Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - February 4, 2017

Brian Gongol

Podcast: Updated weekly in the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. Subscribe on Stitcher, Spreaker, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or iHeartRadio

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.

Segment 1: Clean up after yourself

Fortunate to live in a neighborhood with well-established trees

Walnuts and others 100' high

(Even have a tributary of Walnut Creek in my yard -- a micro- or nano-Walnut Creek)

Had elms and maples in my previous neighborhood

Chose them because they were easy and fast growers, and I knew I wouldn't live there long enough for them to mature

Even in the time I was there, the trees were damaged by weather -- not strong

The old-growth trees in this neighborhood are much sturdier, but they've had since the 50s or longer to grow

There are plenty of things that look like growth that are nothing but short-term gains, like planting elms or maples

People only plant oaks and walnuts if they expect to see them grow up -- and have enough confidence in the future that they aren't worried about short-term risks

It's possible to sacrifice too much today in the name of tomorrow -- that's the Japanese savings trap

But it's much too easy to bet on short-term superficial gains rather than to plant those oak trees

Segment 2: Virtue-signaling isn't a philosophy

A list of things that you want? That's not a philosophy. A philosophy is what you believe. And now is the time to quit virtue-signaling and to get a clear idea of what you believe.

A friend of mine turned to Facebook this morning to share a story saying that Charles Koch was gearing up to spend a lot of money fighting some of the President's proposed abuses of the economic system.

She doesn't like Koch because she's a strident left-winger. Thus, to her, "Koch" is a four-letter word of a different sort. She can't really believe that she would have anything in common with him, and even in the act of sharing the story (from Time Magazine), she had to note that she still doesn't trust the Koch brothers.

The problem is, she wants to take part in virtue-signaling without embracing a philosophy. She wants to tell everyone what she wants from government, and to signal that she thinks capitalists are bad.

But the fact is that Trump is a mercantilist, at best. To the extent he has an economic philosophy, it's "take what you can from other people, and don't let them touch yours."

Charles Koch, on the other hand, is a serious market-oriented capitalist. He's written about it, talked about it, and "voted" with his pocketbook.

This isn't my love letter to Charles Koch. We don't agree on everything. But he *has* a philosophy.

Segment 3A: "So-called judge"

The President has made a lot of promises about jobs, but I can tell you for sure: He's guaranteed full employment for people like me who share our opinions on the weekends.

Segment 3B: 21st Century conservatism: Courts as a process, not an outcome

Comments from my friend Chris, who is a lawyer and probably just an inch or two to the right of me on the political spectrum:

Courts hold no inherent power. They can't force anyone to do anything. They put words on paper. That's it. They have power beyond mere words only because we all agree to it. We agree if the courts say something must be done, the executive branch will do it. If they say a law is unconstitutional, the legislative branch will respect it. All it takes for that system to fall apart is for one branch (or the people) to decide the courts don't have legitimacy. To decide to stop listening. That's all. And it is that system, and that system alone, that makes us what we are.

When a President calls a judge "so-called," that balance is directly threatened. It's unacceptable. It's the worst thing he's said yet, and I'm not sure it's close. Hate the immigration EO? Fine. The courts are there to figure it out. Worried about your rights? The courts are there to figure it out. You might disagree with how they do it, but you'll have a functioning system to seek change after, and if you make that change, courts there to enforce it, but only through words on paper.

I'm not one to tell people they have to believe x or y, or that one party is "American" while the other isn't. That kind of thing is undiluted [NONSENSE]. But you can't love this country and the system that defines us, and simultaneously tolerate calling a judge's legitimacy into question like that. So you're going to have to choose. It shouldn't be hard.

Sharing politics

My Facebook commentary on sharing politics

Segment 5A: Supreme Court nominee

The United States of America Burping would be safe under Associate Justice Gorsuch

The Supreme Court nominee dissented in a case where he thought a school police officer went too far in busting a kid who burped to disrupt class. But here's the key takeaway: "...for it is (or should be) emphatically our job to apply, not rewrite, the law enacted by the people's representatives. Indeed, a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels." Yes.

Segment 5B: Calm down, America

News Calm down, America

Tom Nichols: "Unmodulated shock and outrage, however, not only burn precious credibility among the president's opponents, but eventually will exhaust the public and increase the already staggering amount of cynicism paralyzing our national political life."

Segment 5C: Norway and Russia

Threats and Hazards Norwegian authorities are most worried about Russia

The nation's top police officer says: "Russian intelligence services are targeting Norwegian individuals." It's unsettling when put in parallel with "Occupied", the phenomenal television drama about a soft Russian invasion of Norway.

Segment 6: Inflation

Business and Finance Warning: The President wants an inflationary currency

President Trump to the press corps today: "Other countries take advantage of us with their money and their money supply and devaluation. Our country has been run so badly, we know nothing about devaluation." This ought to put anyone who believes in a growing real economy and a sound dollar on full alert. The President doesn't set the money supply -- but he does nominate the Chair of the Federal Reserve, and although Janet Yellen has a term on the Board of Governors that lasts through 2024, her current term as Fed Chair expires in 2018. There are plenty of institutional safeguards in place to protect the Fed from political pressure, but there's also a lot of damage a President can do via appointments, from the bully pulpit, and via regulatory and tax tools. The mere fact that a sitting President of the United States would bark openly about "devaluation" of a currency as if it's a tool that we have under-utilized is a dangerous thing. Fiat currency depends upon the faith of the people who use it. The bigger problem may be that President Trump doesn't understand the actual state of the economy, and he's aggressively promoting the use of tools that are inappropriate to its current condition.

Business and Finance If people don't see their living standards rising...

...then they'll usually look for someone to be worse-off than themselves. And when that fails, we get an election like 2016.

Business and Finance Why you should worry about inflation

When former Fed chair Ben Bernanke writes that, "to increase output without unduly increasing inflation the focus should be on improving productivity and aggregate supply", he's saying something totally different from what's coming out of the White House. In fact, it's almost 180 degrees the opposite. So if you don't expect them to satisfy the second part of the statement (focusing on productivity), then you'd better prepare for an inflationary situation.

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