29.8.20

ON MY WORKBENCH.

A month ago, we looked at a string of freight cars in various states of restoration.  It's been a good month for relaxing on the back deck and quaffing beer, although the occasional humid day or slightly chilly night or, for a while, hockey on the radio, has provided opportunities to continue the work.

Two of the brass hopper cars are now on the railroad, earning income and paying per diem.


Norfolk and Western you're probably familiar with.  Milwaukee Racine and Troy is the model railroad staff of Kalmbach, the publisher of Model Railroader and Trains, are building in the break room of their office.  That railroad is an HO layout set late in the second-generation diesel, pre-Staggers Act era.  I got a little advice from Model Railroader staff on what a transition era hopper car would look like.  The herald is based on the New England Coal and Coke herald, and it foreshadows the contemporary MR&T herald that looks a little like something Robert Indiana might have come up with.


I found another brass tank car back on the shelves. These projects are not being worked on in any particular order, or it might be more accurate to say that the less challenging ones, requiring only minor soldering, drilling, and tapping, get the mechanical work done and go to the paint shop first.


I've also refurbished some unusual older style box cars, a ventilated fruit car and a short automobile car.  Those required additional weight, perhaps the right sort of couplers, and the addition of steps or grab irons that fell off over the years.  Note these are all cars from swap meets, which is to say, the work of other people perhaps out of the hobby or perhaps who have crossed the final summit, and they're still running.

WE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE COMPLEXITY OF THE PROBLEM.

That's sociologist Zeynep Tufekci in The Atlantic, a week into the house arrests.
As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics. We faltered because of our failure to consider risk in its full context, especially when dealing with coupled risk—when multiple things can go wrong together. We were hampered by our inability to think about second- and third-order effects and by our susceptibility to scientism—the false comfort of assuming that numbers and percentages give us a solid empirical basis. We failed to understand that complex systems defy simplistic reductionism.

Widespread asystemic thinking may have cost America the entire month of February, and much of what we’d normally consider credible media were part of that failure.
As of that writing, the Wuhan coronavirus still appeared to be scary.
Health systems are prone to nonlinear dynamics exactly because hospitals are resource-limited entities that necessarily strive for efficiency. Hospitals in wealthy nations have some slack built in for surge capacity, but not that much. As a result, they can treat only so many people at once, and they have particular bottlenecks for their most expensive parts, such as ventilators and ICUs. The flu season may be tragic for its victims; however, an additional, unexpected viral illness in the same season isn’t merely twice as tragic as the flu, even if it has a similar R0 or CFR: It is potentially catastrophic.
"Potentially," yes. Five months into "fifteen days to slow the spread," it's clear that the continued quarantine theater is no longer helpful.  Just go read Jeffrey Tucker.  "[S]chools should never have closed, ... [B]eaches should have stayed open, ...[B]ars, dance clubs, and professional meetings should have gone ahead. Calm and normal social functioning were necessary to deal a swift blow to the virus so that the vulnerable populations would not be forced to shelter in place for many months, much less a full year."  I recommend that you read and understand the whole essay, and follow the links to various epidemiologists and other health practitioners, and I concur with his conclusion.  "Lockdowns have done nothing to protect anyone while creating astonishing chaos and confusion all around, with no evidence that they have minimized mortality for any groups."

In addition, note the time series comparing deaths per million among countries, tests per million residents (not surprisingly, the small countries are testing more of their residents), the case fatality rates, and the infections counted.  In the United States, "Not only is the epidemic becoming less deadly, but its spread has slowed."  If, as this essayist suggests, the confirmed infections are a substantial undercount of total infections, the problem might be even less severe.

I note also that the last update of hospital capacity by the Centers for Disease Control was issued in mid-July.  The Institute for Health Metrics are still guessing at future loads on hospitals. but that chart makes no reference to hospital, intensive care unit, or ventilator capacities.

Taken together, dear readers, if the original premiss of the house arrests was to keep the hospitals and intensive care units from being overwhelmed, and the people who have the capability of or the responsibility for keeping track of the utilization rates are not sounding alarms about pressure on that capacity, is it not the case that those house arrests have long since served their purpose?

JUST REPEAL THE SEVENTEENTH AMENDMENT.

I confess to not being a fan of several of the so-called Progressive Era amendments to the Federal Constitution. "Do we get to include all the policy failures as well? Direct election of senators? Prohibition of liquor? Income taxation? All the administrative state apparatus that came with two wars and the New Deal?"

Now comes Larry Hackney, suggesting that direct election of Senators and state Governors gives the thickly settled areas too much electoral power within states.  "Currently, population centers in many states — New York, Illinois, Georgia, Virginia, and California, just to name a few — can sway the vote for one presidential or statewide candidate (governor, senator), giving that state to that candidate even though the other candidate won the majority of the counties in that state."

I'm not sure whether determining a state governor on the basis of counties carried is a good idea or not: presumably there are state legislatures that ought to be exercising their powers, especially in states where authoritarian governors are arbitrarily extending the house arrests, and simulating the presidential election with a fixed number of counties is likely to cause the same sorts of electoral anomalies and ill will that the current assignment of electoral votes based on the size of a House of Representatives that was last changed in 1929 is producing.

But putting the authority to appoint senators back in the hands of the state legislatures?  That might be a good idea, as the direct election of senators simply generates a hundred showboaters who, once they have put together their in-state coalition and gone to Washington City, start thinking of themselves as potential presidents.  Yes, a legislatively determined senator might still immediately want to get into the presidential conversation, but legislators might be able to deliberate over whether sending a person likely to behave in that way to the federal capital is desirable.

WILL THE EDUCATION ESTABLISHMENT HELP UNDO THE GLADIATOR ECONOMY, OR PERPETUATE IT?

At the writing of my most recent previous post on the gladiator economy,  there was still uncertainty about whether the professional basketball playoffs would continue.  As of now, the games are about to resume, although the pregame coverage I am listening to is more about the importance of the job action to the wider society than it is about matchups or the necessity of the Bucks finishing this round and moving on.

A coaching acquaintance from long ago alerted me to an essay by Washington State deputy athletics director Bryan B. Blair that, while notionally about the value of diversity and inclusion, really says the quiet parts about the gladiator economy out loud.
My mom made sure I was in the “gifted & talented” or honors classes all the way from middle school until high school. Being the only or one of a few minorities in those settings provided a daily lesson on how different my world was growing up compared to my white classmates. Over the years, I learned how to navigate that experience, and unfortunately learned how to cope with the feelings of isolation and loneliness that came with it. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized the racial and socioeconomic disparities that led to me being one of those few.
Put another way, had he been among the run-of-the-halls students picked last for basketball, he might still have found an opportunity to shine as a mathematician or musician or scholar of German, even though he might still think of himself as on the outside.  But he showed a talent for sports, and that was where he found something in common with people of other backgrounds.
Where I grew up, the races were often separated, from where they lived to where they socialized. The one space everyone came together was sports! This reality clicked for me at an early age and remained with me as I entered a career in college athletics. Seeing people from all walks of life high fiving and hugging after a touchdown was a powerful sight. On those Saturdays in the fall, everyone of all colors, shapes and sizes comes together to worship in the house of football, but the next morning they often go to completely different churches on completely different sides of town.

