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!

Big Photography News: Early 2015

It’s been some time since I posted photographic news and developments, but we’ve got some major ones going now.
SkyPix Rising like a Phoenix

After 20 years, four domains and a hundreds of photos and stories added, my longstanding SkyPix gallery is starting over–moving to a new server, a new domain and a completely new layout and look, with numerous mages and narratives not found in the old gallery. One by one, original (but updated) SkyPix photos and prose will be ported over also. This will involve rescanning of old slides and updating of information. Just like the original, you have free and ready access to the latitude and longitude of the great majority of the photo spots too.

Meet SkyPix 2.0 — a site designed expertly by my beautiful bride and web-weaver extraordinaire, Elke Edwards. She has supplied the layout and functionality, and I provide the photography and prose. Just like the old SkyPix, every page within a given gallery category (Majestic Supercell, All Hail, Water Works, Burnscapes, Tornadoes, Floods, Mini Cloud Atlas, Sunrises and Sunsets, etc.), has its own photo and story. Now the photos are larger and higher resolution, and you can click on them to get a still bigger image.

You can still use the old short URL redirect, skypix.ws , as well as the new site address that’s even easier to remember: skypix.photography .

I’ll be building/rebuilding SkyPix one image and story at a time throughout the year, and posting updates often on my new public Twitter account, @SkyPixWeather. You get to follow along in the process and watch SkyPix grow, page by page. I’ll also post periodic blurbs about weather, photography and sports to that account. We would love for you to browse around and check back with @SkyPixWeather or the “NEW” button on the website for updates.

NWC Biennale

The National Weather Center Biennale is, as the title suggests, an event held every two years. Its purpose is to exhibit fine art in three forms–works on paper, paintings and photography–related to “art’s window on the impact of weather on the human experience”. Each piece of art must have been created within the preceding two years, which limits the pool to active artists’ recent work. This is a juried exhibit with judges selecting entries out of hundreds submitted, then ultimately selecting winners in each medium and overall. The lobby of the architecturally artistic National Weather Center becomes an art museum for a few months during the Biennale. The first Biennale was in 2013, and one can read excerpts from the accompanying catalog of the art.

Because the exhibit is juried, and the judges select art from digital submissions without the identities of the contestants, a meteorologist who works in that building has no particular advantage. Yet, in the 2013 Biennale, my photograph, “Lightning on Cheyenne Ridge” (BLOG entry from 2013) was the only one exhibited from anyone working in the facility. Given the number of storm enthusiasts, chasers and talented photographers there, that was a big surprise.

While it didn’t win the ultimate prize, I was pleased to hear nothing but good words about the photo from both jurors and patrons during the event. [If you ever want to know an audience’s thoughts on your art, hang out anonymously near it as folks who don’t know you view and comment.] Despite my normal contempt for and avoidance of photo contests, this was a different, very credible, and worthwhile experience–so much so that I decided to enter again.

For the second straight Biennale, I’ve had a photograph selected to appear in the exhibition, entitled “Twisted Perspective”:

This time, a couple other NWC folks have pieces in the exhibit as well, which is not a surprise. Come on by Battlestar Norman between 19 April and 14 June to partake of what should be a fantastic exhibit of weather art!

What About All Those Iceland Photos?

We shot thousands of photos last August on our two-week excursion around Iceland, and only have begun to scratch the surface in processing and saving the best among them thanks to everything else going on in life. However, I have posted several already to the new SkyPix, and several more still to Image of the Week. If you haven’t visited Image of the Week in some time, please revisit–it’s still going strong, with a different photograph from my portfolio added weekly.

Eventually we hope to build a dedicated website just for Iceland imagery, but we want to take the time to do it right. In the meantime, keep up with SkyPix and Image of the Week for newly posted glimpses of the absolutely stunning North Atlantic volcanic island such as The Stacks of Reynisdrangar, different views of Seljalandsfoss, the otherworldly Hverir Geothermal Area, the ever-changing Jokulsarlon ice lagoon and nearby Atlantic beach of ice on black sand, the wide-open plains beauty of the interior highlands, historic lighthouses, many other waterfalls, captivating mountain and beach vistas, some spectacular sunsets, and so much more.

2014 Top-10 Storm Intercept Photos

A couple of months ago, I posted my top-10 favorite storm scenes from the 2014 season. Pages from 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010 are also available too, if you’re feeling nostalgic.

Last but not least, all this photography exists for showing (and is dedicated to and motivated by) the glory of God as manifest in the visual blessings He grants to us in land, water and sky. Thanks for dropping by.

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