22.10.17

TAIL TRACK.

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

THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF COLD SPRING SHOPS.

The original, that is.



Four workmen are posing for the company photographer.  They are rolling a maximum traction truck under a rebuilt 700 class streetcar.  These cars were delivered as center door cars, later rebuilt with doors at the car ends.  Why the original trucks went back under the cars I don't know: the maximum traction idea was to save money by putting one bigger motor with a bigger drive wheel on each truck rather than put two smaller motors on each truck.  It was an evolutionary dead end.

I don't know the history of this picture, it's undated, unattributed, and a purchase at a swap meet.

That's an 800 or 900 class streetcar, Milwaukee's newest type, at left, and the car at right is interurban 1120 in a 1940s modern image paint job the locals referred to as the "Spitball Car."

WHAT HAPPENED.

Yes, that's the title of a new book by a failed presidential candidate, but the impression I have gathered of it is that she continues to blame everyone but herself, and life is short.

But when two members in good standing of the vast right wing conspiracy offer widely differing polemics on the outcome of the same election, perhaps I should devote Book Reviews No. 21 and No. 22 as a brief compare-and-contrast.

On the dismayed side, Charles J. Sykes, proud Never Trumper, is out with How the Right Lost Its Mind, (yes, I set that up with the earlier review of E. J. Dionne's Why the Right Went Wrong) in which he wonders if his talk radio echo chamber hasn't made possible the epistemic closure in which voters hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest, even if what they are hearing is made up out of whole cloth and hyped by clickbait-savvy webmasters or ratings-desperate talk show hosts.

I might take Mr Sykes's confession more seriously if he'd say an Act of Contrition over helping undermine the extension of the Hiawatha service to Madison as a boondoggle for a few Capitol Square rent-seekers -- although Passenger Rail advocates in Wisconsin did a poor job of rebutting his claims.

On the other hand, the Charlie Sykes of Prof Scam and Fail U properly could characterize much of what came out of the pro-Trump commentariat as the fallout of postmodern deconstructionism of coherent beliefs.  Thus, we might add to the sins of the political class "weaponizing the Executive only to turn it over to Donald Trump" and to the sins cultural class "weaponizing identity politics only to see it picked up by White America" the sins of the academic class "treating truth as a malleable social construction only to see the sledge-hammer wielded by Breitbart and Alex Jones."

But the election did come down to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and principled conservatives could make a case for Mr Trump, crudity and all.  For instance, Victor Hanson saw it this way, to Mr Sykes's dismay.  "One does not need lectures about conservatism from Edmund Burke when, at the neighborhood school, English becomes a second language, or when one is rammed by a hit-and-run driver illegally in the United States who flees the scene of the accident."

What comes earlier in Mr Hanson's essay is more salient.
The lives and concerns of the Republican establishment in the media and government no longer resembled those of half their supporters. The Beltway establishment grew more concerned about their sinecures in government and the media than about showing urgency in stopping Obamaism. When the Voz de Aztlan and the Wall Street Journaloften share the same position on illegal immigration, or when Republicans of the Gang of Eight are as likely as their left-wing associates to disparage those who want federal immigration law enforced, the proverbial conservative masses feel they have lost their representation. How, under a supposedly obstructive, conservative-controlled House and Senate, did we reach $20 trillion in debt, institutionalize sanctuary cities, and put ourselves on track to a Navy of World War I size?
That's where the second book, Laura Ingraham's Billionaire at the Barricades: The Populist Revolution from Reagan to Trump, comes in.  Ms Ingraham might be angling for a job as director of communications in the Trump administration (although Sarah Huckabee Sanders is doing just fine without her help) but her book makes the case -- perhaps, it parallels Mr Dionne in its exploration of presidential campaigns from 1988 to the present -- that the Republican establishment Mr Dionne wanted to be more accommodating and squishy was in fact more interested in its sinecures than in the lived experience of their voters.  She even quotes somebody interesting on that score.
I've been governor of a small state for 12 years. I'll tell you how it's affected me. Every year, Congress and the President sign laws that makes us -- make us do more things and gives us less money to do it with. I see people in my state, middle-class people, their taxes have gone up in Washington and their services have gone down while the wealthy have gotten tax cuts. I have seen what's happened in this last four years when in my state, when people lose their jobs, there's a good chance I'll know them by their names. When a factory closes I know the people who ran it. When the businesses go bankrupt, I know them. And I've been out here for 13 months meeting in meetings just like this ever since October with people like you all over America, people that have lost their jobs, lost their livelihood, lost their health insurance.

What I want you to understand is the national debt is not the only cause of that. It is because America has not invested in its people. It is because we have not grown. It is because we've had 12 years of trickle-down economics. We've gone from first to 12th in the world in wages. We've had four years were we've produced no private-sector jobs. Most people are working harder for less money than they were making 10 years ago. It is because we are in the grip of a failed economic theory. And this decision you're about to make better be about what kind of economic theory you want. Not just people saying I want to go fix it but what are we going to do. What I think we have to do is invest in American jobs, American education, control American health care costs and bring the American people together again.
That's Governor Bill Clinton, sounding a populist theme to the expense of President George H. W. Bush: that Bush the son and Hillary the spouse both failed to pick it up, and Hillary the candidate called the disaffected voters deplorables contributed to the populist insurgency.  Yes, and it was one Donald J. Trump who, in 1993, objected to the North American Free Trade Agreement that the various Bushes and Clintons signed off on.

Now, she argues, it is up to the populists to keep their focus. and to hold Mr Trump to his promises to keep working for the people, as opposed to the political class.

