Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio - June 8, 2019
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.
Breaking news to watch
Congress needs to assert itself and the responsibilities explicitly described in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The President isn't the tariff-maker, unless they abdicate the duty. And if they can't take those powers back when they are written right into the Constitution, then we ought to toss out any member of Congress who doesn't have the guts to do it.
Congress has handed over a lot of responsibility for tariffs to the executive branch over the decades -- because it was thought that the executive would be more consistently pro-trade than the legislative. Now that the conventional wisdom has been turned on its head, it's well past time to reclaim that authority. It's not a new argument, either -- see Federalist Paper No. 35: "Exorbitant duties on imported articles [...] tend to render other classes of the community tributary, in an improper degree, to the manufacturing classes, to whom they give a premature monopoly of the markets..."
Segment 1: (11 min)
BUT FIRST: The opening essay
Far more effective than the old Walter Cronkite series "You Are There", these photos really do erase the mental distance from the event usually afforded to us by black-and-white pictures.
- Have watched as people have turned 75th anniversary comments into intergenerational warfare
- People have always resented "kids thse days"
- Smarter today in many ways, but also less able to hide
- Eisenhower didn't have great words for our preparednes going into WWII:
- Ike: "On July 1, 1939, the Army's enlisted strength in the United States -- air, ground, and service -- was less than 130,000"
- Ike: "The greatest obstacle was psychological -- complacency still persisted! Even the fall of France in May 1940 failed to awaken us -- and by 'us' I mean many professional soldiers as well as others -- to a full realization of danger."
- So it's unfair to attack "Millennials" or anyone else on a generational basis -- we're forged by experience, by circumstances, and by leadership, too into what we become
- America in 1939 wasn't a great participant on the world stage, and there was no guarantee we would make the sacrifices that we commemorate 75 years after D-Day
- D-Day isn't an opportunity to compare the intrinsic greatness of one generation vs another
- It's an insight into the things people are capable of doing given leadership, training, and an understanding of the mission
- Instead of speculating wildly (and unfalsifiably), consider the evidence
- Litigate today's issues with today's evidence
- It's also a testament to alliances and partnerships
- Ike: "The revolutionary transformation of America [entering WWII] was not achieved overnight; the fact that it was ever achieved at all was due to the existence of staunch allies and our own distance from the scene of combat."
- Ike: "America's transformation, in three years, from a situation of appalling danger to unparalleled might in battle was one of the two miracles that brought Jodl to our headquarters to surrender on May 7, 1945. The other was the development, over the same period, of near perfection in allied conduct of war operations. History testifies to the ineptitude of coalitions in waging war." - Dwight Eisenhower
One doesn't have to be a monarchist to appreciate that, since they've chosen to retain a monarch, Britain truly has been fortunate to have Elizabeth in that role. Her role may be officially nonpolitical, but she ascended to the throne when Winston Churchill himself was prime minister. There's no way she can be indifferent about the transatlantic alliance. And that comes through quite clearly in her toast to the relationship between the US and the UK on the occasion of the President's state visit. Perhaps someone stashed a copy of Kori Schake's excellent book "Safe Passage" on board Air Force One for the President to read en route to the UK. It's a great examination of the "special friendship" toasted by the Queen -- how it came into being, and why it benefits the parties involved. If not, someone please get him a copy for the ride home.
The moral of the story: Our forebears found their way out of the woods in WWII and overcame tremendous odds. It wasn't a certainty going in, and the sacrifices required are still overwhelming to consider today. We're not that different today. We can rise to challenges again, and not a moment should be spent telling ourselves otherwise.
Segment 2: (8 min)
Totally Unnecessary Debate of the Day
Segment 3: (14 min)
Iowa news: Christine Hensley on the Federal courthouse plan
The moral of the story:
Segment 4: (5 min)
Curiosity, competence, and humility
Most Americans -- regardless of age, creed, origin, or geography -- are decent, honest, and hard-working. And we're mostly free to pick up and move, if we want. Starting from a sense of respect for those assumptions would sure do a lot to break the political cycle of resentment. Enhancing people's ability to move freely is one of the best welfare-type investments that we can make. And if people choose not to do so, the rest of us have a civic responsibility to respect that decision -- while expecting people to be accountable for what happens in those communities where they do choose to live.
The Montgomery Advertiser, in a bold and intelligent protest of Alabama's "Jefferson Davis Day", shares the words of nine former slaves. Words like, "Course they cry; you think they not cry when they was sold like cattle? I could tell you about it all day, but even then you couldn't guess the awfulness of it." Everyone of good conscience ought to read what they said.
