The Best of Lee: Peak Oil

Writing about Venezuela’s oil crash reminded me of this great post from Lee in which he destroyed the very notion of Peak Oil. You should read the whole thing, but here’s an excerpt:

In the late 1970s my cousin, who was at the time in her late teens or early 20s, came to visit my family in Australia. My father, as most of you know, was in the oil business, specifically the drilling aspect. He knew all there was to know about getting oil out of the ground. My cousin, a good soul, expressed great concern that “within ten years” the world’s supply of oil would be depleted, and regaled him with the horror stories of global doom that would accompany this eventuality. My father listened to her, then patiently explained how she had no idea what she was talking about, that her head had been filled full of mush by leftist professors, and the idea that the world would ever “run out” of oil is absurd. Remember, this was thirty years ago that we were “ten years” away from running out of oil. Oddly enough, we’re still now “ten years” away from running out of oil.

The difficult argument is to explain to people, calmly and rationally, the situation with oil. The easy thing to do is terrify people into thinking that, just like sucking on a milkshake, one day we’re just going to run out. As I’ve said before, technological advances will make oil obsolete long before we ever actually run out of it. If oil were actually in any danger of running out any time soon it would be $500,000 a barrel instead of $100. (That’s freshman economics, folks. Everyone should understand that.)

We need to develop clean technologies. We need electric cars. We need to be concerned with global warming and the environment. These are all legitimate, and you will find no bigger proponent of finding solutions to these problems than me. But what I refuse to do is buy into the Chicken Little syndrome whereby I wail and screech about how the world is going to end if I don’t support a particular political proposition. Kyoto was a stupid idea when it was first proposed during the Clinton administration, and there’s a reason it was voted down 95-0 in the Senate. (That’s right, liberals, not one member of the Democrats voted in favor of it.) But opposing bad legislation does not equal a desire to ignore the problem, it’s a disagreement about the means. And, given the total, utter, abject failure of Kyoto since its ratification the United States seems eerily prescient with its rejection.

Oil will never run out. Ever. There is too much money to be made in the technology industry for the world to keep relying solely on oil. We don’t need nightmares, we don’t need screaming histrionics, we don’t need end of the world scenarios. What we need are smart people taking the problem seriously, and finding workable, reasonable solutions to transition the world from a petroleum economy into the next generation.

Unfortunately, doing things reasonably and sensibly doesn’t win elections. So we’ll continue to have global consensuses on all sorts of things that make no sense.

At the time Lee wrote those words, oil was surging to a record of $145 a barrel. Barack Obama and other Very Wise People told us that we couldn’t drill our way out of this (those were Obama’s literal words). Since then, increased production has dropped the price of oil to $45 a barrel with medium-term forecasts that it will stay in that range. In fact, many environmentalists are now worried that there is too much proven reserve and that using it all would cause very severe global warming.

Doubtless the price of oil will one day go up again as demand surges and some of the current wells run out. And doubtless we will hear panic-mongering from the Peak Oil people. And doubtless we will either find a new source of oil or an economically viable alternative (probably natural gas or nuclear) that will make the entire point moot.

Come to think of it, these moral panics never seem to pan out either, do they?

The Venezuelan Implosion

Holy shit:

Venezuela is about to earn another ignominious distinction.
Long home to the world’s highest inflation rate, the country now is set to become the site of the 57th hyperinflation event in modern recorded history, says Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University. While the feat may be little more than a formality in a country where Hanke calculates annual cost-of-living increases already run at 772 percent, it’s the latest sign a debt default may be closer than traders previously thought.
With Venezuela’s currency losing 32 percent of its value in the past month in the black market, according to dolartoday.com, and falling oil prices throttling the cash-starved nation’s biggest revenue source, the government may run out of money to pay its debts by year-end, according to Societe Generale SA. Derivatives traders have ratcheted up the probability of a default within one year to 63 percent, compared with 33 percent just two months ago.

“They’re very close to hyperinflation,” Hanke, who wrote a book on hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, said by phone from Baltimore. “When you have a domestic currency that is withering on the vine, it becomes more problematic servicing foreign debt.”

