Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Random Snippets: Red state, Blue state?

 Lamartine rejects the red flag in 1848.

Red is the international color of socialism.  Socialist parties use, or used, it everywhere.  Communist nations, whose economic system was socialist, almost all used red flags. France's socialist party uses a red rose as its symbol.

So how did we, in the US, end up with red states and blue states?  It truly confuses me. The red states are the most conservative ones, and the blue states the  most liberal ones. The US doesn't have very many true socialist, but on a red blue scale shouldn't that be reversed?



I posted this originally on September 9, 2014.

Since that time one surprising thing that has occurred is that  a bonafide socialist, Bernie Sanders, has not only been running within the Democratic Party for the Presidency, but he's been doing well in his run.  He beat Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire yesterday and he nearly beat her in Iowa a couple of weeks ago.  Lots of young people, perhaps not really knowing what they are declaring, are now self identifying as socialist.

Which makes the press's ongoing use of the "red state" moniker to describe Republican states nonsensical and moronic.  In this election, we have one person who really identifies with the red rose of socialism.  In her effort to try to head him off at the Democratic pass, the other candidate is lurching towards the left.  Just last week the socialist declared Wall Street to be a "broken model" and Clinton has been trying to distance herself from Wall Street, which of course is in her own adopted home state.  And there's no longer hardly any pretense in the Democratic Party this year of not being a left wing party.

So, press, red is the color of the hard left. Fix your analogy.

Mid Week at Work: Delivering the mail in Washington D.C., 1919.

Tracking the Presidential Election, 2016

The focus of this blog, at least theoretically, is on events of a century ago.  Indeed, the event that really motivated the concept of a novel and hence this support blog occurred 100 years ago, and is coming right up.  So we should be looking at the 1916 Presidential election.

That election, as the readers here well know, featured Woodrow Wilson in a contest against Charles E. Hughes. Wilson, of course, campaigning on "He kept us out of war" won.

President Woodrow Wilson.

Charles E. Hughes.  Maybe the beard, in the post bearded era, did in his chances.

I can't compare that election to the current one, as it was nothing like it.  I can compare, and often have, President Obama with President Wilson (without Wilson's racism, however) as in my view they're both guilty of confusing talk with action.

I note all of this as I've been struggling for an analogy between the current election and a former one.  This one has been very different to say the least.  Perhaps there's no comparison with any prior election, this one is so off the charts in some ways.  I had been tempted however, to look at the 1972 election, as that election was also pretty wild at start.  In the end, of course, it featured Richard Nixon against George McGovern, with McGovern being fairly left wing (but Nixon being fairly centrist), but early on it also featured Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace and Shirley Chisholm, so it did  have a real range of candidates, including at least a couple who were quite extreme in their views.

I'd also thought of trying to link it in with the times of this blog, so to speak, in which case we have the example of the 1912 Presidential election, although that doesn't quite work either.  In that one, as we well know, we had the "establishment" Republican President, William Howard Taft, in a titanic fight against former President Theodore Roosevelt, who had always been "progressive" but who became, in fact, quite radical during the four years he was out of office.  To the left of Roosevelt was Eugene Debs, a Socialist who made his fourth run for the office.  To the right, but still a "progressive", was Woodrow Wilson's, whose victory would make the Democrats the "liberal" party in the north, while they remained a very conservative party in the south.  Taft was the only real conservative, and really a middle of the road conservative, in the race.  Taft would have won but for Roosevelt bolting the GOP after he was not nominated as its candidate, to form the Progressive Party. Wilson benefitted as a result.

The results of the 1912 election were 435 Electoral College votes for Wilson, 88 for Roosevelt, 8 for poor Taft, and none for Debs, who nonetheless received over 900,000 votes.

Again, I can't say that that election is analogous tot his one, but it did have a bonafide Socialist running in it, a radical, and semi conservative and a second progressive.  It was the last US election where a third party run actually stood a chance of winning, and quite a few Republican Governors switched over to the Progressive Party to support Roosevelt, including Wyoming's.  Wyoming's vote went to Wilson anyway.

This particular election has truly been a remarkable one in several ways, but most notably in lower middle class discontent.  I'm not going to opinie on who I support and why, assuming that I even know that right now, but I wills way that teh very surprising campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders show some very strong simularities as they both are strongly based in a demographic that feelse its loosing out, and has been for a long time.  Their proposed solutions aren't at all similair, but in my view their support comes from the same sense of angst and anger.  Sanders has further tapped into a young demographic that has no memories of Socialism in the world and is willing to entertain it.  Trump support comes from the lower middle class but, having said that, everyone that I personally know well who supports him is upper class, so the analysis there isn't necessarily a simple one.

As part of this, there's a really strong feeling in the common rank and file that they get ignored by their own parties. Whether the topic is the economy, war or immigration, there are very strong opinions that are in the respective parties that it can't be denied pretty much get ignored by those in office. At this point, combined with other factors, there's a lot of rage in the parties about it.  The two main surprise candidates, Trump and Sanders, are willing to say a lot of things that the other candidates would not, and they, at least up until Iowa, have profited by it.  This may have an impact on the campaign as a whole, and given the level of discontent, it might actually have a long term impact on politics itself.

Against them we have, in the Democrats, now only Hillary Clinton.  I did comment on her candidacy, and that of Jeb Bush's, earlier.  Clinton is proving to be a candidate that is hard to like for a lot of Democrats, so what was an anticipated coronation isn't going so smoothly.

