Endorsing Kelvin Droegemeier for White House Office and Science and Technology Policy

The audience of this BLOG knows that, as a third-party voter for President the last cycle, I think independently, evaluate actions and issues on their own merits and not through major-party lenses, have not hesitated to air grievances regarding the current occupant of the White House, and also, have credited the administration when it has made good choices.

This announcement is its BEST choice yet—a grand-slam home run.

The new White House science and technology advisor nominee, Kelvin Droegemeier, is as smart as they come, a former professor of mine in atmospheric dynamics (think I still smell those clouds of chalk dust flying off that board as he wrote equations at near-warp speed!), a sharp and well-published atmospheric scientist, mentor of many students, skilled communicator, and most importantly, a fundamentally good man who has served state and national science advisory roles, including the National Science Board in both the Bush-43 and Obama administrations.

Kelvin has a powerhouse 55-page CV: broad, deep and well-suited for any national science advisory role. Personally, I’ve known Kelvin for over 30 years and can vouch for his high character and unwavering integrity. He also is a keen dynamicist who can “out-math” some physicists I’ve known. Now, if confirmed, Kelvin gets the ear of the White House as perhaps the most influential meteorologist ever in government.

It’s telling how many atmospheric scientists (dozens, so far), whom I know to be firmly on the right or left sociopolitically, have one thing in common: they have supported this nomination on social media. There is a good reason for that. Kelvin is a true “servant leader” who has the interpersonal skills to build bridges across disparate groups and personalities, and before diving into something, makes sure he has the knowledge base to back up everything he says.

In addition to many of us who know Kelvin, and/or are familiar with his scientific and/or communications work, the American Association of Universities enthusiastically endorses him for the role. I hope this helps to offset some opposition he’ll have on purely partisan grounds from some members of the D side, at least to enough extent to get him resolutely confirmed.

Regardless of which of the two major parties is “in charge”, there always will be hyperpartisan hacks on both sides of the aisle ready to support or oppose a candidate without knowing a flipping thing about that person. That’s the ugly reality. It’s also the only reason Kelvin would not get a unanimous support vote, based on his background and endorsements.

Count this as one more on the endorsement pile. Kelvin Droegemeier has what it takes to skillfully navigate this mine field, and I endorse his nomination to the utmost degree.

The Senate committee will hold a confirmation hearing next Thursday at 9:15 a.m. CDT (10:15 a.m. EDT). Kelvin—go do us all proudly. In this climate (pun intended) it won’t be easy, but if anybody can, it’s you!

Enough with the Ignorant Nazi Comparisons

In the Bush-43 administration, some left-wingers compared the president to a Nazi. In the Obama administration, some on the right made Obama out as a Hitler-like figure. Now as the pendulum of ignorance continues to swing from right back to left, the left is doing similarly with Trump (of whom I’m no fan, but he is not anything close to a Nazi!).

Nazi comparisons to U.S. politicians, regardless of how much one disagrees with their policies or behaviors, are all not only wrong, but hideously ignorant and misguided, insulting to those with friends or loved ones who were killed (or survived) the Holocaust. Those propagating such asinine comparisons need to learn basic Holocaust history. In addition to reputable websites, there are any number of Holocaust- and Nazi Germany-related books one can read, or take a personal visit to one of the larger Holocaust museums around the nation.

A longtime friend, who is Jewish, recently visited Yad Vashem in Israel for the first time — a place I have right in my top-handful, high-priority list if I ever journey to Israel.

My friend wrote:

    “Had an unforgettable VIP private guided tour of Yad Vashem. It was an intensely emotional experience… While I went into this already knowing a great deal about The Shoah, the perspective gained through interacting with an expert whose entire life’s work is focused on this subject left an indelible mark on me. This was industrialized mass murder on an unprecedented scale. The world does not appear to have learned the lessons of The Holocaust. The next time someone compares an American or Israeli politician or policy to something or someone from Nazi Germany, you can safely and instantly conclude that said person doesn’t know what the hell they are talking about and has zero credibility on the matter.”

Yad Vashem first and foremost is a memorial to the incomprehensibly vast number of those lost to a regime so evil as to commit industrial-scale killing, but also, a reminder that is apparently much-needed in today’s world about the ultimate result of state-run collectivism carried to its fullest. My friend’s last sentence is absolutely spot-on!

My friend’s first-hand imploring from Yad Vashem imply reinforces the notion that far too many are abjectly ignorant in their comparisons of anything in America to Nazism. The term Nazi itself is short for “National Socialist” (emphasis mine) — and the Third Reich was a secular (not Christian!), collectivist, authoritarian, megalomaniacal, and decidedly anti-religious. They persecuted and killed Christians, Muslims, and Jews, but especially and most horrifically, Jews.

If the point of such ridiculous comparisons to Nazism is that we always need to be vigilant for the seeds of that sort of industrialized horror, then that’s good and true. We do, here and anywhere in the world, from far right or far left (collectivism, in the form of both the Communists and the Nazis, has a virtual monopoly on non-Islamic genocide worldwide the last 100 years).

Germany in the 1920s didn’t have a Constitutional republic with a balance of powers specifically and (to the time of founding) uniquely designed against collective authoritarianism of the sort ultimately and contemporaneously consolidated by both Hitler and Stalin. We are fortunate to have systematic structural guards in place against such a devolution, and should be sure to use them where and when necessary. Neither fascism nor its kin communism ever should be allowed to take root here!

Regardless, I’m with my friend here — for all the troubles that are real, I don’t think a lot of folks realize how good we have it in the bigger historic picture. There is no comparing any of our problems since WW2 with Nazism. A whole different level altogether…equating any U.S. politician or policy with the Nazis is so far over the top, such a crazy stretch of reasoning, that (as my friend stated powerfully) anyone doing so loses all credibility in the argument.

Tornadoes Do Not “Touch Down”

Here is a weather-writing pro tip and public-service announcement that I sporadically post on social media, reproduced here for more indelible digital posterity.

Tornadoes do not “touch down.”

Saying tornadoes “touch down” is literally wrong, and bad science. At the time of tornado genesis, the air actually is rising, not moving downward.

Instead, use any of these easier, briefer, more factually truthful alternatives:

              start

              begin

              form

              develop

              appear

              commence

              initiate

There you have it: more conciseness with greater accuracy, a resounding win-win in writing!

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