right to do the same is better than endless battles over who gets to stuff their preferred governance down the throats of the vanquished."

Back to Ms Lappé:  "First, democracy is a journey away concentrated power. From Hitler and Mao to Big Oil and Facebook—tightly held power has proven to lead humans to justify narrow self-seeking and so much worse—from atrocities all the way to genocide."  But the more powers you grant to governing bodies, the more likely you are going to get preferred governance stuffed onto people.

She continues, "Second, democracy is a journey away from secrecy." Her focus, as you might expect from a Common Dreams essay, is on the purchase of influence in politics.  The simplest way there might be to generate fewer rents for influence dealers to traffic in.

She concludes, "Third, democracy is movement away from a culture of blame."  Again, her focus is on the Othering practiced by insiders and nativists, but in no way is she encouraging the angry Social Justice Warriors that Peter Wood recently criticized as "[Thought leaders in higher education] preach 'social justice,' which amounts to a comprehensive antipathy to our freedom and our civilization. The antipathy is typically soft-pedaled but is not less an antipathy for that." That is, the quintessence of privilege-checking and all the rest is institutionalizing a culture of blame.

Perhaps there's room for making common cause.

Let me refresh your memory.  "Emergence is messy, and perhaps rediscovering evolutionary stable strategies, even if by people whose politics the gentry deplore, is not bad per se."

BRAINWASHING IS WHAT CHINESE COMMUNISTS DO.

China says interning Muslims brings them into 'modern' world.
About 1 million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other minorities have been arbitrarily detained in mass internment camps in China's far west Xinjiang region, according to estimates by a U.N. panel. Former detainees say they were forced to disavow their Islamic beliefs in the camps, while children of detainees are being placed in dozens of orphanages across the region.

The report by the official Xinhua News Agency indicated that key to the party's vision in Xinjiang is the assimilation of the indigenous Central Asian ethnic minorities into Han Chinese society — and in turn, a "modern" lifestyle."

Xinjiang Gov. Shohrat Zakir said the authorities were providing people with lessons on Mandarin, Chinese history and laws. Such training would steer them away from extremism and onto the path toward a "modern life" in which they would feel "confident about the future," he said.

"It's become a general trend for them to expect and pursue a modern, civilized life," Zakir said, referring to the trainees. He said the measures are part of a broader policy to build a "foundation for completely solving the deeply-rooted problems" in the region.

China has long viewed the country's ethnic minorities as backward, said James Leibold an expert on Chinese ethnic polices at Melbourne's La Trobe University.

Leibold described Beijing's perspective on minorities as: "They're superstitious, they're deviant, they're potentially dangerous. The role of the party-state is to bring them into the light of civilization, to transform them."
They don't put Uighurs in corrective labor camps or reservations. "Transform," however, is language any Student Affairs deanlet would understand.

BAD HISTORY.

At a recent rally, Our President noted it took an Ohio man, Ulysses Grant, to pen Robert E. Lee in.

The usual suspects went nuts, because it's apparently forbidden to say anything complimentary about Confederate leaders.

For the record, it was as much the ineptitude of feckless commanders such as McClellan, Burnside, and Hooker as it was any generalship that made Lee look good.  Yes, given his circumstances, he had to take risks, but his risks mostly didn't pay off.  It took Grant less than two months to pen Lee in at Petersburg.

17.10.18

MAKE PENN STATION GREAT AGAIN.

Insta Pundit's Ed Driscoll, who has long recognized the destruction of New York's Pennsylvania Station as part of the self-negation of the Second Era of American Greatness, welcomes National Review aboard the train.  Rectify a Crime Against Architecture, indeed.

Just put it back the way it was.  Well, almost.  The New Jersey Transit departure concourse occupies space that was an open-air court in the design of the original station.

DONALD TRUMP IS COMPLICIT IN POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.

The National Park Service is taking pages from the Campus Censorship playbook, establishing a free speech zone outside the White House, and complaining about the expense of maintaining the peace.
[On] Aug. 7, the Trump administration's National Park Service promulgated rules that threaten protests like the nightly White House demonstrations — as well as any other would-be spontaneous large D.C. protests. The rules would restrict gatherings that now take place on a 25-foot-wide sidewalk in front of the White House to just a 5-foot sliver, severely limiting crowds. The NPS also threatens to hit political protesters on the National Mall with large security and cleanup fees that historically have been waived for such gatherings, and it wants to make it easier to reject a spontaneous protest of the type that might occur, say, if Trump fires special counsel Robert Mueller.

