Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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Latest Half-Dozen Posts (Full Text)

Names Matter

Note: When published [bracketed material] was deleted for space reasons from the column as submitted.

Newspapers and Libraries Outgrow Names
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, March 21, 2023, p. A5
A rose with onion for its name
Might never, never smell the same --
And canny is the nose that knows
An onion that is called a rose

[Photo credit: Wikimedia commons. Sniff the photo of this onion. See. It doesn't smell like a rose now, does it?]

Names matter. Especially for new things, skills, or institutions that tend to be labeled by what’s gone before.

When people and plows were moved by horses, what were the first locomotive and automobile called? The “iron horse” and “horseless carriage.” And how do we still measure cars’ get up and go? In “horsepower.”

The same fate fell upon “libraries” and “newspapers.”

The word “library” came from the Latin “liber,” for “book,” and could refer to either the collection or its physical location. Today a walk through the essential community centers we call the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City public libraries reveals how many of the services they provide don’t involve “books.” They offer equipment loans, meeting rooms, events, voting, assistance with tax returns and local services, a cup of coffee and so much more.

But no community institution is more essential than what we persist in calling “newspapers.”

“Communication” is a central requirement for any successful organization, whether a corporation, family, or urban community. A multibillion-dollar portion of the military budget goes to C3 -- “Command, Control, and Communications.”

Having gone from drums, smoke signals and couriers, then conversations on the commons and broadsides on the walls, it was a short hop during the 1600s to create multiple copies of “news” on “paper.”

Newspapers, like libraries, have outgrown their 400-years-old moniker. [They are no more limited to “news” on “paper” than libraries are limited to “books.”]

Consider The Gazette. There have been changes over 140 years in its range of content; technology of reporting, printing, and delivery; and ever increasing societal contributions.

Content. International, national, state and regional news now supplement the local. There’s a “Kids Gazette,” comics, TV schedule, and puzzles. Sections for sports and business, plus [157] magazines or special sections like “Healthy You” and “Her.”

Technology. From a hand-fed press to a 386-ton full color printing press. Early ownership of radio and television stations and a telephone news service. Today’s Web site, Green Gazette, and 18 single-focus emailed newsletters like "On Iowa Politics" and "Today’s Business News."

Community contributions. The Gazette, like most newspapers, provides a range of coverage needed by many community segments of its diverse readership – voters, parents and teachers, shoppers, public officials, business owners, taxpayers.

And consider the expanding range of community benefits that don’t involve paper. The Insight page, annual and multiple week-long Iowa Ideas, are like a think tank, or university program. Its newspaper archives and Time Machine supplement the Iowa Historical Library. Pints & Politics is its version of Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update -- with facts. [The Business Breakfasts. The Her Events.] The Gazette Gives Back -- $500 thousand worth of advertising for non-profits.

Once literally library and newspaper, they are now two essential institutions that require our support – and more descriptive names.

Nicholas Johnson is the author of What Do You Mean and How Do You Know? mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

Note: Today (May 21) is "World Poetry Day," https://www.unesco.org/en/world-poetry-day.

An Onion that’s Been Called a Rose. Author not identified; quoted in Wendell Johnson, Your Most Enchanted Listener, 1956, p. 5 (“A rose with onion for its name Might never, never smell the same -- And canny is the nose that knows An onion that is called a rose”)

Iron Horse, Horseless Carriage, Horsepower. “Travelling by Stagecoach,” Discovering Historic Milestones, Iowa Department of Transportation, https://iowadot.gov/histbook.pdf (“Despite its popularity, many problems plagued travel by stage. Mud and plank roads, winter blizzards, prairie fires and robberies added up to discomfort and long delays. Stages gave way to the railroad or the “Iron Horse” when smaller communities received rail connections. The last coach of the Western Stage Company left Des Moines on July 1, 1870. p. 5. . . . The first automobiles displayed in Iowa were shown at a fair in Linn County in 1899. In 1905 there were 799 horseless carriages or motor cars in Iowa. At first they were merely regarded as a curiosity, and few people saw the practical application of such contraptions. However, by 1915 Iowa ranked first in the nation in the number of automobiles per capita (147,078 registered vehicles). By 1927 there was one motor vehicle for every 3.31 persons, and automobiles were responsible for 85 percent of total highway traffic in the state. p. 12) . . . Miller House Museum . . . 1857 home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Miller, interprets Victorian lifestyle and economic development of Iowa’s Half Breed Tract from horsepower to aviation, especially hydroelectric power. Special exhibits include the building of the dam and powerhouse.”

Origin of “library.” “Library.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/library (“1a: a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (such as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale 1b: a collection of such materials Etymology Middle English, from Anglo-French librarie, Medieval Latin librarium, from Latin, neuter of librarius of books, from libr-, liber inner bark, rind, book First Known Use 14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a”) [Note “libr-, liber … book] Google translate from English “book” to Latin “liber”]

“Definition of a Library: General Definition,” American Library Association, https://libguides.ala.org/library-definition (“In The Librarian’s Book of Lists (Chicago: ALA, 2010), George Eberhart offers this definition: "A library is a collection of resources in a variety of formats that is (1) organized by information professionals or other experts who (2) provide convenient physical, digital, bibliographic, or intellectual access and (3) offer targeted services and programs (4) with the mission of educating, informing, or entertaining a variety of audiences (5) and the goal of stimulating individual learning and advancing society as a whole." (p.1) This definition is in turn compiled from: (1) Heartsill Young, ed., The ALA Glossary of Library and Information Science (ALA, 1983) (2) Robert S. Martin, "Libraries and Learners in the Twenty-First Century," Cora Paul Bomar Lecture, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, April 5, 2003. (3) Deanna B. Marcum, "Research Questions for the Digital Era Library," Library Trends 51 (Spring 2003): 636-651.”)

Vicky Chilton, “A Brief History of Libraries,” Oxford Open Learning, Jan. 18, 2022, https://www.ool.co.uk/blog/a-brief-history-of-libraries/ (“The First Libraries It is believed that the first libraries appeared five thousand years ago in Southwest Asia’s Fertile Crescent, an area that ran from Mesopotamia to the Nile. The world’s oldest known library is believed to be The Library of Ashurbanipal. which was founded sometime in the 7th century B.C. for the “royal contemplation” of the Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal. Located in Nineveh in modern day Iraq, the site included a trove of some 30,000 cuneiform tablets organized according to subject matter. The library, named after Ashurbanipal, in fact the last great king of the Assyrian Empire, is a collection of more than 30,000 clay tablets and fragments containing contemporary texts of all kinds, including a number in various languages.”)

Cedar Rapids Public Library, crlibrary.org The top six categories on its website reveal the range of resources and services: Calendar of Events, Digital Resources, Ebooks & Streaming, FAQ, Reserve a Room, Support the Library

“More to Borrow,” Iowa City Public Library, icpl.org (Adventure Pass, Art to Go, Equipment (e.g., laptop, DVD and CD players), Games, Toys, Kits (Discovery, Book Club, Read With Me); “Community Resources,” Meeting Rooms, Local Assistance Resources [12])

“Iowa City Public Library,” City of Iowa City, https://www.icgov.org/city-government/departments-and-divisions/iowa-city-public-library (“The Iowa City Public Library is a center of community life that connects people of all ages with information, engages them with the world of ideas and with each other, and enriches the community by supporting learning, promoting literacy, and encouraging creativity.”)

“The Iowa City Public Library – Celebrating 125 Years,” [1896-2021] Our Iowa Heritage, https://ouriowaheritage.com/iclibrary-125/ (history of public library in Iowa City with pictures; emphasis limited to books)

Population in Cities. “68% of the world population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, says UN,” Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, May 16, 2018, https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html (“Today, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 68% by 2050. . . . The urban population of the world has grown rapidly from 751 million in 1950 to 4.2 billion in 2018.”)

C3. “Command, Control, and Communications,” https://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2003/budget_justification/pdfs/01_Operation_and_Maintenance/overview/23_C3.pdf (“Command, control, and communications (C3) resources provide seamless base level and worldwide communication networks for voice, data, and imagery traffic of sufficient quality, reliability, and flexibility to ensure responsive support to U.S. forces. This information infrastructure contains communications networks, computers, software, databases, applications, data, security services, and other capabilities that meet the information processing and transport needs of DoD users. . . . The FY 2003 budget request of $4,246.5 million includes price increases of $70.1 million and a net program increase of $246.0 million (6.1 percent) above the FY 2002 funding level.”)

Early communications. “History of Telecommunication,” Mitel, https://www.mitel.com/articles/history-telecommunication (“From prehistoric man with their signal fires to the smartphone-wielding high-powered executives of today, communication still remains a key for survival and success. . . . Prehistoric Era: Fires, beacons, smoke signals, communication drums, horns: Man's first attempts at distance communication were extremely limited. Prehistoric man relied on fire and smoke signals as well as drum messages . . . History of Communication 6th century BCE: Mail: Cyrus the Great was a Persian emperor . . . credited as having established the first postal system in the history of the world. on. Cyrus the Great 5th century BCE: Pigeon post: Persia and Syria are credited with establishing the first pigeon messaging system around the 5th century BCE . . . . The Pigeon Post 4th century BCE: Hydraulic semaphore: In the 4th century BCE, the hydraulic semaphore was designed in ancient Greece as a method of communication . . .. Hydraulic Semaphore Circa 490 BCE: Heliographs (shield signals): The heliograph or shield signal . . . involves the shining of the sun on a polished object like a shield or mirror. . . . 15th century CE: Maritime flag semaphore: The ability to communicate between ships was very difficult before the 15th century. At that time, flag semaphore, a special code involving the positions of two hand-held flags, was introduced. . . .”)

Broadsides. Broadside (printing), Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadside_(printing) (“A broadside is a large sheet of paper printed on one side only.[1] Historically in Europe, broadsides were used as posters, announcing events or proclamations, giving political views, commentary in the form of ballads, or simply advertisements.”)

