People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There They Go Again

When does 1-1 not equal 0?

When "global warming" is involved.

A sane person would think that warmer temperatures of late in the Arctic (1) minus colder temperatures in the northern hemisphere generally (1) would cancel each other out (0) and put "the planet is ever-warming" argument on ever-shakier ground.

But not in global warming land.  To the strange inhabitants therein warmer weather up north actually causes colder weather here.  Thus 1-1=2.

Think I'm kidding?

Today's belch from the loony warmists:
Holiday Blizzard: More Signs of Global Warming
By Bryan Walsh, TIME

One theory is that a warmer Arctic may actually lead to colder and snowier winters in the northern mid-latitudes. Even as countries like Britain — suffering through the coldest December on record — deal with low temperatures and unusual snow, the Arctic has kept on warming, with Greenland and Arctic Canada experiencing the hottest year on record. Temperatures in that region have been 5.4°F to 7.2°F (3°C to 4°C) above normal in 2010. As a result, the Arctic sea-ice cover has continued to shrink; this September, the minimum summer sea-ice extent was more than 770,000 sq. mi. (2 million sq km) below the long-term average, and the third-smallest on record. Snow may be piling up in midtown Manhattan, but the Arctic is continuing its long-term meltdown.

The loss of Arctic sea ice helps accelerate the warming of ... [blah blah blah] [link]
Now, you're saying to yourself: Can't the opposite be true as well?  Maybe cold temperatures in New York are causing warmer temperatures at the North Pole.  That we're experiencing global cooling.

Shut up.

This is their latest excuse for weather patterns not fitting their mold and they're sticking to it.

You have to admit, it's a creative ditty.  Warmth causes cold.  Someone had to be drunk when they dreamt that one up.

Quote of the Day

Jennifer Rubin on the fantasy land that is liberalism:
You would think the liberal intelligentsia would, with a record of so many misses on so many consequential matters, become chastened. But no. They are filled with certainty: Obama is back, the recovery is around the corner, Russian "reset" is a success, ObamaCare can't be repealed, there are no electable Republican 2012 contenders, and more, they tell us. We'll see if the left's crystal ball is any more accurate in 2011. But for now, let's not forget all the things they told as that simply weren't so.
Read the whole thing. Good stuff.

On This We Disagree

Sometimes we let our opposition to a particular argument or practice so steel cloud our viewpoint that we let it skew our thinking toward an alternative that can be, in fact, quite acceptable.

Take Congressional earmarks for example.  We all hate them, right?  The practice involves the acquisition of funds by a particular congressperson for a specific project in his district.  A really out-of-control process, as it turns out, that allows one congressman to help gain approval for someone else's pet project in return for approval for his.  Thus the twelve thousand earmarks in a transportation bill a few years ago (and well over six thousand in the omnibus bill that failed two weeks ago).  For that reason alone, they breed waste and corruption.

More importantly, they come with no oversight.  See John Murtha's personal airport for the most egregious example.

My Democratic congressman (for another week, then he's gone forever) once said in an attempt to justify this thievery, "I frankly think the members of Congress are far better situated to understand the priorities of their districts."  My reaction at the time was to ask, "Better situated than those trained professionals who are paid handsomely by the taxpayer to analyze projects based on the need, their merits, their cost/benefit ratio, and their anticipated rate of return?

Based on recent history - think John Murtha again - what kind of "priorities" do you mean, Congressman?

So you know, there is a viable alternative to earmarking.  That's to have our elected representatives take their requests to those professional analysts in the executive branch and ask for a fair study to be conducted and, if deemed appropriate, to approve allocation of funds.  As it was done for many, many years before earmarking became so popular a practice.

Here's the problem.  Some see any request for appropriations coming from Congress to now be a bad thing.  When it really isn't.  An example:
Great news: Congress discovers exciting new ways to earmark
Hot Air

Maybe I’ve been wrong all along. Maybe it really is time for a third party.

Though Mr. Kirk and other Republicans thundered against pork-barrel spending and lawmakers’ practice of designating money for special projects through earmarks, they have not shied from using a less-well-known process called lettermarking to try to direct money to projects in their home districts…

Lettermarking, which takes place outside the Congressional appropriations process, is one of the many ways that legislators who support a ban on earmarks try to direct money back home.