Ultimately, my why is based on the transformative power of sports: its ability to unify diverse groups, to change the life of a young person that would never access higher education, but for, [c.q.] college athletics, and the way young people often look up to our athletes as quasi-superheroes.
It is to that "but for college athletics" that I wish to turn.  In the school he attended, it's likely that the students who were up to it could thrive in college mathematics, or music, or Germanic languages.  What, though, would be the fate of Toronto Raptor star Fred Van Vleet's less athletic classmates at Rockford Auburn be?  The school has a graduation rate of 63%, with a 42% chronic absenteeism rate, which in the sugar-coat-the-ills language of public instruction, qualifies it as a "comprehensive school," the category for any school among the lowest-performing five per cent of schools in Illinois, or any high school with a graduation rate less than 65%.  Among the academic performance indicators, some 23% of the students are proficient under the science assessment, whatever that is, and 43% of their graduates require remediation at community colleges.

I can't help but wonder if the weak academic performance of athletic powerhouse high schools contributes to the difficulty College Sports, Inc. has in diversifying the coaching and administrative ranks.
The thought that the only value a Black staff member has is recruiting, or any number of other roles that don’t typically advance to leadership positions, is problematic as it perpetuates a stereotype and demonstrates why we’ve made minimal progress between the percentages of Black athletes and the coaches and staff that serve them.
That, in a nutshell, is the gladiator economy. Recruit students from academically weak high schools, keep them eligible, get enough graduated to keep the academic progress rate above the sanctioning line, wish them well, but have those young women and men acquired the human capital to handle the logistics or the fund-raising or advocating before faculty or legislators?

Not if the curriculum directors have anything to do with it.  Apparently, when it comes to quantifying student capabilities, the mind-set parallels that of Our President when it comes to the Wuhan coronavirus: we have more cases because we do more testing.  (Pay attention, dear reader, he usually delivers that line in his best Borscht Belt oy vey, what can I say voice.)  On the other hand, if the administrators of the Madison schools think too many black students are being suspended, well, if you suspend fewer students, you're not reporting as many discipline problems.  Reality says otherwise.

Likewise, if you don't have many students reading or writing at grade level, simply treat the linguistic standards as arbitrary, and abolish them.
The statement argues that teachers should stop “telling Black students that they have to ‘learn standard English to be successful because that’s just the way it is in the real world.’ No, that’s not just the way it is; that’s anti-Black linguistic racism. Do we use this same fallacious, racist rhetoric with white students? Will using White Mainstream English prevent Black students from being judged and treated unfairly based solely on the color of their skin? Make it make sense.”

The document points out that “researchers, scholars, educators, and all everyday Black folx center Black Language on its unique philosophies and survivances of Black Life rather than on a set of linguistic departures from a fictional, white norm.”

It calls on teachers to “not dismiss Black Language simply as a dialect of English, and do not treat it as a static anachronism—it’s not a thing of the past, spoken only by Black people who are positioned in a ‘low’ or ‘working class.’ Recognize it as a language in its own right!”
I'd note that Mr Blair was able simultaneously to make his point that he was sometimes being judged on the basis of his skin color and to use mainstream English.  I'd also note that it's probably easier for a student who grew up hearing Black Language to code-shift into business English than it might be for a Rhinelander who grew up hearing German.


"Wall Street Institute" in Köln.  Grab shot, 3 September 2014.

That storefront language store just caught my eye, as I was walking from my hotel to the trolley stop in the hopes of working in a stop at the chocolate museum and then mach schnell to Bonn for the Beethoven sites and Remagen for the bridge.

Do these pedagogues of English really expect that employers currently expecting standard English of their employees will start doing business in Black Language, or auf Deutsch, simply to accommodate the new hires?  Rod Dreher is having none of it.
Think about those students, paying over $10,000 per year (I checked this university’s tuition) to be taught how to write good business and technical English, and instead getting this woke professor teaching them that anything goes, because antiracism. When these students apply for jobs, and it turns out that they can’t write standard English, they will not be hired — and whose fault will it be? Even the wokest businesses can’t afford to hire people who cannot write standard English. Those kids are being cheated out of the education they’re paying for.

This is happening at a big public university in a ruby-red state! If students get an A in this class, but end up unable to land or hold a job because they can’t write, they will be tempted to blame racism. They ought to blame their professor, and their university. This is infuriating. If that were me — or my kid — I would be writing to my state legislator. On the other hand — and this is where they get you — the student who wrote me is probably right that the professor would punish as a racist anyone who complained. The reader just wants to graduate and put this school in the rear view mirror. I don’t blame the student at all. But after the student gets that diploma, I hope he/she will write me back to remind me of this, and I’ll post the professor’s name, university, and the full statement. Students, prospective students, and the taxpayers of that state ought to know the fraud being perpetrated on that university’s students in the name of antiracism.
Not to mention, it's shifting the responsibility for teaching writing to the other academic departments, and it's likely reducing the pool of potential colleagues for Mr Blair.

28.8.20

THE INSURGENCY COMES TO THE ROCK RIVER.

It's a Boat for the Blue boat parade, not a Trump boat parade per se.  There might have been some crossover of participants, although the photographs show a preponderance of blue balloons and thin blue line flags.

PUT NOT YOUR FAITH IN ALLOCATION CZARS.

It seems like no matter how many times I warn you, there's always going to be somebody who screws it up.
Last November, Gov. Gavin Newsom named his cabinet secretary Ana Matosantos the new state “Energy Czar.” Gov. Newsom is on record that Ana is a “genius” and a person of “unrivaled professional accomplishment.” Whatever Matosantos did since November failed to prevent the current round of rolling blackouts. That should come as no surprise.

Matosantos has a degree in political science and feminist studies but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her state finance director, a post more suitable for a proven expert with advanced degrees in economics. Blacked out Californians might also wonder about her energy experience.
My Chicago Boyz colleague David Foster has already noted parallels between California's current troubles and the plot of Arthur Hailey's Overload. I never expected to invoke a Kurt Schlichter novel in a post about energy policies, but that "political science and feminist studies" is spot on (and the power goes off.)

In California, though, showing fealty to Gaia matters more than reliable power to the tract houses.
In a particularly obtuse report on NPR's Morning Edition [August 19], Union of Concerned Scientists energy analyst Mark Specht asserted, "the solution is definitely not more natural gas plants. Really if anything this is an indication that California should speed up its investments in clean energy and energy storage."

NPR reporter Lauren Sommer followed up by observing, "After all, he [Specht] said climate change is making heat waves worse, so burning more fossil fuels to deal with that is somewhat counterproductive."

Completely ignored in the reporting is that California has been shutting down a huge source of safe, reliable, always-on, non-carbon dioxide–emitting, climate-friendly electricity—that is, nuclear power. In 2013, state regulators forced the closing of the San Onofre nuclear power plant that supplied electricity to 1.4 million households. By 2025, California regulators plan to close down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant that can supply electricity to 3 million households.

The problem of climate change, along with the blackouts resulting from the inherent vagaries of wind and solar power, are an indication that California should not only keep its nuclear power plants running but also build many more of them.
Let the record show, first, that any organization using "concerned" in its title is attempting to hide its real (and more dangerous) wishes behind an anodyne title.  Such is the leper's bell of people who affect to trade for the (it's never a singular noun, dear reader) public interest.

Then consider, dear reader, what is going to happen in Illinois, where Facebook are building a large data center just south of DeKalb, which they hope to power with a wind farm, while Exelon are going to close two nuclear generating stations in the next year or so.