And the political class is despairing.  Consider this lament from Thomas Friedman and fellow panelists on Meet the Press this morning.
TOM FRIEDMAN:
Well, I think what's going on, Chuck, is a real crisis of authority. Something I talked about on the show once before, I quoted my friend Dov Seidman who said, "There's a big difference between formal authority and moral authority." So we have a president who has formal authority, but I would argue he has lost all of his moral authority. That is why last week he had to bring out General Kelly, a four-star Marine general, because he still had formal authority and moral authority. Unfortunately, General Kelly, by saying things that were provably false about that congresswoman, really lost, I think, a lot of his moral authority. And now we have a situation where the White House spokeswoman had to invoke his formal authority, that he was a four-star Marine general to basically shut up the press. And I think that's the tragedy here. Like, everyone has lost their moral authority. And I think that's a real crisis for the country. Because when we're in a real crisis, and we need to trust General Kelly and the president, I think something's been lost here.
CHUCK TODD:
You know, Dani, here's how Peggy Noonan sort of put it. She writes, "F.D.R., Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan were pretty tough hombres. But they always managed to sound like presidents and not, say, John Gotti."
DANIELLE PLETKA:
Yeah, but again, I think President Bush, with all respect for the analysis about moral authority, which I think is very fair, I think that President Bush and President Obama actually don't get what the issue is. There's a crisis [facing] government. The American people, much like many people around the world, don't believe that government is in this for them.
Don't believe that they're being served. Think that they're corrupt. Think that they're dishonest. What those two gentlemen said, while we all at the table may agree with them, aren't actually going towards solving this problem.
CHUCK TODD:
But should we be concerned that their anger is based on fabrications in many ways? Like, they're angry at things that didn't happen, but they think they did because they're being fed divisive rhetoric.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
Well, you might as well say, and I might as well say, well, that's because of the fake news.
CHUCK TODD:
I understand that.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
So that's the national--
CHUCK TODD:
But it's a vicious cycle that we're in.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
But, I mean, we need to answer the crisis of faith in our leadership, not simply focus on the fact that Donald Trump is there. Lindsey Graham was absolutely right. Lindsey Graham said, "This isn't just about what one guy." He got elected. We may not like it, but he got elected. What are those folks looking for?
HELENE COOPER:
I think it's pretty hard though to talk about restoring Americans' faith in the government when you have the representatives of the government standing in front of the American people and telling demonstrably false stories. I think Tom is completely right that General Kelly lost a huge amount of credibility when he said what he did about Representative Wilson. And that just takes away, I mean, you see this White House constantly bleeding out these credibility issues.
ROBERT COSTA:
When I was at the Capitol this week, I talked to some senators on the Republican side and some House members. A lot of them echoed Senator Graham. They said privately, they're in lock step with President George W. Bush. They respect President Obama's comments. But they believe the country, in part because, they told me, about the Obama and Bush presidencies, has lost faith in the institutions, of the national political parties. And because of this rising populism and just general frustration, the leaders in Washington don't feel able to navigate this moment.But okay. Why can't you have this populism, why can't you have this anger without? Look, David Brooks wrote this, "Barbarism and vulgarity we have in profusion. Through his daily utterances, Trump is influencing the nation in powerful ways. Few would say he is spreading a contagion that we'd like our children to catch." The point is, the idea of role model and going back to your moral authority, can't the president do this, torch the establishment and at the same time, set a high bar of laws?
DANIELLE PLETKA:
I mean, there's so much elitist twaddle being sort of slapped around about all of this.
CHUCK TODD:
I understand that.
DANIELLE PLETKA:
And the answer is that Donald Trump is a reflection of something and he is who he is. For those of us who don't like it, for those of us who can't deal with it, the right answer is to figure out how to have candidates out there who aren't Roy Moore, right? And who aren't Donald Trump. And how the American people will elect them. And nobody's talking about that fact.
TOM FRIEDMAN:
You know, Chuck, the biggest industry in America today is the anger industry. Because we have technologies now, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, that allow so many people to participate in arousing, and also videos and pictures. And the whole country is just out there arousing each other through video and pictures and what not. And I worry that we're really fighting this technology. It's just so easy to get a lot of people stirred up and you don't have to be president to do it.
I couldn't watch that panel this morning without having visions of Pope Leo and his cardinals deploring those German peasants talking about redemption by faith alone.  Thomas Friedman as pope, Chuck Todd as loyal cardinal, Helene Cooper and Robert Costa managing the Index, and Daniel Pletka as Devil's Advocate.  Mr Sykes will perform the exorcisms.

But there are fissures in the Bipartisan Ruling Class, and we'll likely be having more of Kurt Schlichter.  "In one week, Trump crushed the cultural left in the Battle of the NFL, decertified Iran, pulled us out of the PLO-hugging fiasco that is UNESCO, gutted Obamacare, and dissed that simpering weasel Bob Corker. Sad? We’re freaking thrilled." Is it an accident, dear reader, that many of the people Mr Sykes thanks for their advice and comments made Salon's Approved Conservatives list?

All concerned ought understand that populism is distinct from the usual Sunday show talking points.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE GUNS.

Columnist S. E. Cupp (who now has an evening talk show on CNN's Headline News that impresses me as more edifying, plus it skews younger, than the Fox News and MSNBC offerings running in that hour) understands what Constitutional Principles currently mean, and what standing on principle means.
It’s Democrats and the gun control lobby that lack the courage. Because the only intellectually honest and consistent proposal for curbing gun violence is a ban on all guns. If Democrats are serious about putting an end to mass shootings, or gun deaths in Chicago, or gang violence, they should fight to take every last gun off the street. They should stand up and say they want to repeal the Second Amendment. Anything short is either a shortsighted fallacy or political window dressing.
Leaving aside, for the moment, the problem that Chicago already has stringent restrictions on gun ownership, but those restrictions might be undone by smuggling, or by scratch building.  (The British Sten gun, for instance, comprises components that a reasonably competent machinist could build at home, something that might have been necessary had fighting on the beaches and the landing grounds and in the Midlands become necessary.)

But the smuggling allowed NBC's Chuck Todd to deflect Representative Steve Scalise's invocation of Chicago's gun deaths by alluding to the less restrictive laws just east of the state line.  "But they'll tell you, you just go in Gary, Indiana. So I mean, you just go across state lines. And you can have all the tough gun laws you want in the world, but if you cross state lines, I mean, this is, that's why they argue for a federal law."  On the other hand, there's more at work than the relatively greater availability of firearms in Indiana.  Gary, despite its own Murder City reputation, has recently beaten Chicago out for at least one business project, and I have no evidence of a similarly violent war of drug lords in progress in Indianapolis or Frankfort or Kokomo.  Meanwhile, the violent crime rate has been falling nationwide for some years.

Perhaps, if it's angry people committing mass shootings that's the policy challenge, it's identifying and containing the angry people before they act out.  Was it really the best public policy, upon discovering the conditions in the mental hospitals to treat institutionalizing people as anathema, rather than improving the conditions?

SUMMONING THE ECHOES.

Members of Chicago's Iron Workers Local #1 offer a tribute photograph.


Retrieved from Curbed Chicago.

21.10.17

FOOTBALL IS BLOCKING AND TACKLING.

Green Bay Packer spokesman Mike Spofford notes, "Protecting the football is job one."

There are still some coaching points beyond equipping new quarterback Brett Hundley with a game plan.
I loved the fact that, going against the media grain of the day, [coach Mike McCarthy] wanted to focus his remarks on his team’s poor play that had nothing to do with Rodgers’ injury. He was borderline sick to his stomach after watching the film. That’s a coach and a leader, through and through. Even though we might all feel better if the Packers were 5-1 right now, losing that game might have been the best thing for the Rodgers-less Packers.
Furthermore, any reserve is one injury away from being sent in.  Prepare and act accordingly.
What message does that send to the other 52 players on the roster? How do young players develop if the coaching staff and organization aren’t behind them 100 percent to succeed? This is professional football.
Take care of the blocking and tackling, and the wins will take care of themselves.

17.10.17

A PROGRESSIVE SEEKS TO TURN THE CLOCK BACK.

The progressive in question is E. J. Dionne, and the setting he wants is "Eisenhower Republican."

