30.10.15

DON'T BE STUPID ABOUT BEING SMART.

The moderators of Wednesday night's Republican debate surely made fools of themselves on national television.  Apparently, their plane ride home had the same atmosphere as the St. Louis Cardinals ride back from Chicago.
The poor reviews were piling up — declaring CNBC the biggest loser of the night — and the moderators Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick knew more would be published by the time the flight landed in New York.
Congratulations, tools, you beclowned yourselves in front of 14 million people. (Does that count partial viewers? I cut away for Chicago P.D. after the first hour, which means I did see the major fireworks.)

How bad was it?  So bad that even the house organ of Democrat shills had to compare the panel unfavorably with Republicans.
The network did a terrible job. From the moment people tuned in at 8 p.m. and saw a bunch of barely articulate anchors jabbering incoherently for an endless 15 minutes right to the second the debate met a merciful end, CNBC presented a textbook example of what not to do. (One quick aside: Can we please do away with the notion that a billionaire-worshiping network that helped launch the Tea Party is any kind of objective arbiter when it comes to the American economy?) The debate was so rowdy, shoddily paced and out of control that the ostensible subject of the evening—the economy—got hopelessly lost in the shuffle.
Yes, the fifteen minutes before the candidates took the stage was inane, and no explanation, no excuses. Then the promised opening statements, supposedly about economic policy, instead featured one of the more stupid questions from the book of bad job-interview techniques. But that might have been the most coherent part of the evening.
Perhaps sensing blood in the water, nearly all of the candidates pounced, brutally turning on the moderators over and over again and accusing them of asking needlessly antagonistic personal questions. Chris Christie and Ted Cruz were especially successful at this. No Republican has ever lost a debate by attacking the media, but Wednesday’s complaints were especially relentless—a sure sign of a moderating team that had lost the plot. It’s telling that the last GOP debate on CNN had just as many personal, negative questions for the candidates, but Jake Tapper didn’t find himself quite so excoriated. The CNBC crew seemed totally unsure about how to handle the assault, sometimes returning the hostility and sometimes letting the wave of bile wipe them out.
I don't recall Mr Tapper employing the sneering, hectoring tone that Wednesday night's questioners employed.  And Senator Cruz gets props for throwing it right back in their sneering, contorted faces.
The questions that have been asked so far in this debate, illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match. And if you look at the questions, Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do the math? John Kasich, can you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues —
The next day, Rush Limbaugh observed that it was just business as usual for the legacy press.
The display that we got last night was a culmination of everything that many of us have been trying to tell the American people the Drive-By Media is:  Arrogant, smug.  I mean, it goes so far beyond bias.
There are two pillars in the Rush Limbaugh message.  One is that so-called progressive policies have failed.  The other is that advocates of those policies are frequently arrogant and condescending.  Put another way, they're stupid about being smart.  And that stupidity was on display for fourteen million viewers Wednesday night.
That debate last night was to grease the skids for Hillary Clinton.  That was the sole purpose of that debate last night.  And the smugness and the arrogance and the condescension with which those moderators went about it finally came back and bit them to the point that everybody watching that debate, everybody, even other Drive-By Media types saw what was going on.

You can count on one hand the number of Drive-By Media types defending what happened last night on CNBC, and one of them doesn't even really count because his mind was lost long ago, and that's Chris Matthews.  So you can count on four fingers the number of Drive-Bys that are actually defending.  Ron Fournier even last night said that what happened, the mainstream media is getting beat up today, and we deserve it, he said.  And he's exactly right. 
Yes, most of Thursday's show was a rant about the arrogance and condescension of the palace guard media. There's also a reminder, at least for the dittoheads, that the palace guard media are defending policy failures.
We have 94 million Americans not working.  We have half the country making less than $30,000 a year, and these people, these moderators, attempted to say that the people seeking the presidency on that stage last night are not qualified?  Coupled with the automatic assumption that Hillary Clinton is qualified, that Barack Obama is qualified, that Joe Biden or whoever else on the Democrat side is, offends me and it has offended me my entire life.
Yes, and just over a year of the palace guard media concealing these failures, and doing all they can to drag Hillary's pantsuited cankles into the Oval Office.  We have much to look forward to.

CULTURAL APPROPRIATION IS PROHIBITED FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE.

Both The Drudge Report and University Diaries catch Louisville, the basketball school's president James Ramsey at a mariachi-themed Hallowe'en party.  The acts of contrition begin.
Ramsey's chief of staff, Kathleen Smith, issued a statement expressing "deep regret" over the incident.

"We made a mistake and are very sorry," she wrote, adding that the university pledges to train staff and engage with the campus over diversity and racial equality issues. "This event shows we have much more to learn about our community."

The photo was taken on Wednesday afternoon, at an annual Halloween luncheon for Ramsey and members of his staff at a mansion owned by the university, said spokesman John R. Karman. Ramsey is seen smiling and leaning on a porch railing, wearing a sombrero and a rainbow-striped poncho trimmed in fringe.

He is surrounded by people clad mostly in black clothing with fake mustaches and beards stuck to their faces. Most have sombreros on their heads and maracas in their hands.
I wonder if the diversity and racial equality engagement extends to the procurement of nubile girls for basketball recruits.
The photo emerged at an inopportune time for the university, which is already mired in a sex scandal.

A woman named Katina Powell released a book called "Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen" that alleged she was paid thousands of dollars by a former director in the university's men's basketball program to strip and have sex with recruits and players. Multiple investigations into her allegations are pending.
Meanwhile, The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education promises to conduct exorcisms at universities that are excessively zealous at proscribing costumes.
That’s why encouraging students to check themselves on Halloween—and backing that encouragement up with threats of disciplinary action—might just be the spookiest thing you’ll encounter this season.
Years ago, in jest (long before weblogs, who knows where it went) I posted a parody of PC-speak called "Oppressing the Dead" that called out the insensitivity of going as witch or vampire or ghost.  Turns out there's nothing beyond parody in the realm of the Perpetually Aggrieved.  So now, I'm reduced to locating the dress uniform of the German Kaiser, complete with spiked helmet.  It's time to push back against negative stereotypes of Prussians.  (Read the whole story, it's the most cheerful thing you'll see from me today.)

THE SHAPE OF THE FOURTH TURNING TO COME.

Here are some outlines of the coming changes.  Let's start with a recognition by Republican establishment figure Peggy Noonan, on the likely collapse of Governor Bush's campaign.
Reporters thought [the governor] was national because he was part of a national family.

He was playing from an old playbook—he means to show people his heart, hopes to run joyously. But it’s 2015, we’re in crisis; they don’t care about your heart and joy, they care about your brains, guts and toughness.
That's probably true of the Republican base, people who are outraged because they have been paying attention. Whether that crisis mood is present throughout the electorate, or whether the chattering classes will be able to get away with more wordnoise about "gravitas" (so in vogue in 1999-2000, when there was a peace dividend from the end of the Cold War, and a president could get away with taking liberties with the office help).  Then comes Belmont Club's Richard Fernandez.  His full essay merits your attention.  But he recognizes that the inheritance from the G.I. era is spent.
The cumulative breakdowns in the old ways remind us again that this generation is on its own, probably the first to fully emerge from the long afterglow of the World War II victory.

Our inheritance lasted a long time. But at last a new generation must make its way from first principles because the old methods have stopped working. Consequently, it will either be the new Greatest Generation or the gang that lost it all.

In any event, the challenge cannot be refused. [Senators and presidential aspirants] Cruz and Rubio had to say it or someone else would. Maybe the hardest part of the whole situation is to realize this really is it. We are on our own.
Yes, much of today's commentary riffs off the fiasco of a presidential debate that took place earlier this week.  The old legacy media are themselves an inheritance from the G.I. era, and they, too, are spent.  But they'll need a push.
Whining about liberal bias means nothing if you don’t back it up with some action of your own. The [main press] is shaky right now, no question. So put your shoulder to the wheel and knock it over. If you can.
Meanwhile, Michael Barone is questioning the very premises of the old "vital progressive center."
Recent experience should tell us that college and homeownership are not for everyone. Many people lack the cognitive skills for higher education but have other abilities that can make them productive and successful adults. Many people, like those who move frequently, are better off renting than paying the transaction costs of buying a home.

