Remember electric mail trucks?


MELISSA MATHIESON

Mail trucks, which mostly drive short and predictable routes, are perfect candidates for leading the electrification revolution. But the USPS, as an institution, is not

But what began as mostly good-natured celebration over a cute, much-needed truck went downhill fast. It increasingly became clear the massive order was utterly unfit for the modern age. In a legally-mandated environmental review, the USPS revealed the gas version of the truck will get essentially the same miles per gallon with the air conditioning on as the current truck gets, or about 8 mpg, worse than the RAM ProMaster, which the USPS also uses, which gets roughly 14 mpg. It also revealed the truck’s weight was selected to be precisely one pound heavier than the “heavy duty truck” cutoff which frees it from various environmental regulations, including getting better gas mileage. And, most controversially of all, only 10 percent of the trucks will be electric, even though the USPS itself said in the environmental review that 95 percent of its routes are fit for EVs…

The USPS’s responses to this criticism have only yielded more questions. On February 6, the USPS released a lengthy statement defending its decision. The USPS said it would buy more electric vehicles if it could afford them. But, it also said its own calculations found more electric vehicles would be more expensive and not be fiscally responsible (an assertion its critics vehemently reject as based on fundamentally flawed analyses, citing a 2021 Atlas Public Policy study that found the USPS could save as much as $4.3 billion over the lifespan of the vehicles, or almost the total cost of the vehicles themselves, by going electric)…Despite the criticism, the USPS finalized its environmental review and says it will move ahead with the procurement.

It is easy to conjure theories of corruption or politically motivated decision making…What these theories—and much of the commentary about the new delivery trucks in recent weeks—miss is not just the history of the lengthy procurement process itself, but the context of the USPS‘s recent history. That recent history is of an organization that considers innovation a synonym for risk, and risks a prospect that it cannot afford to take. The USPS doesn’t want to be anywhere close to the cutting edge of anything, up to and including leading an electric revolution.

Just about every single reason, analysis and process our incompetent bureaucracy might muster to blockade progress which included the word, “electric”, was brought into play throughout the decision-making process. Read this and weep for simple, material reasoning.

Trump’s fraudit election lies about Arizona are unchanged. Of course.

If we lived in an America where facts mattered, and shame was still a thing, the pratfall of the Cyber-Ninja “audit” in Arizona would dampen the momentum of the Trumpist “stop the steal” movement.

In an America where facts mattered, the finding of the GOP-backed “audit” that, yes, indeed, President Joe Biden won Arizona — by an even larger margin than originally reported — would be a colossal embarrassment for the grifters and scammers of the Trump world. It would an egg-on-their-faces moment for the ages.

But we don’t live in that America, because if facts mattered, we wouldn’t be where we are now. For the boosters of the “big lie,” the Arizona audit flop was not even a speed bump. And that should tell us a great deal about this moment in U.S. politics.

In the wake of the report, some Republicans urged a return to sanity. “When it comes to the audit, like the three audits that preceded it, it’s now over,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said on Twitter. “The outcome stands and the 2020 election in Arizona is over.”

But there is zero chance of that in the Trumpified GOP.

RTFA. Some of these folks are regular Americans. Self-deluded True Believers. Some are ready to fight for Trump as they would have for Hitler. Like the Republican candidate who says, “Execute all involved. #MaricopaCountyFraud.” History does repeat itself all too often. Especially the violent bits. That’s what a BIG LIE strategy was invented for.

Leave this laying around for your kiddies to pick up and play with!

About a week ago, a company in Utah that makes custom modifications to firearms debuted what it described as a fun new product: a kit that encases Glock handguns in red, yellow and blue Lego blocks, refashioning lethal weapons to look exactly like children’s toys…

“There is a satisfaction that can ONLY be found in the shooting sports and this is just one small way to break the rhetoric from Anti-Gun folks and draw attention to the fact that the shooting sports are SUPER FUN!” the site proclaimed, exuding a bravado that would prove to be short-lived. “Here’s the thing. Guns are fun. Shooting is fun. 30 rounds full auto is fun.”

As word of the new product spread on the Internet late last week, the idea struck many people as so profoundly misguided that it would inevitably cost children their lives…

Dumb, yes, but legal in at least most of the country, said David Pucino, a lawyer at the Giffords Law Center. Although federal law prohibits toys from being manufactured to look like guns, no such law prohibits guns from being made to look like toys. Pucino noted that New York state bans people from disguising firearms as something else, which could make the Lego-crusted Glock illegal there, but he doubted that many other states had passed similar regulations.

Of course, it’s legal. We are a nation of stupid, first. Education, thoughtful regulation, are the last items on the good sense shopping list.

Texas’ utility incompetence brings havoc, steep price-tag, hundreds of miles North and South

Texas’ deep freeze didn’t just disrupt natural gas supplies throughout Lone Star country—its effects rippled across the country, extending as far north as Minnesota. There, gas utilities had to pay $800 million more than they anticipated during the event, and Minnesota regulators are furious.

“The ineptness and disregard for common-sense utility regulation in Texas makes my blood boil and keeps me up at night,” Katie Sieben, chairwoman of the Minnesota Public Utility Commission, told The Washington Post. “It is maddening and outrageous and completely inexcusable that Texas’s lack of sound utility regulation is having this impact on the rest of the country.”

The gas and electric markets in Texas are lightly regulated and highly competitive, which has pushed companies to deliver energy at the lowest possible cost. But it also means that many companies were ill-prepared when the mercury dropped. To save money, they had skimped on winterizing their equipment. As a result, gas lines across the state—which has about 23 percent of the country’s reserves—quite literally froze. The spot price of natural gas soared to 70-times what it would normally be in Minnesota, and gas utilities paid a hefty premium when they used the daily market to match demand.

Some places in this Land of Freedom … that slogan means local political hacks have all the freedom in the world to be dumb as a hoe handle.

Trump denial, incompetence, led to the COVID-19 pandemic


Tasos Katopodis/Getty
Trump, late February, explaining COVID-19 with “incoherent” blather

The catastrophe began with Trump’s initial refusal to take seriously the threat of a once-in-a-century pandemic. But, as officials detailed, it has been compounded over time by a host of damaging presidential traits — his skepticism of science, impatience with health restrictions, prioritization of personal politics over public safety, undisciplined communications, chaotic management style, indulgence of conspiracies, proclivity toward magical thinking, allowance of turf wars and flagrant disregard for the well-being of those around him.

…The administration’s overall response is likely to be scrutinized for years to come as a case study in crisis mismanagement. At the heart of the problem, experts say, have been Trump’s scrambled and faulty communications.

“Words matter a lot, and what we have here is a failure to communicate — and worse than that, the effective communication of policies, of myths, of confusion about masks, about hydroxychloroquine, about vaccines, about closures, about testing,” said Tom Frieden, a former CDC director in the Obama administration. “It’s stunning.”

Please RTFA in its entirety. The crap lies from flunkies read as you would expect. Denial of science and scientific methods are the hallmark of Republican incompetence. Trump teaches a Master Class on the topic. While Americans suffer and die.