The moral of the story:
Segment 5: (11 min)
Venture capitalist Paul Graham speculates that newspapers can't remain "neutral" and survive. But that's a strange conclusion to draw when there's a simpler hypothesis: Newspapers need to offer low-friction, low-volume, low-cost subscription plans for readers outside their primary markets. Many readers have interest in secondary newspapers outside their natural subscription bases: Someone in Des Moines may have a lesser, but non-trivial, interest in the newspapers of Chicago, Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis, Kansas City, and even Denver. It's unlikely any meaningful number of people were subscribing to that many print editions of out-of-state papers a generation ago, so it's equally unlikely that people would want to pay full price for all-access digital subscriptions to that many today. But there really must be a way to offer people in the "long tail" a way to pay modestly for their news without forcing them into a binary, all-or-nothing subscription choice. Where is the option for newspaper readers that acts like an EZPass? A person might live in Iowa, but travel the toll roads in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio from time to time -- all with the help of frictionless access to those roads from an I-Pass. They pay a fair share, but they pay a lot less than the residents of those states. In other words, how come newspapers haven't figured out an online subscription model that works as easily as the reciprocity passes people get when they become members of a zoo or an aquarium? It's not rocket science. The binary choice of full-price-or-nothing stands in the way of letting people who value journalism do something to pay for it.
Clean up after yourself
They're actually having to consider creating a whole additional lake just to accommodate volatile weather patterns that threaten the operation of the canal. Watch for revealed preferences: Where people spend their money, not just what they say. Spending the money to build a lake seems like enough commitment for one to believe they think something new and significant is happening.
This might be aptly termed a fragile situation: "[W]ith low interest rates but relatively high debt, the budget is increasingly sensitive to interest rate risk -- just a 1 percentage point increase in projected interest rates would cost $1.9 trillion"
Mind your business
In the words of Bill Gates, "[G]overnment is a pretty blunt instrument and without the constant attention of highly qualified people with the right metrics, it will fall into not doing things very well."
The moral of the story:
Segment 6: (8 min)
Technology Three | The week in technology
What's the game here? Perhaps hoping someone falls for the heartstring-tugging and then gets drawn into sending money to facilitate the "adoption"?
Comp sci people have developed artificial intelligence that can falsify video and write music, but there's still no such thing as a great calendar app or a full-featured note tool.
That's the promise made on the back of research at Stanford and some affiliated institutions. Considering the number of people who were taken in by the low-tech "slurred words" video, this sophisticated manipulation is going to wreak havoc on all kinds of evidence we have grown to trust.
The moral of the story:
Segment 7: (14 min)
Hot (social) topics
- Bloomberg Promises $500 Million to Help End Coal
- Michael Bloomberg
- Plan to close the nation's coal-fired power plants over the next decade.
- Launching his $500 million Beyond Carbon project during commencement address at MIT
- "But everyone who is concerned about the climate crisis should also be able to agree on two realities. The first one is: Given opposition in the Senate and White House, there is virtually no chance of passing such policies before 2021. And the second reality is: We can't wait to act. Mother Nature does not wait on the election calendar and neither can we. Which is why today I'm announcing that, with Bloomberg Philanthropies, I am committing $500 million to launch a new national climate initiative, Beyond Carbon. Our goal is to move the U.S. toward a 100% clean energy economy as expeditiously as possible, beginning right now. We intend to succeed not by sacrificing things we need but by investing in things we want: more good jobs, cleaner air and water, cheaper power, more transportation options, and less congested roads."
- "First: We will push states and utilities to phase out every last U.S. coal-fired power plant by 2030 just 11 years from now."
- "Second: We will work to stop the construction of new gas plants. By the time they are built, they will be out of date because renewable energy will be cheaper."
- "Third: We will support our most powerful allies governors, mayors and legislators in their pursuit of ambitious policies and laws, and we will empower the grassroots army of activists and environmental groups that are driving progress state-by-state."
- Close the nation's 241 coal-fired plants by 2030 and transition the U.S. to 100% renewable energy.
- U.S., Russian Warships Nearly Collide In Philippine Sea
- The Navy says the USS Chancellorsville had a near-collision with a Russian destroyer in the Philippine Sea.