The GOP has a broad field of candidates, which will show in the delegate count on the first day I post this.  In spite of the punditry, right now their campaign is wide open.  Of interest, however, is that the GOP field is much more diverse ethnically and demographically than the Democratic one, in spite of what the Democrats like to maintain about their own party.  Indeed, the GOP is the party that stands a decent chance of nominating a non "white", non Baby Boomer, to the Presidency.  The Democrats are going to nominate a white Boomer no matter what.  That's not really a comment so much as it is an observation, but it does fall in with a recent political commentator's book about the Democrats maintaining its lost its working class base in favor of an urban elite, which causes it to loose a lot of elections.

So, having tried to make an analogy, and with really examining this year in depth, I'm going to track the primaries so we can see who has what in the way of a delegate count as we move along.  First, some facts:

Delegates Needed to Win:

This isn't the same for both major parties.  In the GOP there are 2,472 delegates and, a candidate must get the support of 1,236 delegates to win.

For the Democrats there are  4,763 delegates to their convention, with 2,382 need to win.

I don't know why the Democrats have so many more.  They must like big conventions.

Okay, here we go with the delegate count. This will be updated, and probably commentary added, as we move along.  This could get to be a long thread.


February 3, 2016.  Post Iowa Caucus.

Leaders to Date in national count:  Clinton and Trump/Cruz

In second position:  Saunders and Rubio.

Following the Iowa Caucases, the delegate count is:


Hillary Clinton:  29

Bernie Saunders:  21.

Uncommitted (following O'Malley's withdrawal):  8


Ted Cruz:  7

Donald Trump 7

Marco Rubio:  6

Ben Carson:  3

Jeb Bush:  1

Carly Fiorina:  1

John Kasich:  1

Ron Paul:  1 


For weeks, going into this election, the common assumption is that Donald Trump was going to do well, and Hillary Clinton would easily beat Bernie Sanders.
This shows, I think, the weakness of analysis, as it seemed pretty clear to me that Sanders and Cruz were going to do well.  I've been assuming for a couple of weeks that they'd each win.  I was wrong on Sanders, but only barely so, and  his strong showing was a type of moral or practical victory for him.  Clinton is not going to be coronated and might not even win.  Indeed, my prediction is that she'll do poorly in New Hampshire and at some point after that we will have Vice President Biden enter the race to come and seem to be the Democratic Savior.  So, as early as it is, my prediction right now is that Biden will be the nominee for the Democrats.

I won't predict the GOP race yet, but Cruz's victory doesn't surprise me.  He's followed in Trump's wake, but with a better political resume and less of a gadfly type of persona, he's been able to pick up those GOP votes that Trump had earlier amongst those who have concluded that Trump cannot beat Hillary Clinton in an actual race.  He's also picked up "establishment" GOP votes which would have gone to somebody else, but went to him out of the fear that Trump would win Iowa.  And of course he has his own base.

Added to that, however, Marco Rubio did amazingly well, which I would not have predicted, and he's clearly on the rise.  The trailing votes for other candidates, however, show that things are far from over in the GOP. 

Commentary followup:

As of today (I should have posted this yesterday), Sen Paul has dropped out.

Logic would lead us to presume we're going to see more drop outs soon.  Fiorina probably ought to drop out as she has no chance at this point, and surely knows that.  However, we'll probably see most of the other candidates hang through New Hampshire, and have a new one appear in the states, that being Christie.

Second Commentary followup:

Rick Santorum had dropped out of the race.

Mike Huckabee has suspended his campaign.

Neither candidate took any delegates in the Iowa Caucus.

February 3, 2016


February 10, 2016:  Following the New Hampshire Primary

Leaders to date in national count:  Clinton and Trump.

Second position:  Saunders and Cruz

So, here's the present tell of the tape following New Hampshire:


Hillary Clinton:  Picking up 9, for a total now of 38

Bernie Sanders:  Picking up 13, for a total now of 34.

So, Clinton is still ahead in committed delegates.

But, wait! What is the actual delegate count in the Democratic Party right now?

Here it is:

Clinton: 394

Sanders: 42

How can this be? See below.


Donald Trump 17

Ted Cruz: 10

Marco Rubio: 7

John Kasich: 4

Ben Carson:  3

Jeb Bush: 3

Carly Fiorina:  1

Ron Paul:  1


In a trend that's getting hard to ignore, Bernie Sanders trounced Hillary Clinton in the February 9 primary and Donald Trump did the same to all of his competitors.  The once seemingly remote possibility, which I still think unlikely but now conceded as a possibility, of the Presidential race being Trump v. Sanders is a real possibility. That two candidates so outside the mainstream of American politics and even life would be the front runners speaks rather loudly to the massive level of discontent with both parties and the perception that they no longer represent the American people.

Sanders defeated Clinton by 22 percentage points, a massive defeat which Democrats would be foolish to ignore.  Clinton is proving to have very little base of popularity and the effort by the Democratic party to simply coronate her as their candidate is failing hugely.  While she has time to recover, the lesson is quite clearly that she is not a popular candidate, and younger voters more clearly identify with the 74 year old Sanders.  This includes younger Democratic women who seem to be turned off by Clinton.

Trump in contrast received only 35% of the GOP vote with the rest shared by the rest of the field, but that percentage, while it indicates that the majority of New Hampshire's Republican voters did not support him, was still significantly larger than any other candidates.  John Kasich came in second with 16% of the vote, which while that is less than half of what Trump got, in this context it is not insignificant. Trump's victory therefore, however, is more subtle as it would indicate that he cannot yet claim that a majority of voters in any one state actually supported him, and if his opposition was unified, which it isn't in fact or in view, the results could possibly have been different.  Cruz, who is being treated in this primary as a fading star, still received 12% of the vote. Trump and Cruz combined are viewed as the "protest" vote in some ways and combined they poll 47% of the vote, not yet clearly half.  If Carson's 2% is added in they still aren't quite there.

