27.8.16

TAIL TRACK.

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

MORE DISTRESSED MATERIAL.

Maybe forty percent of today's high-schoolers are ready for college.  Boys and minorities hardest hit.  "The testing company said Wednesday that only 38% of graduating seniors who took the exam hit the college-prepared benchmark in at least three of the four core subjects tested — reading, English, math and science — down from 40%. And 34% did not meet any of the benchmarks, which are designed to measure a strong readiness for college."  When they get to college, there's not going to be much added value, suggests Charlie (Prof Scam) Sykes.  "Today's university gives lip service to educating students. I think this massive industrial-research complex that treats students like an afterthought has been building for some time. There was a time when the university was a place of the mind where you expected academic freedom, where if you graduated from that university you'd actually be an educated person. Those things aren't necessarily true anymore."  That's the concluding passage of a wide-ranging interview about Mr Sykes's recent Fail U.  It's summer, think of it as Prof Scam: The Sequel, and I have a copy on order.  By all means read the interview, he works a compliment to Hillary Clinton in!

CONTEMPLATING ASSIMILATION.

Reason's E. N. Brown characterizes the efforts of secular European countries, most recently with the "burkini" bans along France's coastlines, as "a wave of non-religious fundamentalism, in which the allegedly patriarchal print of Islam and other faiths must be destroyed by the righteous benevolence of public officials."  Perhaps those non-religious fundamentalists are acting for the most secularly progressive of reasons, namely freeing the Oppressed from their chains.
That is not the culture of France, say leaders, and hence its zero-tolerance policy for such symbols of female oppression.

It's a silly scheme for several reasons. For one, it's unlikely to make the lives of actual oppressed women any better; for those whom husbands or families force headscarves and burquas in public, a ban on these items will simply mean many Muslim have to forgo the beach and other public outings entirely. (It's also unlikely to inspire goodwill among Muslim communities already alienated from mainstream French society.) For another, it's contradictory: in the name of women's equality, France is literally forcing women to wear less clothing than they're comfortable in and passing laws that target female attire but not male.
Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan is thinking along similar lines:  there's a strand of Islamic practice that's male chauvinism codified, but there's also a tension between boutique multiculturalism (and its toxic accomplice, authenticity) and freedom of choice and association.
But it is now really the intellectual responsibility of people who defend a cultural status quo in which women are visually annihilated to examine with honesty and humility how it is that they came to be so out of step with the instinct of vast majorities in almost all of the European countries where the status of fully veiled women begins to become a matter of law.
It's possible that by taking too hard a line against looking like a Third Worlder in public, the non-religious fundamentalists are giving the new arrivals from the Third World reason to embrace their practices more fully.  To quote Ms Brown, "Setting our Western gaze on women in hijabs and seeing only oppression isn't some new-fangled feminist awareness, it's a perfect extension of imperialist legacies." Yes, the French were attempting to Europeanize Algeria in the late 1950s. How well did that turn out?

Assimilation begins with live-and-let-live, and it emerges as the youngsters wonder why they have to draw attention to themselves by looking like Third Worlders.  Here's Ms Brown's example from the States.
One only need look to the story of Catholics in America to see we got it right: once an outcast, suspicious, and non-assimilating crew, Catholics are now no less mainstream in America than apple pie. It turns out that when you let people assimilate at their own pace, picking and choosing from the dominant (liberal, secular) culture and their own smaller communities as they go along, most people will eventually begin to blend the two. The process can work in reverse, as well, with a minority group shifting dominant cultural views through time and tolerance—something we've seen in America over the past few decades when it comes to same-sex relationships and rights.

The lesson here for secular, socially-liberal Americans (and one I'm afraid few progressives pillorying France right now will entertain) is not to be like the burkini banners and other non-religious fundamentalists when it comes to spreading "tolerance" in America.
Here's an instructive car-card, in preservation at the Illinois Railway Museum.


M-m-good, and marketing to Chicagoland's Catholics is good business.  (How long ago was tomato soup 12 cents a can, and what does that translate into in 2016 dollars?)

Thus, though, does the Friday fish fry morph from a lesser sacrament to a festive tradition, all over Wisconsin, and in adjoining portions of Illinois.  And we've looked at the evolution of Sunday from the Puritan ritual in which only milking cows is permitted to the German tradition of a post-worship keg of beer.  "The grandchildren of the migrants will buy into the common culture, given the proper inducements."  Picking on Grandma for wearing her babushka, or her hijab, isn't the proper inducement.

24.8.16

THE CLINTONIAN COLLEGE BUBBLE.

The Nothing But Clinton Nightly News filed a report.



It's almost farcical.  Mr Clinton earns several millions of dollars delivering speeches at Laureate International campuses around the world.  In the United States, Laureate's "flagship campus" is called "Walden University."  As in a Doonesbury reference?  Was nobody paying attention?

It's almost too much for Margaret "University Diaries" Soltan.
The Clintons were just as willing to enrich themselves via the scummy tax-syphons as many Republicans were and are. Bill’s bogus chancellorship at a for-profit school paid him many millions to jet around the world now and then making inspirational speeches. UD is obviously a strong Hillary supporter, but the Clintons are paying now for what they did, and I’m afraid they deserve to.
Substantively Hillary Clinton's own words disqualify her for the presidency.

But as far as Laureate is concerned, it's just business as usual.  Mrs Clinton once endorsed Laureate's efforts, with passages such as "Bill likes [the Laureate president] 'a lot'." and "Pleased to support mission." Yeah, seventeen million dollars will buy a lot of like.  Pay to play is the Clinton Way.  "If you wanted to see Madam Secretary, you had to pay up."  Exactly as if you wanted to see Mr Ex-President.

So it always is with Big Government.  Expenditures lead to rent-seeking, and where there is rent-seeking, there will be scummy tax-syphons.

SOCIALISM IS THE LONGEST ROAD FROM EMERGENT ORDER TO EMERGENT ORDER.

Twenty-six years after reunification, eastern Germany remains economically anaemic with little prospect of catching up with the rest of the country by 2030.  The Iron Curtain that kept people in prior to 1989 didn't reflect only economic failure, perhaps it reflected the attitudes of the masses.
The former GDR has seen a decades-long emigration of the young, exacerbating the ageing population problem due to low birth rates that affect all of Germany.

"Exactly the people with a high level of qualification who could push increased productivity and innovation are lacking," [policy analyst Ifo] Ragnitz wrote.

As well as sapping the supply side of the economy with a brain drain, demographic weakness also undermines demand, as fewer people are around to spend in the local economy.

Meanwhile, Ragnitz noted that "large, structurally defining firms are largely lacking", apart from subsidiaries of foreign firms, meaning "higher-value business functions are lacking and strategic decisions taken without taking east German interests into account."

Most firms in eastern Germany remain small, concentrating on market niches - and are therefore "by definition notable for their limited opportunity to expand".
"Structurally defining firms" might be as obsolete in the old People's Republic of Prussia as they became in the Rust Belt. The flight of the ambitious people, another parallel to the Rust Belt. Those startup businesses? As the vanguard of the gig economy or rapid prototyping, perhaps that's something better emerging. As the German equivalent of resale shops, tattoo parlors, and nail salons?  All that's missing are the meth labs.  The parallels to fifty years of the Great Society depress.

