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


Athletics directors at power conference schools make the big bucks, but is it worth it?
Craig White had a big job that was bringing him little happiness.In almost two decades in a premier college athletics department, White had witnessed all kinds of troubling issues: Players who struggled with reading and writing. Vast sums of money thrown at problems. Constant pressure to win now -- or else.

"I wasn't enjoying what I was doing," White said.

So he quit. He left the University of Georgia to run an athletic department in college sports' alternate universe -- Division III. He's not alone. Disenchanted by a culture in which some schools spend money like professional franchises, a steady number of administrators have left Division I to join the lowest, least-funded level of the NCAA.
What is it I've been saying about getting off the 24/7 treadmill?  Less-burdensome job descriptions?  Check.
In Division III, there are no athletic scholarships and no lucrative television contracts. There's also very little money for athletics -- about $5,000 spent per athlete, compared to $90,000 at major football schools. Still, in recent years, job searches for athletic director openings in Division III typically attract one or two Division I candidates who are ready for a change, according to Alden & Associates, an executive search firm that specializes in such openings.

"It's been pretty constant," said Betsy Alden, the Massachusetts-based firm's president.

It often starts with a phone call to Alden's company. "They say they're not happy with Division I and where it's going," she said.

Many who have made the move cite similar reasons: a more idyllic notion of what college sports is, and the better life that comes with it. To them, it's almost utopian compared to Division I, where they see a continued march toward more money-driven conference realignment, even bigger TV deals and regular allegations of recruiting scandals.

In Division I, there have been 562 cases of major NCAA violations since 1953, compared to 47 in Division III.
Compensating differentials? Check.
"While I may not be dealing with multi-million dollar budgets, household-name coaches (and) me-first donors ... I am seeing the last bastion of true college athletics every day: student-athletes playing truly for the love of the game," said Scott Koskoski, the athletic director of Division III Chatham University in Pittsburgh.

Koskoski moved to Chatham this year after previously serving as an administrator at Division I Denver and Temple, where he was involved in fundraising. Koskoski acknowledged it wasn't "fun" to give up his courtesy car and move into a smaller house.

"But do you know what's more fun?" he said. "Being home for dinner four nights a week, having my kids around me at games, and wearing the many hats Division III requires."
But Mr Koskoski's proposal that aspiring power conference athletic directors do a hitch in Division III first may not be advisable, as ambitious and on-the-make people might be doing so anyway. Unlike faculty appointments, where upward mobility is rare, college sports still has meritocratic elements, and people can establish their winning credentials in Division III and move to the other divisions.

Talent moves at the margin?  Check.
White said he tired of being a middle manager, and took a pay cut from his $129,200 salary when he was hired at Millikin in April. He declined to disclose the amount, but his department's entire budget is about $2 million -- about $1 million less than his head football coach was paid at Georgia.
How many times do I have to repeat myself?
I'm going to be contrarian here and suggest that the hotshots who are walking away are actually going to compel those high-powered corporate and professional types to rethink their job descriptions. Why? Because the highest achievers are in the best position to negotiate more favorable terms of employment. I'm making an argument from economic theory, for which I can append anecdotal support as well as advice from a career guru. I will expand on that part in a book review post the next time diminishing returns to grading set in. For now, suppose the high achievers begin saying no to the "we will pay you lots of money but you will have no time to spend any of it" terms of employment? You suppose hiring committees might give a little on the hours, family leave policies or no? (Yes, regular readers, I have made this argument, recently, and certainly many times before.)
But change on the margin is sometimes difficult.
When top jobs open up in Division III, some schools won't even consider a Division I candidate, Alden said. It's too much of a different world -- which is precisely the reason some Division I administrators want to join it, even if some call them idealistic.

"The first word I would use is refreshing," White said of Division III.

At a conference for college athletic directors in June, [Tim] Fitzpatrick of the Coast Guard Academy was approached by several other attendees.

"They told me, 'Man, you've got a lot of nerve to do that,'" Fitzpatrick said, referring to his decision to move down. "Several said they wished they had the same kind of nerve."
Going against established norms is difficult, and the norm of stay on the treadmill because that's achievement is an established norm.

And yet, we're more likely to see improved work-life balance as a consequence of talented people getting off the treadmill than as a consequence of legislation and litigation.


There's a lengthy John Judis essay on what he calls Middle American Radicals.  "If you take ac­count of changes over the years to the edu­ca­tion­al level and oc­cu­pa­tion­al pro­file of the Amer­ic­an work­force, there is a straight line between the MARS who flocked to Wal­lace and those who have backed Perot, Buchanan, and Trump."  Here's his analysis of what touches that populist, aligned with, but not identical to, Tea Party, nerve.
Sev­er­al con­di­tions have, in the past, proved cru­cial. One is a wide­spread sense of na­tion­al de­cline. That was cer­tainly the case in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the United States was mired in Vi­et­nam; in the early 1990s, when the United States faced a pro­trac­ted eco­nom­ic slow­down; and again from 2008 to the present. When the sense of doom has lif­ted, as it did when the Clin­ton boom began in the spring of 1996, the MARS vot­ing bloc has gradu­ally weakened.

The second con­di­tion is pro­nounced dis­trust of the lead­er­ship in Wash­ing­ton. Wal­lace’s MARS were angry about the fed­er­al in­ter­ces­sion in race re­la­tions. In the early 1990s, many con­ser­vat­ive voters felt be­trayed that Bush had broken his prom­ise not to raise taxes, while oth­ers were en­raged by the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s seem­ing in­dif­fer­ence to the re­ces­sion and the grow­ing clout of for­eign lob­by­ists in Wash­ing­ton. That sense of dis­trust com­pletely lif­ted after Septem­ber 11, 2001, when Amer­ic­ans saw the na­tion­al gov­ern­ment as their pro­tect­or. But it has re­turned dur­ing the Obama years: Middle Amer­ic­an Rad­ic­als saw Obama’s re­cov­ery pro­gram and his health care plan as a sop to Wall Street and the poor—which the middle class would have to pay for.
Mr Judis suggests that there are insufficiently many angry voters to get Mr Trump beyond where Patrick Buchanan or Ross Perot got, let alone to Governor Wallace's electoral votes in 1968.  But the contradictions are still there to be heightened.
With the world eco­nomy still in the doldrums, an on­go­ing crisis in the Middle East, and a po­lar­ized and para­lyzed Wash­ing­ton, I doubt it. What’s most likely is that Middle Amer­ic­an Rad­ic­al­ism will keep sim­mer­ing, un­til it finds a new cham­pi­on and boils over once again.
Ultimately, it might be the disaffected voters who haven't been voting that will determine the outcome.


That's the insider's way of contemplating opposed views of the effect of mechanization on the life of ordinary people.  Marx, of course, is the chronicler of technical progress making possible the production of stuff in such abundance that the workers would have insufficient buying power to buy it, because the private owners of the means of production accumulate wealth out of the difference between the prices of the products they sell and the subsistence wages they pay.  Walras, a more obscure political economist, thought systematically about the implications of excess supply of some goods (with prices, the aggregate value of excess demand is zero), and that raises the possibility of the capitalists sharing some of the surplus value with the workers in the form of lower product prices or higher wages.  Let me draw you a picture.

Note, that's in equilibrium, or out of equilibrium, but in a world that feels very much out of equilibrium, or one in which it appears that the equilibrium, thanks to returns to human capital and to smart machinery, feels more like Marx or Dickens than like the Treaty of Detroit.  And out there, somewhere, are works such as Tyler Cowen's Average is Over, raising those ominous possibilities.

I have that book in the stack of books to review, which is going to take a different post.  But I was struck, while I was reading the passage about the opportunities for personal trainers in the new dispensation, that Mr Cowen was writing about test preparation, at the same time that 60 Minutes was reporting on a man who was getting rich and famous running a quarterback academy.  For middle schoolers.

Let's stay on the message.  Consider Michael Barone envisioning a particularly nasty out-of-equilibrium Edgeworth Box.
Our most liberal areas (New York, the Bay Area) have the greatest income disparities. Drive down Middlefield Road in Silicon Valley and in one mile you go from $4 million walled mansions to what looks like rural Mexico.

Brookings's William Galston, writing in the Wall Street Journal, feels "justified revulsion" at this. He accuses Cowen of "moral indifference." I would accuse him of focusing too narrowly on economics.

People get satisfaction out of more than just earning money. They get satisfaction out of what American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks calls earned success.

Earned success can come from high earnings or from simply doing a job well. It can come from raising children and meeting family obligations.
But here's Mr Barone's prognostication.
Cowen predicts the masses won't revolt. They will have comfortable lives and good entertainment -- bread and circuses.

