Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio

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.

Programming notes

Segment 1:

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

As we enter the Independence Day holiday -- marking 241 years of national self-determination -- I hope we're not afraid to bear in mind the kinds of things that brought the Founders of the country to the point where they undertook such a radical act as breaking away from their previous government.

After all, colonialism was the order of the day in the late 1700s. Canada is celebrating its own independence day today -- and for those keeping score, it took them until 1867 to obtain independence. So, while it's happy 150th anniversary to our friends up north, what took them so long? (In fact, they still acknowledge the Queen of England as their nominal head of state.) It took until 1982 to obtain full constitutional independence.

Our own Declaration of Independence is remarkable because it went to the effort to detail -- exactingly -- why it became "necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another".

Let's consider a few of the reasons we gave for declaring independence:

Let it be remembered that even while our Founders were tearing away from England, they didn't demand war. They made it clear, saying we "hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends."

Taking these things in current context, I'd like to highlight in particular the conflict now emerging between the states and the Federal government over voter rolls.

The President tweeted this morning:

So what if the panel is "distinguished"? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But conducting free and fair elections is the responsibility of the individual states. That's why we don't have a national popular vote for President -- we have 50 state elections (plus one for DC). And we're better off that way. For all the attempts to influence the 2016 elections from the outside -- including attempts by the Russian government to hack into voter registries in 21 different states -- we're much better off with lots of separate systems and separate registries of voters than with a single big one.

Three cheers for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate for defending Iowa voters against unwarranted intrusion on our privacy. He's one of many state election chiefs who's saying "No" -- as rightly he should. Elections are, and ought to be, matters driven by the states except in those rare cases when a state demonstrates itself somehow incapable.

Many states have clear laws on the books prohibiting this kind of information release anyway, and that's a good thing. Federalism and the rule of law trip up bad ideas because they're supposed to.

What if, in addition to the records being requested, the Federal government wanted to know which voters were gun owners? College graduates? High-income earners? Who had overdue library books? Who attended church?

The answer to any of these questions is: "No. Not without a warrant."

Segment 2:

Carryover from Segment 1...

Iowa's Secretary of State says he will release information that is already available upon ordinary public requests if the Federal government places a formal request via the proper channels. It would be hard to come up with a legal reason why the state could resist making that response.

Fighting was well underway in the Revolutionary War before the Founders declared independence. But it's well worth acknowledging that the Declaration of Independence was, overwhelmingly, a document about asserting a moral standard rather than one calling for violence.

Segment 3:

News Debt is heading in the wrong direction

The CBO's latest estimates show the Federal debt on the rise to about 90% of GDP over the next ten years. As a country, we are on track to borrow an additional $3,000 per person per year over the next ten years, because we fail to arrange our spending priorities and raise the appropriate revenues to pay for the ones that matter. And with an economy that doesn't know how to grow faster than 2% a year, we'd better take seriously the need to restrain our spending habits.

And consider this against the backdrop of the public's overwhelming inability to name anyone on the Supreme Court.

Segment 4:

News Sweden saves in advance to prepare for demographic waves

Social-market/"soft" socialist economies can survive in the long term under a very limited set of conditions: A small, culturally homogenous society with some sort of government-owned (or heavily-taxed) resource wealth with judicious and far-sighted government management, along with a strong entrepreneurial class, pragmatic programs for ensuring useful (and near-universal) employment. That's an extremely tough set of conditions to satisfy, and the Nordic countries are a rare set of examples where these conditions have been more or less satisfied.

Segment 5:

Clean up after yourself

Threats and Hazards Chicago Public Schools to pay $70,000 a day in loan interest

That's just a short-term loan while the district apparently hopes to get a bailout from the state government. Illinois and Chicago (in particular) are at the forefront of one of the biggest unrecognized risks to the US economy: State and local governments with obligations that will be impossible (or extraordinarily difficult) to meet without dramatic changes to spending, taxes, and future promises.

Iowa Major construction ahead for I-80/I-380 interchange

The Iowa DOT plans a dramatic reconstruction of what is presently a wildly over-congested interchange

The substantial I-74 reconstruction project in the Quad Cities brings to the forefront the impact that trouble in a neighboring state like Illinois can have on us in Iowa.

Segment 6:

The United States of America Anniversary of the creation of the Interstate highway system

Though government should always be limited, it probably has harmed our national character that we haven't had a big, constructive nationwide goal since the 1960s. Americans haven't really forged anything together (in the sense of a binding national identity) since the Interstate system and the Apollo missions.

Segment 7:

News Estonia takes over presidency of the EU Council

And at a very timely moment for the EU to place a focus on the Baltic states -- as well as cybersecurity, which is a priority for those countries as well

New Jersey enters a government shutdown thanks to an unresolved budget fight.

Segment 8:

Your role in cyberwar

The massive cyberattack this week hit Merck really hard, and it looks a whole lot like a Russian-launched attack.

Tweet like a President

Quote of the Week

Listen on-demand