IT'S NOT A BACKLASH, IT'S A STATE OF GOOD REPAIR.

I've spelled out my preferred position previously.  "When people get tired of things being broken, they seek to restore a state of good repair."  Four different public intellectuals with bigger platforms than mine are making the same point, in four different ways.

Lead off with American Greatness, and V. D. Hanson continuing his case for re-electing Our President.  "Trump, of 'Crooked Hillary,' 'lock her up,' and 'Sleepy Joe' infamy, was more likely to react concretely to the plight of the inner city and the economic aspirations of minorities and the white working-class, who were not just crushed by globalization but so often ignored by their supposed champions of both parties."

Next up is Andrew Sullivan, currently relegated to the blogosphere, hoping for a favorable form of Mr Biden taking office, but fearing the worst.  "If one party supports everything I believe in but doesn’t believe in maintaining law and order all the time and everywhere, I’ll back a party that does. In that sense, I’m a one-issue voter, because without order, there is no room for any other issue."  Particularly when Mr Biden's party has handed that issue to a master persuader.  "These despicable fanatics, like it or not, are now in part the face of the Democrats: a snarling bunch of self-righteous, entitled bigots, chanting slogans rooted in pseudo-Marxist claptrap, erecting guillotines — guillotines! — in the streets as emblems of their agenda. They are not arguing; they are attempting to coerce. And liberals, from the Biden campaign to the New York Times, are too cowardly and intimidated to call out these bullies and expel them from the ranks."  Tossing Andrew Sullivan from The Atlantic, on the other hand?

Third comes Rod Dreher, observing that the kid militia in Kenosha might reflect that public desire for a state of good repair.  "I am reporting that [shooting suspect Kyle Rittenhouse] is fast becoming a hero among a lot of people who are sick of the rioting. This may be a terrible thing, but it is really happening, and there’s a reason for it. It’s a sign, I think, of a building backlash — one that could result in a lot more violence. It doesn’t do us any good to pretend this is not happening because it frightens or offends us."

Batting cleanup is Reason's Brian Doherty, "Bourgeois Libertarianism Can Save America."  Specifically, "State power simply cannot rule a people if even a small, energized minority refuses to let it. If you actually care about a functioning civilization, it is never enough to have the state controlled by the 'right side.'" Left unsaid, suppressing that small energized minority is a possibility, but it is not likely to be a victory the winners can live with.

Alas, the past half century of deconstructing bourgeois norms, and the past century of the Cult of the Presidency and the administrative state, all provide a lot of inertia that any effort to achieve a state of good repair must overcome.

THE IDIOCY OF AUTHENTICITY.

The purists come for ... Kamala Harris. "Emerson College Associate Professor in American Studies Roger House, wrote an op-ed in the Hill sharing the “painful” experience of watching Black women pretend to be excited over Harris’s nomination."

What's his beef?
First, Harris’s selection revisits a stereotype of racial preference and social acceptance in America: fair skin, straight hair, a fluid racial background disconnected from the traditional Black experience, and an easy appeal to the inclusive sensibility of white liberals.

Second, the selection paints into a corner Black women leaders with more authentic experience. It forces them to embrace a historical first that undercuts their own natural beauty, culture and hard work to earn a place in the sun. At the same time, it allows Harris to ride on the coattails of the civil rights struggles and achievements. So, once again, the Black political class finds itself somewhat duped by its over-dependence on liberals; in fact, one could say that they are party to their own undoing.

In these racially divisive times, the VP choice sent a not-so-subtle message to the Black folk: It expressed that Black lives matter to the Democratic Party elite, but that the elite may value those Blacks of light skin and untraditional background a little more.
I have two gripes, one aesthetic, one substantive.

Note that he didn't mention the senator's voice, which puts me in mind of Charlie Brown's teacher, every time she opens her mouth.  (I ask again, why are people whose career success so often depends on making speeches so reluctant to hire voice coaches?)  But I will concur or differ with the senator on what she says, not on how hard it is to listen to what she says.

Substantively, I wonder if the professor inadvertently confirmed what The Wall Street Journal's editorial writers have alleged for some time, that is, there is a liberal plantation; and that Democrats garner votes in part by using the continued misery of their constituents as grounds for continuing the policies that keep their constituents miserable.

To the professor, though, the phony authenticity matters, at least at the margin.
Surely, some in the Black political class were crestfallen when the Biden campaign bypassed numerous women representing authentic Black communities? These included Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass, Florida Rep. Val Demings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms, Stacey Abrams, the 2018 gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, and, to a lesser extent, former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.

Even more, the talented women politicians were put in the position of runner-up contestants in a Miss America pageant. They had to stand in the figurative public spotlight with awkward smiles and applaud as media pundits crowned Harris with the rambling description as the “first African American, first Asian American, and first woman of color” vice presidential nominee.
It's unlikely that any of those possible candidates will sit the election out because having a less authentic black woman dominates risking the return of an orange man in their personal scales of happiness.  For my part, it wouldn't matter, as I would agree or disagree with the public positions of any of those candidates on the basis of current positions and past stances.

Perhaps, dear reader, that obscure academicians are taking to The Hill to raise aesthetic objections suggests that despite pandemic and quarantine, unemployment and urban unrest, hockey playoffs in August, things are not as bad as the most pessimistic sorts would have us believe.

27.8.20

A FUN POLL ON A HOT AFTERNOON.

Sorry, that is a lot of gloomy content this afternoon.  Sometimes life is like that.

I'll close with the observation that Oktoberfest season approaches, and if you have the appropriate hardware at home, dear reader, you can make do under house arrest conditions.


In addition, Appleton's Post-Crescent have an elimination tournament featuring Oktoberfest beers from various Wisconsin craft brewers.  Go, give it a shot, if you are able.  Don't drink and drive!

THE TRENCHANT OBSERVATION OF THE SEASON.

"Models are error-prone at best and fundamentally flawed at worst."  That's Aaron Gordon, transportation analyst, displeased with the state of the art in transportation demand modelling, one of the required steps in getting matching funds to build useless roads. In addition, he notes, "Either way, nearly everyone agreed the biggest question is not whether the models can yield better results, but why we rely on them so much in the first place," and "In other words, the model shuts people up. It may not be honest, but in the world of transportation politics, there’s nothing more valuable than that."

TELLING NORMAL PEOPLE THEY SUCK ISN'T A WINNING STRATEGY.

The continued house arrests, economic stagnation, and wilding in cities and states dictated to by Democrat governors is leading people to relocate, sometimes despite great capital losses.  That's got some libertarian and Republican strategists worried that these refugees will bring their bigger-government policy preferences with them.  Maybe not, suggests Don Surber, after a review of coverage of the Republican convention, which is welcoming the yeomanry, irrespective of creed or color.  "Those people fleeing the Democrat Chaos are not going to vote Democrat in their new environs, any more than someone fleeing Cuba registers as a communist."  The messaging seems to be working, it's troubling Never Trump social director S. E. Cupp.  "And while we’ve been hammering away at Trump’s obvious racism and fomenting of white supremacist rage to gin up his base, we may forget that some of his voters really do just care about the fate of their small businesses, the burden of unfair trade deals on their manufacturing industry, the ravages of an opioid crisis in their community."  It's possible to be put off by the rage of black nationalists or whatever description you want to apply to the woke mob without looking for extra large sheets or Sam Browne belts, young lady.