I suspect he's right. America in the 1920s had more inequality than today and there was no revolution.

Inequality was then reduced by three unpredicted developments, two of them unwelcome.

The Depression of the 1930s reduced high and middle incomes. World War II ended unemployment and raised wages.

Wages rose in postwar America because labor was scarce (the 1930s birth dearth) and foreign competition imperceptible.

Those conditions ended around 1970. Inequality rose. Perhaps that's the default mode.

Galston wants to reduce inequality. I say we should do more to strengthen social capital so that everyone can earn success.
Yes, although restoring the social capital is not going to be easy.  Social capital of the form Mr Barone is thinking has been deconstructed and demeaned for years. That puts him in the position of fretting that neither he nor William Galston know how to get to where they want to go.  (Particularly if those quarterback academies for middle schoolers do their job.)

And Pope Francis has weighed in, sounding more like Marx or Dickens.  "In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule."

At Network World, Patrick Thibodeau suggests that the smart machines will create a human environment of high unemployment, unrest, and tumult, as envisioned by a research firm called Gartner.
From 2020 to 2030, "you are going to see the first human-free enterprise -- nobody is involved in it, it's all software, communicating and negotiating with one another," said Diane Morello, a Gartner analyst, who has looked at how smart machines will reshape employment.

Morello said companies increasingly will recognize that smart machines are part of the workforce. "Human beings are not the only workforce," she said.
That's straight out of Marx's "Machinery and Modern Industry." And yet, Walras and the aggregate value of excess demand in or out of equilibrium is present.
If technology cuts the workforce leading to a reduced consumer spending, who then buys the goods from increasingly automated companies? There wasn't a clear answer to that problem, said Morello. "Somebody is going to have to pay for the services," she said.

Smart machines may also help people adapt and learn new skills, but the challenges will require broad public policy engagement, according to Gartner analysts.

"It's definitely easy to see a dystopian future," said Nick Hansen, senior analyst for Discipline Growth Investors, but he is more optimistic. "The thing I keep coming back to is, there is always something humans want from other humans."

While the first phase of the revolution may benefit the robber barons, or in this case the Silicon Valley titans, Hansen said, "eventually there is a huge economic potential that actually dwarfs the initial potential" as people figure out how "to tap into all these unused resources" or people idled by changes.
Not to mention that the robber barons will themselves be reduced to penury without customers.

The aggregate value of excess demand must be zero, in or out of equilibrium.

And the late adopters might land at a better place on the institutional learning curve for not having the early growing pains of the industrialized world.
So, while developed countries are worrying about the breakdown of the blue social model based on mass manufacturing jobs and lifetime employment, the real story is that developing countries may never get to the blue model. Automation and global competition mean than manufacturing jobs and their wages aren’t going to grow enough to support a middle class in China and other countries as they did in the US, Europe and Japan.

If this is true, the implications are enormous: social stability in countries like China could be much more tenuous than many think, and developing countries may have a much harder time reaching the levels of affluence found in the advanced world. Since we’ve never seen a global industrial revolution before, much less one that is taking place at the same time as a global information revolution, nobody really knows how it will all shake out.
But it could still go badly.  Here's "Inequality Is a Choice" by Joseph Stiglitz, who during his hitch with the World Bank got to see all kinds of gated communities.
I see us entering a world divided not just between the haves and have-nots, but also between those countries that do nothing about it, and those that do. Some countries will be successful in creating shared prosperity — the only kind of prosperity that I believe is truly sustainable. Others will let inequality run amok. In these divided societies, the rich will hunker in gated communities, almost completely separated from the poor, whose lives will be almost unfathomable to them, and vice versa. I’ve visited societies that seem to have chosen this path. They are not places in which most of us would want to live, whether in their cloistered enclaves or their desperate shantytowns.
The dynamic by which inequality runs amok is as envisioned by Marx, and yet it's unlikely that the rich in such cloistered enclaves are going to stay rich, absent consumers to buy their stuff, or to keep living in such places.  And entrepreneurial alertness, argues Boston University law professor James Bessen (via Newmark's Door) is going to recognize in those displaced persons a source of productive and relatively cheap labor that is also a source of customers.
We're likely to see the information revolution follow a similar course. So far, the gains have mostly flowed to the most talented and entrepreneurial workers. But as these technologies mature, we're likely to see increasing demand for moderately-skilled labor that complements the capabilities of computers.

To be sure, the new machines will be smarter, performing more tasks involving logic and inference than older technologies. But intelligent machines per se are not new. Some of the earliest machines used in the Industrial Revolution had “smart” features, for example, stopping a loom if a thread broke or changing the speed of a spinning machine as yarn was wound. Machines have become progressively smarter, and this changes the nature of the tasks needed to complement the machines. But there are plenty of examples of middle-income jobs today where humans work with relatively smart machines.
In fact, the Luddite protest against automation in the mills was a protest that the modern machinery was making it possible for schoolgirls to spin and weave, crafts that used to require skilled operatives.  And the Treaty of Detroit came about because modern machinery made it possible for farm boys to bolt cars together, something that was similary custom work of a high order.

The aggregate value of excess demand must be zero, in or out of equilibrium.
Writing in Das Kapital in 1867, Karl Marx looked at the growing gap between poor factory workers and the wealthy owners of capital and concluded that the Industrial Revolution would progressively immiserate the working classes. In fact, the opposite was true; the Industrial Revolution was on the cusp of creating the modern middle class.

Today, Cowen is making a similar mistake. He sees a growing gap between the cognitive elite and everyone else, and concludes that these trends will accelerate in the next few decades. But history suggests a more optimistic possibility: as information technology matures, the economy will create a growing number of opportunities for moderately-skilled workers to develop skills that complement intelligent machines. Once that happens, today's extreme income disparities will begin to moderate, and the plight of America's middle class will stop looking so bleak.
Kevin Drum is not so sanguine.
What happens to human labor when machines are smart enough that they need virtually no human guidance at all?

Bessen simply ignores this possibility. Apparently he thinks that future machines will get a little bit smarter, but will remain just dumb enough that they'll continue to need constant attention from an army of folks who graduated from high school with a C+ average. But if that turns out to be the case, there's really no interesting conversation to be had. The future will be pretty much like the present. Why even bother talking about it?

But the evidence suggests, rather, that we're on the cusp of big changes. Machines in the future will be a lot smarter than current machines, and they won't need constant attention from much of anyone. If you want to engage with this debate, you need to present a cogent argument that either (a) machines will never get all that smart, or (b) even if they do, there will still be a substantial role for average humans to play. Bessen does neither.
Mr Drum's opening sentence echoes an old conversation a union leader had with an automobile executive who was showing off the latest engine-block-boring machines that ended with the union leader noting the machines don't buy cars.  I couldn't find that quote, but custom cars for the masses, anyone?

The aggregate value of excess demand is zero, in and out of equilibrium.

And if Professor Bessen had an enterprise in mind that could offer gainful employment to average humans, he'd likely be pursuing it, as, if successful, ownership of the enterprise would pay off far better than being on a law faculty does.

But entrepreneurship is messy, and out of equilibrium can persist for a long time.  Thus there's no guarantee that Walras, or Marx, gets the last word.


James Arlandson characterizes the current Democrat-media-academy complex as the Axis of Sophomores.
Where do leftists dominate?  Colleges and universities.  Who comes out of colleges and universities?  Politicians.  It's beneficial to go to school, but can the students use a little wisdom?  Can they now research the web to find out how they're being indoctrinated?

The second source: the left also dominate the mainstream media, who love the axis of sophomores.

Leftists hold the deep conviction in their hearts that America is the problem.  They're wrong.  She's the solution for the world – insofar as she stands for life and liberty, which is the greatest need around the globe.
The point of junior and senior year is to develop deeper understanding of topics, so as to not remain a wise fool, no matter how compelling the first steps might sound. "And perhaps the reason even college sophomores have trouble grasping the economics is that college sophomores are not yet ready for economics -- never mind that Democrat cliches are offered at about a sophomore level of understanding."  And sometimes a mugging by reality occurs.
The propensity of college students to favor Democrats and then vote Republican in middle age is at least as old as the Great Society (what's that line about "to live like a Republican, vote Democratic?") and it might be driven as a desire to keep what one has acquired, as Professor Brooks notes, or it might be a recognition that what appeals to a college sophomore might not appeal well to a messy reality (that raises a question about professors whose thinking has not developed beyond the sophomore level, but I digress.)
On occasion, even people whose livelihood depends on them not recognizing reality when it mugs them have to rethink.  Yes, even Washington Post columnists.  Hello, Richard Cohen.
Obama became president on the strength of his eloquence. To a large degree, that is what has deserted him. He is out of words because he is out of ideas. Consequently, he ought to listen to others. They’re not the ones who are popping off. He is.
Our President might even have recognized that in his brief shout-out to "A Charlie Brown Christmas" at fifty years, when he noted that in Washington, everyone sounds like the adults in Peanuts.  And Dana Milbank refers to President Oh-bummer.  "Maybe you can motivate people when you sound so discouraging. But it’s hard."


