Biker Wars

So, someone enlighten me. After this weekend’s shootout in Waco between two biker gangs that left nine dead and 18 wounded, we started getting a bunch of think pieces from the usual liberal outlets about how the media coverage of this awfulness was “different”.

Those who are using what happened in Waco to start conversations about stereotypes and media biases against black people aren’t complaining about the tenor of this weekend’s media coverage. They’re saying something a little different: that by being pretty reasonable and sticking to the facts, this coverage highlights the absurdity of the language and analysis that have been deployed in other instances, when the accused criminals are black.

I have no idea what Vox is on about. The coverage of this weekend’s events was not very different from the coverage of any other violence. You can read Ed Morrissey here where he talks about the many politicians who have denounced these gangs, the efforts law enforcement has made to reign them in, the arrest of almost two hundred gang members and the efforts made to prevent this before the weekend even started. No one is downplaying this or pretending this isn’t a problem. No one is failing to denounce them as violent thugs. And no one is trying to claim that this event was somehow justified.

Another line of commentary that’s predictable in media coverage and commentary surrounding violence involving black people has to do with black cultural pathology.

Politicians and pundits are notorious for grasping for problems in African-American communities — especially fatherlessness — to explain the kind of violence that, when it happens in a white community, is treated as an isolated crime versus an indictment of an entire racial group’s way of life.

The total absence around the Waco incident of analysis of struggles and shortfalls within white families and communities is a painful reminder of this.

What a bunch of crap. The difference between violence in the black community and violence in the white community is scale. Black people are six times as likely to be murdered as white people and eight times likelier to be involved in a murder. The community in Waco is not nearly as dysfunctional and crime-ridden as Baltimore is. Saying that violence is more endemic to black communities than white ones isn’t racism; it’s a fact.

Now what we make of that fact, how we respond to it; that’s a different ballgame. Then it’s reasonable to discuss institutional racism, the collapse of families, the cycle of violence, the destruction of inner cities, the War on Drugs, etc. I also think it’s perfectly reasonable to question why people get involved in biker gangs or why the media tend to romanticize biker gangs and have previously failed to report on biker violence. But let’s not pretend that a shootout in Waco reflects violence in our nation the same way the constant drumbeat of death and destruction in our inner cities does (Baltimore, to make one example, has had 34 murders just since Freddie Gray died).

And frankly, outlets like Vox are in a glass house on this. They seem to think it’s wrong for conservatives to talk about absent fathers as a contributor to violence. But it’s OK to discuss racism, decaying infrastructure and failing schools?

But the key thing to understand is that the criticism here is not really of the coverage of what happened in Waco. It’s of the juxtaposition of what happened here with what happens when the people involved are of a different color. The message is not that the conversation about Waco should be overblown, hypercritical of an entire culture, or full of racial subtext. It’s despair over the sense that if the gang members were black, it almost certainly would be.

Bullshit. There are about thirty mass shootings a year in this country, many of them involving gang violence. Almost of all of them are ignored by the media. In fact, I expect think pieces next week about why the media doesn’t cover shootings between black gangs with the same intensity they covered this one.

Salon, of course, takes the cake, wondering why the events in Waco weren’t called a riot (mainly because … there wasn’t a riot). CNN wonders why we react to Muslim violence more sharply than biker violence (because no biker gang ever murdered 3000 people). NPR wonders why the National Guard wasn’t called out (because all the perpetrators were arrested and the violence finished on the first day).

You can read a response from National Review, that points out that the media has had no problem labeling riots as such when it involves white sports fans or college students.

And who, precisely, is denying that organized crime syndicates are thuggish? Isn’t that generally what is meant by “biker gang”? No one is arguing that these were the Wild Hogs.

I understand that people get frustrated when conservations about the excessive use of force by police or the militarization of police gets sidelined into discussion of black-on-black violence. It is possible to denounce both at the same time (as indeed most people do). But trying to sandwich media coverage of the Waco shooting into that discussion is a stretch at best.