New York's Times has not established a Kenosha County bureau (something Chuck Todd hinted at) but they're discovering a discontent that, shall we say, isn't turning out to the Acela Insiders' favor.  "As residents see fires and looting, some worry that local Democratic leaders are failing to keep control of the situation."  (Listen when they tell you who they are.)  Here's how Team Times spins the home team's problem.  "Democrats, nervous about condemning the looting because they said they understood the rage behind it, worried that what was happening in their town might backfire and aid the president’s re-election prospects."

When you've lost the tractor factory, you've got a problem.
[Tractor assembler John] Geraghty said he disliked how Mr. Trump talked but said the Democratic Party’s vision for governing seemed limited to attacking him and calling him a racist, a charge being leveled so constantly that it was having the effect of alienating, instead of persuading, people. And the idea that Democrats alone were morally pure on race annoyed him.

“The Democratic agenda to me right now is America is systematically racist and evil and the only people who can fix it are Democrats,” he said. “That’s the vibe I get.”

Mr. Geraghty said he understood peaceful protesting but felt frustrated with Democratic leaders who seem afraid of confronting crowds when things turn violent. He was angry at the statement by Gov. Tony Evers [D - Public Instruction -- Ed.] on Sunday, which in his view took sides against the police in a knee-jerk way that worsened the situation. On Tuesday, Mr. Evers, a Democrat, did condemn the looting and fires, while reiterating protesters’ rights to assemble.
Then there's the curious incident of the Republicans who aren't pouncing.
With the unrest in Kenosha happening the same week as the Republican National Convention, local events were threatening to merge with national politics. James Wigderson, editor of a conservative website in Waukesha, Wis., said the chaos reinforced the message of the Republicans this week that the Democrats were not fit to govern.

“Whether it’s fair or not, they see this all as one monolith: From Biden on down to the guy throwing the brick at the cop,” said Mr. Wigderson, who has been critical of Mr. Trump. “As a result, they are more motivated not to let those people win.”

That was all the more true for committed Republicans in Kenosha. Don Biehn, 62, owner of a flooring company, was standing in line at a gun store on Tuesday afternoon. He said that he had never bought a pistol before, but that he had a business to protect. A former county board supervisor, Mr. Biehn said he had been calling county and state officials for days, trying to explain how grave the situation was.
A man who became mayor of Madison when his opponent attempted to claim the "decent people" as his base (first rule of electoral politics: insult opponents, but never the electorate!) sees it clearly.
“There’s no doubt [the rioting is] playing into Trump’s hands,” said Paul Soglin, who served as mayor of Madison, on and off, for more than two decades. “There’s a significant number of undecided voters who are not ideological, and they can move very easily from Republican to the Democratic column and back again.

They are, in effect, the people who decide elections. And they are very distraught about both the horrendous carnage created by police officers in murdering African Americans, and ... for the safety of their communities.”
The mayor also has some experience, both as student protestor and as mayor, with trashing businesses.
“The perception they have is that innocent people are the victims of the looters and the arsonists,” Soglin said. “They’re watching small business people in their communities, seeing their stores trashed. Seeing jobs lost. And people already under stress from the pandemic don’t have much patience for this politics of punishment — punishment of innocent people.”

John “Sly” Sylvester, a longtime Democrat and radio personality who has been active in the labor movement, said he feared Democrats have a "blind spot" to rioters and looters.

“I think there are some people on the left who don’t understand the concept of how important public safety is to people,” Sylvester said. “We all saw the shooting and are deeply troubled by it, but that doesn’t negate the need for public safety.”
On the left, the concept might be Norman Solomon's: the unrest will continue if Donald Trump is re-elected, and they reserve the option to continue the unrest if Joe Biden doesn't come through.  "The imperative of preventing a second Trump term is roaring at us every moment. Some progressives mistakenly believe that means we should melt into the ranks of Biden boosters and otherwise keep quiet until after the election."

No, the threat of wilding might be more effective than the execution.  "Biden is moveable. We’ve already shown that with mass pressure, we can push him to support more progressive policies. Trump, on the other hand, is immune to public persuasion or protest. With a Biden presidency, a disciplined and mobilized left could extract significant victories. With another Trump presidency, the left would have few options and could face new levels of government repression."

THE GLADIATORS GO ON STRIKE.

Kenosha and Wisconsin officials might have scheduled the Wednesday press conference on events in Kenosha to wrap up in time for a little bit of summer relief, in the form of a basketball playoff game.  (What can I say, it's a weird year, with the 2019-2020 title, if there is to be one, being determined about the time training camps ordinarily open.)  Then came word from Orlando that ... the Milwaukee Bucks were not warming up in advance of the tip-off.  They had other things on their minds.
Bucks players issued a joint statement, read by George Hill and Sterling Brown outside the locker room hours after the game was scheduled to be played:

“The past four months have shed a light on the ongoing racial injustices facing our African-American communities. Citizens around the country have used their voices and platforms to speak out against these wrongdoings.“… Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.

“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.
Mr Brown had an unpleasant encounter with Milwaukee police a few seasons ago, and more than a few basketball players come from rough neighborhoods where the law enforcement might rub people the wrong way.  The Bucks were willing to forfeit their game with Orlando's Magic; that team declined the forfeit and sat out in solidarity.

That job action was the end of the playoff games for the day.  Whether there will be any more playoff games is still to be determined.

The Milwaukee Brewers had a home game scheduled, and they, too, decided to sit one out.  Cincinnati's Reds also declined the forfeit.  That game is being played as part of the quarantine special doubleheader of two seven-inning games, starting around five this evening.  The sympathy strike extended to the women's pro basketball bubble and to soccer leagues.

USA Today political pundit masquerading as sports reporter Nancy Armour weighs in.
Anyone who thinks this quiet rage will blow over, or won’t have a lasting impact, doesn’t recognize how significantly the world just shifted. For 400 years now, in word and deed, this country has told Black Americans that they have no power or sway. That they must “shut up and dribble,” as Black athletes are so often instructed.

By refusing to play, the Bucks said they are no longer willing to be America’s escape, celebrated when they’re entertaining us but treated like trash when they take off their uniforms. They will not be put off by the hollow promises of change each time another Black man or woman is killed or abused by police, and you can bet their courage will embolden others.
Maybe. There's a deeper problem, though, one I alluded to with that "rough neighborhoods" reference up above.  Rockford Auburn graduate Fred Van Vleet, currently with Toronto's Raptors, was thinking out loud about sitting the playoffs out a day or so before the Bucks took action.  Let me refresh your memories: in Rockford sports coverage, what goes on with the Raptors might be more important than whatever the (currently inactive) Bulls or Bucks do.
The Raptors held a team meeting Tuesday morning to discuss the Kenosha shooting and all that’s been unfolding. VanVleet was asked if the team discussed boycotting the upcoming series against the Celtics.

“A number of things are being discusssed. I’ll keep that between our team, but we’re dealing with it in real time, and I think it affects everybody differently.”

VanVleet is no stranger to violence and tragedy. His own father was shot and killed when VanVleet was only five years old, not by a police officer. And despite being in the NBA Bubble in Florida VanVleet is aware of the recent escalation of shootings in his hometown of Rockford. Shootings that police say are primarily gang members going after each other. Still those shootings lead to death, injury and family members that are hurting.

