Podcast 591-Midnight Winter Walk Talk

Time’s Prisoners

Could leaders be Time’s Prisoners? This week Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. Partisan congressmen and entertainment figures on the left are taking the extreme step of boycotting the peaceful transfer of power. Partisans on the right believe the New York Businessman will right all wrongs and solve all problems. Are we Prisoners of Time? Both sides might take a lesson from the administration of Lyndon Baines Johnson.

Johnson is certainly one of the best of the pure politicians to occupy the White House. Serving as a Congressman and then Senator from Texas, Johnson rose to Senate Majority Leader, Vice President and the presidency after John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Johnson won the 1964 presidential election by one of the largest popular vote margins in history. Johnson’s administration overcame democrat opposition and managed enough republican votes in congress to pass the The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. Johnson’s signature legislation creating ‘The Great Society‘ programs have been a centerpiece of the Democrat ideal that government can help ease the afflictions of the poor and downtrodden.

From that high political perch in 1965 Johnson backed into the war Vietnam and scuttled his presidency. Johnson will be forever remembered as the president who escalated the Vietnam War, rather than the president who did a great deal to ease the afflictions of the poor and downtrodden. It’s important to remember that many of the most experienced and smartest people in Washington backed Johnson’s war initiatives. It was Congress that gave the Texan full authority to do as he wanted in Vietnam after the Gulf on Tonkin incident.

In Podcast 591-Midnight Winter Walk Talk-Time’s Prisoners, I wonder how much the time we live in determines how much a government can do. This is a cautionary question for the vehement supporters of Donald Trump and his vocal detractors. Are the leaders we elect, their lieutenants and advisors prisoners of the time they live in? We can’t know the future and therefore may not be prepared to right all wrongs or avoid fatal mistakes.

We make decisions in everyday life based on the best information available and the best advice. Should I buy the chicken or the steak on sale at the grocery store? Should I buy a car now or later. Should I take that job and move to another city? It is the same with complex decisions and matters of state. State decisions have more weight but in the end, are often made the same way. People do the best with what they have and what they know at the time.

Two movies on HBO NOW depict the Johnson Administration. ‘All The Way‘ features Bryan Cranston as LBJ and depicts his struggle to pass the Civil Rights Act. The other is John Frankenheimer’s ‘Path To War‘ which depicts the Johnson Administration’s decisions to escalate the war in Vietnam ultimately foundering Johnson’s presidency.

Now, these films reflect and bias and perspective. It may not have been the intent of the film makers to show a president’s power is tentative, dependent on the best advice he can get, and his own experience. The presidency is a political office. I think congresses and presidential administrations are prisoners of their time. The decisions they make and the reaction to them are as much determined by the time we live in, and the experience it has given us, as any other factor. Call it fate. Call it blindness. Either way this is a sobering concept if you believe the new president is the second coming, but a comforting thought if you think he is the devil incarnate.

Sponsored by X Government Cars and Ryan Plumbing and Heating of Saint Paul.

 

Podcast 587-Easy Talker

Decoding The New Year’s Media Nonsense

Key stories from the first week of 2017 provoked me to do a podcast type I call an ‘Easy Talker’. In Podcast 587-Easy Talker, I’m grabbing a few key stories and taking a little time with each before guests come over to the broadcast bunker for some hang out time.

Podcast 587-Easy Talker brings you up to date as the Republican Congress is sworn in. We’re back into a ‘news-rich’ environment. There is need for Decoding The New Year’s Media Nonsense. Media outlets are firing on headlines with little or no follow up. With all the talk recently about ‘fake news’ you would think the country’s biggest newspapers and broadcast outlets would put some effort into improving their approach to actually covering the news.

The Washington Post has retracted a story that reported the Russians hacked into Vermont’s power system. In fact the paper never talked to anyone to find out whether a ‘hack’ happened in the first place. Allegedly an employee’s computer had been infected with malware, supposedly put there by Russians, thus ‘infecting’ the power grid. Subsequent efforts to run down the story revealed that the computer in question may never have been infected with Malware to begin with.

As I post this podcast, we’re told US Intelligence Honcho Clapper is convinced ‘The Russians Intervened In The US Election’. Clapper promises to reveal all to President Elect Trump very soon. After the big reveal evidence will be released to the public. Of course if the CIA had released its evidence to the public when they released their “13 page report” (really was only about 2 pages of information about the alleged Russian Hack) then we would know. All media outlets now refer to the story as “The Russian Hack of The US Election” which is a lie. We have seen no direct evidence of a Russian Interference in the US Election. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Just means we haven’t seen any direct evidence proving the allegation.

What’s to be done about poorly written and edited news stories? Do we need a law or commission? No one seems to understand this would contravene our rights to free speech. If people can’t understand they have to use multiple sources and look at source documents no law in the world will fix the problem. We are a poorly informed population drowning in a sea of dis-information. This podcast attempts to provide context and perspective. It isn’t always pleasurable to do so. People have told me they depend on The Bob Davis Podcasts for this kind of coverage. Ignorance does not mean stupidity. If someone is ignorant they can inform themselves.

