11.7.19

MARKING OFF.

Here's a Big Boy, in preservation in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Scranton, Pennsylvania, 18 July 2012.

A live one is on its way to Iowa, which strikes me as a more productive use of steam and steel than all the stumpings of politicians.

ABOUT TIME, INDEED.

I've had occasion to gripe about dubious Norfolk Southern dispatching laying out eastbound Amtrak trains for hours, before the train even gets to its first stop at South Bend.

The corporate suite at Amtrak might be engaging in a slow-motion liquidation of the overnight trains, but a business model of dependable day trains requires that the day trains be dependable.  The cooperation of the freight railroads that sold their passenger losses to Amtrak is desirable.
A lawyer for Norfolk Southern sent a formal letter to Amtrak demanding that Amtrak stop tweeting information about Amtrak trains running late and identifying the cause—specifically that they were stuck behind slow moving NS freights.

I’m guessing the Norfolk Southern attorney knew that the letter was a dumb idea, but was goaded into it by one of the railroad’s top executives.

At any rate, the fallout was 100-percent predictable: an Amtrak executive wrote back to Norfolk Southern and said, in so many words, “We’re sick and tired of you guys not giving a damn and constantly making our trains run late.”

And then the Amtrak guy did what until this incident would have been unthinkable: he released copies of both letters to the media! Of course that triggered news reports of the dust-up, including a front-page story in the Wall Street Journal!
Here's more, from the Rail Passengers' Association.  By all means read the whole thing, but note this.
Your letter is surprising mostly because it focused on just a single tweet about train 20(15) from the @AmtrakAlerts Twitter feed. While train 20(15) was initially delayed by a mechanical issue, the subsequent 198 minutes of delay due to Norfolk Southern compounded this problem, which is sadly all too common. While you complain this was due to the train being “off plan,” the thousands of severe delays to Amtrak passengers caused by Norfolk Southern make clear there is no Norfolk Southern “plan.” In 2018, Norfolk Southern delayed Amtrak trains for 464,342 minutes, the equivalent of 322 days. For many Amtrak customers, enduring severe delays caused by Norfolk Southern are the norm. In 2018, each Crescent train was, on average, delayed nearly 2.5 hours by Norfolk Southern freight trains alone, in addition to many other Norfolk Southern- caused delays.

In just the first two months of 2019, a single Norfolk Southern freight train (Train 21M) was responsible for over 1,346 minutes of delay to Amtrak trains on Norfolk Southern territory.
That's a delay to the eastbound Southern Crescent, there are probably freight trains on The Water Level Route that account for the bulk of the delay to the Capitol and Lake Shore.  And I love that deflection about "off plan."  If freight train interference west of Birmingham lays out the eastbound Crescent, does that justify further interference with the Crescent onward toward Atlanta or Washington City?

Closer to home, yes, it is often the case that an eastbound Capitol or Lake Shore will be held for late-arriving connections off the (knocked off plan by one of the western trunk lines?) Texas or West Coast trains, as protecting those connections is cheaper than buying hotel space and rebooking sleeper passengers in coach.  On at least two of my trips east, the Capitol or Lake Shore I was on left Union Station on the advertised, and it was a decision by a Norfolk Southern dispatcher to knock the train off plan somewhere in the vicinity of Ogden Dunes.

There's more in the letter.  I can't walk into the dispatcher's office and show them how it might be done, but I can submit Facts to a candid World.

10.7.19

THE INTERSECTIONAL SINGULARITY.

I'm using the term in the cosmological sense of so massive a phenomenon that it collapses upon itself.  The motivation for this post is two recent books, Derek Hunter's Outrage, Inc.: How the Liberal Mob Ruined Science, Journalism, and Hollywood; and Robby Soave's Panic Attack: Young Radicals in the Age of Trump, which I shall combine as Book Reviews No. 5 and No. 6.

The pairing might strike observers as flawed, in that Mr Hunter is an older polemicist with previous experience at Daily Caller and Heritage, while Mr Soave is a younger Reason columnist whose tone is sometimes more in sadness than in anger at the work of his co-cohorts.

Taken together, though, the two books provide a response to the trendy thinking of many young people and leftist radicals of various stripes, and this review will take the form of a mini-dissertation attempting to provide the intellectual foundations of a more rigorous rebuttal to the trendy thinking.  I'm going to take the ideas out of the order in which they appear in either book, but when we're done, we might see that fifty or sixty or a hundred years of bad ideas have culminated in what traffics in the rubric of intersectionality.

WHAT WOULD A SUCCESSFUL POLICY LOOK LIKE?

Eric Zorn takes up the cause of restitution for slavery.
The best way to begin to repair the damage wrought by our nation’s troubled racial history is to dump the politically toxic word “reparations.”

Even casual students of history know that black Americans were first legally then systemically disadvantaged by slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination and segregation, and that those disadvantages resulted in a national wound that has yet to heal and seems unlikely to heal on its own.

We must — we should — use our resources to attempt to remediate the undeniable damage done by this uniquely awful legacy. Even those of us whose ancestors arrived here well after abolition and who have ourselves advocated for racial equality owe a debt to those from whose subjugation we benefited.
The case in equity seems straightforward enough: as a radio commentator put it a few weeks ago, the promise of forty acres and a mule after Emancipation never came to pass.  Between the murder of President Lincoln and the financial scandals affecting the Grant administration, Reconstruction came apart.  Among other things freedmen were not allowed to participate in homesteading the territories (imagine what that might have done to intersectionality narratives a century and a half on); then came the so-called progressives with their eugenics, and the Lost Cause myth, and redlining during the New Deal, and urban renewal and the War on Poverty, which should have given Mr Zorn pause.  "Such proposals are still vague and include Marshall Plan-style efforts to rebuild blighted inner-city neighborhoods, robust jobs programs for unemployed African Americans and significant targeted investment in education at all levels for African Americans."

There's a part of me that would treat June 19th as Tax Jubilee Day, as in any eligible claimant's income earned after June 19th of each year would be now and forever free of taxes, recognizing that Government, particularly Progressive and Activist Government, has been complicit in continuing the subjugation.  That despite, as Steve Chapman notes, private attitudes also mattering.  "Illinois was not a slave state. But African Americans endured bigotry and violence here even after emancipation."

Yes, there are plenty of pundits who wonder how we define eligibility.

Providing a vision for what such a policy would accomplish strikes me as more important.  I'm reminded of an observation General Eisenhower made sometime after V-E Day.  Not his brief "The mission of this Expeditionary Force was completed."  It wasn't over after the war crimes trials either.

