31.10.20

ON MY WORKBENCH.

No more professional baseball to engage my attention, and the waning days of the political season fail to compel my attention.  (There are probably a quarter billion people eligible to serve as president, and two geezers survive the primaries and conventions?)

Look.  Look.  Think about this.  I started the S-2 yard switcher at the end of March, and it's now far enough along that adding on the handrails and the brake rigging are the challenge.  In March, we were still looking at two weeks to slow the contagion, and I suggested the project would take more than those two weeks.  It did, but there is still an outside chance of it being powered up in time for Christmas, but almost surely before the shutdowns end.  (Particularly if the authoritarian governors decide to declare climate emergencies to limit dining or travel.)


Come on!  I was making progress on repowering the BL-2, it occurred to me that a Red Caboose kit from long ago, for which I had another set of power trucks, might be worth working at.  It's easier to troubleshoot once, then apply the knowledge, than to troubleshoot, finish, start a bunch of other projects, then start a similar project and reinvent the troubleshooting.


Here's the thing.  In the realm of the more fanciful, at some long-ago swap meet I purchased the beginnings of somebody's effort to construct a Fairbanks-Morse road switcher using a Lionel Train Master shell and an Atlas chassis.  Those 1970 era Atlas chassis had a lot of features to commend them for other uses, although I think this builder got frustrated trying to match the correct Fairbanks-Morse sideframe to the shorter-wheelbase F unit trucks.  I've been moving away from those Atlas trucks, even under F units, as they suffer gearbox failures with the spur gears using single-ended plastic axles.


There are enough Central Locomotive Works components at hand to put drive wheels under both the S-2 and this road switcher, and a few Fairbanks-Morse switchers did use Type B trucks, so as a budget model in the spirit of old-school O Scale, we're in business.


All those white styrene bits in the body and chassis are work of the original builder.  This model will have a Central gear tower at each end, driven probably by one of the Atlas motors, of which I have plenty.  We'll see what's on the ready track by Thanksgiving.

GHOST RAILROADS OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.

Years ago, the most productive way to get into some of the White Mountains of New Hampshire was by train, and a company called Profile and Franconia Notch pushed narrow-gauge trackage almost under the chin of the Old Man of the Mountains. The Old Man has since eroded, and the tourists have upgraded touring cars to get there.  Deep in the woods, though, the long-abandoned Maplewood Station still stands, although it, too, is crumbling.  It appears, though, as if the Bethlehem station has been bought and kept up.  The Profile station and Profile House resort sites, though, are now gone, with an interstate highway built through it.

30.10.20

WILL THE CASE SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC?

Classicist Victor Hanson has been a regular on several Fox News programs, as well as an almost-daily contributor to National Review and several Pajamas Media platforms.  In 2019 he offered The Case for Trump, and I'm hustling Book Review No. 4 onto the internet before it might be completely overtaken by events.

What, exactly, is that case? It might appear, indirectly, back at page 274,  "One of the great ironies of our age is that we have somehow managed to become far more sanctimonious than previous generations -- and yet far more immoral by traditional standards as well.  We can obsess over an unartful presidential comment, but snore through the systematic destruction of the manufacturing basis of an entire state or ignore warlike violence on the streets of Chicago."  Yes, the wilding in Chicago was a thing long before rising up angry when an arrest went sideways became cause for taking reparations.

Or it might be that the process worshippers committed the kind of mistakes only very smart people could, see page 324.  "North Korea was rendered as an intractable problem, so complex, so layered with fourth- and fifth-level conterfactual speculations that such overthinking academics and nuanced ex-diplomats end up sounding like academics at acrimonious departmental meetings stymied over allotting $500 of travel reimbursements."  Been there, done that, never got the perfect bike shed out of it, and suspect that might be why the credentialed establishment types, even the squishy Republicans, get on so well with people holding graduate degrees.

The case, though, might be simpler.  Mr Trump had enough F.U. money to run for president, and being a "long needed comeuppance" (page 2) to the bipartisan establishment might have been good enough to win in 2016.  Whether instinctively dunking on the permanent government is the best response to a novel coronavirus will be answered by the voters next week.  Place your bets: many of the credentialed elite get to work from home, while many of the Militant Normals have to deal with ever-changing ukases from governors.

The most intriguing conclusion of the book might be that a single Trump term will still be a success in the terms of the voters who put him there.  In addition to all the appellate judicial positions filled, including the three Supreme Court vacancies, we read at page 101 that the "Heritage Foundation had concluded that the Trump administration, in little over a year of governance, had already implemented two-thirds of its 334 agenda items."  There's no citation, which is not a pardonable lapse in a scholar.  Thus I cannot judge whether the missing 111 or so items are the ones that would have required Congressional action, and it will be up to future historians and political analysts to determine whether Congress was hamstrung by the allegations of impropriety that started even before inauguration, or by rearguard Never Trump actions in the House and Senate in the first two years, or by a businessman not grasping that separation of powers is a thing, and the poobahs of Congress have armour-propre of their own.

It's now in the hands of voters.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

HIGHER EDUCATION CONTINUES TO LOWER ITSELF.

An Inside Higher Ed columnist engages in constructive self-criticism about those "inclusion and accessibility" statements that are among the clutter the deanlets and deanlings are pushing onto course outlines.
Put yourself in the shoes of a student whose learning is affected by some condition -- visible or invisible, physical or psychological, rare or common. Would [a generic legalistic] statement make you feel academically at home? I believe that we can improve our statements on inclusion and accessibility in three respects: language, tone and scope.
Read on, and we see that in addition to the kind of physical disabilities practitioners have long respected and worked with, we slip in the special education and enable continued social promotions.
If students successfully navigate the legal landscape of the institution, their request will then be “reviewed,” and it will be “assessed” whether their request is “reasonable” and “appropriate.” The tone suggests that our students should prepare themselves for some scrutiny. To some, those lines might even sound borderline accusatory. The assumption seems to be that the student’s accommodation request -- their idea of how they learn best -- might be unreasonable or inappropriate. I believe that this sends the wrong message and can function as a deterrent. Instead, let’s assume that our students want to do well in our class and that they have some idea of how they learn best.
Let's stipulate for the sake of discussion that nobody in class is attempting to game the disability bureaucracy. Read on, though.
I often wonder who determines the norms of learning, anyway. Who decides what’s “reasonable” and “appropriate”? Who decided, for example, that we learn best being confined to chairs and sitting still for an extended period of time? In ancient Athens, Aristotle’s students learned while walking. This practice was so characteristic of Aristotle that his school came to be known as the Peripatos, named after the covered walkways (the peripatoi) where the members met. Sure, some ideas about how to alter the learning environment are impractical. But some alterations, such as standing desks or walking meetings, seem quite feasible.
Maybe in twenty-five centuries we've gotten a few things right?  At the same time, the essay is about "inclusion and accessibility."  If we're conducting class by wandering around, aren't we creating an environment more difficult to the people confined to wheelchairs or relying on sign interpreters?

Then comes the special education.
The statement above implies that unless our students’ learning preferences are tied to a “documented learning difficulty” or “disability,” they don’t warrant accommodation. This excludes all those students who would benefit from an altered learning environment but who do not have a disability that gives them a (legal) basis to ask for it. I suggest that we significantly broaden the scope of the statement. Let’s make the statement on inclusion more inclusive.