“There’s a lot of stuff for me going on back home,” said VanVleet. “People in my own community dieing [c.q.], not by the hands of police, but by being a product of their environment, so you try to take all that in and here we’re all isolated.” “My father was killed when I was young, so life is just a lot of things that go into taking all this information in.”

And then VanVleet also can’t help thinking about his two young children he’s raising who will grow up in a world that seems plagued by turmoil.

“To personalize a situation like that (the Kenosha shooting) I think about my babies having to see that or growing up my son is going to have to walk, you know, some of these same environments, and you have to teach the kids about how to interact with the police and what do to and what not to do. You become helpless a little bit, and it’s scary.”
A few people sign professional sports contracts. People who don't have Mr Van Vleet's jump shot, not so much.  And I haven't even looked at how many students in the Rockford public schools are reading and figuring at grade level.  I'm also disappointed that the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change have not, as of this morning, weighed in on the job actions, or engaged in any systematic way the social chaos Mr Van Vleet refers to, and whether that chaos hampers the kind of "investment in marginalized communities" the protesters, whether by their direct action, by their influence in Democratic politics, or by sitting out a few games, are hoping to get.

SECOND SECTIONNational Review's Jim Geraghty thinks along the same lines as Mr Van Vleet.
You’re going to hear a lot of angry words about spoiled millionaire athletes, but let’s take one moment to look at life through the eyes of an NBA player. At first glance, you’ve got it all: more money than most of us will ever see. Fame. In non-pandemic circumstances, crowds cheer your name. Kids look up to you. And on road trips, the hotel lobbies are full of aspiring groupies.

But all that money and fame can’t change the world. Maybe you’ve heard stories about your old neighborhood or community — where you came from before you moved into the big house or luxury condo in the desirable neighborhood. Maybe you’ve heard about police harassment, or your old friends getting pulled over for no discernable reason, or maybe an old classmate got shot by the cops under circumstances you think were unjustified. Sure, you can convince people to drink Gatorade or wear Adidas sneakers, but when it comes to what you would really like to see in the world, you’re powerless. You’re getting to live your dream, but so many people you care about are still so far from living anything resembling theirs. You “got out,” but you wish you hadn’t had to do that. You didn’t want to escape your old neighborhood; you wanted your old neighborhood to be the kind of place where everyone would want to live.
Indeed, and the strategies that will improve that old neighborhood require the same sort of hard work that developing that jump shot or Euro step took.

LAW ENFORCEMENT EMERGED TO PROTECT SUSPECTS FROM THE PEOPLE'S JUSTICE.

That's a point various participants at Insta Pundit have been making ever since the "abolish the police" crowd started exploiting arrests gone wrong earlier this summer.

For the most part, it has been a theoretical point, although what happened Tuesday in Kenosha ought to be a warning that attempts by revolutionaries to overwhelm law enforcement in a perverse sort of Cloward and Piven strategy will not lead to the disappearance of the police: rather, the law enforcement will be spontaneous and perhaps even more dangerous.


Adam Rogan photograph retrieved from Kenosha News.

Armed teenagers, not somewhere in the former Yugoslavia or south of the equator.  Kenosha.  Wisconsin.  Supposedly the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I'll let people with more range safety experience than I comment on their form.

These late adolescents were on patrol in Kenosha apparently as some sort of gesture toward protecting property in an area that had recently been worked over by rioters expressing their anger with yet another arrest gone wrong.  I'm not sure what their motivations were, although the past few nights in Kenosha have looked a lot like the past three months in Portland, with a courthouse surrounded and business districts being trashed.  That's had the effect of overwhelming law enforcement, which is to say, the people at the business end of enforcing the state's monopoly on violence.  Esquire politics editor Jack Holmes spells out the formalization of that power, which, in the United States requires the consent of the governed.
When a violent incident occurs—say, storefronts are vandalized, or a fire is set—there are specific people we as a society have entrusted with the power to respond. They have the authority to detain people, and even to use deadly force against them. They are public servants, paid by taxpayers, to do this. Other people who are not members of law enforcement do not have this authority. This is not just a way to pick out who's who by whether they're wearing a uniform. It's about accountability—at least in theory. If agents of the state entrusted with this awesome power misuse it, we as citizens retain the right to hold them accountable for that.

That is what's at the root of the massive demonstrations against police misconduct that have risen across the country in response to George Floyd's killing—and now, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake. People are demanding that agents of the state, who they believe misused their powers and trampled on the rights of citizens, are held accountable. The anger is a crescendo of these and countless smaller, daily abuses, but these are the triggers. Protesters are declaring that the social contract has been violated, that they have not been granted the full rights of citizenship, that there must be consequences when people with a badge kill Black people without justification.
Unfortunately, the balance of his essay becomes just another ideologue retreating to his safe space, in that this series of questions appears to focus only on one set of role players:
And why does a 17-year-old have access to this weapon anyway? And how is it acceptable, as we've seen in so many cities for so many years now, to have armed militias in military cosplay patrolling the streets? Who are these people? To whom are they accountable? Who granted them the authority to continually communicate the threat of force against their fellow citizens?
Not surprisingly, American Spectator writer Scott McKay answers back.
First of all, 17-year-olds ought not be carrying long guns in riot-torn streets in neighboring states on school nights. While all three shootings clearly appear from the video to be acts of self-defense, as all three “victims” can be seen attacking Rittenhouse with weapons, it’s not clear a 17-year-old can legally open carry in Wisconsin. He’s also violating a curfew, though so is everyone else on the scene. It’s a fair criticism that this volunteer group/militia/vigilante cabal he’s part of ought not to accept 17-year-olds in their number. For that reason, one should feel at least somewhat reticent to heap too much praise on Rittenhouse or his mission.

That said, Kyle Rittenhouse, or someone like him, was utterly and completely inevitable, and the People’s Revolution Movement and other Antifa/BLM covens bear total responsibility for his appearance.

What did you morons think was going to happen? That you could continue burning down a small city in middle America without any resistance? People are going to defend their lives and property sooner or later, you know. You may have caught a break in that your nemesis turned out to be a 17-year-old you can cancel as a crazed would-be school shooter, but the next incident might very well run your people up against decorated Navy SEALS or Marines or retired cops with unblemished service records. Or just plain pillars of the community well-versed in firearms. Particularly in a place like Wisconsin where those with hunting licenses represent a fighting force as large as the army of many a small nation.

The citizenry will eventually fight back.

And when it does, nobody ought to be surprised. The make-believe revolution must at some point become real. In Kenosha it became real. And in real revolutions people get killed, because more than one side is fighting.
A New York Times reconstruction of Tuesday's events suggests that more than one person was shooting during the showdown.  They have a photograph of the suspected gunman.


That's a screen shot of a video capture a citizen journalist uploaded to Facebook.  Everybody is a war correspondent these days.  It's still August and all the Illinois schools are still under house arrest, so he wasn't going across state lines on a school night.  But again, armed teenagers in the State Line?
Tuesday night's shootings in Kenosha represented one of the worst possible outcomes, according to Alex Friedfeld, investigative analyst at the Anti-Defamation League.

"This is the scenario we’ve been worried about,” he said.
I hope that somebody who has advised the New York police department might know something about the Jewish Defense League, and why that emerged.
Groups similar to Kenosha Guard have been showing up at protests promising to protect communities across the nation, according to Friedfeld, a former intelligence analyst for the New York Police Department.