Origin of “newspaper.” David Mikkelson, “Etymology of ‘News,’” Snopes, April 26, 2001, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/news-etymology/ False: “The word news is an acronym formed from the words north, east, west, and south.” “news . . . is the plural of the word ‘new.’” "Notable Events, Weather, and Sports" “North, East, West, South, Past and Present Event Report." True: “A newspaper is so named because it is literally paper on which has been printed information about recent events (i.e., 'news').”

“newspaper,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/newspaper (“a paper that is printed and distributed usually daily or weekly and that contains news, articles of opinion, features, and advertising”)

Amy Tikkanen, “newspaper,” Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/topic/newspaper (“Forerunners of the modern newspaper include the Acta diurna (“daily acts”) of ancient Rome—posted announcements of political and social events . . ..Rudimentary newspapers appeared in many European countries in the 17th century, and broadsheets with social news were published in Japan in the Tokugawa period (1603–1867). The first English corantos appeared in London in 1621. By the 1640s the news book had taken the form of a newspaper—the title page being dropped. . . . The first newspaper in the United States, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick (Boston, September 1690), was suppressed by the colonial governor after one issue. . . . Freedom of the press was advanced in a landmark case in 1735 when John Peter Zenger, a New York City newspaper publisher, was acquitted of libel on the defense that his political criticism was based on fact. Press freedom in the United States was further secured by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1791). . . . By the mid-19th century, there were 400 dailies and 3,000 weekly papers in the United States. . . . Early in the 20th century, the number of American papers reached a peak (more than 2,000 dailies and 14,000 weeklies).

The Gazette’s Content, Technology and Community Contributions. Numerous sources; among them the following. The wide and lengthy variety of the content at the Gazette’s website, https://www.thegazette.com/

“Celebrating 140 Years of the Gazette,” Jan. 10, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/special-sections/celebrating-140-years-of-the-gazette/ (full digital edition)

“Highlights of The Gazette’s 140 years; First edition published Jan. 10, 1883,” The Gazette, Jan. 10, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/news/highlights-of-the-gazettes-140-years/

Zack Kucharski, “A past to remember, a future to report; Gazette’s 140th anniversary prompts reflection of how local news operations benefit communities,” Jan. 9, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/news/a-past-to-remember-a-future-to-report/

Zack Kucharski, “Strengthening Connections to the Community,” The Gazette, June 28, 2015, https://www.thegazette.com/guest-columnists/strengthening-connections-to-the-community/

Special sections, https://www.thegazette.com/special-sections (13 pages of 12 each = 157; 2017-2023 = “6 years”)

The Gazette offers a variety of daily and monthly newsletters covering a variety of topics. https://rewards.thegazette.com/newsletters/8K8oN6B3QaM6CYNNg4iEB8ga (18 newsletters)

Podcasts, https://www.thegazette.com/gazette-news-podcast/

Historical Museum. “The State Historical Museum of Iowa,” State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, https://iowaculture.gov/history/museum (“The State Historical Museum of Iowa is in the State Historical Building of Iowa, just west of the State Capitol in Des Moines. The building also houses one of two State Historical Society of Iowa Research Centers, including the State Historical Library and Archives.”)

Saturday Night Live. “Saturday Night Live,” https://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live

Weekend Update, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekend_Update (“Weekend Update is a Saturday Night Live sketch and satirical news program that comments on and parodies current events. It is the show's longest-running recurring sketch, having been on since the show's first broadcast . . ..”)

The Gazette Give Back Non-Profits. https://rewards.thegazette.com/nonprofits

Give Back FAQs, https://rewards.thegazette.com/nonprofits/faq

The Gazette Gives Back, https://rewards.thegazette.com/givesback (“In 2023, The Gazette Gives Back and program sponsor Collins Community Credit Union will provide area nonprofits with $525,000 in free advertising credit.”)

# # #

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Bill Lear and the Car Radio

Note: "History of the Car Radio" was sent to me by Sherman Johnson. It was one of those things that sometimes show up on Facebook or in circulating emails without any reference to source or authorship. I am reproducing it here for two reasons.

(1) In my most recent column, posted in the blog as "I'd Give Anything" [in The Gazette as, "Your Choices Make a Difference," The Gazette, March 8, 2023, p. A6, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2023/03/id-give-anything.html] I comment that those with little academic curiosity, who want a college diploma primarily because they've heard it will provide more income than a high school diploma, might want to consider the trades (by implication, perhaps community college training). The rather remarkable life of Bill Lear (yes, also the Lear Jet Lear), at the center of the "History of the Car Radio," is that of someone whose "diploma" was for an eighth grade education -- thus providing some support for my assertion in the "I'd Give Anything" piece that "Most of what students gain from their education is the result of their own curiosity, dedication, and effort."

(2) As a former FCC commissioner and radio amateur I continue to write about radio from time to time and am interested in its history. See, e.g., the recent, "What Happened to Radio [in The Gazette as, "Right-Wing Takeover of Radio," The Gazette, February 8, 2023, p. A6, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2023/02/what-happened-to-radio.html]

Happily, a quick check with Wikipedia provided source material for at least some of the assertions in "History of Car Radio." "Bill Lear," Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Lear, e.g. "After discharge, and with a young family, "he decided to complete his high school education. Starting a radio repair shop in his home, which he could tend nights, Lear enrolled at Tulsa Central High School, taking eight solids, heavy on the math. He was at the point of wrapping up the entire four-year curriculum in one, when he was again dismissed for showing up teachers."[3]: 12–18." I assume any scholars seeking more confirmation about the life of Bill Lear will be able to find it. [Photo credit: Wikipedia.]

-- Nicholas Johnson, March 11, 2023


Seems like cars have always had radios, but they didn't.

Here's the story:

One evening, in 1929, two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset.

It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear served as a radio operator in the U.S. Navy during World War I) and it wasn't long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car.

But it wasn't easy: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.

One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago.

There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. He made a product called a "battery eliminator", a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current.

But as more homes were wired for electricity, more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios.

Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it. He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.

Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin's factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker.

Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker's Packard.

Good idea, but it didn't work. Half an hour after the installation, the banker's Packard caught on fire. (They didn't get the loan.)

Galvin didn't give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention.

Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it. That idea worked -- He got enough orders to put the radio into production. WHAT'S IN A NAME

That first production model was called the 5T71.

Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier. In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix "ola" for their names - Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest.

Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola.

But even with the name change, the radio still had problems: When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.)

In 1930, it took two men several days to put in a car radio -- The dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna.

These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them.

The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions. Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn't have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression.

Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola's pre-installed at the factory.

In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B.F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores.

By then the price of the radio, with installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running. (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to "Motorola" in 1947.)

In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios. In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts.

In 1940 he developed the first handheld two-way radio -- The Handy-Talkie for the U. S. Army.

A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II.

In 1947 they came out with the first television for under $200.

In 1956 the company introduced the world's first pager; in 1969 came the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon.

In 1973 it invented the world's first handheld cellular phone.

Today Motorola is one of the largest cell phone manufacturers in the world.

And it all started with the car radio.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO the two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin's car? Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different paths in life.

Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950's he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention led to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.

Lear also continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that.

But what he's really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world's first mass-produced, affordable business jet. (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)

Sometimes it is fun to find out how some of the many things that we take for granted actually came into being!

AND It all started with a woman's suggestion!!

# # #

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

I'd Give Anything

Your Choices Make a Difference
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, March 8, 2023, p. A6

Following a concert, a member of the audience approached the pianist, gushing “I’d give anything to play like that.” To which the pianist replied, “No, you probably wouldn’t.”

Taken aback, the audience member asked, “Why do you say that?” The response? “Because you wouldn’t be willing to put in the necessary years of daily practice.”

Kind of like the lost tourist in Manhattan who asked a stranger, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” and was told, “Practice, practice, practice.”

I was reminded of these stories when reading Jeff Linder’s Gazette report of the amazing Caitlin Clark’s three-point, last second miracle to beat Indiana. What caught my eye was Clark’s comment: “I’ve shot a lot of those, whether it was with my two brothers in the driveway, a lot by myself.”

Many household names today began early (Tiger Woods at age three). Thousands of practice hours followed, whether from love of the game or adult pressure.

Most of us want to have fun with activities beyond work, not become GOAT (greatest of all time).

A similar fork in the road affects our education.

Richard Nixon’s Duke law school classmates nicknamed him “Iron Butt,” because he studied longer hours than anyone else. That’s worth sharing with today’s college undergraduates.

[Photo credit: wikimedia, commons. This is not Richard Nixon at Duke. It is "Jardin du Musee Rodin Paris Le Penseur" ("The Thinker"). The Thinker is trying to remember what was the first thing he was going to do this morning. (It was to put on his clothes before he went outside to sit on the rock.)]

Most of what students gain from their education is the result of their own curiosity, dedication, and effort. Not choosing easy courses to increase their grade point average, but courses to expand their knowledge and skills.

Sadly, some schools, students and parents cheat themselves and deprecate these motives by focusing on the economics of education in a capitalist society (“Iowa’s universities contribute $15 billion to Iowa’s economy;” “a college degree will add $1 million to your lifetime income”). Their goal is the diploma and job.

Even if one’s goal is increased income, the additional $1 million lifetime income claim is qualified with dozens of variables. As some Facebook users characterize their relationship, “it’s complicated.”

And reflect on Inc. magazine’s report that over a third of Fortune 500 CEOs are bringing the range of knowledge and skills of a liberal arts education to solving today’s unanticipated challenges.

Today’s cost of a diploma (tuition, associated costs, four years’ lost wages) can easily run over $100 or $200 thousand. If a student lacks interest in academic study, and the goal is future income, the trades may provide more satisfaction and pay than a diploma.

An auto mechanic -- honest, friendly, and highly skilled – who doesn’t charge for minor repairs, and gives customers alternatives to $2000 solutions, ultimately will do very well financially compared to the college graduate who’s now asking customers, “Do you want fries with that?”

Becoming one of the world’s best at what you do has satisfactions.

But getting there is iffy, even with thousands of practice hours. The goal of being good (not greatest) at a variety of life experiences has different benefits.

