10.8.20

TAIL TRACK.

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

LET'S TAKE A TRAIN RIDE.

Newsweek's Alexandra Schonfeld presents the case for a cross-country train trip.  "Marie Baro did just that, when she and her husband decided to embark on the Amtrak's California Zephyr which runs from Chicago to San Francisco clocking in at just over 51 hours over the July 4 weekend." They were riding a Superliner roomette, and the etiolated food service is just the thing for social distancing.  The article of course mentions the sightseeing (regular readers will have seen Emeryville - eastern Nevada, Colorado, and Denver - Chicago previously), and it offers a refresher on the opportunities to mingle and get to know something about the country. "We still got the chance to meet people with very interesting and different paths from ours: a farmer from Illinois, a diplomat, an Amish couple," Baro said. "It was definitely one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life, and the COVID-19 did not refrain us from enjoying it 100 percent—it might actually have made it better."

Yes, once the house arrests are done, I plan to get back on the rails.

AN ARMED SOCIETY IS A POLITE SOCIETY.

Two months ago, we noted some residents of Crown Point, Indiana keeping watch on protesters.

Apparently, protesters taking their case into neighborhoods that might not be sympathetic is still a thing, and sometimes the outcomes are less tame.

We start in Fort Collins, Colorado, where it is possible the local Soy ISIS decided to venture out of their safe spaces around Colorado State University.  "During a pro-police rally Saturday in Fort Collins, Colorado, a contingent of left-wing extremists reportedly showed up and stepped into the neighborhood across from the Fort Collins Police Services building where the rally was being held. In response, the rallygoers apparently rushed into the neighborhood and chased the extremists right out, but not without first treating them to some fist sandwiches."

We continue to Boise, where counterveiling protesters also had a dust-up.

It gets even more interesting, the Soy ISIS act is exhausting people's patience in Seattle.

Neighbors denied access to a large group of aggressive protestors who tried to gain entry into Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best’s home in Snohomish County. The protesters said they did not plan on causing harm but wanted to “make some noise” and to talk to the police chief about the fate of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The demonstrators said they tried talking to the neighbors to grant them entry but they refused. Instead, the neighbors erected barricades and displayed firearms making them feel unsafe. The demonstrators said they were innocent and that the neighbors were the “aggressors.”

However, the police chief was thankful to her neighbors for preventing the crowd from trespassing and engaging in illegal behavior despite their numerous attempts to do so.

Additionally, she wrote a letter to the city council asking the elected officials to address the intimidation of public officers by the BLM protesters. Best added that the actions of the protesters went against the country’s democratic principles and that elected officials must stop the practice before it becomes the trend locally and countrywide.
Many members of the public have come to the conclusion that peaceful protesters do not carry baseball bats and fireworks, and that the Soy ISIS crowd generally do, and that having participants in Soy ISIS feeling aggressed against is probably a good thing.

THERE CAN BE AREAS OF MUTUAL BENEFIT. THERE IS NO COMMON GOOD.

I've consistently resisted treating "common good" or its cousins "general will" or "public interest" as a singular noun.   Don "Cafe Hayek" Boudreaux commends the efforts of a George Mason undergraduate student, Dominic Pino, to suggest that the singular noun might be valid.

He starts by introducing an impartial observer to adjudicate a simple conflict.

One can think of the impartial spectator existing on different levels.  The lowest level is the most obvious: some person judging an event who isn’t on either side.  We most commonly use the word “spectator” in an athletic context, so let’s consider a football game between the Packers and the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago.  Packers and Bears fans at the game would be spectators, but they are not impartial.  But if a couple from Los Angeles who normally cheer for the Rams (who are in a different division and aren’t rivals with either the Packers or the Bears) were visiting Chicago and decided to attend the game just for something fun to do, they would be impartial spectators.

That’s the most obvious sense of the phrase, and it’s easy to see how the perspective of an impartial spectator would be important for judgment.  Let’s say there’s 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and the Packers are down by four points.  They’re on the Bears’ 15 yard line, and it’s fourth down.  Aaron Rodgers tosses a pass into the endzone to a waiting Packers wide receiver, and a Bears defensive back makes a physical play to break up the pass.  All the Bears fans are cheering, and all the Packers fans are crying for a defensive pass interference call from the referees.

Our couple from Los Angeles is going to provide better judgment on what the proper call was than the Bears fan sitting to their left or the Packers fan sitting to their right.  As a Packers fan, I can hardly write this example without saying it was obviously pass interference!
In a sporting event, we are counting on the officials to get this call right in the first place, although the idea of an impartial spectator has an intellectual history as old as Solomon or Hammurabi.

The next step of the induction seems straightforward enough.
The value of an impartial spectator now established, let’s consider a higher level of impartial spectator (I promise we will arrive at the common good eventually).  There’s value in a random bystander’s opinion, but each of us have people we trust more than others.  Those people can also be impartial spectators.  Unlike our couple from Los Angeles at the football game, these impartial spectators often don’t really watch the event they are supposed to be judging.  We think of them, however, to judge our actions.  Examples might include parents, grandparents, clergy, teachers, professors, or coaches.

We have all had situations where a friend does something, and we shudder and think, “My mom would kill me if I did that.”  Or we do something good, and we think, “Coach So-And-So would be so proud of me right now.”  When we have those thoughts, we are using that higher level of the impartial spectator, and it’s more versatile than the real-life impartial spectator.  The couple from Los Angeles at the football game would only be helpful in a few specific situations, but considering what our moral exemplars would think about actions is helpful in many various situations.
That strikes me as more about doing the right thing, and having the right reasons for doing those right things, than it is about resolving disputes.

It is in the subsequent step where I fear he reaches beyond understanding mutual interest, and goes a singular noun too far.
Now imagine an impartial spectator who is above all, overflowing with benevolence, and supremely knowledgeable.  [Adam] Smith writes [in Theory of Moral Sentiments] that this impartial spectator

does not feel himself worn out by the present labour of those whose conduct he surveys; nor does he feel himself solicited by the importunate calls of their present appetites.  To him their present, and what is likely to be their future situation, are very nearly the same: he sees them nearly at the same distance, and is affected by them very nearly in the same manner.

An impartial spectator who doesn’t grow weary, never tires of our petitions, and stands outside of time so that the past, present, and future look the same to him—if he’s not God, he’s at least godlike.  Continuing the progression, this impartial spectator is universal and concerned with what we can safely call the common good (see, there it is).
That's one possible interpretation. Mr Pino also notes, "When we look after ourselves, our families, our neighbors, our communities, our countries, and our species, we are pleasing an impartial spectator who would look on our conduct. We are serving the common good. It is not illiberal to say so. Adam Smith said so in a very robust way in [Theory of Moral Sentiments]. Anyone claiming to be his intellectual descendent should have no problem saying so too."  Possibly, although there does not have to be an impartial spectator to rule on those norms and conventions that confer evolutionary advantage.

THE THIRD WORLD COMES FOR THE MAGNIFICENT MILE.