I’m thinking of students who learn better when they move, or who feel more comfortable meeting with the instructor in a public space instead of in private offices. I’m also thinking of those who come to class without the text, not because they didn’t care to purchase the book but because they cannot afford it, or those who have to miss classes to take care of their child or to attend parole appointments.

Whether or not any of these examples are likely to apply to our individual students is relatively unimportant. The crucial point is to make students feel like they are not alone. Instead of planting the idea that certain personal circumstances and ways of learning are somehow abnormal, we should normalize that we all face different obstacles in the classroom.
The author prays that additional accommodations will somehow strengthen students.
Our students might face similar (or even different) challenges after they graduate. Thus, instead of lowering our expectations by removing challenges (e.g., meeting deadlines), we should help students meet our expectations and take ownership of their learning by facing their obstacles and trying to overcome them as best as possible.
Sounds more like enabling underachievement then hoping you'll get less of it to me.

29.10.20

SHOULDN'T THE CHURCHES BE ALONG THE CAR LINES?

Strong Towns contributor Pete Saunders offers praise for streetcar suburbs.  He has in mind more than the quasi-planned-use developments that sometimes were projected along with the rapid transit, such as Shaker Heights outside Cleveland.  "Personally, I love streetcar suburbs because they often have a mixed-use character that places built after them lack. There's also often a community or neighborhood connectivity within them that I find appealing; many streetcar suburb communities are full of proud, organized and vocal residents who advocate strongly on behalf of their community's values."

Such neighborhoods are emergent.
In cities of the Midwest and West, such as Indianapolis and Des Moines, streetcar lines formed the skeleton of the emerging metropolis and influenced the initial pattern of suburban development.[2] Socio-economically, streetcar suburbs attracted a wide range of people from the working to upper-middle class, with the great majority being middle class. By keeping fares low in cost and offering a flat fare with free transfers, streetcar operators encouraged households to move to the suburban periphery, where the cost of land and a new home was cheaper. In many places, especially the Midwest and West, the streetcar became the primary means of transportation for all income groups.[3]

As streetcar systems evolved, cross-town lines made it possible to travel from one suburban center to another, and interurban lines connected outlying towns to the central city and to each other. Between the late 1880s and World War I, a number of industrial suburbs appeared outside major cities, including Gary, Indiana, outside Chicago, and Homestead and Vandergrift, both outside Pittsburgh.[4]

Concentrated along radial streetcar lines, streetcar suburbs extended outward from the city, sometimes giving the growing metropolitan area a star shape. Unlike railroad suburbs which grew in nodes around rail stations, streetcar suburbs formed continuous corridors. Because the streetcar made numerous stops spaced at short intervals, developers platted rectilinear subdivisions where homes, generally on small lots, were built within a five- or 10-minute walk of the streetcar line. Often the streets were extensions of the gridiron that characterized the plan of the older city.

Neighborhood oriented commercial facilities, such as grocery stores, bakeries, and drugstores, clustered at the intersections of streetcar lines or along the more heavily traveled routes. Multiple story apartment houses also appeared at these locations, designed either to front directly on the street or to form a u-shaped enclosure around a recessed entrance court and garden.
I question some of the examples, as those steel towns (Gary, Homestead, to a lesser extent Vandergrift) were either in place prior to the streetcars, or were planned communities.  Those u-shaped apartment buildings were an adaptation to temperate climates before air conditioning, offering more windows to open on hot days, as well as more sun rooms for winter.  You'll see the same configuration on older hotels, no doubt to the despair of their current owners, who would like to provide for more rooms.

The provision of car lines along arterial streets provides logical places for businesses and other institutions that rely on a lot of traffic to emerge.  Here's some thinking Mr Saunders engaged in, putting together four square miles put together on streetcar suburb principles.  I think it works better as a single square-mile urban section, with principal streets about half a mile apart, and each of them has a car line.  If that sounds a lot like much of Milwaukee or Chicago, it should, as the principal streets originated as section roads.


Computer graphic retrieved from Strong Towns.

In his color coding, the more red, the more commercial, the more yellow, the more residential, the churches are blue and the parks are green.  The quarter-section to the northeast might be closest to the central business district or a major employer.
Overall, you end up with a community that is efficient in its design, dense but not overwhelmingly so. This area could potentially house as many as 41,000 people in its mix of single-family and multifamily units, giving it a mix that is rarely achieved in most American cities and suburbs. As a four-square-mile area with nearly seven residential units per acre, it is able to be adequately served by public transit. The 40/60 single-family/multifamily unit split means that there should be units available in the area, making it affordable to a broader range of residents. The concentration of mixed uses and multifamily uses near the commercial center means there is a ready and sizable market nearby to support retail and services. Even as there are vibrant areas that would rely on pedestrian traffic, there are nearby single-family enclaves that can be refuges to those who want space, peace and quiet.
It's emergent, organic, and scales. I'm not sure who Mr Saunders is addressing as an audience: that you get Chicago or Milwaukee style neighborhoods strikes me as a feature.  I'd only note that the churches would more likely be along the mile roads, and some of the parks might have frontage along the car lines.
I understand the critiques that may come from people regarding these schemes. Those who know Chicago very well may see the city in these designs; I admit that. Others may say that the strong grid orientation isn't feasible everywhere, and that's true, too. Still others will say that the methodical implementation of the design is boring; I can't disagree with that, either, if it's implemented without ways to break up the grid in interesting ways.

Ultimately, as community retrofitting, particularly suburban retrofitting, starts to happen throughout the nation, communities should consider the three principles of the streetcar suburb mentioned at the outset: Create commercial centers, don't be afraid of mixed uses and multifamily uses, and set aside buffered single-family enclaves for those who want them. Do that, and we vastly improve the quality of our built environment.
Perhaps the best way to "create" might be to offer fewer guidelines and zoning restrictions, not more.

THE PEOPLE GET THE POLITICS THEY WILL TOLERATE.

Reason's Veronique deRugy sees the scam.
Why people continue to trust government officials is a mystery. Often disconnected from the problems at hand, their policies also often contradict their supporters' frequently expressed beliefs. While suffering from cost overruns and increasing budget deficits, these policies handsomely reward their cronies, too.
Part of the problem might be the party primaries: the worst get on top for lack of voter interest beyond the true believers.  It's on the voters, more generally, to pay attention and get involved, which might include casting votes outside the major parties.
If it's the case that politicians don't really try to pass policies that will succeed, keep the deficit low, and tell the truth—because they can get away with bad policies, misleading claims, and spectacular deficits—then shame on them. But if we keep letting them get away with this ruse, then the shame ultimately lies with us.
It's on the voters who tune it out to tune it in, and reject the "binary choice" foolishness, which only strengthens the hand of the true believers.
Meanwhile, the more moderate and open views of large numbers of Americans are not being heard. These people might not be worried about the latest brouhaha with the New York Times editorial board or which public figure just got “canceled” after old bad tweets were uncovered. Instead, they believe that government paralysis and dysfunction is a huge problem for the nation. Further, our citizens are not impressed or happy with either party to the point that relatively small numbers of Americans believe that either party’s policies are moving the country in the right direction.