“The problem is, there is no way to vet who shows up and there is no guarantee that they're trained to handle guns,” he said.
Kenosha county sheriff David Beth recognized as much, and managed the best comeback to citizens suggesting he deputize people to protect property. "Beth said his answer was 'hell no' when asked if he would deputize citizens. 'They create confrontation,' he said. 'That doesn’t help us.' He said that the 17-year-old 'might have been part of this group that wanted me to deputize them.'" I heard that "hell no" remark during radio coverage of the press conference.  He elaborated, to the effect that had the dead protesters in Kenosha been shot by a deputised citizen, the responsibility for official misconduct, if any, would be his.  That's what subjecting the monopoly on violence to the consent of the governed sounds like.

25.8.20

TODAY'S RAILROAD READING.

The Railwayblogger asks a number of prominent British ferroequinologists, "How did you get interested in railways?"  A number of them grew up railroad-aware from an early age, and a few caught the bug later on.  Enjoy.

BACK TO SCHOOL.

Classes have resumed at Northern Illinois University.  There's some sort of a bubble for students living on campus, and as far as I know, class meetings are still virtual.  I might be wrong, but I have no incentive to study more.

I'm wondering whether this illustration, which has come out in a variety of forms, might have some value in teaching the survey of political economy class.



My first puzzlement is with the premise of the picture, that has the youngsters sneaking a peek into the baseball stadium from beyond the center field fence.  What would happen if a class contemplated how those buzzwords would apply to getting the kids inside the stadium?

There's a straightforward first cut at "equality."  The baseball stadium shall issue tickets to all comers without undue preference and prejudice.  In its simplest form, anyone with the means to buy a ticket gets to buy a ticket, provided the ticket is available.  "Equity" gets more challenging: are we looking at ensuring that any kid has the means to buy a ticket, or, if it's a game with a large crowd, that they get the same chance at standing in line as everyone else?  Or is it equitable that the kids queue first?  Or that children should be seen and not heard?

Now the "capitalism" panel: and I've been around this stuff long enough to be leery of using "capitalism" to refer to anything.  Perhaps we're looking at trade-tested betterments: the boxes are available in such abundance that the kids can put bigger stacks up.  But then, I live close to Chicago, where, long ago, building owners saw the value of putting grandstands on the roofs of buildings with a view of a baseball park, and then the baseball club and the building owners get into litigation over who pays how much for the right to use the grandstands, and how much the baseball club gets.

Taking the deeper view, though, isn't the point of trade-tested betterments to have better seats for the kids, at better prices, inside the stadium, where a better team is on the field?

AFTER THE PRUSSIANS MARCHED UP WHITEHALL.

In reality, that never happened, although you might get what happens if you put exaggerated arm-swinging in Stechschritt, and show your proficiency with the pace-stick.

I suspect every military has some version of a pace-stick, as getting everybody in step is easier if everybody is taking the same length stride.  (Those who spent any time with marching band understand the same thing: now imagine taking exactly eight steps or whatever it is to go five more yards across the football field, while playing in tune.)  It's the British, however, who seem to have made a competition of it, and that's something picked up enthusiastically by these senior drill instructors in India's army.


The cockades on those hats identify drill sergeants with highly regarded regiments.

It's not the first time I've discovered interesting adaptations of one country's military practices by another. If you want to see parading in the Old Prussian style, check out the Chileans.

That noted, let me also note that the most effective field army of the late nineteenth century made do with nothing fancier than a route step.

A SMALL GATHERING OF SOCIALISTS IN MILWAUKEE.

No, that's not a reference to the just-completed Democratic Party telethon produced in a control room there.  There's no reason to infer anything about the politics of the guys in the control room.
 

Rather, it's a historical reference.  The Socialist Party of Norman Thomas (they'd likely be cancelled by any of the sectarians who call themselves socialist, communist, or Marxist these days) held their 1932 convention in Milwaukee.
When the Socialists gathered in Milwaukee in 1932, the White House seemed up for grabs. The Republican incumbent, Herbert Hoover, was flailing against the Great Depression. The Democratic front-runner, Franklin D. Roosevelt, faced opposition from conservatives in his own party.

And the Socialists, whose candidate Norman Thomas barely made an electoral dent in the 1928 election, believed their message would register with voters faced with a capitalist system that seemed to be crumbling.

Milwaukee was a logical place for the party to meet. Milwaukee Mayor Dan Hoan, Milwaukee's Socialist mayor since 1916, also was considered a serious presidential candidate — even though he said he wasn't running.
Yes, there was sectarianism. You might expect a spat over how closely to align with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Ukrainian famine still a secret and the Kirov purges in the future, but it's only a socialist who can object to advocating in Milwaukee for the repeal of Prohibition because fighting hunger is more important. "But for the Socialist Party to mouth such platitudes as 'food is more important than beer' is to evade an issue of interest and importance to the American people." So said New York Times columnist Heywood Broun, a delegate to the convention. Socialist Party operatives with bylines. Imagine that.

THEY'LL EVENTUALLY GET TO THE ROOT CAUSES.

Common Dreams columnist Sam Pizzigati would like to penalize college football for hoarding. He makes one of the easy points: it's a strange sort of amateur athletics that's all about the money.  "How did we end up with this mix of privilege and entitlement, with college football teams that more and more run, in one critic’s words, 'as discrete commercial animals living tax-free and happy in the wilds of the American university system'?" Tax free, perhaps, but not necessarily happy.

It being a Common Dreams post, the rent seeking is there, if not specifically so named.
[Oilman and corporate raider T. Boone] Pickens resolved to blaze a more noble pigskin future. In 1983, after a tough Oklahoma State football loss to Kansas State, he gave the OSU football program $100,000. Twenty years later, he upped his giving ante, donating $20 million for renovating Oklahoma State’s football stadium.

The next big Pickens move would rewire the college football economy. Early in 2006, Oklahoma State announced a $165-million Pickens donation to the school’s football enterprise, the largest single donation in college football history. By the end of 2009, the seating capacity of Oklahoma State’s Boone Pickens Stadium had climbed to over 60,000 and players were marveling at their dazzling new state-of-the-art amenities for everything from dining and studying plays to lifting weights and passing time.

Now deep-pockets had been bestowing their largesse upon college football programs long before T. Boone Pickens started cascading dollars. But never at the level Pickens was suddenly playing at. To compete in the new Pickens era, college football programs would clearly have to up their games. Donations of a few million here and few million there would no longer suffice. College athletic directors had to be enticing eight-digit donations, not seven, nine-digit donations, not eight.
That is often the way of positional arms races, but like any other arms race, it ends up badly.
College football fans saw other consequences of the new economic order that Pickens and his fellow plutocrats had ushered in. Saturday afternoons in the fall had traditionally been the time for college football games and all the pageantry around them. In college football’s new reality, football conferences began signing TV deals that had them playing their games on fan- and student-unfriendly weekday nights.

Conference officials felt they had no choice. How else could they keep the money flowing in at anywhere near the new rates that America’s richest had made the new must-meet standard?
Short answer: they can't. Is it any accident that the Mid-American Conference bailed on football first? I leave to others with a closer understanding of their conferences to contemplate the correlation between Democrat governors and locked down states and the Big Ten, er fourteen, and Pacific Twelve also bailing, whilst the developmental leagues with party schools attached continue to play.