Turning back to the Democrats, why, after all of this, is Clinton so far ahead of Sanders in the delegate count? Well, quite simply, the Democrats have "Super Delegates", which the Democrats have but the GOP does not. Superdelegates aren't elected by the people, but are current and former Democratic leaders who get to vote at the national convention.  These numbers could therefore change, but so far this is how these numbers play out. So, in spite of not doing well in the polls, Clinton right now is far ahead of Sanders, as she's the "establishment candidate".

This is rather massively unfair, as it allows the Democratic Party to really stack the deck against the people in their party. And its another rich irony of the system.  The Democrats are less democratic, as well as being older, in terms of the people they are running, and "whiter", than the Republicans.  At some point this has to be noticed by voters.  A party that is increasingly waiving a the red flag of the far left this year is actually sort of run like the true, really hardcore, left wing parties of old; i.e., they decide what's best for you.  At  least in terms of their candidates, they're very east coast white. Sanders is Jewish, and he is the first Jewish candidate to win a primary in the United States, so there is an element of diversity there. Still, the GOP field is much more diverse in age, race, region and religion.  The demographic advantage that Democrats have long imagined themselves to have doesn't reflect itself in their candidates.

And that's partially what's causing Clinton to sink.  The Democratic party establishment simply assumed she'd win and she'd be the first woman President following up on the first black President.  But she's basically not likable and the rank and file of the Democratic Party are as unhappy with their leadership, apparently as the Republicans are with theirs.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Wyoming Fact and Fiction: The Jerk Line

Wyoming Fact and Fiction: The Jerk Line: The Jerk Line Reading a book this weekend about moving freight in the old west. For this post, the old west would be after people star...

The Big Picture: Library of Congress illustration of Canterbury Tales.

A fine example of what's wrong with our Supreme Court.

Apparently, before the Iowa caucus, somebody asked Hillary Clinton about pulling a Taft.

 Chief Justice, and former President, William Howard Taft in 1922.
Hillary Clinton was apparently wowed on Tuesday by the idea of appointing President Obama to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Clinton responded to an audience member during a campaign event who noted the next president will likely have a lot of Supreme Court appointments, report the Des Moines Register and the New York Times First Draft blog. The speaker wondered if Obama would be one of them.
“Wow, what a great idea,” Clinton said. “Nobody has ever suggested that to me. Wow. I love that.”
Clinton said “wow” one more time “as if giving herself an extra second to think of a good answer,” First Draft says.
As you will recall, William H. Taft, the nation's 27th President was later the 10th Justice of the Supreme Court.  Taft had actually always preferred the law over politics, and it was the Presidency that turned out to be a frustrating aberration for him.

Now, President Obama is certainly young enough to be in the Kindergarten of the current Supreme Court, given that some Supreme Court justice are positively ancient. But why would he make a good Supreme Court justice?  Well, let's check back in with Candidate Clinton.
“I’ll be sure to take that under advisement,” she said. “I mean, he’s brilliant. He can set forth an argument, and he was a law professor, so he’s got all the credentials. Now, we do have to get a Democratic Senate to get him confirmed.”
Oh, he has credentials.  And she lists them.  Let's look at those, they are:  1) he can argue, and 2) he was a professor.


Those aren't credentials for anything other than being law professor.  And its sad that those the credentials for being that.

What law firms was he in?  Who was he an associate for?  What cases did he argue in court? What big contracts did he draft?  That's the law.

Academic law isn't the law.

And that's part of what's wrong with the United States Supreme Court.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

An Auto Repair Tsunami

It all started, I think, this fall, when I was elk hunting late in the season.

I went up high into the Big Horns, high enough that I really couldn't get any higher without chaining up, and as I didn't want to do that, I decided to hike from there.

Now, as luck would have it, last year I blew a tire coming down out of the Big Horns, doing the very same thing, so I knew my tires were a bit iffy.  But tires are expensive, and therefore I didn't buy new ones.  I could get more miles on the tires of the 07 D3500, I was pretty sure.  I don't drive it as much as I used to, since I bought the Jeep.  And I did keep those tires for a year.

 The Jeep has frankly seen a lot more use than I originally thought it was.  A 1997, and one that had been in a wreck when it was nearly new, it became my daily driver when I hadn't planned on that.

Well, a second blow out coming down out of the Big Horns ended that, and I had to replace a tire.  And you can't replace just one tire. So, rather than get all four, I got two.  This past fall.

Well, a couple of months ago I went to Cody.  And while I do drive my Jeep around here everyday, I don't drive it on the highway for trips.  I use the D3500 for that.  It's newer, and it has fewer miles on it.

It's also diesel.

And, given its 07 vintage, it has a diesel particulate filter.

Now, diesel particulate filters are a bit of a pain, as they clog up. And when I bought this Jeep the Cummins engine it features was in the first year of production. For a year or two I had problems with the filter.  But after a couple recalls and some work at the dealership on the lines, that stopped being a problem entirely.

Until the trip to Cody.

