Kavanaugh Accusations, Trump Intel Release, Trade War, SCOTUS & Anonymous Donations

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This week, Mike and Jay open the show with a look at the accusation of attempted rape leveled at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. The Guys have a lot of differences of opinion on this issue, though they do agree on the importance of a process that is fair to both Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

Next is a discussion of President Trump’s call to release intelligence related to the Russia investigation. Jay advances that argument that President Trump is lying when he said he hasn’t read the documents and that the president is timing his order for maximum media impact and the greatest political benefit.

After that, the Guys talk about the latest in the ongoing trade war with China. Mike points out that the best possible outcome for the United States would be President Trump being right about his risky, unorthodox strategy. Jay adds that even if Trump is right regarding China, his trade strategy with our EU and Canadian allies still seems highly suspect.

Then Mike and Jay discuss an important federal court ruling on political contribution disclosure rules. Mike thinks the ruling is both an example of what happens when Congress delegates too much authority to regulators, as well as a win for transparency. Jay agrees on the delegation issue, but has his doubts about the wisdom of the ruling, as well as whether it will be affirmed on appeal.

Our listener mail question this week comes from Don, who asks if terms limits might make government more responsive and effective.

Help Mike decide on the topic of his next book by taking this super-quick one question survey. (The survey is open until Friday, September 28.)

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com/support.

Michele Gelfand on Rule Makers & Rule Breakers

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Mike talks to University of Maryland cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand about her new book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World.

Topics Mike and Michele discuss include:

  • the importance of culture in understanding politics
  • why some cultures are ‘tight’ and others are ‘loose’
  • the advantages and disadvantages of tightness and looseness
  • tight culture support for ‘loose’ Donald Trump
  • the geography of tightness and looseness in the United States
  • threat perception, political ideology, and tightness
  • if the United States should be tighter or looser than it is
  • how tight and loose cultures can better communicate
  • and lots more

Follow Michele Gelfand on Twitter

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com/support.

Woodward, Op-Eds, Cruz, Canada, and Manafort

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Trey and Ken this week start off the show by looking at both the content and the fallout from Bob Woodward’s new book Fear. Both are fascinated with what it might mean for the organizational structure of the White House. Ken suggests that the drama of taking papers of the president’s desk is probably overplayed.

Relatedly, Trey and Ken then look at the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed. In uncommon agreement, although for slightly different reasons, both Guys agree that the author should simply have resigned and gone public with his criticism of the president instead of continuing to engage with a president who is “anti-democratic.” Ken and Trey also suggest it is undemocratic to try and undo the president’s agenda.

Next The Guys turn to the tight race Ted Cruz faces in Texas. The big question is: is this closeness related to the actions of Ted Cruz or is it part of larger demographic shifts?

Then Trey and Ken look at the most recent NAFTA developments. Specifically the bilateral agreement with Mexico and the remaining issues with Canada. Ken points out it is unlikely to move forward, but Trey wonders if Democrats in the Senate might not shift to deal a blow to a free trade agreement.

The last issue is the Manafort plea deal. Ken has a unique take arguing that Manafort may be trying to angle for a better deal and, perhaps even a pardon.

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com/support.

Larry Bartels on Democracy for Realists

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Mike talks to Vanderbilt University political scientist Larry Bartels about his book (co-authored with Christopher Achen) Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government.

Topics Mike and Larry discuss include:

– identity politics
– tribalism
– the ‘folk theory’ of democracy and why it’s wrong
– inattentive, uninformed, and irrational voters
– if the problem of ‘bad voters’ has been getting worse recently
– if polarization is really such a big deal
– the potential problem of too much democracy
– what we can do to get more responsive government

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com/support.

Kavanaugh Hearings, ‘Resistance’ Inside the White House, Arizona’s New (Old) Senator, Tech Threats

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This week, Mike and Jay open the show with discussion of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. They agree that the hearings are almost entirely political theater at this point and that everyone’s mind is made up. Mike argues that despite this, Democrats’ claim that they should be given sufficient time to review all of the potentially relevant documents relating to Kavanaugh’s career in public service is a good one. Jay is skeptical.

Next is a look at leaked material from journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book on the Trump administration as well as the bombshell New York Times Op-Ed in which an anonymous senior White House staffer suggested that he and others like him are actively working to frustrate parts of President Trump’s agenda. Mike and Jay think it would be in the best interests of the country if this anonymous source revealed himself. While Mike is strongly against almost everything that President Trump has done, he doesn’t believe that Senator Elizabeth Warren and others on the left are right in calling for the potential removal of Trump through the 25th Amendment, as in Mike’s reading of the amendment, it doesn’t apply to President Trump (though impeachment and removal might).

After that the Guys evaluate the choice of former Arizona Senator John Kyl as the replacement for John McCain. They share the views of almost everyone outside the extremes that this was a solid choice, though Mike of course laments that McCain wasn’t replaced with someone equally if not more liberal (a relative term, to be sure).

Finally, Mike and Jay discuss the testimony of Facebook and Twitter on Capitol Hill regarding free speech and government regulation, potentially anti-competitive behavior, as well as the threat posed by voting systems lacking paper trails.

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com/support.

Do Never-Trumpers Skew the Numbers? and other questions answered

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Do Never-Trumpers Skew the Numbers? and other questions

In this week of Ask the Politics Guys supporters ask Trey and Mike their most pressing questions. First they address the issue of if Trump’s support among Republicans is so high because never-Trump Republicans are leaving.

Next the Guys turn to a question about how alternative voting methods might effect the number of parties that exist, they also address the seeming impersonal nature of voting in a proportional representation system.

After that Trey and Mike respond to a more personal question and explain how they ended up as political scientists. Both connected in college, but fascinatingly Mike was Trey’s professor!

Next the Guys look to how tariffs will impact midwestern farm states in the upcoming midterms and, unfortunately, think it is unlikely to have an immediate impact.

Finally Trey and Mike talk about why the show has not addressed more of the polling and the horse race of the campaign yet.

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com/support.

McCain’s Legacy, NAFTA, Google, and Printed Guns

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Trey and Mike open this week looking at Senator John McCain’s legacy in the American political system. Whether you gave money to his campaign like Mike, or disagreed with his policies like Trey, both Guys agree that McCain was a honest Senator who worked tirelessly for his vision of a better United States. The question remains how the Senators of the future will — or can — carry on that legacy.

Next Mike and Trey turn to NAFTA renegotiation. It appears that Mexico and the U.S. are close to a bilateral deal. Canada, although it missed a deadline on Friday, could still be part of an agreement. It is unclear what all the specifics will be or if it will be a new multinational trade deal or two bilateral agreements.

The Guys then turn to Trump and Google’s spat this week. Trump accused Google of advancing Obama over himself and Google quickly fired back that it has followed an identical policy for all Presidents. This spat may have been good cover for the Google and MasterCard agreement coming out this week.

Finally Trey and Mike turn to the ongoing legal questions surrounding 3D printing guns. As the stay continues on releasing them Trey argues it may be time to look to the history of pornography as a blueprint for how to address the issue.

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to, politicsguys.com/support.