THE CHANGING NATURE OF THE EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT.

We've noted, for several years, people resisting being on call all the time (once America is great again, expect the resistance to spread), complete with accumulating evidence that too much stress is unhealthy.  But emergence, as I have suggested, is messy.  "[W]e're more likely to see improved work-life balance as a consequence of talented people getting off the treadmill than as a consequence of legislation and litigation."  How messy?  Here's an American Interest essay attempting to tie the old employment contract to the blue social model.  The new dispensation, however, looks like the 24/7 treadmill on speed, with Big Brother in your home computers.  "The brave new post-blue world increasingly features corporations leveraging technology to get the absolute most out of its employees." Against current developments, the new equilibrium appears wishful in the extreme.
It is not a great thing for people who have been raised to live under one set of institutions and assumptions when their world changes and the cold winds of change start to blow. The workers who have had their lives disrupted by this change have our sympathy.

But it’s also important to remember that the goal of the social transformation through which we are now passing isn’t to have everyone wired up to demanding jobs 24/7 with instant feedback—jobs that fire those losers who didn’t get to their emails fast enough over the weekend.
Perhaps not, but that's reality as many people live it.

As is the case with the social order becoming incompatible with its capitalist integument, the transition, plus whatever comes next, isn't evident yet.
The transition away from the old system of lifetime employment at sleepy and paternalistic corporations is not ultimately about plunging us all into a world of cutthroat hyper capitalism. It’s about decreasing the amount of work and energy it takes to produce the necessities of life so that fewer and fewer people spend their entire lives in routine and repetitive labor, toiling at drudgery that provides a living but detracts from life itself. The Great Work of the human race in this transition from the old industrial economy to the new information one is about releasing the energy and talent of hundreds of millions of people to work on making their lives better, richer, and more interesting. As a species, we will be spending less time wresting nature into submission, and more time learning what it means to be fully human.
Sounds a lot like "fish in the morning, hunt in the afternoon, and criticize at dinner." The getting there from here?
Those thoughts are probably not much of a consolation to the ten percent of workers losing their jobs every year at what once used to be a paternalistic company. Nor is their grief assuaged by thinking about how much more the managers who have engineered this change in corporate culture are making under the new dispensation.

An economic and social transformation as sweeping and as radical as the one Americans are now going through is bound to create many victims and many stories of hardship and loss. It’s tempting to think that the best way to help those who are being hurt by the change is to fight the change: to tax Uber to subsidize taxis, to block foreign competition, pass laws against self-driving cars, and otherwise to circle the wagons against social change. It’s very human to reach for responses like this, but also ultimately very misguided.

While we need to be compassionate as a society to those whose lives are being disrupted, and be helpful to those who need retraining or other help, what we really need to do is to be creating the conditions that favor the emergence of new jobs, new industries, new professions as the old ones fade away.
Yes, but if you think you have a social structure that fosters emergence, you probably don't.

ENABLING THE BAD BEHAVIOR.

Chicago Tribune columnist Cory Franklin issues the medals for U.S. Olympians Behaving Badly.  Swimmer Ryan Lochte for the gold, soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, the silver, swimmer Lilly King, the bronze.  But they didn't win those medals on their own.
There was a time when American athletes went to the Olympics to represent their country proudly. Many still do, but the virus of narcissism has clearly infected some of our athletes. Perhaps it is to be expected, considering the fawning Olympic media coverage, the emergence of an enabling social media, and the glorification of self that has become de rigueur in sports. Some sportswriters, under the pretext of injecting more personality into sports, appear to encourage such selfish behavior, whether it is styling after a home run, calling attention to oneself after dunking the basketball or doing a sack dance after tackling a quarterback (even when your team is losing by 30 points).

So it should come as no surprise to anyone when "injecting more personality" morphs into boorish conduct, egregious sportsmanship and the Ryan Lochte early morning show. And make no mistake — during the Olympics, the rest of the world takes note. Unfortunately, the churls overshadow American athletes demonstrating sports' best qualities: Abbey D'Agostino helping a fallen opponent or Allyson Felix's heads-up reminder to her team to finish their relay race after a baton drop, thereby helping them win a challenge and qualify for a gold medal.
Much for students of social psychology or the so-called culture studies to investigate, particularly the pernicious cult of authenticity.  At tony Hamilton College, however, it's business as usual.
Hamilton College is offering courses this year exploring concepts such as “white privilege” and the role of masculinity, power structures, and global capitalism in competitive athletics.

According to the college’s current course catalog, at least one of the courses fulfills a requirement for an Africana Studies concentration, though none are required for students pursuing other disciplines due to Hamilton’s “open curriculum” approach.
I wonder if the actings-out of the three athletes honored by Mr Franklin become exemplars of privilege, or if Ms Felix's proper use of the rules as a shield becomes "internalized oppression."  Check out the wordnoise, in a description of another course that satisfies a Diversity prerequisite.
Dr. Nigel Westmaas offers another course, “Global Race and Sport,” that students can take in order to meet that goal.

The 200-level course “is designed to examine race and diversity issues in the world of sports from the early 20th century to the present” through “critical inquiry on the impact of race and racism in major world sports and the Olympic movement.”

The description further states that students will “[interrogate] issues of masculinity, gender, the structures of power, as well as new forms of global capitalism in sports.”
I'm not sure what expression the "interrogate" stands for. The term as used by the culture-studies weenies has nothing to do with keeping prisoners awake for days on end, and answering questions at midnight.  On the other hand, "act like you've won before" might be a tool of the power structure.

Come December, I doubt that any Hamilton students, upon completing the course, will be better equipped to explain why Athletes Behaving Badly leads to bad behavior among people less privileged.

23.8.16

REDISCOVERING THE INTERURBAN.

There's affordable housing, with less burdensome taxation and less corrupt governance, along the South Shore.  Yes, as in Mike Pence's Indiana.
When Beth Doherty found her future home in Indiana, it was by mistake.

Visiting property her sister-in-law purchased in 2002, she discovered Beverly Shores, Ind., where she and her husband moved in 2010 after living in Bucktown for two decades.

"You can see the skyline from the shore, and there's all these really cool houses," she said.

Doherty, a real estate broker, said many clients have no idea that such lakeside gems are available.
Regular readers have known about Beverly Shores for years.


Chicago Tribune photo by Keri Wiginton.

Sure enough, the train service is contributing to the real estate boom.
Puzzled by why Indiana isn't drawing more people who work in Chicago, local officials are touting newly revitalized downtowns and pitching a new train track to slim commutes.

"This area is the best-kept secret," said Michael Noland, CEO of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
Sometimes, it's as simple as installing a second track (the line through the Dunelands was originally laid out with two tracks in mind.)


Ogden Dunes, December 1972.
Note the pole lines, and span brackets in place for a second track.

Keep the following in mind the next time some politician rails about crumbling infrastructure.
With some millennials attracted to the area's beach access and low-key lifestyle, officials hope a new generation of residents will flow into town.

The linchpin in their plan to draw more people? Adding another track to a segment of the South Shore Line, which officials hope will slash the commute from Michigan City to Chicago to just one hour.