A year ago, Lori Lightfoot became mayor of Chicago, and I made a pessimistic prediction.  "Chicago is still fifteen square miles of privilege surrounded by the Third World, and with the improving weather will come the wilding." Last year, the wilding was manageable, and people could pay attention to the failure of the Bulls or Blackhawks to qualify for the playoffs, the Cub collapse, and the continued suckitude of the Bears.  Then we learned about the bat gobbler flu, and the politically convenient excuses to break house arrests led to a new level of wilding.  That got downtown alderman Brian Hopkins worried.
A Chicago icon, the Magnificent Mile’s 13 blocks are known across the world. It’s a draw for tourists and a serious boost to the city’s bottom line. What would the city look like without all of this? Hopkins says we could find out.

“Some of the suburban retailers are starting to see some upticks in their activity,” he said. “On Michigan Avenue? We are not seeing that at all.”

There are existing vacancies, some stores still boarded up, others dealing with plummeting sales, what Hopkins calls a spike in theft, and safety concerns keeping people away.

“We’re losing tax revenue, and we are losing sales tax on a daily basis,” he said. “If this trend continues, we won’t have a viable downtown. And it’s not going to be that long. We’re talking a few years. Privately they’re telling me they can’t sustain this. They can’t continue at the level they’re at right now, and if it keeps up, we are going to see a rash of business closures in the downtown area.”

Hopkins was in a meeting with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and business owners in the area who were expressing their concerns, when the shooting happened Tuesday afternoon. Rapper FBG Duck was shot and killed. Two others were seriously injured.
I heard that story Saturday morning, and filed it away as a possible "Chicago can go the way of Detroit" post.  By way of background, I did some shopping at the monster J. L. Hudson department store in downtown Detroit, shortly before it closed.  That stretch of Woodward Avenue was once a busy shopping district, with lots of specialty stores providing the ancillary stuff, but by 1979 you could see the decline.
“Nordstrom and Bloomingdales and Ferragamo, and all large Marquee stores that are on the avenue here attract people from all over the world and all over the U.S. and all over Chicago,” said Mike Riordan of the River North Residents Association. “It’s one thing to lose control one weekend, but then it’s another thing for this stuff to keep on going. It opened the floodgates to a bunch of brazenness and lawlessness that we’ve never seen here before.”

In the latest crime statistics from the district the area is in, which were updated August 2, murder is up in 2020 compared to 2020. Burglary, motor vehicle theft and shootings are also up. Other crimes like theft and aggravated battery are down.

“We’re hitting a warning right now,” said Hopkins. “This is a warning. It’s an opportunity for us to turn it around. We tried to impress upon that to the mayor and to the police superintendent. We’ll see if they respond.”
Then Sunday night happened.
In a coordinated response to a police shooting in Englewood on Sunday, scores of stores were looted in the city overnight, leaving widespread destruction and injuring about a dozen officers, Police Supt. David Brown said.

Shortly after a suspect with a long criminal history shot at police and officers returned fire, several social media posts encouraged looting in the city, Brown said. The suspect was wounded but is expected to survive, Brown said. That shooting led to a tense standoff with residents.

Brown said 400 officers were dispatched to the Loop as caravans of cars began driving into the city. CBS 2’s Chris Tye reported looters arrived with boxes of rocks and bricks to break into stores. However, police could not keep up with the speed and size of the crowds. Effective tonight access to downtown will be restricted from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until further notice. The details of that plan are still being worked out, but residents can expect it to be modeled after the violence that erupted in late May.
As of this hour, Chicago radio is reporting the residents of several neighborhoods coming out to help with the cleanup. But how many of them are making uncoordinated efforts to find new quarters and put their houses on the market, or give their landlords notice?
“We are waking up in shock this morning,” a visibly angry Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, adding the criminal activity was brazen. “It was abject criminal behavior, period. This was straight up felony criminal conduct.

“This was an assault on our city.”

The looting and vandalism was spread all over the Loop, along the Magnificent Mile, River North and up to the Near North Side.
Yes, the mayor sounded shaken up in a morning press conference, more so than when she is threatening beach goers with all sorts of sanctions for ... playing outside.  It's not a good day for Alderman Hopkins's constituents, though.
It took police officers roughly four hours to get the downtown back under control, leading to finger pointing across the political spectrum and calls for the Illinois National Guard to once again help quell unrest in the country’s third-largest city.

Downtown Ald. Brian Hopkins, who said he was on Michigan Avenue from midnight to 4 a.m., described a scene in which officers were overwhelmed by looters and apparently did not have much of a plan for restoring order. He criticized Lightfoot for failing to develop an effective strategy following recent looting incidents in May and June.

“The real question today is, where was the strategy? What was the decision making at the highest levels?” Hopkins said. “That means the police superintendent and the mayor, who’s a very hands-on mayor when it comes to these kinds of decisions.”

City officials said the seeds for the violent crime spree were sown on social media Sunday afternoon following an officer involved shooting in the Englewood neighborhood. Officers shot and wounded a 20-year-old man Sunday after he fired shots at them while being chased, authorities said.

The man was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center and is expected to survive, Brown said.
Whether the fifteen square miles of privilege running from Wrigleyville to the museum campus will survive is another matter.
Mayor Lightfoot seems to see the light. Allowing America's third-biggest city to turn into another Minneapolis or Portland, a running joke for mayoral ineffectuality, and a perfect target for looters themselves to pay a visit home to, is no way to run a city. She must be hearing from the locals. She must be responding to ridicule on Twitter. Because in these remarks, transcribed a bit below, there's no talk about blaming President Trump, no excuses for looters, and none of her customary rubbish about gun control solving the whole thing.
There's nothing like the loss of those tourist dollars, and the sales taxes from the remaining department stores and American Girl and all the rest, to concentrate the mind. Not to mention that being mayor of a Chicago residually inhabited by the destitute isn't a prize post.

WILL THE CORONAVIRUS PROVE FATAL TO THE ADMINISTRATIVE STATE?

Reason's J. D. Tuccille raises the possibility.  "Americans Are Growing Less Willing To Beg for Permission To Make a Living."  Specifically,
It appears that government-imposed restrictions on travel, business, and social contact don't become more palatable with age. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to simmer, the one competency that officials have consistently displayed is in tightening the screws, using the licenses and permissions they require as enforcement tools. For people tired of being bossed around, the obvious response is to carry on without the government's imprimatur—and they're doing so in droves. It's an attitude likely to live on long after the crisis has passed.
It's long been understood that courts construe the public interest doctrine in such a way as to permit a lot of legislative action, generally meaning the creation of licensing boards so as to not have roll call votes on the price of a haircut or the fat content of ice cream.  But state power is not a blank check, even in the middle of a pandemic.
The government is actually ordering people to refrain from earning their keep, and instead to humbly submit to bankruptcy and beggary. To some, submitting to the rules can look foolish and suicidal—like baring your throat to a predator.

And once you've battled government officials threatening your ability to make a living during hard times, why would you assume, after the crisis passes, that they've suddenly become wiser and better disposed to your wellbeing? People who have questioned officials' judgment and defied their orders are unlikely to lose that habit after the pandemic passes. Sure, they'll probably continue to apply for licenses to operate just to make life easy. But they'll remember that officials tried to strip them of the "privilege" of putting food on the table and they'll realize just how dangerous it is to rely on such permission.