Fork in the road? Your choices make a difference.

Nicholas Johnson never aspired to becoming GOAT at anything. mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

I’d give anything. Sorry, but I can neither find with a Google search nor recall when I first heard this story and therefore can’t guarantee whether it is a true tale or just a story. Ditto for “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?”

Caitlin Clark. Jeff Linder, “This one lives up to the hype, and then some: Iowa 86, Indiana 85; Caitlin Clark nails a 3-pointer at the buzzer to edge the No. 2 Hoosiers,” The Gazette, Feb. 26, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/iowa-basketball/this-one-lives-up-to-the-hype-and-then-some-iowa-86-indiana-85/ (“'I’ve shot a lot of those, whether it was with my two brothers in the driveway, a lot by myself,’ Clark said.”)

Tiger Woods. Devika, “Throwback Article Reveals How Tiger Woods Used to Dominate Golf as a 3-Year-Old,” Essentially Sports, Sept 19, 2021, https://www.essentiallysports.com/pga-tour-golf-news-throwback-article-reveals-how-tiger-woods-used-to-dominate-golf-as-a-3-year-old/ (“Before he was five, Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods was proving that he might be on his way to becoming a golf legend. In a 1981 Golf Digest article speaking of a five-year-old Woods, a stat about his golf skills when he was three steals the show. According to Golf Digest, a three-year-old Woods ‘recorded a 48 for nine holes’ at the regulation course Navy Golf, Costa Mesa, and Los Alamitos. The course measured 6750 yards. ‘The kid’s not exceptional,’ said golf professional Rudy Duran. ‘He’s way beyond that.’”)

Richard Nixon. Dwight Garner, “A Memoir That Might Inspire You to Break a Sweat,” New York Times, Dec. 10, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/books/review-incomplete-book-running-peter-sagal.html (“In “Nixon Agonistes” (1970), his matchless book of reportage and analysis, Garry Wills explored why Richard Nixon succeeded while smarter and more charismatic politicians did not. Among Wills’s conclusions: Nixon had what peers called an “iron butt,” a willingness to sit and study harder than everyone else.”)

John Krull, “The lonely wars of Richard Nixon,” [Terre Haute, IN] ribune-Star, March 30, 2018, https://www.tribstar.com/opinion/columns/john-krull-the-lonely-wars-of-richard-nixon/article_dc675e6a-3448-11e8-9231-1b1fc1bc6e9a.html (“He [Nixon] was studious, a man who climbed so high because he worked harder than anyone around him. In law school at Duke University, his classmates nicknamed him “Iron Butt,” because he could labor over the books longer than anyone else.”)

10,000 hour rule. Nathan Colin Wong, “The 10,000-Hour Rule,” Can Urol Assoc J. 2015 Sep-Oct; 9(9-10): 299, National Library of Medicine, Sep-Oct 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4662388/ (“The book “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell . . . explores factors that contributed to the high levels of success of some individuals. . . . In the second chapter, Gladwell introduces the concept of the “10 000-Hour Rule” and how it helped the Beatles become world famous musicians . . .. Throughout his book, Gladwell repeatedly refers to the “10 000-hour rule,” asserting that the key to achieving true expertise in any skill is simply a matter of practicing, albeit in the correct way, for at least 10 000 hours. . . . This, however, is an oversimplification. Gladwell later describes how family, culture and friendship are all critical in any individual’s success.”)

Ben Carter, “Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?” BBC News, March 1, 2014, https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26384712 (“The 10,000-hours concept can be traced back to a 1993 paper written by Anders Ericsson, a Professor at the University of Colorado, called The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance.

It highlighted the work of a group of psychologists in Berlin, who had studied the practice habits of violin students in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

All had begun playing at roughly five years of age with similar practice times. However, at age eight, practice times began to diverge. By age 20, the elite performers had averaged more than 10,000 hours of practice each, while the less able performers had only done 4,000 hours of practice.

The psychologists didn't see any naturally gifted performers emerge and this surprised them. If natural talent had played a role it wouldn't have been unreasonable to expect gifted performers to emerge after, say, 5,000 hours.

Anders Ericsson concluded that "many characteristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of 10 years".

It is Malcolm Gladwell's hugely popular book, Outliers, that is largely responsible for introducing "the 10,000-hour rule" to a mass audience - it's the name of one of the chapters. . . .

But is there a simpler way to think about all this? Maybe talented people just practice more and try harder at the thing they're already good at - because they enjoy it?”)

Iowa’s Universities. Vanessa Miller, “Regent Report Finds Universities Have $15B Impact in Iowa; ‘One out of every 10 jobs in Iowa is supported’ by regents’ campuses,” The Gazette, Feb. 23, 2023, https://www.thegazette.com/higher-education/regent-report-finds-universities-have-15b-impact-in-iowa/ (“A new study shows that the benefits of a bachelor’s degree from Iowa’s public universities will amount to $1 million in higher earnings than from a high school diploma or equivalent. . . . With lawmakers in the throes of deciding how much money to appropriate Iowa’s public universities for the upcoming budget year, the Board of Regents this week released a new “economic impact report” showing its campuses collectively added $14.9 billion to the state’s economy in the 2022 budget year. . . . Put another way, over a working lifetime, benefits of a bachelor’s degree will amount to $1 million in higher earnings than a high school diploma or equivalent.”)

Million-dollar diploma. Anthony P. Carnevale, Stephen J. Rose and Ban Cheah, “The College Payoff; Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings,” The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, https://www2.ed.gov/policy/highered/reg/hearulemaking/2011/collegepayoff.pdf (“In fact, 14 percent of people with a high school diploma make at least as much as the median earnings of those with a Bachelor’s degree, and 17 percent of people with a Bachelor’s degree make more than the median earnings of those with a Professional degree. A lot of this overlap can be explained by the occupations in which individuals are found. . . . 28 percent of workers with Associate’s degrees earn more than the median earnings of workers with Bachelor’s degrees. . . . 7 percent of people with less than a high school diploma earn more than the typical worker with a Bachelor’s degree. At the extreme, the most successful 1 percent of less than high school workers has at least the median lifetime earnings of those with a Professional degree.”)

Hunter Rawlings, “Stop Treating College Like a Commodity,” Des Moines Register, June 13, 2015, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/06/14/stop-treating-college-like-commodity/71200486/ (“How much more does the “average” college grad earn over a lifetime than someone with only a high school degree? (The current number appears to be about $1 million.) . . . The value of a degree depends more on the student’s input than on the college’s curriculum. I know this because I have seen excellent students get great educations at average colleges, and unmotivated students get poor educations at excellent colleges. . . . A college education, then, if it is a commodity, is no car. The courses the student decides to take (and not take), the amount of work the student does, the intellectual curiosity the student exhibits, her participation in class, his focus and determination — all contribute far more to her educational “outcome” than the college’s overall curriculum, much less its amenities and social life. . . . Genuine education is not a commodity, it is the awakening of a human being.”)

CEOs with liberal arts degrees. Tim Askew, “Why The Liberal Arts are Necessary for Long-Term Success; The Short-Sightedness of STEM,” Inc., March 14, 2018, https://www.inc.com/tim-askew/why-liberal-arts-are-necessary-for-long-term-success.html (“In fact, over a third of Fortune 500 CEOs have liberal arts degrees. . . . It is hard for expense weary parents to see the long-term advantages of broad and deep training in how to think, in how to objectively see and analyze the rapidly changing world as it actually is. But leaders trained in the liberal arts have intellectual flexibility and the ability to think creatively. . . . The liberal arts offer a path for dealing with chaos and complexity. Graduating students need to think not only about their immediate prospects . . . but also about what will nurture long-term leadership skills for larger success and business usefulness.”)

# # #

Friday, February 24, 2023

Now Is The Time For Democrats

Now Is The Time For Democrats
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, February 24, 2023, p. A6

“Now is the time for all good Iowa Democrats to come to the aid of their party” is more than a keystroking exercise. Iowa Dems’ best and brightest are planning the party’s future. Now is the time to give them our ideas.

Here are three suggestions involving neighbors, civics and finances.

Neighbors. The current issue of Jim Hightower’s “Lowdown” (hightowerlowdown.org) skins alive the party’s national and state leadership for their dismissal of Republican small towns and counties. Even last-minute email and other technology contacts won’t do. “Being there still matters most. Constant in-person connections at ball games, bars . . . just showing up where people live.”

Hightower notes that John Fetterman spent months in Pennsylvania’s small towns, getting to know people, and helping with their challenges. Only later did he campaign there. He didn’t win those counties, but he won three percentage points more than President Biden. Not much? Only until you realize that was 110,000 votes. [For the source, credits, and story accompanying this photo see the first entry under "SOURCES," below.]

“It’s hard to score points if you don’t have a team on the field.”

Civics. Earlier in our nation’s history, civic education was broadly seen as integral to the purposes of public schools and universities. Now, not so much.

What’s even tougher to find are civics courses that include students’ experience with “talking truth to power,” bringing about change – even if just their cafeteria’s offerings. Given the current attacks on public school curriculum, libraries and teachers, this might not be the best time to campaign for civics return.

But there’s nothing to prevent the political parties taking on this responsibility – ideally jointly. Community organizing and campaigning techniques are relatively content neutral. Survival of our democracy depends on millions of young people developing a passion for political action.

Finances. Over 50 years ago California Speaker Jesse Unruh coined the expression, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.” Today that mother’s milk has gone sour.

Federal candidates spend a half or more of their time in Washington dialing for dollars, millions of dollars, instead of legislation and constituents’ needs. Most of my candidates’ emails last year were a daily drumbeat of requests for money. Years ago my research revealed that the payback on contributions ran $1000 to $1 or more. Contribute a million, get back a billion.

Are there no alternatives to this rotting cancer? Of course there are.

Overturn Citizens United. Impose limits on length of campaigns. Build teams of self-motivated, trained volunteers; cut paid staff. Follow Congresswoman Katie Porter’s example: regularly email thoughtful ideas, not constant begging for dollars. Ban corporate PACs. Create free media worthy of coverage, not paid media viewers shut out.