And I could end Book Review No. 20 simply by giving the title Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism - From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond, and let it go at that.  And it transpires that he had to come out with a revised edition in November (my copy has a purchase date of 22 January 2016, and it was obsolete effective 20 January 2017) with a new title, Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism - From Goldwater to Trump and Beyond, and he's likely walking back one of his themes: that the Republicans might have little future as a presidential party, which surfaces at page 10. "A right-leaning Republican Party is in a strong position to rally a coalition of discontent among older white Americans who dominate the electorate in the off years.  But absent a change in its approach, the conservative coalition is threatened with long-term minority status in presidential elections, where a younger, more culturally and ethnically diverse electorate holds sway."  Oops, and Mr Dionne's recognition that this electorate is clustered in a few places is something that's going to be in the political discourse going forward.  And we no longer have the Victory Dividend to enable a Dwight Eisenhower to consolidate the gains with interstate highways, and Lyndon Johnson dissipating them in any number of ways.  The problem with politics may less be a disorderly conservatism than it is widespread manifestations of ineffective technocratic expertise.

And there might be Mr Dionne's greatest insight, page 14. "I offer this book in part because I continue to believe that a healthy democratic order needs conservatism's skepticism about the grand plans we progressives sometimes offer, its respect for traditional institutions, and its skepticism of those who believe that politics can remold human nature."

Alas, dear reader, that's missing from much of what passes for conservatism these days -- there's another book or two on that score sitting on my desk -- and it's unfortunate that when the skepticism manifests itself, it might be in a disrespectful way.  Page 309, from a Tea Party inspired town hall in South Carolina, quoting an unidentified hospital worker.  "I also have had many years of experience seeing the result of government intervention in the private sector.  The result of that government intervention has been mostly the result of what I call the reverse Midas Touch.  That is, whatever government touches through its control, it mostly turns to crap."  Yes, and if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and your good government school comes bundled with a granite counter top.  There is a lot of work left to do,  But somehow Mr Dionne's calls for "a more moderate brand of politics" ring hollow.  He's more on point at page 450.  "But to challenge the gridlock created by the two electorates, progressives will need to win back white working-class voters who look to government to reduce economic insecurity and expand opportunity -- yet have lost confidence in government's ability to succeed."

Yes, somewhere between a quarter-century of rent-seeking by the Davos set, and a half-century of technocratic conceits will do that to voters.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

GIVING UP ON RETAIL RAILROADING?

At the same time Norfolk Southern is cooperating with regional railroads on intermodal movements, CSX appears to be concentrating its intermodal resources on fewer routes.  Goodbye, Columbus.
CSX told customers on Oct. 12 that it would be dropping outbound service from Columbus to nearly two dozen locations. Only a handful of inbound lanes are being eliminated, the railroad said.

The announcements come on the heels of reductions in intermodal service to Detroit as well as Louisville, Ky., as CSX prepares to scale back container sorting operations at its hub in North Baltimore, Ohio.

The terminal opened in 2011 as the linchpin of a new intermodal strategy. The $175-million Northwest Ohio Intermodal Terminal was designed to support CSX’s hub-and-spoke approach to serving smaller intermodal markets.

By sorting container shipments at North Baltimore, CSX could build the density required to provide new or more frequent service to places such as Louisville, Detroit, and Columbus.
Developing.

FOOTBALL IS BLOCKING AND TACKLING.

A week ago, we were savoring a Green Bay Packer rally in Dallas: 75 yards in 62 seconds for the win.

Thursday, which is now unaccountably the beginning of the new football week, (North) Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton and team had two minutes to go about seventy yards for a win.  That team went four and out for a loss.

Sunday, Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers left the game with a clavicle fracture.

The offensive line is also full of walking wounded, but the rest of the receivers and the running backs are available.  That puts the signal calling in the hands of Brett Hundley.
Hundley was sacked four times and knocked to the ground eight more.

As a result, a good deal of time will be spent in the classroom talking with the offensive linemen about protections, particularly center Corey Linsley, who is in charge of making calls for the offensive line.

“It’s all about talking, it’s all about conversing, making sure we’re on the same page, making sure we all know what everyone is thinking,” Linsley said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

It will be a challenge because the statuses of right tackle Bryan Bulaga (concussion), left guard Lane Taylor (ankle) and left tackle David Bakhtiari (hamstring) are uncertain. The game plan probably will reflect which linemen are in and which are out.
Yes, although the important part is in executing the plan, or carrying out the coach's intentions.
More than anything, [Packer head coach Mike] McCarthy said, the team needs to perform much better than it did against the Vikings. The most support Hundley can get is if the players around him are performing.

“We need to clean our own house,” McCarthy said. “I think it’s clear what we need to do. Our basics were not good enough, and that’s what our focus is on.”
Another October, another opportunity to focus on doing things the hard way.  Developing.

AIDING A PRODUCER TO THE DETRIMENT OF ITS CONSUMERS.

Cafe Hayek links to an instructive Wall Street Journal commentary by a member of a trade association whose interests were at odds with those of the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The Institute, understandably, make all sorts of national-security arguments for not being dependent on foreign steel, and all sorts of injured-innocence arguments about dumping, and they got much of what they asked for.

But the imports might have served a purpose, and who knows what sort of expense-preference behavior is at work when deliveries of steel from overseas are more dependable than deliveries from the local mill.
By the late 1980s, high steel prices and quota-induced shortages were undermining factory efficiency as just-in-time processes gave way to just-in-case workarounds. Unconcerned, the steel industry demanded five more years of even tighter quotas.

That launched a political fight sometimes called the Steel Wars. A robust coalition of American steel users—led by Caterpillar, where [author Bill Lane] worked—was formed to push for an end to the quotas. Big companies provided much of the political access, but what carried the day was the hundreds of small metal-bending concerns represented by the Precision Metalforming Association. Congress quickly learned that 30 times as many people worked in factories using steel than in mills making it—and they were mad. Most of them seemed to be located in the same congressional districts as steelworkers.
And thus does the rent-seeking of the Institute provoke the formation of another coalition of rent-seekers, the Coalition of American Steel Using Manufacturers.  That coalition had more potential voters than the Institute, as the local mill was slow to deliver steel to fabricators not far from the plant gate.  There are agglomeration economies in having the fabricators close to each other, as well as locational advantages in having a ready supply of prompt industrial scrap to recycle.  There's been plenty of creative destruction at work in steel manufacturing, which ought to provide cheaper, better steel to the fabricators, as well as incentives to, oh, deliver the sheets and bars when the fabricators are expecting them.

NOT THE ONION.

Rick Pitino has just been named Academic Provost at the University of North Carolina!

R-E-L-A-X.

But Power Line's Paul Mirengoff suggests there's truth behind the tease.  "The sham courses were, indeed, available to all students."

Cold Spring Shops does not endorse all of Mr Mirengoff's continuation.
Many of the University’s athletes in high profile sports, especially football and basketball, fell into that category, and why not? They were admitted with inferior academic credentials (grades and/or test scores) and had to deal with the pressure and demands of competing in big-time sports.

But the athletes weren’t the only students admitted with inferior academic credentials. Students admitted to the University pursuant to race-based preferences also fit this description. Naturally some, and probably many, of these students would struggle if required to take a full load of real courses.

Thus, the sham courses were a natural (though particularly egregious) consequence of race-based admissions preferences. Their existence can be explained without positing a desire to help athletes inl particular. It’s quite possible — I would say probable — that this desire also existed. However, the determinative factor was likely a desire to relax standards for students admitted to the University pursuant to racial preferences. In other words, the sham courses were more an adjunct to the preferential admissions program than an adjunct to the athletics department.
Your Superintendent is not surprised, however, to learn that students might be left undereducated on a diet of access-assessment-remediation-retention.