It's too much to hope that the licensing and permitting apparatus that politicians have carefully constructed over the years will soon be swept away by a righteous wave of public revulsion. Big changes are hard and the permission state that we live in will, almost certainly, still formally exist in the years to come. But people aren't going to be so eager to ask permission, and they'll be much more willing to live their lives in its absence.
Just devolve, already.  "Credentialed Elites plus Presidential Power plus Tax and Spend ... eventually collapses of its own weight.  Perhaps with the voting coalitions taking new forms along the way."

TEMPERING PRINCIPLE WITH PRACTICALITY.

Rockford has long been a struggling city, and it's trying all the usual tricks to do something to make people interested in visiting and spending money.  That includes a Friday night public market on the riverfront, near a brewpub, and, at least before the house arrests, there were live concerts and merchants staying open late to induce people to do some shopping to go with their exotic snacks and expensive coffees.

Then came first the house arrests, with Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Chicago) doing what all the thickly settled state Democrats did, and after that came the civil rights protests that turned into a month of rioting.  Winnebago County State's Attorney M. H. Ross has worked to draw a distinction between peacefully calling attention to grievances and inconveniencing people to make a point: "it ceases to be a peaceful protest when it looks more like a riot."

It was probably in that spirit that the park district and Rockford police designated a protest zone near the city market.
Joe Marino Park, which is owned and operated by the Rockford Park District, will remain open and is the designated location for protesters. The expansion of the perimeter was made along with the Rockford Park District and Rockford Police Department.

East State Street will remain open and no one will be allowed to impede traffic, according to the Rockford Police Department.

“These perimeters are set up to ensure a safe environment for the community to convey their messages and those to patronize the vendors at the city market,” according to the Rockford Police Department. “Those who violate the law causing a breach of peace or infringing on other people’s rights, outside of the designated protest area, will be subject to arrest.”
I'm not a fan of free speech zones, as they've become a politically charged tactic by higher education administrators to control who gets to say what where, ostensibly to create an intellectually safe environment (and to tame foot traffic?) but in practice to create an intellectually sterile environment.  The designation of a park adjacent to the city market might have been the least bad option, given the tendency of the current crop of protesters to block traffic, holler at people through bullhorns, and otherwise behave obnoxiously.  So far, there are no reports of protesters bringing hockey sticks or fireworks with them, the way peaceful protests emerge along the west coast.

The State's Attorney, however, has provided a set of principles by which local authorities are enforcing the protest zone.
“The First Amendment encompasses rights that are applicable to everyone. Consequently, no one has the right to infringe on the rights of others while exercising their First Amendment Rights. On Friday August 7, 2020 parameters were established to provide a safe environment for all individuals who attended the City Market area. These parameters designated areas for “peaceful assembly” and also areas for the City Market vendors and patrons. Under the Fourth Amendment individuals have the right to the pursuit of happiness which encompasses conducting their businesses in a safe environment. Individuals who were arrested and charged on August 7, 2020 will have their cases adjudicated through the criminal justice process. All individuals charged with offenses are presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty in a court of law. Everyone must realize that we live in a law and order society and for the most part the more than 280,000 residents of Winnebago County understand this. I will continue to work with law enforcement to ensure that everyone has a safe environment in which to share their messages and conduct their businesses.”
You'd think the protesters would wise up.  Is it not possible to call attention to your grievances without intimidating shoppers and perhaps stepping on your own message?

8.8.20

THANKS ANOTHER MILLION.

 Cold Spring Shops started operating in September 2002.

I'm not sure how good the Google visit counters are; we recorded our millionth view in April 2016.

As of this afternoon, the Google visit counter had us at two million views.

Perhaps you've found intellectual ammunition.

Perhaps I've encouraged you to look at something differently. 

Perhaps you've resolved not to take risks crossing railroad tracks.

Perhaps I've rubbed you the wrong way.

Thanks again for looking in.  Enjoy.

NO OGLING THE CAPTAIN'S WOMAN.

Here's a lighter marching song as covered by a chorus of the former East German army.


I suspect that's been a lament of the Landser since at least the era of Frederick the Great.  Enjoy.

IT'S COST EFFECTIVE TO UPGRADE EXISTING RAILROADS.

Last Sunday, I wrote,
Let's keep in mind that Brightline started with Florida East Coast's racetrack, and that there are all sorts of possibilities to upgrade existing railroad lines for 110 mph running.  Do the math, dear reader: those upgrades are a whole lot cheaper than building those bullet train routes from scratch, and the additional construction doesn't shave off as much running time as you'd think.
Governing's Scott Beyer, however, sees the rent-seeking opportunities, or perhaps opportunities to further expand the scope of government, in building those faster lines.
Early railroads — including the first transcontinental one — were built with the help of federal land grants that provided contiguous right-of-way. Private companies then built and operated the lines, creating explosive service growth and making America a world leader in the industry.

When automobiles replaced railroads as the favorite passenger-transport option, the federal government facilitated this by funding interstate highways. The right-of-way clearance measures were often extreme — whole neighborhoods were destroyed — but while this episode is a stain on America's urban planning history, it did produce an efficient transport network that helped the country grow.

For high-speed rail, there could be just as much effort to provide right-of-way, and it wouldn't be nearly as disruptive. In fact, much of the right-of-way has already been cleared for the aforementioned roads and freight rail, and new passenger bullet trains could be built along these routes. It's just a matter of having private and public bureaucracies recognize this adjacent space and issue RFPs for it to be leased.

Brightline and XpressWest are early examples of how this could look, but they're just the start. Private investors have expressed interest in building high-speed rail between Baltimore and Washington, Portland, Ore., and Seattle, and D.C. and New York City. These projects could, theoretically, happen along highways that are already connecting the cities. It's time to make room for them.
The recent rediscovery of the urban condition has probably pushed awareness of what went wrong running the expressways through cities (and all the other planning conceits of the American High) front and center.  Those land grants for railroad construction might have been more about rent-seeking than about internal improvements.

As far as those specific projects:  there is currently work to replace the ancient Baltimore tunnels on the Washington side of the station.  Once clear of the tunnels, The Pennsylvania Railroad is pretty much good for 110 or 125 mph running to Ivy City just north of Union Station, which is at the foot of Capitol Hill.  The stations are 40 miles apart: how many seconds will German or Japanese style faster tracks shave off?  As far as New York to Washington in thirty minutes via a Hyperloop, will those pods make any stops at Philadelphia or Wilmington or Baltimore?

I know I repeat myself, but I'm just not seeing anything that would induce me to change my mind.  "Sure, let's explore public-private partnerships to improve railroads, and let's consider joint ventures of railroads and power companies, but let's not let enthusiasm for state-of-the-art or improvements thereon get in the way of more cost-effective improvements."

MINNESOTA IS WHAT DEMOCRATS WRECK.

 Power Line's Scott Johnson finds an attack ad that identifies Minnesota's kakistocracy.


Enjoy, and pass it along.

TRUTH IS WHATEVER VERSION OF REALITY SUITS YOUR PURPOSE.

A person, or group of persons, are free to agree on whatever purposes they like.  But other people, or reality itself, also has something to say.