Cut costs for candidates buy buying for all – stock radio and TV commercials, yard signs with space for personalized stickers.

These are neither the only, nor the best, ideas. But if every Iowa Democrat who cares about our state’s future – or even half of them – would give it some thought, and share those thoughts, we could reshape our party and state.

Nicholas Johnson lives in Iowa City and thinks about Democrats’ days gone by. mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

Photo credit. This photo by Jim Zons appears at the top of an online story in the Washington Monthly by Robin A. Johnson, "How Democrats Can Win in White Working-Class Districts; Let them control their own messages - and give them the resources they need," Washington Monthly, Jan. 17, 2022, washingtonmonthly.com/2022/01/17/how-democrats-can-win-in-white-working-class-districts/. I only discovered this photo and story after my column was being published by The Gazette. Had I known of it earlier I would have given it equal, or higher, prominance along with Jim Hightower's take on these issues.

The caption on the photo in the story reads, "Road work. Democrat Jeff Smith (right) outperforms his party in rural Wisconsin by building close personal relationships with voters."

Excerpts from the first few paragraphs:
Ever since he narrowly won his race for the Wisconsin State Senate in 2018, Democrat Jeff Smith has never stopped campaigning—though he does so in unusual ways. For instance, he regularly parks his trademark “big, red truck”—a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup—on the side of a road, plants a six-foot handmade sign that reads “Stop and Talk With Senator Jeff Smith,” and engages with his constituents on whatever topics are on their minds. These “Stop and Talks” help him in his role not only as a candidate but also as a policy maker. “Every conversation sparks a new idea,” he told me.

Smith represents Wisconsin’s 31st State Senate District in the western part of the state, which Donald Trump won twice. . . . It is emblematic of the kind of geography Democrats have been losing in recent cycles and need to get better at to avoid being wiped out electorally in 2022 and 2024.

To win reelection . . . [is] tough, though, because the Democratic brand has become so toxic in the rural and small-town parts of the district. . . .Voters there, he says, identify the party with unpopular policies, like “defund the police,” that he and most other Democrats never supported. They also increasingly bring up their belief that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election. His best hope, he told me, is to build enough trust with enough individual voters in rural counties that they will overcome their partisan leanings. That’s why he lets those who stop to chat lead the discussion. “If you listen to voters long enough, you can find something we agree on,” he observed, pointing to negotiating down prescription drug prices as an example. “That starts the process of building trust.” If he can engage with voters before the party label comes up, their response is often “You know, you are the only Democrat I can vote for.”
The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969, about halfway through my FCC term, and very much a part of my life at that time. If you are not familiar with its origins, personalities, influance and impact on Washington, you will enjoy, and be impressed by, a high quality, short video documentary. Go to washingtonmonthly.com/about, and at the bottom of the page click on: "How Washington Really Works: Charlie Peters and the Washington Monthly."

I believe the use of the photo and these paragraphs is well within the law of "fair use," given the subject matter, the amount used, the total lack of any economic benefit to myself, and the positive (and de minimis) economic impact for the magazine, author and photographer. Objections to this conclusion can be sent to: mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

Now is the time. J. Ajlouny, “Who Said That?” Feb. 28, 2016, https://www.jajlouny.com/who-said-that/ (“Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their party.”

Charles E. Weller (1840–1925)

Scarcely anyone who learned to type before 1960 is not familiar with this “little finger exercise” created by New Jersey typewriter salesman Charles E. Weller. The phrase was composed to help learners become accustomed to the rigors of typewriting. It was used by millions of typing students until the newer, less political “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” was coined by an instructor whose name has been forever lost to posterity. There was an advantage to the new phrase, however; in using each letter of the alphabet at least once, it also served as a quick test to determine if the machine had any broken or missing keys.”)

Iowa IDP Reformers’ proposals. Laura Belin, “New Iowa Democratic Party chair Rita Hart has her work cut out for her; Iowa Democrats at lowest ebb in decades,” Capital Dispatch, Jan. 30, 2023, iowacapitaldispatch.com/2023/01/30/new-iowa-democratic-party-chair-rita-hart-has-her-work-cut-out-for-her

“Hart Vision for IDP,” 2023, 11 pp., pdf, https://www.bleedingheartland.com/static/media/2023/01/Hart-Vision-for-IDP-2023.pdf

Brianne Pfannenstiel, “Tired of losing, big-name Iowa Democrats forge new groups looking for long-term gains,” Des Moines Register, Oct. 3, 2022, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2022/10/03/iowa-democrats-new-solutions-for-long-term-gains-elections/10390964002/

(“The work has evolved out of a group called The Hughes Project, which launched in the wake of the 2020 elections. . . . [Jack] Hatch banded together with . . . Fred Hubbell, Democratic donor Harry Bookey, former Gov. Tom Vilsack and Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn — to launch the Hughes Project in early 2021. . . . Out of that work, Hatch said, came a plan to launch a donor group called the Alliance For A Better Iowa, a research hub called the Heartland Research Project, a communications hub and a nonprofit hub — all individual organizations that would be part of a broader political constellation with a shared progressive agenda.

Though the goals align with those of the Iowa Democratic Party, the groups operate as separate organizations.

“Likeminded Iowans and donors have come together to build an offensive, long-term strategy and create change,” said Jamie Burch Elliott, the executive director of Alliance For A Better Iowa. “… This type of work is new for Iowa, and we’re still in the startup phase.”

The changes mirror projects in other states. But Burch Elliott said Iowa's efforts are not aligned with the Democracy Alliance, a national organization that pools money from Democratic mega-donors to fund ‘the infrastructure necessary to advance a progressive agenda for America,’ according to its website. . . . “[Jack] Hatch said one of the groups the Alliance is helping to fund is Progress Iowa, a progressive issue advocacy group that has been operating in the state for about seven years and is part of the larger Progress Now network.

‘This year, we've been able to expand our staff, expand our capacity to do the work that we've done for years, which is to organize and connect Iowans with their local government and tell their story,’ Progress Iowa Executive Director Matt Sinovic said.

He said the group regularly works with Iowans to help connect them with their local elected officials, post on social media, write letters to the editor and engage in public advocacy efforts.

‘When you talk to people around the state, they’re just living their life and doing the best they can,’ Sinovic said. ‘All they want is for the political process to help them out a little bit. And when you give people the opportunity to share that, that is incredibly powerful.’”)

Brianne Pfannenstiel, “Iowa Democratic heavyweights joining forces to figure out how to win elections again,” Des Moines Register, March 3, 2021, https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2021/03/03/iowa-democrats-review-what-went-wrong-2020-chart-path-to-win-2022-vilsack-governor-politics-election/6815912002/ (“After a round of ‘heartbreaking’ losses in 2020, a group of Iowa Democratic heavyweights are banding together to take stock of what went wrong and how to bring the party back to relevance in 2022.

Former Gov. Tom Vilsack, first lady Christie Vilsack, former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, former state Sen. Jack Hatch, 2018 governor candidate Fred Hubbell, Iowa Democratic Party Chair Ross Wilburn and Democratic donor Harry Bookey are leading the effort.

The group — which is calling itself the ‘Hughes Project’ after former Iowa Gov. Harold Hughes — is circulating a survey to Democrats at every level of state and local politics to gauge what went well and what fell flat. . . . ‘We are listening and learning from unions, community leaders, candidates, elected officials, volunteers and all those who care about Iowa's future,’ [Fred] Hubbell said in a statement.”

Ellen Goodmann Miller, “Iowa Democrats: It’s Time to Challenge Ourselves,” Bleeding Heartland, Jan. 27, 2022, https://www.bleedingheartland.com/2022/01/27/iowa-democrats-its-time-to-challenge-ourselves/ (“I’m concerned that if we only invite people who can afford a seat at the table to decide who is worthy as a candidate in our party, we’re not only losing our way, we’re forgetting who we are.”)

The Hightower Lowdown. Jim Hightower, “Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?” The Hightower Lowdown, vol. 25, No. 1, Jan. 2023, https://hightowerlowdown.org/article/dear-democratic-party-cant-anybody-here-play-this-game/ (“Casey Stengel spent over 50 years in baseball as a player, manager, and colorful raconteur, capping his Hall of Fame career in 1962 as manager of a brand-new major-league ball club, the New York Mets. The start-up team was, in a word, terrible. It lost 120 of its 160 games that first year, the worst pro team since 1899. Exasperated by the players’ almost comical ineptness, Stengel threw up his hands: “Can’t anybody here play this game?” It’s my New Year’s wish that the national Democratic Party establishment will quit playing the momentous game of politics as though they’re the ’62 Mets, muffing easy ground balls, dropping pop-ups, and botching scoring opportunities.

. . .

Start with a basic: GET THE HELL OUT OF WASHINGTON! Not just organizationally, but politically, ideologically … attitudinally. The once-proud Party of the People has become (in the public mind and in fact) a corporate-serving Washington party of aloof, well-off insiders. Today’s entrenched Democratic establishment of high-dollar donors, lobbyists, consultants, and old-line politicos regularly opposes The People, especially you “outsider” democratic champions who dare challenge the plutocratic status quo. The party’s Washington club has become particularly aggressive in mounting negative campaigns against strong progressive Democrats running for Congress and other top offices. The insiders’ electoral strategy is to recruit and finance candidates in their own image–urban, urbane professionals who try to tiptoe into office with bland, middle-of-the-road policies of pretend reform that preserve all the abusive power of the existing system.

. . .


But in the past year or so, the party’s strategic thinkers have formulated a plan for these alienated constituents. It’s called “Adios.”

Yes, believe it or not, they’ve actually decided that the smart thing to do is just kiss-off entire swaths of the country–especially the farm counties and factory towns of rural America. Forget the “Give ’em hell” scrappy spirit of Harry Truman, these geniuses are surrendering those millions of voters without a fight, labeling them a lost cause, unworthy of expending political money and effort.

. . .