Rather, the general observed something along the lines (the exact passage is at the end of Citizen Soldiers) of "If in fifty years, the Germans have a functioning, peaceful democracy, this Expeditionary Force will have succeeded."  It took a Berlin Airlift and the failure of the Warsaw Pact and the restructuring of Soviet Russia in the interim, and yet, as a long-term outcome, that is not bad.

Peter Van Buren suggests that compensation distracts from more serious challenges.
Talk about reparations that have no chance of happening is an excuse to avoid the much harder work of enforcing our anti-discrimination laws in employment and housing, making sure schools are not separate and unequal, and lifting millions of Americans of all races out of poverty. Those challenges will not go away with reparations. 
Walter Williams argues along similar lines.
The nation's most dangerous big cities are Detroit, Oakland, St. Louis, Memphis, Stockton, Birmingham, Baltimore, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The common characteristic of most of these cities is that they have predominantly black populations and blacks have considerable political power as mayors, city councilmen and chiefs of police. Energy spent on reparations should be used to solve those problems.
I'm not sure "Instead of" is the right terminology.

The Germans had the intellectual tradition of Kant and Beethoven and Schiller to draw on; there is the intellectual tradition of Douglass and Joplin and King to draw on, whether there are new policies in place or not.

9.7.19

FREDERIC BASTIAT'S SEVEN IRON?

Here I thought Pella Windows of Wisconsin had decided capitalizing on broken windows wasn't a good idea, but apparently they're just running through all the summer sports, most recently with pitcher Gina Della apologizing for an errant shot going through a window at one of those golf-course community houses.

Perhaps, though, if your deck-level windows and patio door aren't made of shatterproof glass, as I believe contemporary building codes require, it might be wise to buy replacements.

GIRLS GONE WILD?

The Babylon Bee has some fun with the ladies' World Cup.  "Soccer is a game played by children and Europeans that involves moving a ball around without using one’s hands -- the feature that distinguishes man from lesser animals. It is unclear how such an activity could generate money."  There's some serious political economy to take up, involving pay for play, but not today.  "Footie is popular with eight-year-old girls in the United States, and adolescent males all over the Third World."

The Bee's writers are speaking my language.  "Whatever the explanation, time is ticking down to figure it out -- or ticking up since we’re talking about soccer where they don’t even know how to use a clock."  Well, they at least know how to use a stopwatch, or perhaps an egg timer.  "You run around for ninety minutes, plus some unspecified extra time incurred because there are stoppages of play and out of bounds set plays and somebody who never went to clown college doing a bad parody of a pratfall, and after that, there is no score (nil-nil, for the purists) or it's tied (sometimes in the extra time) and then you go to a bad parody of overtime in college football?"

7.7.19

THE GRILL IS BIGGER THAN THE ORIGINAL STORE.

DeKalb's first responders, with the assistance of Johnsonville Sausage's Big Taste Grill, held a fund-raiser last week for Special Olympics.

The grill set up on the west side of the new indoor practice facility.


Representatives of local police forces, including the university, formed one team, with firefighters from the area forming the other.  They played seven innings of Chicago Rules softball on the men's baseball diamond.  With that large softball, the outfielders could set up just beyond the infield dirt.  Catching that thing without a mitt isn't easy, or is throwing it.

I'm not joking about the size of that grill.  There once was a Johnsonville meat market, in Johnsonville.  I've been shopping there.

BUILD THEM, AND THEY WILL COME.

Virgin Brightline weren't able to complete the first two legs of their service as fast as they would have liked, which means they carried fewer passengers and lost more money.  It's relentlessly on to Orlando, all the same.
Virgin Trains’ South Florida line was phased in during 2018, with the West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale run opening in mid-January and the Miami line not opening until late May. The service has only operated with its full schedule of 16 roundtrips a day since August.

With those factors in its calculations, a December analysis released by credit ratings agency Fitch Ratings, indicated ridership was actually ahead of analyst projections, which was pivotal in securing financing for the expansion to Orlando by 2022.

In its first quarter 2019 unaudited financial statement released on June 28, Virgin Trains reported first-quarter passenger fare revenue of $5.4 million, seven times what it collected in the first quarter of 2018.

Virgin Trains noted it has seen growth in ridership and revenue in every quarter, including growth in business and commuter riders, and that nearly half of its riders travel the full length from West Palm Beach to Miami, which it cites as a strong indicator that trains are preferred transportation options for trips too short to fly and too long to drive.

In May, Virgin Trains announced it had hired five contractors to begin constriction of its Phase 2 expansion.
That expansion is going to use enough material for Jack Casement to have built all the way across Utah.
“This monumental infrastructure project will include the laying of 490,000 ties and transporting 2.35 million tons of granite and limestone by 20,000 railcars,” the company said in a release. “Additionally, approximately 2 million spikes and bolts will be hammered and put in place over the next 36 months. During this process, Virgin Trains USA Phase 2 will generate more than 10,000 jobs and over $650 million in federal, state and local tax revenue.”
That doesn't include the reduced wear and tear on Florida's roads should the trains, given free rein to 110 between Orlando and the Atlantic coast, attract tourists who might otherwise rent cars and clog the various highways of the coast and the amusement park district.

WORDS HAVE MEANINGS.

Our desperate cosmopolitans are surely thin-skinned.  Consider the reaction of ankle-biting pundit Aaron Blake to a possible mis-statement by Our President.  "When asked about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments saying Western-style liberalism was 'obsolete,' Trump apparently thought this term literally referred to the western United States and American liberals." That might be so, and it might be another Trumpian solecism, or perhaps it's staying on message.

That is, Our President could have noted that it is the Western Liberal Order that relies on the United States to send troops into limited wars and futile nation-building efforts Just Because (and he's been stopping that sort of thing), but it might have been more effective to do, as he did, and point out the way coastal Democrats have ruined the places they rule.

In a larger sense, though, it doesn't matter whether Tsar Vladimir is referring to the so-called liberal international order or to the mess that the Pacific Coast states have become, because either way, it's about a ruling establishment that is past its sell-by date.

If you're working for the Coastal Establishment, though, there's never a bad time to take a cheap shot.
Democratic liberalism, of course, does not refer to the western United States, but rather the Western world — which generally includes the United States and much of Europe. And liberalism is a political theory that values the freedom of the individual. That term has come to be associated with left-leaning American politicians and political activists, but some right-leaning political thinkers still claim the term as their own.

Broadly speaking, democratic liberalism has been the leading political ideology across the western world since World War II. Of late, though, populist movements across Europe have gained power, leading to questions about how long liberal democracies can survive. Putin’s comments were clearly about that, but Trump doesn’t appear to have processed this very significant development on the world stage.
Don't you just love that condescending "of course" and the pivot to libertarians who are still fighting a rearguard action in support of "classical liberalism" as opposed to the Roosevelt - Johnson style?

