Weather-Free Links (For Those Who Are Tired of the Irene Coverage)

Does contraception afford women greater freedom? No, not really:

Can contraception make America better?
by Carolyn Moynihan @ Mercator.net

It’s in this market setting, described by economists, that we confront the failure of the other contraceptive agenda: liberation. Men in fact still have the upper hand in sex and women find themselves paying a high price, materially and emotionally, for the relationship they hope for. And that’s to say nothing of the cost that children bear. Increasingly for the lower middle class, that relationship is likely to fall short of marriage, not last, and, if it produces a child, to result in one parent leaving the home by the time the child is 16.

Rather than doing their research among their pals in the birth control industrial complex (the “science and existing literature”), Drs Obama, Pelosi and Sibelius should have got out into Middle America and confronted the damage that contraceptive culture has already done. They should have interviewed some of the women stalled in uncommitted relationships and feeling they must risk the birth of a child anyway before it is too late, or trying a second or third gamble in the sexual market; the women who must be asking themselves, “Is this all?”

Paul VI truly was ahead of the curve when he wrote Humanae Vitae.

*****

Badass of the week:

Joseph Lozito

(Language warning!)

Lozito took down a spree killer on the New York subway and is now being celebrated as a prime example of traditional American masculinity.

*****

The pathetic Wisconsin left battles on. Their target this week? A Catholic school:

Locks superglued prior to protests of Governor Walker at local school

MILWAUKEE – Protesters crowded the street outside Messmer Preparatory School in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood as Governor Walker visited the school Friday to read to children.

The protests came just hours after someone vandalized the school ahead of the Governor’s visit.

“Some of these folks super glued our front doors at the prep school,” said Br. Bob Smith, OFM, the president of Messmer Catholic Schools, about the school on the corner of North Fratney and East Burleigh Streets.

He told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that a woman was walking in front of the school Thursday, asking people to protest.

According to Br. Smith, one protester said ” ‘Get ready for a riot,’ because they were going to disrupt the visit.”

This is why you keep losing, you union goons. When you pull these stunts, people logically conclude that you don’t actually give a crap about anyone other than yourselves.

*****

And lastly, Obama’s super-rich champion is a hypocrite (naturally):

Warren Buffett’s taxing hypocrisy
@ NetRightDaily

What likely got the Administration’s attention was Buffett’s oped in The New York Times. Buffett proposed that “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” He implied he would like to see the capital gains be treated equally as income.

To wit, he wrote of the so-called “super-rich,” which he apparently defines as households earning $1 million or more a year: “Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.” Isn’t that nice of Mr. Buffett?

But if he were truly sincere, perhaps he might simply try paying the taxes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says his company owes? According to Berkshire Hathaway’s own annual report — see Note 15 on pp. 54-56 — the company has been in a years-long dispute over its federal tax bills.

And thus we discover why raising taxes on the rich doesn’t work. The very rich, you see, have high-priced tax attorneys.

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Standard & Poor: U.S. Uncertainty A Threat to Investors

The US credit rating from Standard & Poor has been downgraded from AAA to AA+ for the first time in history since it attained that rank in 1917. Their words, as noted by Fox News can be found here.

Notably:

S&P said that in addition to the downgrade, it is issuing a negative outlook, meaning that there was a chance it will lower the rating further within the next two years. It said such a downgrade, to AA, would occur if the agency sees smaller reductions in spending than Congress and the administration have agreed to make, higher interest rates or new fiscal pressures during this period.

In its statement, S&P said that it had changed its view “of the difficulties of bridging the gulf between the political parties” over a credible deficit reduction plan.

S&P said it was now “pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics anytime soon.”

Of course, Obama was quick to blame the downgrade on “a negotiation process that took too long and was often too divisive.” Otherwise known as “if I’d gotten my way instantly, and not had to fight the GOP, our rating would have stayed up!”

The GOP counters with a statement that fits more with the S&P’s gloomy outlook on the uncertainty involving our debt dynamics in the near future. Specifically, the S&P believed that as long as no credible deficit reduction plan is enacted, our credit rating will continue to fall. Note carefully…the Dems have proffered no plan and the GOP has!

The GOP blames the Democrats for being intransigent on spending cuts. Which do YOU think had more to do with our lost credit luster. Perhaps those of you who’ve had bad credit ratings can tell us…was it because you spent too much and couldn’t pay your finance charges? Or was it because you spent too long bickering with evil credit card companies who refused to wink and raise your credit limit?