Fine.  If we can't reason people out of the Cult of the Presidency on theoretical grounds, perhaps we can disestablish it on the basis of the evidence.



Alex Kingsbury of the Boston Globe goes cross-country by train.  Yes, there's a lot of the pop sociology and Euro-envy (and nothing at all about running existing trains faster on existing tracks) and yet there's a fact the casual reader ought be aware of.
As a nation, we think of our rail system as rickety, yet that’s only the passenger system.

Heading into the dining car one night on the Empire Builder, I was serendipitously seated next to Peter Gilbertson, president and CEO of Anacostia Rail Holdings, which operates six railroads in seven states. “This country has the greatest freight rail system ever built, better than any other country in the world,” he told me. “But most people don’t know it.”
Yes, and that's the basis of the Cold Spring Shops Free Rein to 110 campaign.  The freight railroads want good track.  Running intermodal trains at 90 or 100 and passenger trains at 110 or 125 on existing metals is possible, as the British have been demonstrating for years.  And good freight track is a benefit for commuters, a part of the Passenger Rail system that Mr Kingsbury understandably doesn't write about, although the bulk of passengers at Boston South Station, where he boarded, and Chicago Union Station, where he changed trains, are dashing commuters.  (And he didn't get to see North Station in Boston or North Western Station and La Salle Street Station and Randolph Street in Chicago.)
That freight system has moved countless trucks off the road and fueled tremendous economic growth. But congestion on the country’s road network is becoming paralytic — American drivers spend 14.5 million hours sitting in their cars. That’s a powerful argument to move as many of those vehicles as possible off the road, by placing their passengers on rail.
Passengers are thinking people (homo sapiens sapiens, remember?) and in Greater DeKalb, many think about parking charges and a possible two-hour traffic jam and they're on Metra, public policy neglect or not.  But Metra and the other commuter rail authorities do not have reciprocal ticketing privileges with Amtrak nor do the passenger rail authorities think much about how best to change trains in Chicago, or between the Boston commuter trains and Amtrak.
Traveling coast-to-coast on a train is one of the most intimate ways to see the country. You can see faces passing by, drivers behind the wheel on roads that parallel the track, or waiting at crossings as the train rolls through. Moreover, America also makes sense seen from the rails. Cities were build around them, after all, and trains glide easily between and through them as opposed to meandering, congested highways. There’s an undeniable romance to train travel even if the reality never quite delivers.
Yes, as a Trains writer memorably put it, after a short ride on the old Santa Fe Chief, "you can be genuinely curious about the people of West Covina, instead of wishing they would get out of the way."

Now to get Mr Kingsbury on board with frequency, connectivity, inter-authority ticketing, and 110 mph diesel trains on existing track.


Matthew Continetti warns the punditry to "Prepare to be Blindsided" in the upcoming presidential campaign, as complex adaptive systems do what they do best. "
First the unthinkable becomes conceivable. Then the conceivable becomes plausible. Then the plausible becomes acceptable. And the next thing you know, we’ve got President Trump.
Let's just treat that as a possibility, without any indication on Mr Continetti's part whether that's desirable or not.  To Kurt Schlichter, it's also a possibility, one that his past writings suggest he might welcome.
Our contributions to society are belittled, as if the welfare-sucking losers living on Democrat handouts built this country instead of us.

This is unjust.  This is wrong.  And this will not last.  Where there is no justice, there will be no peace.  Trump is only the harbinger of a much deeper anger, and a fully justified one.  It cannot continue; the status quo is not static, and injustice will create a reaction.  Upheaval is coming, and chaos looms if we stay this course.  It’s not too late to fundamentally transform back into a just society, but that would take a real leader.
And in this Dan McLaughlin essay is the possibility that a nomination and an electoral victory for Mr Trump might come from voters who have sat out previous elections.
The number of people who voted for a past Republican presidential candidate and not for Mitt Romney likely isn’t be much above the 1 million to 1.5 million range, not enough by itself to cover the distance between Romney and Obama, and the missing stay-at-home voters did not appreciably cut into the proportion of voters who think of themselves as “conservatives.”

But this doesn’t mean the electorate really is static, or that there’s no opportunity to improve on it. What it means is that the missing potential Republican voters are not been regular voters in the recent past, and many of them may not be politically engaged people who think of themselves as conservatives, whether or not their actual beliefs are. Let’s start with the fact that about 93 million eligible voters didn’t vote at all in 2012
What follows is wonky, more about the detail work required to get voters registered, and participating in caucus and primary and then showing up in November.  Perhaps, though, it's simpler.  The Irony of Democracy (I read the 1971 edition years ago) is that the people who stay home hold what the authors characterized as negative and illiberal attitudes toward democracy.

And perhaps it is the angry radio talkers, and the angry and unbeholden to the nomenklatura presidential aspirants, who are filling the stadia at Mr Trump's rallies.  But will they turn out?


Start with Christopher Chantrill.  "Imagine the world if the left had spent the last 160 years teaching the working class and then women and blacks and now Muslims how to wive and thrive in the capitalist economy instead of teaching them how to wreck it."  Perhaps "how to wreck it" is too strong, and yet enabling dysfunction and calling it diversity or authenticity isn't turning out too well.  Take Chicago.  Robert Tracinski suggests the troubles there are self-inflicted, and names names.
If the city is about to get the riots it deserves, the protesters have to admit they have gotten the city government they asked for.

It’s not just that they have voted for politicians from the Democratic Party. It’s that they have uncritically embraced that party’s ideology. As they have suffered under the yoke of a big, intrusive, corrupt, callous, and indifferent government, they have clamored for more of it.
That's going to require getting rid of the ward-heeler politicians.
Chicago’s protesters have a legitimate grievance against their city government. What they don’t yet have is a legitimate solution. That’s going to require breaking the Democratic Party’s monopoly on the city’s politics—and something much more difficult, breaking the big-government left’s monopoly on their own minds.

Chicago has a long history of embracing lefty do-gooders and rabble-rousers who make a lot of noise about how much they care about the poor, but manage to drain billions in taxpayer dollars without making anything better. Yet the people remain in thrall to those political charlatans—they even sent one of them to the White House.

What they need is not just a blind rebellion against the police or against City Hall. What they need is a real rebellion against the paternalistic ideology that treats them as wards or subjects of government, even as it fails them continuously for 50 years.
There's a symbiosis between desperate people who like having a ward-heeler "fighting for them" and a ward-heeler who mau-maus the rest of the polity about the continued parlous condition of his or her constituents.  A ward-heeler cannot call out the constituents for engaging in self-destructive behavior, nor get re-elected in a district in which constituents discover, or re-discover bourgeois habits.  Better to have constituents rendered helpless by years of Democratic policies.
As far as those bourgeois habits, there's a roundup of the social science, peer-reviewed and incomplete, tacked to Newmark's Door.

Imagine honoring your commitments, telling the truth, and exchanging your best efforts for the best efforts of others.


A '57 Chevy is a better looking car than a Toyota Camry (and didn't require the arch-deluxe Jan to sell it.)  But in many ways the Camry is a more reliable platform, and cheaper.
[T]oday’s typical worker in America must work 1,123 hours – or 28 weeks – to earn enough income to buy a new, base-model Toyota Camry.   Compared to 1957, two-and-a-half weeks less work is required today of an ordinary American worker to buy a popular new car – a popular new car that is nearly indescribably superior to a ’57 Chevy.
That is, if there is any such thing as a typical or ordinary worker anymore.

The article also notes that, despite farm subsidies, a gallon of milk is relatively cheaper.  Maybe cheaper food and obesity go together?



It has been a difficult November in Packer Nation, with the Green Bay Packers missing opportunities for last-second victories or ties in three games, meaning Jay Cutler wins a game in Green Bay, and the Detroit Lions win a game in Green Bay, something that last happened before Mikhail Gorbachev abdicated.

But Saddam Hussein was still alive, although in captivity, the last time Minnesota's Gophers wielded Paul Bunyan's Axe, and the last time ownership of the Axe required some late heroics from Wisconsin.  Minnesota hired Jerry Kill away from Northern Illinois to strengthen the football program, and Mr Kill did, but at the time he retired, the Axe remained in Madison, where it still is.