It might be hype to suggest, as various First Things writers do, that "liberal democracies" (in the sense Mr Blake is using the term) are at risk because the old Washington Consensus is dead.
Yes, the old conservative consensus paid lip service to traditional values. But it failed to retard, much less reverse, the eclipse of permanent truths, family stability, communal solidarity, and much else. It surrendered to the pornographization of daily life, to the culture of death, to the cult of competitiveness. It too often bowed to a poisonous and censorious multiculturalism.

Faced with voters’ resounding “No!” to these centrifugal forces, consensus conservatives have grown only more rigid in their certainties. They have elevated prudential judgments and policies into sacred dogmas. These dogmas—free trade on every front, free movement through every boundary, small government as an end in itself, technological advancement as a cure-all—foreclose debate about the nature and purpose of our common life.

Consensus conservatism long ago ceased to inquire into the first things. But we will not.
That manifesto will not please the likes of Mr Blake either.  But Mr Blake is biting Our President's ankles in support of a most illiberal version of illiberal democracy, namely the version called Consensus Governance by Wise Experts.

Think I'm kidding?  Read some more ankle-biting, this time by Ivo Daalder, who currently heads the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (so renamed because the old Chicago Council on Foreign Relations provoked images of black helicopters).  First he champions popular sovereignty.
Putin wasn’t talking about Los Angeles or San Francisco, however. He was calling into question the very liberalism at the core of the American republic itself – the essential notion of ensuring the rights of the individual above all else. Or, as the Declaration of Independence, put it: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” And that the role of government is above all to secure those unalienable rights.

This idea that government exists to protect the rights of individuals – by ensuring their freedom of speech and assembly, safeguarding a free press and equality of all under the law – is what distinguishes Western liberal democracies from more authoritarian governments around the world. And the U.S., as leader of the free world, has for many decades been their chief champion.
It is altogether fitting and proper to write such things the weekend we celebrate American Independence.

In his next paragraph, though, he invokes the Divine Right of the Credentialed.
In many of today’s liberal democracies, a growing number of people are rebelling against governing elites, whom they blame for opening borders to ever larger numbers of migrants and for leaving all too many people behind in a globalizing economy that has shifted jobs abroad and incomes from the many to the few.

Rising discontent has provided openings for strongman leaders, some of whom now openly embrace an “illiberal” form of democracy. These leaders have sought to weaken a free press, undermine judicial independence and divide societies. They’ve appealed to populism and a narrow nationalism.
I'd be more inclined to believe you, Mr Daalder, if I didn't just endure three years of Mueller investigation, all with the purpose of reversing a valid presidential election; three years of process-worship delaying if not destroying a duly-voted choice of Britons to get out of the European Union; if I didn't see a nominee to the Supreme Court subjected to phony accusations with the intent of dividing voters.

As Scott Greer noted last year,
It’s hard to say how an international body, led by unelected bureaucrats, punishing a member state for voting the wrong way will reinforce democratic principles. But the whole argument isn’t really about democracy — it’s about Hungary rejecting Eurocrat liberalism.

Many of the people presently criticizing Hungary want to spread democracy all over the globe, even if that requires western military action. But their preferred form of democracy doesn’t mean accepting the will of the people. It’s a type of government where power is invested in left-leaning elites and that promotes progressive orthodoxy.

You can still be a “real democracy” if you jail people for wrongthink Facebook posts and silence prominent dissidents with “hate speech” charges. All of Western Europe stifles free speech, yet you don’t see calls in The Washington Post for those countries to be punished.

That’s because the enemies of the elites are the ones who are punished, not the elites themselves. Orban is hated because he attacks the elites, which is why his victory must be delegitimized.

Advocates of the liberal consensus still have to maintain the illusion that their agenda is what the people really want — even when 70 percent of the people vote against it. Accusations of tainted elections, Russian meddling and voting irregularities always follow when an election doesn’t go their way.

We saw this with Brexit, Trump’s presidential victory and last month’s election in Italy. In all those cases, center-left politicians were humiliated, making them either question the merits of democracy or hunting for a scapegoat to rationalize their defeat. In the UK and US, liberals are still desperate to find ways to overturn the results of those events, showing their inability to cope with the people voting incorrectly.
It is the right of the People to overturn governing arrangements that have not served them well.

Mr Daalder, who also pronounced anathema on Hungarian voters for voting with what they perceived to be their interests, rather than the interests of Eurocrats and cosmopolitans, is going to have to endure more mugging by reality.  "Instead of bolstering security alliances, we are calling them into question. Instead of shoring up free trade regimes, we are undermining them with tariffs. Instead of embracing human rights and liberal values, we are embracing the very dictators who are violating them."

THE TEMPTATION TO MISAPPROPRIATE SCRAP METAL?

What is it with Illinois public officials?  A few years ago, employees of Northern Illinois University topped up a coffee fund with the proceeds from selling scrap.

Apparently, employees of the Chicago Park District saw that as an opportunity.  "Some Chicago Park District employees sold scrap metal for more than $60,000 in cash that never made its way back to the district, while others set up Sam’s Club accounts using the district’s tax-exempt status to buy personal items totaling thousands of dollars, the district’s top watchdog found in its latest report."

Much like the coffee fund, the park district had numerous contributors.
One investigation involved several Park District employees in trades and landscape departments who sold scrap metal for $64,000 in cash across hundreds of transactions between 2012 and 2017. Although 11 employees were implicated in the investigation, two employees made the majority of transactions, according to the report, collecting $44,000 that never made its way to the Park District.

The two employees denied pocketing the cash, according to Fletcher’s report, and said they gave the money to a now-retired foreman. The employees said they had no idea where it went from there.

The Park District initiated termination proceedings for the two employees, as well as disciplinary or termination proceedings for the other involved employees, following the inspector general’s recommendations.
It's apparently against city rules to sell scrap for cash, but if the scrap merchant doesn't know that's supposed to be an official sale, paying cash doesn't produce a paper trail of checks made out to the coffee fund.

Chicago being Chicago, though, there are apparently no limits to the ability of public officials to game the system.
In another investigation, [state inspector general Will] Fletcher’s office found 24 Sam’s Club members set up accounts using the Park District’s tax-exempt status and bought thousands of dollars worth of personal items without paying sales tax. Seventeen of the 24 members were current or former Park District employees — and seven had never even been employees.

Using the Park District’s exemption for personal purchases is sales tax evasion under Illinois law, Fletcher’s report said, and tax-exempt purchases are only permitted for Park District-related purchases.

The employees claimed to not know personal items weren’t taxed, according to the report, even though they were required to confirm at the point-of-sale that purchases were “used in (the) operation of an exempt organization."