The currency fell so fast on Monday that it implied a monthly inflation rate of 53.98 percent. A full month of days on which the implied monthly rate was faster than 50 percent would meet his definition for hyperinflation.

This is in addition to massive shortages of basic goods, soaring crime, rapidly rising unemployment. So much for Chavismo.

Now this is the point where some well-meaning fool will tell me it’s all America’s fault or something. But the thing is, this economic collapse was predicted by everyone who knew what they were talking about. McCardle:

For about a decade, some sectors of the left hoped that Hugo Chavez represented an alternative to the neoliberal consensus on economic policy. Every time I wrote that Chavez was in fact direly mismanaging the economy, diverting investment funds that were needed to maintain oil output into social spending, I knew that I could look forward to receiving angry e-mails and comments accusing me of trying to sabotage his achievements for the benefit of my corporatist paymaster.

The problem was that the money he was using was, essentially, the nation’s seed corn. Venezuelan crude oil is relatively expensive to extract and refine and required a high level of investment just to keep production level. As long as oil prices were booming, this policy wasn’t too costly because the increase offset production losses. But this suffered from the same acceleration problem that we discussed earlier: The more production fell, the more the country needed prices to rise to offset it.

A little over a decade ago, I had a long car ride with a woman who worked in the oil industry. She said basically the same thing: that Venezuela was sitting on a lake of oil but not investing their massive revenue in sustaining or growing production. High oil prices weren’t going to last forever (Peak Oil hysterics not withstanding). Her particular field was using geological data to more accurately find undersea reserves of oil and she knew production was going to come back up and prices would fall. This would doom Venezuela because their production wasn’t going to be able to keep up: they were entirely dependent on high prices. When oil crashed, so would their economy.

Chavez was riding an asset bubble and claiming it proved his genius. Maybe if Venzuela has used their revenues to develop a thriving private sector of the economy, they could have withstood this. But they didn’t and oil was all they had. So we’re finally into the end game for Hugo Chavez’s “nobel experiment”.

I would like to think that people would learn a thing or two from the smoking crater in Caracas. But they never do. In fact, right now they’re wondering why the hell China is imploding as well. After all, Thomas Friedman’s been writing about sixteen columns a week on how superior their system is to ours. People like me have been pointing out that China has huge problems with corruption, an aging population and an economy that, while growing, had picked all the low-hanging fruit. We’ve been pointing out that China’s “explosive growth” was a result of having been dirt poor in the first place (it’s much easier to grow 10% of nothing that 10% of everything). Eventually, that engine was going to run out of steam. But, no: Very Wise People kept insisting that China had a found an alternative to the free market.

Just like Venezuela had.

And just like Japan before that.

And the Soviet Union before that.

And Germany before that.

Boy. These new economic ideas never seem to work out, do they?

Ban Bag Bust

A few years ago, a bunch of liberal cities began to ban plastic bags. They claimed would help save the Earth, cutting down on landfill use and eliminating a harm to wildlife. I was very skeptical for a variety of reasons.

Well, this is my shocked face:

In Austin, for example, a post-ban survey found that single-use plastic bags accounted for only 0.03 percent of the total litter collected in the city in 2015. Assuming the pre-ban rate was closer to the 0.12 percent in nearby Fort Worth, that marks a roughly 75 percent reduction of single-use plastic bags in Austin’s landfills.

But, as the Austin assessment pointedly notes, reducing the use of a product that’s harmful to the environment is no guarantee of a positive environmental outcome. Among the main environmental benefits of Austin’s ban was supposed to be a reduction in the amount of energy and raw materials used to manufacture the bags. To that end, the city encouraged residents to instead use reusable bags. Those bags have larger carbon footprints, due to the greater energy required to produce their stronger plastics, but the city figured the overall impact would be lower, as consumers got acquainted with the new, more durable product.

What the city didn’t foresee is that residents would start treating reusable bags like single-use bags. The volume of reusable plastic bags now turning up at the city’s recycling centers has become “nearly equivalent to the amount of all of the single use bags removed from the recycling stream as a result of the ordinance implemented in 2013,” according to the assessment. And those lightly used bags are landfill-bound, because recycling isn’t any more cost-effective for reusable plastic bags than the single-use variety.