14.10.17

THE POSSIBILITIES FOR RETAIL RAILROADING?

The Milwaukee Road and The Pennsylvania Railroad announce a new route for agricultural exports.  "The Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad and the Indiana & Ohio Railway will provide [Canadian Pacific] with a route from the Windy City to an intermodal terminal in Jeffersonville, Ohio, which is within easy striking distance of Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton."

Yes, I deliberately used the old names for the United States parts of the routing.  The grain will be destined overseas by way of the Port of Vancouver.  (Don't anybody tell Our President this movement is likely easier thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement ...)
The 90-acre terminal is owned and operated by a corn and soybean producer, Bluegrass Farms of Ohio.

International containers — which come to North America filled with consumer goods — often return to Asia empty. But North American farmers have seen growing demand for exports to Asia, and the empty containers represent a welcome opportunity for shippers, steamship lines, and railroads.
And the alliance of the Canadian transcontinentals with Midwestern regional railroads to expand the reach of container service continues.

START A CULTURE WAR, PREPARE TO FACE GRANT OR PATTON.

Glenn "Insta Pundit" Reynolds offers the Trenchant Lament of the Day.  "I’ve warned the left for years of the incentives their unprincipled behavior was creating; perhaps now that people are starting to react to those incentives, they’ll finally listen, instead of denouncing civil society and free expression as obsolete bourgeois values."  Yes, and better to seek terms now than face your own Dresden later.  "You get Hitler because of Weimar, and you get Weimar because the liberals are too corrupt and incompetent to maintain a liberal polity."  And make no mistake, it is Weimar.  "The liberals wanted a culture war. They just didn't expect that we would fight back."  It could get worse.

WIN THE BATTLE OF IDEAS.

No affirmative action for conservatives, urges Jay Schalin.
Legislating a problem away is an extremely tempting option, when available. Why not try to fix the most intractable problem in public higher education—its intensifying politicization—with a single stroke of a pen, if you hold the ultimate authority through legislative majorities?

And so, the cry arises to institute affirmative action for conservative scholars in academia. At first glance, it seems to satisfy the need to rebalance the Ivory Tower from its leftward lurch, but such legislative overreach is actually a desperate act that should be employed only if less extreme measures prove ineffective.

That universities are politically one-sided is beyond question today. Whether one looks at voter registrations or faculty publications, or merely scans online headlines to see how academia keeps pushing further to the left, the radicalization is all too obvious. The problem is most pervasive in those disciplines that are concerned with culture, politics, and society; academia at times seems intent on driving a polarizing wedge into the American people with little concern for what may happen when the nation is ripped apart.
Give no legislative majority a power you would fear in the hands of a different legislative majority.
The academic ideal is to promote the spirit of open inquiry and the free market of ideas, a sentiment that has the support of right-thinking intellectuals on both sides of the political aisle. Legislating the inclusion of specific views in public universities will undermine that openness; it may seem reasonable when addressing the lack of conservatives on campus but could set a disastrous precedent should a shift to the left in state electoral politics occur.
The challenge, as I have noted, repeatedly and at length, is for the proper stewards of higher education -- the faculty, not the conscience-cowboys in Human Resources or the Vice Presidents of Morale Conditioning -- to assert their role as stewards and teach the controversies.  Does it really have to take an entire generation of unprepared clueless graduates and ever more intrusive legislative oversight before that stewardship emerges?  (And if it takes that long, it will be mostly ignored.)
The nation is going through a period of heightened political awareness, with an increasing realization that traditional Western thought and free market economics must be defended in academia if our way of life is to continue. If conservatives—politicians, trustees, alumni, students, and parents—work together, they may be able to restore political balance without throwing away the spirit of free inquiry through intrusive legislation such as affirmative action.
So mote it be.

UNEXPECTEDLY.

That was the frequent, ironic, Pajamas Media post title when Hope and Change manifested itself as bad news.

But there might be something to the snark. Consumer Sentiment in U.S. Unexpectedly Surges to 13-Year High.
The jump in sentiment, which was greater than any analyst had projected, may reflect several trends: falling gasoline prices following a hurricane-related spike; repeated record highs for the stock market; a 16-year low in unemployment; and post-storm recovery efforts driving a rebound in economic growth.

The advance in the main gauge spanned age and income subgroups as well as partisan views, according to the report. Almost six out of every 10 consumers thought the economy had recently improved in early October, the university said.
One of these years, we might have business and economic reporting that fights shy of the broken window fallacy.

10.10.17

THE CRAFTSMANSHIP OF COLD SPRING SHOPS.

The Illinois Railway Museum laid on a Milwaukee Transit Day last Saturday.


For many years after the interurbans and streetcars quit running, the electric motors brought coal to Lakeside Power Plant.


There was also a streetcar to bend the corner around.


Set the Way-Back Machine to 1967.


Set the Way-Back Machine to 1958.

Hicks Car Works have additional photographs from the day.

After the electric cars pulled in, the Steam Department moved some of its collection outside for cleaning.


There's more treasure to the east.


We don't often get to see a slide-valve American Standard with a Russia Iron boiler jacket in full sunset.  Study the evolution of the early twentieth century steam locomotive.


Before the Metra Electric, these Small Tank Engines moved the masses, including to the World's Columbian Exhibition.  Among the engineers, one John Luther "Casey" Jones.


In Milwaukee parlance, this is a trackless trolley car, and yes, trackless trolley cars ran past the North Shore Line's Milwaukee Terminal, which is where the sign came from.

INDOCTRINATING A FREE PEOPLE IS DIFFICULT.

Dispatches from Campus Reform.  "A group of professors recently warned college administrators that 'diversity educators' risk 'burnout and compassion fatigue' from 'the emotional weight' of their job." No, I didn't make this up, it might even be peer-reviewed.
Universities increasingly call upon employees to educate campus community members on diversity, yet the experiences of these educators are rarely addressed. Via scholarly personal narratives, a team of diversity educators at a predominantly White research university shared their experiences facilitating diversity trainings while attempting to maintain self-care, including their processes of (a) navigating resistance through intersectional identities, (b) proving legitimacy as diversity educators, (c) experiencing burnout, and (d) validating and supporting each as other cofacilitators.
Yeah, it has to be hard to be a Morale Conditioner, when the Enemies of the People reject the notion that they have committed a thought crime.  Now, let's translate: "scholarly personal narratives" means "we compared notes at a coffee house on the nasty frat boys who mocked us, then summarized the discussion using longer words."  "Proving legitimacy" is harder now that we find ourselves at Compass Direction State or Rural County Community than it was at, say, Oberlin or Evergreen State or Kenyon.  ("I am glad Kenyon students try their best not to offend one another, but it has begun to undermine our education.")

Burnout happens when students will not have their education undermined.  But that's not how the Morale Conditioners see it. "[B]urnout is caused by diversity educators’ 'consistent exposure to various microaggressions' from unruly students, [author Ryan] Miller explains, noting that microaggressions have been conceptualized by some scholars 'as forms of assault and torture.'"  He continues, "Diversity educators also grappled with feeling 'not qualified' and the constant desire to 'prove their legitimacy to others,' Miller notes, suggesting that senior administrators could counter such sentiments by paying diversity educators higher salaries and giving them more 'recognition.'" Yes, a leather jacket and a small pistol would come in handy, or perhaps some medals.

