Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Welcome to FromDC2Iowa: Contents & Guide

Over 1,000 blog posts on a variety of topics since 2006.
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Latest Half-Dozen Posts (Full Text)

The Sub-government

The Sub-Government
Nicholas Johnson
Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 21, 2019, p. A7

We worry where our country and world are headed. We rely on the media’s tweet trackers to tell us what’s next. It’s rumored our president wants to buy Greenland before it melts.

Our presidential campaign is being waged on teens’ screens of social media. Russia is fighting a war without bombs on the world’s democracies, including our own, and winning. Manipulation of emotions of anger, fear and hate can destroy democracies with escalating divisiveness from within, regardless of elections’ outcomes.

Meanwhile, much of the self-inflicted damage from Washington transpires beneath the radar – in good times and bad. Why? Campaign contributions; yes. But there’s more. Not the conspiracy theory of a “dark state” undermining the president. It’s what I call the “subgovernment phenomenon,” out in the open but unreported by the media, whether in Washington, Des Moines or Iowa City. [Photo Credit Common Dreams ("Ahead of a crucial vote . . . defenders of net neutrality . . . projected . . . 'Property of Verizon' on the [FCC's] building to draw attention to the corporate interests at play . . ..")]

On Saturday, August 24, 4:00 p.m., there will be a discussion of these issues at Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St., in the course of a hopeful and sometimes humorous reading from Catfish Solution: The Power of Positive Poking. Hope to see you there.
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Nicholas Johnson, Iowa City

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Marianne Williamson’s Questions and Answers

Reading from latest book, #CatfishSolution, next Saturday, Aug. 24, #IowaCity's #PrairieLights, 4-5PM. Hope to see you there.
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Trump Won't Be Beat With Plans Alone

Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, August 17, 2019, p. A5

Where the column as submitted differs from the column as published the submission is indicated in [brackets] and italics.

Marianne Williamson may not have “the answer.” But she’s the only one who has framed the right questions [– the essential first step to finding answers.] Whether or not that qualifies her to be president, it clearly qualifies her to be a [Democratic Party] campaign strategist. Those who trivialize and mock her do so at their party’s and America's peril.

Here are the questions: "What strategy is President Donald Trump using?" and "What strategy does that require of Democrats?" [One might modify Williamson’s answers, but she's correctly answered the first question and pointed us in the right direction on the second.]

At the June 27 Democratic Debates, she warned the Party that plans are not enough: “Donald Trump … didn’t win by saying he had a plan."

She doesn’t advocate abandoning 20th Century political strategies. Democratic Party candidates still need to meet party members who now stay home or vote Republican – especially the ones living in the 80 percent of American counties that Trump carried in 2016. The candidates must show up, really listen to voters’ challenges and needs, and propose plans that at least outline solutions.
[Photo credit: By Supearnesh - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=80914139]

But Williamson closed that Debate by posing and answering the first question: "Donald Trump is not going … to be beaten just by somebody who has plans. He is going to be beaten by somebody who has an idea what this man has done. This man has reached into the psyche of the American people and he has harnessed fear for political purposes."

She’s right about that. Trump won, and may win again, by personally utilizing the same strategy in speech [and tweet] that he and the Russians use in their social media campaigns.

Trump may or may not believe in climate-change science, but he sure believes in the neurological science of the amygdalae, limbic cortex and brain stem, some of the most phylogenetically primitive regions of the brain. He believes in the science of reward and addiction that increase smart phone, videogame and slot machine players’ TOD (time on device); advertisers manipulating consumers into buying things they don't need, with money they don't have, to impress people they don't like; gaslighting, social psychology’s findings regarding groups’ influence on individuals; and the science behind propaganda [and the big lie.]
[Photo credit: public domain, http://lbc.nimh.nih.gov/images/brain.jpg (found on page http://lbc.nimh.nih.gov/osites.html).]

In short, he understands the role of fear, anger and hatred of "the other" [in successful campaigns.] He knows the [2020] presidential election will be won more by targeting the most primitive regions of the brains of [140 million or more] voters than by what’s aimed at their cerebral cortices.

So, "What strategy does that require of Democrats?"

Williamson says, "I have had a career harnessing the inspiration and the motivation and the excitement of people." And in her closing statement said that Trump has "harnessed fear for political purposes and only love can cast that out. . . . I’m going to harness love for political purposes."

Her use of the word “love,” with its romantic associations, was neither a precise nor helpful choice in this political context. The Greco-Christian term “agape” would have been only marginally better.

The challenge is much more complex. Trump is strategically increasing the emotions of hate and fear. [In this contest on a playing field in the most primitive regions of Americans’ brains,] what can Democrats do to excite even greater emotional responses involving compassion, empathy, and feelings of community [necessary to our “more perfect union”]?

Marianne Williamson’s questions are a major contribution that deserves understanding and appreciation. Now it’s up to Democrats’ candidates to craft and apply the answers.
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Nicholas Johnson is a native Iowan and three-time presidential appointee; his latest book is "Columns of Democracy." [Nicholas Johnson, a native Iowan and former FCC commissioner, will be doing a reading from his latest book, Catfish Solution, at Iowa City’s Prairie Lights, Aug. 24, 4:00-5:00. Contact:: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org]

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