Sorry, guys. This isn’t about the media. This is about a bunch of thugs who started a brawl that resulted in nine people being killed (including, most likely, several killed by the police trying to deal with the situation). No one is defending them. No one is romanticizing them. No one is pretending this was something other than a vile incident. And if the result is crackdowns on other violent gangs, almost everyone is fine with that.

Rand Stands Again

So today, Rand Paul engaged in his second filibuster, this time against the Patriot Act, talking for ten hours. Specifically, he was filibustering against Section 215, which supposedly enables the NSA meta-data collection program.

This has been building for several weeks now. The Second Circuit, in fact, ruled that the Patriot Act doesn’t authorize the data collection program and the NSA has said they will not change anything until Congress acts. Following this, the lying sack of shit that leads the NSA claimed that he lied to Congress about the program because … and I’m not making this up … he forgot the program existed. Defenders of the program are demanding Congress reauthorizing it, making dubious and sometimes outright false statements about the success of the program. And last week, the House voted to reign in the NSA’s power, albeit in water-down version. The ball is currently in the Senate’s court.

I don’t think the Patriot Act should be renewed. This has been primarily used as a smokescreen for prosecutions on drug and other non-terrorism charges. It was passed in the first place on false claims that 9/11 happened because the government didn’t have the powers within the Patriot Act. If it must be passed however, it should only pass after the USA FREEDOM Act directly curtails the NSA’s power.

I have my disagreements with Paul, but this is another occasion on which he has made me proud. Let’s hope other Senators will stand not just with Rand, but with us.

Thomas Sowell deconstructs Obama and the left’s bullshit

I love Thomas Sowell. This man gets economics and the way the real world works. So as soon as I heard he had a new article discussing the stupidity of another Obama “You didn’t build that” and “Pay your fair share you evil capitalists” moment, I had to go check it out. As usual, Thomas Sowell cleans the floor with the stupid shit liberals say> Here’s an excerpt:

In a recent panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama gave another demonstration of his mastery of rhetoric — and disregard of reality.

One of the ways of fighting poverty, he proposed, was to “ask from society’s lottery winners” that they make a “modest investment” in government programs to help the poor.

Since free speech is guaranteed to everyone by the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is nothing to prevent anybody from asking anything from anybody else. But the federal government does not just “ask” for money. It takes the money it wants in taxes, usually before the people who have earned it see their paychecks.

Despite pious rhetoric on the left about “asking” the more fortunate for more money, the government does not “ask” anything. It seizes what it wants by force. If you don’t pay up, it can take not only your paycheck, it can seize your bank account, put a lien on your home and/or put you in federal prison.

So please don’t insult our intelligence by talking piously about “asking.”

And please don’t call the government’s pouring trillions of tax dollars down a bottomless pit “investment.” Remember the soaring words from Barack Obama, in his early days in the White House, about “investing in the industries of the future”? After Solyndra and other companies in which he “invested” the taxpayers’ money went bankrupt, we haven’t heard those soaring words so much.

Then there are those who produced the wealth that politicians want to grab. In Obama’s rhetoric, these producers are called “society’s lottery winners.”

Was Bill Gates a lottery winner? Or did he produce and sell a computer operating system that allows billions of people around the world to use computers, without knowing anything about the inner workings of this complex technology?

Was Henry Ford a lottery winner? Or did he revolutionize the production of automobiles, bringing the price down to the point where cars were no longer luxuries of the rich but vehicles that millions of ordinary people could afford, greatly expanding the scope of their lives?

Most people who want to redistribute wealth don’t want to talk about how that wealth was produced in the first place. They just want “the rich” to pay their undefined “fair share” of taxes. This “fair share” must remain undefined because all it really means is “more.”

Once you have defined it — whether at 30 percent, 60 percent or 90 percent — you wouldn’t be able to come back for more.

Obama goes further than other income redistributionists. “You didn’t build that!” he declared to those who did. Why? Because those who created additions to the world’s wealth used government-built roads or other government-provided services to market their products.

And who paid for those roads and other government-provided services if not the taxpayers? Since all other taxpayers, as well as non-taxpayers, also use government facilities, why are those who created private wealth not to use them also, since they are taxpayers as well?