Who Do We Stand For?

Time and time again, I’ve heard the same narrative:

The democrats stand for low income families – people barely making by on the margins of life, the elderly, minorities, women, children, and the homeless. The republicans stand for millionaires and billionaires – the wealthy and the powerful; they stand for big business because big business is at the heart of American politics and they keep the rubes happy with meaningless tax cuts while they take away their support systems and social safety nets.

That is the essential message I get wherever I go these days. We need to recast that narrative, because it’s not a fair representation of the core values of the two parties. Let’s be clear…BOTH republicans AND democrats BELIEVE that they are standing for everyone who needs an ally. They both think their basic governing philosophy is better for the homeless and the poor and the sick and the elderly. Believing otherwise is believing propaganda (on both sides of the political spectrum).

Democrats think that the way to help the poor and the weak is to charge taxes against those who have more to give and to redistribute that wealth into programs intended to provide assistance to the needy. At core, democrats don’t think that Americans can or should take care of themselves because, at core, democrats don’t think we’ll do enough to help the disadvantaged get by on our own. In some cases, they’re right…there are definitely services that are best administered from the top down because organizing them would be difficult for ordinary citizens or even churches.

Republicans believe that the struggling poor benefit most from an economic system that places the incentive on innovation and capital investment. They believe that an unfettered economy allowed to function without excessive regulation benefits everyone by creating more jobs, more wealth to distribute in exchange for work, and more opportunity for the individual to invest in their own genius and create wealth out of nothing. We are currently fighting to avoid increases in capital gains taxes, income taxes for the wealthy, and corporate taxes because we believe these things will hurt job creation and keep more Americans poor and subservient to government aid…not because we think Joe Millionaire should keep all of his money and swim in it at night, and not because we dislike all of those people who the narrative casts as helpless and marginal.

That’s it, folks. There is an honest, yet very real core disagreement…this isn’t a game of heroes and villains, it’s not about identity politics (continuing on that train of thought from my previous post), and it’s not about nefarious characters ni the shadows scoring a fortune off our backs. There are, no doubt, bad dudes in Washington, but they cross party lines and they don’t ascribe to one core ideology over the other.

This needs to be said by any candidate from the GOP before I’ll get excited.

Liberals Blame the Victim. Again.

Already, I am hearing the expected nonsense from the pro-anthropogenic global warming believers out there. It seems that Alabama’s Governor is an outspoken critic of Obama’s reckless, self-destructive energy policy and of Cap and Trade legislation. So naturally, the first reaction from the liberal elite in the environmental movement is to look for an excuse to attack him at any cost, no matter how tasteless and vile.

Following a historic tornado outbreak that claimed more than 200 lives in Alabama alone…an event best characterized by how utterly anomalous it was (the very definition of WEATHER…not climate)…the environmental movement thinks it’s reasonable to literally blame the state’s governor. The “logic” goes: Global Warming causes more moisture and instability and leads to worse severe weather outbreaks, Global Warming is happening and that debate is over, You hicks in Alabama are in our way trying to pass draconian laws that will dominate the energy economy by government fiat in an attempt to stop Global Warming, therefore, you deserve the misery you’re getting now. It’s YOUR FAULT that 200 of your people died and damage in the tens of millions was incurred.

Firstly…people who actually understand the weather are able to recognize that anomalous individual weather events are not things whose trends can be reliably predicted with current scientific knowledge because the more anomalous an event, the fewer of them there are for us to study in the limited time of our record keeping and the more uncertain become the mechanisms that lead to them from a climate perspective. It’s unclear, for example, whether a warming planet would necessarily lead to more subtropical rainfall…many climate simulations suggest less rainfall in Alabama, not more. If there’s less rain because the storm track is further north, then there will be less severe convection as well. But even if you assume the more rain part of their theory, jsut because there is more convection, does not mean it is more likely to be severe. In fact, an actual meteorologist will tell you that seasons with copious lightning frequently are anti-correlated with tornado counts…tornado outbreaks tend to do better when the atmospheric instability can be saved for a time…bottled up and prepared for explosive release. If you release the convection more easily (more moist boundary layer, more upper level humidity, steeper lapse rates in the middle and upper atmosphere as per global warming theory)…you’ll probably get more squall lines and big clusters of thunderstorms and less individual energetic dynamic supercells…the kinds of storms that most commonly produce deadly tornadoes.