- Officials say the Russian vessel "accelerated and closed to an unsafe distance of 50-100 feet"
- "Unsafe and unprofessional"
- Three days after a Russian jet intercepted a US aircraft in an "unsafe" maneuver over the Mediterranean Sea
- Admiral John Richardson: "The @USNavy will not be deterred from supporting the free and open use of the seas and skies where international law clearly allows all to operate."
- And here we thought China would be the party doing most harm to freedom of the seas
- Officials Mull Demolishing Columbine High
- April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado
- 13 people murdered at Columbine High School
- Jefferson County Public School District Superintendent Jason Glass proposes demolishing school
- Says that school shooters study what happened at the school and hundreds of people a year ask for permission to visit the school.
- Under the proposal, the current building would be demolished and replaced with fields
By the numbers
AUS$1.2 billion in drugs seized -- "hidden in stereo speakers from Bangkok" -- which comes out to $840 million in US dollars at current exchange rates.
The moral of the story:
Segment 8: (5 min)
Tin Foil Hat Award
We become the stories we tell ourselves. "Chernobyl" presented the Soviet system as a grim antihero, and as Tom Nichols confirms, it's important that we remember why.
Have a little empathy
We coexist on a planet with the people of China. And if we are true to our own Declaration of Independence, we should see those people as being just as worthy of individual dignity as we are.
A dispatch from Tiananmen Square in 1989, as it was reported in real time. And today? "I think there will be more [protests] in the future. There will be more in the future, and more conflict."
Kori Schake: "...people have inherent rights and loan them in limited ways to governments for agreed purposes. We fail often to uphold this principle, but it is a genuine departure for an American administration not to even acknowledge it." Read the Declaration of Independence: "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." True in 1776. True in 1989. True in 2019. Consent is a prerequisite of legitimacy. And a government that will not tell the truth has no rightful claim to power.
A song lamenting what happened in 1989, and a reminder that a world of government exclusively by the consent of the governed, protective of the liberty and dignity of the individual, is the rightful human condition. These words are not ambiguous: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." The anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre is a very good day to reflect on these words.
Yay Capitalism Prize
354 restaurants all over America where, at almost any hour of day or night (often 24 hours a day), just about anyone can afford a consistent, made-to-order, sit-down meal that would put your great-grandfather's Thanksgiving dinner to shame.
The moral of the story: Restaurants and other creature comforts aren't what make a country great -- they just make it pleasant. Greatness emerges only from the environment of freedom, individual liberty, and the rule of law (with mercy for the weak).
Unsorted and leftovers:
One of Chicago's busiest thoroughfares is also the site of far too many murders. But why?
The only thing to be said for demoting Pluto is that it's really hard to come up with a mnemonic device that adds the other four -- FOUR! -- dwarf planets (each smaller than the Moon). And if you drop Pluto, it can become "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nutella", because Nutella is everything.
It used to be said that politics stops at the water's edge. But apparently nobody said anything about a Festivus-style airing of grievances.
Renown has nothing to do with "knowing"
Company requests correction over news story that said their medication cost $40,000. It's really $38,892. Gizmodo doesn't really regret the error.
Forget superhero comics. The true story of Medal of Honor recipient Roy Benavidez is amazing.
Jonah Goldberg, on what it says about the President and his audience: "[Apologists argued that] the chaos and crudeness were worth getting good judges, tax cuts, and less regulation. That doublespeak and lying used to vex me. But the newfound sincerity troubles me even more."
Tucker Carlson ranted against the metric system over a chyron reading "Is the metric system completely made up?". Of course it is -- and so is counting by tens.
The campus of Hamburger University is under new management.
19,000 people in Japan have signed a petition against dress codes that require women to wear high heels. The root problem isn't the footwear, but rather the cultural norms that permit such requirements to go into place. Sometimes it's the most idiosyncratic things that reveal deeper systemic troubles.
Possibly a crest on the Missouri River? Still no relief from flooding -- just maybe a little less of it.
He's 94, and has been lecturing there since 1982. At last, he will be free to speak his mind with the security of tenure.
It's easy to see the concrete and glass and steel in these, but equally interesting is the interaction between the modernist architecture and the natural world around. There's more to it than the contemporary stunt of showing a couple of trees on the 45th floor of a high-rise.
Some of the funding, it is said, will go towards building a rail line from Chicago to the Quad Cities. Per WHBF-TV: "Instead of paying 19 cents per gallon, drivers in Illinois will have to pay 38 cents starting July 1. It will cost drivers about $100 extra a year, and generate about $1.2 billion for the state." That will certainly be of note to the many Iowa communities along the Illinois border
Fact check: True.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 7, 2019
The final straw for me was the DC cab driver who held a lost phone hostage for two hours while raising the de-facto ransom to get it back. This happened in 2012.