Despite today’s emphasis on high-tech, low-touch campaigning via Zoom, cell phones, email, TikTok, instant polls, robocalls, etc., being there still matters most. That means constant in-person connections with people at backyard barbeques, ball games, places of worship, community events, bars, farmer’s markets, festivals … and, well, just showing up where the people live. This is especially true for progressive efforts to build grassroots trust, defeat lies, and develop long-term political relationships with voters. And it’s truer yet in smaller communities where word-of-mouth support is invaluable.

A party or campaign that only passes through town with a get-out-the-vote crew in the last month of an election does not count as being there. People need to feel that the party is a living presence –with ears as well as a mouth–committed to being a helpful participant in the whole of community life.

. . .

It’s hard to score if you don’t put a team on the field!

. . .


. . .

The Rural Democracy Initiative reports that several 2022 campaigns that openly defied the party strategy of ignoring rural areas turned small gains into vital Democratic victories. For example, prior to running for US Senate in Pennsylvania, John Fetterman had spent months visiting the state’s many small communities, getting to know the people and working with them on their various needs. He established a personal link and some level of trust that Democrats generally didn’t have. Then, as a candidate, he came back and actively campaigned for support. As a result, even though he didn’t win the red counties, he increased the Democratic share there over Biden’s 2020 run from 26% to 29%. Although the increase looks small, the impact was huge: By “showing up” in rural counties that the national party says to abandon, Fetterman pulled in more than 110,000 extra votes.

. . .


A tangible indicator of the Democratic Party’s withdrawal from the rural landscape is that local party supporters in many states literally can’t even get an allotment of yard signs for distribution. GOP banners for statewide candidates crop up like weeds in many small towns and along country roads, but there’s often no visible trace of Democrats contesting for the area’s votes.

. . .


This is not a population that is squeamish about confronting the moneyed powers, about fighting repressive Republican authoritarianism, or about embracing laws and programs that help workaday people get a fair shake. Economic inequality is not a theory out here–it’s personal experience, and the term “1-percenter” to refer to the entitled rich is a common expletive. Yet, viewing the hinter-land from their lofty Washington perch, party consultants have proclaimed that “rurals” might once have been FDR Dems, but now they’ve indelibly turned into blood-red Republican Trumpers, opposed to all things Democratic, from candidates to policies.

Uh … no. Even in states that are now largely run by Republicans, rural voters want aggressively progressive democratic reforms:

Two of the biggest issues in the farm country of the Plains, upper Midwest, and South are stopping destructive pipeline profiteers and breaking up the monopoly power of industrial meat factories that routinely exploit workers, farmers, and the environment.

. . .

Democrats are not losing rural elections because their ideas are radical or too anti-establishment, but specifically because party leaders are too timid and unwilling to fight for those ideas (and too often maneuvering behind the scenes to kill them). People see this. Longtime activist Matt Hildreth, who heads RuralOrganizing.org, says the result of the hypocrisy is inevitable: “The number one question that we lose rural voters on is ‘Are Democrats fighting for you?'”


Are the Democrats going to be a national party, seeking a governing majority that unifies the full progressive potential of America’s diverse people around our ideals of equal opportunity for all? Or not?

Yes, the party must mobilize and increase the base of tried-and-true Dems, for their activism, leadership, and votes are the bedrock of the party’s success. But that focus does not require any compromise of party principles, nor does it limit reaching beyond that support to bring home alienated voters who both hold deep democratic values and embrace bold Democratic policies. To the contrary, such outreach strengthens the party’s numbers and its political credibility as an unflinching champion of “little-d” democratic progress.

Also, getting there is doable, for a nucleus of tenacious, gutsy, smart, passionate, energetic, and optimistic grassroots progressives abides in these counties. There might only be two of them in a particular town, or they might constitute a latent majority, but however many, they represent potent potential, eager to battle anti-democracy elites and organize locally for policies and candidates advancing the workaday majority.

Rather than keep paying $500-an-hour fees to its flock of old-line Washington consultants, the national party apparatus should be sending $500-a-month to each of these scrappy groups of rural Democrats. With even the slightest wherewithal and long overdue moral support, they will build a grassroots election infrastructure that, in conjunction with metro Democrats, can actually produce a government worthy of the American people’s progressive aspirations.

That’s a party worth fighting for.”)

Civics education/Earlier in our history. Integral to K-12 and higher ed. Lisa Guilfoile and Brady Delander, “Introduction, Guidebook: Six Proven Practices for Effective Civic Learning,” Education Commission of the States and National Center for Learning and Civic Engagement, Jan. 2014, http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/10/48/11048.pdf (“Earlier in our nation’s history, civic education was broadly seen as integral to the purposes of public schools and universities.”) Education Commission of the States, https://ecs.org (search: “civics”) Educating for American Democracy, https://educatingforamericandemocracy.org

Attacks on schools, teachers. Chelsea Sims, "GOP bills attack Iowa school libraries, librarians," BleedingHeartland, Feb. 21, 2022, https://www.bleedingheartland.com/2022/02/21/gop-bills-attack-iowa-school-libraries-librarians/ ("Coordinated political groups around the country have decided that school libraries are a threat to their children, rather than a safe haven filled with wonder and connection.

The Iowa GOP has joined this effort to discredit and defame the incredible work of educators and librarians, claiming we are distributing obscene materials or teaching a false version of history. Although we can't help taking these attacks personally, we also know they are part of a decades-long effort to defund public education and funnel public dollars to private schools and the corporations that benefit.")

Money is mother’s milk of politics. “Jesse M. Unruh,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_M._Unruh#cite_note-9 (“Quotes On campaign contributions: "Money is the mother's milk of politics." 1966[9] 9. Lou Cannon. Ronnie and Jesse. p. 99.)

Elected officials fundraising. "An Inside Look at Congressional Fundraising," The Government Affairs Institute, https://gai.georgetown.edu/an-inside-look-at-congressional-fundraising/ ("[R]aising campaign money involves a lot of . . . time. Incoming lawmakers are instructed to spend upwards of four hours per day raising money, which is time taken away from the legislative responsibilities of being an elected official. . . . [W]inning a congressional seat is not cheap. According to data compiled by MapLight, successful House members in the 2012 cycle raised an average of $1,689,580, while winning Senators, on average, raised $10,476,451.")

$1000-to-1 return. Nicholas Johnson, "Campaigns: You Pay $4 or $4000," Des Moines Register, July 21, 1996, p. C2, https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/rcntpubl/campaign.html ("We could pay about $4 apiece in direct federal funding of campaigns. That's $1 billion from us, and $1 billion for the campaigns.

Or we could end up paying $4000 each. That's what happens when we sit it out, and let America's wealthiest individuals pay the $1 billion. That's $1 trillion from us to get $1 billion for the campaigns.

The $3996 difference? That's what we'll pay in increased prices for food, insurance, gasoline, bank interest rates, and bills from doctors, telephone and cable-television companies, among others.

The choice is yours. Tell your elected officials you want federal funding of campaigns and pay $4, or stick with the present system and pay $4000. Which will it be?" Supporting sources included.)

"Politicians & Elections," OpenSecrets, https://www.opensecrets.org/elections/ ("[A] campaign contribution may carry an expectation that the money will get repaid in the form of favorable legislation, less stringent regulations, political appointments, government contracts or tax credits-to name a few forms of payback.")

Citizens United. Adam Schiff, "Congressman Schiff Introduces Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United," Press Release, March 24, 2022, https://schiff.house.gov/news/press-releases/congressman-schiff-introduces-constitutional-amendment-to-overturn-citizens-united ("Today, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) introduced a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and once again allow for reasonable restrictions on corporate campaign contributions and other spending.

In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations and special interest groups could spend nearly unlimited funds on election campaigns. In the decade since, outside groups spent more than $4.4 billion in federal elections – nearly $1 billion of which was untraceable “dark money” – with some of the biggest contributors coming from Wall Street, the pharmaceutical industry, and the NRA.

'Thanks to one disastrous ruling, wealthy megadonors, corporations, and special interest groups have been able to influence elections when that power should belong with the American people. This has eroded faith in the government’s ability to deliver for the people and their families,” said Schiff. “Dark money should have no place in our democracy. It is time to return power to the people, and overturn Citizens United once and for all.'

Specifically, the amendment would make it clear the Constitution does not restrict the ability of Congress or the states to propose reasonable, content-neutral limitations on private campaign contributions and independent expenditures. It would also allow states to enact public campaign financing systems, which can restrict the influence of corporate and private wealth.")

Shorter time for campaigns. Danielle Kurtzleben, "Why Are U.S. Elections So Much Longer Than Other Countries'?" National Public Radio, Oct 21, 2015, https://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/21/450238156/canadas-11-week-campaign-reminds-us-that-american-elections-are-much-longer ("The U.S. doesn't have an official campaign season, but the first candidate to jump into the presidential race, Ted Cruz, announced his candidacy on March 23 — 596 days before Election Day.

Meanwhile, Canada just wrapped up its latest campaign season. That one was longer than usual — about 11 weeks. To the south, Mexican general election campaigns start 90 days before election day (and have to stop three days prior to the election), with an additional 60-day "pre-campaign" season, in which candidates vie for the nomination.

How do so many other countries keep their campaigns so short while the U.S. drags on so long? The simple answer is that many countries have laws dictating how long a campaign period is, while the U.S. doesn't.

. . .

'Voters in [Canada] would not have the tolerance or would not accept a system where that kind of money is spent on campaigns. There would be a huge uproar,' said Don Abelson, professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario. 'The elections tend to be very short. They don't tend to be terribly expensive.'

Indeed, Canadians balked even at the country's recent 11-week campaign.

And in many countries, there's not room for a massive advertising arms race like the U.S. has, anyway. Brazil, the U.K. and Japan, among many others, simply don't allow candidates to purchase TV ads (but that doesn't mean zero ads — in some countries, like Japan, candidates each get equal, free, ad space).")

Public financing. "Public Campaign Financing; Why It Matters," Brennan Center for Justice, https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/reform-money-politics/public-campaign-financing ("Brennan Center for Justice has pioneered the most effective and promising solution to the problem of big money in politics: small donor public financing, a system in which public funds match and multiply small donations.")