Some of these issues could be addressed through the increased use of reusable canvas bags. But canvas is even more carbon intensive to produce than plastic; studies suggest consumers would need to use a single canvas bag around 130 times before they start achieving any net environmental benefit as compared with a single-use plastic bag. And, for some consumers, the higher price for canvas bags may be prohibitive, in any case.

That’s actually understating the case. Canvas bags have to be cleaned regularly. I previously noted a rise in ER admissions in cities that banned plastic bags because people were eating contaminated food:

This is something the environmentalists have never understood. People don’t do “bad” environmental things because they hate cute little fishies; they do it because it’s the least bad option facing them. So environmentalists, for example, ban styrofoam cups in favor of paper cups and then are shocked when it turns out paper cups cost more energy to produce and create more waste. They go on about food miles and then are blindsided when it turns out that flying in your lamb from New Zealand is better for the environment than growing it locally.

People dispose of grocery bags for a reason: to get rid of the dirt, bacteria, blood, etc. that comes off of raw food. This problem can be overcome by washing reusable bags. But … that cuts into the supposed environmental benefit. If you wash it every time, it would taken hundreds of uses before a reusable bag would match the environmental impact of a plastic bag.

Actually, is likely that canvas bags will never consume less energy than a plastic bag. This is of a piece with a larger effort in the environmental movement that is emphasizing recycling and composting, which are extremely expensive in terms of energy. By my math, that’s trading a problem we don’t have (a lack of landfill space) for a problem we do (global warming).

But the plastic bag ban was never about the environment, really. It was what one person called “brick in the toilet” environmentalism. It was about doing something even if that something has no tangible benefit. It was about making the public sacrifice some convenience because sacrificing convenience seems moral. Who cares if it works as long as you get everyone marching along to the government’s drum?

One of the things I’ve said for years about the environmentalist movement is that they need to decide what they want: style or substance. Do they actually want to improve the environment or do they want to look they’re improving it? We see, over and over again, environmentalists advocating policies that feel good but do harm: opposing nuclear power, “food miles”, “earth hours”, banning plastic bags. I think it’s clear that they’ve made their choice. If we are going to save the Earth, the ideas for doing it are going to have to come out of the conservative and libertarian movements.

BLM Proposes

Last week, I agreed with Hillary Clinton that if Black Lives Matter wanted to make a difference, they needed to propose actual laws and policies, not just “raise awareness”. This week, they’ve come out with a list of proposals and … it’s actually pretty reasonable. They propose things like better police training, an end to asset forfeiture and broken windows policing, independent investigation of police shootings, body cameras. There are a few things I would disagree with but, overall, this is pretty mainstream and in line with what many conservatives have been talking about, especially asset forfeiture reform and demilitarization.

Radley Balko notes that while these proposals are reasonable, they are likely to portrayed as radical by police unions who are used to having the media and politicians mindlessly parrot their spokesmen. But:

There is at least some reason to be more optimistic this time around. The main reason is that the problems in policing are starting to affect people who have the status and power to do something about them. One reason we’re starting to see conservative opposition to police militarization, for example, is that police militarization is starting to affect conservatives. We’re seeing regulatory agencies with armed police forces, some even with tactical teams. We’re seeing SWAT-like tactics used to enforce zoning laws and low-level crimes. We’re seeing heavy-handed force used to collect cigarette taxes or to enforce regulatory law.

Similarly, while how and when police use lethal force has a disproportionate effect on communities of color, there has been no shortage of stories about unarmed white people killed by police. There are problems in policing that are directly related to race, such as profiling, bias and an irrational fear of black criminality. But there are also problems in policing that affect people of all races, such as the use of lethal force, unnecessary escalation and the prioritizing of officer safety over all else. (Even these problems disproportionately affect black and brown people.)

Do we dare say that … all lives matter? A government that can launch an armed SWAT raid against Okra plants is a danger to everyone, black white or Dolezal.

In my original post, I said that the best way to address the problems in law enforcement is for government to “make itself less powerful, less intrusive, more accountable and more respectful of our basic civil liberties.” Black Lives Matter’s proposals do exactly that. Ultimately, we will have to address the massive size and scope of government. The less the law is involved in our lives, the less chance there is for that involvement to go wrong. But shaping reform around BLM’s proposals would be a great first step toward addressing the problems and building a better relationship between police and their communities.