Finally, though, he gets to the Neglected Actor.  "Things like uncompensated college football players getting asked to jeopardize their health playing a game that’s catapulting their coaches into the ranks of the nation’s richest 1 percent."  Make that, and uncompensated, while participating in a risky investment in which somewhere between one in fifty and one in a thousand participants gets that call on draft day.

Where is the observer of the sports labor markets who will get people thinking about the connections between performers in the professional leagues showing their sympathy with protests against police who come off like occupying armies in the big cities, and the urban school systems that might not produce much literacy and numeracy, but they sure turn out pro players.

TODAY'S REMINDER TO REJECT THE FALSE BINARY.

"You Don’t Owe Your Vote to Anyone," writes National Review's Isaac Schorr.  His focus is on the pundits pushing turnout for its own sake, and it perpetuates the false binary.
I’ve never understood the fetish for increasing voter turnout. Voting is both a right and a responsibility; it should be easy for all Americans. But each additional vote is not some kind of victory for democracy; those who care enough to show up should and those who don’t should stay home. The sanctity of each individual vote, on the other hand, should be sacred. Americans who head to the polls should not allow themselves to be bullied or shamed into voting one way or another. Pundits of all stripes have increasingly fallen back on such tactics instead of working to persuade people to their side. Their understanding of who owes what to whom is backward: It is the job of candidates for public office to appeal to voters with their values, policies and behavior, not the responsibility of voters to get in line to prove their righteousness to Tom Nichols or Geraldo Rivera.

That supporters of both Biden and Trump would call you complicit in the other man’s victory if you decide to write in a candidate or vote for a third party should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of their arguments; they can’t both be right. This November 3, Americans should do what an earlier, better version of Ted Cruz told them to do in 2016 and vote their conscience.
Precisely, and unless there is an increase in the number of battleground states, voters who have an opportunity to vote for who they want, rather than for who Our Political Masters might want them to vote for, and who take advantage of the opportunity, are, in addition to revealing their preferences, letting their discontent with a major party system that screens, from some two hundred million possible aspirants, a reality television host and a corpse, be made clear.

You'll get better nominees when the party establishments have incentives to provide better nominees.

21.8.20

WHAT GOOD IS A TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILROAD THAT COMES UP A SMALL PROVINCE SHORT OF THE COAST?

None, and Canadian Pacific apparently finally figured that out.

Some background: once upon a time, Canadian Pacific ran from coast to coast, and its easternmost ports were Saint John, in New Brunswick, with a carferry operation across the Bay of Fundy to Nova Scotia.  (The all-rail passenger service from Boston to Halifax used Canadian National metals to the east of Saint John.)

Evidently, the eastern end of the railroad wasn't performing up to the standards headquarters wanted, and the lines east of Montreal were sold off to various operators, including most notoriously the Montreal, Maine, and Atlantic that the whole world heard about when a crew failed to properly secure a tank train, and the resulting runaway, derailment, explosion, and fire lead to massive loss of life in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Canadian Pacific again own some trackage east of Montreal, and their intermodal trains are exchanging containers with the ships at Saint John.
The inaugural train carries containers from the Hapag-Lloyd vessel Detroit Express bound for intermodal terminals on the CP network in Canada and the U.S.

"The new Port of Saint John service offers shippers a compelling value: a congestion-free port with a world-class operator, matched with CP's precision scheduled railroading model," said Keith Creel, CP President and Chief Executive Officer. "CP has been without access to a deep-water Atlantic Ocean port for a quarter-century, and today I'm pleased to deliver a simple message: We're back."

CP originated westbound train 251-11 this morning for the Montreal region at Brownville Junction, Maine, with the first Port of Saint John containers on connection from the New Brunswick Southern (NBSR) and Eastern Maine (EMRY) railways. From Montreal, CP will move containers from the vessel Detroit Express on connecting trains to destinations that include Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Chicago and Minneapolis.

The first eastbound intermodal train to the Port of Saint John departed Montreal on Friday, Aug. 7.

CP gained access to the Port of Saint John through connections with EMRY and NBSR with CP's purchase of the Central Maine & Quebec Railway (CMQ), completed in June. CP has committed to investing $90 million over three years into the CMQ property to enhance safety and efficiency over the corridor. Complementing that investment is the port's $205 million West Side Modernization project, which includes a new wharf, a terminal upgrade and a deeper shipping channel.

CP's route is the shortest between Atlantic Canada and key North American markets. By year's end, CP anticipates it will be able to offer 24-hour service between Saint John and Montreal.
Time for me to ask again, what is the point of the additional more than a day sailing into the St. Lawrence River to Montreal, let alone transiting the Seaway to Toronto or Buffalo or Chicago or Superior for Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Calgary or Edmonton?

BLACK PEOPLE DON'T HAVE TO VOTE DEMOCRAT.

Kim Klacik is running for the House in Maryland's Seventh District.  She posted a campaign message that has apparently played pretty well, particularly among the insurgent blogosphere.  Power Line's John Hinderaker suggests there might be a "growing rebellion among African-Americans against one-party rule."


In Baltimore, the Sun's editorial board are less impressed.
If Ms. Klacik were running to be Baltimore’s next mayor or at least a member of the City Council, her claim that Democratic leaders had ruined the city would at least be understandable. But she is actually running against Democrat Kweisi Mfume for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives formerly held by the late Mr. Cummings. Whatever one may think of members of Congress, they don’t run cities, counties or even states, they represent one of 435 votes in one chamber of the federal legislative branch. Maryland’s 7th extends far beyond the city to Howard and Baltimore counties.

And while complaining about city leaders, current and past, is fair game for anyone (and among our favorite pastimes), it’s ludicrous and overly simple to blame the city’s ills on party affiliation. Concentrated poverty, substance abuse and a war on drugs that disproportionately criminalized low-income African Americans, racism and red-lining, the loss of blue collar jobs, collapsing public infrastructure, broken families and failing schools, these are among the major culprits. We’re all ears if a Republican, Democrat or, frankly, interplanetary visitor, has immediate means to correct any or all of them. It’s telling that Candidate Klacik offers no remedies in her video. Not one.
Let the record show that the Sun's editorial board endorsed Mr Mfume.

Substantively, the remedies the board hopes for begin once the regime changes. Although Ms Klacik is waging an uphill campaign, seeking to capture the seat recently held by the late Elijah Cummings, and currently by Kweisi Mfume, himself a civil rights lion with serious chops, the first step in correcting the ills of the big cities, which will take a long time, and that time is likely to be longer with the taxpayers leaving, is to put those long-time Members of Congress on notice that their constituents are no longer mascots whose continued suffering is essential to the continuing tenure of Democrat politicians.  "[B]usiness as usual has rendered [destitute] generations of Black and Latino inhabitants of Democrat-controlled territory. It's the way ward-heeler politicians always operate.  And the clients of ward-heeler politicians sometimes figure out that they're being played."  The lady is telling potential voters they've been played, and to their disadvantage.

Then, perhaps, we can have a serious discussion of the ways in which, fifty years ago, privileging the Kerner Commission's report and ignoring the Moynihan report has not turned out well for the people the Great Society programs and civil rights legislation and comprehensive immigration reforms of that era intended to help.

ANOTHER SITUATION POORLY FORESEEN.