A statement from Kenyon is germane.  "Freedom of expression applies to views and ideas that most members of the college may consider mistaken, dangerous, or even despicable." But being a Morale Conditioner means you can think of your captives as deplorable.

The answer to dangerous ideas, dear reader, is more dangerous ideas.

For one:  In two thousand years, did we get these things right?

Are the Morale Conditioners attempting to squelch discussion by calling ideas "problematic," or some invented -ism or -phobia?  Are the Morale Conditioners still engaging in privilege-shaming or in thoughtless constructivism?  Are they inadequately prepared to handle the difficult questions?  If so, they should be fired, not offered pay increases.

Informed unruliness.  I like the thought.

TWO LIES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE.

Short title:  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  "McHealthcare Deluxe," argues Kevin Williamson.
The Affordable Care Act has not worked as advertised. That is the fundamental fact around which the debate should be organized. The ACA did not result in lower premiums but in the opposite; it did not result in more competitive insurance markets but in the opposite; it did not result in superior health-insurance plans but, at least in many cases, the opposite; it has not resulted in universal coverage. Among the major promises made on behalf of the ACA, only one of any significance has been delivered on: It is the case that more Americans have health insurance today than they did in 2009. But the ACA has underdelivered on that point, too.
But that's excusable, because Good Intentions, and Evil Objectors.
The defects of the ACA are plain for all to see. Everybody knows what they are. But what has been the Democratic response to attempts to fix them? Screeching that Republicans are cruel, that they hate poor people, or that they are influenced by obscure financial motives. What those financial motives might be is not obvious: The biggest financial players in the health-insurance industry, the insurance companies themselves, generally supported ACA and generally opposed recent Republican reform efforts, especially the repeal of the mandate that obliges every American to buy the products the insurance companies sell. And the insurance companies like the Democrats’ current big idea on health-insurance reform: burying the insurance companies in bailout money to cover up the problems created by the ACA.

This situation sometimes results in amusing developments: When Graham-Cassidy was being debated, progressives circulated a list of industry groups opposed to it — as though deferring to corporate interests were self-evidently good policy from a progressive point of view. It’s part of an argument that, in total, doesn’t make any sense — “Corporate special interests want to stop Republicans from selling the People out to corporate special interests!” — but the argument isn’t about the argument. It’s about pointing to the other side and shouting: “Bad!” If you think about it, Donald Trump hasn’t invented a new kind of politics but has simply stripped our existing political discourse down to its fundamentals.
He continues, "The ACA does not work."  And the attrition continues.

How far must the unraveling go until our political masters consider trade-tested betterments?

THE SECOND TIME AS FARCE.

Donna Karan appears to have excused Harvey Weinstein's piggish behavior by blaming the victim.
“How do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking?” she said. “Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and sexuality?”

The designer continued, “You look at everything all over the world today, how women are dressing and what they’re asking by just presenting themselves the way they do. What are they asking for? Trouble.”
She has walked it back.  "My statements were taken out of context and do not represent how I feel about the current situation concerning Harvey Weinstein."

Forty years ago, a Madison judge got himself recalled for a similar sort of statement.  "Whether women like it or not they are sex objects. Are we supposed to take an impressionable person 15 or 16 years of age and punish that person severely because they react to it normally?"  A juvenile rapist got a suspended sentence.  I cringed, and the ladies I hung out with at the time were ... steamed.

I lifted that quote from a longer essay identifying something called Debased Compassion Syndrome.
Are fashions today often provocative? Yes. Are we supposed to take an impressionable person 15 or 16 years of age and punish that person severely because they react to it normally? Yes. We expect you to deal with provocative clothing styles appropriately, as the price for living in this society. That is what we define as "normal." If you choose not to, we will put you into a setting where you won't get the opportunity to respond inappropriately. Is it difficult? Maybe. Do we care? No. There are rules for appropriate conduct, and you will follow them. There are more of us who support the rules than there are those of you who want to violate them, and our opinion counts and yours doesn't. If it stresses you out, chew your fingernails, scream into your pillow or punch your teddy bear. But you will keep your hands out of places they don't have permission to go, and the discussion is over. Women have a right to go about their business without being assaulted, and how you feel about it is of no consequence whatsoever.
That's a second-order argument: there are rules, and people adhere to those rules, because adherence thereto confers an evolutionary advantage.  There's a lot more at the post I quoted.  By all means, read it, understand it, enjoy it.

Post scriptum: if Ms Karan's remarks get people rethinking the pass trashy fashions and epater le bourgeois authenticity get in the service of Progress, good.

9.10.17

BINDLE STIFFS, BULLS, AND SIDE-DOOR PULLMANS.

That's the language of riding the rails, hobo-style, which was a thing during the Great Depression, and there's apparently a little of it going on on U.S. rails to this day.

It's become a way of movement for refugees in Europe.
[S]ome are taking a second gamble with their lives by jumping on freight trains to get to destinations such as Germany.

Between July and mid-September, more than 200 people were found on such trains.

In comparison, there were hardly any such stowaways in 2016, and only around 20 cases in the first half of this year.

Police say the new route arose after Schengen countries reimposed border controls in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis.

Asked why they were risking their lives again, the stowaways said that they were desperate to leave Italy as they didn't feel welcome, or because they wanted to make money or learn a trade.

Others said they want to rejoin their families who are already in Germany, [Raubling police spokesman Rainer] Scharf said.

"But it's still extremely dangerous," he stressed.
Particularly exposed to the elements on a spine car, which appears to be the carriage of choice.
To travel undetected, the migrants lie in the small gap between the goods container and the flat-bed of the train carriage, remaining immobile for hours.

"A wrongly calculated move could result in them falling on the rails while the train is running at full speed. And that's not even taking into account the fact that the trains travel through the mountains where it can be very cold, even in the summer," said a policewoman.
Perhaps, though, there aren't many box cars or auto racks running on the migrant routes. (Yes, U.S. authorities are aware of these things. The end doors of auto racks are locked to protect against stowaways seeing the U.S.A. in somebody else's Chevrolet.)

DAK CAN'T SMACK CARDIAC PACK OFF TRACK.

That was an interesting Sunday afternoon.

In the first half, the Packers defense had trouble getting off the field, including Dak Prescott flipping the field on a third-and-thirteen on the opening possession.

It's a sixty minute game.  The Packers rallied from fifteen points down to take their first lead early in the fourth quarter.  Cowboys answered with a field goal, then forced a punt.  Then Damarious Randall executed a pick-six.



Yes, that's the same Damarious Randall who was banished to the locker room during the victory over the Bears two Thursdays ago.  "It was Randall’s first pick-six since intercepting Oakland quarterback Derek Carr in December 2015 as well as a step in the right direction for the former first-round pick after being sent to the locker room against Chicago a little more than a week ago."  If memory serves, that was part of another rally that turned a close game into a rout.  Mr Randall was also flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, tossing the ball at Mr Prescott.  Sometimes the X and O is the least important part of coaching.