Maybe policymakers got causation backwards. Increased college and homeownership, they thought, would upgrade people, and for a long while it did. But we seem to have reached the point of diminishing returns, when making things free will hurt the intended beneficiaries more than help.
Yes, darn it, the policymakers did get the causation backwards.  Responsible people develop life-management skills, finish degrees, stay attached to the work force, maintain their houses.  Social promotions and no questions asked mortgages, not so much.

GETTING OVER NAGASAKI SYNDROME.

Last night, Instapundit recommended a Sonny Bunch column that might have been just more geek bonding.  Get past the unleashing of the first-generation Death Star by the Evil Empire, and perhaps it's a parable.
Alderaan was a legitimate military target. Was the level of force used against it justified? It’s a tricky question, but it seems the least bad of all the alternatives. Consider another option the Empire could have taken: invading Alderaan, removing its leaders and installing a pro-Empire regime. However, putting boots on the ground in this manner would likely have destabilized not only the planet but also the entire region, creating a breeding ground for religious terrorists and draining blood and treasure for decades. It’s not hard to imagine a Jedi State of the Alderaan System (JSAS, for short, though they’d likely prefer the simpler Jedi State (JS)) arising from the ashes of some ill-conceived invasion and occupation.
We could run with this thought in a number of directions, including the old "one Hutt's terrorist ..." and the more recent "unconditional surrender, and we'll set up the government."  Here's where Mr Bunch goes.  Here's his interpretation about the Grand Moff (is that like a Reichsleiter?) unleashing the death star.
Granted, you have to use force once for the threat to be useful, but it’s easy to see the appeal of such a tactic, which is designed to save lives in the long run. Imagine the human toll — not to mention the enormous fiscal cost — of launching invasion after invasion of breakaway systems. The utilitarian calculation is complicated, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which fewer people died as a result of the destruction of Alderaan than would have died in a series of costly invasions.
That happens to be the logic of berserkers or jihadis, you blood-eagle, or burn alive, a few people in order to encourage the others to cough up the Dane-geld or the jizya.  Money quote. "The destruction of Alderaan, then, is more analogous to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki than it is to a 'genocide.'” Here, the parallel breaks down, as the nukes ended that particular war, and stopped the preparations to send Sgt. Karlson's unit from Germany to the Japan Expedition.  On the other hand, the destruction of Alderaan brought the various rebelling factions together.  "The Imperial Grand Moff Tarkin is no worse than Democratic President Harry S. Truman — and no one worth listening to considers Truman to be a monster."

Perhaps not, but we'll see whether National Command Authority becomes more interested in conducting wars in such a way as to win them.

ANOTHER REASON TO BUY YOUR ADVISOR A TRAIN SET.

"Getting off the tenure track only makes sense if you are able to switch to some other track."  And doing so might be good for your health.  Now comes 100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School, after a long hiatus, with "Academics are Unhappy."  There's more to it, dear reader, than the wicked unfavorable odds new Ph.D.s, particularly in the evergreen disciplines have been facing in the recent job markets.  The article points to years of "academic novels" (put a few particularly toxic English professors in the same department for years, with some bed-hopping, and the plots follow as a matter of course) suggesting that the unhappiness is nothing new.  In the comments comes this.
One thing I noticed about academics is that most don't have a life outside of academia. They don't have hobbies and they're not members of any non-academic clubs or organizations. They also have an extremely hard time separating their work life from their personal life.
Part of that might be that it helps to be more than a little bit obsessive in order to get the good research done, but I've encountered more than a few economists who are good chess players or sailors or otherwise able to get outside the hothouses.  But economists might be better adjusted to the rhythms of ordinary life than the practitioners of other disciplines.

Oh, and the intermittent publication on Cold Spring Shops?  Working on the railroad.  That's less depressing than documenting the world going to hell.

28.10.15

IT'S THE DISTRESSED MATERIAL.

Here's Slate's Rebecca Schuman, with a simpler answer to the national coalition in favor of campus censorship.
The problem isn’t Yik Yak. The problem is that too many students are treating college like high school.
What. She. Said.
Building responses to cyberabuse into course design is becoming an abject necessity, and it’s profoundly depressing. Having to plan one’s classes around potential disciplinary issues presupposes an adversarial relationship between instructor and student that is not supposed to exist in college, where students presumably want to be there. And that’s just the thing: In today’s extortionately priced, increasingly vocational university, we find thousands of students who view its courses as purely transactional. They don’t, in fact, want to be there.
Nor should they be there.
The solution to the upward creep of abhorrent, immature behavior into college isn’t to ban some stupid app. Nor is the solution to hire thousands more student-services administrators to act as de facto vice principals, or to demean further the status and purpose of higher education with curriculum design that might even encourage misbehavior by planting the idea in the students’ heads in the first place. No, the solution is to stop requiring a bachelor’s degree to be an office assistant, or a paralegal, or any number of professions that up until recently could be staffed—successfully—by the holder of an associate’s degree or high-school diploma.
A consummation devoutly to be wished.

A RATIONAL AVERSION IS NOT A PHOBIA.

That seems straightforward, and yet you get writers such as James Zumwalt (of the Daily Caller, via Instapundit) laying out the reasons to be averse and yet lapsing into the -phobic locution.  Mr Zumwalt works off an article about the rarity of practicing Moslems in Japan.  First, we see a connection between kinship ties and Othering, a tension that serious social scientists ought to take seriously.
Japanese tend to lump all Muslims together as fundamentalists who are unwilling to give up their traditional point of view and adopt modern ways of thinking and behavior. In Japan, Islam is perceived as a strange religion, that any intelligent person should avoid.
Put more simply, it's a nail that sticks up and ought be hammered down. That, for better or worse, is an evolved Japanese cultural norm.
In Japan, religion is connected to the nationalist concept, and prejudices exist towards foreigners whether they are Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or Indonesian, and Westerners don’t escape this phenomenon either. There are those who call this a ‘developed sense of nationalism’ and there are those who call this ‘racism.’ It seems that neither of these is wrong.
"Developed sense of nationalism." Is that a corollary to "kinship ties?"

But Mr Zumwalt follows a logical argument with the "-phobia" error.
Thus, the Japanese make no bones about it: they are Islamophobic. It is an attitude that is justified due to an Islamic ideology that demands all non-Muslims submit to it or die. But the Japanese are determined not to commit cultural suicide by allowing a culture totally anathema to their own to prosper domestically and challenge it.

Accordingly, when the call went out to the international community to assist in resettling the recent wave of Muslim immigrants in non-Muslim countries, Japan offered financial assistance but rejected opening its doors to resettlement.
And thus, it's not a "phobia." It's rational to treat a poisonous spider as poisonous; it becomes arachnophobia if you won't go out in the snow for fear of a spider bite.

If anything, the greater risk to civilizational survival is phobic-phobia.  Take Sweden, also from Mr Zumwalt's article.
Muslim immigrants from North Africa were 23 times more likely to commit rape than Swedish men. It is no wonder why today Sweden is deemed the rape capital of the Western world.

Even more shocking, however, is the political correctness overshadowing the reporting of these crimes. Sensitive about accusations of Islamophobia, the Swedish press refuses to sound a warning alarm for native women about who these sexual predators are. Thus, when a Muslim commits a rape, the media only refers to him as a Swedish male.
The generalization to the United States, and the extension to the successes of the Trump and Carson campaigns, is left as an exercise.

CONGRESS FOULED IT UP. CONGRESS POSTPONES THE FOUL-UP.