The fact that most of the rhetorical ploys used by Barack Obama and other redistributionists will not stand up under scrutiny means very little politically. After all, how many people who come out of our schools and colleges today are capable of critical scrutiny?

And that’s the point though, isn’t it? You target envious low information voters with a head full of leftist mush for support to give pretense to robbing the productive, all while stealing tons of that money, under the pretense of helping those less well off. Now if we had anything like a honest media, they would point out how much money these class warriors bag while peddling this liberal nonsense, no matter what the medium chosen to gain acceptance of thing sane people would never go with, while selling the snake oil.

Ramadi Falls

You remember how the Obama were boasting about killing a key ISIS member last week? The exact same way the Bush people used to always boast about killing Al-Qaeda’s #2 leaders over and over again?”

Well, ISIS captured Ramadi this week, which is a much more significant event than killing one of the numerous members of ISIS’s leadership.

And just think … Clinton’s going to be running for President on her experience building this nightmare.

No, Hillary is Not Inevitable

(There’s a delayed Science Sunday coming. Been recovering from proposal deadlines.)

Every day, we are told that Hillary Clinton is going to be our next President and there is nothing that can stop it. Despite growing evidence that Clinton personally took money from people who had business before the government, despite the $16 million the Clintons have made in speeches over the last year and a bit, despite a growing scandal with the Clinton Foundation … she is inevitable. We might as well not even have an election.

One source of this inevitability is the supposed “blue wall”, the long list of states that Republicans simply can’t compete in. Supposedly the Democrats have so many electoral votes locked up in guaranteed blue states, that they could run Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer and win.

I’ve long been suspicious of this claim, since many of these supposedly unbreakable states have happily elected Republican governors and legislatures (hell, Massachusetts just elected another Republican governor). But now Nate Silver demolishes the wall. Looking back at the 2012 election, he find no real electoral advantage for either party:

Republicans, in all likelihood, would have won by similar Electoral College margins if they’d done as well as the Democrats in the popular vote, casting all sorts of cracks in the blue wall. Suppose, for instance, that Romney, rather than Obama, had won the 2012 election by 3.9 percentage points. What would the map have looked like?

It would have looked pretty red. A 3.9-point Romney victory represents a 7.8-point swing from the actual result. So if the swing were distributed uniformly, Obama would have lost every state that he won by 7.8 percentage points or less. That means he’d have lost three “blue wall” states — Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — along with Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia.

Silver goes on to point out that there is a blue wall, but it’s different than what most people think. If either party won a massive amount of the popular vote — the way Reagan did in 1984 — the result would not be as huge an electoral landslide. Both the Democrats and the Republicans would still win about 100 electoral votes even if they lost by 20 points because more states are either very red or very blue. Even then, however, I’m dubious. A real electoral implosion could change things even more than Silver anticipates.

(I think we are going to get a close election simply because most elections are close. The parties work pretty hard to align themselves along that 50% axis. After electoral massacres in 1984 and 1988, for example, the Democrats move right and nominated Clinton (who was liberal, but way less liberal than Mondale or Dukakis).)

In terms of 2016, this means that electoral strategizing — i.e., going with a Florida Republican to lock up Florida — is a fool’s game. The Republicans should concentrate on nominating the candidate who is going to win a national election, whether’s that Rubio or Bush or Perry or Walker or whomever.

There’s something else though. I think the effort to pretend Hillary is inevitable is strategic. I think the Democrats and their dogwashers in the media want the Republicans to feel hopeless and helpless, unable to stop the coronation that the Democrats and the media have been waiting for since January 2001. It’s why they pretend this “blue wall” of unbreakable states exists. It’s why they poo-poo every scandal that emerges with Clinton. It’s why they aren’t willing to ask the same questions about Hillary’s health that they were asking about McCain’s or Reagan’s (Clinton in 2016 would be only two years younger than McCain was in 2008 and one year older than Reagan was in 1980).