From 2015 to 2019, one supervisory employee purchased items totaling $2,810 without paying tax, according to the report. The employee said they bought a tax-free television “on behalf of the park’s advisory council.”

Another supervisory employee purchased $9,326 worth of items — including beer, food, groceries and laundry detergent — without paying tax on the majority of items, according to the report.

A third purchased $14,204 worth of items — like groceries, diapers and clothing — and most were tax-exempt.
Now, if Chicago public officials had studied with the Brazilians, perhaps none of these underlings would have been caught.

6.7.19

SOMETIMES BETTER TO BE LUCKY THAN GOOD.

Today's not-to-be-regular Saturday bridge column features the luck of the draw in my favor.


I'm holding sixteen points and a balanced hand, which, had I bid before the North robot, might have been a one No Trump, absence of stoppers in Diamonds.  When the algorithm raised with three Diamonds, I chose the path of least resistance and bid Three No Trump, game on the cheapest possible terms.

Let's take stock: one winner in Spades, three in Hearts, two in Diamonds with the Queen outstanding, and three in Clubs, which suffices for the contract.  West opened with the ♠10. Let's take that trick with the Ace (1) and work on the other winners: ♣9 to dummy's Ace (2), now an error: ♥10 back to my Ace (3), take care of the last two Clubs(5), then the ♥9 to dummy's King, which is asking for trouble with no way to get back to my hand to lead the ♥Q.  Fortunately as the outstanding Diamonds divided two in the West and one in the East, the leads of the two commanding cards forced out the Queen, and the Jack and all the other Diamonds picked up the remaining tricks.  I ended up pitching the ♥Q on the ♦5. and the ♠J on the ♦3.

The teaching point in this example is in finding sufficient entry cards so as to be able to make the nine tricks even if all three outstanding Diamonds are in one hand.  Perhaps ♣9 to dummy's Ace, ♥K to one of the little Hearts in hand, now the ♥10 to get the lead back in hand with the Queen, cash the Ace and the last two Clubs, then a low one to activate the Diamonds, perhaps finessing around the Queen: if all three Diamonds are in the West, the Jack holds the first trick and I run the rest.  (Note, though, that's being greedy.  After I've taken care of the Spade, three Hearts, and three Clubs, the ♦K and ♦A fulfill the contract and it's garbage time.)

Otherwise, the contract might have been in trouble,  as the ♠J would have fallen either to the King or Queen, depending on who had the lead first, and there were a lot of low Clubs outstanding.

MAKE PENN STATION GREAT AGAIN?

The Federalist's Kyle Sammin brings politics through the North River tunnels.  "Reconstructing New York’s Penn Station in its original grandeur could be just the thing to reinvigorate conservatism in America’s cities and suburbs."

He starts with the tunnels.
One big expense is the North River tunnels. Opened in 1908, these tunnels built by the Pennsylvania Railroad connect New York with New Jersey and are the way into the city for Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains. Their capacity of 24 trains per hour is maxed out, and has been for years.

They are also nearing the end of their useful life. Without new tunnels being built, the existing tubes would need to be closed one at a time to be overhauled, cutting traffic in half at a time it should really be doubled. The situation would never be tolerated if the river-crossing in question were an interstate highway bridge.

The plan to double the tunnels’ capacity is very costly, and became a political football at the state and federal levels. The latest incarnation, called the Gateway Program, is predicted to cost nearly $15 billion.
Have we really been wrangling about these tunnels for almost a decade?

When those dashing commuters and incela rent-seekers get off the train, though, what greets them is not pretty.
New York spent $4 billion on the new World Trade Center subway station that opened in 2016, double the original planned cost. Penn Station’s projected costs are comparable.

So even if we treat that estimate skeptically and assume it doubles like other station’s costs did, it is still $6 or $7 billion for a station used by 600,000 passengers a day, compared to $4 billion for one used by just 46,000 a day. With the federal government scheduled to spend more than $4 trillion this year, even picking up the entire cost of the station in one year would result in it costing less than 0.2 percent of the federal budget. Sharing costs with the states and city and spreading it out over the years of construction reduces that figure even more.

Those who backed Trump for president tend to be fairly comfortable with federal spending and do not fixate on ideological distinctions between infrastructure for trains and infrastructure for cars. They look back fondly, as do many non-Trump voters, on a time when America built great things. The transcontinental railroads, the Hoover Dam, and Apollo space program all inspired Americans and showcased our national triumph.

The idea that we should make America great again inspired a lot of voters in 2016. That promise is not fulfilled by tax cuts—as welcome as they were—nor by tweaks to entitlement programs, however much those may be needed. Greatness is in what we do, not in what we cut.
Because I'm thinking about running transportation capital as if by a multidivisional firm, I'm more sympathetic to arguments that an improved Pennsylvania Station (complete with four tracks for passenger trains from Philadelphia all the way to New Haven) if bundled with more sensible pricing of the turnpikes, tunnels and bridges that also serve Manhattan; and it occurs to me that a station and associated tunnels are a capital investment, that is to say, an asset generating a stream of income for which a portfolio of government bonds makes sense.  We don't have to use railroad-style betterment accounting, which what that "picking up the cost of the station in one year" is.

It doesn't make sense for a station that was jammed during the Christmas holidays of World War II to be attempting to handle more passengers on a daily basis in a smaller space.

BEING JUDGED POORLY BY THE MONUMENTS WE'VE DESTROYED.

The Philadelphia Flyers can put Kate Smith down the memory hole; and hack architects might propose to ugly up Notre Dame de Paris.  The good news is, there are people who might be of the left who do not want to put a socialist-realist fresco in San Francisco (!) there.
After the San Francisco Board of Education unanimously voted to paint over a Depression-era mural cycle depicting George Washington as a slaveholder and perpetrator of genocide against Native Americans, 139 academics, artists, and activists signed an open letter this week decrying the board's decision as a "display of contempt for history" and urging it to reverse course.

"In a recent vote, the board of the San Francisco Unified School District voted unanimously to destroy the murals," reads the letter, which is expected to be delivered Friday to the San Francisco school board. "To repeat: they voted to destroy a significant monument of anti-racism. This is a gross violation of logic and sense."Located in San Francisco's George Washington High School, the 1,600-square foot mural was painted by Russian-born immigrant and communist Victor Arnautoff in 1937 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration.

As the Associated Press described the mural, "The first president's rise to power is shown across 13 frescoes, including one that depicts slaves working on Washington's property and white men stepping past the body of a slain Native American."

