Shortsighted and Smug Proclamations on America’s World Role

    “In the United States, the Republican Party is adrift. Unable to accept the end of a John Wayne-esque era, party leaders seek at once to isolate the United States and curb the threat of competition from the ‘rest.'”

      — Frenchman Hubert Vedrine, Foreign Policy Online

Some variation of that sentiment, expressed in many different fora by left-wing pundits near and far, is a variation of an oft-repeated meme the last few years, a made-in-media artifice, a pop-fad born of liberal herd mentality, and represents a company-line talking point of leftism more than a serious assessment. That’s even more true coming from a Frenchman who hasn’t deeply immersed himself in American democracy in the first person, unlike Alexis de Tocqueville, and who instead sits comfortably afar casting stones. As such, he hasn’t gained the insight that only can come from first-hand and direct experience and appreciation.

How shortsighted, smug and ignorant of those who repeat such sentiments, including the writer. He should study history, if only just a little. If he did, he soon should realize that, after every election, one side touts the results as a signal of the impending doom of the other’s ideals. It has happened over, and over, and over. The same goes for past Republicans.

Every time, regardless of the claimant political party, the victory trumpet has been shown premature by mere virtue of the eventual election of the other side’s candidate(s). Events happenthat weaken or discredit the part in power, then the other party balances out. Rinse, wash, repeat. Were he to study more than two months of history, he would see that there are cycles…yes, cycles…that’s right, cycles…and that each one represents a swing of a pendulum. Next time the Republicans claim the Oval Office, I’m sure more than a few from both sides will be proclaiming the imminent doom of the Democratic party in particular and liberalism in general. [If it only could be true!] Since he wrote that article, ISIS and Boko Haram have gained notoriety and the U.S. Administration seems utterly inept and devoid of direction in its approach to those genocidal menaces–all whilst continuing to spy on its own population as if We the People presented a greater threat than proliferating genocidal lunatics hell-bent on our destruction and those of deeply brotherly allies like Israel.

There simply is no such thing as leadership “from behind”. America doesn’t lead by looking at other nation’s bungholes. Our position of supreme respect and world authority wasn’t obtained by being passive, cowardly wallflowers. America only can lead from the forefront of freedom in a position of powerful strength–not just military or financial, but the unsurpassed moral strength inherent to the founding American worldview, centered the divinely ordained rights and ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, codified by our great Founders and carried out by a courageous and civic minded populace. And yet the populace is losing said courage, has lost much understanding, has become haplessly entitled, and a shrill subset has erroneously decided that because we’ve made mistakes that we have no moral authority. Wrong.

We only have stumbled in this regard due to financial foolishness (more later) and cultural diversions and distractions *away* from the “John Waynesque” approach. Secularization, passivity, and superficiality of the domestic culture certainly don’t help. Nor does a systemic straying of educational priorities away from the intellectual, specific and rational (reading, writing, math, civics, science) and toward the emotional, vague and irrational (“self esteem”, “tolerance” and “collaboration”)–the result being a nation populated by far too many materialistic, entitled intellectual wussies who may project someone’s fuzzy notion of “empathy” but who can’t point out their own states on a map, solve basic algebraic functions, name all nine Supreme Court justices, or discuss the Constitutional implications of the New Deal.

Children of governmental dependency learn to look that way for solutions to their problems, instead of in the mirror and the pages of the Bible, such that the state becomes an object of idolatry. All hail, Dear Leader Barack!

Speaking of false idols…when more people can name three “Idol” winners than three halogens from the periodic table, this is but one of many symptoms of a serious societal disorder. The same goes for the proliferation of wretched compositional skills, such that the words “there”, “their” and “they’re” are treated as interchangeable in the common lexicon, as are “you’re and “your”. I could name countless more examples, but hope that you get the point.

Nations may grow, but who does the world look to for sustenance, for leadership, for defense of freedom? Not India…not Brazil..not England…not Russia…definitely not China or India, but America. When the crap hits the fan, the world looks one way, and one way only: toward the stars and stripes, flying high. The only question is, will we be there to stand strong and set things right, regardless of our flaws, or will we collapse under the weight of our own fiscal mismanagement and moral ambiguity, utterly paralyzed, ripe for the taking by the most powerful or feeble of enemies?