That's what's got me most irritated about the latest excursions into trendy teaching methodologies.  Apparently a working mathematician with a good instinct for provoking people teased, "2+2=4: A perspective in white, Western mathematics that marginalizes other possible values." The hair-splitting that anyone who has ever helped a faculty committee design a Platonically perfect bike shed is familiar with followed.  The provocative mathematician recognized as much.
To elaborate, while the most popular assertion being made to counter “2+2=4” happens to be “2+2 can equal 5,” this coming from people including from self-described mathematicians and genuine math educators, among others, the Critical Social Justice activists’ point isn’t that 2+2=5 any more than it is that two and two represents any particular quantity. Their point is that 2+2 can equal 5, though it doesn’t have to. That is, their point is that the objectively true statement “2+2=4” can be deconstructed by means of claiming that it is possible that, in fact, other things can occur too. This allows them to sidestep accusations like that they’re denying that “2+2=4” even while they do it, and (we have to admit) fairly enough because their whole point has literally nothing to do with what two and two add to equal.
As with most other abstruse academic debates, it's one that might be worth having, although the audience who should be exposed to it matters.  Did "New Math" really accomplish much in introducing preadolescents to computations in bases other than ten, or set theory, while they were still struggling with adding and subtracting?  For that matter, did it help to learn that what I type as "four" a German might render as "vier" and a Frenchman as "quatre" and that the clock face has IIII instead of the canonical Roman IV?  Think about it this way, dear reader: the day the toddler in your life gets a Thomas the Tank Engine play set might not be the day you get into the intricacies of timetable and train order operation.

I think that's the point an applied statistician Popular Mechanics quoted is making.  “Our numbers, our quantitative measures, are abstractions of real underlying things in the universe and it's important to keep track of this when we use numbers to model the real world.”

Fine.  Let's make sure that young people understand the fundamentals of the discourse practices and conventions first, in order that they can understand the subtleties and limitations thereof as they grow.

A DRUG OVERDOSE GONE BADLY WRONG?

Recently, additional police body camera video preceding the notorious final nine minutes of George Floyd's life has become available to the public.  The American Conservative's Rod Dreher has a long analysis of the video and the commentary.  By all means read the whole thing.  One of the analyses he links to is by sports broadcaster Jason Whitlock, who might himself be a nonconformist.  It might be wise, dear reader, to read his full post to see what I mean.  Here's the key observation.  "The behavior of the police officers seems appropriate and restrained given Floyd’s level of resistance and bizarre conduct."

As far as I know, the police officers who initially stopped Mr Floyd were of the view that he was in distress from an overdose, and they summoned an ambulance, although that ambulance was a long time in coming.  Whether that will be enough for the Minneapolis officers' defense team to raise reasonable doubt on trial is beyond my pay grade.  National Review's Robert Verbruggen doesn't think so.  "The bottom line, I think, is that it’s going to be hard to acquit someone who knelt on a subdued suspect until the suspect apparently lost his pulse, and then kept kneeling for a little while longer. But the key questions hinge on the eight minutes we already knew about, not the eight additional minutes the Daily Mail uncovered."

6.8.20

TODAY'S RAILROAD READING.

Florida's Brightline have made available an excerpt from the latest Trains describing the construction of their Orlando extension, including the work required to bring the existing Florida East Coast tracks up to 110 mph standards.  Yes, dear reader, I encourage you to get a subscription to Trains (you can see my tributes to its style each time you click over to Cold Spring Shops) and perhaps the excerpt will convince you to give them a try.

THE SLOW MOTION DISASTER UNFOLDING IN CHICAGO.

Just over a year ago, the identity politics crowd were hailing the election of Lori Lightfoot as successor to various Daleys and Rahm Emanuel, if with cautions about the power struggles with the Combine to come.  By then, the identity politics types could tick so many boxes that they could tire of it.

Then came the Wuhan coronavirus, and sometimes it is not possible to benefit by a good crisis.
[The Chicago Board of Trade] and the Merc have been threatening to leave for years, especially if the Machine attempts to tax them by the trade or add some insane fee structure to transactions. There were more than a few rumors that they had built a trading floor just over the border in Indiana. In this digital day and age, with telecommuting and vastly improved virtual meeting software, this could very well be the "new normal" that drives the financial sector out of Chicago.

Conventions are gone for the foreseeable future. Airlines can't turn a profit. Professional sports are committing corporate suicide. The "Mag Mile" is a plywood forest and thousands of restaurants, shops and small businesses are gone, never to return.

The overreaction to a "disease" with a 99% survival rate may have just turned Chicago into Detroit in under a year.
The mayor would rather pick a fight with Our President, and unnamed other critics.
Democracy is “under siege from multiple directions” in America during a summer of violence, civil unrest and pandemic-fueled hardship that has left people disengaged from their government and intolerant of each other, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said [July 29].

Lightfoot unexpectedly turned the latest in a series of news conferences aimed at encouraging Chicagoans to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census into a rousing political address that, aides said, was triggered by the extraordinary moment facing Chicago and the nation.

The death of George Floyd and the civil unrest and racial reckoning it triggered. The coronavirus pandemic that has fallen hardest on Black and Hispanic communities and exacerbated racial inequities that existed long before COVID-19. The death of civil rights icon John Lewis. The spike in murders and shootings in Chicago and other major cities. The hyper-partisan political atmosphere created by, but not limited to President Donald Trump and his re-election bid.
Running her own mouth isn't hyper-partisan, is it?

Her police department have lost confidence in her.
Under more normal conditions, it would be nice if the President and the Mayor of one of our larger cities could be seen cooperating and working to solve problems like this together. Sadly, these are far from normal times. Lori Lightfoot is part of “the Resistance” and knows that she must be seen as opposing the Bad Orange Man no matter what he says or does. But at the same time, she’s allowed her city to crash out of control, with mobs ruling the streets in too many districts.

Neither she nor the [American Criminal Civil Liberties Union] really has any say over whether or not more [homeland security] personnel show up in Chicago. They have offices there at federal buildings that are not under her control. The President can’t tell the Chicago PD what to do, but the Mayor can’t boss around the Department of Homeland Security. This isn’t any sort of standoff taking place. The Mayor doesn’t have a paddle to put in the water here.

What’s really a pity is the fact that Lightfoot can’t see the light, for lack of a better term. Help is on the way and her city is in desperate need of it. And yet, here she is, standing in the doorway and trying to prevent some relief from arriving to secure her streets and dampen down the rising tide of gun violence and gang warfare that has broken out under the cloak of the George Floyd protests. But as with all of the other large cities with liberal leadership, the fault for this lies first and foremost with the citizens of Chicago. They keep electing these people to office and now they are reaping what they have sown. It’s sad, but it’s true.
In addition, a recently promoted deputy police chief almost immediately took his own life.

The mayor sputtered and postured about the Federal interference, and yet made an agreement for some limited Federal help taming the gang warfare that was going on long before anybody heard of George Floyd or decided to tear down Columbus statues.  Mostly, though, she deflected responsibility.
Lightfoot’s problem is with guns obtained illegally in the first place. The weapons from other states that end up in Chicago do so in one of several ways. They’re either stolen, the result of a straw buy, or obtained with the intention of being sold to criminals. None of those are currently legal and additional gun control won’t stop any of them. All but a small handful of those weapons were originally purchased by people who underwent NICS checks and passed. They’d pass a FOID background check too.

