America, Compromised: Lawrence Lessig on Corruption in America

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Mike talks with Lawrence Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Professor Lessig co-founded Creative Commons in 2001 and is the author of numerous books, including Republic, Lost: Version 2.0 which he and Mike talked about on the podcast a few years ago (here’s a link to that interview). In this episode, they discuss about his recent book America, Compromised.

Topics covered include:

  • why the Mafia isn’t corrupt, but Congress is
  • raising the cost of corrupting Congress
  • giving American citizens Democracy Vouchers
  • why we should pay members of Congress a lot more
  • good people in the bad institution of Congress
  • corruption in the financial industry
  • why no financial institution heads were prosecuted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis
  • corruption in political media
  • and lots more!

Lawrence Lessig on Twitter

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Impeachment, Election Results, and the State of the Democratic Field

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Having heard from our listeners, this week we have a special three-person edition of The Politics Guys with Will Miller, Michael Baranowski, and Jay Carson. The Guys start off the show with a lengthy discussion around current developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Much of the discussion focuses on the application of process and differences between an investigation and an impeachment inquiry. Mike posits that he believes what Trump has been accused of merits an impeachment inquiry and will merit removal from office if proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. Will and Jay both agree—in theory—that the allegations merit some form of investigation but are concerned about the rush to impeachment as opposed to formally looking into the allegations in a public venue first. Given all of the unusual variables in this case—the use of a personal attorney and having it all based on a whistleblower—it is even more difficult to determine what could happen next. All three note the need to have a process that can be trusted in place. Will continues to worry about what Jay terms a permanent impeachment campaign becoming a way of life in American politics while Mike argues that if the president isn’t behaving like Trump that shouldn’t be a future problem.

Next, the Guys turn to discussing Tuesday’s election results. Jay begins by pointing out that he has difficulty in putting much stock in the results of off-year elections with historically lower turnout. Will points to the statewide results in Virginia as continuing evidence of a shift of Democrats to affluent suburbs that can change elections—especially, as Jay notes, in new districts. Mike echoes this and rightly suggests the 2020 race may come down to whether Trump can turnout rural voters at a higher rate than Democrats can these new suburban voters. The Guys discuss Bevin’s loss in Kentucky but also acknowledge that for such a poor candidate, not even Trump’s support was likely to resonate, which is evidenced by Republican performance down-ballot. And even though the Republican was only able to carry Mississippi by 6 points (compared to 17 for Trump), it was one of the strongest Democratic challengers that could have been brought forward.

Lastly, Mike, Will and Jay discuss the state of the Democrats heading into 2020. First, Mike explains how Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for all plan is a political document that even Democrats acknowledge has no chance of being enacted. He also questions the impact this has since it will be easy for Trump to denounce the plan in a general election if her own party is doing so already. Further, Mike pushes for Democrats to adopt a more centrist pitch that focuses on opportunity and growth. Will and Jay point out that despite progressives clamoring that they are so large in number, that Joe Biden—as a centrist candidate—is out-performing both Warren and Sanders in polls versus Trump in key battleground states. Will believes if progressives continue to speak louder than their numbers can support, they will only help Trump gain a second term. Lastly, Jay wonders about whose votes Michael Bloomberg might take when he enters the race while Mike points to the strangeness that the general election could be between two New York-based, party-switching, billionaires in their 70s with a history of sexual harassment allegations.

Before we start putting together our show host schedule for 2020, we wanted to get your thoughts on our hosts. We’ve put together a short survey for that purpose at the below link. It’s only a few questions, plus some comment boxes if you want to comment on your answers. We do this show for you, and so getting your responses to this will be extremely helpful. Thanks!

Politics Guys Hosts – Listener Survey:

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Scott Adams on how ‘Loserthink’ is Ruining America

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Mike talks with Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular comic strips of all time. In recent years, Adams has become an important part of the political conversation through his commentary on Donald Trump as well as the bestselling book Win Bigly. He’s got a new book out called Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America, which he and Mike discuss on the show.

Topics Mike & Scott discuss include:

  • Donald Trump as the ‘most psychologically capable leader we’ve ever had’
  • why people think like losers
  • the value of mockery
  • the loserthink surrounding climate science
  • why Adams watches both Fox and CNN (as painful as that may sound)
  • how and why to think like an engineer
  • the use of hyperbole and thinking like a leader
  • the ‘48 hour rule’ the ‘20 year rule’ and the ‘magic question’

Scott Adams on Twitter

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Impeachment Rules, Baghdadi Dead, Another Fed Rate Cut, Democratic Race

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The show kicks off with Mike & Jay discussing the House resolution on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Jay says that it partly addresses procedural fairness issues many Republicans have been raising, but that it’s still not fair enough to the president. Mike disagrees, arguing that the president will get every procedural protection he should – and then some – during a Senate trial. Things get a bit heated as Mike and Jay discuss whether there’s sufficient evidence to impeach the president and they come to differing conclusions as to what constitutes ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’.

Next, the Guys turn to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. special forces raid. Jay loved the president’s comments about the raid, which he felt made for great political theater. Mike points out that the raid was made possible by intelligence help from the Kurds, and argues that we need a continued presence in the region to make these critical relationships possible. They both agree that this is good news for the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.

Then it’s a turn to some contradictory economic news – another good jobs report, wages exceeding inflation, and a record-setting economic expansion, but with overall growth down and businesses reluctant to spend. Both Mike and Jay believe the slowdown is due in no small part to President Trump’s trade war with China. Mike makes a case that the president might actually be working against his short term electoral interest by pushing the trade war, though Jay points out that that’s likely why Trump is pushing so hard for Fed rate cuts.

The show closes with a discussion of some important developments in the Democratic presidential nomination race – Beto O’Rourke pulling out, Kamala Harris cutting staff and going all-in on Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren releasing details on how she’d pay for her Medicare for All plan.

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