The work has been a source of heated controversy for decades, with some students and activists characterizing it as an offensive and racist portrayal of Native and African Americans. Others have said the mural has historical value and should be preserved, but is not appropriate for a public high school.
I love that "not appropriate for a public high school."  Yes, if college is the new middle school, by continuity, what is high school?  Elsewhere, the article mentions opportunities to "contextualize" (trust intellectualoids to overthink things) the frescoes.  Indeed.  If high schools still functioned like high schools (which, apart from a few advanced placement classes, apparently they don't) wouldn't one of the functions of high school be to "contextualize?"

See Peter Dreier for more.
San Francisco has a well-deserved reputation as one of America’s most progressive cities. But the school board members are embarrassing the city, and themselves, with their vote to dismantle or cover up Arnautoff paintings. They are, in fact, denying students the opportunity to learn about the nation’s controversial and contested past.
Indeed.

IT WON'T DO ANY GOOD.

Expanding so-called freeways fails.

Until the Illinois Tollway Authority start treating the Tri-State Tollway like a productive asset, the planned expansion (because "Four for the Future" was good for only a generation) to six lanes each way will fail.
In the Chicago area, new and expanded highways have failed again and again to relieve congestion. As the region builds its transportation system of the future, there is no reason to think that applying the same flawed logic to the same transportation problems will work this time.
But until the highway authorities start thinking of their roads as productive assets, which are part of a larger transportation system, which also involves public money for locks, airports, piers, and commuter trains, and pricing all of their services the way a multidivisional business would, the infrastructure will likely continue to be uneconomic and subject to decay.

I'm going to have some time to think about such things while I chase a Big Boy around the Upper Midwest, and there's likely to be a mini-dissertation on what a state department of transportation might do to capture value from all its divisions.

THE PREAMBLE INVOKES "A MORE PERFECT UNION."

The project continues.  Kyle Smith concludes,
America didn’t complete the project of freedom on that broiling day in Philly, but that’s like saying your kid’s first day of school is no big deal because your kids can’t do algebra yet. On July 4, 1776, we began setting up the greatest opportunity for human flourishing the world has ever known, and our example continues to be the world’s beacon. The United States of America isn’t perfect. We’re merely the best.
Peter Dreier and Dick Flacks concur, if for reasons that are subtle.
Progressives understand that people can disagree with their government and still love their country and its ideals. The flag, as a symbol of the nation, is not owned by the administration in power, but by the people. We battle over what it means, but all Americans—across the political spectrum—have an equal right to claim the flag as their own.
Indeed, the significance of Independence is that the people stood up and said it was for them to consent to being governed, not to have to submit to the rule of hereditary overlords.

No less than Abraham Lincoln (via Scott Johnson) laid down his marker on the side of emergence.  Mr Lincoln was taking issue with the paternalism implicit in Dred Scott, of the slave incapable of agency, and yet his words generalize.
Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form.

Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden.

That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man?
Yes, and six score years of Governance by Wise Experts because It's For Your Own Good (Deplorable) has squandered the Victory Dividend and enriched the Credentialed Elite at the expense of the Normals, and it's better that we claim ownership rather than submit, even if today's enslavement of the Normals is for the redress of past grievances.

5.7.19

NO SENSE OF IRONY.

The New York Times gives a Vermont historian an opportunity to tut-tut about the Cult of the Presidency.
The focus on a single leader — on the construction of a cult of personality — would have incensed the men and women who sacrificed so much to create a new nation. As Capt. Joseph Bloomfield explained to a company of New Jersey troops preparing to fight in the Revolutionary War, the American states had “entered a new era of politics.” He warned the soldiers to be on guard against the rise of an “aspiring Demagogue, possessed of popular talents and shining qualities, a Julius Caesar, or an Oliver Cromwell” who “will lay violent hands on the government and sacrifice the liberties of his country.”
That's precious coming from the Times, otherwise known as an Institutional Cheerleader for a Strong Presidency, particularly if it's a Democrat.  Like this.  "What Middle-Class Families Want Politicians to Know."  More "think of us as your children."

Perhaps the editorial writers at the Times ought understand that we do not consent to be ruled.  Particularly when that governing class governs badly.
Of course, right now we have a peculiar situation in which celebrating the independence of America and the achievements of Americans is seen as not just political, but partisan, because a whole wing of American politics right now is dedicated to the proposition that all men are not created equal; that the clerisy, the lettered, those with Ivy-League degrees and the right family connections, form a distinct and natural aristocracy that should by rights not just govern, but rule.

So it's no wonder that they object to this Independence Day parade; Trump's election and his surprising success as president challenge their most deeply-held belief.

It represents a successful challenge to their presumptions of superiority and the right to rule. And, like all aristocracies, in Jefferson's words, they "fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes."
It might be salutary for Times columnists to recognize the emergence that Mr Breen documented during Independence.
Filling the vacuum left by the retreat of British officials to the security of major port cities, the members of local committees — most of them elected by their neighbors — gathered weapons and enforced a boycott against imported goods. Their efforts on the local level helped mobilize broad support for a system of government based on the will of the people.
Don't bet on it. "The New York Times editorial board hasn't endorsed a Republican for president in sixty-three years and the safest bet in America is that they won't break that streak next year."

I APPROVE.

I'm no fan of Advocacy Organizations that find their interns among the Usual Suspects.

Let us therefore note the latest College Fix Journalism Fellows: Wake Forest, Liberty, Arizona State, Penn State at Altoona, Clemson, Yeshiva, Notre Dame.

SEE THAT BIG HOUSE? SEE THOSE LITTLE HOUSES?

That, as we have previously seen, might be the socialist talking point in one sentence.

These days, it might be "See that big house?  See those little cars?"
As rideshare drivers across the U.S. and around the world continue to struggle for decent wages, benefits, and the basic right to organize, Uber co-founder Garrett Camp reportedly purchased a Beverly Hills mansion for a record-breaking $72.5 million.

Uber drivers, many of whom are homeless due to the $82-billion company's notoriously low rates, reacted to the Camp's purchase with outrage, describing it as a striking encapsulation of how the wealthiest Americans live in luxury on the backs of exploited workers.

"This is a perfect example of the one percent stealing from the rest of us," Nicole Moore, a ride-share driver in Los Angeles, told The Guardian in an interview. "Drivers are living in their cars. We're fighting for fair wages. At least share that wealth with the people who have actually built your company."

Uber driver and labor organizer Karim Bayumi said Camp's mansion was purchased with "our hard-earned money that they are unjustly taking from us."
Today's ride-sharing services are the old jitneurs with Uber's wireless internet site serving the function of the taxi dispatcher, and a ride-sharing service is going to be a poor career model, as the operator of a ride-share only has to consider the avoidable costs of a trip, and if the driver marks on duty on the way to or from work, the avoidable cost is zero to a first approximation.  Yes, note, I'm referring to jitneurs who are headed to work.  I repeat: poor career model.  Poor basis for some sort of sharing economy, either.  But some people apparently thought being a ride-share operator was a career model.
Renee said that when she first started driving for the company, the money was good. There were fewer drivers, and less competition. This was before Uber and Lyft got into a price war, slashing fares and drivers’ take-home pay.