"President Trump might not like having protesters on his doorstep, but the First Amendment guarantees their right to be there," Arthur Spitzer, legal codirector of the D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote in a post opposing the rules. But foes of the measure rallied late and are running out of time: The government's comment period ends on Monday.

The ACLU notes that we've been here before. In 1967, as protests were mounting over the Vietnam War, the ACLU and other free-speech advocates had to go to court against the administration of Democrat Lyndon Johnson, which had tried to implement protest limits similar to what's being proposed in 2018.
Fifty years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union had not yet become a political action committee for the Angry Left, nor had the potential of Critique of Pure Tolerance as an operating manual for people bent on fostering diversity by limiting diversity been appreciated.

Public spaces are for public assemblies.  On campus.  In Washington.  Wherever people respect the Constitution.

IF IT PREEMPTS JUST ONE BLUTO, IT'S WORTH IT.

That appears to be what Balkinization was arguing.  (Inside Higher Ed saw fit to reward the post with a hot take.  Consider the source.)
For thirty-five years, Brett Kavanaugh has romanticized his underage drinking, inspiring other ambitious young men to drink to excess, confident that their behaviors will have little bearing on their professional lives once as adults they moderate their drinking or moderate their drinking behavior. If Kavanuagh [c.q.] goes down, somewhere in North Bethesda or elsewhere, an ambitious young man might decide not to attend an underage drinking party or to moderate his drinking behavior at such affairs. One less neighbor may be be woken up at three in the morning. One less racial epithet may be uttered. One less window may be broken. One less drunk driving accident may occur. One less woman may be sexually assaulted. One less drinker and one less victim may have their lives not damaged, ruined or destroyed.
Sorry, no. There's this concept in economics called cost-benefit analysis, in which the costs of saving one life by scheduling a mammogram or installing a traffic signal, or avoiding one overdose or letting one clueless academic loose with the imprimatur of Inside Higher Ed must be weight against the benefits.  Is stripping any semblance of protection under the laws from Senate hearings, which is what the Democrats seemed bent on doing, the proper price to pay for preempting some future Bluto, who may or may not screen for the High Bench?

Eventually, they will come for youIt came to this, Herr Graber, the first time you wrote up a freshman on intoxication charges you knew not to be true.

KILLING THE BUZZ.

Helen at Women's Hoops wants to take the play value away.  "Supporting women’s basketball is a political act against sexism, racism and homophobia. Anyone who believes otherwise is not paying attention."

If that's your prime reason for going to the games, you're not paying attention. Perhaps it's because  there might be years when that's the highest-achieving winter sport on campus, or because it's a way to get younger kids interested in your university, or because there's something resembling team play, with the potential for mid-major teams to achieve, as reasons to watch.  That it's more about the level of play than the ascriptive or behavioral characteristics of the players might, yes, open minds.

I note, though, that the sexual politics of women's sport has yet to deal with the challenges of crossers.  What happens, for instance, if a media-savvy coach with a touch of rebelliousness recruits several tallish male-to-female crossers and ends the Connecticut - Tennessee - Stanford et. al. dominance of the tournament once and for all?

NEW EVIDENCE HAS TURNED UP.

It's not as fraught as the train-wreck the Democrats made of the Kavanaugh nomination, but it's playing out the same way.
It has come to our attention that one of the recently elected candidates for office of the American Economic Association is the subject of allegations, being accused of creating a hostile work environment.   Neither the Nominating Committee, nor the Executive Committee knew of such allegations at the time of nomination.   We also believe that few of the members knew of the allegations at the time of the election.

We take such allegations seriously, but they are, at this point, just allegations.  While the home institution will neither deny nor confirm the existence of an investigation, we understand that one is underway, and may come to some conclusions in the not too distant future.   We have decided that, before proceeding further, we should wait for those conclusions, if they are made public and they come within a reasonable amount of time.  If not, we shall reexamine our position.

One conclusion we already draw is that, in the future, we shall ask potential nominees if they are the subject of an investigation.  This will help avoid such situations going forward.
Inside Higher Education has more, including the name of the latest Brett Joseph K.

Given the propensity of Student Affairs types to investigate people on the flimsiest of claims, we're likely to see professional jealousies manifesting themselves in the nomination of people to high positions in the disciplinary associations through the strategic creation of accusations.  I'd be delighted to be shown wrong about this prediction.

