Struggle for Power, Subpoenas, Taxes, China, and Iran

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Will and Alexandra open the show discussing the contempt charges brought against Attorney General Barr and their possible impact. Will argues this is little more than political theater while Alexandra points to the parallels and differences between this and when Republicans found Eric Holder in contempt during the Obama Administration. Both believe the struggle for power between Congress and the President is far from over with Will especially noting how John Roberts must feel watching this while trying to ensure his Court remains politically neutral. They also discuss the subpoena of Donald Trump Jr. by the Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republican Richard Burr and whether it signals more than just a simple subpoena.

Next, they turn to a discussion of Trump’s taxes and efforts in California and Illinois to keep candidates off the ballot who don’t publicly release tax records. Alexandra notes how the numbers released this week show that Trump has been a failed businessman while Will counters that his supporters never chose him for his business acumen. Both believe there’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing tax records, but that there is a question of privacy expectations to be considered. Will strongly notes that Republicans likely could care less about being on the ballot in Democratic states. He does point out possible down-ballot concerns, though. Alexandra, on the other hand, points to the impact if states opt to award their Electoral votes to nation-wide winners. This could change the Republican response.

Will and Alexandra then turn to discussing the economic showdown between the United States and China. Alexandra points to the deep impact tariffs can have on American citizens–especially those with less spending power today. Will points to the disconnect between IP concerns and increased costs of goods, which seems to be the point we have reached. Both believe this will have an impact on the Democratic primaries and 2020 in general–especially for Republican Senators facing re-elections who must navigate between Trump support and their constituents’ economic needs.

Lastly, Will and Alexandra discuss recent actions toward Iran. Will argues that while Iran is a concern that Alexandra is right in asserting they are not an immediate threat. Moreover, Will questions why North Korea is treated differently than Iran given who has ready nuclear weapons and who doesn’t in the relationship. Alexandra worries about the regional impact of our actions and the general tendency of the Trump Administration to bounce from threat to threat without much explained reason. Both Will and Alexandra point to concerns about broader strategy and implications.

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Electability, Net Neutrality, Homelessness, Obama Spying Scandal, Impeachment, Candidate Transparency

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In this episode, Mike & Jay respond to listener questions on:

– electability vs highlighting differences with Trump
– why Mike thinks Jay’s view of Net Neutrality is outdated
– funding for cathedrals vs. funding to fight homelessness
– possible indictments in the Obama spying scandal
– if impeachment talk is bad for the country
– what information presidential candidates should have to release

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Barr Testimony, Immigration, Venezuela, Trump Sues Banks

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Mike & Jay open the show by talking about Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before the Senate and his refusal to testify before the House. Mike says that although he initially gave Barr the benefit of the doubt, it’s now clear that Barr is more interested in carrying water for the president than serving as an impartial arbiter of the law. Jay disagrees, feeling that Barr has been forthcoming with Democrats, who he believes are subjecting Barr to scrutiny for strictly political gain.

Next is a look at the Trump administration’s recent request for $4.5 billion dollars in emergency immigration funding as well as administration proposals to charge fees to asylum seekers and deny them work permits. Mike argues that while emergency funding is needed, it should be focused on hiring more immigration judges. Both Mike and Jay agree that there are potential problems with denying asylum seekers in the country work permits, and that if a fee is charged to asylum seekers, there should be a waiver process in place to ensure that those in clear danger are not prevented from seeking asylum.

After that is a discussion of the crisis in Venezuela, after the failure of opposition leader Juan Guaido’s attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro (who many people, including Jay and Mike, see as illegitimate). Mike is very wary of US military involvement given the sad history of the United States in Central and South America, while Jay counters that it’s important to keep the military option on the table as well as to respond if the Russians or Cubans stage a significant military intervention of their own.

The show closes with an analysis of the Trump Organization’s lawsuits against several banks to prevent them from turning over Trump’s financial documents to Congress. Mike says that the law on this is clear – Congress has the right to these documents – but that the Trump strategy is to delay until after the 2020 elections. Jay doesn’t disagree, but feels that Congress’ legitimate investigatory authority might be somewhat more limited than Mike views it as being.

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Tackling Homelessness, Civility as Oppression, Convicting Trump, Rising Education Costs

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In this episode, Trey & Ken answer listener questions on why presidential candidates aren’t tackling homelessness, whether civility is actually oppression, if Trump could be convicted if impeached, and the causes of the rising costs of higher education.

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To Impeach or Not to Impeach, that is the Question, IRS deadlines, the Aftermath of the Mueller Report, Joe Biden in 2020

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Trey & Ken start the show with a big question facing the House Democrats and the Democratic primary field: to impeach or not to impeach? Ken suggests that impeachment should begin and ongoing house committees ought to transition to that role. Trey thinks impeachment is, effectively, a dead portion of the Constitution and has no hope of contemporary use.

The conversation leads the hosts to talking about the political strategies that President Trump has employed in the aftermath of the Mueller report, specifically stonewalling Congress. This leads Trey and Ken to discuss the wider relationship between the President and Congress. Trey, using prominent political science research, suggests that Presidential power has long grown and that Congress has no desire to truly check the Presidency, even if a particular Congress may give lip service to checking a particular President. Ken believes that Congress has maintained powerful oversight and can use that power over Trump.

Next Trey and Ken turn to recently missed IRS deadline. The Treasury Secretary continues to push back the date of releasing Trump’s tax returns and both hosts agree that the Trump administration is hoping to run out the clock.

