Longest Shutdown Ever, National Emergency(?), Leaving Syria

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Mike and Will open with a continued discussion of the government shutdown. With employees now not receiving pay for the first time, it feels as if it has reached a new level of seriousness. Neither Mike nor Will see an easy path to the shutdown coming to a close, although they do agree with the premise of Rob Portman’s proposed legislation to prevent future shutdowns.

Then they turn to a more detailed discussion of Trump’s first Oval Office address. Discussion focuses on both the idea of the address and its overall substance—including considering the pros and cons of building a wall. While neither are entirely convinced the address deserved national play, Will believes it was one of Trump’s better addresses while Mike still questions Trump’s use of facts—especially when speaking off-the-cuff and in campaign mode. Both agree that there isn’t an inherent media bias in allowing Trump to make this address while not airing Obama’s 2014 immigration address. Will believes part of the decision related to timing and Trump’s lack of previous Oval Office addresses while Mike adds that the uncertainty surrounding what Trump might say is good for viewership.

From an effectiveness perspective, both Mike and Will raise doubt on whether a full border wall will have the desired impact. Mike believes stronger border control through agents or electronic monitoring would do just as much good while Will believes the symbolism of a wall is as important as its function. Will does argue that criminal activity by individuals who come across the border with the sole intent of immediately returning to Mexico could be thwarted by a physical wall.

Finally, they turn to Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria. Beyond just examining the possible impact of withdrawal, they discuss the reasons for a slow withdrawal, why the United States was ever interested in Syria to begin, and the future of our relationship with Turkey. Mike argues that a rushed withdrawal could lead to long-term issues in the already complex region while Will worries about whether Turkey can actually be trusted to execute at this time.

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Patrick Deneen on Why Liberalism Failed

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Mike talks to Patrick Deneen, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. In his book Why Liberalism Failed, Deneen argues not only that liberalism has failed (which you probably picked up from the title) but more importantly, he argues that it failed because it was based on a fundamentally unsound understanding of human beings.

In this talk, Mike and Professor Deneen discuss the individual autonomy, liberalism & capitalism, how liberalism’s success led to its failure, virtue ethics & Judeo-Christian values, education, Alexis de Tocqueville, Wendell Berry, and lots more.

Patrick Deneen on Twitter

Recommended Reading:

Articles
The World Is Better Than Ever. Why Are We Miserable? (Andrew Sullivan on Steven Pinker and Patrick Deneen)
Can Democracy Save Us? (Ryszard Legutko’s review of Why Liberalism Failed.)
The Dead End of the Left? Augusto Del Noce’s Critique of Modern Politics.

Books
The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. Christopher Lasch
The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics. Christopher Lasch
The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations. Christopher Lasch
The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. Ryszard Legutko
The Crisis of Modernity. Augusto Del Noce
The Age of Secularization. Augusto Del Noce
The World-Ending Fire. Wendell Berry
Democracy in America. Alexis de Tocqueville

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Shutdown & Border Security, The New Congress, 2020 Presidential Field

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Mike and Jay open with a look at the ongoing government shutdown due to the impasse over border wall funding. The Guys actually agree as to their preferred solution – a package that includes funds for border security and comprehensive immigration reform. Neither Mike nor Jay sees this as coming to a quick and happy ending given the forces on both sides pushing against any compromise.

Next is a discussion of the 116th Congress, focusing on the new Democratic House majority. Mike comments on record number of women, noting that around 90 percent of them are Democrats. He believes that a more female Congress is a good thing, a view Jay doesn’t entirely share.

After that, the Guys discuss Elizabeth Warren’s announcement of her presidential candidacy and look at the other top contenders. They also discuss whether or not Mitt Romney, or any other establishment Republican, is likely to challenge Donald Trump for the GOP presidential nomination.

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Vote Fraud, Mandatory Voting, Term Limits, Sneaky Legislatures, Gerrymandering

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On this listener mail episode, Mike and Jay discuss:

  • If Jay is spreading vote fraud falsehoods to advance a right-wing agenda.
  • Two international views on mandatory voting
  • If term limits lead to more courageous politicians
  • The sneaky (but legal) way the Michigan legislature undid a minimum wage initiative
  • The difficulty of correcting gerrymandering through elections

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

Government Shutdown, Mattis Resigns, Criminal Justice Reform, Obamacare Declared Unconstitutional

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Mike and Jay open their final show of 2018 with a discussion of the partial government shutdown caused by President Trump’s unwillingness to sign a spending bill that doesn’t include at least $5 billion in border wall funding. House Republicans obliged him, but there aren’t enough votes in the Senate and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to heed Trump’s advice to abandon the filibuster to pass the bill over Democrats’ objections. Jay believes that this issue will ultimately be a winning one for Republicans because we need better border security. Mike argues that what we really need isn’t better security, but better immigration policy.

Next, the Guys talk about President Trump’s declaration of victory over ISIS in Syria and announcement that U.S. troops will be withdrawing. This was quickly followed by the resignation of Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. Mike and Jay agree that this was a very bad move by Trump, and one that will benefit Russia. They also believe that the president’s continued erratic behavior will only make it more difficult to attract ‘the best people’ to top administration jobs.

After that, they turn to some good policy news – the passage of the ‘First Step Act’, a significant reform of the criminal justice system. Mike and Jay applaud the measure, with Mike noting that the US leads the world in incarceration and that with only 13 percent of all U.S. prisoners being held in federal prisons, much more still needs to be done.