You see, she’s trying to blame others so she doesn’t have to try and justify any of her actions that might have contributed to the influx of violence in her city. If she points away from the city, she’s less likely to have to answer for her own failures. It’s also why she’s trying to guilt-trip President Trump into supporting gun control. That isn’t likely to work–the president isn’t well known for responding to shaming tactics–but she’s going to try.

As a result, Chicago won’t get any better. If there’s any improvement, it’ll be because those most likely to engage in violence are already dead and that’s about it.
Tammy Bruce suggests that the deflection is a feature.
Democrats and the left never take responsibility for their policies that continue to destroy cities and lives. One would be inclined to call these “failures,” but it is becoming more urgent to recognize that this downward trajectory of civil order and quality of life is perhaps exactly what the American left really wants.

All these “blue cities” have things in common, including gun control, sanctuary city policies and hostility toward law enforcement. If any of these mayors and governors were serious about wanting to stop the death and destruction, they could do it, but it would require repudiating everything they stand for. Instead, lying and misleading becomes the standard of the day.
The latest deflection appears to be asking casual vistors to self-quarantine if they come there.  This is priceless.  The current base reproduction rate of coronavirus is above unity in Illinois, and below unity in two of the states, Iowa and Wisconsin, subject to this quarantine ukase.  There have been more coronavirus infections noted in Cook County alone than in either Iowa or Wisconsin.  "The order figures to be particularly problematic with Wisconsin, given its proximity and the high number of people from Illinois who spend weekends and vacations there. Many Illinois and Chicago residents, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have homes there."  Ya think?  It's just a matter of time until the mayor and governor are begging their upscale residents to move back to Illinois and pay taxes.  Particularly with the Chicago quarantine request being as foolishly framed as it is.
If someone drives through a state on the list but does not stay more than 24 hours, that person does not need to quarantine. But a city employee clarified that Chicagoans who choose to drive into Wisconsin and go out in public, regardless of whether they return later in the same day, do need to quarantine after such voluntary activities.

For example, Chicagoans who drive through Iowa (a listed state) to spend a week in Minnesota (not listed) but who did not stay in Iowa more than 24 hours do not need to quarantine. There are similar restrictions for air travelers. Those spending an afternoon on Lake Geneva, however, would be subject to the requirement to quarantine.

Travelers visiting Chicago from listed states also are subject to the order if they are staying longer than a day. Everyone older than age 2 who lands at a Chicago airport is required to wear a mask, then quarantine if they’ve come from a listed state.

If someone is staying with a Chicago resident after traveling to an affected state, the traveler must quarantine, but other people in the home who did not travel to a listed state are not required to quarantine. The resident should follow guidance for being around someone who has potentially been exposed.
Hockey's delayed offside rules are a paradigm of clarity compared to all this.

At the same time, the curfews, quarantines, and resumption of house arrests are proving to be too much for Chicago area businesses, many of them already vandalized in the June wildings.
As new data on [Wuhan coronavirus] emerges, Illinois will have to adapt to changing circumstances. Still, research shows the sequential lift of a lockdown is the best way to mitigate both the human cost of the virus and the economic damage.

Illinois voters need to consider the potential for the [coronavirus] economic damage to be magnified by the progressive income tax hike state leaders are seeking Nov. 3. Economists argue against increasing taxes during a recession. A progressive tax will increase taxes up to 47% on more than 100,000 small businesses just as they are trying to recover from the COVID-19 economic damage. Those small businesses are responsible for the vast majority of new jobs in Illinois.

A safe return to work is the first step to tackling growing racial gaps and to reviving the Illinois economy. A tax increase would be a grave error.
There's an opportunity for Libertarian and Republican publicists to motivate voters to Rage Against the Combine, voting no on that tax referendum and voting for anybody but a Democrat on the offices that are open, including all the Members of Congress, and Senator Dick "Eddie Haskell" Durban.

WHAT WILL THEY DO IN 2022?

Former senator Bernie Sanders has never, and I emphasize never, understood the distinction between stocks and flows. "By taxing 60% of the wealth gains made by just 467 billionaires during this horrific pandemic, we could guarantee healthcare as a right for an entire year."  Nowhere in the diatribe does he mention the excessively long house arrests that are turning the yeomanry into paupers.

NEVER MIND GREATNESS. ALL I WANT IS A STATE OF GOOD REPAIR.

Bookworm comes out of his room to propose that instead of greatness, Our President concentrate on "normalcy."  There's been too much turmoil, and it's time for another American High, perhaps?
Thinking about it, the parallels between now and one hundred years ago are uncanny. As in 1920, we’re heading into an election in 2020 on the heels of war (two decades of it), one epidemic disease (that politicized decision-making turned into an economic disaster), and a series of anarchist riots and terrorist attacks across America. All of which gets me back to Harding and his slogan: A return to normalcy.

While everyone likes a bit of excitement now and then, people crave the normal, especially people who care for young children or who are elderly. At least, they crave normal when normal is virtuous. In North Korea, normal is awful.

For the majority of Americans, however, normal has been a good thing. When our troops came home from WWII they craved the American normal as much as their fathers had upon their return from the first European War.

I was a child of the WWII generation (meaning that I was born after the war, but every adult in my world had experienced it, sometimes with incredible brutality), so I saw firsthand how all these adults also embraced normal. They walked out of the camps and off the battlefields, got jobs, got married, had children, and lived normal lives.

It doesn’t mean that they were necessarily all normal people. Looking back, my parents and many of their peers were deeply damaged by their experiences — but they were still creating lives of studied American normality. We boomers benefitted from it, although most of the boomers have been anything but grateful.
I'm not sure how well that history lesson works. President Harding might have set a standard for twentieth century corruption, or at least that is how advocates of Good Government often describe his presidency. Between the Harding presidency and the return from the War (which was effectively over, 75 years ago today) came a brief deep recession during the Spanish flu pandemic, a Great Depression, and global thermonuclear war. As far as the boomers, yes, the hippies and the yuppies got most of the attention from 1965 or so until the mid-1990s, but each of those cohorts were not quite the majority of the boomers, although they might have been the most vocal and ultimately the most miserable.

I do want to call attention to a passage toward the end of that essay.
Trump promises peace by reinstating the normal, which is the rule of law. Biden promises peace by saying that, if we give the rioters, Marxists, and anarchists what they want, they’ll go away and leave us alone. He’s too demented, perhaps, to remember that appeasement has never worked in the history of all humankind, but the leftists surrounding him should and do know better. They don’t want peace. They want chaos because they see that as a path to power.
There is a school of thought among the commentariat that perhaps if Democrats get the presidency, and perhaps the Senate as well, the unrest will stop.  Jake Johnson of Common Dreams begs to differ. "If Biden wins, we'll be at his door on day one, demanding the kinds of structural reforms that advance racial, economic, and environmental justice," the statement continues. "But before that, it's clear what we have to do: This November, we have to #VoteTrumpOut in swing states."

The temper tantrums, whether the mission succeeds in the swing states, or not, will likely continue to take place in the states run by Democrats, simply adding to the pain the Wuhan coronavirus and the urban wilding has already brought.

A HETERODOX ECONOMIST PASSES.