When it got harder to make money driving, Renee found herself struggling to pay for the car she was renting through Uber. If she didn’t drive enough to afford the weekly rental, she’d end up owing Uber money instead of pulling a salary.

In 2015, she moved into her car to save money and sent her three children to live with their grandmother. But she kept falling further behind on the rental payments, until one night, the car was repossessed. She was dropping her daughter off at the babysitter’s. “And the repo man was outside and repossessed the car,” she said. “And I was embarrassingly stuck at the babysitter’s.”

She, too, moved into her mother’s in Lancaster. But continued to drive for Uber and Lyft, and said she still feels the looming threat of homelessness.

“You drive past Skid Row when you’re on your way to a call sometimes, and you think, oh god, I don’t wanna end up there,” she said. “So you drive and drive and drive.”
Note: Uber is in the car-leasing business.  That looks like a good idea, until it isn't.  It isn't, as the lease has to cover the full cost of the car, not the avoidable cost, and the driver being interviewed appears to be serving as a taxi-driver full time, rather than working some other job and signalling her presence on the service during rush hours, which sound like the best opportunities to get in on the surge prices.

It probably doesn't help Renee that she's attempting to make ends meet in California, with its excessively restrictive zoning codes and third world labor markets.

3.7.19

DEPLOYING OUR POOR POWERS TO ADD OR DETRACT.

I respect the canon of scholarly inquiry that holds there is no final say on any subject.

Seven score and sixteen years after the repulse of Pickett's Charge, there is still plenty for the student of the Battle of Gettysburg to digest.  Consider Allen C. Guelzo's Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, which we'll offer as Book Review No. 4, and then stand down for Independence Day.

Professor Guelzo is of Gettysburg College, and he has looked into letters home and other primary sources in order to put together a chronology of events that might be more accurate than previous histories, although he concedes that some of the canonical controversies (Stuart and the rebel cavalry losing communication with the invading army; Ewell misinterpreting "if practicable" at the end of the first day; several events on the second day; possibly even Meade's failure to pursue more aggressively after the repulse of Pickett's charge and the reports of the rebel army withdrawing) might be beyond resolution by the application of human knowledge.  His preface also laments the trendy multiculturalism that marginalizes military history generally, and Civil War histories that lack a sufficiently diverse cast particularly: that, however, is an academic tic, and Civil War histories might pass market tests more readily than culture studies stuff, no matter how reconditely theorised.

The Last Invasion begins long before the armies collide.  If one wants to be pedantic, the event we refer to as the Battle of Gettysburg is actually Second Gettysburg.  Read the book.  Or catch a campfire talk at the park.  And if you want to fool around with alternative histories, consider one in which Lee is able to cross the Susquehanna to menace Philadelphia: would "cut it off and kill it" become a phrase some six score years before its time.  It concludes with Abraham Lincoln musing to a small crowd of well-wishers shortly after Independence Day that I recently alluded to.

Perhaps the most important lesson for the researcher is that it's surviving winners who write history.  That includes Bowdoin's Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, rhetoritician, politician, and long-enduring.  To say more might be to unleash a spoiler.  Find yourself a library and read the book!

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

FACILITATING A BROADER DIVISION OF LABOR.

The electric interurban cars had their shining moment, just after the introduction of practical electric motors for transportation but before the Otto cycle engine and the Good Roads movement made private motor-cars look like a winner.

They look less like a winner today, but I'll take a break from fighting it out on that line, even though it has taken multiple summers.

Rather, let's look at the marvelous interurban conveyances still in preservation.  Yes, that's a regular Cold Spring Shops ritual, but with the Illinois Railway Museum just a short ride away, it's going to continue to be a regular ritual.

Saturday and Sunday, it was high volume interurban operation.  The Chicago area interurbans and Illinois Terminal regularly ran long consists; Milwaukee Electric would on occasion multiple a single car with a duplex, and in days past one motor car would pull two or three trailers.

Here, an Illinois Terminal train with a parlor car (for a while, that observation car was a business car) and a North Shore Line train await passengers.  There was also a three wooden car Roarin' Elgin train roamin' the line.


The museum has the trackage to have four long trains roaming the railroad at any one time.  Here's the view from the observation platform of the North Shore train heading west; the track and overhead catenary is in the style of the South Shore Line.


There are South Shore cars in the museum collection, and the museum probably could roll out a three or four car train if somebody got the urge.  Those cars are in their as-retired condition, though, with 1500 volt wiring (the interurban standard is 600 volts) and pantographs.  But they look pretty set out at the L station for viewing.


If it's functioning South Shore cars you want, the nearby East Troy Electric Railroad has enough to re-enact a long train, as well as some refitted as table cars for a dinner train.

The interurbans were primarily passenger carriers, although a few of them attempted to offer freight service.  That often came to naught as the steam railroads didn't want to establish interline tariff agreements.  The joys of transaction costs ...

Around the Midwest, a few interurbans did last as freight railroads, latterly diesel operated.


That's a Charles City Western locomotive, ahead of South Shore line car 1100, quite possibly the fanciest interurban line car ever to grace either a revenue railroad or a museum.

The photograph is also a tease: if you're following the peregrinations of Big Boy 4014 around the Upper Midwest later this month, do you know where there are locomotives older than 4014 still moving freight cars in regular service?

There are additional Interurban Weekend photos at Hicks Car Works.

Thomas and Percy will be returning to the museum later this month, and Uncle Boris is in fine form to help out.


Is there a more fitting way to Fly the Flag on Independence Day than on a steam locomotive?


The Republic still stands, in all its contested turbulence!

2.7.19

FREEDOM FESTIVAL WEEK JUST ISN'T THE SAME.

Along the border areas of the Great Lakes, Canada Day on the first and Independence Day on the fourth are good reasons to have a week-long party.  Unfortunately, thirty years ago was the last such week-long party at the Crystal Beach Amusement Park.  "It was a simpler era when, during the summer, the Peace Bridge border checkpoints were manned mostly by schoolteachers on summer break who might or might not ask you where you live before sending you on your way."

Follow the link for some home movies made into streaming videos of The Way It Was.

Have a Minute Maid Orange [pop] with Erin Moran and a ride on the Comet, or take a virtual ride on the Cyclone.


If it's raining, play a few bingo cards or roll some skee-ball.

LET THE PROFESSORS RUN THE UNIVERSITY.