Nick Thompson, "International Campaign Finance: How Do Countries Compare?" CNN, March 5, 2012, https://www.cnn.com/2012/01/24/world/global-campaign-finance/index.html ("In Norway, government funding accounted for 74% of political parties’ income in 2010, according to Statistics Norway. And unlike in the U.S., where candidates and their supporters can buy as much television time as they can afford, political ads are banned from television and radio.")

"Campaign Finance," Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_finance ("Other countries choose to use government funding to run campaigns. Funding campaigns from the government budget is widespread in South America and Europe.[10] The mechanisms for this can be quite varied, ranging from direct subsidy of political parties to government matching funds for certain types of private donations (often small donations) to exemption from fees of government services (e.g., postage) and many other systems as well. Supporters of government financing generally believe that the system decreases corruption; in addition, many proponents believe that government financing promotes other values, such as civic participation or greater faith in the political process. Not all government subsidies take the form of money; some systems require campaign materials (often air time on television) to be provided at very low rates to the candidates.")

Congresswoman Katie Porter. "Katie Porter," https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katie_Porter, ("[Katie Porter] is the U.S. representative from California's 47th congressional district since 2023, previously representing the 45th congressional district from 2019 to 2023. She is the first Democrat to be elected to represent the 45th district, covering much of south-central Orange County was born on January 3, 1974, in Fort Dodge, Iowa. She grew up on a farm in southern Iowa. . . . In 2005, she joined the faculty of the University of Iowa College of Law as an associate professor,[14] becoming a full professor there in 2011.[19]" Examples of substantive emails received by the author include: "Support 100 Black Men of America" (with an appeal for funds, not for herself, but for that organization), Feb 6; "Beyonce and Ticketmaster," (describing the problem and urging "the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Ticketmaster after the Taylor Swift ticket mess."), Feb. 4; and "Katie's New Amendment" (congressional amendment to allow Americans to "virtually testify" before the House Oversight Committee), Feb. 1)

Stock TV commercials. No source; personal experience. As a board member of the Democratic National Committee Harriman Communications Center, Washington, D.C., I participated in the effort to save candidates (and states' Democratic Parties) the expense (as I now recall of about $50,000) for the production of a TV commercial. The proposal was that stock footage would be prepared for a list of the issues candidates were addressing. Candidates could buy each commercial for about $500 (rather than $50,000), add a personal touch on the open and close, and have professional quality commercials. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the dates of those meetings or find any records.

# # #

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

What Happened to Radio?

Right-Wing Takeover of Radio
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, February 8, 2023, p. A6
NOTE: For space constraints, text [in brackets] was removed by editors; text (in parentheses) was added by editors.

How did millions of Americans come to believe that the components of authoritarian dictatorships will better protect their “freedoms” than our democracy?

The answers fill a long list. I’ve selected one: radio.

[Radio? That’s right, radio.]

Before radio, political consensus emerged from conversations, meetings, newspapers, and the occasional political speech on the village square.

With radio, a station owner could speak to the hundreds or thousands within the station’s signal area.

The 1920s and 1930s increased public awareness of the manipulative power of advertising and political propaganda. [After TV, Harvard economist Ken Galbraith declared radio and television to be “the prime instruments for the manipulation of consumer demand.”]

Ironically, the 1920s Members of Congress were more aware of the potential dangers of radio than their successors have been.

As Texas Congressman Luther Johnson [(no relation to President Johnson)] put it to his colleagues in 1926, “American thought and politics will be at the mercy of those who operate these stations. . . [If] placed in the hands of a single selfish group then woe be to those who dare to differ with them.”

The Radio Act of 1927, Communications Act of 1934, and FCC regulations constrained this potential threat to democracy. The public owned the airwaves, not broadcasters. Broadcasters needed an FCC license to use a frequency – initially limited to six months.

The granting and renewal of licenses turned on whether the station’s programming served “the public interest.” Specific FCC requirements gave meaning to those words.

The Fairness Doctrine required stations seek out local “controversial issues of public importance” and provide, not “equal time,” but a range of views. If stations gave one political candidate free time it triggered a right in opponents to an “equal opportunity.” Anyone attacked had a right of reply.

Other regulations encouraged diversity of views. Limitations on the number of stations one licensee could operate in a single market – or throughout the country. Restrictions on common ownership of newspapers and stations, or concentration of station ownership within a state or region.

This lasted roughly 60 years.

[So, what happened?]

What happened (then) was that Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing radio talk show hosts, and station owners carrying their programs, saw the Fairness Doctrine and ownership restrictions as a barrier to their goal of a nationwide, constant flow of unchallenged right-wing programming.
(If there be doubt about Limbaugh's conservative credentials: "In an unusual departure from protocol, Rush Limbaugh was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump during the State of the Union address. [It is] the country’s highest civilian honor." NY Times, Feb. 4, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/us/politics/rush-limbaugh-medal-of-freedom.html Photo credit: Golfing buddies, Trump and Limbaugh, at Trump's Golf Club; White House, Joyce Boghosian)

They successfully persuaded enough FCC commissioners and Members of Congress of their position, (and) the Fairness Doctrine was repealed, along with most ownership restrictions. Soon Clear Channel owned 1,207 stations in 201 of 287 radio markets, and the top 15 right-wing conservative radio talk show personalities were putting out 45 hours of unanswered assertions every day.

Millions of Americans, whose occupations were consistent with all-day radio listening, were getting an overload of a conservative perspective on America in workshops and kitchens, factory floors and restaurants, tractor and semi-truck cabs.

[That’s what happened.]

As the more moderate radio star Paul Harvey would say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Nicholas Johnson served as a Federal Communications Commission commissioner, 1966-1973. maiilbox@nicholasjohnson.org

# # #

January 6 Attack. Brian Duignan, “January 6 U.S Capitol Attack; Riot, Washington, D.C., U.S. [2021],” Britannica, Jan. 7, 2023 update (“Because its object was to prevent a legitimate president-elect from assuming office, the attack was widely regarded as an insurrection or attempted coup d’├ętat. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other law-enforcement agencies also considered it an act of domestic terrorism. . . . [Trump’s] false accusations were indirectly endorsed by several Republican members of Congress who expressed uncertainty about the election’s outcome or who simply refused to publicly acknowledge Biden’s victory. Their calculated reticence helped to spread false doubts about the integrity of the election among rank-and-file Republicans.”)

Radio Act of 1927. Stuart N. Brotman, Communications Law and Practice, 1995, 2006, Law Journal Press, https://www.google.com/books/edition/Communications_Law_and_Practice/FKnhFoQykdgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=radio+act+of+1927&pg=SA1-PA9&printsec=frontcover

Luther Johnson. “Luther Alexander Johnson,” Wikipedia, (“American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations. [If] a single selfish group is permitted to ... dominate these broadcasting stations throughout the country, then woe be to those who dare to differ with them." [67 Cong. Rec. 5558 (1926).”)

See generally, Nicholas Johnson, “Breaking Through Power: The Media; Harnessing Progressive Reform to 21st Century Media,” FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com, May 24, 2016, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2016/05/breaking-through-power-media.html (“Lord Reith’s preference for public over private ownership was reflected in the House floor debate about the Act. As Congressman Luther Johnson warned his colleagues, ‘American thought and . . . politics will be . . . at the mercy of those who operate these stations. . . . [If] placed in the hands of . . . a single selfish group . . . then woe be to those who dare to differ with them.’”)
Quoted from, Nicholas Johnson, “Forty Years of Wandering in the Wasteland; The Vast Wasteland Revisited Essays,” note 31, Federal Communications Law Journal, May, 2003, 55 F.C.L.J. 521 (2003), https://www.nicholasjohnson.org/writing/masmedia/55FCL521.html [Full Congressman Johnson quote in footnote 31: “American thought and American politics will be largely at the mercy of those who operate these stations. For publicity is the most powerful weapon that can be wielded in a Republic, and when such a weapon is placed in the hands of one, or a single selfish group is permitted to either tacitly or otherwise acquire ownership and dominate these broadcasting stations throughout the country, then woe be to those who dare to differ with them. It will be impossible to compete with them in reaching the ears of the American people.”]

Fairness Doctrine. Matt Stefon, “fairness doctrine,” Britannica, Aug. 16, 2017, https://www.legis.iowa.gov/docs/publications/ICRC/32.pdf (“In 1949 the commission promulgated a report, In the Matter of Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees . . . to promote ‘a basic standard of fairness’ in broadcasting. Licensees had the duty to devote airtime to fair and balanced coverage of controversial issues that were of interest to their home communities. Individuals who were the subject of editorials or who perceived themselves to be the subject of unfair attacks in news programming were to be granted an opportunity to reply. Also, candidates for public office were entitled to equal airtime.”)

“FCC Fairness Doctrine,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCC_fairness_doctrine (“The demise of this FCC rule has been cited as a contributing factor in the rising level of party polarization in the United States.[5][6]”

In 1938, a former Yankee Network employee named Lawrence J. Flynn challenged the license of John Shepard III's WAAB in Boston, and also lodged a complaint about WNAC. . . . [I][n 1941, the commission made a ruling that came to be known as the Mayflower Decision which declared that radio stations, due to their public interest obligations, must remain neutral in matters of news and politics, and they were not allowed to give editorial support to any particular political position or candidate.

In 1949, the FCC's Editorializing Report[8] repealed the Mayflower doctrine, which had forbidden editorializing on the radio since 1941, and laid the foundation for the fairness doctrine . . ..