University of London's A. S. Filho uses a tribute to John Weeks to take a shot at mainstream economics.
Radicalisation around opposition to the Vietnam war gave birth to a new wave of radical economics, and John Weeks definitely rode that wave, contributing to the founding of Union of Radical Political Economy (URPE) in the late 1960s. Hopes for a better world were dashed by monetarism, releasing the globalised, financialised, neoliberalised world of today, with an ineffectual mainstream economics as its counterpart.

Despite the global financial crisis of 2007-08 and the current pandemic in which the state has made an interventionist comeback of astonishing proportions, mainstream economics has become more dominant and increasingly intolerant of alternatives. For this reason, the lives and works of those who have stood out against the tide of orthodoxy, with Weeks a leading figure, must be respected for their commitments against establishment dismissal but, more importantly, remain invaluable as the basis for constructing alternatives for the future.
Let me rewrite one of those sentences:  Hopes for a communist world were dashed by the killing fields and the secular stagnation of the Brezhnev era, while free minds and free markets produced the single largest increase in global prosperity ever.

By all means, let practitioners of political economy debate all the ideas, including those of the late Professor Weeks, but debate them with proper regard for the evidence and the logic.

4.8.20

A LITTLE BIT OF SUMMER TRADITION.

Salena Zito pays a visit to the Pittsburgh Pirates' minor league park in Altoona, where the taxi squad for the major league club, rather than the Altoona Curve team, stays prepared.  Yes, there's a lot of railroad lore in Altoona.  "Peoples Natural Gas Field, purposely designed to resemble a roundhouse, a homage to this region's railroad past, is the home of the Altoona Curve team, itself a homage to the nearby railroad engineering marvel Horseshoe Curve."

It's possible for the locals to sneak a peek over the fences, or look on from a distance, and without having to buy a membership on a rooftop.

That, though, is not the best news in the column.  This is.  "As the scent of fresh-cut grass delicately fills the air, so do the aromas of hot dogs and hamburgers coming from the grill on the lower deck. Just past right field, there is an amusement park where you can hear the slow clink, clink, clink of the roller coaster as the carriage climbs its ancient wood scaffoldings. The kitschy music found at any ballpark in America echoes throughout."

That's right, dear reader, Lakemont Park is open for business, and the world's oldest roller coaster, Leap the Dips, is operating on a restricted, socially distanced schedule.

THERE ARE LIMITS TO BLOCKING ROADS AS PEACEFUL PROTEST.

The Constitution guarantees the right to peaceably assemble to request the redress of grievances.  I suspect there's easily a week, or a quarter, worth of contemplating in a law or political philosophy class the tradeoffs between calling attention to your complaint and turning off people who might be favorably disposed to your case.  Put simply, blocking traffic might inconvenience people who would otherwise not know about your grievance, but the people blocking the traffic might view that as an opportunity to let others know that a small inconvenience is in microcosm what the policy being protested is subjecting the people doing the protesting to every day.

In Rockford, though, local authorities are attempting to define the line between peaceable assembly and disrupting good order.  Red State's Nick Arama approves.
But perhaps the best thing was the statement of the prosecutor, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross, who schooled the radicals on what the Constitution allows and what it means to “peaceably assemble.” You can see it at the start of the video here.

“The First Amendment does not give you unbridled freedom to express your message and infringe on the rights of others,” she explained.

My gosh, thank you! Finally a public official willing to say it on behalf of all Americans! Your rights don’t give you the right to trample on those of others.

The prosecutor continued, calmly calling out the [black lives matter] marchers for infringing on the rights of others to have free passage on the roads within the county. That resulted in their arrest, not for exercising their right of freedom of expression, she said, but for their alleged criminal action. So simple, so true, yet so missing from public statements on the [marchers] tactics. Thank you, Marilyn Hite Ross!
It might not be that simple, as a higher court might have to codify the extent to which blocking roads is peaceable assembly. In Rockford, though, the authorities appear to be tiring of the unrest, which is getting in the way of summertime commerce with the summer season going away.
Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said officers have showed restraint and have been “more than patient” during frequent protests throughout the city this summer. But he said recent actions have forced officers to act, including Friday night, when protesters formed a blockade to stop vehicles from passing through the intersection of State and Water streets.

“The citizens and the businesses of Rockford deserve to have the right to drive down the roads and conduct business and not have to worry about people coming in, just trying to scream and yell and cause chaos and incite riots,” O’Shea said. “It’s just not tolerated.”
Put another way, perhaps it ceases to be a peaceful protest when it looks more like a riot.

SISSIES AND THEIR SISSY AESTHETICS.

When all else fails, dump on people who drive big pickup trucks.  "Over the weekend a Wall Street Journal reporter, some fellow named Dan Neil who seems to think it is his holy duty to tell other people what to do with their money (see his lawsuit against LA Times owner Sam Zell), decided that you driving a large pickup is something that just shouldn’t be done."  At least it's Twitchy entertainment in troubled times.  Bellicose Woman Dana Loesch chimes in, noting that she has a big truck to go with her big guns.

Something there is about a certain type of Aesthetically Sensitive Metrofexual that doesn't like a pickup truck or a large sport utility vehicle.  Look, I'm as perplexed by the truck scrotum as any of those people.  On the other hand, Real Americans Buy What They Want.  Here's the way to tell anyone who thinks otherwise to pound sand.  "This is basically the 'no one needs 30 rounds' argument applied to trucks. You, Scooter, don’t get to vote on what I want and what I need. It is none of your business."

Exactly.

DID THE WUHAN CORONAVIRUS SIMPLY AMPLIFY THE CONTRADICTIONS?

I bookmarked Social Instability Lies Ahead, Researcher Says sometime in late 2016 or early 2017, part of a whole bunch of links I flagged in the immediate fallout of the surprise 2016 presidential election.  Most of those have been overtaken by events and will go into the memory hole.  This one is different.  The researcher is UConn's Peter Turchin, professor of ecology and environmental biology, and the university's press release riffs off a column he had offered to Bloomberg back in the heady days when Donald Trump was simply trolling Barack Obama for concealing his Kenyan birth.
Elite overproduction generally leads to more intra-elite competition that gradually undermines the spirit of cooperation, which is followed by ideological polarization and fragmentation of the political class. This happens because the more contenders there are, the more of them end up on the losing side. A large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capable, has been denied access to elite positions.
That dynamic has been with us well before the turn of the century: during the 1980s, the Deep Thinkers suggested that it was too many lawyers and too few engineers coming out of colleges that lead to deindustrialization and merger mania. That dynamic might still be at work although these days it might be more convenient to slag on gender studies majors.  The professor argues, however, that positional arms races are only part of the looming crisis.
The victory of Donald Trump changes nothing in this equation. The “social pump” creating new aspirants for political offices continues to operate at full strength. In addition to politically ambitious multi-millionaires, the second important source of such aspirants is U.S. law schools, which every year churn out twice as many law graduates as there are job openings for them – about 25,000 “surplus” lawyers, many of whom are in debt. It is emblematic that the 2016 election pitted a billionaire against a lawyer.

Another visible sign of increasing intra-elite competition and political polarization is the fragmentation of political parties. The Republican Party is in the process of splitting up into three factions: Traditional Republicans, Tea Party Republicans, and Trump Populists. These divisions run so deep that many Republicans refused to endorse Trump, and some even voted for Clinton. Similar disintegrative forces have also been at work within the Democratic Party, with a major fault line dividing Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialists from the Establishment Democrats of Obama and Clinton.