Inside Higher Education, which is often the mouthpiece for business as usual in higher education, provides Sarah Lawrence's Samuel Abrams a column to recognize that which we have been saying for years.
Put simply, let the faculty -- not the students or administrators -- run the institution. This includes professors being the ones who have input in extracurricular programming from student orientation curricula to residential education initiatives where hard humanistic questions are tackled. It also means that faculty members who have expertise in particular subject matter or professional fields should mentor and advise students and not leave that to entirely to administrative advising offices like career services, which may not have the expertise and industry connections.

Professors should have control over what they teach and how they teach it. Faculty members are trained to be thoughtful and balanced, and their professional judgment should not be subject to regular outside or administrative review by those who are not academically trained to make such decisions. Thus, the recent rise of policing and reviewing of course content by nonspecialists such as diversity offices, despite the positive intentions of supporting students, must stop. Faculty members are well aware of the need to promote diversity and should be trusted to develop and bring balance to their own courses.

My rationale for advising faculty members to re-emerge as leaders on campus is this: it is the professors who spend their careers explicitly striving to establish facts, wrestle with the multiplicity of ideas and search for truth. Most administrators are not trained to teach complex questions and effectively mediate the nuance and context that is the hallmark of a real humanistic education. Rather, they are givers of care and supervision that has helped develop narrow and particular progressive worldviews.
You'd think those points would be commonplaces, but a quarter century of access-assessment-remediation-retention has probably shifted a lot of default settings.

The professor is not done, though.
I believe that a liberal arts and sciences education should be difficult. Students need to engage with questions and subjects that are not easy. They should be exposed to a multitude of viewpoints and tools that will help them tackle questions about life in general. They should have input in shaping their educational paths, but professors exist to help open up their worlds and force them to confront topics that they either would like to avoid or about which they are ignorant.
A man that eloquent deserves to be reinforced.

THE BEST THING FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO DO MIGHT BE TO GO AWAY.

David Brooks isn't happy with the presidential binary that appears to be shaping up.

He starts by drafting a bromide-rich technocratic manifesto.
But hope is warranted and must be displayed. In the moderate story, global capitalism is a challenge but also an opportunity field. Over the past generation more people have been lifted out of poverty than ever before. For the first time we have a mass global middle class. This opens up new opportunities, liberates masses of talent and leads to more creativity than ever before.

In the moderate story, government has a bigger role than before, but it is not a fighting, combative role. It is a booster rocket role. It is to give people the skills needed to compete and flourish in this open, pluralistic world. It is to give people a secure base, so they can go off and live daring adventures. It is to mitigate the downsides of change, and so people can realize the unprecedented opportunities.

Statecraft is soul craft. Through the policies they choose, governments can encourage their citizens to become one sort of person or another. Progressives want to create a government caste that is powerful and a population that is safe but dependent. Moderates, by contrast, are trying to create a citizenry that possesses the vigorous virtues — daring, empowered, always learning, always brave.
The citizenry is not the political classes' to create, but I digress.

Let's consider the substance, point by point.
First, learn from the Nordic countries. American progressives sometimes imagine that the Nordic countries are socialist wonderlands. They are not. The Nordic countries have strong social supports and also open free-market economies. In fact, they can afford to have strong welfare policies only because they have dynamic free-market economies.
Until recently, it made sense to think of the Scandinavian countries as advanced tribal societies. It's your third cousin once removed that your taxes are supporting.  That might not be so easy once enough immigration changes the dynamic between tax payer and benefit recipient.
Second, never coddle. Progressives are always trying to give away free stuff. They reduce citizens to children on Christmas morning.
I don't know, advocates of strong government, whatever their ideology, have their preferred Santa's nice list. Perhaps it's illegal aliens, or perhaps it's shipyards, or perhaps (with the caucuses looming) it is ethanol brewers.  His point would be more valid as a cultural point, which is to say that Hard America thinking ought not be turned, as the self-styled progressives do, into "blaming the victim."
Third, drive decision-making downward. People become energetic, responsible adults by making decisions for themselves, their families and their communities. Moderates are always aiming to make responsibility, agency and choice as local as possible.
Mr Brooks continues by taking a dig at an Elizabeth Warren plan, which destroys his argument. "Making decisions for themselves" doesn't require everything to be determined in Washington, but I suspect the first time Mr Brooks suggested that on a Sunday show would be the last Sunday show he appeared on.
Fourth, bring on the world. International competition is more rigorous than national competition. Moderates think Americans can meet that test.
That's actually the libertarian argument against industrial policy, whether it's Our President's tariffs or some left-over industrial policy in the style of Ira Magaziner.
Fifth, ignite from below. Warren wants to centralize economic decisions, creating a Department of Economic Development — a top-down council of government dirigistes. Moderates emphasize tools that regular people can choose to build their own lives and maximize their own opportunities: wage subsidies, subsidies to help people move to opportunities, charter schools.
Hm, when Ronald Reagan took a dig at experts in a remote distant capital, I bet the likes of David Brooks thought his proposal anything but moderate. Not to mention, there's not as much reason for opinion columnists in coastal cities to tell Normals how to live under such a moderate regime.

IT WON'T DO ANY GOOD.

Boise commuters are stuck in traffic.  They're still going to be stuck in traffic.  "[Highway department] officials say drivers could see faster commute times and fewer traffic jams when the project is finished."

Sorry, no.

Read the article, and you'll see they know the answer is no.
In 2001, nearly 39,000 cars passed through I-84 at Middleton Road each day. At that time, traffic engineers estimated that in 2020, that stretch would serve 75,000.

It didn’t take that long. By 2018, that stretch saw 80,000 cars passing through it each day, according to COMPASS, the regional planning agency. At the Treasure Valley’s current rate of growth, COMPASS estimates that the same intersection will see 113,000 cars passing through every day by 2025.

Without improvements, travel times will double, COMPASS predicts.
With the improvements, travel times will double anyway.
Melder, of ITD, said adding the new lanes might help for now, but the department can’t always rely on widening the interstate to alleviate traffic.

“We are getting to a point in time on I-84 where just adding lanes is not going to be an option much longer,” he said.

The department is looking into other solutions to congestion, such as adding ramp meters — traffic signals that limits the number of cars entering the freeway.

Highway widening alone rarely relieves traffic — that’s conventional wisdom among transportation planners. In fact, they often make traffic worse, because of a concept called “induced demand:” New roads attract new drivers, both in the form of residents and businesses attracted to the increased capacity. In the end, traffic congestion typically stays about the same.
They're able to widen the interstate now because Uncle Sugar came through with some money. Uncle Sugar isn't always so generous.
Plans for a regional transit rail have circulated in COMPASS but have gone nowhere. COMPASS estimates that the capital costs for a commuter rail and bus system to feed it between Caldwell and Boise would cost $693 million, not including the right of way and operating costs. But with no dedicated funding source for rail, it’s nearly impossible to build.