A Congressional mandate that required railroads to install positive train control on trunk lines transporting passengers or hazardous cargoes was supposed to take effect at the end of the year, a deadline that may have been unrealistic.  The railroads, and tenant Passenger Rail authorities, and shippers, have been warning Congress of possible railroad embargoes on hazardous cargoes, all the way to a system shutdown at year's end.

Congress, in the usual end-of-year burst of activity, have avoided that shutdown in the usual way, by packing two essential bills together.  It's instructive, though, how Washington Post reporters frame the story.
The House on Tuesday appended a deadline extension being sought by the railroad industry to a must-pass highway funding bill and approved both, delaying for at least three years a safety measure that could have prevented the Amtrak derailment that killed eight people and injured more than 200 in May.
We have the positive train control mandate because of inattentive engineers, who haven't had sufficient encouragement from the Grumpy Old Road Foreman of Engines to control the speed of the train and pay attention to circumstances.  But I digress.
Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) added the extension for an automatic braking system known as positive train control (PTC) to a highway funding bill, hoping to encourage the Senate to follow suit.

Congress has agreed to extend until Nov. 20 funding for all highway and transit, a measure that must be voted on this week so that money to state and local governments does not expire.
Sometimes, that's the only way to get bills out of the House or through the Senate, and the way in which the bills are combined ensures rent-seeker pressure on wavering senators.

To the Post's reporters, though, it's a chance to suggest that the railroads are exerting undue influence on Members of Congress and slow-walking the implementation of positive train control.
“We need to extend the Positive Train Control deadline as soon as possible to prevent significant disruptions of both passenger and freight rail service across the country,” Shuster said in a statement announcing his plan to marry the highway and PTC extensions. “The sooner we extend this deadline, the more certainty we will give our agricultural, manufacturing, and chemical industries to ensure there will be no supply-chain disruptions.”
Fine. It's easy enough to second-guess and question motives, as long as the chlorine gets through to the waterworks. The prudent course, though, might be to keep the trains running, and establish a feasible deadline later.

JUSTIFYING HER LARGE SALARY.

There's no money at Northern Illinois University for faculty hires, but a director of diversity is another matter.  And yes, administrative revealed preferences do not sit well with the faculty, who are suffering through something called "program prioritization" that has to rank degree programs, and perhaps other academic and non-academic activities, with a view to yanking up to a fifth of them.

But with Hallowe'en coming, it's obligatory to pronounce anathema on all sorts of costumes.
What is not considered fun, however, are costumes that reinforce negative and inaccurate stereotypes about any group. Costumes that contribute to ethnic, racial, religious or sexual stereotypes only exacerbate the problem and do not contribute to a genuine understanding or individual persons and cultures.

For example, many Halloween stores this year are selling costumes packaged for couples who would dress as both the 1970s version of Bruce Jenner as well as the Vanity Fair cover photo of Caitlin Jenner. While those outfits might make some laugh, members of the transgender community are unlikely to find their sexuality as an appropriate basis for a Halloween costume.
Since when is Hallowe'en about "genuine understanding?"  It's about mocking the demons in advance of the Day of All Saints.  And the Perpetually Aggrieved, with their privileging of all that is over-the-top and freakazoid, offer plenty of demons to mock.  What's next, only Approved Hillary Costumes?  (Oh, wait.)  Hillary as Baba Yaga is more like it.  And you don't dare go as a Kardashian sister by padding your tush, that's body shaming.

But the director of diversity gets to issue a ukase.
“Many people think that it’s really OK to perpetuate or reinforce stereotypes through costumes. Halloween should not be viewed as that vehicle,” said Vernese Edghill-Walden, senior associate vice president for Academic Diversity and chief diversity officer.

“As a university, I believe we have a responsibility to educate and remind the larger community that this is a diverse community. We value what everyone brings to this community, and there’s a certain level of respect that we expect in this community,” she added. “Perpetuating stereotypes, diminishing of culture and false assumptions about people’s identity should not be celebrated during Halloween.”
And the illustrations that accompany the announcement suggest that celebrating the Sexy Librarian or the Hunky Firefighter are also out.

Fortunately, the university's Facebook posting of the article is taking a beating in the comments.

27.10.15

ENVISIONING THE FOURTH TURNING.

During the summer, Ed Driscoll remarked on a series of space movies from 1995 that highlighted an America that Worked.
But in addition to looking back at the near-unanimous national approval of the moon landings in 1969 and ’70 even as the left’s culture war was about to accelerate to escape velocity, 1995′s Apollo 13 also reflects the era in which it was made. The Cold War was over — or at least undergoing an extended time out, and it was also concurrently a strange interregnum in the left’s culture war, when our “liberal” betters in Hollywood and in New York gave their enthusiastic blessings to an America that narrowly rejected moderate liberal George H.W. Bush and replaced him with moderate liberal Bill Clinton.
Put another way, once the Consciousness Revolution undoes the strictures of The America That Worked and entrenches itself, and the remaining structure unravels, there's an opportunity to look at the positive parts of The America That Worked as The Good Old Days.  Impeachment and global jihad and financial crisis are still in the future.  What's instructive, though, is that Mr Driscoll links to a Charles Murray essay in order to reinforce his thesis that consensus, or an America that Works, is fleeting.
Johnson’s own Great Society programs—plus Supreme Court decisions, changes in the job market, and the sexual revolution—would produce a lower class unlike anything America had known before. Changes in the economy and higher education would produce a new upper class that bore little resemblance to earlier incarnations.

Half a century after Johnson’s dream of a geographically and culturally homogeneous America, the United States is at least as culturally diverse as it was at the beginning of World War I and in some respects more thoroughly segregated than it has ever been. Today’s America is once again a patchwork of cultures that are different from one another and often in tension. What they share in common with the cultures of pre–World War I America is that they require freedom. In one way or another, the members of most of the new subcultures want to be left alone in ways that the laws of the nation, strictly observed, will no longer let them.
Yes, and after World War I came The Great Depression and World War II, and the emergence of that evanescent consensus.  Perhaps, once Global Jihad or Climate Change or whatever the next Grand Secular Challenge will be is resolved, there will be a new consensus.  Or perhaps the big cities are obsolete and the voters will self-segregate even more and national political consensus will be no longer possible.

THE NATIONAL COALITION IN FAVOR OF CAMPUS CENSORSHIP.

Thus does Eugene Volokh correctly characterize the latest group complaint from the Perpetually Aggrieved.  There's apparently a short-distance social media forum called Yik Yak that allows people to anonymously vent for the edification, or the baiting, of anyone else who also subscribed.  And saying mean things about the Perpetually Aggrieved, or their mascots, must be prosecuted.  It's just another ploy for the purveyors of failed academic policies to make people who point out the failures shut up.
It seems their real goal is to silence dissent on campus by eliminating students’ ability to express their opinions anonymously. The ability to speak anonymously gives moderate and conservative students a chance to speak without [being] vilified or punished by left-wing campus administrators or bullied by student government officials (who sometimes defund campus newspapers for having the temerity to print a moderate or conservative viewpoint about a racial or sexual issue.).
Yes, and it also gives people the opportunity to voice heresies that Student Affairs would rather not hear.  Apparently, as Mr Volokh's column notes, more than a few posters have figured out that "protected-status-minority" is the latest euphemism for "not-college-ready."  But how dare you point that out!  And on social media, it's no longer a muttered remark in confidence among people who trust each other, it's out there for all to see, but impossible for the Organs of State Security to catch.  Thus, the Perpetually Aggrieved require Organs of State Security.  Mr Volokh notes, good luck with that.
Of course, if Yik Yak and the other applications listed in the letter are banned from campus networks — which would, of course, block access to all speech on the applications, whether the speech is threatening or not — then either (1) the ban will be ineffective, given students’ ability to access those sites from their own cellular devices or (2) the speech will migrate elsewhere, onto new applications. Presumably universities would then need to ban access to those applications as well, running a constantly expanding Great Firewall of China American Higher Education. And since many states ban discrimination in education based on religion and sexual orientation as well as race and sex, the logic of the coalition’s arguments would equally apply to speech that harshly criticizes certain religions or sexual orientations.
Not to mention that using social media to conduct study sessions where any of the readings are triggering or contrary to the Received Ethos, or where there are strong objections to the works supposedly promoting the Received Ethos, would also have to be shut down and the readers brought up on charges.