There is where the writer is negligent, completely and inexplicably missing the greatest dual threats to America’s rightful reign as world leader–1) our loss of education-driven national moral unambiguity and social cohesion, the one voice projected loudly across the world, the voice of rightness and freedom against evil, and 2) our crushing, ever-expanding national debt, and the palpable risk thereof to this nation’s very existence. I can’t assign an ounce of credibility to any essay on America and its position that fails to deal with these massive problems.

We need more clear, concise, unambiguous, John Wayne-style leadership…not less.

Regarding Ted Cruz and U.S. Citizenship

Ted Cruz today announced his Republican primary candidacy for U.S. president. Though I agree with most of his positions on the issues, and admire his academic and rhetorical prowess and grasp of history, let’s set that aside and look as objectively as possible at an issue that has been raised about Cruz long before today. Is he eligible by citizenship?

The motivation for this examination is a snide, bitter, cynical, anti-conservative meme floating around (far from the only one too)…

That was done by somebody named John Fugelsang, who somehow thinks he’s funny. At least he has the courage or naivete (you decide) to own up to such stupid overgeneralizing, of a company-line liberal sort that panders to a sycophantic gaggle of Cruz-hating left-wing foamers. [I’ve hosted the image locally in case the creator sees this essay and tries to delete it from his social media out of shame and embarrassment…sorry, man, too late–it’s on the record now!]

Yet this seems to be a common attitude on the left. I call BS.

There are some of us conservatives–I’d say a substantial majority –who never made any claims about Obama’s birth. Not that you’d hear about it from that Fugelsang dude, or our radical-leftist-dominated corporate media majority, who likes to focus on a tiny minority of conspiracy theorists and paint us all with that brush. [And no, I’m not a habitual Fox News watcher either…too many commercials.]

As for Cruz, I don’t know for sure yet whether he qualifies as a “natural-born citizen” but it strongly appears that he does. At first, this seems to lie somewhere in a gray area between parents stationed overseas on military bases (e.g., John McCain’s situation, almost always considered a citizen) and complete non-citizen. Regardless, the question will be resolved one way or another–it has to be now that Cruz has declared as a candidate.

I’ve seen some say, “Who cares where where anyone is born?” The answer: our national Founders. Why does it matter? The U.S. Constitution–specifically, Section 1, Article 2:
“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The Naturalization Act of 1790, though not carrying the weight of the Constitution itself, offers clarity and focus:
“The children of citizens of the United States, that may be born beyond sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens: Provided, That the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States.”

Combining those two seems to clear both Cruz and Obama. At first I was agnostic about the Obama birth issue–taking a “let’s see the evidence” approach. So far, however, more evidence points toward Obama than against him. Though the son of a Kenyan man, the latter appears to have been born in Hawaii to a fully American mom, by virtue of his birth certificate; so pending credible refutation of that evidence…he is eligible. As far as I am concerned Obama is a “natural-born citizen” until proved otherwise. Even if the birth certificate ultimately were to be repudiated, it’s almost too late anyway. The damage is done.

Cruz was born “out of the limits of the United States” to a fully American mom and a Cuban dad who had been a full-time “resident of the United States” before moving to Canada. Even if it ultimately might take a SCOTUS ruling to firmly close the issue (depending on if someone formally challenges his eligibility), it appears the law and the Constitution are in Cruz’s favor.

So even though it’s a gray area, the shade of gray is very, very pale–enough so that a challenge to Cruz’s citizenship might either not be mounted at all, or if it is, might not even it to the SCOTUS due to abundant precedent in the presence of numerous U.S. citizens born abroad to at least one American parent. To invalidate Cruz would be an unprecedented high-court application of the “Natural Born Citizen” clause and would decertify thousands of other citizens.

For what it’s worth, this Harvard Law Review article supports the notion of Cruz’s eligibility too.