As the new Congress prepares some kind of action on the repeal of Obama’s Signature Affordable Care Act, now come stories warning of impending doom. Republicans ran on the promise of repealing ObamaCare. If the Republicans do not repeal the ACA regardless of whether they replace it, they will lose all credibility with their voters. On a side note, Republicans in Minnesota are preparing to spend 300 million dollars from the so called ‘rainy day fund’ to keep MNSURE going. These are the same people who trotted through tea party meetings all over the state selling themselves as ‘conservatives’. Proof positive, the best thing to do is to wait and watch what the politicians do and then punish them accordingly.

If you dispute the idea that the American Electorate is grossly ignorant, in Podcast 587-Easy Talker consider a Facebook post in which the writer wrote, “If you’ll notice when the economic numbers come out, they quietly revise them up”. It is fact that all economic numbers released from the government undergo normal revisions as new information comes in. Sometimes they are revised up. Sometimes they are revised down. This has been the case for many decades.

Along these lines, a story is circulating that upward revisions of November construction and manufacturing numbers mean Trump has had a positive effect on the economy. This is fake news from the right. Remember when so called ‘conservatives’ were furious over then President Elect Obama’s blaming of the 2008 crisis and subsequent recession on Bush? Suddenly now they’re giving credit to Trump for things that happened on Obama’s watch. And revisions at that!

With people getting their news in shards and memes from social media, and refusing to inform themselves completely on any issue they might be interested in, it’s no wonder the elites in Washington and in State Capitols continue to do exactly what they want. Sponsored by Hydrus Performance.

Podcast 585-Goodbye 2016

Bob Davis Podcasts Radio Show Number 59.

In Podcast 585-Goodbye 2016 Guest Andrew Davis and I have a father and son discussion of some of the big takeaways from 2016 and a look ahead to 2017. This isn’t one of those big stories of the year countdowns that populate the media at the end of every year. Just some thoughts about the year from both of us. What we have seen and what we thought was significant.

Of course in the United States, the big story of the year was Election 2016. Father and son talk about the winners and losers this year and how to stay informed going into 2017. The biggest loser of 2016 was traditional broadcast and cable television news and what is generally referred to as the mainstream media. This year though, you could add broadcast talk radio to the list. The biggest offense for these outlets was the penchant for predicting the future, picking a winner and endorsing a candidate.

From the media perspective the biggest winner was social media and You Tube. According to a recent study by Pew, more people got their news from social media and You Tube than ever before. This is a tectonic shift away from broadcast radio news and news delivered over traditional sources like broadcast television and cable television. This shift has provoked efforts to control what news and links people see and hear on social media sources.

In Podcast 585-Goodbye 2016, the biggest surprise in 2016, for traditional media and politics in 2016 was Trump’s Electoral Victory. For political elites inside the beltway and those who believed what old line traditional media told them, the emergence of Donald J. Trump in the primaries, his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate and his electoral victory was a shock. The biggest factor in politics in 2016 were the misconceptions fostered by terrible reporting and analysis.

Late in the election season the Clinton campaign and the White House introduced the idea that the Russians somehow ‘hacked’ the US election. While a convenient explanation for bereft democrats, even at this late date proof of a Russian Interference is lacking. Moreover, proof the alleged Russian intervention resulted in actually effecting the outcome of the election is even more elusive. Father and son disagree on this topic. This disagreement that carried over from the radio show to intense discussions with friends well into the evening.

With change back on the front burner in 2017 our discussion turns to how to get good information. There will be a need to evaluate the performance of the Trump administration and arguments against its initiatives. With so called fake news, opinion journalism rather than good investigative journalism, having good sources is more important that ever.

Once you have goos sources, you also need context. Good sources include source materials such as reports, think tank studies, documents, and live video. Context comes from reading history, source documents, non fiction books on various topics and your interests. Both of us caution against pop culture books which are nothing more than the same type of rehashing and alarmist coverage you see in social media, cable news and talk radio. They are designed to persuade, rather than inform. Certainly one can say think tanks have biases, which are usually fairly obvious, but reliance on source material from different parts of the spectrum and academic interests gives you the background and context to understand the biases without being manipulated.

Finally, the big issues in 2017 to watch will be the Trump Team’s transition, foreign policy issues including the South China Sea, ISIS, Europe, Russia and China, foreign trade, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israel’s role in US foreign policy, United States Economic policy. Politically what the 115th congress does and how it does what it does will be significant stories in 2017. Supporters of the new President will be hard pressed almost from day one to defend his actions, and the opposition is treading through brand new territory. Both sides will need objective facts.

Finally, we have a little fun with the millennial obsession with smart phones and the hand wringing over ‘so many’ celebrity deaths in 2016 and thank the sponsored, supporters and listeners to the Bob Davis Podcasts throughout 2016. Happy New Year. See you in 2017.