We’ve seen how these “inevitable” elections have been going for the Left in general (see recent UK and Australia elections) and Democrats in particular. Scott Walker was going to be recalled; instead he’s won three elections in a blue state. The Democrats were going to hold the Senate; instead they lost it. They were going to take back the House; they lost again. Since 2008, Barack Obama is the only real electoral success they’ve had.

That’s what’s going on here. Part of it is wishful thinking: if they pretend Clinton is inevitable, they hope it will make her inevitable. But it’s also conditioning designed to weaken the opposition and weaken the vetting of the presumptive candidate.

Don’t believe the hype. Clinton can be beaten. It won’t be easy — she’s going to be determined and have the press at her back. But it can be done.

Update: Politico has another of these the GOP is finished articles. Their logic is that Republican voters tend to be older (true) and older people are more likely to die (also true), therefore the GOP is dying. Because, apparently, in Politico’s world, no one ever ages and become conservative.

BS on Amtrak

The motto of the Democrats is that they can never let a good crisis (or tragedy) go to waste. Before the bodies were even cold from the recent Amtrak train crash, the Left Wing was claiming that it was obviously Republicans’ fault. They had “gutted” infrastructure spending and “slashed” Amtrak spending and if they hadn’t, we’d have had a positive control system that would have slowed the train down. My favorite rant is here in which Thom Hartman manages to blame Reagan, work in a Somalia comparison and say our system should be more like Spain’s (which had a far deadlier high-speed train crash just two years ago).

There’s only one problem with all this. It’s bollocks:

In the federal budget, Amtrak is within the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The president estimated that fiscal 2015 outlays on the FRA would be $3.6 billion. Of that, $250 million is for Amtrak operating subsidies, $1.1 billion is for Amtrak capital grants, $1.8 billion is for high-speed rail grants, and the rest is for safety, research, and other rail activities.

The chart shows total FRA outlays from 1990 to 2015 in current dollars (not adjusting for inflation). Outlays have soared in recent years, partly due to rising high-speed rail spending. During 2009 to 2015, high-speed rail grants were $2 million, $16 million, $304 million, $513 million, $768 million, $1.1 billion, and $1.8 billion. But even aside from that spending, FRA outlays were up modestly over the past decade.

The problem with Amtrak is that many of its routes do not make economic sense. Because of politics, the company is forced to run services through low population regions that have few passengers. Passenger rail makes sense in the Northeast corridor, but few other places in America—at least within today’s costly and unionized rail structure. The distance from Boston to Washington, D.C. is less than 500 miles, yet Amtrak operates a 21,000-mile system through nearly all the states. Money that should be used on maintenance and upgrading in the Northeast is being used on services elsewhere in the country that lose hundreds of dollars per passenger.

In short, much of the money that could be going to maintain Amtrak is going to subsidize pointless light rail systems in cities that can’t use them. The Fed is also throwing money at high-speed sinkholes that will never happen.

The lack of a positive control system was instantly cited as the reason for the crash. The problem is that the line already has the system:

The Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night was equipped with an automatic speed control system that officials say could have prevented the wreck, which killed eight passengers and injured hundreds. But the system, which was tantalizingly close to being operational, was delayed by budgetary shortfalls, technical hurdles and bureaucratic rules, officials said Thursday.

In 2008, Congress ordered the installation of what are known as positive train control systems, which can detect an out-of-control, speeding train and automatically slow it down. But because lawmakers failed to provide the railroads access to the wireless frequencies required to make the system work, Amtrak was forced to negotiate for airwaves owned by private companies that are often used in mobile broadband.

We’ve see this all the time from the supposedly fact-based Left Wing. Every time a tragedy happens — a shooting, a derailment, a hurricane — they can tell you what went wrong before the smoke has even cleared. They can tell you the motivations of people who messed up. And somehow, miraculously, it always comes down to Republican budget cuts.

Japan’s bullet train is often dragged out as the example of what we should be doing on rail. This ignores two things: 1) Japan is a lot smaller and its population more concentrated that the United States; 2) Japan’s rail system is privatized. As far as I can tell, they only get government subsidies to build new track or expand their capabilities. But their bullet trains operate at a profit.