Now, the check engine light had been on since I came back out of the hills a week or so from elk hunting.  But usually a few miles on the highway stops that.  Not this time.  And on my last day in Cody, I got the warning form the system that the filter was 80% blocked and I should go to the dealership immediately.  A call to a really good diesel shop here in Casper revealed that I could, however, make it home if I didn't idle, and I didn't stop.  Indeed, while driving that old familiar smell of the system burning off the gunk was there, and the message stopped.

So it went to the shop.

Where it developed that, after 130,000 miles and a decade of use, it's filter system and exhaust was completely shot, and had to be replaced. 

Which isn't cheap.

But it sure added the power to it, I have to say.

So, about a month goes by and my son announces that the door of the 1997 D1500 will no longer close.  It's always been problematic.  So I went out and looked at it and found this:

Not good.

I think this truck had something happen to it before we owned it, and the kind attention its given in our hands wasn't always the case.  Anyhow, I took it down to the body shop and they welded it up and fixed it.  This is a lot cheaper than replacing the door, but it isn't free.

And that meant my son had to drive my Jeep to school, and I drove the D3500 to work.

I'd noticed when I had driven it the day prior ti seemed to drive a little funny.  But yesterday on the way to work the ABS light went on.  At noon, I had to drive to the DOT and I was loosing my brakes. When I came out of the DOT it was so bad that I knew I had to get it into the shop.  I debated the topic and clearly couldn't make it to my regular mechanics, so I limped it in to another shop I sometimes use that's close to my office, by which time, taking the back streets, it was really driving in crisis mode and making terrible sounds.

When I got out, I saw this.

Wheel should not be sitting at that angle.

Wheel bearings.

But it gets better, turns out that there was a problem with the front axle and my tie rod is having issues also.


Well, it has 130,000 miles on it. So, even though the engines keep on keeping on beyond that now, not everything does, of course. So, I guess I'm at the rebuilding a few things stage, which is cheaper than buying something new, but not cheap.

And I don't like to replace my vehicles much.  My does, and would keep up with new ones all the time but for my huge disinclination to do that.  Indeed, I don't ever see myself replacing any of the vehicles I have and use right now, which of course doesn't mean that everything on them will work forever.  But the unexpected ways the repairs arrive is really the pits.

Lex Anteinternet: Killing people and breaking things. . . and women ...and going from stupidity to barbarity

A couple of years ago we ran this item, on the then new requirement (still not fully implemented) of requiring the Marine Corps to integrate basic training:
Lex Anteinternet: Killing people and breaking things. . . and women ...:  The Women's Mounted Emergency Corps.  "A mounted emergency corps of women has been organized as an auxiliary to the Second Fie...
Following that the Marine Corps briefly balked, leading to some proper speculation if they'd refuse to comply, but they fell in line, as indeed they have no choice but to do.

This past week, they were so in line that the senior commander of the USMC joined the senior commander of the Army to suggest that women should now be required to register for the draft.

There's something really anti natural, and barbarous about that.

No society, ever, has conscripted women as soldiers.  It's already acknowledged by all that women, by and large, have a hard time getting through combat training for physical reasons.

It hasn't been acknowledged, but should be, that women's psychological and physiological differences are such that most are not suitable to be combat soldiers.  They are suitable to be victims of assault, which a high percentage of female military personnel are, however.  And they are, of course suitable to bear life, which instantly  makes them unsuitable to be soldiers if that occurs.

And it does occur.  Recently the Stars and Stripes has been running photographs fairly frequently of female service personnel feeding babies the natural and original way, as there's a controversy on how to accommodate this while in uniform.

Conscripting women is, simply put, barbarous.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A Columbus Raid Film Competition.

Columbus Raid Film Competition.

Part of Columbus New Mexico's commemoration of the 1916 raid on the town by Villistas.

Page Updates; 2016

 January 5, 2016:

They Were Lawyers:  Nicholas "The Chieftain" Moran.

January 8, 2016:

They Were Lawyers:  Michael Punke

January 9, 2016:

Movies In History:  The List:   This is a January 9, 2016 addition that only lists the movies we've posted and reviewed in this series of posts here on the main page.  As additional movies are added, the page will be updated, but the updates won't be posted on this or subsequent update threads, as that new page only lists threads that appear here, on the main page.

They Were Clerics:   Delores Hart, Noella Marcellino.

January 12, 2016:

They Were Clerics:  Barbara Nicolosi. 

They Were Soldiers:  Sam Elliot.

January 30, 2016:

They Were Hunters or Fishermen:  Craig Strickland, Kenny Sailors, Ariel Tweto, Alfred, Von Stauffenberg, Alexander Von Stauffenbert, Berthold Von Stauffenberg, Claus Von Stauffenberg.

They Were Farmers:  Kenny Sailors.

They Were Soldiers:  Alec Guinness.

February 4, 2016

They Were Soldiers:  Kenny Sailors

They Were Clerics:   Monique Pressley

Hmmm. . . blog glitch

I have no idea why I have that odd snipped in the post below, and I can't clear it up.

My apologies, some computer glitch going on there.

Thanks a bunch Bundys, you ignorant twits

What I feared would happen when the Bundy's and their fellow travelers occupied Federal property has started to.

This isn't going result in the land "going back" anywhere.

It's instead revived a semi-dormant "kick the ranchers off the public land" movement.

I've seen one article in a Californian newspaper, one major syndicated columnist argues for this, and one column in the always greenish High Country News argue for this.  

All suffer from an understanding of the true nature of the leasing of the public land, which is not "welfare" in any sense.  I'll revisit that later.  But the delusional illegal and now bloodstained occupation of a wildlife refuge by the Bundy’s has revived the cries of "welfare rancher" and "get the ranchers of the public lands".