Consider that moderates plus those who haven’t thought much about ideology make up roughly one-third of the population, while those who describe themselves as either extremely liberal or conservative comprise just about 10 percent. Data from a new national study as part of AEI’s Survey Center on American Life shows these disparities in political engagement as we head into November.
Might Dispatch writer Samuel Abrams be suggesting that our politics are being distorted by people who lack a meaningful life?
Americans on the extremes have attitudes that treat politics as core to their identity while most moderate, Americans do not.

For instance, the survey examines whether or not a person’s political views say a lot about what kind of person they are; that is, can someone judge one’s character from one’s politics. Among moderates, only 10 percent “completely agree” that politics and character are so tightly linked, but that figure more than triples on the extremes. As much as they might disagree on politics, extremists on both sides are similar when it comes to one thing: 35 percent of each “completely agree” that ideology and character are deeply coupled.

When “somewhat agree” with this idea is included, the divisions grow where three-quarters of ideologues compared to just over half of centrists tie political views with character.
Politics divides, and I repeat, because repeat I must, the bundles are too d**n big, and apparently put together to cater to the truest believers comprising the basis.

THE GOLDEN BEAR IS ON THE TRUMP TRAIN.

That's right, dear reader, Jack Nicklaus offers his endorsement.  He starts with an observation I've noted among other people who don't necessarily follow politics closely, namely that the people who lost the 2016 election have been poor losers.
I have been very disappointed at what he’s had to put up with from many directions, but with that, I have seen a resolve and a determination to do the right thing for our country. He has delivered on his promises. He’s worked for the average person. In my opinion, he has been more diverse than any President I have seen and has tried to help people from all walks of life—equally.
As far as those policy deliveries, the verdict might still be pending.  But Mr Nicklaus senses that the president respects the aspirations of a lot of people aspiring to make the best of modest circumstances.
You might not like the way our President says or tweets some things—and trust me, I have told him that!—but I have learned to look past that and focus on what he’s tried to accomplish. This is not a personality contest; it’s about patriotism, policies and the people they impact. His love for America and its citizens, and putting his country first, has come through loud and clear. How he has said it has not been important to me. What has been important are his actions. Now, you have the opportunity to take action.
That is, there is a positive case, as well as a negative case involving the principal opposition. "But if we want to continue to have the opportunity to pursue the American Dream, and not evolve into a socialist America and have the government run your life, then I strongly recommend you consider Donald J. Trump for another 4 years."

HOW BAD IS THE JOB MARKET IN ACADEMIC HISTORY?

Bad enough that faking a Mexican ancestry is a thing.  "Another week, another unmasking of a white professor allegedly posing as a person of color: this time it’s Kelly Kean Sharp, a scholar of African American history who resigned abruptly Tuesday from her assistant professorship at Furman University."

I thought nobody would choose an identity that exposed them to opprobrium.  Let facts be submitted to a candid World.  "This year alone has seen the unmasking of a handful of white academics who have posed as nonwhite: BethAnn McLaughlin, Jessica Krug, C. V. Vitolo-Haddad and Craig Chapman."

A commenter at University Diaries says the quiet part out loud.  "Especially when the jealous, underemployed grad school classmates start digging into genealogical records! A perfect confluence of fraud and envy that make for an almost self-regulating market."  Jealousy based on switching from Luther College (Decorah, Iowa, where Norwegian might be the first language) to Furman, forsooth.  But with the diversity offices pressuring the search committees to diversify, if there aren't enough genuine protected-status individuals, there will be fakes.  Sorry, "identity can be quite fluid."

28.10.20

EVERYTHING IS WEIRD.

Streetcars Symbolize the Dangers of ‘Colorblind’ Transit Planning.  No, this is not something from Babylon Bee or The Onion or even the April issue of Railway.
In a study in the Journal of Race, Ethnicity and the City, researchers Anna Livia Brand, Kate Lowe and Em Hall dove into the history of H Street Streetcar in Washington, D.C., and the Rampart Streetcar in New Orleans, La. — two of many, many 21st century streetcar projects that local officials lauded as path-breaking transit investments in Black and brown communities, but that didn’t benefit residents. In both cases, the researchers found many residents who viewed the streetcars as a plaything for rich white folks — and ample evidence that they weren’t designed with low income people of color in mind.

“Proponents present streetcars as innocuous infrastructure strategies to attract investment in areas that had previously seen decades of disinvestment,” the researchers wrote. “Yet as one interviewee noted, these streetcars are examples of an ‘expensive frill for the White folks’ that facilitates recreation and [capital] accumulation while failing to address transport needs of low and moderate income Black residents.”
The extent to which people will go to provide outlets for minimal publishable units, and to create same.  Never mind that in running the tourist trolleys through the critical theory mill, you end up reinforcing a point frequently made on conservative talk shows and web sites.  "[New Orleanians] resented that $45 million in scarce federal grants were spent on a project that provided tourists with a kitschy trolley ride, rather than repairing the city’s battered transportation infrastructure."

Apparently, even a transit system has to be decolonized.
Of course, a streetcar isn’t inherently a racist transportation mode. But because they often cost so much, cover such small areas, and carry heavy associations with racist movies from the 1940s, progressive urbanists tend to see trolleys more as glorified theme park rides than as meaningful transit. And they also don’t do much to combat car dependency, cut congestion, or even improve roadway travel speeds.

“At least right now, streetcars are predominantly being implemented in the shared travel lane, and without a dedicated right of way, there’s no speed advantage to them,” Lowe reminds. “We have to reckon with our current car-dependent systems, but I also think it’s really important to take a look at which transit investments are being made, and whether they actually benefit Black and brown riders.”
On the other hand, if the transit investments are being made in historically underserved communities, mightn't that give the critical theory mill a chance to grouse about segregating the roads?

AFFIRMATIVELY FURTHERING FOOD DESERTS?

In his attempts to close the sale, Our President has tossed in an appeal to "suburban women," something along the lines of "I'm protecting your suburbs" with references either to "projects" or "Section 8."
On [August 16] The Wall Street Journal published a joint op-ed by [housing secretary Ben] Carson and President Donald Trump in which the two warned that eliminating single-family zoning would import urban dysfunction into thriving suburban communities.
Not surprisingly, he's getting called out for that sort of language.  "Inclusive and equitable suburbs build more affordable housing, advance fairness in education, and centers environmental justice." 

GETTING ON THE TRUMP TRAIN.

The Federalist's Mollie Hemingway got on two years ago.
Like most people, I don't particularly like Trump's rhetorical style, juvenile insults and intemperate disposition — on full display in recent days. At the same time, having followed his career for decades, I am not surprised that he wakes up each morning as Donald Trump.

And that boorish attitude has come in handy after decades of media bullying of conservatives. Ironically, the very lack of conservative bona fides that worried me two years ago means he's less beholden to a conservative establishment that had grown alienated from the people it is supposed to serve and from the principles it ostensibly exists to promote. His surprising conservatism might also be the result of the absolutism and extremism of his critics, whether among the media, traditional Democratic activists or the anti-Trump right. If Trump were ever inclined to indulge his liberal tendencies after winning the election, the stridency and spite of his opponents have provided him with no incentives to do so.
I think she's still on board, impeachment, Wuhan coronavirus, what have you, notwithstanding. If only the Democrats weren't so crazy.  "The more Biden caves to the left, the harder it becomes for him to win middle-class voters, especially those in the upper Midwest who typically decide presidential elections."  That might be a nod to coalition-building, and the spats between insiders and self-styled progressives might be amusing, but even the insider approach of got a problem get a program wears thin.  "American voters aren’t stupid. They see a five-point, five-page 'roadmap' to reopening schools, and they know what it means: Schools won’t reopen any time soon. They won’t tolerate that." Particularly with the teachers' unions doing everything they can to avoid returning to work, but I digress.
[V]oters cannot be discounted as racists or deplorables who need to be canceled. Their votes matter just as much as the protesters and rioters. They could easily lift Trump to a second term.