"The double tracking, I think, is going to be a huge game changer," said Leah Konrady, president of One Region, a group that promotes growth and quality of life in Northwest Indiana. She is 30, and says many friends in their 20s and 30s have moved to the area. She's monitoring the way other cities reach out to millennials, like Atlanta's New Voices campaign, with an advisory panel of millennials.

But making Chicago workplaces accessible is key. Right now, just one track runs between Gary and Michigan City. "We've got two-way traffic on a one-way street," Noland said.

Two tracks, Noland said, will allow trains to run more quickly — and with more options. He would love to see more rush-hour trains, for example.
There used to be more rush-hour trains, plus hourly trains for and from Michigan City, and half-hourly frequencies for and from Gary. Yes, on the single track with passing tracks equipped with spring switches east of Michigan City.


Click to enlarge.  In those days, the Morning and Evening Hot Shots, plus one additional South Bend Limited for Chicago in the morning and from Chicago in the evening, added cars westward or cut cars eastward to offer riders in the Duneland a one-seat, faster service to the Loop.  Today's Hot Shots pick up or set down only at Dune Park and East Chicago.  New Federal Railroad Administration safety procedures delay the adding and cutting of cars, which defeats the purpose of what we call electric multiple unit cars, after all, leading to a lot of empty cars for and from South Bend.
State officials and brokers — and young people eager for more peers — hope the train transports people ready to hear their pitch. "People really want that small-town atmosphere," Landers said. "You're an hour from a world-class city. And from our house, we're a block away from the lake. We can walk down to the beach, and we can see Chicago."
But with the South Shore Line again carrying bicycles, with the double tracking in place, keep on praying to Our Lady of the Interurbans, or perhaps to the Patron Saint of Traction, for more sensible rules on adding and cutting cars, and increased train frequencies in Duneland.


South Bend, August 13, 1966.

The article alludes to other commuter train services in the South Shore.  Yes, for a while Amtrak operated a successor to The Pennsylvania Railroad's Valparaiso trains, which well into Conrail's era featured classic P70 coaches for the riders.

REVEALED PREFERENCES.

Footie is popular with eight-year-old girls in the United States, and adolescent males all over the Third World.  Perhaps U.S. policy contributes to its omnipresence.  In Brazil, by contrast, the resources tend to go to the adolescent males.
“This is a macho country,” [former captain Aline] Pellegrino says. “And soccer is seen as a male sport. Whoever plays soccer is a strong man, that is the image, so having a woman play soccer does not match that. They want women in the kitchen, all beautiful and sexy. Not in a soccer jersey kicking a ball around.” Brazil’s affinity for soccer is unmatched anywhere in the world.

While the rules of the modern game were drawn up in England, Brazil can claim to be its spiritual home, a place where the game and life intertwine effortlessly.

The 2014 World Cup, despite Brazil’s crushing 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semifinal, gave the world a glimpse of how the vibrant national personality draws inspiration from the planet’s most popular sport.

Women, however, have been lost somewhere on the periphery of that idyllic scene.

Even with the women’s game enjoying more global popularity than ever, Brazil has not caught up. The Brazilian women’s team is one of the favorites for gold in Rio, but the treatment of girls who want to play at the grass-roots level is disturbing, to say the least.
Old-style sex roles apparently hamper the development of youth footie for the girls.  Perhaps, too, there aren't enough minivans yet.

For all of the attention Brazil and the States pay to footie, and to beach volleyball, the winners in the Olympic women's footie tournament and on the beach were ... the Germans.  Deutsche Frauen, Deutsche Treue, Deutscher Wein und Deutscher Sang.

In the men's tournament, it was Brazil beating Germany.  By penalty kicks.

Doesn't that say something is wrong with an activity more suitable for kids running around a field with rudimentary equipment than as a worldwide sport?  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?

And people say watching yacht racing is boring?

Why not try something else?  Emulate hockey's regular-season rules, in which each side plays with fewer skaters (yes, this too, goes to penalty shots, but the point of fewer skaters is to provide more room to shoot).  Because it's for a title, allow rotations in order that the side on the field at the start will each get a blow should the running around go on for ninety minutes or longer (as Chicago Black Hawk fans have experienced in the past few seasons).  Perhaps to expedite matters, go to the reduced sides at the beginning of extra time, but play it out as it's currently done; then it's sudden victory.

IT TAKES SOMETHING TO BEAT EVEN DEMOCRAT FAILURE.

Yes, there's plenty of failure to go around, and Donald Trump has been attempting to pry some of the vassals from their squires.  Is it enough?  Not according to Chicago Tribune columnist Dahleen Glanton.
The Democratic Party has failed African-Americans.

Ever since blacks forcefully abandoned the party of Lincoln in 1964 and turned out 94 percent of their vote for President Lyndon B. Johnson, Democrats have enjoyed a cozy relationship with a dedicated constituency that has demanded very little in return.

Blacks have repeatedly given the Democratic Party a blank check to do whatever it chooses and still guarantee voter turnout of an average of 88 percent. Thus far, blacks have seen minimal economic return on their investment.

Yes, Trump spoke the truth. Too many African-Americans are living in poverty. Too many of our schools are no good. We have too few jobs. And large numbers of our youth are unemployed.So what the hell do we have to lose by voting for him, he asks? But the question most African-Americans have for Trump is what the hell would they gain?

African-Americans have no idea because Trump has been too much of a coward to look them in the eye and tell them. He turned down several opportunities to speak directly to African-Americans, declining invitations from the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Urban League.

Blacks are left to assume that he has no workable solutions to the unique problems that plague African-American communities.
Ultimately, she argues, both symbolism and substance matter.
So far, what the Democratic Party has done for blacks has been mostly symbolic. Maybe when the Republican Party figures out a way to put another Barack Obama at the head of its presidential ticket, rather than someone who fueled the birther movement, blacks would happily flock over to the other side.

In the meantime, it's certainly going to take a better candidate than Donald Trump to make that happen.
Substantively, Mr Obama has been a failure, certainly overseas, but the two-lies-for-the-price-of-one Affordable Care Act and the non-stimulus stimulus, both enacted with the help of reconciliation, a filibuster-resistant Senate, and a few political favors to Nebraska, for good measure.

And the gentry leadership of the Democrat coalition has been little help to the masses rendered helpless by fifty years of the Great Society and Model Cities and all the other Good Intentions.  "Somewhere along the way [Democrats] stopped fighting for the little guy and became the party of the smug, educated elites who look down on those with less education and deem them unable or unworthy of being able to make personal decisions for their own lives."  Wishful thinking.  There has, all the way back to Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson, been this strain of Four of Five Experts Agree, backed up by, inter alia, policy research demonstrating that a properly informed planner can produce Pareto-preferable outcomes.  (Yes, and if such proper information existed, somebody who had it could get very rich, with or without the government as facilitator, but I digress.)

The author, tax attorney Nikki Johnson-Huston, is on a roll.
For so long, as a Black American, I have been told that the problem is Conservative Republicans. While I’ll admit they may have done little to try to improve African-American lives, they also don’t promise to every election season like the liberal elites. Instead we have given our loyalty and votes to Democrats, who paternalistically tell us they want to help us, but we have little to show for it since blacks started voting Democrat back in the 1960’s. I have never lived in a city as an adult that was run by Conservatives or Republicans, but I live in the biggest poor city in the country, Philadelphia. A city, for decades, run by liberal insiders.