So why are the Perpetually Aggrieved so eager to silence dissents?  Might it be because their ideas are miserable failures, whenever they are tried.  Or might it be that it's not boutique multiculturalism that induces the Perpetually Aggrieved to stand up for Moslems, rather, it's anger envy?
Apparently leaders of the Islamic world present a non-negotiable demand to the West that they be given a blank check for their governments to defame Jews, Christians, and Americans, but the United States must condemn any private individual who, quite apart from the knowledge of the U.S. government, does the same to Muslims. That is the issue, and anything less than an unapologetic defense of free speech is not only a betrayal of our Constitution, but a very dangerous concession that will only incite more violence in the near future. Unfortunately, Western hedging, appeasement, and apologies to theocrats and authoritarians have never won gratitude, but instead such magnanimity is seen as either weakness to be exploited or proof all along that the apologizer admits culpability and will do so again in the future.
Yeah, that's back to the notorious video that Hillary Clinton tried to sell to the public as the cause of the fatal protest at an improperly secured consulate.  But that's how the Perpetually Aggrieved roll.  It's permissible for the various deanlets, deanlings, and conscience-cowboys in Student Affairs and their fellow-travelers in student government to defame normal Americans whilst turning anything normal Americans do in their defense as a thought-crime.  The good news is that normal people on campus will not be ghettoized by politically correct cupcakes.  Otherwise these attempts to further circumscribe social media would not have been necessary.

And there's a Slate essay by Eric Posner, also in the aftermath of the sack of the consulate, that's likely to give succor to the Perpetually Aggrieved.
Americans need to learn that the rest of the world—and not just Muslims—see no sense in the First Amendment. Even other Western nations take a more circumspect position on freedom of expression than we do, realizing that often free speech must yield to other values and the need for order. Our own history suggests that they might have a point.
Yes, that was how the politically correct crowd first sold their introduction of euphemism, as a way of encouraging people to watch what they say and not unnecessarily antagonize others.  That used to be known as good manners, but such a bourgeois notion!  Keep reading Mr Posner's essay.
The First Amendment did not protect anarchists, socialists, Communists, pacifists, and various other dissenters when the U.S. government cracked down on them, as it regularly did during times of war and stress.

The First Amendment earned its sacred status only in the 1960s, and then only among liberals and the left, who cheered when the courts ruled that government could not suppress the speech of dissenters, critics, scandalous artistic types, and even pornographers. Conservatives objected that these rulings helped America’s enemies while undermining public order and morality at home, but their complaints fell on deaf ears.

A totem that is sacred to one religion can become an object of devotion in another, even as the two theologies vest it with different meanings. That is what happened with the First Amendment. In the last few decades, conservatives have discovered in its uncompromising text— “Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech”—support for their own causes. These include unregulated campaign speech, unregulated commercial speech, and limited government. Most of all, conservatives have invoked the First Amendment to oppose efforts to make everyone, in universities and elsewhere, speak “civilly” about women and minorities. I’m talking of course about the “political correctness” movement beginning in the 1980s, which often merged into attempts to enforce a leftist position on race relations and gender politics.

Meanwhile, some liberals began to have second thoughts. They supported enactment of hate-crime laws that raised criminal penalties for people who commit crimes against minorities because of racist or other invidious motives. They agreed that hate speech directed at women in the workplace could be the basis of sexual harassment claims against employers as well. However, the old First Amendment victories in the Supreme Court continued to play an important role in progressive mythology. For the left, the amendment today is like a dear old uncle who enacted heroic deeds in his youth but on occasion says embarrassing things about taboo subjects in his decline.
Put another way, without the protection of the First Amendment, the Perpetually Aggrieved would not have been able to trash the institutions, then get control of the levers of power, and then decide the First Amendment had outlived its usefulness.

A Midwest Conservative Journal fisking of Mr Posner gets it about right as far as Moslem rage is concerned.
The world doesn’t love the First Amendment?  So what?  This is one instance where we’re right and the rest of the world is wrong.  Besides, I don’t love societies that make women dress in sacks and/or kill people for changing their religion.  So until the Islamic world develops a thicker skin, I don’t care what it thinks about anything at all.
That generalizes to the Yik Yak banners.  I don't love academic administrators who trammel inquiry when it suits them.  So until the Perpetually Aggrieved learn to properly engage ideas, I don't care how macro-aggressive they think I am.  It was wrong for leaders of higher education to be against free expression on You Tube in 2012, and it is wrong for leaders of higher education to be against free expression on Yik Yak today.

26.10.15

WE NEED MORE PROBLEMATIC PEOPLE.

"Problematic" is a favorite term of the Perpetually Aggrieved, who generally use it to mean "I don't exactly agree with what you just said, but I don't want to do the work of rebutting it."  Thus do some words get ruled out of bounds, and some speakers disinvited.  Most recently, the Perpetually Aggrieved at Cardiff University decided that second-wave feminist Germaine Greer was too, well, reactionary, to speak there.  (I wonder if any of the snowflakes know that the Great Western Railway engine shed in Cardiff was called Canton.  The horror!)  Ms Greer's sin is in resisting thinking of trans-sexuals as women.  That's a strange place for the author of The Female Eunuch to be.
Greer has described trans women as men ‘who believe that they are women and have themselves castrated’. Which has the benefit of being factually correct — they’re men, they want to be women, they get castrated — but it’s nonetheless a speech crime to the PC.
If these be micro-aggressions, make the most of them!


Ms Greer also called B.S. on the use of "-phobia" as a way to cut short discussion. "I didn't know there was such a thing [as transphobia]. Arachnaphobia, yes. Transphobia, no."  The short affirmation: Silly, made up words. "Anyone who thinks [enter buzz word here] is in any way unacceptable can be automatically smeared as being both mad and bad simply by trotting out this silly, meaningless word."  There are longer ways to reach the same conclusion.  Here's Trouble and Strife, about to go down a culture-studies rabbit hole.
‘Ism’ words and ‘phobia’ words name essentially the same phenomenon: the unjust treatment of one social group by others. But they frame that phenomenon in very different ways, as we can see if we consider what ism and phobia mean in the language more generally.

Words ending in –ism most commonly denote systems of ideas or beliefs–political, religious, intellectual or artistic (e.g. feminism, communism, nationalism, Buddhism, surrealism). Terms like sexism andracism were also intended by the radicals who coined them to refer to systems—organized social systems of dominance and subordination. Though they are often used now to mean just ‘prejudice or discrimination based on sex/race’, that is a liberal watering-down of their original meaning. In the radical framework, prejudice is not the cause of systemic oppression but a consequence or by-product of it. If you are going to oppress your fellow humans—exploit them, abuse them, disregard their needs and rights—then you have every reason to buy into the belief that they are Other, inferior and deserving of unequal treatment.