If that happens, Democrats will have only themselves to blame. The coronavirus gave them the chance to show what real leadership looks like. So far, they have failed.

Democrats have a small window to come to their senses, reconnect with working people, and fix it. But that will require them to get out of Washington and stand up to the special interests that are exploiting the virus for political gain — and that seems increasingly unlikely.
With a week to go, we'll see if a strategy of keeping the top of the ticket mostly sequestered and hoping for enough bad news works.

Bernard Goldberg notes the greatest flaw with our politics.  "It amazes me that in a country of more than 300 million people Donald Trump and Joe Biden are the best we can come up with. If we picked two candidates out of the crowd at a Star Wars convention we wouldn’t be worse off."  But the Democrats are showing all the good manners of spoiled children.
For two months we’ve been witnessing chaos and destruction in Portland and other cities run by progressive Democrats, yet no one in the Democratic Party will stand up and condemn the violence as if they really mean it. They’re cowards who fear a backlash from the hard left wing of the party. Stand up against rioters and the progressives will find a primary opponent to run against you.

This is a party my father, a lifelong Democrat, wouldn’t recognize. He was a blue- collar worker who could never support today’s Democrats. They bear no resemblance to John F. Kennedy or Hubert Humphrey or Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton or even Barack Obama, who was a mere liberal when he was president but now — if his partisan remarks at the funeral of John Lewis is any indication — has become a passionate progressive apparently believing that passionate progressive polices are what his party needs to win in November.

Today’s Democrats think the police are the enemy, not the rioters, who they like to call “mostly peaceful protestors.” Some Democrats have called law enforcement officers “storm troopers” and “secret agents.” When Donald Trump sent federal agents to Portland to stop the rioters from burning down the federal courthouse, the mayor of the city and the governor of Oregon were angry with the president – not the anarchists!
I wonder if the elder Mr Goldberg would be a Reagan Democrat, today, and vote for Mr Trump. The younger Mr Goldberg prays for a Trump win, but without his vote.

On the other hand, Rick Esenberg is all in.
Electing a president is not simply the choice of an individual but of the thousands of appointees and bureaucrats who come along. Sadly, the Democratic Party has turned sharply to the left. Even if a Democratic politician does not explicitly adopt the dystopian view — advanced by the New York Times, the organized BLM movement and much of the Democratic House caucus — that America is a bad and racist place that must be fundamentally transformed, he or she will be hard-pressed to resist it. Certainly, Joe Biden will be unable to do so.

The party has shown increased and troubling hostility to freedom of speech and religious liberty. Its favored policies — the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, free college and daycare and so-called stakeholder capitalism in which corporations would be run for the benefit of others through the compulsion of government — are all ways in which our lives would be planned and paid for by the governmept. And if the state pays for your life, it will want a say in how you live it.

The republic can survive an imperfect president. But the Democrats may transform it utterly.
That's not an endorsement-by-default, by the way. "The administration’s policies have, with a few exceptions, been remarkably similar to those that any Republican President would pursue."  A USA Today guest columnist makes a similar set of arguments.  "The choice is between two vastly different Americas. The question is, which America do you want your kids to grow up in?"  Furthermore, the president, sometimes alone, stands for tempering the principle of mitigating the virus against the practicality of going on with life.
The virus has taken a toll on our children as well as our economy and physical health. Keeping our kids isolated at home learning behind a computer screen is a disaster. Working parents struggle to juggle their jobs while supervising online learning.

Meanwhile, mental health issues in our kids are on the rise. In July, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield said there are more suicides and deaths from drug overdoses than from [Wuhan coronavirus] as a result of school closures, particularly high schools. Inexplicably, some teachers unions are hijacking schools and refusing to help let kids back in the classroom. The union in my northern Virginia school district demands schools remain closed until at least August 2021.

But in Biden’s America he’ll always stand with the teachers, even when they are wrong. How do we know? Because he told them.
The author was once on Senator Rick Santorum's (R-Pennsylvania) payroll, which might have some bearing on her current stance or her world view more generally.

There is a stark choice between the leading presidential hopefuls and the party manifestoes they offer.  The Democrats might be in a fortuitous position to sell a very different bundle to voters simply because the Wuhan coronavirus spread on the Republican president's watch.

BEFORE ANYBODY OUTSIDE CHINA HEARD ABOUT THE LUNG ROT.

There's a whole new set of reasons to push back against overweening governments.
Lately there seem to be an unusually large number of mass resistance movements unfolding in countries all over the world. Here in the U.S., Puerto Rico’s recent political turmoil upended the entire local government structure. In Latin America, there have been upheavals over the past few weeks in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. In the Caribbean, Haiti is experiencing its worst political turmoil since the 2004 ouster of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. On the other side of the planet, Arab nations like Iraq and Lebanon have erupted into mass upheavals. Sudan just a few months ago toppled dictator Omar al-Bashir and now wants his party disbanded. And in Hong Kong, months of mass sustained protests have brought the nation to a standstill. What is happening?

There are common themes running throughout this widespread global uprising. The unrest is marked by a deep dissatisfaction with an economic order that benefits elites over others, combined with outrage against authoritarianism and the use of force to quell dissent. Often these are intertwined, as regimes use force to maintain the unequal economic order and demand public subservience and obedience. Then, a new proposed rule or law— seemingly innocuous at first—lights the spark of protest over long-simmering issues. In the internet age, activists organize with greater ease than before and are highly educated about their plight, giving them a greater ability to document and share abuses far and wide.
Hong Kong is not a nation, it is under Communist Chinese management, and the Wuhan coronavirus has given the mandarins in Pekin license to crack down on the protest. Now, petty tyrants in Democrat run states or European countries are using the virus as an excuse to suppress civil liberties, and the people who run social media platforms are doing everything they can to limit the sharing of information.  If you're Sonali Kolhatkar, are you so much a vulgar Marxist that you don't see the reversion to feudalism, with the politicians and the high tech barons making common cause against the yeomanry?
The commonalities of why there are so many movements in disparate parts of the world are quite striking. Free-market capitalism has proved time and again to be a failure. The promised riches are distributed far too unequally, and for most they never transpire. The only way to preserve the current social and economic order is by force. And when people have had enough, they meet force with resistance and resilience. These are lessons not just for ordinary people suffering economic injustices, but for the governments that oversee them.
Perhaps so, and there are a lot of overweening governments to be voted out, or overturned, although not for such hackneyed reasons as the lady offers.

WELCOME TO LIFE IN ILLINOIS.