The EPA Knew

You’re probably aware of the recent ecological disaster the EPA caused in the Gold King Mine. While cleaning up the heavily polluted site, they caused a blowout that put millions of gallons of toxic water into the Animas and San Juan Rivers, turning them yellow. I’ve been waiting for more details on the event. Accidents happen, particularly when you’re working at a poorly known site. The EPA wasn’t just screwing around with the mine; they were trying to clean up an ongoing environmental problem that had killed many of the fish in the upper Animas river. Acid mine drainage is a huge environmental problem and is one of the reasons we have the EPA in the first place (I was just reading an article about the Berkeley Pit mine, a potential time bomb tat the EPA is defusing).

Well, we’re finding out some things now. And it looks very bad:

U.S. officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic “blowout” of poisonous wastewater from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event when a government cleanup team triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA released the documents late Friday following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. While shedding some light on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the newly disclosed information also raises more questions about whether enough was done to prevent it.

A May 2015 action plan produced by an EPA contractor, Environmental Restoration LLC, also noted the potential for a blowout.

The May plan also called for a pond that would be used to manage the mine water and prevent contaminants from entering waterways. That pond was not completed.

A 71-page safety plan for the site included only a few lines describing what to do if there was a spill: Locate the source and stop the flow, begin containment and recovery of the spilled materials, and alert downstream drinking water systems as needed.

Note that the EPA has actually redacted parts of the documents as if there are national security issues at stake. They have also not revealed what happened immediately before and after the blowout or why they waited for over a day to let local governments know that their water was turning to poison.

I expect, in the end, no one will be held accountable. “Stuff happens” is the way of the Obama Administration, at least when it comes to their own people. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s going to get a lot worse for the EPA.

Big Damned Heroes

Memo to Jihadist murderers. If you must try to slaughter innocent civilians, always check first to make sure there are no heroes around. Otherwise, this will happen:

It was 5:45 p.m., a normal Friday afternoon on the sleek high-speed train that takes high-level European diplomats, businesspeople, tourists and ordinary citizens between Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

Less than an hour away from Paris, a French passenger got up from his seat to use the toilets at the back of the carriage. Suddenly, in front of him rose a slightly built man. Across the man’s chest, in a sling, was an automatic rifle of the kind favored by jihadists the world over: an AK-47.

The passenger threw himself on the man. The gun went off, once, twice, several times. Glass shattered. A bullet hit a passenger.

The man with the gun kept going down the carriage, holding his AK-47 and a Luger pistol. In a pocket was a sharp blade capable of inflicting grievous harm. He had at least nine cartridges of ammunition, enough for serious carnage.

Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the National Guard from Oregon vacationing in Europe with a friend in the Air Force, Airman First Class Spencer Stone and another American, Anthony Sadler, looked up and saw the gunman. Mr. Skarlatos, who was returning from a deployment in Afghanistan, looked over at the powerfully built Mr. Stone, a martial arts enthusiast. “Let’s go, go!” he shouted.

Mr. Stone went after the heavily armed gunman and, with his friends, pounded him to the floor of the train carriage. “I mean, adrenaline mostly just takes over,” Mr. Skarlatos said in a Skype interview on Saturday that appeared on television, barely 12 hours after it was over. “I didn’t realize, or fully comprehend, what was going on.”

Their actions saved many lives on the train, which was packed with over 500 passengers, according to French officials. The attack took place in Oignies, near the historic town of Arras.

The would-be mass murderer’s name has yet to be confirmed, but preliminary indications are that he is … wait for it … a member of a radical Islamist movement.

By Saturday evening, having left the hospital in Lille where he was operated on after being severely cut by the suspect, Mr. Stone and his friends were being hailed as heroes by French officials and citizens. Some were proposing them for the Legion of Honor. President François Hollande of France had already invited them to Élysée Palace for a congratulatory meeting. The French passenger who initially encountered the attacker was also lauded by French officials for his bravery, but was not named.

All four should get the Legion of Honor as well as any commendations President Obama sees fit to give them. As far as anyone knew, this guy could have had explosives on him. This was jumping on a grenade. This was putting their lives at risk to save others. And that can’t be commended enough.