It is likely that the Axe will return to Minnesota sometime.  When it does, if that's at Gopher Stadium, or whoever has the naming rights at the time, this prediction seems likely.  "Given the length of the Wisconsin winning streak, it is likely that any future claiming of the Axe by the Minnesota team is going to have Gopher fans actually tearing down a goalpost, once the players have pantomimed the act."

Perhaps by then, football will have rethought the excessive use of replay and the committee meetings of referees that the no-huddle offenses have rendered obsolete for the players, and perhaps we will see the end of "completed the process of the catch" and illegal picks that are not illegal picks, and all the other ways that the officials have intruded themselves excessively into the game.

But we're still likely to see playoff situations resolved by teams getting a little help from other teams, as in Northern Illinois returning to the Mid-American title game in Detroit with an assist from Western Michigan.


Simple Justice summarizes the latest list of enablements for academic underachievers, now sailing under the banner of "The Demands."  (Non-negotiable probably being too big a word for the current crop of crybullies.)  There's apparently a call to reason together circulating at Princeton,   Here's an excerpt.
While we do not wish to impose additional distribution requirements on students for fear of stifling academic exploration, we believe that all students should be encouraged to take courses taught by professors who will challenge their preconceived mindsets. To this end, the University should make every effort to attract outstanding faculty representing a wider range of viewpoints–even controversial viewpoints–across all departments. Princeton needs more Peter Singers, more Cornel Wests, and more Robert Georges.

Similarly, we believe that requiring cultural competency training for faculty threatens to impose orthodoxies on issues about which people of good faith often disagree. As Professor Sergiu Klainerman has observed, it reeks of the reeducation programs to which people in his native Romania were subjected under communist rule.

We firmly believe that there should be no space at a university in which any member of the community, student or faculty, is “safe” from having his or her most cherished and even identity-forming values challenged. It is the very mission of the university to seek truth by subjecting all beliefs to critical, rational scrutiny. While students with a shared interest in studying certain cultures are certainly welcome to live together, we reject University-sponsored separatism in housing. We are all members of the Princeton community. We denounce the notion that our basic interactions with each other should be defined by demographic traits.
It may not be mine to finish the task.  Simple Justice notes, "[S]tudents don’t want to be held captive by one identitarian group’s forcible demands to recreate education based on their feelings." No, that will not end well.


In a world of high-stakes testing and a No Child Left Behind means No Child Gets Ahead, what shall the elementary schools do with intellectually gifted kids?  The old tactic of accelerating them (grade skipping) is still available.  But that brings tradeoffs with it.
[The Big Bang Theory's] central character, Caltech theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper as played by Jim Parsons, is an irritating, immature egotist. But a Nobel Prize for him seems likely. He started college at 11 and earned his doctorate from M.I.T. at 16.

Faced with children like that, gifted-student advocates say, American schools worry more about acceleration stunting their emotional growth than enhancing their genius.
University of Wisconsin mathematician Jordan Ellenberg elaborates.
When I was a child, I was a "genius"—the kind you sometimes see profiled on the local news. I started reading at 2. I could multiply two-digit numbers in my head when I was 5. One of my earliest memories is working out a way to generate Pythagorean triples. In third grade, I commuted to the local junior high to take geometry. Kids on the playground would sometimes test me by asking what a million times a million was—and were delighted when I knew the answer.

Many advocates for gifted education are similarly delighted by kids like me, seeing us as a kind of natural resource, one we risk squandering as surely as we do fossil fuels. Some educators rebrand child prodigies as "exceptional human capital" and hold us to be the drivers of global economic competitiveness. "These are the people who are going to figure out all the riddles," the Vanderbilt University psychologist David Lubinski said in a recent interview. "Schizophrenia, cancer—they're going to fight terrorism, they're going to create patents and the scientific innovations that drive our economy. But they are not given a lot of opportunities in schools that are designed for typically developing kids."
Been there, did some of that, suffered the opprobrium. Mr Ellenberg suggests that education policy makers not overdo the grade-skipping, or the celebration of genius.  I concur.
Those of us who managed sky-high SAT scores at 13 were 20 times as likely as the average American to get a doctorate; let's say, being charitable, that we're 100 times as likely to make a significant scientific advance. Since we're only 1 in 10,000 of the U.S. population, that still leaves 99% of scientific advances to be made by all those other kids who didn't get an early ticket to the genius club. We geniuses aren't going to solve all the riddles. Most child prodigies are highly successful—but most highly successful people weren't child prodigies.
That's the kind of mathematical Fingerspitzengef├╝hl he'd like to see in more of the general population.
One of the most painful aspects of teaching mathematics is seeing my students damaged by the cult of the genius. That cult tells students that it's not worth doing math unless you're the best at math—because those special few are the only ones whose contributions really count. We don't treat any other subject that way. I've never heard a student say, "I like 'Hamlet,' but I don't really belong in AP English—that child who sits in the front row knows half the plays by heart, and he started reading Shakespeare when he was 7!" Basketball players don't quit just because one of their teammates outshines them. But I see promising young mathematicians quit every year because someone in their range of vision is "ahead" of them.

And losing mathematicians isn't the only problem. We need more math majors who don't become mathematicians—more math-major doctors, more math-major high-school teachers, more math-major CEOs, more math-major senators. But we won't get there until we dump the stereotype that math is worthwhile only for child geniuses.
And there's likely to be more productive work done by identifying and nurturing those young people who don't stand out, or don't get the opportunity to stand out, as prodigies.
It is incumbent upon those who care about social mobility and racial inclusion to come up with alternatives [to affirmative action] that implicitly recognize that race matters in American society—and that, today, class matters even more.
There is a straightforward generalization to cultivating the gifted children, developed by Chester Finn and Brandon Wright with an assist by Eric Hanushek.
The second big reason to attend to the schooling of high-ability youngsters is a version of the familiar equity argument: these kids also deserve an education that meets their needs and enhances their futures, just like children with other distinctions and problems. They have their own legitimate claim on our conscience, our sense of fair- ness, our policy priorities, and our education budgets. What’s more, many of them also face such challenges as disability, poverty, ill-educated parents, non-English-speaking homes, and tough neighborhoods.

Those kids depend more than upper-middle-class youngsters on the public education system to do right by them. Some will manage to overcome the constraints of their upbringing, but many will fall by the wayside, destined by circumstances beyond their control never to realize their full potential. As Ford Foundation president Darren Walker recently remarked, “[E]ven though talent is spread evenly across America, opportunity is not.” That’s why our failure to extend such opportunities to more high-ability kids from disadvantaged backgrounds is, as the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation team recently put it, “both unacceptable and incompatible with America’s long-term prosperity.”
And some mix of grade-skipping and exposure to the life-management skills of the middle class seems helpful.
Plenty more poor kids have the ability, but lots of them lack the supports from home and family that middle-class children enjoy, and many attend schools awash in low achievement, places where all the incentives and pressures on teachers and administrators are to equip weak pupils with basic skills in reading, writing, and arithmetic. Such schools understandably invest their resources in boosting low achievers. They’re also most apt to judge teachers by their success in doing that and least apt to have much to spare—energy or time, incentive or money—for students already above the proficiency bar. These might fairly be termed the kids that [No Child Left Behind] forgot.

We are by no means the first to flag this problem. As the authors of that 1993 report declared: “The United States is squandering one of its most precious resources—the gifts, talents, and high interests of many of its students. . . . This problem is especially severe among economically disadvantaged and minority students, who have access to fewer advanced educational opportunities and whose talents often go unnoticed.” (Emphasis added.)
Although there are children no longer as far behind, the lost potential is still significant.
It’s true that not all upper-middle-class kids with strong ability can count on having education-maximizing parents—some are content for their children to be well-adjusted and popular—and some youngsters themselves lack motivation. Yet the odds are hugely better that such girls and boys will get an education that does a decent job of capitalizing on their potential, beginning in their earliest months on earth. For they are all but certain to have adults in their lives who read to them, ask them questions that don’t have simple answers, show them intriguing things, and take them to interesting places—adults with the knowledge and capacity to navigate our complicated education system in pursuit of suitable options for their daughters and sons, and to press for access to the best of those options. These are adults who possess resources that enable them to shift to better options when necessary, whether that means changing neighbor- hoods, purchasing supplemental education offerings, even sending their children to private schools.

Equally able youngsters from poor families, on the other hand, depend mainly on their local public education system to supply them with suitable learning opportunities. Many start school behind the eight ball because they haven’t learned as many words or been asked to think about as many complicated things or seen as many informative places as their more-advantaged classmates. Many also enter schools that have a weak record of academic achievement and are staffed by less experienced teachers.