Then the Cowboys ran most of the clock off and Mr Prescott sold an excellent play fake, into the end zone on a keeper,  Cowboys up by four with 73 seconds to play.

This morning, though, there are Monday morning quarterbacks suggesting he should have taken a knee at the one, setting up a first and goal.  That's being too clever by half.

But 73 seconds is plenty of time when Mr Rodgers and his supporting cast know what they are doing.
“Very proud of Aaron Jones,” [head coach Mike] McCarthy said. “He earned the opportunity to start today and he produced. That’s what you look for. This was his first chance to take a big load in the run game, and I thought he played outstanding. I love his running style.”

So does Rodgers, who had no qualms with the rookie being his pass protector in the backfield with the game on the line. Rodgers (19-of-29, 221 yards, three TDs, 122.9 rating) even called Jones’ number on the final drive, giving him a handoff out of the shotgun that he took 15 yards into field-goal range, smartly getting out of bounds with 39 seconds left.

“I told him before the game, I have absolutely zero worries about him back there,” Rodgers said. “He’s a great kid. His vision as fantastic.

“That’s stuff you can’t coach,” Rodgers continued, regarding the cut to the sideline that both moved the chains and preserved Green Bay’s lone timeout on the final possession. “You love the instincts there.”
The Packers moved into touchdown-pass range, and executed the same play twice.

Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams for the lead.  Note the receiver in a position to high-point the ball.



Strategic play calling: earlier in the series, same players, different play.  "Rodgers’ opening 14-yard back-shoulder pass to Davante Adams did more than that. To hear Rodgers tell it, the first play set up the last one, the TD toss to Adams near the end-zone sideline with 11 seconds to go."  If you're a rookie defensive back, do you anticipate them going back to the other shoulder because that previously worked, or to some other receiver instead?
The Packers actually ran the same exact play one snap earlier, on first-and-10 at the Dallas 12, with Rodgers missing Adams low on the back-shoulder fade. As Adams went back to the line of scrimmage, the two decided to try the pass again.

This time, Rodgers put it higher and Adams caught the touchdown, his second of the day.

“I came back and let him know, ‘Do it again. Let’s go back to it,’” Adams said. “He gave me that look and I was like, ‘Let’s do it again.’ He threw it over there and threw a perfect ball. I didn’t really have to do much.”
Sometimes, it's the body language.  "Rodgers said Adams gave him a look with his eyes when he came back to the huddle that told him to go right back to him."

New cheerleaders, same body language.


Retrieved from Dallas Morning News.

And yes, that's the same Davante Adams who was in the concussion protocol after being smacked by a Chicago Bear.  "Adams said he was cleared from the protocol on Friday afternoon. Still, nobody would’ve faulted Adams if he’d preferred to sit out a week and gather himself."

Unfortunately, because of the intrusion of National Anthem politics into football's pre-kickoff rituals, we have to consider a further self-destruction of the Dallas Cowboys.  Owner Jerry Jones appears to be taking Our President's advice, and threatening players who do anything other than stand at attention with a firing.  That provoked ESPN's Jemele Hill to suggest that people boycott the Cowboys ... as if the anthem protests aren't doing that already ... and ESPN have benched Jemele Hill.

The Packers, on the other hand, have been locking arms and standing for the Anthem.  On one of the local fan shows, receiver Jordy Nelson explained that the team is looking for a way to call attention to the reality as many of the young men have perceived it: difficult circumstances and disrespect from officialdom (and we could add to that taking on the risks of concussions and a shortened life with shattered mental faculties) without appearing to be disrespectful to the country.

That might be part of how team players learn to believe in each other, and we'll see if Mr Jones does more damage to Cowboy morale than another big Packer comeback did.

And yes, there was another big Packer comeback, four years ago.


Unattributed Green Bay Packer photograph.

Aaron Rodgers was not the quarterback that day.  Next man up, and of late the rookies have been rotated into games from the beginning.

5.10.17

NO KIDDING.

Streetsblog, The Problem With America’s New Streetcars.  "Cities may have valid reasons for seeking more downtown investment, but these streetcars should be recognized for what they are: economic development projects, not solutions to the transit and transportation problems cities face today."  Yes, that was explicit in the construction of the Shaker Heights Rapid Transit and implicit in the first extension of the Chicago Rapid Transit to Niles Center, now Skokie.

If you're going to run the rapid transit lines as public services, it's not so much farebox recovery as sustainable commercial and residential development, i.e. a tax base, that matters.

FINIS, CREDENTIALED ESTABLISHMENT?

The warning signs were there, if you knew where to look.  (It's happened a lot faster than I anticipated, viz this from 2013: "Changing the expectation for presidents, nay for Washington politicians generally is a task several orders of magnitude tougher. It might take even more serious government failure to change minds.")

Kurt Schlichter, however, has lost all patience with the Wise Experts.
So, as a practical matter, we only lose our rights if we allow ourselves to be shamed, threatened, whined, and lectured into giving them up by skeevy tragedy-buzzard pols, mainstream media meat puppets, and late night chucklemonkeys whose names and faces all blend together into one unfunny, preachy blur.
I think he's saying, "mess with the Bill of Rights at your peril."

But National Review's Jay Cost is suggesting the Credentialed Experts are irrelevant, if perhaps more politely.
Since at least Woodrow Wilson, progressives have grumbled about the Founders’ achievement, often complaining that the Constitution does not facilitate vigorous government. Power is too divided in this system, Wilson sniffed, leaving the government incapable of acting in behalf of a popular majority. Of course, it is so easy to complain about a majority’s inaction precisely because the Constitution has done such a good job of preventing tyranny of the majority.

Moreover, the Constitution assumes a process of civic deliberation that still rubs people the wrong way. It establishes Congress as the fount of all legislative authority, and by extension it empowers the people who elect the legislature. But over the years, Congress’s power has been shoveled off to unelected bureaucrats and judges. A few years ago, Peter Orszag, former director of President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget, argued in the New Republic, in a piece titled “Too Much of a Good Thing,” that what we really need is less of that good thing — less democracy. Power should be transferred more fully to experts who can make decisions that the people themselves cannot make.

This view, quite popular in today’s Washington, D.C., is a reimagining of the old notion of mixed estates, whereby certain groups of people (in this case, the credentialed experts) effectively enjoy a permanent place in government regardless of their numbers in society. The Founders rejected this view, in favor of a robust civic republicanism whereby the people do the hard work of governing themselves.
In place of a "basket of deplorables," contemplate an "unfunny, preachy blur of chucklemonkeys."

Writing for Common Dreams, Richard Eskow also says Enough.
People aren’t against globalization as [former British prime minister Tony] Blair defines it. They’re against trade deals that hurt them economically in order to benefit powerful interests. The “globalization” the left opposes is something altogether different: the domination of multilateral decision-making by powerful financial interests. That’s worth opposing.
Funny, that sounds a lot like Trumpian populism, if perhaps seasoned with a sincerity that a billionaire rent-seeker knows better than to attempt.