The City of Philadelphia is going through a Renaissance thanks to the demand of young White millennials who want to live in vibrant urban areas. We have a thriving higher education community, one of the country’s best restaurant scenes and home values and rent prices are going up while 10 year property tax abatements make owning new and renovated homes in the City an attractive financial investment. We are an unapologetically liberal city and you cannot be elected in this City without black voters. But why is it that the black community is not benefiting from this same Renaissance as their white liberal counterparts?

While the children of our liberal contemporaries attend expensive private universities, how many black men are getting pulled into the prison system because of stop and frisk searches in these supposedly liberal cities? How many so called white liberals have really fought for those civil rights violations to be ended? My own city has a stop and frisk policy in place (even after promises of stopping it), but is also a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants. It’s ironic that the liberal elites proudly proclaim the inhumanity of deportation which could break up the families of these immigrants, but they are more than happy to justify the need to send black men and women to prison for minor infractions, thus separating the families of American citizens. Where is the outrage for our families? Oh yeah, you can take the African-American vote for granted, so you don’t need to do more than pay lip service to our concerns.

White liberals posting on Facebook about #blacklivesmatter, white privilege and supremacy are not cleansed of their hypocrisy and elitism because they use the right hash tags. I would urge these same people to get off their iPhones and look around to see the issues they ignore in their own lives. If you’re one of these people, before you cry out in offense, ask yourself where you chose to live and how many of your neighbors, that you know, are people of color. Where do your kids go to school? Who are your friends and colleagues? Who do you see next to you while you’re in your meeting at work? What have you done to change those inequalities? Have you recommended a black friend for a job at your company, or told them about a house for sale in your neighborhood or recommended a talented black child go to your child’s school? Answer these questions honestly and you’ll realize that you might not be who you think you are when it comes to racial issues in this country. Are you are part of the group I’m referring to as smug white liberals and you don’t even know it?

If I were to ask what issues of the Democratic Platform from this Presidential Election would address the issues of the African-American community I’m assuming most liberals would point to criminal justice reform. However, the push for criminal justice reform is coincidentally occurring parallel to the epidemic of opioid abuse in white communities. I would argue this is what is actually driving the policy shift from incarceration to treatment, because the sweeping tragedy of drug abuse that has gripped the black community for the last 30 years, is now affecting the same liberal elites that referred to our family members as predators and criminals rather than addicts deserving of compassion.

Suggesting that blacks stop being Democrats or Liberals would be a waste of my time, but what I am suggesting is that we require white liberals to do more than pat us on the head and tell us they know better. Free programs aren’t enough, nor are they actually free for African-Americans. How many stories have we heard of African-Americans being excessively fined for minor civil infractions or misdemeanor criminal matters? Those fines are used for running a system that not only doesn’t work for our community but many times exposes us to a criminal justice system that causes us to become unemployable or financially decimates our families.
There's a lot in that passage for a more libertarian aspirant to national office to work with.  Stop and frisk, zero-tolerance drug policies, quality-of-life crimes as a way to meet the city payroll come to mind.  And yes, having a criminal record doesn't help with the job prospects: neither does presenting as a street thug because some virtue-signaller got tenure in culture studies speculating (there being no such thing as theory when it comes to the humanities) about "authenticity."

And this American Interest essay suggests both parties are missing an opportunity.  The back story: a few people in California are discovering that it's poor government schools, not the minimum wage, rendering the young unemployable.
Many Democrats will join the California Board of Education in regretting this decision, but the political establishment that runs the Democratic Party will stand solidly with bad teachers and against innocent children—because that’s where the money and the power are. For now.

The reason is that the producers of government services—people like teachers, cops, and city hall bureaucrats—tend to be organized, either in unions or in lobbies or both. But the consumers of government services—the kids who depend on public schools and the parents who love them, the clients of dysfunctional welfare bureaucracies, the inhabitants of poorly run public housing projects, the victims of a criminal justice system that routinely puts the convenience of judges and lawyers and the protection of brutal police and prison guards—are not.

The Republican Party, for its part, hasn’t been willing or able to organize the unorganized in American cities and communities, largely because so many Republicans represent those who neither depend on nor produce government services, but rather those who want to pay as little as possible for them.

As a result, with neither party helping, we’ve seen the longterm subjugation of a disorganized majority in many urban areas by an organized minority.

Groups like Black Lives Matter, for all their flaws, at least represent the interests of the people who are badly served by dysfunctional Democratic urban governance. However, these groups generally lack the political ability to do more than protest specific grievances, and the hegemony of regressive socialism leads them to support economic ideas that would only make the cities worse off.
"Hegemony of regressive socialism." I like it. Perhaps the best policy response is for the suzerainty of the Wise Experts to end.  That might be a byproduct of the fracture between vassal and squire, but we're not yet there.
Until that happens, the system will continue to privilege the interests of producers of government services over those who depend on them. That is not OK, and it’s no way to prepare this country for the challenges of a new century.
We have much to look forward to.

NOTICE OF DISCONTINUANCE.

The webmasters at National Review have to do something to justify their existence, and they're shutting Phi Beta Cons down.  The correspondents might be contributing full length articles, and they have their home bases to post from.
[Go] to the websites of Phi Beta Cons contributors, most notably the Pope Center, The College Fix, the Center for Individual Rights, and the National Association of Scholars.
Among their final posts, one suggesting that higher education ought be thought of more like the Roman Catholic Church than like a political party, let alone a business.
Instead, let’s compare the university scene to a large, highly respected, and powerful system that transcended the mundane world of the marketplace – the medieval Catholic Church. (This example, like the housing bubble, is not original with me; I’m just taking it more seriously now.) The Catholic Church was not a market-based phenomenon; it was a complex arrangement of forces—economic, social, moral, political, and, of course, religious—that had enormous control over the people of Christendom.

The Church was a universal (that is, across-Europe) institution, marked by solemn ceremonies in black robes and regalia; formal hierarchies (bishops, priests, monks, friars); promise of life in the hereafter; inquisitions to stamp out heresy; charitable hospitals; its own recondite language; and enormous wealth provided by proprietorship of vast expanses of land and by tithing by the masses.

Most of these aspects have counterparts in the university today. The robed rituals, the hierarchy of titles, the pressure against free speech, the medical facilities, the intellectual idiom, and the wealth – all are visible today in our colleges and universities. While universities don’t offer promises of the hereafter, they offer more immediate promises — material wealth in the near future. And today’s taxpayer must pay a tithe or more; in some states, 10 percent of the state budget goes to higher education, and the majority of schools are tax-exempt.

What knits these forces together into a remarkably stable system lasting hundreds of years? In my view, it was faith that gave the Catholic Church its power, and it is blind faith in the promises – from good jobs to economic growth — that gives higher education its power today.

And so far, that makes it pretty stable.
Yes, right up to the day Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the cathedral door.

It is a corrupt system, and it stinketh.

For sackcloth and ashes, substitute virtue signalling.

For new orders of mendicant monks, particularly as the parishioners started questioning authority, substitute new diversity initiatives.

For indulgences sold for the remission of sin, substitute carbon offsets, or hybrid cars for the motor pool.