This tragedy wasn’t a result of evil Republican budget cuts or Reaganism. We’re still not sure what happened. But as far as government policy goes, it was a result of a blundering agency and a government that is committed to building rail where it isn’t needed instead of maintaining it in the one place — the Northeast Corridor — where it makes sense.

What is missing from this revelation?

Yesterday I had a post about how a communication by the NAVY Sec Mabus clearly showed that the military was about to lower standards for access into some of the most demanding and dangerous combat specialties due to the demands from the PC political class. Today we have a revelation form retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis about how horrible the current US foreign policy landscape looks.

Because the United States lacks a global strategy, “volatility is going to get to the point that chaos threatens,” a former Central Command (CENTCOM) commander told a Heritage Foundation audience Wednesday.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis said, “the perception is we’re pulling back” on America’s commitment to its allies and partners, leaving them adrift in a changing world. “We have strategic atrophy.”

Again the missing item here is what? I am not even gonna bother with a long lead up and just point out that the elephant in the room is that the idiots that were going to stop the rise of the oceans, heal the rift that warmonger devil Boosh caused with his cowboyism between us and every civilized nation on the planet, and show the world that the dog that rolls over and exposes it’s neck and belly to the aggressors would garner their sympathy and get them to stand down.

Yes, this for me is an opportunity to again point out that I told you so. In my wildest nightmares I couldn’t think anyone would do more harm than Carter did, but Team Obama has usurped that title with panache and certainty. People forgot how dismal democrats are at anything that has to do with the real world, and it reflects, not just in the current economic and political climate at home, but in our foreign policy and the disasters of the last 6 years, as well. I wonder if that Nobel Peace Committee has thought about asking Obama to return the prize they gave him to spite Boosh? I am certain that all the other idiots around the globe that rooted for an Obama win – with the exception of the ones in countries such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, and Venezuela amongst a long list of rogue nations that were salivating at the chops for another weak ass in chief – and the subsequent “maturity” in the new US foreign policy are kicking themselves these days.

Our enemies get treated like a hooker afraid of pissing off her pimp, while our friends get treated like the hooker by her pimp. It’s a shame and a travesty. The world is now a more dangerous place because the supposed adults have been in charge and have done a “reset”. The consequences of having these in charge will be felt for a long time, and we have not yet seen the worst of it.

PC Eats Itself … Again … And Again

Right now, our Congress is debating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement between 12 countries across the Pacific. Battle lines are forming up much like they did with NAFTA. Pro-business Republicans, some Democrats and the President claim it will open up economic opportunities. Pro-union Democrats and protectionist Republicans claim it gives too much power to foreign countries and corporations. Since many of the details are unknown, I don’t feel qualified to comment at this point.

But one funny thing emerged during the debate. Barack Obama chided Elizabeth Warren, who is one of the most vocal opponents of TPP. And now he’s being branded as sexist:

President Obama is facing criticism from his liberal base over what they say are “disrespectful” and even sexist comments about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has led the opposition against a White House-backed trade bill.

“I think the president was disrespectful to her about the way he did that,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, told reporters Tuesday, a few days after Obama referred to Warren, who is a Democrat, as “Elizabeth” and “a politician.” Shortly after that, Senate Democrats successfully blocked the trade bill, which would give the president expanded authority to negotiate a trade pact.

Brown made his comments as the liberal-leaning group the National Organization for Women said Obama’s remarks had sexist overtones.

“I think it is sexist,” NOW President Terry O’Neill told The Hill newspaper. “I think the president was trying to build up his own trustworthiness on this issue by convincing us that Senator Warren’s concerns are not to be taken seriously. But he did it in a sexist way.

So what did he say?

Obama told Yahoo in a story published Saturday: “The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else. And you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that.”

O’Neill also said the “subtext” of Obama’s comments are “ ‘the little lady just doesn’t know what she’s talking about’. … I think it was disrespectful.”

Oh. Come. On. This is standard political debate. This is what Obama says about Republicans all the time. Maybe you could take an issue with him calling her “Elizabeth” rather “Senator Warren”. Some women find it belittling to be addressed by their first name by default instead of by a formal title. But some women don’t. I have no idea what Senator Warren thinks and neither do any of the people getting offended on her behalf.