16.10.18

THE LITTLE HEISLER ON THE PRAIRIE.

Trains editor Jim Wrinn visits the Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad on the outskirts of Freeport.  "[Heisler locomotive] No. 2 went first to Indiana, came to Illinois in 1982, and started running in 1986. Her keepers maintain her boiler to state standards, keep her boiler pressure low (150 psi), and run her eight to 10 weekends a year. Given that the former Milwaukee Road track that No. 2 runs on is flat and mostly straight – one slight curve – and that her train is three covered flatcars with benches and a wood caboose, her life is an easy one. She will be around for years."

His post is amply illustrated.  There are more pictures from a dozen years ago here and here.

There's one more opportunity to see the diesel train for Hallowe'en this Sunday.  Heavy rains from August to October have disrupted normal life in the Freeport area, including several scheduled open days on the railroad.

RILING UP THE NORMALS.

James Pinkerton opens with a history lesson.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last half century, it’s that a victory for the left in the media is not the same thing as a victory for Democrats in electoral politics. Yes, the media might be trying hard on behalf of Democrats, but favored media causes—most obviously various flavors of left-liberationism—are often not the same as American centrism. And it’s in the center that a party builds out a majority. In other words, if the Democrats let the media push them too far to the left, that’s not good for their electoral health.
Yes, he's thinking about the fallout from the Kavanaugh confirmation, but then, softness on crime, softness on communism, softness on counterterrorism, macroeconomic torpor, "you didn't build that," and inedible school lunches might have contributed.

This time, though, there's something more troubling at work.  John Hinderaker notes that the calls to "resistance" might not end well.
I am sure a lot of Republicans in Washington are upgrading their security systems and making sure they are prepared to defend themselves against crazed Democratic Party activists. This isn’t the America I grew up in, but it is the America we all live in now.

The thing I don’t understand is, why do Democrats like Cory Booker, Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer, etc., think they are the only ones who can use violence to advance their cause? Do they not understand what a whirlwind they will unleash if they try to use political violence as a path to power?
Particularly if they provoke people who want to post what they want, pray how they want, associate with who they want, and carry a pistol to protect those other rights.

In a subsequent post, Mr Hinderaker recognizes as much.
Why are Democrats confident that political violence is a one-way street? Conservatives are, on average, better armed than liberals and–I think it is safe to say–more personally formidable. Yet liberals clearly have no fear that conservatives will respond to their violence and mob intimidation in kind. I think that is because they assume we are better than they are. We care about our country, we value its institutions, and we try to maintain the basic presumption of good faith that underlies our democratic system.

The Democrats are right to think that we are better than they are, but conservatives’ patience is not infinite. The potential for significant political violence is higher today than it has been at any time since the Great Depression, and perhaps since the Civil War. The Democrats are sowing the wind, and they may reap the whirlwind.
Let the record show that retiring U. N. ambassador Nikki Haley might have been the first Republican politician to lower a rebel flag in South Carolina since Sherman's March.

Perhaps the militant normals will be angry enough to go to the polls in November.
The incoherent Democrats are reduced to street violence, the press is discredited, our institutions are mostly pathetic. Who benefits? President Donald J. Trump. Trump truly is the man of the hour. Trump has been on to the “fake news” press from the beginning. And if there ever was any fake news, it is Christine Ford’s Democrat-engineered lie. Trump represents normal Americans who didn’t go to Harvard or Yale but have a modicum of common sense, which many professors at those institutions obviously don’t.

Trump nominated a solidly conservative justice to the Supreme Court, and steadfastly stood by him despite the Democrats’ wacko smears. I don’t think the Democrats understand how many millions of people view their smear campaign with contempt, and appreciate President Trump for standing by his nominee.
To paraphrase another Republican with experience waging a civil war, "I can't spare this man, he fights."
Trump relied on his own visceral sense of the moment and mocked Christine Blasey Ford for gaps in her memory, directly impugning the accuser’s credibility.

Establishment Republicans initially reacted with horror. But Trump’s 36-second off-script jeremiad proved a key turning point toward victory for the polarizing nominee, White House officials and Kavanaugh allies said, turbocharging momentum behind Kavanaugh just as his fate appeared most in doubt.