So far in this analysis I have emphasized elite overproduction. There are two reasons for it. First, as I mentioned before, other factors are much better understood, and have been discussed, by social scientists and political commentators. Secondly, cliodynamic research on past societies demonstrates that elite overproduction is by far the most important of the three main historical drivers of social instability and political violence (see Secular Cycles for this analysis).

But the other two factors in the model, popular immiseration (the stagnation and decline of living standards) and declining fiscal health of the state (resulting from falling state revenues and rising expenses) are also important contributors.
The public policy response to the Wuhan coronavirus, which seems to be widespread around the world, made popular immiserisation a matter of public policy.  It is no accident, dear reader, that when dissenters characterize it as "Mask up, shut up, and fort up on your government checks until there's a vaccine or the Rapture" there might be self-styled progressives and tech oligarchs are fine with it.  It's not so much neoliberalism at work, Joel Kotkin's characterization of the new reality as neofeudalism might be more to the point.
Millions of small businesses are near extinction, millions more losing their jobs and many others stuck into the status of a property-less serfs. The big winners have been the “expert” class of the clerisy and, most of all, the tech oligarchs, who benefit as people rely more on algorithms than human relationships.

Following a remarkable epoch of greater dispersion of wealth and opportunity, we are inexorably returning towards a more feudal era marked by greater concentration of wealth and property, reduced upward mobility, demographic stagnation, and increased dogmatism.
In a related essay, Professor Kotkin spells out a series of scenarios, none of them encouraging.
Without a greater and more dispersed expansion of democratic capitalism, the only alternative to constant disorder may be massive growth instead of the welfare state. This approach might take the form of “oligarchic socialism,” the kind of guaranteed income widely endorsed among the tech elite — who clearly benefited from the pandemic. This represents, in Marx’s phrase, “the proletarian alms bag” that can keep both destitution, and social revolution, at bay while allowing the ultrarich to maintain their dominance.

Certainly even the most blinkered geeks realize that scenes on the streets of places like San Francisco, where obscene wealth is surrounded by disorderly, malodorous and chaotic streets, cannot be sustained forever. Some massive injections of public money will be critical just to maintain basic order.

But this is not a call for renewed upward mobility. Indeed some on the Left, notably in the environmental community, see the lockdowns not as tragedy but as a “fire drill” for future actions to force people to reduce consumption and live as the privileged nomenklatura sees fit.

Such an approach all but guarantees a succession of new peasant rebellions, a predictable middle class backlash, and ever-escalating demands for ever-higher transfer payments, with some proposing $8000 monthly for families of four during the pandemic. This would make work hardly worthwhile for most, and turn politics into a game to satisfy poorer citizens with “bread and circuses,” as was the case in Rome.

Sadly, this approach will do little to encourage upward mobility. It will simply nurture and expand the serf class. These young people, and inner-city residents, deserve something more than cheap expressions of sympathy and solidarity from the affluent. They need to develop a new urban paradigm that boosts opportunities rather expanding serfdom. Only by restoring broad upward mobility can we hope to maintain a healthy democratic society.
Not to mention that Rome eventually ran out of resources to provide bread and circuses, and that the middle class "backlash" he's referring to is simply restoring a state of good repair, understood as upward mobility. I have to wonder, though, whether enough people have migrated upward that it's easier for them to work from home, tip generously for home delivery and curb-side pickup, and see the continued allowances for not working to continue rather than agitating more aggressively to reopen businesses.

In Professor Kotkin's own California, for instance, the state is growing poorer, with more income polarization, and growing older.  That's not likely to turn out well.
Until now, the alliance of the oligarchs with the progressive clerisy, almost unanimously supported by the media, has been all but immune from challenge. Yet there exist in this alliance what Marxists might call fundamental “contradictions” that could eventually undermine the cozy arrangement between the rapacious capitalists of the Valley and their militant progressive allies.

This can be seen in growing conflicts between the oligarchs and the state’s increasingly assertive Left. The youth activists now at the forefront of the anti–climate change movement may be less willing to tolerate the oligarchy’s personal excesses than previous generations of environmental advocates. After all, if the world is on the verge of a global apocalypse, how can the luxurious lifestyles of those flying their private jets to discuss this “crisis,” like Leonardo DiCaprio or the heads of Google, be tolerated?
That's something Professor Turchin misses, as he concludes hoping for yet another Expert Consensus.
What we need is a nonpolitical, indeed a fiercely non-partisan center/institute/think tank that would develop and refine a better scientific understanding of how we got into this mess; and then translate that science into policy to help us get out of it.

Our society, like all previous complex societies, is on a rollercoaster. Impersonal social forces bring us to the top; then comes the inevitable plunge. But the descent is not inevitable. Ours is the first society that can perceive how those forces operate, even if dimly. This means that we can avoid the worst – perhaps by switching to a less harrowing track, perhaps by redesigning the rollercoaster altogether.
Sorry. Emergence doesn't work that way. I'm skeptical that the Expertise that got enough people angry enough to put first Barack Obama and then Donald Trump in the White House, the Expertise that has spent the last four years invalidating Britain's exit from the European Union and undoing the Trump presidency, that has turned fifteen days to slow the spread into who knows how many years of house arrests, is going to do any better redesigning a rollercoaster than the proverbial committee designing a horse.

MILWAUKEE IS AN OPEN CITY FOR THE RAGE MOB.

In two weeks, give or take, there is supposed to be a Democrat convention in Milwaukee, with former vice president Joe Biden making his acceptance speech, and a running mate, who might be the heir apparent, or might also be a transitional figure while the traditional and communist wings of the party grapple for control.  By all means interpret that closing clause as a prediction: the urban unrest will not end should the Democrats claim the presidency.  If Our President wins, that will be business as usual.  If a Democrat (yes, you may interpret that as a hedge on whether it is the former vice president, the regent, or somebody else) wins, the rage mobs are reluctant Democrat voters who will push every point of advantage.

In fact, some of those rage mobs might take even an etiolated convention in Milwaukee, with no ethnic festivals, home baseball or basketball (!) games, or concerts in the park available as diversions, to stake some of those claims.  That's right in the middle of a power struggle among the rainbow coalition in the city's common council and fire and police commission. in which police reform means disarmament.
Officials with the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission are defending their directive to cease the use of tear gas and pepper spray as law enforcement agencies are withdrawing from agreements to send personnel to next month's Democratic National Convention.

The seven commissioners said in a statement Monday that the directive to Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales had been "shamelessly exploited and distorted."

The FPC statement did not provide examples of what had been distorted or fabricated, nor did it specify the target of its criticism, whether Morales, other department leaders or someone else.
That display of wokeness has induced police departments in saner parts of the state to withdraw from mutual aid compacts.
At least 100 law enforcement agencies have withdrawn agreements to send personnel to next month's Democratic National Convention, some of them citing orders to Milwaukee's police chief to cease the use of tear gas and pepper spray during demonstrations.

The withdrawals cast doubt on a program to bring about 1,000 police officers from outside agencies to help shore up security for the event, scheduled for the week of Aug 17.  Among the agencies confirmed to have withdrawn are police departments in Fond du Lac, Franklin, Greendale and West Allis.