McArdle:

However, I have to point out that not every use of a first name is sexist. Not every political disagreement secretly is about the gender or race of the participants. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes calling a senator by his or her first name is just, well, calling a senator “Sherrod.” Conservatives will attest that Obama does not reserve condescending and dismissive statements about his opponents and their motives for female politicians; this is pretty much par for the course when Obama discusses the Republican Party.

People who carelessly toss around the “s” word are trying to have things both ways: They want sexism to be something very, very bad that forces the refs to stop the action and pull you out of the game, and they also want to be able to level this charge at every minor verbal tic that might be sexist. Even if it might just be, you know, politics. In this and other contexts, this is not a bargain that a modern society will strike. If you make the punishments draconian, people will hesitate to apply them widely. This is true in law enforcement, and it is true of social sins as well. To claim “sexism” too often just robs the word of its power.

As was pointed out on Twitter:

Sexism is stupid. Racism is stupid. But invoking them by reflex is even stupider. Obama and Warren are having a disagreement over policy. And Obama has a tendency to be condescending when he disagree with anyone (as, frankly, does Warren). You don’t have to read any hidden agenda into it.

For goodness sake, does everything in our society have to be dissected like this? If you’ve been following the rise of political correctness, the answer for them is, “Yes. Yes it does.” But for the rest of us, it’s just exhausting.

So the Politicians still actively at it

An ongoing debate in the military community is that despite all the wishful thinking by the PC desk jockeys in DC, reality has been a harsh mistress. General physical requirements for women already differ from those that men must qualify for, and without exclusion the requirement for females is far lower than that for males. I will not bore you with the logic that was used to get this to pass. Basically the argument has always been that while physical strength will matter on the battlefield, non-combat jobs shouldn’t have the same restrictions. The problem some have pointed out is that on the modern battlefield all jobs tend to, at one point or another, end up as combat jobs. Someone less qualified, because of lower physical standards, not only runs the risk of performing poorly when that happens, getting themselves killed in the process, but actually costing others their lives. I remain ambivalent about women in non-combat military jobs, but I detest the fact that we can’t have either an honest discussion or get the military to accurately report the facts. That ship has already sailed, and we now must live with what is.

The problem is that the SJW types still demand more, because as things stand right now their argument that there is no difference between men and women is easily disputed based on facts. For decades now the political class has been demanding women be given access to combat billing in the military that have remained exclusively male. It should be no surprise that these billets usually are highly specialized combat infantry billets with extremely demanding physical requirements. Amongst the billets that the PC Police has targeted to push their agenda to prove that there is absolutely no difference between men and women are the Marine Infantry Officer program, NAVY SEAL program, the Army Ranger/Delta Force programs, and the Air Force Special Operations program. These programs have actively resisted lowering standards for anyone because lives would be lost. So far not a single female to try out has succeeded in passing the rigorous and demanding physical part of any of these programs, and the reason is simple biology.

But the SJW types remain undeterred in their quest to be able to say they were right, so this announcement by Navy Secretary Mabus should come as no surprise. Here is a snippet, emphasis mine:

Fair fitness standards,/b>, less online training, more educational opportunities and a better balance of work and family life. Those hot button issues for sailors and Marines are now at the forefront of a new campaign by the Navy’s top civilian to boost quality of life and recruit more women into the ranks.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is set to unveil a host of far-reaching initiatives and policy changes Wednesday, aimed at improving quality of life and careers for sailors and Marines, many which came directly from the deckplates, a senior Navy official has confirmed to Navy Times.

Mabus plans to to ease body fat restrictions, boost career flexibility, andpush to recruit more women in the Navy and Marine Corps, while opening up the last billets that remain closed to them.

The initiatives have been in the works for some time. Mabus has publicly voiced support for increasing the number of women and the jobs open to them, while Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran’s office has been collecting fleet feedback on everything from revamping Navy Knowledge Online and the PFA to beefing up education and civilian training opportunities. Mabus is also expected to highlight recent moves to accelerate promotions for top performing corporals.