Words ending in -phobia, by contrast, most commonly denote clinical conditions. The first ‘phobia’ word to appear in an English-language text was hydrophobia (Greek for ‘morbid fear of water’), meaning rabies; in the 19th century the term became associated with mental rather than physical illness, and in current medical usage it means a class of anxiety disorders in which something that is not objectively a serious threat triggers a pathological response—intense fear, panic, disgust, an overwhelming desire to avoid or escape the danger–in certain phobic individuals. In everyday parlance the term is used more loosely: it retains the sense of ‘a pathological (over)reaction’, but there is less emphasis on uncontrollable anxiety, the main symptom of clinical phobia, and more emphasis on the idea of aversion or hatred. Terms like homophobia and transphobia thus carry a strong implication that the root cause of the oppression they name is the pathological fear and loathing felt by some individuals towards a certain minority group.
Despite going deep into the rabbit hole, the author emerges with a sensible conclusion.
The progressive/liberal position is like a mirror image of the conservative one: whereas the conservative is revolted by queer/trans people, the progressive/liberal is revolted by the conservative’s homophobia/transphobia: she is morally disgusted by the moral disgust she attributes to others, and the strength of her disgust becomes a claim to the moral high ground. (‘You have upset me, therefore I am right’.) As Marina S. says, it is impossible to argue with this: moral disgust is instinctive and visceral, beyond any challenge based on rational argument.
Yes, better to say "problematic" and move on. To do so, though, is unlikely to convince anyone not already convinced.
Suggesting that any judgment you disagree with must stem from ‘phobia’—that it is not a question of your opponent having different principles or values, but is simply an expression of their irrational fear and loathing—is a way of making their position appear illegitimate without actually having the political argument. It is using language to silence views that you do not want to hear or engage with.
Precisely. We could even add a few words to the "micro-aggression" poster. "Problematic." Micro-aggression. [noun]+"phobic." Micro-aggression.  Toughen up, buttercup.

Talking Philosophy deconstructs "-phobic" further.
Having a rational fear is not a phobia. For example, a person who is momentarily afraid because he discovers a black widow on his arm does not have arachnophobia. Someone who lives in ongoing fear of spiders even when they are not present might well have arachnophobia.

Interestingly, the term “phobia” is often used to indicate dislike, prejudice or discrimination rather than fear in the strict sense. For example, people who dislike homosexuals are often labeled as being homophobic. Perhaps this is based on an underlying assumption that there dislike or prejudice is based on fear. In any case, using the term “phobia” seems to be intended to convey that someone who has the phobia (such as homophobia) is irrational in this regard. So, in the case of homophobia the idea is that the person has an irrational dislike of homosexuals.

Not surprisingly, this usage of “phobia” is generally intended to be judgmental and critical. To be labeled as having such a phobia is, in effect, to be accused of being both irrational and prejudiced.

Just as there are rational fears, there are also rational dislikes. For example, pedophiles are reviled and disliked. But to claim that people who dislike them have  pedophilephobia would be an error. This is because the label would imply that disliking pedophiles is a prejudice. However, this does not seem to be a prejudice but a correct moral view. As such, if a “phobia” of this sort can be shown to be rational and correct, then it would not be a phobia at all.
No doubt, among the Perpetually Aggrieved are people who would describe "correct moral view" as "problematic." But to deny coherent beliefs of any kind is to produce incoherence.  At the same time, the article notes that distinguishing a rational objection to a practice from an uninformed prejudice against a practice (whether it's Islam or unconventional sexuality or anything else) isn't easy.

The way to deal with a controversy, though, is to engage it, not to problematize it.

CROWD-FUNDING THE DISSENTER.

The administration at Marquette University has more than a little of the Spanish Inquisition about it.  In addition to attempting to discharge John McAdams for cause, they have tossed more than one diversity hustler brought into the university without the protections of tenure.  One of those individuals is former director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Susannah Bartlow.  The Perpetually Aggrieved are taking up a collection.  Here's Professor McAdams offering the effort a backhanded compliment.
That being the case, Marquette owed her a reasonable severance package. We won’t contribute, although only because we would accused of some nefarious purpose if we did so. But we think certain Marquette administrators should step up and see that this campaign reaches the goal.
There are undoubtedly plenty of deanlets and deanlings working in the area of student affairs and the rest of the freakazoid coalition to make it so.

But why, dear reader, does the freakazoid hegemony persist in higher education?

NEGOTIATE FOR A BETTER JOB DESCRIPTION.

Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan is taking stick from the Perpetually Aggrieved for negotiating a family-friendly job description despite opposing federal imposition of family leave on employers.
Ryan also is revealing himself to be a hypocrite of the first degree. The congressman has authored several policy and budget proposals that would directly and negatively impact working parents, especially those in lower income brackets.

He's taken direct aim, for instance, at funding for child care subsidies. Given the skyrocketing costs of child care in this country, the subsidies are a vital resource, especially for lower income parents, who can use them to help defray the costs of finding a good place to leave their children while they go off to work — instead of having to rely on family members or potentially unstable arrangements.
Never let logic get in the way of a good vent. Cheap day care is probably unstable or hazardous, and if you think good day care is expensive now, just wait until it's subsidized. But I digress.
Frankly, when it comes to ensuring that we all have the opportunity to balance our work and life choices without having to make significant and often damaging sacrifices, for the vast majority it's no laughing matter. And it's not something about which most folks can currently make any demands without fear of losing everything.
We're all underemployed compared with our great-grandparents. And people have ways of negotiating for less burdensome job descriptions.  In conditioning his acceptance of a thankless job on fewer burdens, Representative Ryan is serving as a role model.
Paul Ryan was asked to take a job he does not want. At all. He is happy with his current job and the family time it affords him. In the current climate of division among the various Republican caucuses, this new job will be thankless and presumably terrible. And, if Ryan has any presidential ambitions, this job is almost always a politician's final resting place (save for the lone exception and everyone's favorite speaker-turned-president, James K. Polk).

But because he knows that House Republicans are desperate, Ryan has made the smart calculation that he can make some demands if he is to consider assuming this new role that he does not want.

This is what a job negotiation looks like between a person who has made himself invaluable and an employer in a bind. Ryan's boss -- in this case, House Republicans -- are free to refuse his requirements and consider another candidate for the job. Or they can decide that his demands are reasonable and that they are willing to meet them.
It's one more margin along which employers can optimize. And the norms of employment can evolve accordingly.  Hint: that's likely to be different from what a federal mandate specifies.

THAT DISTRESSED MATERIAL.

Most South Carolina students are not college ready.
In English, 61.3 percent of students tested “not ready.” In math, it was 78.4 percent. On the reading test, 74.2 percent tested “not ready.” The science scores were the worst, with 82.1 percent “not ready.”
Anybody surprised that it's the culture, stupid?
Melanie Barton, executive director of the Education Oversight Committee, says, “The results of the ACT, ACT Aspire tell us in South Carolina that we have a long way to go in getting all kids college- and career-ready. We’re struggling especially in reading and mathematical skills and we really need to start focusing on, especially in the high school years, what students need to be able to take, as far as course selection, the rigor, and just to really help students and parents plan for their future.”
The rot probably starts in kindergarten, but perhaps there's poetic justice.
Barton says the fact that so many students aren’t ready for college will likely cost them, or their parents, a lot more money. “Because if our children aren’t ready for that two- or four-year degree and they go in, they have to take remedial courses, or they take longer than four years to complete their degree, that costs mom and dad and the students loan money and tuition payments.”
I've long been on record as favoring the colleges sending high schools a bill for all the repeated high school courses sailing under the remediation flag, and applauding states that take steps in that direction.  But in Ms Barton's observation, there's the possibility that the same parents who aren't bringing their spawn up properly in the first place end up footing the bill for those do-overs of high school.

On the other hand, it's frustrating to still be pointing these things out, ten years on, and seeing that the rot isn't confined to South Carolina.
Millennials in the U.S. fall short when it comes to the skills employers want most: literacy (including the ability to follow simple instructions), practical math, and — hold on to your hat — a category called “problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”

Not only do Gen Y Americans lag far behind their overseas peers by every measure, but they even score lower than other age groups of Americans.
Enjoy the rot.

25.10.15

WORKING ON THE RAILROAD.

When the railroads had to get the goods there, they ran the Red Ball Freight.

Here's what they looked like.


Enjoy.

24.10.15

IT DOES LITTLE GOOD TO RUN FASTER IN THE COUNTRY.