The turfing-out, however?  More likely to come.
The consensus rule of political insiders across the globe, from center-left to center-right, has not responded to voters’ needs or wishes. As a result, it is falling. That’s not tragedy; it’s democracy. Europe’s center-left became complacent and complicit: complacent in its power, and complicit in its relationship to corporate power.

Professor [Sheri] Berman worries that, without, “populism will flourish and democracy will decay.” But the left’s populism is answering the unmet needs of people in Western Europe and the United States. That’s not decay; it’s progress.
Again, that's more polite than "preachy, unfunny blur." And yet ...

THE SPEED-UP COMES TO THE FACULTY.

When the union organizer has success on the shop floor, it's likely because an overweening management has pushed people too far.  (Who is John Galt?  Same argument, different sort of organizer.)

Thus has a union come to Northern Illinois University's faculty, and thus does the anger over having to do more with less bubble up.
No group on campus has received a wage increase since January 2012, and with new tasks being added to their jobs, faculty members think the time has come to see added benefits.

The reasons a wage increase is needed stem from new tasks added to what the university expects from faculty, [United Faculty Alliance vice president Rosemary] Feurer said.

“We’ve been saddled with new job duties, recruiting students, healthcare costs, been denied travel costs to conferences, and we’ve had to pay out of pocket,” Feurer said. “We’ve actually had a pay decrease with all that.”

Feurer said professors are now expected to be in constant contact with students, something she said was not the norm in the past. They are also expected to be involved in initiatives including recruiting events and research. Feurer also said salaries have not increased despite inflation and rising healthcare costs over the years.
I have not been able to verify all these claims, although I understand that departments have gone cold turkey on travel, and that some departments have removed telephones from faculty offices (and that might have the effect of some students ringing their professors on their personal 'phones at all hours ...)

Moreover, if faculty are helping out with student recruiting events, perhaps that is because some positions for deanlets and deanlings are going vacant.

Unfortunately, in the state of fiscal fragility, California is Connecticut is Illinois is Puerto Rico is Greece is Venezuela is Zimbabwe.  And Our President recently put Puerto Rico in receivership.  (Or not: you have to take Mr Trump seriously but not literally.)

3.10.17

DOWNSIZING IS A FALSE ECONOMY.

Earlier this summer, we picked up a Fred Frailey column suggesting railroad operations guru Hunter Harrison was liquidating CSX Transportation.  How serious was he?

Enough so, apparently, that the efforts of Alfred Perlman and Robert Young to reduce the New York Central from four tracks to two wasn't enough of an economy.  (Yes, there are still traces of The Water Level Route in place across New York, if you know where to look.)


So now Mr Harrison wants to reduce two main tracks to one in places.  Mr Frailey has some fun with that idea.
A couple of years ago I built a simulation model for CXS [c.q.] between Buffalo and Selkirk using interactive Train Dispatcher 3 software. I’ve just employed this platform to run the trains actually operated over the territory on a recent midweek day. Then I went into the software, removed 100 miles of double track over the 295-mile stretch—and reran those same trains.
I cut young people who play a lot of games on their 'phones some slack as I too am a Train Dispatcher 3 junkie, although my efforts are more in the "what if" category, such as adding train frequencies between Chicago and the Twin Cities and allowing 125 mph running in places.  But there's enough about railway operations in 12" = 1' for enthusiasts to simulate the real thing.
CSX currently operates 38 regularly scheduled trains a day between Buffalo and Syracuse (DeWitt Yard), and 40 between Syracuse and Selkirk/Albany. Of these, eight are Amtrak trains, six handle automobiles, 10 are manifest freights and 14 to 16 are intermodal trains. Plus there are locals, unit ethanol trains, maintenance of way trains, industrial jobs around the big cities and occasional extras.

Given the complexity of operations across Upstate New York—intermodal hotshots overtaking manifest and auto trains and Amtrak schedules overtaking everything—I didn’t try to redesign the network into a conventional single-track road. Instead, I took out pieces of double track between some existing control points until I had eliminated 100 track miles that can be redeployed to lengthen sidings on the Chicago-Waycross, Ga., artery. I left double track on the approaches to Selkirk and Buffalo and through both Syracuse and Rochester. I also left in place the West Shore bypass line around Rochester.
Looks like he also left the short stretch of four tracks, only one alongside a passenger platform, at Buffalo.



That single-tracking emulated what Messrs. Young and Perlman did a half century ago, when the outside sidings between the towers in place at the time became the third or fourth track for recessing trains.  Note here that some of those sidings have been retained as places to put slower trains out of the way of faster trains.  And put them out of the way they must be.
Surprisingly, the original railroad with its double track intact is almost as hard to dispatch as the one minus those 100 miles of second main. Because of frequent overtakes, you cannot just fleet trains. Instead, you are constantly getting slower trains out of the way of faster trains running up behind them.

The price of removing those 100 miles is a 28 percent increase in delays, caused either by waiting at red signals or being unable to make track speed. That extra lost time adds up to 23 hours. Because I tried to observe train priories—Amtrak, intermodal, auto, manifest, local, industrial, in that order—those trains at the low end suffered most, and the Amtrak and intermodal trains least.

I concluded that losing those 100 miles of double track wouldn’t cripple CSX across New York. All things considered, 23 hours of added delay may be a price worth paying.

Wait, you say! Won’t this stunt future traffic growth? Yes indeed, but who says there’s going to be an increase in traffic? CSX has slowly been going out of business all during the 21st Century, its manifest business down 20 percent since 2000, its coal franchise a shadow of its former self and its intermodal growth at least temporarily halted. Former management under Michael Ward may have talked the growth talk, but didn’t walk it. I have no reason to think Ward’s successor, Hunter Harrison, will act differently.
That's been my experience. When I'm riding the Lake Shore (on rails, not on the replacement bus that I've been presented with too often) the train frequently crosses from one main to the other, and those crossovers must get so much use that the rough running is on the straight side ...

For years, though, the Wizards of Wall Street have been seeking control of CSX in order to make management spend less money on track.  To my naive view, that looks like slowly liquidating the company, but perhaps that is the intention.

MAKE THEM WET THEIR CREASED PANTS?

Nils Gilman suggests that the transgression of all the normal rules by the Trump Administration is deliberate, and there are voters who perceive it as necessary.
What united Trump fans was not so much a policy wish list that had been neglected by mainstream politicians across the political spectrum, but a heartfelt need to say “No!” to a political class that had long ago stopped listening.

Understood in this way, Trump’s gleeful and truculent displays of contempt for longstanding norms regarding acceptable political behavior become much less difficult to comprehend. And yet no one really got it during the campaign.
More precisely, there were people who got it, but they weren't prepared to accept it.
The conventional view is that to be serious about policy in a democracy requires not only legislative goals, but also a sense for how legislation will in turn be adopted by agencies and bureaucracies. Not every President has come to the office with this skill set, but every President has sought to quickly figure out the mechanics of government in order to push through a legislative agenda. This in turn has required that the Commander-in-Chief learn how government actually operates. In short, the job has required gaining expertise in the management of a bureaucracy.
In short, the perceived role of the president is in doing the things the talking head process worshippers yammer on about: that used to be limited to an hour of Friday on public broadcasting, and Sunday pregaming for the unchurched and unPackered, but with cable news one can have it any time, in any flavor.