In 1969, the United States courts of appeals, in an opinion written by Warren Burger, directed the FCC to revoke Lamar Broadcasting's license for television station WLBT due to the station's segregationist politics and ongoing censorship of NBC network news coverage of the U.S. civil rights movement.[15]

Conservative talk radio
The 1987 repeal of the fairness doctrine enabled the rise of talk radio that has been described as "unfiltered" divisive and/or vicious: "In 1988, a savvy former ABC Radio executive named Ed McLaughlin signed Rush Limbaugh — then working at a little-known Sacramento station — to a nationwide syndication contract. McLaughlin offered Limbaugh to stations at an unbeatable price: free. All they had to do to carry his program was to set aside four minutes per hour for ads that McLaughlin's company sold to national sponsors. The stations got to sell the remaining commercial time to local advertisers." According to The Washington Post, "From his earliest days on the air, Limbaugh trafficked in conspiracy theories, divisiveness, even viciousness" (e.g., "feminazis").[44] Prior to 1987 people using much less controversial verbiage had been taken off the air as obvious violations of the fairness doctrine.[45]

. . .

On August 22, 2011, the FCC voted to remove the rule that implemented the fairness doctrine, along with more than 80 other rules and regulations, from the Federal Register following an executive order by President Obama directing a "government-wide review of regulations already on the books" to eliminate unnecessary regulations.[4]”)

Ownership. “The FCC’s Rules and Policies Regarding Media Ownership, Attribution, and Ownership Diversity October 27, 2004 – December 16, 2016,” Congressional Reference Service, https://www.everycrsreport.com/reports/R43936.html

https://www1.udel.edu/nero/Radio/pdf_files/T&A_%20Media%20Ownership.pdf (“Clear Channel leads in radio broadcast station ownership with 1,207 stations reaching 201 out of 287 markets in the United States.”)

Right-Wing Radio. Google search: right wing domination of talk radio stations

Paul Matzko, “Talk Radio Is Turning Millions of Americans Into Conservatives; The medium is at the heart of Trumpism,” New York Times, Oct. 9, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/opinion/talk-radio-conservatives-trumpism.html (“By the early 2000s, it [the conservatism of talk radio] had embraced a version of conservatism that is less focused on free markets and small government and more focused on ethnonationalism and populism. It is, in short, the core of Trumpism — now and in the future, with or without a President Trump. . . . [J]ust the top 15 shows are putting out around 45 hours of content every day. . . . [T]he dedicated fan can listen to nothing but conservative talk radio all day, every day of the week, and never catch up. . . . Talk radio listeners make up a group at least three times as large as the N.R.A. and are just as committed to a particular vision of America. [Google search: “How many members in the NRA?” 5 million in Dec. 2018; = talk radio listeners  15 m]

Paul Matzko, “When Conservatives Forget the History of the Fairness Doctrine,” CATO Institute, Sept 2, 2021, https://www.cato.org/blog/when-conservatives-forget-history-fairness-doctrine (“But dedicated broadcasters like Limbaugh knew that imposing a rigorous Fairness Doctrine regime would demolish their core operating model. It is no accident that Limbaugh’s show did not receive national syndication until a few months after the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine.

That wariness about the effects of the Fairness Doctrine on conservative broadcasting extended to President Reagan. He might be better known for his screen presence, but Reagan was an old radio hand. Indeed, he delayed formally announcing his presidential candidacy for 1980 so that he could keep his daily radio show Viewpoint on the air on 286 stations nationwide as long as possible.

Their skepticism paid off. Repealing the Fairness Doctrine in 1987 enabled the rise of conservative‐dominated talk radio with vast political consequences. Without talk radio, it’s hard to imagine the success of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” in 1994 or the impeachment of Bill Clinton. And the tens of millions of regular talk radio listeners created a coherent audience that could be targeted later by conservative media entrepreneurs like Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes. For good or for ill, the conservative movement would look dramatically different today if the Fairness Doctrine had not been repealed.

. . . talk radio had become a key pillar of conservative political success.”)

Al Tompkins, “How Rush Limbaugh’s rise after the gutting of the fairness doctrine led to today’s highly partisan media; Limbaugh’s success after President Reagan declawed the doctrine, gave rise to others and provided encouragement for Fox News’ 1996 launch,” Poynter, Feb. 17, 2021, https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2021/how-rush-limbaughs-rise-after-the-gutting-of-the-fairness-doctrine-led-to-todays-highly-partisan-media/ (“Rush Limbaugh was more than a talk radio host. He was a key element in the development of the highly partisan journalism and other media that envelop us today.

Limbaugh’s talk radio program was not possible until the Federal Communications Commission relaxed the fairness doctrine.”)

Kevin M. Kruse and Julian Zelizer, “How policy decisions spawned today’s hyperpolarized media; The demise of the Fairness Doctrine played an underappreciated role in fomenting media tribalism,” The Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/17/how-policy-decisions-spawned-todays-hyperpolarized-media/ (“In 1987, the FCC announced that it would no longer enforce the Fairness Doctrine. . . . Almost overnight, the media landscape was transformed. The driving force was talk radio. In 1960, there were only two all-talk radio stations in America; by 1995, there were 1,130.”)

Repeal of ownership limits.

Google search: right-wing conservatives pressed FCC to repeal ownership limits

Nikki Finke, “FCC Ownership Rules Blamed For Total Dominance By Right-Wing Talk Radio,” Deadline, June 21, 2007, https://deadline.com/2007/06/fcc-ownership-rules-blamed-for-overwhelming-dominance-of-right-wing-talk-radio-2626/ (“The Center for American Progress and Free Press just released the first-of-its-kind statistical analysis of the political make-up of talk radio in the United States. It confirms that talk radio, one of the most widely used media formats in America, is dominated almost exclusively by conservatives. The new report entitled “The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio” blames the FCC for the current imbalance, in particular . . . the relaxation of ownership rules. . . .

Americans listened on average to 19 hours of radio per week in 2006. Among radio formats, the combined news/talk format leads all others. Through more than 1,700 stations across the nation, it reached 50 million listeners each week.

Of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners this spring, 91% of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative, and only 9% was progressive.”)

Eric Boehlert, “Former FCC chairman: Deregulation is a right-wing power grab; Reed Hundt says Monday's historic vote was ‘the culmination of the attack by the right on the media,’" Salon, May 31, 2003, https://www.salon.com/2003/05/31/fcc_4/ (“In a historic session on the future of the U.S. news media, Republicans on the Federal Communications Commission voted Monday to ease long-standing rules so that more and more of the nation's newspapers and broadcast stations can be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.

Underlying that agenda, Clinton-era FCC chairman Reed Hundt saw something more primal unfolding: an extraordinary conservative power grab that could shape the political landscape for generations.

For all the philosophical conflict over diversity in the media and the efficiency of the free market, Hunt told Salon, the vote is really about an alliance of interests between the political right and the corporate media. ‘Conservatives,’ he said, ‘hope ... that the major media will be their friends.’" . . .

The FCC has long had rules regulating media ownership, based on the assumption that the number of broadcast frequencies is limited. The regulations were designed to ensure that radio and television stations remained diverse, independent voices and could withstand predatory conglomerates. But on Monday the FCC dumped those rules.

. . .

At the time, Hundt was among the few to warn of the consequences. The new laws would allow "a few companies to buy all the radio licenses in the country," he said then. "I don't believe that's good for this industry or for this country."

His words proved prophetic. Since the law's passage, Clear Channel Communications, which in 1995 owned approximately 40 radio stations, has expanded to approximately 1,200 outlets, nearly 1,000 more than its closest competitor.

[Reed Hundt during interview:] “When Newt Gingrich was running the House of Representatives, effective in the fall of 1994, he called all the media owners together in a room down on Capitol Hill, and according to what people who were there told me, he told them he'd give them relaxed rules allowing media concentration in exchange for favorable coverage. Now I wasn't there, but that's what they said they understood he meant.”)

Jeffrey M. Berry and Sarah Sobieraj, “Understanding the Rise of Talk Radio,” Political Science and Politics, Cambridge University Press, Oct. 18, 2011, https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics/article/abs/understanding-the-rise-of-talk-radio/25394FEA4F469026712C17BE514A786C (“The number of radio stations airing political talk shows—predominantly conservative talk radio—has surged in the past few years. This massive change in the radio industry says something about the demand for such shows, but attributing the rise of talk radio to a corresponding rise in conservative popular opinion is misleading. We argue that this remarkable growth is better explained by the collision of two changes that have transformed the radio business: deregulation and the mainstreaming of digital music technologies. Regulatory changes have shifted much of radio production and control from local to mass production (managed by industry giants such as Clear Channel Communications) and created a context ripe for nationally syndicated hosts such as Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Mark Levin.”)

Rest of the story. “The Rest of the Story,” Wikimedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rest_of_the_Story (“The Rest of the Story was a Monday-through-Friday radio program originally hosted by Paul Harvey.[1] . . . The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line, ‘And now you know...the rest of the story.’")

And see, “Paul Harvey,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Harvey

# # #

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Cutting Cost Centers

Begin With Budget Cuts to Military
Nicholas Johnson
The Gazette, January 25, 2023, p. A6

Republican Grover Norquist thought government should shrink enough he could drown it in a bathtub.

The current House seems to share that goal. Where should they begin?

Peter Drucker was called the founder of modern management. American and Japanese businesses owe him big time for his proposed reforms. One was the concept of cost centers, tackle the big stuff.

So what’s the largest cost center? That’s easy. Military appropriations.

We want to protect our people and borders. There are good reasons for having a military. The question is: how much?

The administration’s request for $733 billion is more than the defense spending of the next nine nations combined! Might that be figurative and literal overkill? [Photo credit: U.S. Strategic Command; the ultimate cost of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, R&D and construction, was $17.5 billion. See "SOURCES," below.]

We have 750 bases in 80 countries. Programs and operations are so vast few if any know how much money went where or what happened to it. Accountants say it’s simply impossible to audit the military.

As the House’s own website reports, “the founders felt that war should be difficult to enter.” They believed giving the House sole constitutional power “to declare war” would increase that difficulty. Members would be paying the price financially and with their children.

Today? Not so much. There’s no draft. Congress can be generous — $64 billion for Lockheed, $42 billion for Raytheon. In return, defense contractors are generous campaign donors. This year Congress boosted its generosity with $58 billion more than the $773 billion requested.

Defense spending is designed to keep things from happening outside our borders. Civilians don’t use or even touch the weapons.