We left off our story of the Texas Eagle from San Antonio to Chicago at bedtime, still in Texas.  A brief, more current report on a weekend trip to Springfield on one of the speeded-up corridor trains hinted at the troubles hampering timely operation. "On the one hand, it's exhilarating to buzz past the traffic on Interstate 55 and the remnants of Route 66 at speeds up to 110 mph; on the other hand, the track work at Joliet and the delays attendant to trains running out of course on what is still a single-track railroad defeat all that the fast running does."  So, too, will delays hammer the Eagle.  A Chicago Tribune story, datelined about the same day I left San Antonio, notes that the carrier is aware of the consequences of delays.
Amtrak ridership dropped an average of 4 percent in Illinois on downstate corridors with connections to Chicago in fiscal 2014, the passenger railroad reported Tuesday, putting much of the blame on late arrivals and departures caused by freight train interference.

The problem of freight congestion blocking passenger trains is affecting Amtrak service across the Midwest and also stretching from Chicago — Amtrak's busiest hub — to the East Coast, officials said.

"Delays of four hours or more for Amtrak trains operating between Chicago and Cleveland have become a near daily occurrence,'' said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. "These and other major delays have ripple effects across the Amtrak national system."

Amtrak's Capitol Limited trains, which operate between Chicago and Washington, D.C., were late 97 percent of the time in September, records show.
No kidding. Amtrak management set out to mitigate their damages.
[Amtrak president Joseph] Boardman acknowledged that apart from investment in tracks, tunnels and bridges, Amtrak also needs to do more to help itself.

"Amtrak senior management needs to understand we are failing in Chicago because we cannot get trains in and out on time," he said. "We want a change in operating plans so that we get an on-time (departure out of Chicago) even if the train comes in late from the East."
Part of the problem turning trains at Chicago is insufficient rolling stock, the westbound rake often being the only cars available for the eastbound rake. Then the hours of service law affects Toledo based crews turning to return.

Those problems aren't as severe on the regional trains, where 110 mph capable stock off a Michigan train might be sent to St. Louis, and an inbound train from St. Louis turns for Michigan. But the delays tear a big hole in whatever time advantage the free rein to 110 confers, and riders notice.
In Illinois, Amtrak ridership declined 5 percent in fiscal 2014 compared with 2013 on routes between Chicago and Carbondale and Chicago and Quincy, according to Amtrak data. Passenger traffic on the Chicago-to-St. Louis route, which is being upgraded to 110-mph service, was down 3 percent.

Amtrak ridership on the three routes totaled 1.3 million in fiscal 2014, which was about 52,300 fewer passenger trips than in fiscal 2013, according to Amtrak records.
Much of that time is being lost just getting through St. Louis and Chicago.  The Eagle, due out of St. Louis at 7.55, reaches Gateway Station at 8.37, plenty of time to look at mists rising off the Mississippi River south of town during breakfast, train is ready to go at 9 am, but we're awaiting signals to clear, or perhaps for a maintenance permit to expire, until 9.23.  Alton, 27 circuitous rail miles away, 10.26 - 10.27; now the pace picks up; Carlinville, conditional stop, no passengers, pass 10.57; Springfield 11.39 - 11.42; Lincoln 12.10 - 12.11, evidence of recent track work, nothing like the sound of freshly ground rail at speed.  Bloomington 12.42 - 12.47; Pontiac 1.15 - 1.16; Joliet double stops, 2.12 - 2.16; now in Chicago terminal area, encounter freight interference near Argo and Brighton Park, arrive Chicago 3.35, 1 hour 43 minutes late.  Fortunately, there's a semi-fast scoot for Elburn that gets away from North Western Station on time, at 4.11.

A resident of suburban Chicago or St. Louis might contemplate using Joliet or Alton as a station, rather than going downtown, but unlike the airport station outside Milwaukee, neither is convenient to expressways nor provides much parking.

NOW FINISH THE ARGUMENT.

President Obama expresses support for the grievances often aggregated under the slogan "black lives matter."
“I think everybody understands all lives matter,” Obama said. “I think the reason that the organizers used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that’s happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities.

“And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”
Yes, by all means, let's scrutinize police profiling and zero tolerance ordinances that might exist as a way of taxing a population when the municipality has insufficient commercial activity to provide governance conducive to commercial activity, and let's scrutinize controlled-substance policies under which Masters of the Universe and entertainment moguls can do their lines of coke, while their suppliers, and the sellers of loose cigarettes, are prosecuted beyond the fullest extent of the law.

But, Mr President, let's push that further.  Let's scrutinize the links between insufficient commercial activity and generations of young people rendered unemployable by government schools and the minimum wage.  Let's understand the effects of fifty years of urban renewal and Model Cities and the War on Poverty in creating a cohort of voters dependent on Democrat policies that somehow never lift people up.

NAGASAKI SYNDROME.

Vladimir Putin isn't likely to be squeamish about protecting Russian interests in Asia Minor.

Here's a Stephen (Vodka Pundit) Green post from a few years back proposing a different way to settle the jihadis' hash.
Imagine instead that Bush had actually waged the war in accordance with his own (correct) formulation of the Axis of Evil. The major sponsors of state terror were North Korea (chiefly as an arms merchant), Iraq, and Iran — and Iran’s junior partners, Syria and various Palestinian groups. North Korea, as a non-ideological foe, could be safely isolated by taking away its customers. Israel can — and mostly does — keep the Palestinian problem a local one.
As for the rest? An ultimatum, mid-2002, after ejecting the Taliban, to turn over all records, funds, and materials related to terror. If not, a long, rapid march from the beaches of Syria to the streets of Tehran, destroying all government buildings — and any military forces stupid enough to stand in the way. Then get our soldiers back on their ships in the Persian Gulf, with the stern message: “Don’t make us come back here again.”

Would it have worked?

Who knows — but the troops would have been home by Christmas, their casualties in the hundreds not thousands, and we’d be a trillion or two dollars richer. And I’d wager that whoever was left in power in the Middle East, they’d be much less likely to indulge their terrorist fantasies.

Instead, we’ve wound down to an exhausted finish in Iraq while we engage in never-ending nation-building in Afghanistan. We’re so exhausted that now even a punitive expedition, smaller than the one I’ve just described, might be discredited before it began.
Yes, and the Russians are simply continuing the southward quest for warm-water ports that tsars since Ivan (Grozny) IV have made.

I suspect, though, that the "you broke it, you own it" school of international relations would have none of it.

LOOKING AT THE WRONG END OF THE PRODUCTION LINE.

It's election season, meaning politicians promising pie in the sky with somebody else's dough.  The flavor of this season appears to be universal college, brought to you by the same people who pretended to deliver universal health care.  The provision problem differs, though, in that a collegian is not the passive beneficiary of a procedure or an inoculation.  Here's Tyler Cowen's version of There's Distressed Material Enrolling.
A more pressing issue is that community college is already close to de facto free for lower-income individuals, if they piece grants and aid together.   Yet the completion rate at these colleges is at best approaching thirty-eight percent.   The real problems come before college, and encouraging more people to attend four-year colleges is unlikely to do much good.   In any case, here is further evidence that higher subsidies to community college attendance very often do not lead to more actual education.   The same or worse is likely to hold for state universities.
Then there's the possible regressive transfer inherent in investing in human capital that's likely to yield its owner higher returns.
It could be the goal is not “college for more people” but simply to redistribute income to students who otherwise would have debt burdens.   But they, with their above average human capital, are not the most deserving recipients of additional redistribution.   Might a cynic wonder if this is simply a way to reward a constituency which often votes Democratic?   Or a way to make the Republican Congress look like meanies?
Why not, that con-job has worked before. But without operational support (here's Dean Dad raising a related point) it's not going to end well.
The end result of the plan would be price controls on tuition, even though the plan itself does not stipulate that.   There simply isn’t the political constituency to support an extra federal $350 billion for higher education (over ten years), plus the state kick-ins which are supposed to follow.   The federal money will sooner or later dwindle, while the tuition restrictions will stick.   In the longer run, this isn’t even a net subsidy to higher education.   In the short run higher ed quality will go down, and in the longer run the move away from tuition support will imply more fiscal starvation for these institutions rather than less.
Not that conditions are that great now.  Not that the current crop of incoming students is that great anyway.
To knowingly push unprepared students into college only leads to frustration for students and instructors alike. It is not just critical thinking that is sorely lacking. It is intellectual curiosity that is absent in most college campuses where I teach. Yet, this intellectual curiosity is a key ingredient that "sparks science, art, all kinds of innovation." What, then, does this portend for our country?
We have much to look forward to.

23.10.15

THE TRENCHANT OBSERVATION OF THE DAY.

Bethany Mandel, in Acculturated.
The state of our culture is such that men aren’t allowed to do nice things for women without any sort of short-term payoff, and women aren’t taught to appreciate chivalrous gestures, but instead to be insulted by them. The result isn’t a victory for feminists. It’s a defeat for everyone.
Just as I've been suggesting for years.

Have a good weekend.

HARD TO MAINTAIN THEIR LOFTY ACADEMIC AIRS.

University Diaries has been calling out the perversities going on in big time college sports, most recently with an assist from Richard Vedder.
Whenever the heads of public universities condemn the stinginess of their legislatures, they loftily remind everyone that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Yet as Vedder suggests, when your school looks like a money-hemhorrhaging joke run by idiots ... you make it awfully easy for politicians to shrug you off.
I await the day when the diversity weenies and the sports establishment emerge as the last defenders of business as usual in higher education.  That will be the day for celebratory toasts.


Until then, I won't lack for stuff to post.

IT'S CALLED LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT.

How shall we count the ways in which people aren't learning civics?  Start with the headline of an S. E. Cupp column. Yes, the Benghazi hearings are political. So what? Let's get beyond the tu quoque assertions that pass for argumentation these days.
Of course there’s an element of the political to these hearings, as there was to the Iraq hearings. Both occurred during the run-up to presidential elections, both involved themes that were central to the opposing party’s campaign messages and both featured presidential players. And to boot, this one has a Clinton at its center, and she is as much a creation of partisan politics as she is proponent of them. She was kind to remind us of this at the Democratic debate, where she volunteered “Republicans” as the enemy she’s most proud to have made.
Partisanship is a by-product of legislative oversight, but one of the ways in which the voters' agents in government provide the information that voters can use in consenting to be governed is to have members of one party pointing out the failings of the other party's policies. Duh. Why do I even have to point this out?
Why didn’t Clinton, if her claims are accurate, receive the requests for more security from Ambassador Chris Stevens? Why were his requests ultimately denied? Why as violence increased did security in the region decrease? Why, despite the Obama administration’s warning not to involve Sidney Blumenthal and other friends in State Department policy decisions, did Clinton continue to share his intelligence briefings with other diplomats, including Stevens? These are questions we need to ask not only to give the families of the four men killed that night some answers, but also to prevent future attacks like the one in Benghazi.

And yes we will also ask these questions to expose Hillary Clinton’s lack of credibility and good judgment. She is, after all, running for President.

Shouldn’t those things matter?
In principle, yes, but her answers are straight out of Slick Willie's playbook. Gol-lee! The buck never got here.  Reason's David Harsanyi raises the questions that didn't come up in the hearing.
Clinton isn't responsible for all the awful things people do, but she certainly is responsible for America's role in the whole mess. If voters are supposed to judge Clinton's asserted foreign policy expertise based on what she did while in power, they should take this into account: Clinton, according to her own admission, voted for one foreign policy disaster and instigated another one. Her fans might concede that Iraq was merely a vote of political expediency or perhaps one made on bad information (a stretch), but there is no such comfort with Libya. Clinton can't blame this one on George W. Bush.

Republicans were generally quiet about the Obama administration's unauthorized war in Libya—even though it circumvented congressional authority—because intervention generally matches their own foreign policy objectives. Americans didn't die, at least at the beginning, so it was forgotten. But if John McCain, who supported the Libyan intervention, would have been in charge, we would never have heard the end of it.

Instead, people would be asking: Please explain how the Libya intervention was a success? And should Ambassador Christopher Stevens have been in Benghazi at all?
Fifty-four more weeks of this, dear readers. Fortunately, there will be model railroad content to lift your spirits.

MORE ACADEMIC FOLLIES IN MILWAUKEE.

First Marquette University banishes political scientist John McAdams, then initiates a dismissal-for-cause case against him.  The hearing was in September, but the decision is not yet public.
McAdams spent much of the summer preparing for a September hearing of a faculty committee that will recommend whether he be stripped of tenure. “I’d much rather be there,” he says. “I’d much rather be teaching.”

At 69, McAdams could simply have gone quietly, as perhaps Marquette thought he would. But that’s not his nature. “First of all, I enjoy a good fight,” he says. “It is also a matter of principle. That is, some people need to be taught a lesson — people who think they can run roughshod over people’s academic freedom.”

How far will he take his fight to get his job back? “As far as necessary,” he says, “including a lawsuit.”

So McAdams finds himself at the center of what is shaping up to be one of the most unusual academic freedom cases in the country. Even in an era of rising political correctness — trigger warnings, speech codes and the battle against “micro-aggressions” — the decision to fire McAdams nearly stands alone.

As far as anyone knows, no other major university has tried to fire a tenured professor for something that he wrote on a blog.
The imbroglio has already gone on longer than the Siege of Petersburg, and yet Professor McAdams will continue to fight it out on this line.
Knowing the hostile environment he would face, would he want to return to Marquette if he wins his fight? “I would,” McAdams says without hesitation. “And continue to make trouble. Just to spite the authoritarians.”
There's a longer version of the story here.

POLITICALLY CORRECT CUPCAKES GHETTOIZE NORMAL PEOPLE.

If these be micro-aggressions, make the most of it!  I don't have to make this stuff up, high-paid diversicrats, in this case at the Center for Inclusive Excellence at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (is that in the class of Jumbo Shrimp or Penn Central?) is now advising students to watch what they say.
The microaggression culture has been widely documented on college campuses across the country. "Safe spaces" have popped up in response to speakers who may espouse a view that is controversial. Efforts from various diversity and inclusiveness centers on campuses are trying to root out words and change the language.
It transpires that the diversicrat-in-charge is of the "free speech for me, not for thee" class.  In other news, the Bears still suck.  Perhaps, though, Wisconsin at Milwaukee is attempting to emulate the public Ivies, which is the default setting at Cornell.
At her inauguration as Cornell’s new president, Elizabeth Garrett said, “We must heed the call to be radical and progressive.” Later she issued apparently contradictory statements on free speech, calling herself “an avid supporter of freedom of speech” at a press event in New York. Later, she said, “Speech can be regulated. Speech has to be regulated in the narrowest possible way to serve a compelling state interest.”
And the diversicrats at Milwaukee will no doubt deflect criticism by referring to the Inclusive Excellence propaganda as "suggestions."  But, taking a page from the British playbook (no more "man up, cupcake" -- what happens when the kids taught in day-care about special snowflakes discover that "snowflake" is oppressive?), perhaps peer interventions will be next.
In addition, many schools have already established task forces of students who will be policing their classmates’ language and attitudes and reporting (read: tattling on) any student who dares to violate the new standards.
It's gotten that creating hothouses for the freakazoid spawn of the priviligentsia is too much, even for the establishmentarians of the Washington Post, who give Catherine Rampell a forum to remind higher education of that which should be self-evident.
As someone who once wrote inflammatory columns for school newspapers, I find this thinly veiled retribution deeply saddening. Not just for sentimental reasons, and not just because student papers serve an important watchdog function unlikely to be filled by, say, the school music blog.