Tuesday evening in Southhaven, Miss., Trump laid into Ford with the ruthlessness of an attack dog and the pacing of a stand-up comedian. The crowd roared with laughter and applause. Aides privately crowed as footage of the performance was played and replayed many times over, shifting the national discussion from scrutiny of Kavanaugh’s honesty and drinking habits to doubts about Ford’s memory. And in Washington, Republican senators — though they condemned Trump’s mockery of Ford — felt emboldened to aggressively demand Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which became a near-certainty Friday and looks to become official with a vote Saturday.
The Democrats' enablers in the press probably thought that throwing a few ice cubes would be enough to convince Judge Kavanaugh to say "Enough," or for Senators Graham and Collins to go to the White House and tell Our President he didn't have the votes.

The enablers lost their composure, the senators stood up for the rule of law.

General Simon Bolivar Buckner thought it unchivalrous of General Grant to write, "No other terms than unconditional and immediate surrender. I propose to move immediately upon your works."

General Buckner had stronger stuff than ice cubes to throw.

John Podhoretz notes, the Democrats are still making parade-ground charges, the way the armies of 1861 did.
Republicans and conservatives could see the same enemies arrayed against Kavanaugh they had seen over the past 35 years: liberal interest groups and the Democratic politicians whose staffs help populate those groups, working hand in hand with a pliable and credulous media to create the impression of guilt and evil where there are no facts to back up that impression.
This time, they couldn't. They'll likely be back, nastier, next time.

That is, if they get a next time.  Let the thing be pressed.

CALL THE AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ASTERISK AN AFFIRMATIVE ACTION ASTERISK.

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren releases the results of a DNA test that suggests she has Native American, or perhaps American, DNA mix that's within the margin of error for the test.

A kerfuffle of Trumpian proportions is riling up talk radio and opinion journalism today.

The Trenchant Question of the Day goes to Inside Higher Ed's Colleen Flaherty.  "Why did Elizabeth Warren divulge her genetic test results, which show she is in fact part Native American, while simultaneously insisting that she's always been evaluated professionally as a white person?"

Turn on the Wayback Machine.  "Roger Clegg asks the question Nobody in Polite Society dares ask. 'Well, yes, it’s quite plausible that, if you are hired according to lower standards, some people will devalue your record.'"  (The National Review link goes to their old Phi Beta Cons.  No guarantees as to it working.)

Here's how it plays at Inside Higher Ed.
Many women and minority scholars say that they must constantly deal with those who doubt they've earned their academic successes. But the issue is more complicated in some ways for Native American professors. It’s arguably a case of having one’s cake and eating it, too: affirming one’s Native American heritage but denying to have ever been professionally evaluated as a nonwhite person. And Adrienne Keene, assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies and Brown University, and Kim TallBear, associate professor of Native studies at the University of Alberta in Canada, among others, find it distasteful.
The Oppression Olympics, and the slanging matches going on in the comment section, are as you might expect.

Better for Professor Warren, and for diversity hires generally, to be thought of as Privilege Americans rather than as Asterisk Americans?

Perhaps it might be better for Americans to think of themselves as Americans.  Here's Charlie "Prof Scam" Sykes, less than impressed with the whole show.  "What possible relevance does this miniscule detail have for Elizabeth Warren’s ability to teach the law or to make public policy? In what way did the ancestry of her great-great-great-great-great grandparents contribute to the diversity of higher education?"  Or, to quote another cranky old lady still too much in the news, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"

A GOOD NIGHT FOR CHEESEHEADS.

The Milwaukee Brewers regained home-field advantage for the pennant series with a 4-0 win in Los Angeles.  Orlando Arcia continues to impress.  That final score is closer than it looks: for the third straight game, the tying run has been at bat during the final half-inning.  "[Closer Jeremy] Jeffress then somehow extricated himself from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth with consecutive strikeouts to give Milwaukee a 2-1 series lead."

Sometimes, the best coaching technique is to give a player that had a bad game a chance at redemption.

Later that evening, the Green Bay Packers rallied with three minutes remaining in the game to defeat the 'Niners in regulation.  "Through six games this has not looked like a good team. Not by any stretch."  But the 'Niners had to be careful about Aaron Rodgers getting a good long pass off when the Packer offense got the ball with three minutes to play.
The 49ers dialed back the pressure, and Rodgers connected on two big plays to Davante Adams (38 and 19 yards) and a huge third-and-2 back-shoulder throw to rookie Equanimeous St. Brown (19 yards). And with the 49ers driving for a possible game-winning field, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix got home on a third-down blitz and pressured Beathard into his lone big mistake of the night, a downfield underthrow that Kevin King picked off.
Richard Sherman got flagged for defensive holding, and just over a minute is plenty of time to get into field goal range.