For carving your name on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica, substitute naming rights at the new classroom building, or, more frequently, the new athletic facility.

It is a corrupt system, and it stinketh.

And in the same way that the ability to mass-produce Gutenberg Bibles turned Martin Luther into first an advocate for universal literacy and later for finding God in your own way, the ability to mass-produce information content to read and understand on your own, without the interference of a brainwashed social justice warrior to interpret, the reformation will come.

22.8.16

REALLY USEFUL ENGINES.

Last weekend, Thomas the Tank Engine and Percy the Green Engine entertained youngsters at the Illinois Railway Museum.


That's from a year ago, and again we have rain overnight and a blue norther blowing to report.

The Karlson Brothers Circus also brought out a tank engine to switch the wagon shops.


That's Ludwig der Starke, a Prussian tank engine, switching a horse car.  Two sleeping cars for workmen are behind.  Any resemblance of the paint job to the Chicago Aurora and Elgin is deliberate.  I had some visitors to the show asking if I had a lineup of Republicans.  Nope, these elephants are in too orderly a line ...

DECAYING CITIES, RUN BY DEMOCRATS.

Pry the vassals from their squires.  John Kass of Chicago's Tribune concurs.
For decade after decade, Democrats have controlled policy and politics in the broken cities. This is the proof of Democratic success.

The broken schools have been run by Democrats for decades. The broken institutions are run by Democrats.

The political corruption in these cities is Democratic corruption, where government is the hammer used to beat others into forking over their cash.

The corruption tax presses down upon the economic wastelands, where there are no jobs to be had.
Roger Kimball concurs, seeing Donald Trump attempting to pry the vassals from their squires.
As patronizing Democratic programs stifled freedom and individual initiative, and erected an increasingly burdensome (and expensive) governmental cocoon around their minority charges?

The black vote has been largely in the pocket of its new plantation owners.

The "Great Society" did not abolish poverty. That was never the intention. It institutionalized poverty.
Jennifer Rubin of Washington's Post cautions, pointing out failures is easy, suggesting improvements is harder.
Trump doesn’t say, for example, if he’d be willing to spend more on worker training, education and other targeted programs that might address youth unemployment; he does, however, favor a tax plan that hugely benefits the rich. Until Friday, he hadn’t talked much about his plans to fight poverty and discrimination and we still don’t know what he would do, for example, to increase the success rate of African Americans in college or increase access to capital for African American entrepreneurs.
But liberating the vassals isn't only for conservatives.  Witness Jake Johnson's "The Scourge of Neoliberalism: Why the Democratic Party Is Failing the Poor."
Though Democrats were happy to take their votes on election day, lower-income Americans were increasingly faced with a party that had taken on a managerial posture, one characterized by both a growing commitment to market principles and an abandonment of the notion — fostered by the New Deal period — that government could play a significant role in improving the material conditions of the population.
Mr Johnson puts his marker down in favor of more explicitly redistributionist policies, including the creation of more "affordable housing" in prosperous neighborhoods, something that the Democrat-voting squires have none of.  "[P]rogressive attempts to lift poor families in the city — to provide better opportunities for housing, education, and other means of upward mobility — have been met with strong resistance from wealthier communities that, though they increasingly vote Democratic, are wary of attempts to integrate poor and rich neighborhoods."  There are merits in allowing housing markets to work in such a way as to expose poor people to the life-management skills of the middle class, rather than warehousing them in high rises or clustering them in decaying neighborhoods.  That's a post for another day.

At the same time, as Right Wisconsin's Savvy Pundit notes, too frequently policy responses to poverty come in the wake of riots.  "We do all these individuals and organizations a disservice if we act as if the recent riots need to somehow 'spur the community into action.' They’ve been in action for decades!" Generally not in a good way.

REVEALED PREFERENCES.

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte is now better known for his late-night pub crawl with some buddies than for his ability to swim faster emulating an eel rather than performing his assigned stroke.  National Review's Maggie Gallagher notes, "His antics don’t speak well of American culture in the age of Trump and Clinton."  She goes on to describe his behavior as a "man-boy problem."  Actually, it's what happens when you enable dysfunction for some people, but on performance-enhancing drugs.
“Let’s give these kids a break—sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They had fun, they made a mistake, life goes on,” Mario Andrada, communications director for the Rio Games, whom the Washington Post described as the “human shield of Rio,” said on Thursday.

But of course, as many have pointed out, Ryan Lochte is not a kid — he’s a 32-year-old man, or man-boy.
Standard enable-the-sports-stars stuff, which Mr Lochte probably benefitted from starting in middle school.  But there will be consequences.
Winning, carousing, having lots of sex, being sort-of famous, lying to cover up one’s own misdeeds; these are the values of all too many “successful” Americans in the age of Trump and Clinton. I hope Lochte experiences some consequences in the form of reduced value to those corporations who help him cash in on Olympic fame by using his name and face to sell their products: Speedo, Gatorade, Mutual of Omaha, Nissan Altima, Gillette, Proctor & Gamble, are you listening?
Rod Dreher would at least like a plea-bargain.
I wish they would send Lochte back to Brazil to face up to what he has done. Maybe the Brazilians will agree to stand down from extradition in exchange for Lochte spending the next month here in the subtropics, helping people muck their houses. Maybe it will teach him something. Sounds like this 32-year-old has a lot to learn about manhood from a 10-year-old Louisiana boy named J.J.

As for the news media, who have made Ryan Lochte and his spoiled-child act into days of headlines, well, I’m afraid they are beyond rehabilitation.
Ah, but the Nothing But Clinton network, which was also covering the Olympics, devoted several segments to an interview with Mr Lochte. He sounded positively Clintonian, in a parsing-words sort of way.

But, as with Crooked Hillary, the enabling began long ago.  As National Review's Patrick Brennan notes, there is a massive sports infrastructure in the United States, involving a lot of public money, even if there's no Soviet Style Ministry of Sport doing the coordinating.  No.  The enabling begins as the stars emerge.
Other countries do have nominal university sports programs, and Nick Saban’s salary certainly isn’t boosting us at the Olympics. But even a tiny slice of the budget of NCAA programs would dwarf the budgets of, say, Great Britain’s UK Sport, and possibly China’s own opaquely funded sports efforts.

Meanwhile, at the high school level, numbers are hard to come by, but Americans almost certainly spend much more money and time on promoting sports in our K-12 educational system than our peer countries do, too.

And then there’s the U.S. Olympic Committee and the whole range of nonprofits, like USA Swimming or US Sailing, that help organize and train athletes outside of our schools. In addition to program fees and revenues, they rely on donations from foundations, individuals, and corporations – all subsidized by the federal government up to 40 or so cents on the dollar, thanks to our charitable tax deduction (which is uniquely generous on an international level).

Now, I’m not saying this all adds up to sports socialism. I’m not objecting to any of it in particular, really: Supporting civil society with tax incentives is certainly a good, American idea; college and high school sports are great, etc. Voters and politicians like sports, and publicizing how much public money goes to support them may not change policies one iota.
It's not the money, it's not even the reliance on the small platoons. Rather, it's the message the young people get.  All the accolades go to the successful athlete, not the successful 4-H tinkerer or chess player; and we have the vulgar "mathlete" for competitions in algorithm-slinging.