Finally, Trey and Ken talk Joe Biden entering the 2020 primary contest and the larger implications this has on the 2020 field. Ken thinks Biden will have a harder time explaining his long record to a more progressive Democratic Party. Trey thinks Biden’s centrism offers the possibility of a real challenge to Trump.

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Trump vs Omar, Holding Media Accountable, Capitalism & Regulation, Trump’s Second Term

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In this episode, Kristin & Mike respond to listener questions on the feud between President Trump and Rep. Ilhan Omar, how we can hold media accountable, Kristin’s view on the proper role of regulation in a capitalist economy, and what they think a second term for Donald Trump might look like.

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Mueller Report, Trump’s Yemen Veto, Barr Limits Bail for Asylum Seekers

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Kristin and Mike open the show with the story that’s consumed the media – the release of the redacted Mueller Report. They discuss ‘collusion’, obstruction, Attorney General William Barr spinning the report pre-release, and the pros and cons of starting impeachment proceedings. They also talk about Trey’s ‘big picture’ view – that presidents are too powerful and the office of the presidency itself is broken.

Next, they discuss President Trump’s second veto, over the congressional resolution to stop assisting the Saudi-backed Yemeni government forces in that country’s civil war. Mike sees it as a small positive sign, though he wishes that Congress would be more assertive when it comes to taking what he views as its rightful place in matters of war. Kristin points out that there’s more than a little gray area here, which Mike feels could be clarified if something like the War Powers Resolution were made into a constitutional amendment (not that that’s happening any time soon).

The show closes with a look at AG Barr’s announcement that some asylum seekers would be denied the opportunity to post bail. The decision, while only applying to those travelling without children and entering at non-authorized entry points, could affect thousands of asylum seekers. Mike thinks that if the administration were serious about solving this problem, they’d make it much harder for businesses to hire undocumented workers by mandating E-verify and cracking down on businesses employing undocumented workers, a position Kristin thinks is reasonable. Further, Mike argues that instead of cutting aid to Central American countries, as the Trump administration has been doing, the U.S. should be dramatically increasing it. Kristin isn’t a fan of that, arguing that government money may be poorly targeted and ill-spent and that it would be far better to encourage NGOs to assist struggling Central American countries.

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Chick-Fil-A, Trump’s Taxes, Democratic Fundraising, Podcast Politics

Mike & Jay open the show with a discussion of recent controversies surrounding Chick-Fil-A. Mike believes that decisions to not allow the chicken chain into certain venues are based on the company’s support for anti-gay discrimination and its own internal anti-gay policies. Jay, on the other hand, sees this as an attack on religious belief.

Next is a look at the standoff between the Treasury Department and the House Ways and Means Committee concerning Donald Trump’s income taxes. Mike and Jay both think that the law requires Treasury to hand over the president’s returns and that eventually that will happen. Mike believes that this is important for policy reasons, as there may well be some significant conflicts of interest that could be identified through an examination of Trump’s returns. But politically both Guys see it as a potential loss for Democrats, no matter what the returns might contain.

After that, Mike and Jay review the first quarter Democratic presidential candidate fundraising totals. Mike was surprised at how far in front Bernie Sanders was, and also by the strong showing of Pete Buttigieg. Jay thinks that Elizabeth Warren’s weak showing is most likely a result of her decision to eschew big-donor fundraising events. Jay also points out that we shouldn’t make too much of these numbers, as in every presidential primary there are flashes in the pan who start strong but fade fast.

Finally, Mike talks about some findings from his research on ideology, bipartisanship, and demographic representation in the political podcast world.

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DHS Shakeup, Barr Before Congress, Net Neutrality, Assange Arrested

Mike & Jay open the show with a look at the leadership shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security. Mike argues that the problem isn’t insufficiently tough leadership, but rather that President Trump wants to do things he can’t legally do. (Like keep asylum seekers in Mexico, which a federal judge recently said wasn’t permissible.) Jay largely agrees, but points out that the president’s hands are somewhat tied by Democrats in Congress who aren’t interested in negotiating a broader deal on immigration. Mike doesn’t quite buy that, arguing that Trump hasn’t even tried to negotiate in good faith.

Next is discussion of Attorney General William Barr’s testimony before Congress. After talking about why certain parts of the Mueller report might legitimately need to be redacted, the Guys discuss Barr’s claim that the government spied on the Trump campaign. Both Mike and Jay agree that this of course happened, and that the only question – as Barr himself pointed out – is whether that surveillance was fully justified under the law. They both see this as very serious and entirely worthy of a fair and full investigation.

After that Mike & Jay discuss a House measure that would reinstate net neutrality after the Trump FCC rescinded it. Jay says that net neutrality is a solution in search of a problem and that there’s no need to regulate and potentially hinder the growth of the Internet. Mike says that enshrining net neutrality in law is a smart preemptive measure that will keep service providers from acting in ways that will stifle competition.

Finally, Mike & Jay talk about the arrest and potential extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. They agree that Assange should be extradited and that while he may at times be a journalist, he has repeatedly acted in a dangerous and wildly irresponsible way, putting countless lives at risk.

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Brian Smentkowski on Myths Stemming from our Misunderstanding of the Bill of Rights

Will talks with political scientist Brian Smentkowski, an Associate Professor at the University of Idaho. He’s the co-author of Misreading the Bill of Rights: Top Ten Myths Concerning Your Rights and Liberties with Craig Freeman and Kirby Goidel.

Topics Will & Brian discuss include:

      • The top myths Americans hold regarding the Bill of Rights
      • Whether a Bill of Rights is necessary for democracy
      • Our changing understanding of religion in the United States
      • America’s paradoxical view of security
      • How a free press and an informed citizenry impacts democracy
      • The differences between punishment and torture

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