Sometimes, the best coaching technique is to give a player that had a bad game a chance at redemption.

15.10.18

TIME FOR THE ANGRY PARTISANS TO R-E-L-A-X?

Kevin D. Williamson, none the worse for wear for being purged by Atlantic Monthly, notes "The World Keeps Not Ending."  Perhaps he's seeing something I hinted at last year.  "If ... the cults of the CEO and the Wise Experts and the Presidency are all tarnished, perhaps we will have an environment more conducive to getting along."

What's amusing is that it's the behavior of a sitting president that's tarnishing that cult.  Somehow the Republic endures.  Here's Mr Williamson.
Americans have developed a weird, cultish, caesaropapist attitude toward the presidency, without ever stopping to consider that the nation has thrived under the administration of a succession of very different men with very different political agendas: Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and, now, Donald Trump: The fact that America just keeps on trucking irrespective of the qualities or character of the man in the Oval Office ought to make us think rather less of the presidency and rather more of ourselves — and think better of our neighbors, our businesses, our public institutions, our civil society, and much else — including the citizens who do not share our political views.
There's a lot in his article, by all means read and understand all of it.

I submit, though, that there might be a simpler explanation behind the hysteria attaching itself to the Democrats, the establishment Republicans, the permanent government, and their enablers in what passes for journalism and the academy these days.
Longstanding American institutions ranging from the First Amendment to the Electoral College to the Senate have been suddenly and rashly declared “illegitimate.” Why? Because, at the moment, they are keeping the Left from getting what it wants. The Left wants to silence certain right-wing critics and dissidents, and the First Amendment stops them. The Senate and the Electoral College perform their intended constitutional role in protecting the interests of the less-populous states and their residents, ensuring the protecting of minority interests from the tyranny of the majority. This annoys the would-be tyrants. (They are, to their discredit, unable to truly appreciate that political tides turn, and that majorities are fickle things.) The ordinary political processes of the United States have produced results that the Left does not like, and, hence, those processes and the institutions that enable them must be considered illegitimate. The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is to be understood as a national emergency because . . . Democrats would prefer to have somebody else, and they believe they having something like a divine right to rule.
Yes, that's the kind of thing that keeps the pundit class busy on Sunday mornings, and you can supply whatever deflections such as "But the Democrats aren't appealing to inland voters" and "Republicans fail to appeal to minorities" and what have you and fill up several hours worth of panels (and get Chris Matthews's eyeballs bulging in the process.)

Suppose, though, that what people who have lives notice is that a sitting president can put all sorts of wild stuff out on Twitter and play golf every weekend and spend much of his week at campaign rallies ... and life goes on.  There's nothing quite like life going on without the appearance of Someone in Authority mattering to get people questioning the utility of the governing class.

George Will sort of gets it, although his salary depends on his, or perhaps Jonathan Rauch's, not fully grasping it.
Modernity began when humanity “removed reality-making from the authoritarian control of priests and princes” and outsourced it to no one in particular. It was given over to “a decentralized, globe-spanning community of critical testers who hunt for each other’s errors.” This is why today’s foremost enemy of modernity is populism, which cannot abide the idea that majorities are not self-validating, and neither are intense minorities (e.g., the “Elvis lives” cohort). Validation comes from the “critical testers” who are the bane of populists’ existence because the testers are, by dint of training and effort, superior to the crowd, “no matter how many” are in it.
"Majorities" and "minorities" are terms from politics, and their validity requires that people respect the institutions of republican or democratic governance (the lower cases are deliberate). Anyone can be a "critical tester" and the validity of critical testing requires that people respect rules of inference, evidence, and logic.  Superiority is emergent. Order emerges, and Mr Will sees it. "Hayek recommended to governments epistemic humility and preached the superiority, and indispensability, of markets, society’s spontaneous order for gathering dispersed information and testing it." That's classical political economy in a nutshell.  That also might be the wisdom of the much-ignored Tenth Amendment.

Mr Williamson, again.  "Political fanaticism is not rooted in ideology. It is the hollow clanging sound that social life makes when banging up against an empty soul."  Perhaps I should follow my own advice and get back to work on my railroad.  " That's less depressing than documenting the world going to hell." Or, perhaps, if I knew an angry partisan well enough, I'd buy him a train set.

NO BEACH BOYS TO SING ABOUT THIS THIRD WORLD CALIFORNIA.