Thanks, Bundy's.  You delusional bunch if ignorant fools.

Ranchers in the West went through this before. This line of thought was popular in the 1980s with there being many "environmental" organizations that have, as core tenant that the Federal domain should not be leased and basically should not be used. They're as delusional about the impacts of their argument as Bundy and his fellow travelers and understand very little about the nature of what they propose.  In fact, the Federal domain is that because it was the land not worth homesteading prior to 1932 when all Federal land was withdrawn from that use, but it's always been land that has been grazed.  The overwhelming majority of ranchers today do not abuse that land in any fashion and in fact they typically make improvements to it that benefit wildlife as well as their own livestock. And, if the ranchers weren't grazing it, more often than not the ranches themselves would become ranchettes and housing developments, which are the death of the wild.  True environmentalist ought to be lauding ranchers rather than condemning them.

But that's hard when you have a bunch of delusional people like the Bundy’s who are supported by people who are hostile the United States and who would "take back" what they never owned.  Right now, this group of delusional people seems to include the Republican legislators of Utah.

Well, people who start wars cannot control where they end up, and people who only listen to their own propaganda rarely are aware of how much in a minority they are.  In this country in this day and age most people are not in agriculture and making an enemy of them, which is what the Bundy’s and their buddies are doing, ends one way, and that's not the way anyone who is involved in Western agriculture wants it to end.  Seriously, did the Bundy’s think that they were going to achieve anything?

If they did, they should have been made to live in New York City for a year.  Maybe a tour of the East would have the same eye opening effect on them that it did on Red Cloud. I.e., "we aren't going go to win this fight."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Looking at the hidden reasons for the cost of higher education.

My guess is that Paul Campos doesn't get invitations to the faculty Christmas Party.

Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado.  That wouldn't keep him from getting an invite. But his book Don't Go To Law School (Unless): A Law Professor's Inside Guide to Maximizing Opportunity and Minimizing Risk was not without controversy.  In it, Campos seriously took on law schools and sparked a huge amount of debate, including debate from law school professors (which both Federal Judge Posner and I have likened to refugees from the practice of law, but I stated that first).  

Now, or actually several months ago, Campos wrote a New York Times Op Ed entitled The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much  and the reason, according to Campos, isn't the one that schools like to give out.

According to Campos, public funding of education is causing it.

That's right, public funding.

Now, that's counter intuitive.  In this era of Bernie Sanders inspired "let's make education free" the logic would be that funding education drives the cost down, and makes it more affordable for all. But that logic is pretty thin, and Campos raises some really good points.

Campos first notes what most suspect, but that few are willing to acknowledge.  Following the baby boomer flood into college, public investment in college massively increased.:
In fact, public investment in higher education in America is vastly larger today, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than it was during the supposed golden age of public funding in the 1960s. Such spending has increased at a much faster rate than government spending in general. For example, the military’s budget is about 1.8 times higher today than it was in 1960, while legislative appropriations to higher education are more than 10 times higher.
While not what this post is about, as this blog does track trends, it should be noted here what few are really willing to note.  The Baby Boomer generation has dined richly from the public trough, and has been more indulged, as a demographic, than any other.  Resource consumption wise, while they don't recognize it, Boomers are like the bulge in the snake.  They've received more from American society than their predecessors as well as more than those who have come after them, and they will continue to do so.  That makes them a rich generation, in a demographic resources sense.  And as they control the political landscape, they'll continue to do that.  Consider that in the current presidential election the former top contender in the GOP race and both top contenders in the Democratic race are Boomers.  We're not unlikely to have exactly one Gap Generation President, President Obama, before we slip right back into Boomers.  But I digress.

Campos notes the rise in university education cost:
In other words, far from being caused by funding cuts, the astonishing rise in college tuition correlates closely with a huge increase in public subsidies for higher education. If over the past three decades car prices had gone up as fast as tuition, the average new car would cost more than $80,000.
 And he further notes:
 As the baby boomers reached college age, state appropriations to higher education skyrocketed, increasing more than fourfold in today’s dollars, from $11.1 billion in 1960 to $48.2 billion in 1975. By 1980, state funding for higher education had increased a mind-boggling 390 percent in real terms over the previous 20 years. This tsunami of public money did not reduce tuition: quite the contrary.
So where is that funding going?  Well, Campos looks at that as well, and the results are pretty disturbing:
Interestingly, increased spending has not been going into the pockets of the typical professor. Salaries of full-time faculty members are, on average, barely higher than they were in 1970. Moreover, while 45 years ago 78 percent of college and university professors were full time, today half of postsecondary faculty members are lower-paid part-time employees, meaning that the average salaries of the people who do the teaching in American higher education are actually quite a bit lower than they were in 1970.

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.
Yep, public funding has resulted in a vastly expanded publicly funded administration.  That shouldn't be a surprise, but it doesn't surprise me that this has occurred.

Now, I can't say that all of this is unnecessary.  Some of it likely is, as the world has gotten more complicated and more administrative people have become necessary.  But not all of it is.  Consider the following, even though some will bristle at it, about the University of Wyoming, from a few days ago:
LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees has approved creation of a new diversity assistant position. The Laramie Boomerang reports that the new assistant will lead the development and implementation of a diversity plan for the college. UW President Dick McGinity says a search committee will be formed to find potential candidates for the job. McGinity says introducing students to a diverse campus is important for many reasons, including success in the workplace after graduation.
Now, the state's one and only university is supposed to be "as nearly free as possible" for the state's residents.  Does hiring a diversity coordinator assist in making it as nearly free as possible.  No, it doesn't.