Those are just two of the many degrees of freedom in the calculation of how much tornado threat change there will be assuming a warming planet (another degree of freedom, BTW…the warming assumption)…there are many others. But even granting that they’re are 100% right on the science linking intense convection with global warming…you still cannot blame global warming for this one event…because the globe has not warmed enough yet to actually cause a big change in tornado rates and severe tornado rates. The rises in tornado reports we’ve seen have largely been linked to the heavier population of storm spotters making those reports. Even if you think this kind of thing will happen more often in the future…the future IS NOT HERE YET.

And above all else…it’s downright EVIL to look at this kind of suffering and see only hatred for the people afflicted and an opportunity to press your agenda. That’s the kind of absolutism and one-mindedness I’m dealing with in the climate science arena. But this is nothign new. Charlatans and power-hungry opportunists have, for ages, blamed the victims of weather disasters for causing them in an attempt to gain political power. THey call this sort of thing “weather cooking”…and it was responsible for witch burnings in the thousands and stories of demonic possessions galore…usually centered around class warfare conflicts or power struggles between rival political factions. Today’s demons and witches are the unbelievers in the need for vast economic reforms that produce global government under socialist (or at least very progressive) rules that favor the few over the many and claim to do the reverse.

Cross Post: Themes of Liberty in Star Trek

Ilya Somin, an associate professor at the George Mason School of Law and a blogger at the libertarian-leaning Volokh Conspiracy, speaks on the contradiction between the political structure and the economic system of the Federation:

Themes of Liberty in Star Trek

That bit at the end in which he makes the tongue-in-cheek proposition that the humans force the other races to pay tribute to Earth in order to maintain Earth’s socialistic paradise is especially amusing. Oh, and as you might expect, DS9 is praised for being more nuanced.

The Story of Bureaucracy at NOAA

Recently, it came out that the House Appropriations Committee’s continuing resolution for the rest of FY 2011 included a 30% cut in the operational budget of the National Weather Service. Naturally, as a fiscal conservative with a huge stake in the continued advancement of meteorological science in this nation, I was conflicted. 30% cuts to the NWS budget seem EXTREMELY harsh…a lot of proposed advancements in the field of weather forecasting would have to be tabled to make that cut work…forget the server upgrade that will allow us to run more ensemble forecasts (that’s where you take one set of initial conditions, make small tweaks to them, and run the same model many times to get a sense for the range of possible outcomes), cancel the Pacific Observing Program (we send extra ships and planes out there to get some real data where no land based data can exist), and so forth. NWS shifts are generally understaffed as it is and forecasters have to spend long hours doing the job a PR guy should do (answering the phone and dealing with reporters) rather than actually making a forecast…and this cut would probably exascerbate that problem even more by ending the SCEP program, STEP program, and other ways the NWS can acquire cheap labor from rising students so that the forecaster can focus on his job. This affects all of us in the atmospheric science community very deeply.

But, after doing a great deal of thinking about this matter last night and this morning, I’ve decided that the intrinsic problem with NOAA as an organization is not that it’s not getting enough funding. The problem is redundancy. A common issue with government bureaucracies. There’s actually a rather colorful and lengthy history behind the development of NOAA as it stands today, but I want to focus on the meteorological aspect and not on th ocean side, about which I know much less.

Demand for weather forecasts to the public began around the time of the civil war (notice how often mkilitary conflict drives our desire to have more scientific knowledge?) and with the invention of the telegraph wire, the National Weather Bureau was born. Back then, all we really thought we could do was observe the weather over a large area, draw some crude weather maps, and then warn the public of the kind of weather that was likely to be heading their way in the next day or so. Forecasters relied on a complex series of thumb rules and their own experience and intuition as to what affects on the public the weather might have. Even then, the bureau was beseiged by corruption, power abuses and it hemorrhaged money far more than it should have, but that is, perhaps, beside the point since we do a better job these days keeping the science level-headed…that is unless you start talking about CLIMATE science…but that’s another fight for another day.

As we hit WWI, and the roaring 20s, the idea that we might be able to use the basic state equations that govern atmospheric motions to make longer term forecasts than 1 day tok hold and the public started asking for three-day forecasts. The National Weather Bureau underwent radical restructuring with the advent of national radio communications and widespread telephone and telegraph availability, but it was still a single government agency doig essentially one task.