Two governors named Brown, and one with a first name of Gray.  No longer are you safe and warm, if you live in L.A.


Joel Kotkin has long chronicled California's mutation from destination to dystopia; in a recent essay with Marshall Toplansky, he's unsparing.
California is creating a feudalized society characterized by the ultra-rich, a diminishing middle class and a large, rising segment of the population that is in or near poverty.Overall our state state now suffers one of the highest GINI rates — the ratio between the wealthiest and the poorest—among the states, and the inequality is growing faster than in almost any state outside the Northeast, notes liberal economist James Galbraith. The state’s level of inequality now is higher than that of Mexico, and closer to that of Central American banana republics like Guatemala and Honduras than it is to developed states like Canada and Norway.

California, adjusted for costs, has the overall highest poverty rate in the country, according to the United States Census Bureau. A recent United Way study showed that close to one in three of the state’s families are barely able to pay their bills. Overall, 8 million Californians live in poverty, including 2 million children, a number that according to a recent report, has risen since the Great Recession, despite the boom.

California’s poverty, and the loss of a middle class, is most profoundly felt in the interior counties.
It's been a long time coming, and the unthinking boutique multiculturalism that gives deviancy a pass, if it is poor or ethnic enough, doesn't help.  That might be moot, as Messrs. Kotkin and Toplansky argue that the usual nostrums from the usual politicians, are inadequate.
In this dispiriting election year, no prominent California politician, left or right, has addressed seriously the collapse of the state’s dream of upwardly [c.q.] mobility. A problem this complex can’t be addressed by the party bromides — lower taxes by conservatives and more subsidies by progressives . The real problems lie with policies that keep housing prices high, an education system that is a disgrace, particularly for the poor, and a business climate so over-regulated that jobs can be created either in very elite sectors or in lower-paying service professions. Even in the Bay Area in coming decades regional agencies predict only one in five new jobs will be middle income; the rest will be at the lower end.

Of course, this increasingly class-bound society could survive , as long as the economy stays on an even keel, so that the rich can pay the bulk of taxes. But this feudal California is neither economically or socially sustainable over the long term. A recent poll found that only 17 percent of Californians believe the state’s current generation is doing better than previous ones. More than 50 percent thought 18-30-year-old Californians were doing worse. Our research finds that a large percentage of Californians have virtually no discretionary money available, after taxes and reasonable living expenses are taken into consideration.
In part, California is a casualty of the end of the Cold War, or if you want to say of the securing of the Pax Americana, for reasons Michael Warren lays out.
Dan Walters, a longtime political journalist in Sacramento, will tell you it was the end of the Cold War that really brought about Democratic dominance. He points to the decline of the defense and aerospace industries, major employers in Southern California, which prompted an exodus of Republican voters—middle-class, white, and suburban—to cheaper states. Los Angeles County regularly went for the GOP in elections. It’s simple arithmetic, says Walters. When the GOP lost Los Angeles, it turned California over completely to the Democrats.

Today, the state is a liberal’s dream. It’s multicultural. It’s largely urbanized. It is socially and environmentally progressive. People here frequently boast, without a trace of smugness, that if you want to see America in 10 years, look at California.
It might not be as simple as that, as even a sun-splashed green utopia might eventually run out of other peoples' money.
Look at the housing shortage and homelessness, the decline of manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs, and the growth of a tech economy that rewards disruption over predictability, and you see why some are suspicious of the California way. Others just see potential: Without the middle classes to object, progressives think, the wealth can be redistributed to help those who need food, health care, and housing. California can be a place where social progress is achieved and immigrants are welcomed with open arms, no questions asked. It can be the picturesque center of a movement to reverse the effects of climate change and save the entire world.
Catch that Divine Passive, "the wealth can be redistributed." By whom? From whom? Good luck with that.

14.10.18

MAINTAINED AT COLD SPRING SHOPS.

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.

10.10.18

ANTICIPATING TRUMP?

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.)

PELTZMAN EFFECTS.

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.

SO MUCH WINNING.

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.

FEAR THE MOB.

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.

TEMPERING PRINCIPLE WITH PRACTICALITY?

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?

THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT DE KALB?

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.

WHY IT IS IMPERATIVE TO MAKE PEOPLE EMBARRASSED TO CALL THEMSELVES "PROGRESSIVE."

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!

9.10.18

FAREWELL, AMTRAK.

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.

NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO GO WOBBLY.

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.

I'LL BELIEVE IT WHEN I SEE IT.

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.