And is this even necessary?  I doubt it.  The university should, keeping in mind that it is a state land grant college, aim to be as diverse as the state's population is, and I'd emphasize the "state's population", as it is a state college, but that would mean trying to recruit more heavily from the Wind River Indian Reservation, something it's known about and has been trying to do for years.  

A "diversity" coordinator, however, will inevitably end up as a bureaucratic position deeply stewed in a the left wing social concept of what "diverse" means, which in that mindset is, ironically, that there is no diversity, as every human being is exactly the same in every imaginable fashion and any difference, including biological ones that every single human being displays, is simply a social construct.  And, moreover, in this day and age every college campus everywhere is pretty darned diverse in the conventional sense.  Over half of law school student bodies, for example, are female.  There is no racial or religious discrimination in major institutions any more.  What real (ie. racial) diversity is lacking stems largely from the impact of poverty, which should be addressed but which doesn't require a coordinator to tackle.

Not that this is going to be addressed any time soon locally. While the university does face spending cuts, as the state's in a budget crisis, the Legislature passed bills approving funding that will go into the university's athletic program. As the Casper Star Tribune recently noted:
A program that supports University of Wyoming sports appears safe from budget cuts that could slash millions from K-12 schools and literacy programs for young readers and their parents.
Stuff like this has to have an impact somewhere.  That is, at what point does a big athletic program become some sort of a burden and not make much sense, education wise?  Supporters will claim that doesn't happen, as the big sports pay for themselves.  Perhaps they do, I don't know, but it does make  a person wonder just a bit. This is not to say that athletics do not have a place in higher education, they clear do, but the place that the big name sports currently have is questionable.

I'm not saying that any of this creates a crisis at the local level.  Indeed, while Wyomingites no doubt do not think of it this way, Wyoming is a good example of funding university education for the state's youth in a way that simultaneously demonstrates that Sanders' concept of a big national program is both wrong and poorly thought out.  In other words, a Distributist model of how to approach this is actually working in some states, whereas a national one would likely be a bureaucratic disaster. 

Indeed, those who point to Europe on this should be aware that Americans send more students to college than the majority of European countries, and where there is state funding of higher education in Europe it is sometimes heavily controlled as to dictate societal outcomes and, of course, it's done by individual countries rather than the European Community, so it's more of a Distributist model as well.  Be that as it may, the much vaunted European system (which is actually a series of systems) generally produces fewer college graduates by percentage of the population than the much criticized American one does.  Perhaps that means that the American system, for all its critics, works pretty well.

Part of the criticism of the American system is, I think, actually that people pay a lot to not get much in return, in some instances.  This is actually a criticism of the quasi capitalistic nature of the system, although people don't realize it.  The proposals to really socialize it would address that in part, but only in part, which is probably why the European systems actually produce fewer graduates.

The reason for that is that is a combination of things.  On one hand, the public funding of higher education has sponsored a lot of phoniness in higher education.  We have professors who hold PhD's which are basically based on fairly worthless areas of study and who sometimes use their university positions to advance those areas of study, essentially producing needless data on the public dime. We have some entire areas of academic concentration that are really questionable at that.  Basically, if you look at college areas of concentration, and find one that didn't exist in 1960, if its current existence can't be explained by an advancement in technology, industry or fields of employment, it probably ought not to be there.

The fact that they are there, combined with student loans given out for any field of study, and combined with programs that generate students as they need to, means we have a system that generates graduates, irrespective of their employability.  That's a difference between our system and at least one other, the much vaunted German system. The German system may be free, but it also pretty much determines where you are going for you at a quite early age, and that's what you are going to do, more or less.  Indeed, one German national I know who is employed in the US has noted to me that the German system is admirable because it's free, but he's lucky he came to the US where he was able to have more liberty as to his choice of careers. 

But, back to the main topic, all of this sadly explains part of the real problem of current higher education.  At one time higher education was, well, higher education.  But now these institutions are institutions, and like any big institutions, they become top heavy. All that weight at the top has to be fed, and it will be.  And that drives up the cost  How to address that is another matter, but people defend their rice bowls, so addressing that isn't easy.

Which is also why things like professional coordinator positions tend to be a bad idea.  As a concentrated project (let's recruit more students from Wind River, for example), it makes sense. But by making it a position, the risks exists that it never sees its mission completed.  Very few bureaucratic offices ever see their mission fulfilled on their own.
The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday in favor in changing UW regulations to create a new position to coordinate the institution’s diversity efforts.

Read More: University of Wyoming Trustees Create Diversity Coordinator Position |
The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday in favor in changing UW regulations to create a new position to coordinate the institution’s diversity efforts.

Read More: University of Wyoming Trustees Create Diversity Coordinator Position |

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Questions for the (local) candidates.

Our Congressman, Cynthia Lummis, is leaving office. So candidates are lining up to run.  Mostly Republican candidates, of course, and it's going to be a Republican who is going to win, unless something massively bizarre happens, although frankly as hard to the national right as the Republican candidates so far are tacking, an opening exists for a Democrat if the Democrats defy all expectations and somebody well known and not from the Unicorn Left runs. So far, the chances of that, however, look slim.

Recent elections have been singularly disappointing in my view.  The last one started to get interesting, I'll admit, as there was a real split between the Tea Party and rank and file elements in the GOP, with the rank and file coming out on top.  That doesn't mean that we won't see some tacking towards the Tea elements in this election, of course.  The sad part of it is that races that used to feature some real intelligent debate, on a state level, have been swamped by developments elsewhere and tend to just be a mirror on the more extreme elements of the national party elections, which of course right now are fairly extreme.

