Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Please note: These show notes may be in various stages of completion -- ranging from brainstormed notes through to well-polished monologues. Please excuse anything that may seem rough around the edges, as it may only be a first draft of a thought and not be fully representative of what was said on the air.
That the Russian government has clearly acted to try to manipulate our domestic elections should be cause for widespread alarm -- and Republicans who believe in a strong national defense should be among the loudest with the outcry
The incoming Trump Administration is exercising the same kind of belief in economic magic that too long possessed the Obama Administration. The Obama Administration long bet on 4% GDP growth as a way to fix the Federal budget. It was absurd of them to bet on that assumption; it wasn't going to happen, and any projections based on such a fanciful figure were bound to be wrong. Now, the presumptive Trump Administration Treasury Secretary is making the exact same fantastical promises. This is sheer madness. Utter and complete madness. Would we all like to see sustained 4% real GDP growth? Absolutely -- it would permit the economy to double in size every two decades or so. That would be (literally) awesome. But it isn't going to happen. The United States last had sustained 4% growth rates in the 1960s. Rates were in the low 3% range through the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. And since then, they've been in the 2% range. Anyone promising 4% annual GDP growth is a huckster, a fraud, and a snake-oil salesman -- unless they can explain precisely what mechanisms they intend to put in place that will cause the economy to suddenly adopt a growth rate twice as fast as anything we've seen since before the Nixon era. Perhaps worst of all is that these people are promising to make the growth rate escalate in part by shutting down trade and getting the government more heavily involved in picking winners and losers. Make no mistake about it: If the only reason a manufacturer like Carrier chooses to build products in the United States is because they're getting sweetheart deals in the form of tax breaks and state-funded incentives, then the economy should be expected to grow at a slower rate than it presently does -- not faster. (And, by the way, if economic barriers are put up that implicitly punish Mexico, then expect the pressure on the border to get worse, not better.) The only way to sustainably raise economic growth rates (without some dramatic event like a war) is to improve the output of the workforce, which is entirely based upon the number of workers and the productivity we get from each one. The number of workers has been shrinking (in relative terms) since the turn of the century, so anyone who pretends to have an answer about economic growth that doesn't center on dramatically raising productivity is a person who is lying to you or is too stupid to be entrusted with any meaningful power. And that's awful, because a lot of people have gotten their hopes up...really, really high.
Clean up after yourself
Mind your business
Quote of the Week
"How do you see the process from where you are now to where you want to be? Because whatever you want to do, it's not only what you want to do, but how -- the practical way you see it coming about." - Margaret Thatcher
- You can actually see Margaret Thatcher give this advice to the leaders of the Solidarity movement in Communist-era Poland in the outstanding miniseries "The Commanding Heights"
- Thatcher was one of the luminaries of conservative thought in the 20th Century -- an influence on the world that still has an effect today
- If you really want to see how a movement can make a country "great again", you must study Thatcher
- Her words, though, underline something missing altogether in 2016: Goals and beliefs and ideologies aren't enough
- If you don't know how you're going to achieve something -- if you don't have a plan -- it's not going to happen
- There is absolutely, positively no plan undergirding Trump's promises about American greatness. None. Nothing. Zilch.
- Nothing could bring this into clearer evidence than his phone calls with the leaders of Pakistan and Taiwan.
- If you asked me to host a talk show about professional hockey tonight, it would sound roughly the same as what has come out about the President-elect's conversations with world leaders. And that's not a good thing.
- You don't just buffalo your way through some meaningless chit-chat with the prime minister of a nuclear-armed country that is the sixth-largest in the world by population. Which Pakistan is. Especially not when it has a long-standing hostility with its next-door neighbor, which is also nuclear-armed, and is the 2nd-largest in the world.
- You also don't just go bragging about a call with the president of Taiwan when even the lowest-ranking, get-me-my-coffee member of the page program at the State Department would tell you that China is a little bit sensitive about that issue.
- As I said in my book before the election, the dignity of the Oval Office is like a bonsai tree: It grows slowly, requires extremely careful cultivation, and doesn't recover quickly from damage. That extends to our international dealings, as well.
- I get it: A lot of people have high hopes for the new President and the promises he's made. And a lot of the promises were sufficiently vague and positive as to be appealing.
- But that doesn't excuse the fact that at every major instance since the election that he has had an opportunity to demonstrate that he has a plan, what we have seen is nothing of the sort. That's why I opposed his election, and it's why Congress (and to a lesser extent, the courts) need to be on a hair-trigger to keep him in line via the checks and balances built into the Constitution.
- Those checks and balances don't mean a thing unless they are used.
The week in technology
They lost a mountain of data at King's College London when a backup system flopped at the wrong moment. Now they're saying they don't want to risk people screwing up their new system by making independent backups of their data. That's lunacy.
Contrary to popular opinion
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
21st Century conservatism
The last eight years have been hard on the White House press corps, whether it's been adequately acknowledged or not, because the Obama Administration has been eager to bypass the media "gatekeepers" by using the Internet to promote its own agenda. This has been mildly propagandistic behavior, and it probably deserved more criticism than it got. There was some pushback in 2013 about the White House's habit of staging photographs and leaving credentialed photographers behind, and there have been several instances when the White House Correspondents' Association has protested strongly against unreasonable obstacles to coverage that have arisen during the Obama administration, including exclusion from official events and high expense charges for travel with the President. In a sense, the frustrating behavior of 44 has laid a foundation for potentially awful behavior by 45. As a candidate, Donald Trump routinely stirred up mob-like antipathy for the press, and as President-elect, he has gone so far as to ditch the protective pool. That's not acceptable -- no matter what your political allegiances, the President is a living military command center. It is imperative that his or her condition be independently verifiable by credentialed journalists at any hour of the day or night, and the same goes for the President-elect. As a country, we have made a big mistake in letting President Obama off the hook and not insisting on greater transparency with the independent press corps. Under no circumstances should further ground be permitted to erode as Donald Trump assumes the office -- and if bombasts like Sean Hannity want to stake their ground on absurdity (Hannity: "Why does Donald Trump need a White House press office? He doesn't."), then they are, in fact, enemies of freedom and of representative government.
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Have a little empathy
A massive disaster for our fellow human beings
Stop the deliberate ignorance
The CNN anchor wants to know why the President-elect is watching CNN instead of reading briefing materials? People are starting to get careless with phrases like "post-literacy" (which is being used by some to describe Trump) -- and that's reckless. There is no such thing as "post-literacy". There is literacy...and there is illiteracy. If someone is not literate, that makes them illiterate. Don't muck up the language with a new phrase just because it seems catchy. And note, too, that there are several forms of literacy -- all of which it is wise for any functional adult to possess, but most especially a President of the United States. These include, but are not limited to: literacy in its most common sense; numeracy; technological literacy; economic literacy; and scientific literacy. An adult failing to possess (or at least attempting to acquire) functional literacy in all of those areas should be allowed nowhere near the levers of power if the voters have their own best interests in mind.