In phonemarking, a lawmaker calls an agency to request financing for a project. More indirectly, members of Congress make use of what are known as soft earmarks, which involve making suggestions about where money should be directed, instead of explicitly instructing agencies to finance a project. Members also push for increases in financing of certain accounts in a federal agency’s budget and then forcefully request that the agency spend the money on the members’ pet project…

[A] New York Times review of letters and e-mail to government agencies from members of Congress shows that the practice is widespread despite the fact that both President George W. Bush and President Obama have issued executive orders instructing agencies not to finance projects based on communications from Congress.

According to the Times, there’s basically no way to track these requests short of using FOIA to demand correspondence between Congress and various agencies.

What’s most depressing about this, I think, isn’t the betrayal of transparency or even the hypocrisy of being loudly anti-earmark yet quietly pro-lettermark, it’s that it’s yet another example of government trying to do an end-around recently imposed limits on its own power. [link]
I don't see it that way at all.  Congressmen sending letters of request to the executive branch of government for special consideration of a particular appropriation is a perfectly legitimate alternative to earmarking.  Can it be abused by some nameless, faceless bureaucrat in an agency of the executive?  Sure.  But what's the incentive?  To make a congressman happy?  What does the bureaucrat care?

Besides, realistically many if not most of the appropriations that the government deals with come from individual requests from citizens.  None of which are "transparent."  It's how things are done.  And it works.  Because trained project professionals are involved in analyzing the requests.

So.  Let's continue to be vigilant when it comes to the discredited and abusive practice of earmarking.  But let's not get our undies in a bunch over other spending practices/processes that might seem to stem from similar motives.  Let those who are paid to allocate based on worth do their thing.  America will do okay.

- - -

See "NRV Airport's new runway 'looks good, rides smooth'." A few questions worth asking: Is it viable? Is it cost effective? Would it exist if a project manager had been involved in appropriating funds to keep it going rather than Rick Boucher? What does it accomplish that an underused Roanoke Regional Airport can't?  Or an expensive and underused Virginia Tech Montgomery Executive Airport, for that matter.

Me?  I'm betting some number cruncher in Washington would laugh uproariously over that spaghetti factory.

How We Got Into This Mess

And how we get ourselves out.

The Wall Street Journal:
The Right Way to Balance the Budget
By Andrew G. Biggs, Kevin Hassett, and Matt Jensen

The federal debt is at its highest level since the aftermath of World War II—and it's projected to rise further. Simply stabilizing debt levels would require an immediate and permanent 23% increase in all federal tax revenues or equivalent cuts in government expenditures, according to Congressional Budget Office forecasts. What's clear is that to avoid a crisis, the federal government must undergo a significant retrenchment, or fiscal consolidation. The question is whether to do so by raising taxes or reducing government spending.

To be blunt, countries in fiscal trouble generally get there by making years of concessions to their left wing, and their fiscal consolidations tend to make too many as well. As a result, successful consolidations are rare: In only around one-fifth of cases do countries reduce their debt-to-GDP ratios by the relatively modest sum of 4.5 percentage points three years following the beginning of a consolidation. Finland from 1996 to 1998 and the United Kingdom in 1997 are two examples of successful consolidations.

The data also clearly indicate that successful attempts to balance budgets rely almost entirely on reduced government expenditures, while unsuccessful ones rely heavily on tax increases. On average, the typical unsuccessful consolidation consisted of 53% tax increases and 47% spending cuts.

By contrast, the typical successful fiscal consolidation consisted, on average, of 85% spending cuts. While tax increases play little role in successful efforts to balance budgets, there are some cases where governments reduced spending by more than was needed to lower the budget deficit, and then went on to cut taxes. Finland's consolidation in the late 1990s consisted of 108% spending cuts, accompanied by modest tax cuts. [link] [emphasis mine]
This goes to the heart of the Tea Party movement.  We've been down the "raise taxes to reduce the deficit" path time and time again with absolutely nothing to show for it except more government profligacy.

We must cut spending.  In every department, every agency.  And not in a small, token way.

Otherwise there's a train wreck coming.  And it ain't gonna be pretty to watch or be a part of.

The Democrats' Legacy

My God:

It's as if they wanted to destroy this country.