All of this puts at further risk those youngsters who were disadvantaged to begin with, compared with their middle-class peers, and makes it less likely that they will receive an education that nurtures their ability to the max. Able as they may be, they face a double whammy because their schools are beset by more urgent problems: poor attendance, children arriving hungry or sick, discipline challenges, language issues, and more. Such schools may also be strapped for resources—money, expert instructors, materials, and so on. Maximizing the potential of their high-ability, high-achieving pupils may be something that principals and teachers yearn to do but are simply too swamped to devote the energy and resources it requires.
None of the above is likely to sit well with the so-called progressives and all their feel-good fads that do nothing to inculcate bourgeois habits in feral youth, whilst killing ambition among young people not yet feral.



That's a tradition almost as old as Thanksgiving, certainly as old as this weblog, and this year The American Experience shows the contest, warts and all.

I'll repeat my message.

I give thanks for your readership and your comments.

Spare a few moments thanks for the young people in harm's way around the world, for the people in emergency services who deserve to sit down to the turkey without the alarm ringing, for the people in transportation, tourism, and entertainment passing on their family gatherings to enhance yours.

And Go You Packers Go.


Still cleaning out the archives.  Here, from just before I turned in my dry-erase markers, is an excursion into oppression olympics among professors who may or may not be disrespected by their students.  Start with the predictable self-flagellation by an aging hippie professor who is beyond parody.
I’ve got a gray beard, a balding head, and an old person’s sartorial style—but I’ve embraced blending into student populations. For me, this isn’t simply about being cool or fitting in or feeling young. I consider it a pedagogical intervention: The idea is to challenge our collective understanding of what it means to be an intellectual, and to show that scholarly pursuits are not incompatible with the “everyday.”
That prompts the staff at College Fix to get off the case for social distance.
Respect and professionalism, prof? I’ve got news for you: With your wardrobe choices, there are students who will automatically question you, your whiteness notwithstanding. Just because no one has complained doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened.
But within the self-flagellation there's an anecdote that suggests offices of faculty development are missing an opportunity to do some real faculty development.
Did the students—either the legendarily political Berkeley crew or the less-progressive students who just were taking the course for a general-education requirement—ever challenge me, question why I was teaching the class, or simply resist my pedagogical approach? Never. Happened. Even though I lectured about genocide, enslavement, mass incarceration, and persistent white supremacy, students offered little resistance.

This all changed, though, when a fellow graduate student—an African-American man—delivered a couple of guest lectures about the prison-industrial complex. After two mind-blowing and brilliant talks, I was excited to continue the conversation with the class. My students? Not so much. They lamented the guest lecturer’s “attitude.” They described him as “angry,” as “biased” and “sarcastic,” and as “different from me.” Several students seemed more interested in litigating his pedagogical choices than discussing the injustices of the American judicial system.
That seemed to be a theme elsewhere those days. Consider A Black Female Professor Struggles With 'Going Mean'. Social distance matters, and carrying it off without seeming arrogant or uncaring is hard. Trust me, I worked on that and can't be sure I ever got it right.
The behavior of the overly authoritative professor was a symptom of being devalued and disrespected by students and colleagues, I said. While unfortunate, I assured the student that such dynamics were part and parcel of the minority and female academic experience. My student then used her sociological imagination to describe how this woman’s place in history had probably played a significant role as well. She said, "Yeah, this woman started in the 1970s. It must have been really tough being a black professor then." I was satisfied with her use of the sociological imagination and ended the conversation by confirming the astuteness of her insight.

I was truthful with the student about how being a black academic is an uphill battle (something I first saw while teaching in graduate school). Indeed, I almost made the decision during that first semester to "go mean" on my own students. I told her that I had felt I was at a crossroads—frustrated about being devalued by my colleagues and disrespected by my students. I had an internal conversation about whether I would continue to be my jovial self or purposefully be cold and differentiate myself from my students and colleagues. However, such behavior would be only a symptom of a larger problem that I was having as a minority female professor. And if I had decided to act coldly, I would merely be seen as "difficult" or as having an "attitude."
There's plenty more, in a similar vein, summarized by John Rosenberg. The diversity-privilege-oppression nexus comes in for stick, and yet, in all the complaints, is the missed opportunity for faculty development.

It's in the presentation, people.  Former Vice President Al Gore, for example, comes off as condescending and sanctimonious most of the time.  Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been making extraordinary efforts to modulate her tone and sound reasonable on the stump, although lately her handlers must have coached her to dial up the strident again.  Being firm without being nasty is an important part of saying no and upholding standards, which is what professors get paid to do, and getting the content across without coming off as sarcastic or angry or difficult ought to be what the experts in faculty development get paid to do.


Some years ago, Historiann hosted a bull session on the curious aesthetics of one Susan Jacoby.   The culture-studies types put on a clinic every so often about how far you can go slinging big words around, and the now-ended Mad Men series provided lots of the material to be subjected to the usual theorrhea.  Start with Ms Jacoby.
Nearly all institutional power for 20 years after the war was indeed wielded by the war generation (and eventually by younger men born during the Depression). Yet a vast majority of men possessed limited power that could vanish swiftly if they committed the ultimate sin of failing to bring home a paycheck.

It was often said, as the feminist movement found its voice in the early 1970s, that most wives were just one man away from poverty. It would have been just as valid to say that most men were just one job away from poverty.

In 1960, about 25 percent of wives with children under 18 held jobs — many of them part time — and a disproportionate number of those women came not from the middle class but from the poorest fifth of American families. Throughout my childhood, “she works” was a pitying pejorative applied to women whose husbands had turned out to be “bad providers.”

The world of “Mad Men,” in which executives earn enough to pay for lavish hotel rooms for trysts with girlfriends, along with fur coats to pacify their wives, was unimaginable for most blue- or white-collar working men 50 years ago.
That's the cultural norms of The America that Worked(TM) and the social milieu that the Serious Thinkers of the Day had to deconstruct.  Ms Jacoby is clearly conversant with Feminine Mystique and that line of reasoning, but, in the next few paragraphs her unfamiliarity with The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and The Lonely Crowd and Organization Man and the rest of the bad ideas about excessive conformity and anomie and all the rest that burdened the emergent hippies becomes clear.
My dad worked so hard that he wouldn’t have had time for routine adultery even if he had the desire. Furthermore, my supposedly powerless mother would have spotted any unexplained expenditure of more than $20 — not enough to rent a decent hotel room even in 1960 in Lansing, Mich. Some husbands certainly did exercise tight control over money, but the basic middle-class covenant of the time ceded power to women over everything domestic, including the family budget.

The cost of that covenant to women — the suppression of worldly opportunity — has been thoroughly told. The cost to men — in terms of stress, time lost with the families they were trying so hard to support and lack of freedom to pursue personal interests — has not been nearly as well documented.
Yes, and the "do your own thing" Sixties had behind all the posturing a strong expectation that the bourgeois economy would always be there to fall back upon, and somewhere in those early feminist stirrings to pry open the social clubs and the executive suites would be the opportunity for ambitious mothers to neglect their children the same way ambitious fathers did.  We're still too close to the beginning of that transition to come to any definitive conclusions as to gains and losses, and I suspect there's going to be more than mandated leave time or taxpayer-funded child care in the final analysis.

And much of what the conventional wisdom seems to attribute to social movements and influential actors might really be emergent.  That's the point Historiann may be raising in her reaction to Ms Jacoby.
But whose power was it in the first place (allegedly) to cede to the reigning housewife?  Jacoby is right to say that men married to spouses who didn’t work for wages are more economically vulnerable than those who are married to an income earner, but whose decision was it to restrict women’s paid employment options?  Was it the women, or was it middle-class middle-managers and accountants like Bob Jacoby, who until the civil rights and women’s movements were exactly the kind of people in positions of power and who continued discriminatory hiring practices?  I’m just sayin’.
Evolutionary stable strategies are like that.  Perhaps that division of labor conferred advantages as the market expanded sufficiently for paid work outside the house to be more rewarding than autarkic households with relatively little attachment to the labor force.  It might have nothing to do with power.  Or with Ms Jacoby trying to elicit kind remarks from the boys.