Wyoming has one seat in Congress, so this is an important seat.  So we ought to really think it out.  Here's some questions I'd propose anyone ask of these candidates.  While my view on these topics is probably self evident, that doesn't mean that the same view ought to be yours.  Nonetheless, I"d ask these questions anyhow.
  • In recent years there's been a lot of talk amongst Wyoming politicians about "taking back" or "assuming control" of the Federal lands in Wyoming.  With that in mind, what is your view on the following:
i.  Do you believe that Wyoming was ever "promised" these lands?  If you do, back that up and explain why the State forever disclaimed them upon being admitted to the Union.
ii.  Wyoming sportsmen uniformly believe that the state acquiring the lands is a bad idea and will result in the loss of public use of them.  What do you say to that?
ii.  Would you prohibit the sale of the lands for all time?  The state's really hurting for cash right now, so why should we believe that would be effective?
iii. What advantage to the State is there in acquiring the lands? Don't rest on platitudes, give us facts and figures and numbers. You know that there's cost to managing them, don't you?
iv.  Given that Wyoming has the lowest population in the nation, and this would have to go through Congress, doesn't this movement risk angering the majority of Americans who feel that the lands should have more Federal control, rather than less? So, long term, doesn't this "gimme" type of attitude risk getting our hands severely slapped?
  • I know, as you are running in Wyoming, you are going to claim to be a sportsman.  Back that up. Tell us exactly how many licenses you have held in Wyoming over the past twenty, yes I said twenty, years.  Name your old hunting and fishing buddies so we can talk to them and see what they say.
  • I also know that you are going to claim to support the Second Amendment.  Almost all politicians in Wyoming claim this, and then go on to say something lame like "I own a gun", which to gun owners means that you probably don't know diddly about firearms.  Do you actually shoot? What do you use your firearms for?  Are you a member of a range?  Do you own one of the dread "evil weapons".  Speak up.
  • While we are on the topic of the US Constitution, what's your view?  Strict constructionist, living document, something else?  Do you feel any recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions are wrong, and if so which ones?  What would you propose to do about any errors you feel that they have committed, even if that just means living with them.
  • Most Wyoming politicians are strongly in favor of something like "state's rights".  Are you?  If you are, are there areas that you are willing to tell us that you'll cut the pork out in a way that hurts Wyoming?  That is, do you have the courage of your convictions even if we are dining on some of that pork?  If so, tell us what you will say to Congress, you know, Wyoming has a moral or philosophical duty to do that on its own, darn it. 
  • I know that you are going to claim that you support our base industries. So, name one you have worked in.  I.e., name that petroleum industry, agricultural, tourism, or retail job you have held, in Wyoming.  (If you can't name one. . . well. . . it's  not to late for you to get a real job for awhile and see what they are like).
  • On those base industries, agriculture and the agriculture based industry of tourism are the state's oldest industries (okay, yes I'm ignoring the railroad on this one, as maybe it's number two).  What do you intend to do, specifically, for the nation's agriculture.  And what do you intend to do for Wyoming's agriculture.
  • I know that you are going to lament the slump in coal and oil, but on that, are you willing to answer the hard questions. And those are, in part:
i.  Are you willing to accept that the slump in oil may be due to a new economic regime in petroleum production, and we might never get the high prices back?  If so, what do you say to the state and nation about that?  If you don't agree, back that up.
ii.  Are you willing to accept that coal is likely dead, and admit that on the campaign trail.  Yes, I know that as a Wyomingite (for those of you who are, and a couple of you are pretty iffy on that), you are supposed to say that clean coal will save coal, but as the evidence of that is scant, are you willing to face it.  If you aren't, back up your position with specifics, not airy hopes.  And if you propose to argue for investing in "clean coal", are you willing to admit that's a socialist proposal?
iii.  Are you willing to accept that global public opinion has clearly turned against fossil fuels, now matter what your personal position may be, and it no longer makes any difference whether a Wyoming politician admits or denies a belief in climate change? The world does, and the world is reacting massively.  Given that, how does that impact in real, not imaginary ways, how you see this industry in our state in the future.  And don't just give us "the world needs" answer, as that same answer would have worked for wagon wheels and saddles too.  Give us a real answer on how you think things need to develop, and how that relates to your intended job in Congress, assuming that it even does.
  • I know that you are going to state that you are for a strong national defense.  Given that, I presume you know that means getting people killed, right?  With this in mind:
i.   The Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. What's that mean to you?
ii.  Are you in favor of women in combat?  No waffling.
iii.  Have you ever been in the service?  If not, why not?
iv.  Is the military too big, too small?
v.  What is your view on the War On ISIL, and don't give me that "Obama messed this up" answer.  I want to know what you intend to do right now, and how long you think it's going to take.  You propose to take a job on, and my presumption will be that you are going to sit around for two years blaming people who came before you.
vi.  Same question for Afghanistan. What are your thoughts?
vii. While on this, would you explain to us your views on our friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most repressive nations on earth, and which doesn't allow any sort of freedom of religions at all. Why are we buddies with those guys?
  •  On the above, why do we still make anyone register for the draft?  We're not going to be drafting anyone and we know that, so why make people do this?
  •  Where are you really from?  Wyoming has a long history of electing politicians that were not born here, and almost all of our early politicians were from somewhere else, so you can be honest about this, and should be.
  •  Where is your income really from? We might care about this, but you should be honest about it.  Do you really work and derive an income from Wyoming, or is your income really from somewhere else?
  • Speaking of income, what is yours?  Wyoming's average income is $51,000 per year (or at least it was, before the crash started), the seventh highest in the nation.  That's solidly middle class, but that's all it.  What is your income?
  • You've probably noticed that this is a national office.  So there are things Washington can't do for us, right?  Are you going to answer that, if these things come up during the election?
    • Do you have a religious faith?  If so, name it.  Does it mean anything to you in terms of your politics, or are you more inclined to take the JFK path that you will exercise your faith on Sunday (or Saturday) but it won't otherwise influence your politics that much.
    • Let's talk economics. Are you: a) a Capitalist, b) a Distributist; c) a Socialist?
    i.  Okay I know that you didn't say you were a Socialist, unless of course you actually have no hope or desire to be elected, or that you are completely delusional, but if you said "no" to that one, what's your feeling on the many odd subsidized programs the US has.  One has recently been in the news big time, with the GOP promising that they were going to cut subsidies for a private entity that they did not, but what about you?  Are you going to really attack the many socialized, in practical terms, programs that there are, or do you support some?  If you do, what are they and why do you feel that's an exception.
    ii.  Alright, I know you said you were a capitalist and believe in the free market.  I also said that you said you aren't a distributist, and that you became a bit queasy as you also don't even know what that is (and bonus points to you, if you actually do, but how far are you willing to take that?  What is the government's role in our economy?  What is the corporate role?