Crippling the delivery of unpopular views is a terrible lesson to send to impressionable minds and future leaders, at Wesleyan and elsewhere. It teaches students that dissent will be punished, that rather than pipe up they should nod along.
Indeed. At the hothouses for freakazoid spawn, such as Oberlin or Wesleyan, unpopular views might be uncommon simply because of self-selection, and social ostracism. But to impose the aesthetics and commonplaces of the Trendy Left on students at public universities, which like to brag about serving first-generation, non-traditional, all the other Approved Categorities, is to deprive students of the kind of intellectual give and take that might be part of the human capital endowments of higher-status individuals.

19.10.15

CARDIAC PACK.

The Green Bay Packers survive a late flurry by the San Diego Chargers.  Charger quarterback Philip Rivers does not hold the record for most passing yards in a loss to the Packers.  Just ask the Detroit Lions.

The Packers brought back the blue and yellow jerseys of the Great Depression era.  I rolled out some refrigerator cars of that era for the play value, in the background..


There should be more progress on the railroad to report.

WHO WILL OPT OUT FIRST?

It's college football season, and you can count on University Diaries to chronicle the business follies that accompany it, with a little help from the economists.
Econ professors are a seriously weak link in the American jock school chain. This blog has covered tons of economists who, with their specialized knowledge, subject their athletics departments to withering critique and then tell everyone about it. Here are some instances of professors, who, like Shulman (‘“Of course it sucks resources out of the academic side of the university,” Shulman said. “And it’s dishonest to deny that it does that… We are a land-grant university, and our mission is grounded in service to the citizens of Colorado. And to me what that means is keeping tuition low and affordable.”’), go after the game boys.
So far, though, nobody has gone so far as to suggest that opting out of the positional arms race in college sports is the superior strategy.  The spin out of the athletic directors' offices is that following the dominant strategy is still the way to go.  Take Colorado State (or as occasional source Historiann calls it, Baa Ram U.)
The asking price for college football and basketball coaches has increased significantly in recent years, Cottingham said. Bobo’s annual salary of $1.35 million ranks 64th among the 121 schools in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision included in a USA TODAY Sports report released last week.

Bobo is the second-highest paid coach in the Mountain West, behind the $1.49 million of Fresno State’s Tim DeRuyter. Sonny Lubick, CSU’s coach from 1993 to 2007, made $530,000 in his final season.

For comparison, Alabama’s Nick Saban is the nation’s highest paid coach at $7.09 million per year, according to the USA Today report. Louisana-Monroe’s Todd Berry makes the least, at $360,000.

“We live in a free-market economy, where if you’re going to compete at the national level, you’ve to pay national salary rates to be competitive,” Cottingham said. “We don’t control what the pay scale is for head football coaches or head basketball coaches or volleyball coaches.”
No, but your scheduling practices enable it.
Coaches’ pay isn’t the only reason CSU’s athletics budget has skyrocketed, Cottingham said. The costs of scholarships, recruiting, team travel, game guarantees and day-to-day operation of each of the school’s 16 varsity sports programs has increased, too.

CSU spent $7.1 million on athletics scholarships in 2013-14, an increase of nearly 92 percent from the $3.7 million it spent in 2004-05 because of the rising cost of tuition and fees. They have have increased 279 percent, from $3,790 in 2004-05, to $10,590 this year for in-state students, and 189 percent, from $14,413 in 2004-05 to $27,258 this year, for out-of-state students.
I suppose, somewhere, there's an analysis to the effect that raising the profile by way of sports brings in more full-fare-paying out-of-state students.  But in the "game guarantees" is an interesting dynamic.  Football program on the make hires highly regarded coach, then buys the coach wins. But I'm not persuaded.

Then there's Rutgers.  Rut-roh!
These deficits have been funded with subsidies from student fees (students have no say about that, of course) and university general funds. As even the university president concedes, athletics is "siphoning dollars from the academic mission."

Subsidizing deficits only leads to bigger deficits, and to bigger subsidies.

Athletics actually plans on getting 2 percent more each year from student fees (at most other Big Ten schools, there are no student fees for athletics). Since athletics can simply tap student fees and the academic program to pay its bills, it doesn't need to work hard to raise money. So it is no surprise that sports teams generate only $8 million in contributions, only half what a Big Ten school such as Purdue manages to raise. (Purdue!)

Athletics isn't just a public-relations disaster and a financial disaster. It's also a management disaster.
But someone has to opt out. The Christian Science Monitor dares go where the athletic directors would rather not.
College sports may be a culprit for the student debt crisis.

A new documentary short is highlighting the exorbitant amount of money colleges and universities are spending on athletics while tuition continuously grows for students and faculty positions slowly diminish.
It may take trustees, or a legislature, to direct the president to abolish the Division I sports, as no director of athletics is likely to ask to have his department, financial failure notwithstanding, to be shut down.  It has been over twenty years since the Illinois Board of Higher Education recommended that Northern Illinois University drop out of Division I.  The trustees (in common with much of the Mid-American Conference) imposed athletics fees on students (free admission to the games, in exchange for, in most of the conference, not much) and went on with business as usual.

YOU HAVE TO FIX THE CULTURE FIRST.

Dean Baker takes issue with a George Will column that I recommended.  On the political economy of reactionary progressivism, he's predictably conventional.  But in defending "Social" "Security" he's undermining the reactionary progressives' argument that it's really insurance (after all, the original title is Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance.)
Okay, but in the real world we know that people pay for their Social Security over their working lifetimes, so it is no more a handout than the interest on government bonds that they hold is a handout. In both cases they paid for this income stream. Will does have a case for a regressive redistribution with Medicare, but there the redistribution is to the doctors, drug companies and medical equipment suppliers who charge us twice as much as their counterparts in other wealthy countries. If Will wants to bring these costs down, then he's got a good case.
If "Social" "Security" is really a form of forced savings, why not just put each contributor's payments directly into government bonds, or let contributors decide which mix of investments to make?  Seems to work well enough with, for instance, TIAA - CREF.  And give Mr Baker credit for recognizing the rent seeking in the so-called prescription drug benefit.

But then the rent-seeking vanishes.
As far as big regulatory government helping the strong, he certainly has a case as we just saw with the [Trans-Pacific Parnership].
Thus ...
The moral is that the government is part of the economy whether George Will likes it or not. The battle is over who is likely to be better served by its actions.
Yes, well, on this score count me as more Jesuit than the Pope.  The more activist the government is, the more rents there will be for K Street to dissipate.

Then, Mr Baker continues his rebuttal with an anemic endorsement of Our President's economic record.
As far as zero interest rate policy pushing up the stock market, relative to the size of the economy the stock market is no higher than its was in 2007 before the crash. The stock market was not being pushed up by ZIRP then, what is the case for it now? And of course tens of millions of middle and moderate income people have benefited from getting lower mortgage interest rates. And, the additional purchasing power has added one to two million jobs according to a number of different studies on the topic. So, the data don't quite fit Will's story here.
Thus: no reflation of the stock market bubble, no net gains in wealth, and at best a halting economic expansion, probably hobbled by the excessively constrained "economic stimulus," the adjustment costs of the so-called Affordable Care Act, and perhaps the failure of imagination in gridlocked Washington to build anything new, despite the low interest rates.

But when it comes to the primary driver of inequality, Mr Baker only hopes to enable more of it.
Will goes on to complain about single-parent families. Yes, it would be great if the Will's government could give every child two loving parents, but governments actually are not very good at coupling people. This means that we have to try to create a situation in which a single-parent can provide a comfortable upbringing to their children. This means child care, paid sick days and family leave, and decent wages. But that may require some government interventions of the sort advocated by Bernie Sanders.
Yeah, enabling dysfunction to get more of it is going to work real well.  Haven't we been doing precisely that for the past fifty years?  It's the bastardy and the desertion, not the lack of Denmark's welfare benefits. Stop throwing money at it, and stop holding up the likes of the Kardashian sisters as role models.