It gets better. Stone continued to hold the guy down while he was bleeding from his neck and nearly served thumb. Once he’d been secured, Stone, still bleeding, went to the aid of wounded passenger and possibly saved his life. Skarlatos had the presence of mind to gather the weapons and search the car for other potential gunmen. They later discovered that the guns wouldn’t have worked because the Jihadist was incompetent. But there was no way of knowing that at the time. Here’s a picture of three heroes:

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I once joked with a marine that the only reason we arm our soldiers is to give the enemy a sporting chance. Three unarmed Americans, two of them soldiers, against one idiot Jihadist who couldn’t figure out how to properly work his weapons? No chance.

Ashley Madison

A few weeks ago, hackers claimed to have stolen a wealth of data from the website Ashley Madison, a site that purports to enable people to have extra-marital affairs. They claimed this would reveal real-life details of millions of Ashley Madison users and threatened to release this data if Ashley Madison didn’t close shop. They then released it this week. Several prominent people have been outed as well as several not-so-prominent people and that’s just in the first few days.

One of the more interesting things to come out of this is a look at how Ashley Madison actually functions. There have been allegations for years that Ashley Madison was overpromising, to say the least. There were allegations that the gender ratio was massively skewed and that thousands of fake profiles were on the site to separate men from their money (you have to pay for interactions through the site). The release of the data seems to confirm some of these allegations, which would make Ashley Madison sleazy even by the standards of … uh … sites that enable adultery.

So how much adultery are we talking about here? Ashley Madison claims to have 37 million members, but most estimates I’ve seen indicate, at most, two million active users. Furthermore, a lot of them are just playing around and not actually having affairs. Dan Savage:

There are lots of “fakes and flakes” on hookup sites and apps. Talk to anyone who has actually looked for sex partners online and they’ll bitch about about the flakes and fakes who wasted their time. They’ll bitch about all the people—scores of them, some of them dogs—who exchanged text messages with them, swapped sexy photos with them, and shared their fantasies with them and then disappeared on them—went silent, ghosted them, blocked their numbers—when it was time to meet up and fuck. Sometimes they disappeared on them after making concrete plans to meet up and fuck. So finding spouse’s name on Ashely Madison—if you decide to search for it—doesn’t mean your spouse ever intended to cheat on you.

Of course, to a lot of people, especially women, the difference between a spouse who planned to cheat and one who actually did is academic. I have some sympathy for people who feel trapped in loveless or sexless marriages and want some intimacy. If people want to have open marriages or whatever, that’s their lookout (although the key word there is “open”, not deceptive). But in the end, the Ashley Madison users were people looking to have a cheap affair. Maggie, from my first link:

One of my serious university boyfriends (he was 28 when I was 19) once told me, “Maggie, nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.” It took me a while to understand what he meant, which is this: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something. Ashley Madison holds out the promise of something for nothing: Extracurricular sex without monetary cost, commitment or risk. But as with all such offers, it’s a lie: Pussy costs, and free pussy is the most expensive kind. And Noel Biderman, AKA “Ashley Madison”, has figured out a way to tack on a hefty surcharge.

Exactly. Ashley Madison makes money not just off of deception and infidelity but off of gullibility. Its users wanted to believe they could have an affair without complications or expense. Many bought into this fantasy so hard that they couldn’t be bothered to get an anonymous gmail or hotmail account, using their work e-mail accounts (including many government employees). Hell, I have two anonymous e-mails accounts and the only thing I’m cheating on is sleep.

Despite the vileness of Ashley Madison and the stupidity of their clients, I am however getting increasingly uncomfortable with the gloating over this. It’s really not my business what other people are doing with their lives. Rolling in the details of this mass doxing like a dog in a dead possum is just awful. So I will not be commenting on anyone whose name comes out, even if it’s some hypocritical religious right figure or prominent politician. Glenn Greenwald:

That the cheating scoundrels of Ashley Madison got what they deserved was a widespread sentiment yesterday. Despite how common both infidelity and online pornography are, tweets expressing moralistic glee were legion. Websites were created to enable easy searches of the hacked data by email address. An Australian radio station offered to tell listeners on air if their spouse’s names appeared in the data base, and informed one horrified woman caller that her husband did.

It’s hard to overstate the devastation to some people’s lives from having their names published as part of this hack: not only to their relationships with their spouses and children but to their careers, reputations, and – depending on where they live – possibly their liberty or even life. What appears on the internet is permanent and inescapable. All of the people whose names appear in this data base will now be permanently branded with a digital “A.” Whether they actually did what they are accused of will be irrelevant: digital lynch mobs offer no due process or appeals. And it seems certain that many of the people whose lives are harmed, or ruined, by this hack will have been guilty of nothing.

In short, everything is awful. Ashley Madison is awful for offering this service and milking desperate men for every dime they could get. The people who used Ashley Madison were greedy and stupid. The hackers are awful for putting this information out there, no matter how much they try to cloak it in social justice rhetoric. And the people digging through the database and gloating over the suffering of cheaters and cheatees are awful.

I don’t have any political slant on this. The government should go after people who hack databases no matter how slimy the victims or how noble the sentiment. It’s not like the hackers were exposing government abuses of power or something.

She must think she is royalty or something

One of our credentialed intellectual superiors that thinks they belong to a special class that absolves them from the plethora of laws and regulations they foist on us peons, again showed us how broken our legal system really is. Mrs. Clinton, whom believes America owns her the title of POTUS because it is her turn, again shows how little respect she has for the system she seeks the highest office of. In a display of disconnect with reality that should frighten anyone with a modicum of intelligence, she answered questions querying the possibility that her people, under her direction, had wiped her highly illegal mail servers with the stupid kind of snark she believes shows her superiority to the rest of us rubes who she would have no problem turning the partisan legal system out on. Note that having such servers, let alone destroying evidence like she did when people found out about them and asked her to deliver that evidence for legal evaluation, would have landed anyone else in jail because they would be violation of congressional laws put in place to safeguard sensitive and secret information. Others have been punished – harshly – for far less than what is obvious to everyone was done by her and her staff.

I am not sure if she was just flaunting the fact that she believed she was above the law by wearing that ugly orange jump suit, or if she subconsciously was making another snarky remark for the jail time anyone else that had committed this string of crimes would be facing. This medusa must have some serious shit on the Obama administration. The lack of action by the legal entities in this administration, especially after they so vigorously crucified others for far less, is astounding. They have to know how the general populous is viewing this freak show, but its as if they don’t care. Then again, Obama is also a crime boss and believes himself royalty as well, so maybe it is just one crime boss helping out another. I for one have held for a long time that I would never trust the corrupted system run by agents of the left to fairly treat someone like me while on the other hand allowing one of their own to get away with practically anything, and so much of what has transpired over the last 7 years prove that I was right to feel that way.

Making Black Lives Really Matter

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but … ahem … is this thing on? … I agree with Hillary Clinton.

Last week, she met with members of the Black Lives Matter movement. Hillary has a lot to answer for. As First Lady and then as Senator she actively supported the harsh prison sentences and militarized police tactics that have led to two million Americans being incarcerated, millions more under some kind of supervision and cops with assault weapons and body armor assaulting Americans mostly for drugs.

The 2016 candidate even gave suggestions to the activists, telling them that without a concrete plan their movement will get nothing but “lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it.”

“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton said, arguing that the movement can’t change deep seated racism. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential.”

She is absolutely correct, although probably for reasons she would disagree with. I think it was P.J. O’Rourke who defined a statist as someone who thinks government can change human nature. Government can not make people less racist, assuming that racism is the problem here. Government can, however, make itself less powerful, less intrusive, more accountable and more respectful of our basic civil liberties. In other words, it can create a system whereby human weaknesses and failings — greed, power-lust or even racism — have less ability to damage the lives of its citizens.

She’s also right about Black Lives Matter. Right now, they don’t have any solid proposals for how to deal with any of the problems they are worried about. They are reminding me increasingly of Occupy Wall Street which had an issue (wealth inequality, bailouts) but no idea of what to do about it.

Raising awareness is a good thing. But ultimately, it has to be followed by concrete action or it’s just noise. And I’ll give Mrs. Clinton credit for saying so.