It has long been the case that Illinois politicians are egregiously distressing paradigms of the incompetent who nevertheless intends to boss everyone else around.  Years ago, the grifters who run Chicago decided that it was For Everyone's Good that restaurants not serve foie gras.  I have no idea whether that ban is still in effect, or it quietly went away (like highly touted quarterbacks for the Bears?)  But the Wuhan coronavirus has given dictatorial governor J. B. Pritzker (D-Lake Geneva) lots of opportunities to play the micromanaging incompetent.

Slowly, the oppressed people are fighting back.
With their survival on the line amidst a new round of government restrictions targeted at slowing the spread of COVID-19, many Illinois restaurants and bars are refusing to comply. It's the sort of defiance that erupted during the early days of the pandemic, but more widespread and better organized by business owners who say they have nothing to lose, since their only other option is disaster.

This is a rebellion that could have been foreseen by anybody who understands how people necessarily respond when their backs are against the wall. In fact, it was predicted, repeatedly. That needs to be taken into account by government officials already imposing new lockdowns and poised to inflict yet more pain on a public growing increasingly unwilling to submit.

"Unless the state of Illinois takes a more reasonable approach to mitigation, thousands of restaurants are at risk of permanent closure," the Illinois Restaurant Association (IRA) warned last week. "To be clear—the IRA is not advising for operators to disobey any state orders while we strongly advocate for necessary changes to the state's mitigation plan."
The governor is not willing to entertain such changes. It's going to be interesting watching him slug it out with Chicago's mayor, Lori "Barack Obama with a bad haircut" Lightfoot: she's now pushing back. The Democrat pluralities in elections come from Chicago, but the balance of the state is having none of it.
More than 30 bars and restaurants in Winnebago County have been written up for ignoring pandemic restrictions, according to the Chicago Tribune. In Kankakee County, "70 area business owners met Thursday night and agreed to keep serving customers inside their establishments, despite the state's order that some counties stop indoor service to slow the coronavirus," reports Chicago's NBC affiliate.

In response, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker threatens retaliation against the eatery insurgency. "If we need to close down restaurants and bars, or take away their liquor licenses, take away their gaming licenses, we will do that," he huffed during a daily briefing.

That may not be terribly persuasive to businesses that face closure, anyway, if they aren't allowed to serve customers. And why should they sacrifice themselves when Pritzker—among other political figures—has happily exempted himself and his family from inconvenient pandemic rules?

Even if people for some reason trusted Pritzker and the rest of officialdom, another round of lockdowns is exhausting when authorities keep moving the goalposts on how long restrictions are supposed to last—well beyond the 15 days we were promised back in March.
Let's say that the European countries -- allegedly the ones Our Progressive Betters have been telling us are getting the virus right -- aren't having an outbreak of Black Lives Matter reparations being taken.
[F]atigue with seemingly endless impositions is hardly confined to Illinois. Germans, Italians, and Spaniards took to the streets this week to protest against new limits on their lives in the name of public health.

"Protests against a fresh round of coronavirus restrictions hit about a dozen cities in Italy on Monday evening amid a surge in infection numbers across the country and the continent," according to NBC News. "Dozens of demonstrators in Turin in northern Italy threw huge firecrackers and bottles at the regional government's headquarters. Police responded with volleys of tear gas as they tried to restore order in the city."

By contrast, a multitude of eateries serving burgers and beer to paying customers in defiance of intrusive rules seems wonderfully restrained, no matter how much it upsets Pritzker.
Come Tuesday, voters have another opportunity to upset the governor.
The state currently ranks seventh nationally in sales taxes and second in property taxes. But Illinois is one of only 11 states that have a flat income tax rate for all residents, regardless of income bracket. That rate is 4.95 percent. Democratic leaders, headed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, want to change the flat tax to a graduated income tax in order to jack up the rate on the state's wealthiest [c.q.: the correct term is highest income -- Ed.] citizens.

State lawmakers already approved a bill for this transition in June 2019. Their proposed graduated tax system would slightly cut taxes for people making less than $100,000 a year, but dramatically increase the tax rate for those making more than $250,000 a year to 7.75 percent at a minimum.

Having a flat tax is embedded in the state's constitution, so lawmakers need to get voters to approve a rewrite in order to actually implement the tax change. So voters will consider referendum SJR1, officially titled "Illinois Allow for Graduated Tax Amendment." Pritzker isn't just the amendment's top spokesman; he's also far and away the amendment's biggest financial backer, contributing more than $56 million to the committees pushing for its passage.
You'd think for the money he spent the booklet "explaining" the amendment would have been better written.

Come Tuesday, I get to vote no on a bunch of things, including the taxes and the continuing shutdowns.

27.10.20

THIS SELF-HELP BOOK SUPERSEDES ALL OTHER SUCH BOOKS.

Dear reader, you are undoubtedly familiar with the genre, particularly if you have spent any time looking for something to read at the airport.  Multi-tasking.  Better use of your productivity tools.  Getting Things Done.  Mark Manson's The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living A Good Life argues that implementing the traditional suggestions in the traditional self-help books lead straight into a feedback loop from Hell: now that I've gotten a little better at this, what can I do to get better still at it, and what else might I improve?  But if you understand the first thing about constrained optimization, you recognize that sooner or later those constraints bind.  Congratulations: you've grasped that you only have so many f*cks to give.  Thus: what are the most productive things to spend those f*cks on.

Infer what you wish, dear reader, about this being Book Review No. 3 for the year, coming only eight months after the second.  I read through it, as is my custom before posting any of these reviews, but made no marginal notes, flagged no pages to refer to in the flyleaf.  Again, make of that what you will.  Perhaps it is because my prior schooling as an economist leads me to be receptive to the central messages, that is, that you're optimizing under constraint (finite resources, i.e. f*cks to give) and you get to choose your criterion function, "some values and metrics are better than others" as they lead either to "good problems that are easily solved" whilst others "lead to bad problems," page 81.  Choose carefully.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

PERNICIOUS MENDACITY AND BAD FAITH.

James "Long Emergency" Kunstler asks several pertinent questions.
  1. Are you against the principle of free speech?
  2. Is it okay for these government agencies to spy on US citizens without any legal predicate, except their being political adversaries?
  3. Are you against reason itself?
  4. Are you in favor of Antifa riots and the BLM hustle?
  5. Are you in favor of cancel culture?
Read the post for elaboration, and stick around for the bull session.  It's really a warning about how parties that form governments run with a bundle of policies, and those bundles are generally unwieldy.
The Democratic Party supports all this pernicious mendacity and bad faith, and more. Joe Biden is the current figurehead of the Party. Mr. Biden pretty clearly has insurmountable defects of his own, first as an international grifter while holding national office, as well as the misfortune of his cognitive decline, which is not his fault, but disqualifies him for high office. As for everybody else in the party, I don’t want such a reliably dishonest gang to be in charge of running the American government.
That's not that the other pole of the binary is any better.
The USA is headed into a terrible ordeal of economic disorder that I call the long emergency. Mr. Trump won’t stop it, and it may yet make a fool out of him. But the Democratic Party’s agenda would add an extra layer of tyrannical and sadistic insanity to the process that will only bring more suffering to more people, and I don’t want that to happen.
Make that layer tyrannical, sadistic, and corrupt.  David "Voluntary Xchange" Tufte explains.  "Joe Biden’s not a crook, he’s a willing shill."  For Communist China.
Lost among the salacious revelations about laptop provenance is the more mundane reality of influence and money of major United States political figures. Ill informed accusations of Russian hacking and disinformation face the documented reality of a major Chinese state financial partnership with the children of major political figures. A report by an Asian research firm raises worrying questions about the financial links between China and Hunter Biden.