When we hit WWII and were forced to fight large battles in the air, away at sea, over land with complex terrain, etc, and with the sudden realization that – hey – the radar we use to spot enemy bombers also happens to return a lot of signal when it hits a thunderstorm! – we began to understand that remote sensing was going to be critical and that we needed forecasts for marine conditions, data on what was happening in the upper atmosphere and a more sophisticated way of disseminating information to the public. Now we had to contend with airports and commercial air travel and myriad other industries (especially energy) which were very weather-dependent.

The Weather Bureau became the National Weather Service at the dawning of NOAA and, shortly thereafter, as demand for forecasts on all kinds of weather-related phenomena grew – driven by the needs of the private sector, primarily – the proliferation into many different essentially-independent offices with their own unique mandates began.

To the NWS were added a HOST of other brnaches including (and this is just a partial listing relevant to atmospheric sience)

– The National Climate Data Center (NCDC)
– The 14 regional River Forecast Centers (e.g. the Mid Atlantic River Forecast Center or MARFC)
– The Coastal Meteorology Research Program (COMRP)
– The National Buoy Data Center (NBDC)
– The National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service (NESDIS)
– The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC)
– Formerly the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), now the Storm Prediction Center (SPC)
– The National Hurricane Center (now often referred to as the Tropical Prediction Center – TPC)
– The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (these are the guys that run the computer models – NCEP)
– The Climate Prediction Center (CPC)
– The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)
– The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
– The University Cooperative Atmospheric Research (UCAR) foundation
– The Cooperative Meteoroology Program (COMET)

There probably several others I’m forgetting…here’s the thing…if a few of those sound redundant to you, you’ve no idea how right you are. For example, here is a list of the offices who are responsible for making a national map including medium range forecasts for possible weather threats: the NWS, HPC, CPC, NCEP, SPC and MARFCs. All of them do this. Every one of those offices make medium range (3-7 day) forecasts. Many of those forecasts are different form each other, though they try to coordinate with each other enough to avoid confusing the public.

How about this for a listing – the offices that maintain some kind of historical weather data: NCDC, NCAR, UCAR, NSIDC, NASA GISS (yep…NASA is in here for some unknown reason) and NWS…all maintain some data…some of which overlaps, though each office theoretically has a distinct mandate.

Want information about sea-ruface temperatures? You can get it from NASA (a totally separate agency!), the NDBC, NCEP, TPC, or HPC.

Not enough to convince you of the massive redundancies at NOAA? How about a listing of the various offices that put out storm surge and wave forecasts:

SCRIPPS (completely unrelated to the Atmosphere side, but a research institution under NOAA), each NWS regional office affected by ocean processes, the river forecast centers, TPC and NCEP (WAVEWATCH model), not to mention the various coastal meteorology initiatives.

Want the two-day forecast? The HPC has a medium range discussion, but they also do short-range threat assessments to back up the NWS’s point-and-click gridded products and regional forecast discussions and if there’s a flood or drought problem, the HPC and the river forecast centers get involved as well.

How the heck did it get like this?? Why does NOAA waste so many man hours, so much money and so many resources doing the same task five times over? The answer would appear to be…a lack of field vision (an understandable problem…we had no way of knowing how much we were about to accomplish with weather prediction at the end of WWII). Each office was developed separately witha mandate that made sense at the time. Each office pursued that mandate independently with very little coordination at the highest levels (as typically happens in government-run research and business), and each office expanded to fill needs of specific customers who didn’t always know about products provided by other offices.

Now, we have a goliath-like enemy…a massive, unkillable multi-headed medusa that eats money like candy. If we cut the entire NOAA operating budget by 30% (let alone the NWS budget)…there would still be PLENTY of room to do all the work we want to do if we would just force offices to SPECIALIZE and COORDINATE. The result would be better forecasts (because each office gets better at the one thing they do), deleivered in a coherent way that everyone would easily be able to navigate (more user friendly if all the information is on one huge server/website with easy navigation than if you have to google search for the specific thing you want at any given time) and less overhead.

The GOP may be going about it wrongly – simply cutting the NWS budget 30% isn’t going to cause them to streamline their business. That may be what we WANT them to do, but they have no experience doing it…they’re run like all government programs…filled with excessive bureaucractic redundancies to make things easier on the planners and budgetary committees (if they have to approve the whole top-down budget in one slug, it gets complicated…if they just hear an idea pitched by one office the decision is easier to make). Cutting the NWS bbudget now…will indeed severely damage the quality of the products they produce. But I still respect the GOP for trying to shine a light on how wasteful the NWS (and NOAA) really is. If we want better science…we have GOT to do that science in a cost-effective way…and we have GOT to specialize.