Most of the time the issue is very clear. As a native-born child of native-born U.S. parents (all in Texas), older than 35, I am eligible for the presidency without question. Being an foreign-born to foreign parents (a naturalized immigrant who did it the right way–the legal way) my wife is not. So it goes. If you don’t agree with the citizenship or age rule, and think naturalized citizens, anyone not a “natural-born citizen” or anyone under 35 should be eligible for President, then amend the Constitution. Good luck with that; the Founders made the process necessarily difficult.

As I’ve said before and surely will again, the Constitution is the first, last and only valid word on the role of federal governance in this nation. The role of federal courts is not to interpret the Constitution, but to apply it. [If you were taught “interpret” in school, you were taught wrongly.] How does “natural-born citizen” apply to someone in Cruz’s position? For now, it’s not 100% clear, but probably 98% in his favor.

Declining Topical Relevance in Atmospheric-Science Journals?

Just because a paper has been published formally doesn’t mean it’s worth a damn.

The recent publication of papers with themes akin to “tornado-preventing walls” and “smoke makes tornadoes worse because we think it did on one outbreak day” underscores this point. [No, I’m not going to feed them clicks by linking to them.] When papers are published in journals not focused to their subject matter, they tend to get poorly qualified reviewers and lots of flaws get through. Publish meteorology papers in a physics journal (or vice versa) and the likelihood of best-qualified possible reviews goes way down.

A paper I recently reviewed cites one such source. I reckon the author(s) were surprised to see this in my review (names removed):

    “xxxx and xxxx (20__) is a scientifically deficient and poorly written paper—one I’m quite sure would not be accepted to an AMS, EJSSM or NWA journal in the form it was published in [the overseas journal]. I don’t have room here, nor is it appropriate in this space, to go into all the details, but for starters, it uses unsupported classifications, obsolete metrics, overgeneralized hand-waving (e.g., “dynamics”), misuses that and other terminology in ways that indicate basic lack of understanding, fails to document errors and uncertainties in the data, and is suffused with banal fluff. This citation can be dropped with no harm at all.”

At least all that involves is dropping one citation to a paper they cited and I read–a paper that is useless rubbish. Easy enough…but what else gets through unnoticed by reviewers who are not careful due to being busy, distracted, superficial in their reviews, or ignorant of the depth of the subject matter? How many reviewers will seek and read unfamiliar papers cited by authors of articles they are reviewing? Anecdotal evidence suggests it is a minority, and that’s very unfortunate.

Thankfully I recently had the opportunity to review a weather (not climate) paper submitted to an unnamed overseas climate journal by unnamed U.S. author(s) [keeping things unnamed so as to not soil the integrity of the review process], and recommended rejection for this reason: it is totally out of scope. The paper is forecasting-related to a specific short-fused, localized severe-weather phenomenon in the U.S., and should be submitted to a U.S. weather journal read by operational forecasters (EJSSM, WAF, or NWA EJOM) since it deals with short-fused prediction methods for a severe-weather phenomenon based on U.S. cases. The paper itself actually is reasonably good, but in the wrong place. I don’t know yet if the editor agreed or if he went ahead and decided to publish a paper completely out of the journal’s scope. If the latter, chalk up another one to the misfit brigade.

I’m an editor of a hazardous-weather journal that accepts papers on supercells, hail, lightning, fire weather, extreme winds, winter storms and other acutely dangerous weather. There is no chance I would put into review a submission on Antarctic ice-albedo radiation processes, climatology of nighttime temperatures in a city, chemistry of methane bubbles in Siberia, climate-change effects on wildlife, or electromagnetism of aurorae–regardless of how high-quality it looked, and even if it would boost the journal’s published-paper metrics. Instead I’d try to find the right journal(s) and make that recommendation to the author(s). The reason is simple, regardless of the paper’s worth in its realm–the subject matter is not within the journal’s scope. I get the sense that these (mainly overseas) journals are taking out-of-scope and sometimes very poor-quality papers just to boost publicity and bean counts.

What about relevance? What about quality over quantity? Are bean counts and number-based ratings all that matter to some journals, and to the academic departments that rate faculty? Apparently so–and if so, a pox on ’em. Screw paper and citation counts…too many mindless artifices are involved! What about how good those papers are?

Quality is harder to judge. It takes time, reading and work–work that reviewers, journal editors and faculty evaluators alike need to be doing to uphold the integrity of the science!

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