And complex adaptive systems adapt in ways that do not lend themselves to a single cause, whether that cause is part of the Set of Oppressions or not.  When I first started this post, it's in response to a comment.
Did women become more interested in paid employment outside the home (because women have always worked, just not always for wages) as a response to the beginning of the wage slide, or was it the other way around? Or is there no connection at all?
The rest of the world figuring out how to do the routine industrial tasks that used to be high-tech is likely to have affected the returns to factory labor in the United States and other developed countries, whether or not female labor force participation rates increased.  And the presence of ambitious and educated women in the executive suite is likely to have contributed to assortative mating.
As someone who grew up in the 1970s and came of age in the 1980s, it often feels to me like the cultural climate responded to the Civil Rights Movement and the Women’s Movement by basically saying, “If you’re going to make us share the goodies, we’ll make sure there aren’t as many goodies to go around, so all the groups will fight each other for a share of the diminished goody pool instead of fighting for more goodies for everyone. And by the way, we’ll elevate a few oustanding members of the disadvantaged groups here and there, to trick people into thinking this is all based on merit.”
That observation comes close to a confession that the victims-rights crowd of the Sixties was actually about zero-sum thinking.  More for us, less for them.  Pie-slicing, and deckchair arranging.  But that's a lot easier to grasp than as more hands are involved in baking and eating the pie, prices will adjust to reflect both the increased size of the pie and the increased buying power of the additional hands.  Regular readers know where I'm going with this.
I would like to have an answer to that question that does not require a fairly advanced knowledge of economics. Suggestions are welcome. The problem, dear reader, is that the injection of additional productive resources into an economy implies that those resources will produce goods and receive income, either in the form of goods or in the form of claims to goods. Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that additional productive resources get injected into an economy in the form of women. At this level of abstraction, it matters not whether these women come from the ranks of stay-at-home wives seeking some income and some intellectual stimulation, or from the ranks of collegians discontented with the traditional education and nursing majors or with the notion of the M.R.S. degree. What matters is that their presence in the work force affects the potential output of the economy, as well as the equilibrium price ratio.
There are laws of conservation in economics, and commentators neglect them at their peril.


The Democrat-media-academy establishment is clueless.

I promised payback from the yeomanry, and the remnant of mainstream America.  But first, the causes that are inspiring the yeomanry and the remnant to bring the hammer.

Here's Ace, noticing the same puzzlement among the usual superficial thinkers.
When ISIS says that they are going to smuggle terrorists in amongst Syrian refuges to kill us at home, something they have demonstrated the ability to do as recently as last week, we think it’s simply prudent to halt an influx of refugees that we can not verify free of terrorists. Again, simple common sense.

Our leaders, the so called smart set, don’t seem to agree, and an increasing percentage of the population is realizing that what we see as blindingly obvious, they don’t see at all? Why? I’ve seen this question asked more than once this past week on social media and in the press, and have yet to hear a good answer. It quite simply makes no sense.
And Victor Davis Hanson, perhaps capturing the depths of introspection that will be required before the smart set performs its act of contrition.  Start with the creepy Obama cult, circa 2008.
The tiny number of prescient pundits who warned what the Obama years would entail were not the supposedly sober and judicious establishment voices, who in fact seemed to be caught up in the hope-and-change euphoria and missed entirely Obama’s petulance and pique: the Evan Thomases (“he’s sort of god”), or the David Brookses (“and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” “It is easy to sketch out a scenario in which [Obama] could be a great president.”), or the Chris Matthewses (“the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often.”), or the Michael Beschlosses (“Uh. I would say it’s probably — he’s probably the smartest guy ever to become President.”), or the Chris Buckleys (“He has exhibited throughout a ‘first-class temperament,’ pace Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s famous comment about FDR. As for his intellect, well, he’s a Harvard man”), or the Kathleen Parkers ( . . . with solemn prayers that Obama will govern as the centrist, pragmatic leader he is capable of being”), or the Peggy Noonans (“He has within him the possibility to change the direction and tone of American foreign policy, which need changing; his rise will serve as a practical rebuke to the past five years, which need rebuking; his victory would provide a fresh start in a nation in which a fresh start would come as a national relief.”).
At least Ms Noonan is admitting to second thoughts.  The rest ... probably more important that they keep getting invited to the right receptions, openings, and dinners.

Thus, it was up to the people who might have known all along that they wouldn't be invited, or that not being invited was no big deal, as it's hard work to pretend to be nice to people who are pretending to be nice to you.
In truth, it was the loud, sometimes shrill, and caricatured voices of talk radio, the so-called crazy Republican House members, and the grassroots loudmouths of what would become the Tea Party who had Obama’s number. They warned early on that Barack Obama’s record was that of a petulant extremist, that his writing presaged that he would borrow and spend like no other president, that his past associations gave warning that he would use his community-organizing skills cynically to divide Americans along racial lines, that nothing in his past had ever suggested anything other than radicalism and an ease with divisive speech, that his votes as a state legislator and as a U.S. senator suggested that he had an instinctual dislike of the entrepreneur and the self-made businessman, and that his past rhetoric advised that he would ignore settled law and instead would rule by fiat — that he would render immigration law null and void, that he would diminish the profile of America abroad, and that he would do all this because he was an ideologue, with no history of bipartisanship but a lot of animus toward his critics, and one who saw no ethical or practical reason to appreciate the more than 60 years of America’s postwar global leadership and the world that it had built. Again, the despised right-wingers were right and the more moderate establishment quite wrong.
If we were only scrapping over which oppressed and marginalized voices (Ayn Rand? Ludwig von Mises? Toni Morrison? Frantz Fanon?) ought be Highly Recommended in the curriculum.  Or over the tax code (Six brackets?  Three?  Top rate 0.39?  Top rate 0.90?) and the exemptions, exclusions, deductions, and credits thereto.  Or over public investment (More lanes?  Faster trains?)

Unfortunately, these are more challenging times.
Abroad, from Obama’s post-Paris speeches, it is clear that he is now bored with and irritated by the War on Terror. He seems to have believed either that Islamist global terror was a minor distraction with no potential for real harm other than to bring right-wingers in backlash fashion out of the woodwork, or that it was an understandably radical manifestation of what was otherwise a legitimate complaint of Islam against the Western-dominated global system — thus requiring contextualization rather than mindless opposition.
We have much to look forward to.



Two warnings for the railroads.

First, Fred Frailey of Trains calling out the freight carriers.
And yet, and yet . . . look at what a lousy job the Class I lines do today serving their customers. It’s a scandal, and preventable. In a race to see who can save the most money and achieve the lowest operating railroad, they are forgetting who really comes first: the customer. Serve the customer well, and more will follow, ultimately making the shareholders even richer. That’s classic business doctrine. But it requires patience, which investors (meaning, owners) have little of. So we get a railroad industry that has lost its way. Do I want the big railroads to get even bigger and compound the poor service already being offered? I wish that first, the Canadian Pacifics and Norfolk Southerns of this world would demonstrate they can manage the railroads they already have, before doubling in size and perhaps arrogance.
Second, Jim Loomis warning Amtrak to stop antagonizing the most dependable customers.
Regular Amtrak customers who travel in sleepers have only one question on our minds these days: What are they going to take away next?

Meanwhile, here’s the one question the Amtrak braintrust should be asking themselves: What happens when sleeping car passengers start thinking that a long-distance train ride is no longer worth the money?
Or perhaps it's a ploy, to sell all the sleeping car lines to Pullman Rail Journeys?  Their cars and food service already run as a gated cut in the City of New Orleans, where the rushed and etiolated morning breakfast being thrown at sleeping car passengers (and anyone in coach who can be seated) might be excused as a consequence of a relatively early arrival in Chicago, if the train is on time.


The simplest explanation for the troubles the political establishment are having with the voters is that the political establishment is doing things badly.  But nobody wants to admit it.  Let's start with Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday.
It's hard to -- you come to someone like me, and what I do for a living is, I look at polls and I talk to political experts in Washington, and they're all baffled, Chris.  Nobody understands how Donald Trump is doing it.  I think on the Paris thing, it's clear he's a strong, reassuring voice.  He may not have a strategy other than bomb the smithereens out of them.
Process, nuance failure. There sure has been enough failure lately. That has Ron Fournier pushing the panic button on Meet the Press.
Excuse me, but if this week is a reflection of how our readers are going to respond to the next 9/11, I really think that we're one major hit away from a national unraveling. And I think of Bill Clinton who talked about in times of insecurity, people would rather have a leader who is wrong and strong than right and weak.
He repeats his warning at the end of the show.
I took a shot at our leadership earlier and I really believe in that strongly, but we as a people have to realize that we are changing in a way that we have to be more responsible. We are more scared than we were since 9/11 and we trust our institutions less than we did since 9/11.

We trust each other less than we did. And now with social media, we have to ability to ghettoize ourselves, to only listen to the views that we already agree with and demonize and attack everybody else. And when you combine that with this vacuum we have with leadership, that's why I really worry about what happens the next time we get hit. Are we as a people able to hold together?
Enough sitting around under pictures of the Capitol dome quibbling over talking points, already!