Yes, Mr Lochte stands to lose a lot of endorsement income he might otherwise have earned.
The revelation that he allegedly lied about the incident—feeding into the stereotypes about crime in Brazil and pumping himself up with his nonchalant “whatever” attitude in response to a supposed gun pointed to his head—may “virtually eliminate him from future endorsements,” Bob Williams, chief executive of the celebrity-endorsement deal firm Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing, said to the Wall Street Journal. “Advertisers have become far less tolerant of controversial behavior of any type, and this is yet another type of controversial behavior that doesn’t reflect well on a brand.”
This just in. Speedo to Ryan Lochte: You're fired.

Here's Betsy Newmark, this morning.  "There's a moral lesson for your children when you're trying to teach them not to lie. You can't look to today's political leaders, but you can sure point to Ryan Lochte."  That was a talking point on conservative radio on Friday: why are Olympic athletes held to higher standards for celebrity endorsements than political figures, particularly Democrats, are?

Two possibilities.  One, companies that hire celebrities for endorsements are sending a signal of permanence and probity.  A cheating athlete undermines the message.  Two, there is a much deeper bench in athletics than there is in politics, or in much of business and education.  Think about it: a century of the Womens' Christian Temperance Union and second wave and third wave feminism and the League of Women Voters and the American Association of [Democrat] University Women and the starting lineup is Naggin' Crooked Hillary and Preachy Elizabeth Warren?

Seen: the lineup of Olympians and medals in the dozens.

Not seen: political leaders, of any party, with probity.

A FIRE IN THE LIBERAL PLANTATION?

The affirmative action asterisk is real, and preferential admissions set less-prepared students up for failure.  Perhaps administrators can attempt to squelch inconvenient recognitions of these realities on social media.

It's another matter when the social work faculty at Smith College catch on.  In this case, the Distressed Material is applying to do the Master's in Social Work.
“Why do you, as administrators, continue to offer differential outcomes to students of color, in spite of overwhelming data that demonstrates that many of our students, including white­-identified students, cannot offer clients a social work intervention that is based upon competence, skills and ethics,” [professor Dennis] Miehls said in his letter. Miehls went so far as to call the admissions process “tainted” because of how willing it was to admit unprepared non-white students.
A second letter to the administration, from the adjunct faculty (who are probably on the front line dealing with the Distressed Material -- in a graduate program?  Downsizing is a false economy even among the Seven Sisters.) goes so far as to suggest that social work requires skill sets. "But beyond that, we must acknowledge that social work — like every other kind of work — is not for everyone, and we have to stop pretending that it can be."

Predictably, the social justice warriors are on the case.
Christopher Watkins, a protest leader, complained that a “disproportionate amount” of black and Hispanic students at the school have been placed under academic review, which seems to reflect the situation the letters complained about. The protesting students, though, believe their poorer performance reflects systemic racism in the school, rather than lower overall readiness.
That "disproportionate amount" says everything the literate reader needs to know about college readiness.  But after all the rhetoric, it's business as usual in social work.
On Wednesday, after this article was published, Marianne Yoshioka, dean of the social work school, released a statement that said in part, "The Smith College School for Social Work is one of the most selective social work programs in the country. Our standards are exceptionally high for those we admit, and we take pride in each of our highly intelligent, capable and compassionate students, particularly throughout the recent campus involvement they have encouraged. For the past year, prompted by these students, we as a community have been engaged in important, productive and collaborative work to continually evolve as an antiracism organization. Social work is not a profession that effectively operates within the status quo. We are clinical professionals specifically committed to social justice and systemic change. The determination brought by our students, the courage they have shown and the accountability they have demanded will challenge us to fulfill our commitment alongside the next generation of social workers."
We have much to look forward to.  The Daily Caller coverage leaves as undetermined the status of disciplinary action against those troublesome letter-writers.

19.8.16

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES!


See you on down the road.

EVERYTHING ELSE IS DETAILS.

Milwaukee's Frederick McKissack reflects on the different life outcomes of his nephew and the latest casualty of street life.  "One was nurtured on the street; the other was expected to do well by family and teachers."  Joanne Jacobs, ruminating on Hillbilly Elegy, sees the same dynamic at work in the hollers and in the 'hood.  "If Mama ain’t functional (and Daddy’s gone), ain’t nobody functional."

Not much that public policy can do, when the village has all the redeeming features of the trailer park, the projects, and the hippie commune.  It's the trashy culture, stupid.

CONSERVATIVE INSURGENCY: THE SEQUEL.

Kurt Schlichter's original effort envisioned two terms for Hillary, with conditions getting worse.

Now, he's envisioning regime change after one term.
The Tea Party was a polite request for fairness and respect, but the elite and its media lapdogs spat on you.

Donald Trump’s movement was an impolite request for fairness and respect, but the elite and their media lapdogs spat on your and, as we now know, rigged Hillary Clinton’s election.

Today, we are no longer demanding fairness and respect, and we will have it … by any means necessary!

For too long, the elites looked down on us even as they stole our labor and our heritage to enrich themselves. For too long, they hid behind laws that apply only to us and not to them, behind a media that lied to us to protect them, behind an economic system that stole from us to protect them. That ends today!

Enemies of the people and their lapdogs in the media, it is time for you to be held accountable!
It's a hypothetical inauguration address, framed as "a warning of what could come should the ruling class continue to at best ignore or actively oppress a large chunk of the citizenry."  That's cathartic, and it might keep the base involved.

Ultimately, though, "throw their briefcases into the Potomac" doesn't replace bad policy with good policy.  On the other hand, emergent opting-out in a variety of ways might lead to improvements.

MORE FALSE ECONOMIES.

Six years ago, I took a ride on the Coast Starlight.  In those days, there was a wine tasting in the Pacific Parlour Car, for a small extra charge.  I skipped on that ... paying money to indulge in Arch Deluxe, which is what the whole wine thing is, is contrary to my Yankee principles.  But the Parlour Car, a converted Santa Fe high level lounge, is a good place to hang out before dinner.


Prosit!

The wine-tastings are still on offer, but travel writer Jim Loomis wasn't impressed with his experience.
I was anticipating the kind of presentation I have enjoyed literally dozens of times before, with the attendant pouring one wine at a time and offering a brief description of each. This time, however, he placed three small plastic “wine glasses” on the little table in front of me and poured a red wine into the first glass, another red into the second glass, and a white wine into the third glass. And thus ended the wine tasting. A woman seated across from me–this was also her first long-distance Amtrak ride- rolled her eyes.

This half-assed stuff is really starting to piss me off. Sleeping car passengers are already being nickel-and-dimed. I don’t like it, although I understand why the Amtrak brass thinks it’s necessary. But obviously the on-board staff has seen it and it’s affected how some of them do their jobs: cutting a few corners here, saving a little time there. It is by no means universal, but I think it’s understandable. After all, management is doing it.