So there you have it: physical standards will again be reduced because “fairness”. My bet is, barring a reduction for show purposes, that they will only be reduced for one gender. I doubt the SEALs or the Marines will be happy to go along with any of this crap. SJW will not care who loses their lives as long as they get to pretend the dumb shit they believe is true however.

For those not in the know, this is being coupled with early promotions if you have the right plumbing. To me, that line about early promotions of corporals, which means Marine Corps enlisted females, since there are no corporals in the NAVY, basically means they are running the risk that they will promote people that might not have had enough time to be prepared. That’s neither fair for those people promoted or those that could suffer from this bad choice.

Women belong in the military. Many have served and will serve with distinction. However, just like no one bats an eye when some programs wash out overweight, physically unqualified, or mentally lacking men, nobody should be surprised that without compromising standards women will not make it into these elite combat forces. It’s simple biology, and no amount of mental fortitude will overcome the physical reality that there is a difference between the sexes. Meddling by inept people that have not served a day in the military or worse, don’t give a shit who gets hurt by their political agenda, however, might just make that happen. And we will all lose when that does happen.

The Roads Must Roll

The thing that amazes me about the environmentalist movement is how easily they embrace what turn out to be terrible ideas. Not just ideas that are bad for the economy, but often ideas that bad for the environment. Corn ethanol. Food miles. CFC bulbs. Carbon offsets. Geo-engineering. Zero Population Growth policies. Plastic bag bans.

Well, we have a new one: solar roads. The idea is that we replace a road with solar panels secured underneath safety glass. And this will … something.

Coyote Blog has the rundown on a prototype solar road that is a fiscal nightmare:

In the US, we pay about 12 cents a KwH for electricity (the Dutch probably pay more). But at this rate, in 6 months, the solar sidewalk has generated… $360 of electricity. Double that for a year, and we get $720 of electricity a year.

How much did the sidewalk cost? The article doesn’t say. You will find this typical of wind and solar articles. If they quantify the installation cost, they will not quantify the value of power produced. If they quantify the power produced, they will never quantify the installation cost. This article says the installation cost was $3.5 million, though I suppose one should subtract from that the cost to build a similar length concrete bike path, but that can’t be more than $100,000 for 230 feet. They say they are getting 70kwh per year per square meter, which is $8.40 worth of electricity per square meter per year. Since regular solar panels – without all the special glass overlays and installation in the ground and inverters and wiring – cost about $150-$200 per square meter, you can see this is a horrible investment.

He points out, quite correctly, that a road is one of the stupidest ways you can deploy a solar panel. First of all, the panel is pointed straight up, instead of south toward the sun, cutting its efficiency. Second of all, you literally have things passing over it all day, blocking out the sunlight (and, I note, causing large sudden voltage changes that can’t be good for the electronics). And I would add that having two layers of safety glass means you are blocking out some of the light the solar panel needs to absorb. And it’s not clear that a solar road will either be as durable as a regular road or as safe as one (do you want to ride your bike on glass during winter?). And you’ll have to find a way to keep the glass clean or your efficiency will drop even further.

The argument in favor is that it replaces asphalt, which is an energy-intensive product. Fair enough. But solar panels don’t just fall from the sky. They are also energy-intensive to produce. And they are energy-intense to maintain and replace, especially if you have fucking cars driving over them. They also point out that replacing our roads with solar panels (at a cost of about $50 trillion) would provide a enough energy to power the entire country since we have a huge number of roads. Again, fair enough. But lack of space isn’t the biggest problem with solar power right now. Energy storage is. They also make pie-in-the-sky claims that solar roads can power illumination at night or melt snow during winter. But that again gets into energy storage issue. I’m not sure how these road are supposed to collect enough energy to melt snow when they’re covered in … you know … snow.

Solar panels on roofs are a shaky enough prospect. I think they are gradually getting more feasible but are still hung up on the energy storage problem (and no, giant lithium ion batteries are not a solution). But putting solar panels in roads has to be one of the dumber ideas yet to emerge from the green mind. And yet a startup in the US has raised over $2 million for this nonsense.