The summer housecleaning continues, with the March 1989 issue of The Atlantic going to the recycle bin. Not, though, before I skimmed through "Cotton Mather Democrats" by Mark Shields.  The reference is to the Cotton Mather of Technocratic Wisdom, not the Cotton Mather of witch-burning, and the puzzler Mr Shields was dealing with was common among the intellectual journals of the era, namely, how was it that Michael Dukakis, selling himself as a technocrat (anybody else remember Andrew Cuomo's "not ideology, competence?") whilst the elder George Bush, even more of a technocrat, sold himself as some sort of good old boy.  And note, dear reader, the Hungarian border was still closed in March of that year.

In the article, though, was this observation by William Schneider, who I think still turns up from time to time as Elder Political Analyst,  He asked, "When did the Democrats plunge into the fatal error that somehow it is acceptable to be rich, virtuous to be poor, and that the only sin is to be a member of the middle class?"  Recall, dear reader, that thirty years ago the massive shakeout of Big Steel and American Cars was still fresh in people's minds, and Robert Reich's "symbolic analysts" were still working off mainframes and relying on fast modems.

Read, though, this observation by Matthew Continetti, after the close of the Hollywood and Silicon Valley produced and urban poor catered to Democratic convention from anywhere but Milwaukee.  "Time and again, Americans have elected Democratic governments only to find themselves shocked and appalled two years later. The Democrats campaign as a worker's party, but govern as a Bobo one."  Yes, and Donald Trump became president running against both the entertainment elitists of the Donks and the rent-seeker elitists of the Pachs.  No surprise that more than a few moderate Pachs phoned in their support for Mr Biden.

James "Clusterf**k Nation" Kunstler also echoes what Mr Schneider warned about, only more pungently.  "The Democrats are crazy people with a mostly crazy policy program — which a large number of non-crazy Americans actually see for what it is: the drive to run America on sheer coercion, pitting the supposedly under-privileged against the supposedly over-privileged, telling everybody what to think and punishing all non-correct thinkers."  He fears that it's all an act.
I don’t see how this amounts to a winning election strategy. And the Democrats themselves may not either. Rather, their aim may be to generate as much disorder as possible from the election process itself to paralyze governing the USA at every level and paint Mr. Trump as Hobgoblin-in-chief in order to keep their hustle going: the mau-mauing of America. It’s a really dumb and reckless game and it will bring on a whole lot of not-good trouble for a country reeling into full-blown economic collapse.
There's a further problem: in Mr Schneider's formulation, it's acceptable to be rich only if you Pay. Your. Taxes.  President Clinton even stressed that, early in his presidency, when he had the votes to repeal tax rate reductions.  But thirty years of gutting the middle class means that there's less upward mobility as well as fewer examples of what life without dependency on the government looks like, and the only money that's left to tax is that of the rich people.  And even woke rich people have their limits.
California is home to 12 percent of Americans, but over a quarter of the nation's homeless. It also has the highest share of noncitizen residents, according to the Census Bureau, a group disproportionately likely to be less educated and more reliant on welfare benefits. The state is the nation's sixth most generous, in terms of public welfare dollars per capita—an arrangement funded largely by its wealthiest taxpayers.

But as state Democrats bear down on them, regular Californians and the uber-wealthy alike may reconsider if this bargain is really worth it.

"It's very tempting to look at [other] states and think how cost of living could be a lot better, and income could go a lot further, and you could grow your business a lot faster in different environments that may not even have an income tax at all," [Tax Foundation policy analyst Katherine] Loughead said. "So I think those types of states are going to look more and more appealing to Californians."
California's borders are still open for out-migration, although the legislature would like to impose exit taxes in the form of a wealth tax that applies even to expatriate residents.  But their technocrats make life more difficult for Uber drivers and the uber-wealthy alike.

By their fruits shall ye know them.

THE TRENCHANT OBSERVATION OF THE SCHOOL-OPENING SEASON.

A few campuses are attempting to open up, at least in part, and, collegians doing what collegians do, they mix and mingle and the Wuhan coronavirus shows up, uninvited.  Then the administrators have to figure out what mix of persuasion and coercion comes next.  "'I do not think messages to the student body that take a scolding tone to all students are useful and may be counterproductive to the many who are doing the right thing,' [said Sherry Pagoto, a professor and director of the UConn Center for mHealth [c.q.] and Social Media at the University of Connecticut.]"

Is anybody really surprised that when you peddle the residential campus experience as a social experience, and the classroom stuff might be secondary, that people might take you up on the offer?

Perhaps, though, there is another opportunity for reflection among the deanlets and deanlings.  "Instead of looking for people to blame, [Washington (St. Louis) assistant psychiatry professor Jessica] Gold wishes higher education communities -- and the nation at large -- would work together to come up with solutions. That strategy would work better than telling students you're disappointed in them, she said. Some students will hear that message and follow it to the extreme, she said. But they probably aren't the population the college is trying to reach."

In particular, does it pay to wage an all-out onslaught on supposed systematic racism and other social ills, when doing so also preaches to the converted, and the scolded and shamed might blow it off, that is, if they're even paying attention?

DID THE COASTAL ELITES JUST WRITE WISCONSIN OFF, AGAIN?

This time a year ago, civic boosters in Milwaukee were looking forward to hosting a Democratic nominating convention, with all the live coverage and the opportunity to show off the fun stuff.  At one time, CNN had intended to hire the Turnverein best known for its fish fries to base its coverage.


Didn't happen, nor did anything else involving Democrats and the media.  The Democrats even spun their invisibling of Milwaukee as truth in packaging.
Wisconsin was abused again by the Democratic National Committee’s decision to reduce the party’s national convention to the size of a typical Wednesday night softball league tournament. The Democrats actually removed Wisconsin from the logo for the national convention.

We don’t rate a visit from the Democrats’ candidates. We don’t rate a visit from their delegates. We don’t even rate a silhouette on the convention logo.

Because some Democrats don’t want to give the false impression that they were in Wisconsin among the peasants, Wisconsin was removed from the logo.
That quote is from Right Wisconsin's James Wigderson, and he might have political reasons to toss that "among the peasants" in.  But then comes late evening political commentator Stephen Colbert, offering to show his viewers what they missed.  (It would be schadenfreudelicious for that clip to have come in his show before the Donks wrapped up, meaning his self-selected audience would have missed it.)


The voice-over guy sounds like he came from Bridgeport, and the stock footage is from anywhere but Milwaukee.  I mean, with a small gathering of socialists in Milwaukee taking place, you'd think somebody might have found this, or taken a walk around the area outside the secure zone.


The local convention and visitors bureau types pushed back.  Maybe they could take up a collection to bring Mr Colbert out for a visit.


Read more about what's going on in that picture here and here.

Or maybe Mr Colbert could visit Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Chicago) at his dacha.  "Chicago has removed Wisconsin from the mandatory travel quarantine order. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker can visit his family home here again, and half the population of Lake Geneva can return."

Let the record show that Harley-Davidson got its start in Milwaukee, and that Harley riders also vote.  "Bikers for Trump founder Chris Cox told Fox News reporter Vince Tobin the group wasn’t in Milwaukee to 'poke the bear, but we’re here to keep an eye on things.'"


They are also politically aware. “We’re not here to shout. You will never see a biker lighting a pharmacy on fire, looting a sneaker store, calling for the death and destruction of private property and police officers. We are here to stand with law enforcement, to stand with our servicemen and women, not only active duty, but the veterans and to support our president.”

One day, the election will be settled, the virus tamed, and perhaps Tourist Milwaukee will again be open for visitors.