Although COMPASS is still planning for some kind of commuter line, for now the interstate is where most commuters end up.

“Where we’re at, we’re trying to keep up with growth,” Melder said. Part of that means increasing the capacity along other roads within the region. That’s why ITD is concurrently working to widen Highway 20/26 and Highway 44, he added.
It's understood that rail transportation systems recover some of their costs through the farebox.  Perhaps one of these days it will dawn on the highway departments to run their roads like the businesses they are.  We're still a long way from that: nowhere in the article does anyone raise the possibility of toll roads.  Meanwhile, concurrent widening on connecting and paralleling roads simply means more construction delays, with no relief later.

1.7.19

NO GREAT NORTHERN, NO GLACIER PARK.

It's as true today as it was in the days of James J. Hill Himself.
Today, the GN’s legendary mountain goat herald has been replaced with the BNSF Railway swoosh, but there’s still plenty of the GN legacy to be found in Northwest Montana. The hotels and chalets the railroad built a century ago are still sheltering guests. The red touring buses that the GN’s park subsidiary purchased decades ago are still roaring up the Sun Road. And the GN’s premier train, the Empire Builder, still rolls along the park’s southern boundary every day.
Let it always be.

Incidentally, perhaps the reason Glacier's glaciers are receding has a local, not a global, cause. "On Sunday afternoon, park officials reported 'bumper to bumper traffic' along an 8-mile stretch of the road and people looking for a parking spot at the Continential Divide either had to give up or commit to driving around in circles until another car left. "

THERE ALWAYS ARE COMMUNITY STANDARDS.

June used to be Dairy Month; maybe it still is, but the big popular-culture deal now is Pride Month, culminating with a big Pride Parade in any community with enough people to ride the floats and line the streets.

Caution: a mini-dissertation on the evolution of community standards, and the victory conditions for a protest movement, follows.

YOU'D HOPE THAT PROFESSORS KNEW HOW TO BE INTELLECTUALLY COHERENT.

Inside Higher Ed's Colleen Flaherty notes that aged vinegar isn't necessarily well-preserved.
As a woman running for president, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democrat, was bound to encounter the likability bias: assert yourself as a man and you're seen as a boss, yet assert yourself as a woman, and you're seen as bossy.

But a recent dig to Warren's likability came from a somewhat unexpected source, at a somewhat unexpected angle. In an interview with MSNBC, former Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, another Democrat, suggested that Warren was struggling with being "in command of the policy" and still being "relatable."

Then McCaskill defined Warren's fundamental "challenge" like this: "[F]rankly, sometimes she comes very close to that professor I just wanted to be quiet."
The first problem is that there are lots of educated people who never learned how not to be stupid about being smart.
Tom Nichols, University Professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters, said that "professorial" is "not a compliment."

To most people, he said, it means "long-winded gasbag pontificating on things that don't have a lot of relevance to the ordinary person."

Politics, meanwhile, "requires connection with a spectrum of people, not the ones that have self-selected to sit in your classroom. Unlike your students, they don't have to listen to you, and you have no ability to make them let you finish a thought."

No matter how educated one is, Nichols added, "voters hate politicians who come across as superior or better educated, or knowing more. That's just the nature of democracy in the U.S."
The second problem is that the Democrats have this conceit, going back to at least Franklin Roosevelt's brains trust, that somehow Credentialed Elites plus Presidential Power plus Tax and Spend ... work.

They don't.  But the senator doesn't grasp that.  Her own words convict her.
On Friday, Warren told a large crowd at the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University that big money has too much power in government.

“Whatever issue brought you here today — I guarantee if there is a decision to be made in Washington, it has been touched by money, it has been moved, shaped and accepted by people with money,” she said.
Yes, and there are lots of decisions being made in Washington, and she's the lady with the plans to take even more decisions in Washington, and each of them is going to bring out the rent seekers the way steam locomotives draw casual train enthusiasts.

I stumbled upon that Friday rally.  There was a rail enthusiast presentation going on nearby, and on my way in, I noticed a troop of bicycle police at the theater (there was a concert going on, the other side of Michigan Avenue, didn't look like it was going to draw the yobs), and when I left the presentation the Warren rally was breaking up.

To call it a rally is probably to exaggerate.  The senator doesn't have the energy of Donald Trump, even on a good day, and the people leaving the theater were the kind of sensible-shoes types you'd probably see at one of the mainstream Protestant churches that are all about Social Concern with maybe a few parables thrown in, not exactly the kind of people you'd see wearing #MAGA caps and high-fiving each other, and approving passers-by.  Oh, they were carrying signs.  "Warren has a plan."  I just wanted to catch my train, and decided not to bait anybody with a "Stalin had plans" riposte, not that anybody was into proselytizing or high-fiving anyway.

That noted, here you stand, sensible Council of Churches type with your "Warren has a plan" sign, and over here stands a fired up Deplorable with a "Keep America Great" sign, and we'll see who is more joyful.

OUR PATIENCE IS NOT INFINITE.

Power Line's John Hinderaker ventures into Kurt Schlichter territory, in response to the latest display of liberating tolerance in Portland.
The Democratic Party has abandoned all norms of civility and constitutional government. Somehow, though, liberals believe they are immune from having to live by their own “new rules.” They sow the wind, but think they never will reap the whirlwind. Why?

Liberals act as though they are spoiling for a civil war, or at least a slow-motion approximation thereof. Is that really what they want? Fighting in the streets? And, evidently, the restaurants? Do they have reason to think they would fare well if they actually got what they claim to want?
They shouldn't.

REDISCOVERING THEIR COMMERCIAL ROOTS.

Long before yacht racing got its reputation as an expensive hobby for the idle rich, fishing boat skippers developed boatspeed tactics and alertness to the shifts in order to get the catch to shore (preferably, in those pre-mechanical refrigeration days, before it spoiled) first in order to set the market.

Apparently the tradition lives on, if, among Maine lobstermen, with somewhat more expensive craft involved in the racing.
Maine lobster-boat races. It sounds like a goof, like the fall pumpkin races that they hold in Damariscotta, where they mount outboard motors on giant gourds and race around the harbor. But it’s serious, an annual circuit with events up and down the coast.

Some of the boats are purpose-built racers, trailered to each event, cammed-up big-blocks bursting through their decks. They’re lobster boats in the same way that Joey Logano’s Nascar race car is a Mustang. But most of the entrants are actual commercial fishing vessels, work boats that happen to be screamin’ fast. Their owners might make a 100- mile trip, or more, just to race for a minute or so.
Being wicked fast back to the dock to set the market still has commercial value.