But it’s deplorable. A car attendant or a dining car server taking shortcuts and not providing the kind of attention and service passengers deserve and for which they are already paying top dollar — that’s not helping to improve Amtrak’s bottom line. In fact, when a family of four takes their first overnight train ride, it’s their interaction with those on-board employees that can boost the overall experience rating “good” to “memorable” … and result in another Amtrak trip next year.
Downsizing is a false economy. It's rampant all over Amtrak's network, including periodic withdrawals of the Parlour Cars for "maintenance."  (That's another way the old Soviet Union concealed that they were running out of everything, pretending that facilities were being "rehabilitated."  Only slightly more positive than rehabilitating enemies of people shot in Stalin years.)

And it puts staff in a difficult position: make the effort right, and after a while, it's a grind to have to apologize or explain.  Or cut corners and make do.
[S]omewhere on the To-Do list has got to be a serious effort to boost on-board employee morale and restore consistency and quality-control to the standards and procedures that have been successful in the past. Case in point: the parlor car attendant I mentioned above. Yes, he did a half-assed job with the wine tasting, but otherwise he was, in fact, friendly and personable.

The on board crews need to see and hear some optimism from the Amtrak leadership. They’re still doing their jobs capably and professionally, but they’re discouraged. Somehow, that has to change.
Yes, and the people who have other options will explore other options. Despite the depredations of Hope and Change, employers continue to seek people of ability. Some might even equip their hires with the right working conditions and the tools to do the job.

18.8.16

ECONOMIC RECOVERY IS ONE THING; CULTURAL RENEWAL IS ANOTHER.

That's today's Trenchant Observation, coming midway in J. D. Davidson's Federalist essay, "The Plight Of The White Working Class Isn't Economic, It's Cultural."  It's really time to revisit the Moynihan Report, with deviancy being defined down for all.
Trump supporters are not in fact suffering disproportionately from the flight of manufacturing jobs overseas, or competition from immigrants. They might not be poor themselves, but they live in places that are in a state of crisis, where the pathologies of the white working class are manifesting themselves in visceral ways: heroin overdoses, single-parent families, rampant opioid addiction, vast swaths of adult men on disability and out of the work force. It’s no wonder they feel like something has gone horribly wrong in their country. It has—but not quite in the way they suppose.
Indeed.  Stop enabling the dysfunction, you get less of it.
On the other hand, fifty or sixty years of affirming the authenticity (a euphemism for "behaving badly") of people in straitened circumstances behaving badly, rather than as a matter of education and public policy, inculcating the habits of the middle class, brings us to a pass where the "successful people feel so different."
National Review runs another excerpt from J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy -- it's on the Cold Spring Shops shopping list, but there are car repairs first -- from which it becomes evident that the one transgressivity that isn't celebrated is great ambition.  (And that might include in sports, too, something that isn't true in the 'hood.)
I may not have known multiplication that day, but when I came home and told Papaw (my grandfather) about my heartbreak, he turned it into triumph. I learned multiplication and division before dinner. And for two years after that, he and I would practice increasingly complex math once a week, with an ice cream reward for solid performance. I would beat myself up when I didn’t understand a concept, and storm off, defeated. But after I’d pout for a few minutes, Papaw was always ready to go again. My mother was never much of a math person, but she took me to the public library before I could read, got me a library card, showed me how to use it, and always made sure I had access to kids’ books at home.

In other words, despite all of the environmental pressures from my neighborhood and community, I received a different message at home. And that just might have saved me.
Hillbilly attitudes took a long time to emerge.  Recognizing the evolutionary disadvantage they confer might also take time.  As might a populist Republican Party, and a more explicitly technocratic and gentrified Democratic Party.

PRY THE VASSALS FROM THEIR SQUIRES.

Cal Thomas, with the Burning Question.  "Why do African-Americans continue to vote for liberal Democrats who have done little to help them and, in fact, often cause more harm than good?"  Short answer: you have to have something substantive to offer in its place, which a lot of Republicans, particularly of the evangelical and commercial bent, have failed to offer.

Donald Trump appears to be making such a pitch.

Roger Simon approves.
In his speech Tuesday night the businessman had the temerity to hit them where they really live by going where no Republican on a presidential level has dared to go before. He declared aloud what almost everyone secretly knows, that the horrifying condition of black people in urban America is at least partly, probably largely, the fault of the media's darling, the Democratic Party. Their failed liberal policies and exploitation of blacks have been making things worse for African-Americans for decades.

Trump is right, of course. And under Obama and Clinton, the carnage has only reached new levels with people shooting each other in the streets of Chicago and Baltimore as if they were the suburbs of Raqqa.

Pushing the envelope further, the businessman made an overt pitch to black voters to come over to him for the sake of their own communities, to make their lives better by breaking the stranglehold the Democrats have had on African-Americans.
Long overdue, but is Mr Trump in any way heir to D. P. Moynihan or Milton Friedman?  (Or Jack Kemp?) "Those of us who care about our country, however, could not have but rejoiced in Trump's speech. Someone should have made it thirty years ago."  Perhaps, although that was the summer of Iran-Contra and Chernobyl and the Reykjavik summit was coming up.

WHAT ARE THE INCREMENTAL SPILLOVER BENEFITS?

In Forbes, Tim Worstall (via Phi Beta Cons) notes that the characterization of higher education as a public good is rot.
It’s rivalrous and excludable. If I am on a degree course that’s a place you cannot take. And it’s entirely possible to attend lectures at Yale or Cambridge for the requisite number of years and find that the university won’t grant you a degree. Thus education itself if not a public good.

But perhaps there is some other public good that is created by education? Adam Smith certainly thought so about primary schooling. Being part of a generally literate and numerate nation is perhaps a public good. But does college meet that standard? Opinions can differ here but I would say no. Certainly not at the level that 30 to 50% of the age cohort go to college.
That second paragraph gets into a more challenging area, that of spillover benefits, or, to get formal, positive nonpecuniary externalities.  Here, though, Adam Smith might have had it about right, although it helps to have a village in which the parents are inculcating bourgeois habits in their kids.

Here's Mr Worstall, without the normative implications.
Much of the benefit of a college degree accrues to the person who gets the college degree. Therefore, to my mind, they should be the person paying for it. And as there is no public good created by more having degrees that’s pretty much it.
But he's on board with continued government guarantees for student loans, as collegians don't have a credit history.  The risk there, as I've been pointing out for years, is that not all matriculants have their eyes on a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer Prize or the Lasker Medal or Olympic Gold.  "The socially prominent clique in my high school spent much of senior year evaluating whether the parties were better at LaCrosse, Oshkosh, or Whitewater. Universal access might mean an even larger infusion of party animals into the less famous universities with no concomitant surge in economic growth or any of the other spillover benefits."  Still the case today.

WHAT WE DON'T REWARD WE GET LESS OF.

Excellence in sport lauded, but "gifted and talented" is prohibited language.

That's the world my final cohorts of students will have to grow old in.

IRRELEVANCE ON THE BAYOU?

Rod Dreher has been reporting on the lack of Official Reaction to the flooding in Louisiana.  (There's continuing coverage from his base site.)  "Despite George W. Bush’s folly on Katrina, which left a permanent mark on his legacy, Obama remains on vacation, just as Bush did."  Plus:
Obama can plausibly claim that the media haven’t been reporting on the 2016 Louisiana disaster like it did on Katrina, but really, is that any excuse? Does the President of the United States really depend on the national media to tell him when part of the nation he governs has been devastated in a rolling catastrophe?
Think of the national media as Democrat operatives with bylines and you'll not go much wrong, Californian fires and Summer Olympics notwithstanding.