Beginning just before Joe Bidens ascendancy to the Vice Presidency, Hunter Biden was travelling to Beijing meeting with Chinese financial institutions and political figures would ultimately become his investors.  Finalized in 2013, the investment partnership included money from the Chinese government, social security, and major state-owned banks a veritable who’s who of Chinese state finance.
This is not a Pajamas Media, Breitbart, Fox News report. "Balding is a well-respected, occasional blogger, and frequent Bloomberg contributor, mostly on subjects Chinese. He is a non-Chinese business school professor who has worked and lived in China for about a decade."

26.10.20

YOU TAKE AN EDUCATION, AND THEN YOU GET BACK TO WORK.

The Green Bay Packers did not play well in Tampa.  A road trip to Houston followed.
That the Packers took care of business is precisely what they needed to ensure their season would get back on track. It wasn’t a coincidence. After being surprisingly candid about their poor practices leading up to Tampa Bay, the Packers refocused. Their plan was better. The plays were crisper.
Vincent Thomas Lombardi Himself would not have expected any less.

BET ON EMERGENCE.

Conservative Treehouse sees more than people out having fun in those Trump boat (and motorcycle and pickup truck and farm tractor) parades.  It's Militant Normals flipping off the palace guard media.
A combination of what I would call “old school” activism is taking place everywhere.  Car parades, boat parades, marches, rallies and massive swarms of American MAGA supporters are literally flooding the political space in a scale that makes it impossible to ignore.
There are highlight reels from several such events at the link.
The MAGA rallies, parades and grassroots events are breaking out independent of each-other and literally happening all over the place on any given day.  Miles and miles of cars with Trump flags… same with boats… and sometimes just marches in the street where thousands of people just gather and walk with American flags, Trump banners, and other gear.

To make the marches even more effective a really smart organic approach has started and we now see Trump rallies and marches targeted to the exact event venues where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are showing up.
None of the self-organized parades, or crowds at the rallies, or the conduct of the president himself at the rallies, give the impression of people who know they are losing and simply going through the motions to beat the point spread.
The American people are all-in, right now when it matters most; the Monster Vote is also clearly evident.   Spontaneous acts of patriotism are now considered representative of the counter-culture; people of all colors, races, creeds and orientations are united under the Red, White and Blue MAGA banner; and all of this was initiated organically by an American President who just transparently loves this country.
Byron York is also seeing it.  In Pennsylvania, the Trump Organization isn't doing the organizing.
If Trump wins Pennsylvania -- and that would mean he'd have a good chance at winning a second term -- he might well owe his victory to his grassroots supporters' work on the road. Jumping in their cars and trucks and inviting others to come along has heightened the enthusiasm in oil and gas country. Look for them to keep driving all the way to election day.
The palace guard at CNN have (predictably) a different perspective.  There's no link to a clip at their site; but on Sunday evening their news division visited a motorcycle parade in California in order to make the points that there were relatively few women along for the ride and that the boat and motorcycle parades were people with disposable income showing off their wealth.  Whatever.

Let's suppose that the prognosticators and fact checkers are right, and the enthusiastic crowds will be disappointed next week, or whenever the results are tabulated.  They're unlikely to just accept their punishment and go meekly to their rooms.  "Trump could be crude, even at times bullying and profane. But much of his braggadocio and vulgarity were designed as chemotherapy to kill the cancer of the administrative state and the lock-hold on permanent government by the revolving-door, bipartisan coastal elite."  As a Biden presidency is not going to be a restoration of that bipartisan elite, will the Never Trumpers and the Democrat Leadership Council types make common cause against the Third World Caucus; and if so, will the Deplorables and Chumps find more in common with the Acela class, or will an unusual alliance of Trump voters and Third World Caucus types be the result?  "Trump hit on a great truth that no leader can write off his country’s vast industrial interior, destroy his nation’s borders, willingly cede global leadership to a Communist dictatorship, manipulate intelligence agencies to destroy political opponents, prefer to manage decline rather than to seek renewal, and meanwhile, as he did all that, call himself moral and presidential."

That story cannot be written until after the votes are tallied and the recriminations begin within both major parties.

THE GREENING OF KRUPP.

Long before Magnitogorsk or the hero steel projects of every third world country, the international standard bearers included Krupp, right up there with Carnegie.  No longer.  I wish I could tell you that LIBERTY steel tendering for Krupp was a manifestation of the Third Liberty Bond Campaign, or some of that restoration of greatness Our President keeps talking about.

Not quite, it's all the contemporary global business fads in one package.
From an economic perspective, there is potential for a compelling industrial concept given that the businesses are complementary with respect to assets, product lines, customers, and geographic footprint.

From a social perspective, LIBERTY Steel stands for a long-term commitment to the industry and jobs reflecting the values of a family-owned company. At LIBERTY Steel we are convinced that change needs to happen in partnership with employees. LIBERTY Steel has repeatedly proven to turn around businesses in a way that is loyal to local communities and saves jobs.

From an environmental perspective, LIBERTY Steel is a leader in sustainable industry with a mission to become Carbon Neutral by 2030. But to transform a whole industry a European approach is required. A joint entity would be well positioned to create the sustainable GREENSTEEL industry leader in Europe. We would thereby contribute to the long-term recovery of the sector and the EU’s green deal.
I wonder what sorts of rents are being dissipated in that "joint entity." It looks more like a private enterprise than a quasi-nationalized government operation.

ZEALOTRY MASQUERADING AS PRAGMATISM.

I have long been less than impressed by the men of system who view people as if pieces upon the chess-board.  Had to be more circumspect about that before I retired, and there is a lot in the canon of welfare economics that might as well be an instruction manual for Democrats, but it's always possible to offer counter-arguments even to the most tightly framed of Pigouvian or Stiglitzian arguments.

Such arguments are not yet available to advocates of continued house arrests.  The advocates, Don "Cafe Hayek" Boudreaux notes, are simply behaving consistently with their priors.
That the likes of Paul Krugman, New York Times’s editorialists, writers for The Nation, and other Progressive intellectuals, along with leftist politicians, support lockdowns is unsurprising. These people trust government, deeply, and distrust freedom. Long before covid-19, such people regularly revealed their belief that ordinary persons left free to act without the detailed supervision of government officials will cause chaos and calamity. These intellectuals and politicians routinely write and speak as if the almighty state possesses miraculous powers to design and enforce order – order that is the only alternative to chaos and calamity.
Their priors are likely so tight that the evidence of rising contagion in the European states that were supposedly exemplars for our deplorable politicians will not be sufficient to change many minds.

25.10.20

THE ENGINEER STILL HAS NIGHTMARES.

Train crews generally survive collisions with motor vehicles or pedestrians.  Walking away is not the same thing as being able to put it behind them.
The dream that has visited Ford Dotson Jr. thousands of times always starts the same way.

It’s a crisp October morning. Beneath clear skies, leaves shimmer copper, gold and red.

