Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - July 22, 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.

Programming notes

Segment 1: (11 min)

BUT FIRST: The opening essay

Stop the deliberate ignorance

Threats and Hazards The state of the First Amendment isn't uniformly good

The Newseum Institute finds that only 49% of people ages 18 to 29 believe in universal freedom of religion

The First Amendment freedoms aren't any good if we're selective about them

The core values of a free society under the rule of law don't just spontaneously regenerate themselves. We have to celebrate and amplify them.

But it also means we need to call out our fellow Americans when they cut corners on personal liberties.

A well-meaning individual replied to a Facebook thread about this in which I was involved: "If our K-12 education system was doing what it should be doing..."

Respectfully, I would submit that the problem begins at home. If parents aren't imprinting civic values before kindergarten and reinforcing them every day after, then it's asking a lot of any educational system to do the work of producing worthy citizens.

"School is an invaluable adjunct to the home, but it is a wretched substitute for it." - Theodore Roosevelt

If we all spent less time thinking that issues like civics were someone else's problem (and complaining about other people's bad parenting), then we'd naturally create the kind of peer pressure that would make people want to conform.

Segment 2: (8 min)

Have a little empathy

Threats and Hazards "Nothing compelled them to be Good Samaritans"

A group of teenagers (ages 14 to 16) watched, mocked, and recorded as a man drowned in a Florida pond on July 9th. They might be free of legal culpability for choosing not to render aid, but they might face prosecution for failing to report a death.

The Kitty Genovese problem (diffusion of responsibility)

Not everything needs to be on video

How much of this is vanity, how much is self-absorption, and how much is a failure to understand agency? Sometimes in life we have to do the right thing -- not just call upon someone else to do it.

It starts with knowing what is the right thing to do (the kids should have, but apparently did not). It follows with knowing how to do the right thing (maybe they did, maybe they didn't). And then it all hinges upon taking up the agency to do it.

The less we compel ourselves to know what's right, to know how to do something about it, and to show the guts to take action, the harder it is to be a great country.

Laws can help or hurt (or even mainly stay out of the way), but the real answers don't come from legislation. They come from character. And character is taught, modeled, and emulated -- starting at home.

Segment 3: (14 min)

Make money

Have fun

Clean up after yourself

Segment 4: (5 min)

Mind your business

Segment 5: (11 min)

Iowa news

Significant flooding in northeastern Iowa last night and this morning -- really bad in Sumner and Fredericksburg

The week in technology

Computers and the Internet 21% of American adults are online but don't use social media

For as much as Facebook and Twitter and their cousins are discussed every single day in the news, one in five of us don't use them (but aren't holding out on the rest of the Internet). Another one in 10 doesn't use the Internet at all.

Honestly, it's a pretty dramatic adoption

Also interesting: Germans protest. Pew says that 37% use social media, and 49% are online but don't use it. Only 15% are Internet holdouts.

Segment 6: (8 min)

21st Century conservatism

We have a responsibility to strike a balance between our belief in democracy -- the thought that we could all be capable of making legislative decisions -- with our belief in a republic -- that it makes sense to delegate some of our decisions to other people, who will then specialize in the process of making those decisions.

Plenty of people have become politicians because they were well-known -- Ulysses S Grant and Ronald Reagan are both good examples. But they also established themselves (Grant as a general; Reagan as a political spokesperson) and their credentials as decision-makers before entering office.

Segment 7: (14 min)

This week - Minneapolis police shooting

News Minneapolis police chief resigns over civilian shooting death

Justine Damond and Jamar Clark were both unarmed civilians killed by Minneapolis police officers during the outgoing chief's tenure.

There's nothing about the latest shooting that appears to make any sense at all

It may not have been the chief's fault -- but training and culture come from the top. Two such incidents on one police force in a short time (and one in a neighboring force -- Philando Castile -- in the time between) suggest that something's not right with the way they're preserving the peace.

I read one comment on a friend's Facebook exchange that said, "How do you send two 25-year-old boys out with guns together?"

On one hand, yes, I do look at 25-year-olds and think they look like kids. And, ideally, one would think that any trade or profession is best executed when senior practitioners are paired with junior ones. But 25-year-olds aren't boys. And if we perpetuate the myth that 18-year-olds aren't adults and keep stretching out our definitions of adolescence, then we're only infantilizing our entire culture.

There are deep issues involved:

Related issue #1: Civilian oversight of any police force:

Related issue #2: Body cameras and the need for third-party custody of the evidence

Related issue #3: We need an NTSB-style agency for police-involved shootings

Segment 8: (5 min)

Storm clouds over the White House

The Attorney General did not tell the truth

Unsorted and leftovers:

And how this relates to the President

The incoming White House communications director said he "loves the President" and "loves the country" as he accepted the new job yesterday.

A minor quibble, not exclusive to this administration: It doesn't matter whether you love the boss. If you have a role in the Federal government, then your allegiance belongs to the Constitution.

Article 2, Section 3 of the Constitution says that the President "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed".

When the President tweets, as he did on Monday...

...then we need to be clear: He's wrong.

James Madison said in his First Inaugural address that one of his first principles was: "To exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries and so baneful to free ones..."

Your role in cyberwar

Tin Foil Hat Award

If this combination of malfeasances bothers you (as it should), then you should also find yourself deeply bothered by the revelation that the now-Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, met with Russian officials, including the ambassador, to discuss the Presidential campaign, and subsequently refused to tell the truth about it.

I'm not a blind nationalist, but I am dismayed by the amount of misdirection that has been pushed -- trying to set off alarms about refugees and stirring up resentment against Latin Americans, but working hand-in-hand with an adversarial major power like Russia.

By the numbers

Health 360,000 people with cholera in Yemen

That's just in the last three months. An appalling figure.

Cholera is one of those causes of sickness (and death) that tell us that civilization has broken down. It's a viral disease that spreads through contaminated water, and it's usually easy to treat. So if people are getting it, then the normal standards for sanitation and water purification have fallen apart. And if people aren't getting treated, then it means that health care is in shambles.

Yemen is a disaster of giant proportions due to its civil war. It's a country of 27 million people -- 40% under age 15. That population of 27 million is almost nine times the population of Iowa.

Civilization can be much more fragile than we like to admit




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