But Mr Trump is missing an opportunity.  The floods are adversely affecting precisely those people who are ignored or maligned by the coastal gentry.

THE EMERGENCE OF CONCENTRATION.

In sports, yesterday was a very good day for United States Olympians in the track and field events.
In a span of about 60 minutes Wednesday night, U.S. athletes hauled in a bevy of medals: [Tianna] Bartoletta and Brittney Reese went 1-2 in the long jump, Tori Bowie captured a bronze in the 200 and Brianna Rollins, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin swept the medals in the 100-meter hurdles — a feat that's never been accomplished in that event.

A banner evening, for sure. The nation entered the night with 13 medals [in track] and left the track with a total of 19 — five gold, seven silver, seven bronze.
Plus a Wisconsin runner earning a silver in the human steeplechase, and a few other victories.

But does the popular culture regard achievement in sport the same way it regards achievement in other endeavours?
Advocates of the fair go will see the accumulation of small advantages by people already advantaged in the emergence of the current crop of personal computer millionaires (many of whom were born about the same time I was, in neighborhoods that valued intellectual life, with sufficient disposable income to be able to put in thousands of hours programming while their less fortunate contemporaries were throwing newspapers or tending crops) as entranching existing hierarchies.
You decide.

17.8.16

THEY'RE BEGINNING TO CATCH ON.

Cold Spring Shops, last year.  "That the Milwaukee Public Schools are failing to teach, and that many Milwaukee neighborhoods are no longer safe for people of any color is irrelevant. And that the economic stimulus failed to stimulate, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is two lies for the price of one vote doesn't matter."

Cold Spring Shops, last week.  "[W]here is Mr Trump, or anyone else, pointing out that the government school lobby is at least as responsible as Common Core or the Department of Education for rendering urban youth unemployable, no matter what the minimum wage is?"

Cold Spring Shops, two days ago.
Unfortunately, nowhere in the punditry have I seen any suggestions that Mr Trump, say, or Mr Johnson, contrast the fifty years of rhetoric and hopes (Great Society! Bridge to the 21st Century! Hope and Change!) with fifty years of failure, enabled and abetted by welfare dependency and the lottery and young people rendered unemployable by the government schools. It's a missed opportunity, as the fractious coalition of the elites and the dependent trades as the Democrats.
Last night, Mr Trump gave a prepared speech at a rally in West Bend, Wisconsin.  The rally location suggested he was originally desirous of encouraging disaffected voters.  What he did, though, was a first attempt at separating the urban Democrat base from the gentry, including touching on a number of the themes recited above.  He's taking stick from the talking heads for, inter alia, not offering such a speech in the 'hood, and for attempting to pit Americans of African ancestry against immigrants of Latin American or Islam-practicing heritage.

The speech surely didn't sound like standard Chamber of Commerce Republican fare, mixing repealing Obamacare and taming the teachers unions with revisiting the trade deals and strengthening law enforcement.  The Reformation remains inchoate.

Twelve weeks to run.

THE BURDEN OF BAD IDEAS: A SEQUEL.

Heather McDonald writes a chapter, should she offer a revised and extended edition.  Why Milwaukee Burns.
The Black Lives Matter riots of the last two years are inseparable from a hatred of what is perceived to be “white” society and civilization.

And as important as the political stoking of that hatred is the academic race industry that keeps black victimology at a fever pitch. The 2015–2016 school year saw an outbreak of delusional self-pity among black college students across the country. They claimed to be discriminated against by faculty, administrators, fellow students, and academic standards. Never mind that many allegedly disparaged students were attending the colleges in question only because of racial preferences, despite having test scores that would automatically disqualify white or Asian applicants. Never mind that nearly every waking hour of a college administrator is devoted to the cultivation of a separatist racial consciousness among black students and to dreaming up new racial sinecures for faculty and other administrators.

The academic version of Black Lives Matter was not as physically destructive as the Milwaukee riots, but it had as corrosive an effect on civilizational norms.
How many times am I going to have to note that enabling dysfunction gets you more of it?

THE CONRAIL OPTION.

Right Wisconsin honors Obamacare (formally, the so-called Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, two lies for the price of one as its Loser of the Day.  "The collapse of Obamacare continues to speed up even faster than many believed."

The premise of the column is that the legislation was supposed to Fix Something.  That might not be the real intent.  "[I]f we view the exchanges as a necessarily messy way to destroy the insurance companies and pave the way for universal Medicaid, all is proceeding as the true believers would have it."  That's the way Power Line's John Hinderaker sees it.
Democrats don’t expect to be punished for inflicting an expensive, failed program on the American people. Instead, they believe they will be rewarded. As Obamacare continues its slow-motion collapse, they will shift to Plan B. “We tried the market-based approach,” they will say, “and it didn’t work. Now there is only one alternative left: single payer health coverage.” At that point, with the government already dominating health care through Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare, and with genuinely free and private health care a dwindling remnant of the industry, they think the road to socialized medicine, the holy grail of modern leftism, will be open.

They may well be right. In any event, the Democrats’ confidence in that scenario explains why they don’t care that Obamacare has utterly failed to live up to the promises they made for it, and is widely unpopular with the American people.
The people don't matter. Mrs Clinton has proposed adding a public option to the existing legislation, and her cheerleaders in the academic-media-entertainment complex are pushing for Democrat majorities in the House and the Senate to "get things done."  That public option is the camel, further into the tent.  You saw it here first.  And Robert B. Reich, who was a Bernie Bro until that ended, is on board with doing just that.
It’s not just people with pre-existing conditions who have caused insurers to run for the happy hills of healthy customers. It’s also people with genetic predispositions toward certain illnesses that are expensive to treat, like heart disease and cancer. And people who don’t exercise enough, or have unhealthy habits, or live in unhealthy places.

So health insurers spend lots of time, effort, and money trying to attract people who have high odds of staying healthy (the young and the fit) while doing whatever they can to fend off those who have high odds of getting sick (the older, infirm, and the unfit).

As a result we end up with the most bizarre health-insurance system imaginable: One ever more carefully designed to avoid sick people.

If this weren’t enough to convince rational people to do what most other advanced nations have done and create a single-payer system, consider that America’s giant health insurers are now busily consolidating into ever-larger behemoths. UnitedHealth is already humongous. Aetna, meanwhile, is trying to buy Humana.

Insurers say they’re doing this in order to reap economies of scale, but there’s little evidence that large size generates cost savings.

In reality, they’re becoming very big to get more bargaining leverage over everyone they do business with – hospitals, doctors, employers, the government, and consumers. That way they make even bigger profits.
Mr Reich elides the proximate cause of the insurance death spiral, which is that the new law compels insurance companies to issue, irrespective of condition, which skews the incentives in the direction of only buying coverage after one gets sick; and that skewage is exacerbated by tax penalties lower than the cost of coverage even when one is healthy.

The consolidation of the insurance companies?  That was the logic of the regulated railroads; at least when Penn Central finally came apart, there were relatively few companies to consolidate into Consolidated Rail.  So too with a nationalization of insurance.

But that dig about bargaining leverage?  Oligopsony bad, monopsony good?

Color me skeptical, Mr Reich.