It’s long before sunrise, and Dotson sets off from home. He’s happy anyway because there are no weekend shifts, no one bugging him to work holidays. He climbs into the cab of Metra’s Union Pacific Northwest Line train No. 624 heading to Chicago from Crystal Lake. At the end of the run, he’ll curl up on a cot for a few hours before making the return trip.

The 200-ton locomotive at the rear of the train pushes six passenger cars and the cab control car. It’s an express, and ahead the signals are green. So Dotson “jumps it up” to the maximum speed — 70 mph. He crosses the Fox River, which sparkles in the sunlight.

In the distance, he sees a school bus. It’s moving slowly across the tracks, but there’s no reason to panic. Dotson nudges the brake handle — just in case — and blows the train whistle: two long blasts, a short, another long.

But something is wrong. The rear of the bus remains on the tracks. Dotson pumps several short blasts on the airhorn. He keeps at it because the bus isn’t moving. As the train hurtles forward, he slams the brake handle all the way.

That’s the point in the dream when he always wakes up, shaking, just before the impact.
The collision was real enough. It occurred in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, when an inexperienced school bus driver misjudged the overhang of the bus. The resulting collision affected students at Northern Illinois University, where many had younger siblings still in Cary Grove high school or knew somebody who did or had attended that school.
Twenty-five years ago Sunday, Ford Dotson Jr.’s train smashed into a school bus in Fox River Grove. It wasn’t any dream. Seven teenagers, all of them students at Cary-Grove High School, were killed: Jeffrey Clark, Stephanie Fulham, Susanna Guzman, Michael Hoffman, Joe Kalte, Shawn Robinson and Tiffany Schneider. The bus driver and 24 other passengers were injured.
Two of the students on the bus might have chosen their subsequent work in public service as a consequence.
As Dotson’s 7 a.m. train from Crystal Lake, with 120 passengers and three crew members, headed down the tracks toward the Algonquin crossing that day 25 years ago, Brian Marino, a Cary-Grove High School freshman, was delighted. That was because he and his identical twin brother Michael would be late to school, but no one could blame them. Bus driver Patricia Catencamp — a substitute who’d never driven the route before — was running 20 minutes behind schedule.

Marino was sitting near the front of the bus. He’d been heading for the back but was pulled into the seat by two friends. His twin continued down the aisle.

Catencamp stopped before coming to the tracks, looked left and right, she’d later recall, then began to pull across. She stopped on the other side because the light was red, not realizing her bus hadn’t fully cleared the tracks.

“It never entered my mind that there wasn’t enough room for that bus to fit,” Catencamp, who couldn’t be reached for this story, would later tell investigators.

When the bell began to clang and the gate arm banged the top of the bus, some of the students called out to her, “We’re still on the tracks!” But all she heard was a garble of chatter.

“Move the bus! Move the bus!” students, now panicked, yelled.

By then, it was too late.

The train was going 69 mph when it hit the rear left of the bus, spinning it 180 degrees and slicing the cab from the chassis like a machete through cake.
The twins are now firefighter-paramedics in Crystal Lake. They, and the other survivors, in both senses of the term, are still dealing with the memories.  The highway department has since redesigned the crossing, and the traffic signals are interlocked with the crossing gates in such a way as to allow traffic stuck between the tracks and the signal to clear the level crossing.

Cross crossings cautiously.

IS IT TOO LATE TO DEVELOP A SPINE?

Campus riots and student strikes have again become a thing, and Northwestern president Morton Schapiro has finally had enough.
Schapiro, who’s led the private university in Evanston since 2009, wrote that protesters chanted profanities, calling him “piggy Morty,” when they gathered outside his home late Saturday. He suggested the reference to pigs bordered on anti-Semitism since he’s an observant Jew — calling the language “completely unacceptable” — and questioned whether outside agitators had joined the student group.

“To those protesters and their supporters who justify such actions, I ask you to take a long hard look in the mirror and realize that this isn’t actually ‘speaking truth to power’ or furthering your cause,” Schapiro wrote. “It is an abomination and you should be ashamed of yourselves. ... I am disgusted by those who chose to disgrace this University in such a fashion.”

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty released a statement Tuesday saying he supports the right of people to protest but also strongly condemned demonstrators who deface or destroy property.

But students and some professors disapprove of Schapiro’s harsh language. The group behind the protests, NU Community Not Cops, and faculty of the African American Studies department criticized Schapiro for only responding to student demands when the upheaval landed on his doorstep.
The house organ for business as usual in higher education did pick up this story. (I sometimes wonder if it is more newsworthy for a campus controversy to be covered by the local newspaper or by Inside Higher Ed, which is all diversity, all the time.)
The student group leading the charge against Schapiro and university police, Northwestern University Community Not Cops (NUCNC), takes inspiration from modern-day abolitionism, a philosophical and political movement that imagines a future without prisons and police. The movement received new attention this summer, after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and subsequent national protests.

Abolitionist thinkers often argue that money divested from law enforcement can go to fund social services that decrease crime through providing a community with resources. NUCNC has advocated that the university, while cutting ties with law enforcement, must invest in Black students. The original petition demanded the university investigate avenues for reparations for slavery, create funds to support students facing legal fees following activism, provide free counseling and donate to activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and the Chicago Bond Fund, among other measures.

Schapiro’s remarks drew criticism from across campus. Faculty and affiliates from the Department of African American Studies at the university wrote a public letter to Schapiro, questioning his choices and priorities.
That public letter is a real piece of work. Here's a sample.
The term “pig” has been used by Black radical movements for generations to invoke the structural violence that police officers present. In the context of our protests, which are very clearly in response to anti-Black police violence on campus and in Evanston, this was the meaning invoked. Morton Schapiro was called a pig by members of our campaign because he aligns himself with law enforcement and prioritizes police and private property over the lives of Black students.

We’ve learned that Morton Schapiro is suggesting that “pig” is an anti-Semitic term because of the “Judensau” trope, wherein some European countries in the 14th century, Jewish people were depicted as engaging in lewd relations with pigs. We find it absurd for Morton Schapiro to suggest that protestors were invoking an anti-Semitic trope derived from the European Middle Ages and not the word “pig” as it refers to the racist United States police.

Regardless of our intent, we apologize to our Jewish community, to individuals both inside and outside of the campaign who may have been harmed by language utilized at the protest.

However, we do not apologize to Morton Shapiro. False claims of anti-Semitism have been used throughout Northwestern’s history to shut down student activists, especially Palestinian activists, and to divide coalitions by falsely claiming that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Because of the pervasive myths of colonialism and white supremacy, we find ourselves having to repeat: anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. We continue to stand in solidarity with Palestinian liberation by our shared virtue of abolition. As we have been saying for months, we envision a world without state-sanctioned violence: from Evanston to Lagos to Bethlehem, cops have got to go.
There's a lot more in the letter. Read it at your own risk, or, if you're a militant Normal, make sure you're not drinking your coffee.  Now, if Mr Schapiro had any experience with world news, he might be aware of the chants of "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon" that the brain-brothers of the Northwestern protesters are given to yell.  That is, whether it's an Old German insult, or a contemporary woke insult he's hearing, he's not wrong to think of it as a death threat.