The show closes with a discussion of the recent ruling declaring the entirety of Obamacare unconstitutional. Mike and Jay agree that the judge in this case almost certainly overstepped, though Jay believes that the mandate portion of the law is in fact unconstitutional and that this portion of the ruling will be upheld on appeal.

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

Tyler Cowen on Stubborn Attachments to Prosperity and Freedom

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Mike talks with Tyler Cowen, a professor of Economics at George Mason University, blogger at Marginal Revolution, host of the ‘Conversations with Tyler‘ podcast, regular contributor at ‘Bloomberg Opinion‘, and author of a number of books including The Great Stagnation, Average is Over, The Complacent Class, and most recently Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals.

Topics Mike & Tyler discuss include:
– Why we should focus more on economic growth.
– The importance of sustainable growth.
– How future people should be valued.
– Why human rights should trump even economic growth.
– Economic growth and human happiness.
– Tyler’s specific policy recommendations.

Follow Tyler on Twitter

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Chief of Staff, Cohen Sentencing, A Not Nice Photo Op, Huawei Arrest

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Trey is joined this week by Athena King. The two begin by looking at the ongoing developments in the roll of chief of staff. Several individuals, including this week Chris Christie, have turned down the position. Announced just before the show, Mick Mulvaney is named new chief of staff. Trey talks about the long-standing difficulty of the role. Both hosts question what Mulvaney hopes to gain and what we have learned about the White House through the chief of staff turnover.

Next Trey and Athena turn to Michael Cohen’s sentencing and the aftermath. The hosts explore Cohen’s statements on TV and President Trump’s Twitter response. It leads to a broader discussion of what comes next.

After the Cohen conversation the pair turn to the not so nice photo op. Trey firmly believes it was Trump at his best — taking control and understanding media better than his opponents. Athena thinks it was a mixed bag and the two argue a bit about who was best served by the exchange and if it marks a longer term change for strategy.

Finally, Trey and Athena discuss the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei. The talk about China’s retaliation against Canada, the ongoing trade war with China, and if recent changes to policy in China are a Trump win as he suggests.

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

Complex Government, Gerrymandering, Moral Foundations of Politics, Election Misconduct, Mandatory Voting

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In this listener comment show, Mike & Jay address questions concerning:

  • The complexity of the U.S. system of government.
  • Minimizing partisan advantage in redistricting.
  • The moral foundations of conservative and liberal thinking.
  • If Jay was wrong about election misconduct in Florida.
  • Whether mandatory voting is a good idea.

What Mike’s Reading
The inexhaustible desire to keep talking about Marx

What Jay’s Reading
President George W. Bush’s eulogy for his father.

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

Bush Funeral, NC Vote Fraud, Lame Duck Legislation, Khashoggi Killing, Trump and China

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This week’s show opens with Jay’s thoughts on the life and presidency of George H.W. Bush. Mike, who like Jay greatly admired Bush, adds that it wasn’t long after Bush left office that the GOP took a decisive turn toward a nastier, more in-your-face approach to politics that he thinks was a wrong turn for the party and the country.

After that comes a discussion of alleged absentee ballot vote fraud in North Carolina. Both Mike and Jay have concerns about it, with Mike pointing out that this isn’t the sort of fraud targeted by all of the Republican anti vote fraud measures of recent years. Mike argues that that’s because absentee voting tends to favor Republicans, and the whole vote fraud crackdown has been a cover for suppressing Democratic turnout. Jay disagrees, arguing that in-person fraud has been the initial focus because it’s easier to address. He adds that there should be less voting by mail, a position Mike strongly disagrees with, over concerns with unfair barriers to participation.

Then it’s a look at actions taken by the Wisconsin and Michigan lame duck Republican legislatures to limit the power of incoming Democratic officials. Mike says that this sort of kneecapping of the other party, while done by both sides, is done more by Republicans. Jay isn’t so sure, and doesn’t really buy Mike’s argument that this violates an important political norm.

Next is discussion of CIA Director Gina Haspel’s briefing to Senators about the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mike and Jay agree that the evidence seems compelling, but they disagree about what the consequences should be. Mike argues for cutting off all military aid and weapons sales to the Saudis, at least for a while, whereas Jay thinks that might be too damaging to the important US / Saudi Arabia relationship.

The show closes with the U.S. / China trade war. Once again, it seems that President Trump has overstated what he accomplished, with Jay pointing out that Trump’s injection of so much uncertainty into the trade relationship has been tough on businesses. The Guys also discuss what effect the arrest of the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei might have on U.S. / China relations.

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

Trump vs The Fed, Compulsory Voting, Underreported Bipartisanship, Hidden Tribes

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Will and Mike open the show with an analysis of President Trump’s criticism of Fed Chair Jerome Powell. As part of the discussion, they walk through the role of the Fed and the differences between fiscal and monetary policy. They agree that Trump’s politicization of the Fed is potentially problematic for both the short and long-term.

Next is listener mail, where Will and Mike answer questions regarding compulsory voting and the media’s lack of focus on bipartisanship in American politics.

Lastly, Mike talks about an extended profile of Nancy Pelosi he says is worth checking out as well as a ‘Hidden Tribes ideology quiz‘ that he and Will recently took. Will says that lately he’s been reading a lot about college football coach firings and the impact of diminished state funding for higher education on coach firing decisions.

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