Mr Fournier continues his theme, with a National Journal column, "Leaderless."  Go.  Read.  Understand.  Find any Republicans, whether establishment, Tea Party, or trumpkin, reinforcing his conclusion.
But there is only one com­mand­er-in-chief, and ours is stub­bornly cling­ing to a strategy against IS­IS that lacks clar­ity, cre­ativ­ity, and ur­gency. There is only one pres­id­ent, and ours doesn’t seem to know how to rally us to a com­mon cause.
His use of "we" and "us," however, refers to the political class. The remnant of mainstream America has broken with Official Washington and its enablers on the Sunday shows and in the Ivy League have been holding the old mainstream in contempt for a long time, and payback is going to be ...

Rush Limbaugh, also appeared on Fox News on Sunday, and he diagnoses the disconnect between the old establishment and the yeomanry.
People are scared. We have got these refugees coming in, and nobody is confident we can vet them. And yet we're told, "Don't be a bigot! Don't be a racist! Don't be a xenophobe." We're none of those things, and nobody who is worried about this, is! They love America. They are concerned about our security. They don't think this administration is, or at least we're not seeing any signs of it.
Kevin D. Williamson explains why the conventional wisdom fails.
But of course we desperately need a dose of healthy elitism at our colleges and institutions of higher learning, which have partly abandoned their intellectual standards and are entirely abandoning their standards of conduct. The boobishness of 2015 cries out for a return to a prudent contempt for the mob mentality that animates both the Bernie Sanders movement and the Donald Trump movement.

The problem isn’t elitism per se. The problem is that at Princeton and Yale and in Washington and New York, our elites are rotten — the rotten fruit of dying institutions and an unmoored culture whose commanding heights are populated by people who no longer believe in the values at their foundation. That is how we have come to conflate quality and celebrity and to spurn the life of the mind for the life of the hive. Order ultimately will reassert itself, and it will be uncomfortable.
Higher education breaking the social contract with mainstream America, forsooth.

Seven years of hope and change, and the economic recovery is nearly invisible, and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is two lies for the price of one signature, or that foreign policy is a disaster.  Thus can George Will, also on Fox News Sunday, explain that Mrs Clinton cannot distance herself effectively from the foreign policy disaster that Hope and Change has become, because she's complicit in it.
Or that I disagreed with him, because on two matters she not only agreed with him, but she was the main driver of this.  One was the reset with Russia, which has now been subsequently busy dismembering a nation in the center of Europe, Ukraine.  And also in Libya.  An illegal, unwise intervention by the United States that has created a failed state in that region.  It seems to me, and we're going to have a repeat of 1980.  In 1980, a week before the election, Ronald Reagan stands on the stage, and says, the American people, ask yourself the question, are you better off today than you were four years ago?  In 2016, whoever the Republican nominee is going to be, is going to stand on that stage and ask the American people this.  Is there any place in the world where American power is more respected and where the world is better off than it was when Mrs. Clinton became secretary of state?  It will be I think a devastating question.
Michael Barone likewise suggests Mrs Clinton is going to be in a difficult place.
Barack Obama's job approval is currently 44 percent, and his approval rating is even lower on foreign policy.

Republicans have a chance of emerging from their gathering storm with an attractive nominee and plausible policies. Democrats seem likely to emerge from theirs with Hillary Clinton; policies dictated by an incumbent contemptuous of public opinion on major issues; and a world that seems to be spinning out of control.
Meanwhile, the Democrats' enablers, such as Salon's Andrew O'Hehir double down on "all is well, except for the misconceptions of the rubes."
For at least the last 20 years and arguably closer to the last 50, the Republican Party has bet its future on appealing to a constantly shrinking electoral quadrant of exurban whites, largely in the South and Southwest. Throughout that period, the basis of that appeal has been the idea that America and Americanism (as core Republican voters understood those things) were in critical danger and under constant attack from within, from feminism and multiculturalism and the P.C. thought police, from Adam-and-Steve wedding cakes and the “war on Christmas” and white people who drove Volvos and wore funny glasses and drank chai lattes. Drive through any rural region of the United States — in my case, the impoverished hinterlands of central New York State, barely three hours from Manhattan — and you’ll encounter those “Take Back Our Country” lawn signs. No one on any side of the question needs to ask from whom.
Be careful who you snark at, you're going to be needing their money.
For the next few decades, cities like Chicago and states like Illinois will be coming, à la Puerto Rico, cap in hand to Washington, asking for national taxpayers to fill the gap that their own bad choices and poor planning created. Much of blue America (including many blue cities in red states) is going to be asking red America for bailouts. That is likely to lead to a shift in political power and political initiative.
Walter Russell Mead quips, "the blue social model is running out of safe space."  'Twould be more amusing if Red America declared itself a "safe zone" and held back the money.  And in focusing on the culture wars, Mr O'Hehir neglects the greater danger.
President Obama is rediscovering, painfully and expensively, a truth that George Kennan wrote about almost seventy years ago. A regime like Putin’s needs a hostile relationship with the United States to justify the repression and austerity that it imposes on its fellow citizens. Such powers cannot be soothed with reasonable concessions and “resets.” They must be contained, and it is only on that basis that something like a businesslike relationship can be established.
Compared to that, F. Chuck Todd's half-moon glasses and dirty-face goatee parody themselves.

Compared to that, whether the T belongs with the L, G, and B, or whether Eve Ensler's talkative cooch is all of a sudden a symbol of oppression parodies itself.

And it's going to take the remnant of mainstream America to save the freakazoids from the troubles to come.


Kevin D. Williamson describes "The Luckiest Generation."

Think of this cohort as collectively born on third base and thought they hit a triple, to swipe a swipe from one of their idols.
One does feel a twinge of envy for those born in the late 1930s and 1940s, the so-called Silent Generation. (Silent until you mention entitlement reform, at which point they become the Generation That Will Not Shut Up.) Talk about great timing: too young to fight in the big war, but just old enough to be entering the work force during the great post-war boom. The dream of constant generational improvement did indeed hold — at least up until their time. This no doubt came as a surprise to many of them: Having been born and raised in the shadow of the Great Depression and wartime austerity, it must have been far from obvious to them that they would represent a high-water mark for generational prosperity.
Not to mention that at the height of The America That Worked(TM), these people came of age thinking that process mattered and that big institutions, such as the United Nations and Congress could work.  Thus the Watergate hearings.

But process-worship has since degenerated into booth review, endless committee meetings of the referees at the same time that the players can function without a huddle, and "completed the process of the catch" means nobody knows anymore what a catch is.


Sarah Pulliam Bailey of the Washington Post offers an extended look at assimilation and transition in Hamtramck, Michigan, long known for all things Polish, and for Dodge Main, and a controversial Cadillac factory. Now it's a place of affordable housing for people fleeing all sorts of Third World hellholes, and many of those people practice Islam.
Hamtramck is a microcosm of the fears gripping parts of the country since the Islamic State’s attacks on Paris: The influx of Muslims here has profoundly unsettled some residents of the town long known for its love of dancing, beer, paczki pastries and the pope.
That poses challenges to current mayor and shopkeeper Karen Majewski that would have been familiar to urban mayors of over a century ago, as I shall demonstrate.

Let's start with local reaction to the new version of the Angelus, and with the business climate mattering more to voters than any religious test.
And while Majewski advocated to allow mosques to issue calls to prayer, she understands why some longtime residents are struggling to adjust to the sound that echos through the city’s streets five times each day.

“There’s definitely a strong feeling that Muslims are the other,” she said. “It’s about culture, what kind of place Hamtramck will become. There’s definitely a fear, and to some degree, I share it.”

Saad Almasmari, a 28-year-old from Yemen who became the fourth Muslim elected to the six-member city council this month, doesn’t understand that fear.

Almasmari, the owner of an ice cream company who campaigned on building Hamtramck’s struggling economy and improving the public schools, said he is frustrated that so many residents expect the council’s Muslim members to be biased. He spent months campaigning everywhere in town, knocking on the doors of mosques and churches alike, he said.

“I don’t know why people keep putting religion into politics,” said Almasmari, who received the highest percentage of votes.
I suspect there were traditional Protestants, years ago, who did not take too kindly to the Catholic custom of ringing the Angelus at six am, noon, and six pm.  That custom is much diminished in recent years.  Assimilation.  I suspect that the rhythms of American commercial life will have their effect on the call to prayer.  And the commercial climate of Hamtramck is still parlous, as it has been since the days of the first Chrysler bailout and the closing of Dodge Main, calls to prayer before sunrise or not.

Furthermore, Mr Almasmari is going to learn a quick lesson in coalition building, working with coreligionists out of Bangladesh, Bosnia, and Yemen, as well as bargain-hunting hipsters, and Americans of African, and yes, Polish extraction.
Polish American culture still permeates the town.