It also appears that the woke mob are not so much interested in abolishing the police as in replacing existing campus security with their own.  "Though demonstration participants had engaged in unlawful conduct, some had the temerity to complain about 'harassment' — people taking 'unwanted' photos, heckling, and one man who dared to stand at an opposite street corner holding an American flag."  When the opposition brings its own security, that might turn out not to the woke mob's advantage.

Power Line's Steven Hayward prays that Mr Schapiro will stand his ground.  "Let’s hope President Schapiro holds his ground and expels some students."  I concur, although the tendency of faculty and administrators to self-select for pusillanimity makes that event unlikely.

DID PRESIDENT TRUMP DELIVER?

Some of the links go to older articles that suggest the salient issues of the presidential election are what they were before impeachment and pandemic and urban unrest.  Erick Erickson, who was one of the pioneers of Red State before going his own way, reconsidered his Never Trump stance in February of 2019.
In 2016, we knew who the Democrats were and were not sure of who Donald Trump was. Now we know both and I prefer this President to the alternative.

I will vote for Donald Trump and Mike Pence. And, to be clear, it will not be just because of what the other side offers, but also because of what the Trump-Pence team has done. They’ve earned my vote.
Reason's Nick Gillespie saw a speech at the March, 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference that suggested Our President's reelection would be "a foregone conclusion."  (We'll see how that holds up in another week.)
All in all, it was, in the words of Daniel Dale, the Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, "one of the least-hinged speeches Trump has given in a long time." It was indeed all over the place but like the weirdly wide-ranging and digressive speech in which he declared a national emergency, it was also an absolute tour de force, laying out every major point of disagreement between Republicans and Democrats (abortion, the Second Amendment, and taxes, among other things) while tagging the latter aggressively as socialists who will not only end the private provision of health care but take over the energy sector too. Those charges take on new life in the wake of the announcement of the [green new deal] and comments, however short-lived, by Democrats such as Kamala Harris, who at one point recently called for an end to private health care. And over 100 House Democrats have signed on to a plan that would end private health insurance in two years. For all the biting criticism and dark humor in today's speech, Trump has mostly ditched the "American Carnage" rhetoric that marked his first Inaugural Address, pushing onto liberals and Democrats all the negativity and anger that used to surround him like the dust cloud surrounds Pigpen in the old Peanuts cartoons. "We have people in Congress right now who hate our country," he said. "We can name every one of them. Sad, very, very sad."

At moments, he seemed to be workshopping his themes and slogans for 2020. "We believe in the American Dream, not the socialist nightmare," he averred at one point. "Now you have a president who finally standing up for America." The future, he said "does not belong to those who believe in socialism. The future belongs to those who believe in freedom."
Of course that speech was all over the place. Good improv is like that, and I wonder how many future aspirants to the presidency will develop their own schticks to go with the talking points, or conduct their own pep rallies.  (As an aside, the behavior of the president and his fans at the rallies that have been going on ever since the doctors cleared him to travel is not the behavior we traditionally see from candidates and voters who recognize that they are losing.)  It hasn't hurt the president, either, that he has the receipts from Senator Harris's appeals to the socialist wing of her party, or that Mr Biden absolutely stepped in it hoping to nudge the oil and gas businesses out of existence in thirty years.

Nor does it hurt that the kind of people who argue with Democrats, then vote for them, are probably not pleased with the ticket and the campaign strategy.  Here's John Atcheson, also from March of 2019.  Get past the leftist anger, and guess what?
Look, nobody actually likes Trump.  His base is composed of people who are angry at the Washington plutocracy which has been screwing them for decades. Trump is a virtual Molotov cocktail they throw into the system to signal their anger at the politicians from both parties who have left them behind in order to make it easier to beg campaign funds from the ultra-rich and corporations. And no, it doesn’t matter that Trump hasn’t drained the swamp – that he in fact has broadened and deepened it. His appeal isn’t based on what he does, so much as what he claims to be against.
It probably hasn't hurt that the swamp's message for the past seven months has been "mask up, shut up" concurrent with the European examples that the left precincts of the swamp like to point to as paradigms of Expertise Working are now having a worse experience with the Wuhan coronavirus than the United States, and the Republican-leaning states in particular, are.  Mr Atcheson fears that running a generic Democrat, even a senile cats-paw for that left wing, won't turn out well.
Incredibly, the Democratic Party seems ready to back Joe Biden, when, not if, he enters the race.  He’s a centrist in the Hillary Clinton mold. Most of the rest of the bulging field have a track record of taking centrist and corporate friendly positions, and most of them are trying to veer to the left.
His diagnosis: "Hard to imagine, but we ignored the anger and alienation in the citizenry in 2016 enabling him to win, and now it looks like the Democratic Party leaders would like to try it again."We'll see in another week.

Last night, Michael Goodwin suggested, coronavirus and unrest notwithstanding, that the Trumpian vision is the positive vision.
In March of 2016, I wrote that I would likely support Donald Trump because he was the only presidential candidate speaking for working-class Americans. I also viewed the contempt for Trump by the media and elite of both parties as contempt for his supporters as well.

As the campaign wore on, that contempt became an acceptable form of bigotry, as reflected in Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” smear at a fundraiser.
That contempt for the voters manifested itself even before inauguration, as the rage mobs began their temper tantrums and the palace guard media gave play to allegations simply on the basis of the seriousness of the charges, never mind whether there was evidence. In addition, one of the subtexts of the not-from-Milwaukee Democratic convention of August was clearly "normal people suck."  The latest term of opprobrium is apparently "chumps."

But re-electing the president might be more than continuing to flip off the plutocracy.
There are two main reasons why I’m sticking with Trump.

One is because of what he has done, and the other is because of what his opponents have done to sabotage and overthrow him.

First, the primary yardstick of a president is whether he produces peace and prosperity. Trump achieved both until the pandemic sent the economy into recession. Thankfully, the recovery is happening and a vaccine should give it rocket fuel.

Trump’s most admirable trait is that he has kept his key promises. That is remarkable only because voters have too long tolerated politicians who sell one thing and deliver another. For all his flaws, the president has largely delivered what he promised.
Yes, and his team have the advantage, not being of the swamp, of being able to go around the swamp: directly to the voters with Twitter and rallies; has anyone noticed the curious incidents of the Palestinian leaders in the recent string of peace accords between Israel and assorted Gulf states, or of the traditional civil rights leaders in the juiced-up enterprise zones on offer?

As far as the hit to prosperity that has accompanied the plague, there's still a positive case.
Many voters believe the president wasn’t focused enough on the coronavirus, a belief cemented for some when he and the first lady got infected.

Those voters have a point — up to a point. The virus was a once-in-a-century phenomenon and despite erratic presentations and odd comments, Trump commanded an enormous mobilization of government and industry resources and distributed them with dispatch to the states. The rapid progress on vaccine development is unprecedented.

Any honest score card must also include the disparities in the states’ performances, with governors in New York, New Jersey and elsewhere issuing fatally flawed orders that led to thousands of unnecessary deaths in nursing homes.

In addition, blue states that remain under stringent lockdowns have unemployment rates nearly twice as high as states where GOP governors moved faster to reopen schools and businesses.
The sting in the tail: there is still a corrupt ruling class that deserves to be flipped off. "The outrageous endorsement by the media of the corruption of law enforcement and intelligence for partisan purposes is reason enough to vote for Trump."