Never mind that without the Failures of the Best and the Brightest, there'd be a lot less for the Superintendent of the Cold Spring Shops to grouse about.  For instance, "Hope and Change appear to be eight lost years as far as fixing the international or the domestic saecular challenges."  Thus, "[W]hen the old social order is coming apart, the outlines of what will replace it are often unclear. Did anyone really anticipate Trumpmania at this time a year ago?"
Imagine that you view government as basically a bunch of corrupt rent-seekers who also subscribe to a set of alien “liberal” cultural values, and who are seeking to impose those values on the whole of America. From that perspective, the terms “bureaucratic competence” or “policy seriousness” reveal themselves as elitist ruses. Trump’s very lack of attention to bureaucratic detail, by contrast, proves he’s not one of those swamp creatures that his candidacy was all about mocking and attacking.
That the people who worship "bureaucratic competence" or "policy seriousness" are Sinclair Lewis fanboys who hold the yeomanry in contempt only strengthens his appeal.
When Trump calls for draining the swamp, what his fans hear, not incorrectly, is a rejection of politics-as-a-means-to-pursue-policy as such. “The swamp” that Trump purports to want to drain is all those people who treat policy as a serious business, and who believe that the policy practitioners should be respected (and financially rewarded) by the people who don’t take policy seriously. This insight also helps explain why Trump’s failure to get anything done has not cost him anything with his fans: As long as Trump keeps telling the fancy-pants boys where they can stick it, he’s accomplishing his primary purpose as far as they’re concerned. The real essence of Trump’s campaign, and now his presidency, is not about policy; it is about sticking a finger in the eye of policy expertise and conventional opinions about what constitutes political decency. Just having him up at the podium in the White House is literally a standing rebuke to the very idea that the purpose of politics is policy.
That noted, between Constitutional separation of powers and bureaucratic hysteresis, business as usual goes on, and not well.
Despite all the chaos and performance art emanating from the White House, Mar-a-Lago, and various Trump golf courses, the supertanker of state continues to largely do the same things it has under Obama. We have maintained the same ineffective strategy in Syria and Afghanistan, though accompanied by rhetorical broadsides against human rights as a guiding principle of American foreign policy; the Affordable Health Care Act remains the law of the land, albeit administered a bit less well; trade policy hasn’t changed much yet, despite a fair bit of bluster; and deportations continue at more or less the same rate as they did under Obama.
Mr Gilman notes that in the event of a real emergency, one in which a president has to act presidential, what comes next may not be amusing.

But there's something of the Last Judgement in his concluding words.
And finally, however valiantly the media and many members of the public may be fighting to prevent Trump’s destruction of the norms of decency and respect that underpin any effective and legitimate democracy, the longer he stays in office, the harder it will be to return to a politics predicated on the idea that policy outcomes should be the primary way in which we judge our politicians.

Given how U.S. elites have signally failed to create a political economy that provides Trump’s fans with a steadily growing supply of panem, we shouldn’t be surprised that they prefer a President who at least they can rely on to deliver circenses. For when it comes to the performance of political grievances, Trump remains America’s greatest ringmaster.
Put another way, Mr Trump wins the election because the voters rejected the bad policy outcomes.  That the political classes are spending more time with process worship, rather than, say, coming up with policy outcomes consistent with the wishes of the voters, suggests the airing of grievances and the wetting of trousers will continue.

THE BUBBLE TURNS INSIDE OUT.

Years ago, my introduction to a rational expectations hyperinflation came by way of the example of California houses that sold for way more than the capitalized value of expected rents.  What happens next (although nobody knows the day or the hour) is not amusing.

We live in interesting times.
Supply on the low end is tight because during the housing crash investors large and small bought hundreds of thousands of foreclosed properties and turned them into rentals. There are currently 8 million more renter-occupied homes than there were in 2007, the peak of the housing boom, according to the U.S. Census.

Investors could take the opportunity of high prices and high demand to sell these properties, but today's high rents offer them better returns.

Low supply of homes for sale might also seem like a great opportunity for the nation's homebuilders. Yes, they went through an epic housing crash, but they have since consolidated market share and righted their balance sheets. Homebuilders are simply not building enough inexpensive houses that the market needs.
Markets have steep grading curves, and rates of return function to allocate capital.
That is why sales of newly built homes, like existing homes, have been disappointing. The latest read on August new home sales from the U.S. Census surprised analysts with a 3.4 percent monthly drop, along with a rise in inventory. The homes are there, they're just not selling, and it's not hard to figure out why.

"The recent home sales data has reflected a slower pace and I continue to believe it's due to more a push back on pricing," wrote Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst with the Lindsey Group, in a response to the data release.

Just 2 percent of newly built homes sold in August were priced under $150,000, and just 14 percent priced under $200,000. Compare that with the existing home market, where more than half of homes sold in August were priced under $250,000.
In part, regulatory constraints affect what the builders can build.
Builders say they would like to build more affordable homes but cannot because the math doesn't work. The costs of land, labor, materials and regulatory compliance are just too high. In addition, younger homebuyers want to live closer to urban areas, not in the far-out exurbs, where builder costs are far lower.

"It's time we stopped sugarcoating the truth with this data — the simple fact is that we are severely underproducing housing in this country, relative both to basic demographics and currently high demand from buyers," wrote Gudell, who notes that inventory is stuck at roughly mid-1990s levels, but the country has grown by more than 60 million people since then. "Buying conditions, in theory, are great right now: Jobs and incomes are growing, and rock-bottom mortgage interest rates are helping keep financing costs low. What's missing from the equation is a lack of homes actually available to buy at a price point that's reasonable for most buyers."
But I don't understand what comes next.
The trouble is, even though the market is woefully mismatched, home prices will not come down as long as there are some buyers out there willing and able to spend more and more money for less and less house.

"We expect price pressure to remain pretty strong well into the fall," said Nela Richardson, chief economist at Redfin. "First-time buyers are struggling to find a footing in this market. The first-time buyer share is down from historical levels, but the thing is, you don't need everyone to buy a house in this market. As long as there are one or two buyers who can afford, and those buyers can be investors, then the sale will go through, and that's what we're seeing at some level."

So, what does all this mean for the economy and personal wealth? It means the renter nation will persist and fewer Americans will be able to save and grow their money in a home. It also means rents will continue to rise due to high demand, leaving more Americans with less disposable income to spend.
Maybe. Investors might buy houses as long as the acquisition price is less than the capitalized value of the rents.  That has the effect of bidding up the prices of houses that can be converted to rentals (and for the moment, budget-constrained renters are actually in a better position to buy than they will be until that price adjustment goes through.)  In turn, that changes the incentives to turn out tracts full of look-alike, priced-alike housing, particularly in tracts catering to those higher net worth buyers who are no longer there.  And we might see a reversal of the teardown tendency in the old streetcar suburbs, in which smaller houses were torn down (and sometimes two lots combined) in order to put in bigger houses with a more tony address than [Phony British Location] [Phony Geography] [Rustic Noun], Yuppie Hell A Tank of Gas From Anywhere.