Asked on Monday if the agreements were collapsing, Fond du Lac Police Chief William Lamb said, "Yes," adding that he expects other agencies from across the state to withdraw from the program.
Apparently, though, Chicago's idiot mayor Lori Lightfoot would like to offer assistance to her fellow travellers making a mess of Milwaukee.
[Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police] has come out solidly against volunteering for this short-notice detail in Milwaukee after approximately 100 different police agencies withdrew their offer to assist MPD at the democratic national convention.
The post also helpfully notes that there's currently a quarantine order in effect in Chicago, with people returning from Wisconsin being urged to go into voluntary house arrest for two weeks.  Never mind that there have been more Wuhan coronavirus infections in Cook County alone than in the whole state of Wisconsin.

2.8.20

IT'S A LOT EASIER SIMPLY TO ALLOW FREE REIN TO 110 ON THE EXISTING TRACKS.

All the same, it's a good day for ferroequinologists when USA Today calls attention to faster Passenger Rail that might have a fighting chance.
What do Miami's cruise ship port, Disney World and Las Vegas have in common?

Within a few years, they could be stops for America's newest passenger trains.

Other than Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, the United States has nothing that comes even close to what's considered high-speed rail in Europe, Japan and China. But it may be moving closer to what other countries have been doing for decades.
The article mentions a few other hero projects that are in the planning and politicking stages, as well as some of the wish lists for Passenger Rail advocates.
Potential future corridors under review for high-speed trains include Chicago-St. Louis; Atlanta-Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle-Portland, Oregon and the Texas Triangle, which includes Dallas-Houston.

[U. S. High Speed Rail Association president Andy] Kunz compared the long-range goal of high-speed rail in America to the Interstate Highway System, which took about 30 years to complete. While that was built with public money, Kunz said both private and public funds can build a new rail system.

"We can build this in 30 years," Kunz said. "That’s not too crazy for us."
That refers to building from scratch and using the median strips of Interstate highways.  Let's keep in mind that Brightline started with Florida East Coast's racetrack, and that there are all sorts of possibilities to upgrade existing railroad lines for 110 mph running.  Do the math, dear reader: those upgrades are a whole lot cheaper than building those bullet train routes from scratch, and the additional construction doesn't shave off as much running time as you'd think.

HANDICAPPING THE OPPRESSION OLYMPICS.

At Arizona State University, the deep thinkers have compiled a series of Privilege Checklists.  I've been of the view that the identity politics crowd long went beyond parody.  Apparently, though, even if circles of oppression have empty intersections,  it's possible to work out dot, cross, and Kronecker products for vectors of oppression.  For example, even black males have privileges to check.  I wonder, though, if the people who compiled the list weren't high on ganja, or perhaps Stormfront plants, when I read stuff like "I can be a part of a black liberation organization like the Black Panther Party where an 'out' rapist Eldridge Cleaver can assume [a] leadership position," or "I will make significantly more money as a professional athlete than members of the opposite sex will," or "I have the privilege of knowing men who are physically or sexually abusive to women and yet I still call them friends."

There's enough stuff at the Arizona State umbrella site, though, to suggest that a lot of Serious Thinkers were at work, coming up with Privilege Checklists for people of all races, creeds, colors, and conditions.

And what, dear reader, is this privilege?
It's about advantages you have that you think are normal. It's about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal.

Almost everyone who is reading this had some form of privilege. If you’re a member of three marginalized groups, in ill health, and poor, you're still able to access and use the internet, both demonstrating and conferring privilege.

Some privileges are easy to demonstrate: Can you go into a random restaurant and order food? That's not something that those with food allergies, diabetics, celiacs, or a range of other conditions can count on. It's not something people whose religious convictions include following Kosher, Halal or other faith-based dietary restrictions can count on in western society either.

Some privileges are harder to demonstrate: If you get a job, to what extent was that based on the way you look, your gender, your accent, your connections? How can you tell?
Put another way, in a universe where there is no cosmic justice, there will be people who might have better chances, no matter how hard we work at ensuring everyone a fair go, and in a world where humans are free to associate or not, there will be insiders and outsiders.  Privilege-checking strikes me as the least effective way to appeal to the better angels of our nature, as it's just a big guilt trip, including for people who might be subject to multiple oppressions only to learn they are less oppressed than others.

How big is the guilt trip? "Privilege makes you blind. Privilege is a big bag of stuff you're not forced to think about."  If you don't have to think about it, that might be a good thing.  Although there might be a lot of job opportunities for hack scholars calling themselves Serious Thinkers if we have to rediscover ten thousand years of learning ab initio, over and over and over again.

DOES WALTER DURANTY APPROVE OF PACKING THE SUPREME COURT?

I get a daily briefing from New York's Times (an extra benefit for registering my Google account with them) and it's a window into what the woke scolds are thinking.  Here's a snippet from Thursday last.
Hungary’s governing party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has undermined democracy by changing election rules, packing the courts with allies and insisting on uncritical media coverage. Orban has used the virus as an excuse to centralize authority even further.

Poland’s governing party, led by Jarosław Kaczynski, has taken a similar approach, mostly by neutralizing the judicial system.

When the E.U. expanded to include Hungary, Poland and six other countries in 2004, the bloc’s leaders made the mistake of assuming that Eastern and Central Europe were on a one-way path to democracy and the rule of law. (The naïveté bears some resemblance to American assumptions about how China would democratize after joining global trade treaties.)
Note how the final paragraph switches to U. S. naïveté about China, the better to divert attention from the way election rules get modified at short notice supposedly account the Wuhan coronavirus; the way some court intellectuals for the Democrats argue, including in the Times, for packing the courts; and the way the palace guard media carries water for Democrats.

JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE ACADEMICS, MARQUETTE.

I've already noted how at graduation time, officialdom at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee take a few digs at their basketball famous neighbor to the southwest.  Maybe coming up with a substantive academic profile will prove more productive than tone-policing the incoming students.  It wasn't enough for the Student Affairs types to unleash the Holy Inquisition on Samantha Pfefferle for daring to post a video that featured a Trump flag.  Then, John "Marquette Warrior" McAdams reports, the Student Affairs types also might have launched an investigation of possible conduct unbecoming by Erin Cook. the incoming student who thought flagging Incorrect Tik-Tokking was what ought to be done.  More recently, Marquette's College Republicans decided to thank their Administrative Overlords for doing the right thing.  Problem is, as Professor McAdams noted, it wasn't because the scales fell from anybody's eyes.  They had to be shot off.
This is quite a good statement, and “schoolyard bullies” is the perfect description of the mob that wanted Pfefferle cancelled.

We, however, would not have “commended” Marquette. Marquette did not really come down on the side of free expression and intellectual diversity. Marquette backed off because Pfefferle was willing to fight, and the issue had gotten considerable attention.

There is no reason to believe that the basic instinct of university bureaucrats — to pander to politically correct leftists — has changed at all.

But statements like this one — as well as the massive public relations fiasco Marquette brought on itself — will hopefully temper the expression of that instinct.
It's simply necessary to keep calling out the manifestations of so-called liberating tolerance, wherever and whenever they take place.