Domestic spending makes things happen inside our borders. The Declaration of Independence says the purpose of government is to secure our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. These rights not only increase our quality of life with things we can touch and use — education, food, health care, housing, and highways -- they improve our economy.

What’s worse, there’s evidence our defense spending is not doing us that much good.

As Abraham Maslow wrote, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” How’s that hammer been working for us in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere?

China isn’t perfect. Maybe we aren’t either. But China is helping build other countries’ infrastructure, economic growth — and China’s access to their resources. The U.S. showcasing “my military is bigger than yours” may create more wartime allies — and wars — but few true friends.

Some of America’s “best and brightest” are at the top of the military. They know the human costs of war. They approach it with the analytical rigor of the Powell Doctrine. (Questions like: “What non-military strategies might be better? What’s our exit strategy? Why will conditions become, and stay, better after we leave?”)

We pride ourselves on “civilian control of the military.” There are times when we might have been better off with military control of the civilians.

Defense appropriations. The best place to start cutting cost centers.

Nicholas Johnson, when U.S. Maritime Administrator, had some responsibility for military sealift during the Vietnam War. mailbox@nicholasjohnson.org

Grover Norquist. “Grover Norquist,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grover_Norquist (“Norquist favors dramatically reducing the size of government.[12] He has been noted for his widely quoted quip from a 2001 interview with NPR's Morning Edition: "I'm not in favor of abolishing the government. I just want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub."[55][56]”)

Cost Centers/Peter Drucker. Peter Drucker, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Drucker ("the founder of modern management." [2] [ Denning, Steve (August 29, 2014). "The Best Of Peter Drucker". Forbes.] . . . "The fact is," Drucker wrote in his 1973 Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, "that in modern society there is no other leadership group but managers. If the managers of our major institutions, and especially of business, do not take responsibility for the common good, no one else can or will."[25])

Troy Segal, “Profit Center: Characteristics vs. a Cost Center, With Examples,” Investopedia, Dec. 07, 2020, https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/profitcentre.asp ("Peter Drucker coined the term "profit center" in 1945.")

Sayantan Mukhopadhyay, "Cost Center vs Profit Center," WallStreetMojo, https://www.wallstreetmojo.com/cost-center-vs-profit-center/ ("Cost Center is that department within the organization responsible for identifying and maintaining the organization’s cost as low as possible by analyzing the processes and making necessary changes in the company. . . . Management guru, Peter Drucker first coined the term “profit center” in 1945. After a few years, Peter Drucker corrected himself by saying that there are no profit centers in business, and that was his biggest mistake. He then said that there are only cost centers in a business and no profit center. If any profit center existed for a business, that would be a customer’s check that hadn’t been bounced.")

The USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Photo from Alexander Timewell, "Making History on USS Gerald R. Ford as Deployment Nears," U.S. Strategic Command, Oct. 4, 2022, https://www.stratcom.mil/Media/News/News-Article-View/Article/3179395/making-history-on-uss-gerald-r-ford-as-deployment-nears/ and see https://media.defense.gov/2022/Oct/04/2003090918/1920/1080/0/220413-N-OH637-1019.JPG
Cost: Fox Van Allen, "Meet the US Navy's new $13 billion aircraft carrier; The USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) is the most technologically advanced warship ever built," CNET, Dec. 10, 2019, https://www.cnet.com/pictures/meet-the-navys-new-13-billion-aircraft-carrier/null/ ("The Ford itself will cost US taxpayers $12.8 billion in materials and labor. This doesn't take into account the $4.7 billion spent in research and development of the new carrier class." Total $17.5 billion)

Defense Appropriations. “U.S. Defense Spending Compared to Other Countries,” May 11, 2022, https://www.pgpf.org/chart-archive/0053_defense-comparison (chart: “The United States spends more on defense than the next 9 countries combined” [$801 B vs. $777 B])

Bill Chappell, “The Pentagon Has Never Passed An Audit. Some Senators Want To Change That,” NPR, May 19, 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/05/19/997961646/the-pentagon-has-never-passed-an-audit-some-senators-want-to-change-that (“The Pentagon and the military industrial complex have been plagued by a massive amount of waste, fraud and financial mismanagement for decades. That is absolutely unacceptable," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who co-sponsored the bill with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, along with Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Despite having trillions of dollars in assets and receiving hundreds of billions in federal dollars annually, the department has never detailed its assets and liabilities in a given year. For the past three financial years, the Defense Department's audit has resulted in a "Disclaimer of Opinion," meaning the auditor didn't get enough accounting records to form an assessment. . . . But critics note that all federal agencies, including the Pentagon, have been under the same requirement to undergo an independent financial audit since the early 1990s. Every other federal department has satisfied audit requirements since fiscal 2013, when the Department of Homeland Security had its first clean audit.”)

“FY23 Defense Budget Breakdown; Army, Air Force, and Navy-Marine Corps budget and contracting priorities,” Bloomberg Government, https://about.bgov.com/defense-budget-breakdown/#:~:text=2022%2D2023%20Defense%20budget%20breakdown&text=The%20request%20for%20the%20fiscal,appropriation%20for%20this%20fiscal%20year (“President Joe Biden’s proposed $773 billion budget for the Defense Department . . .. ‘Yearly U.S. Defense spending on contractors; Total defense spending on contractors in the past five years,’ 2021 – $408.8 Billion, 2020 – $448.9 Billion”)

John M. Donnelly, “Pentagon: Hill added $58 billion to current defense budget; Additions included money for disasters, war in Ukraine, ships and more,” Roll Call, July 14, 2022, https://rollcall.com/2022/07/14/pentagon-hill-added-58-billion-to-current-defense-budget/ (“Defense Department appropriations legislation for the current fiscal year funded more than $58 billion worth of military projects that the administration did not request, according to a first-of-its-kind Pentagon report.”)

“Defense Primer: Department of Defense Contractors,” Congressional Reference Service, Dec. 19, 2018, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF10600/4#:~:text=As%20of%20October%202018%2C%20USCENTCOM,Afghanistan%2C%20Syria%2C%20and%20Iraq. “List of Defense Contractors,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_defense_contractors

“Military-Industrial Complex,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military%E2%80%93industrial_complex

“GOVERNMENT CONTRACTOR DEMOGRAPHICS AND STATISTICS IN THE US,” Zippia, https://www.zippia.com/government-contractor-jobs/demographics/ (“How Many Government Contractor Are There In The Us? There are over 5,138 Government Contractors in the United States.”)

Military bases. Doug Bandow, “750 Bases in 80 Countries Is Too Many for Any Nation: Time for the US to Bring Its Troops Home, CATO Institute, Oct. 4, 2021, https://www.cato.org/commentary/750-bases-80-countries-too-many-any-nation-time-us-bring-its-troops-home (“some 750 American military facilities remain open in 80 nations and territories around the world. No other country in human history has had such a dominant presence. . . . Washington has nearly three times as many bases as embassies and consulates. America also has three times as many installations as all other countries combined. . . . “These bases are costly in a number of ways: financially, politically, socially, and environmentally. US bases in foreign lands often raise geopolitical tensions, support undemocratic regimes, and serve as a recruiting tool for militant groups opposed to the US presence and the governments its presence bolsters. In other cases, foreign bases are being used and have made it easier for the United States to launch and execute disastrous wars, including those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.”)

Top Defense Contractors. “Top 100 Defense Companies for 2022,” Defense News, https://people.defensenews.com/top-100/ (Top 5 with Defense Revenue in billions: Lockheed Martin ($64.4), Raytheon Technologies ($42), Boeing ($35), Northrop Grumman ($31.4), General Dynamics ($31))

Founders’ intentions. U.S. House of Representatives, History, Art & Archives, “Power to Declare War,” https://history.house.gov/Institution/Origins-Development/War-Powers/ (“Like many powers articulated in the U.S. Constitution, Congress’ authority to declare war was revolutionary in its design, and a clear break from the past when a handful of European monarchs controlled the continent’s affairs. . . . Like George Mason of Virginia, the founders felt that war should be difficult to enter, and they expected congressional debate to restrain the war-making process. . . . For the Members, to declare war against a foreign power is to send their constituents, their neighbors, their family, and even themselves into harm’s way.”)

Constitutional provisions. “The Congress shall have Power To . . . provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” —U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 8, clause 1

“The Congress shall have Power . . . To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; “To provide and maintain a Navy; “To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress” —U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 8, clauses 11–16

Declaration of Independence. National Archives, Milestone Documents, “Declaration of Independence (1776),” https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/declaration-of-independence (“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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”)

Our hammer. “Law of the Instrument,” Wikipedia.org (“The law of the instrument, law of the hammer,[1] Maslow's hammer (or gavel), or golden hammer[a] is a cognitive bias that involves an over-reliance on a familiar tool. Abraham Maslow wrote in 1966, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail."[2])

The Powell Doctrine. Nicholas Johnson, “The Powell Doctrine” in “Afghanistan: Our Unaffordable War to Nowhere,” FromDC2Iowa.blogspot.com, Aug. 29, 2017, https://fromdc2iowa.blogspot.com/2017/08/afghanistan-our-unaffordable-war-to.html#powell

“Powell Doctrine,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powell_Doctrine (“The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States: Is a vital national security interest threatened? Do we have a clear attainable objective? Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed? Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted? Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement? Have the consequences of our action been fully considered? Is the action supported by the American people? Do we have genuine broad international support?[2]”)

Eisenhower’s Military-Industrial Complex. National Archives, Milestone Documents, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address (1961), Transcript, Jan. 17, 1961, https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/president-dwight-d-eisenhowers-farewell-address (“America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment. . . . there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. . . . This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. . . . only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together. . . . this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. . . . [The conference] table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield. . . . Together we must learn how to compose difference, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. . . . To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing inspiration:

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”)

Speech writer Malcolm Moos. “Malcolm Moos,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Moos (“Moos joined President Eisenhower's staff as a special assistant in 1957 and became his chief speech writer in 1958. Among the many speeches Moos wrote for President Eisenhower, he wrote Eisenhower's valedictory speech which warned of the influence of the military-industrial complex in 1961.[3]”)

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