Labor Day, known as Polish Day here, is marked with music, drinking and street dancing. The roof of the Polish cathedral-style St. Florian Church peaks above the city landscape, and a large statue of Pope John Paul II, who visited the city in 1987, towers over Pope Park on Joseph Campau Avenue. The Polish pope’s cousin, John Wojtylo, was a Hamtramck city councilman in the 1940s and 1950s, according to local historian Greg Kowalski.
Put another way, regional modifications of supposedly national holidays are as American as bratwurst. Or William Tell days in New Glarus. Then comes a familiar gripe about ethnic politics, from sources that might surprise some readers.
The town’s transformation caught Mike Bugaj off guard. When the Hamtramck native left to join the Air Force in 1972, the city was widely referred to as “Little Warsaw.” When he returned from the military in 1995, “the Muslims were here,” said Bugaj, who is of Polish and Native American descent.

The new majority Muslim council has Bugaj worried that old traditions, like the Polish festival and Fat Tuesday’s paczki day, soon will be wiped away.

He and other residents are “concerned about what they would want to change, that they could mistreat women,” said Bugaj, who wore feather earrings and a T-shirt with wolves on it. “Don’t come over to America and try to turn people to your way of thinking.”
That t-shirt slogan is likely to shake up more than a few identity-politics essentialists. And immigrant bakers on Joseph Campau are unlikely to pass on a business opportunity that is a major commercial ritual in Detroit (and anywhere else where Poles or Rhinelanders have migrated.)
Wayne Little, who has been a pastor for nearly 40 years at Corinthian Baptist Church, said many of the city’s African American residents are also waiting to see whether the new Muslim-majority city council will represent their interests.

“They are clannish and stick together. . . . The jury is out on them.” Little said.
That's a common insider observation about the new outsiders, whether we are speaking of Bosnians in Michigan or Chinese graduate students. In Hamtramck, however, there's real diversity.
Hamtramck’s Muslim population is hardly a monolith — the city is about 23 percent Arabic, 19 percent Bangladeshi and 7 percent Bosnian. The predominantly Muslim groups don’t intermingle much because of language differences, according to Thaddeus Radzilowski of the Piast Institute, a census information center.

Adding to the city’s burgeoning diversity are the young, white hipsters who have begun to migrate here from surrounding areas for the food, bars and art shows.
Now for the history lesson. There's another Midwestern city with a substantial Polish presence, sufficient for John Gurda to write about Milwaukee Polonia, best understood as that part of Milwaukee east of 27th Street, north of Oklahoma Avenue, and bounded by the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic rivers. Start with the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Most were impoverished peasants facing diminished prospects at home and looking across the ocean for greater opportunities, particularly in the rapidly industrializing cities of the northern United States. There was a political dimension to their movement as well. Once a major power in central Europe, the Polish state had ceased to exist in 1795, when Russia, Prussia, and Austria carved it into three dependent territories. Conditions in western, or German, Poland—the ancestral home of more than 80 percent of Milwaukee’s Poles—were especially harsh. Military conscription and cultural repression made emigration an obvious choice.
That's my story, too. And the introduction of a Polish population into the "German Athens in America" brought challenges familiar to Mayor Majewski and Selectman Almasmari.
Polish Milwaukeeans set any number of precedents, but their status as pioneers did not mask the poverty that most families endured. Although they arrived early, the immigrants came to a city whose pecking order was firmly established. Yankees—transplants from New York and New England—exercised an influence entirely out of proportion to their numbers, even though they were vastly outnumbered by German-speaking residents. Milwaukee, in fact, was already the most German city in America, and Teutonic newcomers were shaping its cultural and economic life decisively. The Irish, despite their poverty, were a potent force in local politics. Polish immigrants, after depleting their reserves in crossing to America, had little choice but to start at the bottom.
And in establishing themselves, Milwaukee's Poles provided an installed base of affordable housing that is now providing Latin American and Caribbean Islands migrants with the beginning of a stake in the country. Similar housing patterns provided the houses Hamtramck's newest residents are buying.
Polish immigrants did something that took their neighbors by surprise: they built homes of their own. Throughout American urban history, the newest groups have generally occupied the oldest houses, settling in hand-me-down neighborhoods on the fringes of the nation’s downtowns. The Poles broke that unwritten law. “Usually the first money they can call their own is put into the purchase of a lot,” reported the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1874, “on which they mean to erect a house as soon as possible. They have a strong prejudice against paying rent.” Reflecting the Old World belief that land, not money, is the key to security, the immigrants bought lots that were painfully small by modern standards—only twenty-five or thirty feet wide—and covered them with simple frame cottages resting on cedar posts.
And as the family expanded or as aspiring Donald Trumps saw the potential in residential real estate, they built additional small houses behind, or jacked up the original house and installed additional space underneath.  Then came the churches, far fancier than the makeshift mosques now serving believers in Hamtramck.
Despite their poverty, Polish immigrants showed a penchant for grand ecclesiastical architecture, and no church was more imposing than the Basilica of St. Josaphat. Built with materials salvaged from the Chicago Post Office, this Romanesque marvel was completed in 1901. The parish had nearly twelve thousand members at the time—probably the most of any congregation in the state, regardless of faith—and the church they built is still the city’s largest. But St. Josaphat was a parish of the poor. It took until 1925—nearly a quarter century—for the congregation to pay off its debt, and only then was work on the interior pushed to completion. In 1929 Pope Pius XI declared the church a basilica, the ecclesiastical equivalent of all-star status. St. Josaphat was only the third basilica in the country.
And the Poles in the United States turned out to be on the winning side in a conflict in the Old World.
Completing such a glorious church in 1901, even without a finished interior, was a mark of institutional maturity, a clear signal that Milwaukee’s Polonia was here to stay. As immigrants kept crossing the ocean, the ranks of the community continued to swell. By 1906 there were nearly seventy thousand Polish Milwaukeeans—a number exceeded only by the Germans—and the Polish vote had become a decisive factor in local politics. The community’s fortunes were further bolstered by World War I. The conflict was disastrous for local German culture (sauerkraut was rechristened “liberty cabbage”), but the Allied victory was an unmixed blessing for expatriate Poles. In 1918 Poland became a free nation for the first time since 1795. Basking in the reflected light of a free homeland and growing slowly more prosperous in the freedom of America, Polish Milwaukeeans had much to celebrate.
When the last deconstructionist is strangled with the entrails of the last jihadi, the newest refugees from conflicts in the old world might also have much to celebrate.

Continuing the history lesson, NBC News visits an earlier generation of immigrants, in Dearborn, Michigan, where comes a call for a time-out in further immigration that will probably also surprise the diversity lobby.
"We don't need no more troubles, you know?" said Hicham Dawil, who immigrated to the U.S. three decades ago. "I feel bad for the people. On the other hand, look what's happening in France. This is crazy, you know. It's just evil."

Dawil, a father of five college-aged kids all born here who runs his own heating and cooling business, said the ISIS attacks turned his stomach and the fallout affects him as an Arab immigrant.

"We just cannot afford being looked at like, 'Oh, well, you are one of them,'" he said. "Let's say I walk into a lounge ... I can see people look at me."
It's likely more than a few of those Milwaukee Germans of a hundred years ago would understand. Yes, during the 1930s, the German-American Bund was active in Milwaukee, and yet, the descendants of the Acht-und-vierzigers who fled the counter-revolution were also present in Milwaukee, and in their reservations about the Kaiser and the Nazis we anticipate current first-generation Americans' reservations about the Islamofascists.
"I understand it, I'm a citizen of the United States," said Reem Akkad, a Michigan-born son of Syrian immigrants. "I would not want anyone to endanger any of my fellow citizens, anyone that I know. But I think that the link that was established is the wrong link."

Still, Akkad said, as Arabs in America they too are paying the price for ISIS' brutality.

"For us here as Syrians, as members of the Muslim community, it is literally our worst nightmare," he said. "ISIS is not only killing our people, but it's already hijacking our image."
Das stimmt.  The Bundists were also backing a much stronger horse than the few devotees of Daesh, or Douche, or whatever, are.

We finish with an observation from new arrivals that ought to give pause to both the close-the-borders crowd and to the self-despising multiculturalists.
Ahmed and Fatima Alkadri, newly arrived Syrian refugees, said they wanted to come to the United States because anybody can become an American.

"We asked around and we'd been told that American people are very friendly," Fatima said through an interpreter. "And everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. There was no rich, no poor, and its an equal life; everyone has an opportunity, everyone is safe there."
Would that it were that simple, and yet that is an aspiration worthy of affirmation.
Thus migration into the United States, which remains a land of opportunity despite the efforts of the political class to turn it into another Greece and the efforts of the academy's deconstructionists to pronounce anathema on the phrase.
Let it always be.