Doesn't take a lot of experiences like that to send customers fleeing to any viable alternative. https://t.co/BLmTycwlXf
"Of which"? No way he wrote that on his own. Ghostwritten!— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 7, 2019
Quote of the Week
Your role in cyberwar
It's a fine over failure to train staff about attacks from students, which seems troubling
Corn is only 80% planted, when by this point in the average year it is 99% planted and 91% emerged. Soybeans are just 41% planted, when they're normally 89% planted and 63% emerged. The ground is just plain saturated, and more rain doesn't help.
Contrary to popular opinion
Hyperbole is going to kill us all
21st Century conservatism
Stop the deliberate ignorance
Capitalist solution of the week
Forget Brexit. This strike is the real crisis gripping the European economy:
Study claims that as much as 25 cups of coffee per day won't stiffen the heart muscle fibers. Fine for your heart, maybe, but let's talk about what you'd need to spend on toothpaste and breath mints.
While I take no position either way on the artistic merit of Game of Thrones, the Vatican is also quite full of both violence and "naughty bits"...if you're the type who feels compelled to count these sorts of things. pic.twitter.com/0x9vQCaZhc— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 4, 2019
Little-known fact: Reagan won the Cold War by giving speeches only to people who already agreed with him. It worked for Churchill in WWII.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 5, 2019
One thing about going to the Moon: You'll never get there with a steam catapult.— Brian Gongol (@briangongol) June 7, 2019
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6:35pm: Barnstormers Pregame
7:05pm-10pm: IA Barnstormers vs. Sioux Falls Storm
Live read: iHeartRadio app
Live read: Contests
- The Hy-Vee "Wheel of Meat" continues every weekday with Van and Bonnie
- The iHRMF "WIN B4 U CAN BUY" contest continues
- Bigger is always better when it comes to the iHeartRadio Music Festival, which just announced its blockbuster lineup for the monster 2-day concert event, slated for September 20 to 21 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Mainstage headliners include Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keyes, Tim McGraw, Chance the Rapper, Camila Cabello, Halsey, French Montana, Zac Brown Band and Mumford & Sons.
- Hosted once again by Ryan Seacrest, the must-see event also welcomes the return of 80's rock legends Heart and Def Leppard.
- The Daytime Stage, located at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on Saturday, will feature performances by Billie Eilish, Lauv, Zara Larsson, Old Dominion, H.E.R., Maren Morris and Cage the Elephant, CNCO, Brett Young, FLETCHER, Monsta X, Bryce Vine, with more to be announced.
- Partnership opportunities remain for the hotly anticipated festival, which will be broadcast live on iHeartRadio stations and live-streamed on The CW App and at CWTV.com. The festival will then be broadcasted on The CW for a two-night TV special on Oct. 2 and 3 at 8 p.m. ET.
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 1)
Live read: Smart speakers (hour 2)
Calendar events to highlight
① Yes, the Millennials could fight WWII today -- if they had to. Every generation is dismissed by its seniors. Even the Greatest Generation. Look at colorized photos of D-Day and ask yourself why we even risk making the same mistakes today as the ones that led to that war.
② Donut day! Which doughnut wins National Doughnut Day?
③ Can Des Moines stop the new Federal courthouse? It's prime riverfront real estate -- why should it be filled with a boring Federal courthouse? Christine Hensley helps figure it out.
④ Breaking the cycle of resentment by respecting the choices others make to have pride in their own communities -- while holding them accountable, too. Like the Montgomery Advertiser's incredible and powerful approach to telling the story of slavery from the first-hand perspective of ex-slaves themselves.
⑤ What inscriptions should go on the Federal courthouse? A caller argues the case for Biblical inscriptions on the new Federal courthouse. I argue for what I call "providential moralism" -- the kind of moral claims routinely made by the Founders, referring to Providence or the Creator. I think that approach is central to having a pluralistic society.
⑥ How newspapers can learn from the zoo: Newspapers need reciprocity passes -- so you can support a couple of papers directly, but still get access to what's in others.
⑦ Edited videos are breaking through, and we ought to treat it like a four-alarm fire. Researchers at Stanford and elsewhere have come up with powerful technology to manipulate videos -- and the damage they could do is almost completely out of control.
⑧ Capitalism is great, but freedoms are even better. Or: "Why I love Perkins, but the Declaration of Independence applies to people in China, too".