    You may have noticed that our local economy is getting pounded recently.  What are your feelings about that?
    • I know that no matter who you are, you're going to complain that the Federal Government is regulating us to death here.  Back that up, and don't use generalities either.  If you are going ot claim that regulations are keeping oil exploration from busting forth, for example, name some industry analysts who agree with that (hint, they really don't).
    • What's your reaction to the growing support for "social democracy" amongst the young?  You've probably seen three of the current Presidential candidates make some traction by taking on a certain nannie state mentality, and my guess is that you are willing to do that to. Be blunt.  At what point do you tell people that they're on their own, and the government isn't really there to help them.
    • What is your view on immigration and illegal immigration?  Be specific.  And, on that, in a country of over 300,000,000 residents, at what point are we pretty much full up? 
    • On immigration, what should be considered when taking in new migrants, assuming you didn't say we're "full up". 
    •  If you are a Democrat, you are a member of a party that has been declining here ever since the end of World War Two and which has all but died since the election of Bill Clinton.  Why do you think your party is so poorly thought of in Wyoming?  Do you acknowledge that there's a lot about the Democrats Wyomingites don't like, and how do you stand in regards to that?
    • If you are a Democrat, you are a member of a party that's pretty much quit running electable known candidates in recent years.  A few of your more serious known members became Republicans  Why can't your party get some known serious candidates to run?
    • If you are a Republican, what's going on inside of your party and how do stand in regards to it?  It's pretty clear that the old Wyoming GOP was in quite a fight with an upstart Tea Party GOP last election.  What is your opinion on all of that, and have you guys gotten over it?

    Mid Week At Work: Mail Carrier, 1915, Los Angeles

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    Be careful out there. . . and how we go when we didn't used to.

    Highway near Casper, January 30.

    We're entering Wyoming's snow season.

    We really aren't there yet.  Generally, April is the month of the year where we really get hit with snow.  But we're starting to see more of it, and we got hit by a heavy wet snow on Friday and Saturday.  Indeed, it felt like an April snow, rather than a late January one, which generally feels like getting hit with frozen sandpaper.

    Those trucks (there are two of them) are out in that snowstorm.  They're off the road.  I thought that they'd slipped off, and the back one probably did.  When I passed them, they were chaining it up. The driver in the front truck had walked back to help the other driver chain his truck up.  Chaining was probably necessary to get it out of the ditch.

    Truck drivers have to drive in weather like this all the time. But, in Wyoming, so do a lot of other people.  Ranchers, to be sure, but also oilfield workers and, as odd as it may seem, lawyers.  In the old, old days, lawyers rode a circuit by horse, today in the Rocky Mountain West they ride it by 4x4.  Our travel is dictated solely by our schedule, not by the weather.  We occasionally have to cancel something due to the weather, but that's rare.  Usually, if things are going to get really bad, we try to get there a day prior if we can, and then we have to ride it out wherever we are.

    I've written on it many times here, but this is one of the things that's really changed, in this region, about how we live just since World War Two.  The only 4x4s in the US prior to the Second World War were heavy industrial trucks.  4x4s came onto the civilian market right after World War Two, their worth having been proven by the war.  But the only "light" 4x4s that were offered at first were Jeeps.  4x4 trucks came on, but they were heavy trucks and appealed only to industry, ranchers, and serious sportsmen.  That really didn't change until the 1960s, when lighter 4x4s started to be relatively common around here.  By the 1970s they were pushing out 2x4s, and vehicles like Suburbans and Travelalls were common.  In the 1980s "Sports Utility Vehicles" started coming in, and now they're everywhere.  Most SUVs are pretty good in snow, but I still drive a 1 ton 4x4 on the highway in snow.  It's very dependable and safer than nearly any other alternative.

    But, having said all of that, there's really no safe driving in weather like this. But because we can do it, we do.  And some of us have to.  A real change since 1945.

    Monday at the Bar: Courthouses of the West: Natrona County Townsend Justice Center

    Courthouses of the West: Natrona County Townsend Justice Center: