Democratic Debate, Asylum Injunction, Bolton Out, NC Special Election, FDA & E-Cigarettes

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This week’s show kicks off with Mike & Jay talking about the third Democratic presidential debate. They both see it as a continuing struggle between centrists, led by Biden, and the progressives, most prominently represented by Warren and Sanders. Neither Mike nor Jay expect any big changes in the relative standing of the candidates any time soon – at least not prior to the Iowa Caucuses. Mike laments Beto O’Rourke’s comment on ‘taking your guns’ and agrees with Sanders that Donald Trump is a very dangerous president. Jay counters that while Trump may be dangerous, the most dangerous leaders are those with far greater popularity than Trump has.

Next, it’s a look at the Supreme Court’s lifting of an injunction against the Trump administration’s asylum policy, a policy that denies asylum to almost all applicants who haven’t first applied for asylum and been rejected by Mexico. Jay gets into why injunctions are granted (or not granted), and explains that the Court has not ruled on the merits of the case. Mike argues that, on the merits, the Trump administration’s actions shouldn’t stand, as they contravene legislative intent. Jay thinks Mike’s argument is sound, though he’s not ready to definitively support it without more information.

After that, the Guys discuss John Bolton’s dismissal as National Security Advisor. Mike says that if Bolton leaked information (which Bolton denies) President Trump was absolutely right to fire him. Mike also feels that Bolton exemplifies the sort of emotionally-driven, seat of the pants staffing decision that President Trump all too often makes. Jay is a little more sympathetic to Bolton – at least in terms of policy – and argues that a clear, strong voice like Bolton’s can sometimes help focus an administration’s approach.

Following that is a discussion of the special election in North Carolina. While Mike is disappointed that the Democrats didn’t pick up a seat, he thinks that the results suggest that centrist Democrats can run well even in very conservative districts. Jay is reluctant to draw any conclusions about special elections given how different they are from general elections, a point with which Mike largely agrees.

Finally, Mike & Jay talk about the FDA’s ban on most flavored e-cigarettes. Mike feels that it’s a smart move and he’d like to see even stronger measures, such as the ban on e-cigarettes recently passed by the state of Michigan. Jay recognizes the authority of the FDA to institute the ban, but feels that restricting the personal choice of adults is almost always a concern.

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Libertarians for Booker, Campaign Promises, Ending Extremism, Cybersecurity, Policing

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In this listener mail show, Trey & Ken respond to questions on:

  • how a libertarian-conservative can like Cory Booker
  • the feasibility of penalizing candidates who break campaign promises
  • if there are alternatives to polarized parties
  • if hackers make using social media hard for government
  • whether the politics of policing effect African American communities

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Climate Change Town Hall, Brexit Gets Messy (Again), Terrorist Watchlists, Republican Primaries

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Trey & Ken start the show by talking about the Democratic Climate Change Town Hall. Ken doesn’t think the differences between the primary candidates matters. He just wants someone who thinks climate change is important, the details will come later. Trey is not convinced that the Democrats have any sound climate change policies. In his view their inability to focus on issues like nuclear power makes their plans impossible. Trey pushes Ken for a favorite, but Ken again just argues for any candidate that has climate change on the agenda.

Next, Trey & Ken detour temporarily from American politics and discuss Brexit. The conversation centers on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s seeming inability to achieve a hard Brexit due to recent pushback. Trey is unsure, regardless of what happens in the United Kingdom, whether the European Union will want to have an indefinite, but never finished, delay of Brexit. Ken sees the likelihood of Brexit as low, although in his recent travels to Germany he recognizes that many Europeans see Brexit as inevitably eventually. Trey then discusses the unusual situation of elections in the United Kingdom since the Brexit process began.

After that they turn to the recent federal court ruling on terrorist watchlists. The pair discuss what the summary judgement means and government’s failure to have the case dismissed. Trey is skeptical that the FBI and Homeland Security will be willing to have the procedural protections in place necessary to satisfy the court. Ken believes the case will eventually end because government will meet the requirements of the court before the case actually proceeds. Both agree it is a win for civil liberties.

The show ends with a conversation on Republican primaries and caucuses. A number of states have, or are in the process of, canceling their primaries. Trey talks about the history of parties canceling primaries / caucuses, but worries that this is part of a larger new American ethos toward efficiency over deliberation. Specifically he points to how many recent primary contests have been canceled. Ken is more sympathetic to parties choosing their own candidates independently.

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Reforming Democracy: Supreme Court Appointments

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Mike & Will kick off their ‘reforming democracy’ book project with an overview of the book, topics they’ll be covering, and a discussion of Mike’s first proposed reform: changing the Supreme Court nomination process so that every president gets at least one nomination that the Senate has to vote on within six months.

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Opioids, Challenges to Trump, Democratic Presidential Race, Isakson Resigns, Intimidating Border Wall

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Mike & Trey kick off the show by talking about a big opioid verdict against Johnson & Johnson in Oklahoma as well as a pending mega-settlement between Purdue Pharma and nearly 2,000 litigants. They agree that opioid abuse has had disastrous and tragic consequences, but neither Mike nor Trey are convinced that the Johnson & Johnson verdict will hold up on appeal. Purdue Pharma, having already admitted wrongdoing in previous cases (including a settlement with Oklahoma) is altogether different they believe.

Next, they discuss the 2020 presidential race, including a new Republican challenger to Donald Trump (one-term Illinois representative Joe Walsh), the Democrats who made the cut for the next debate, transparency of the Democratic debate rules, and who they see as the most likely – and most dangerous – general election opponent to President Trump.

After that they turn to the resignation of Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson and what it means for 2020. They agree that it’s good news for the Democrats, but Mike thinks the Republicans will still probably hold both seats, especially as Stacey Abrams has said she won’t run (which Mike thinks might have something to do with her hopes of being Joe Biden’s VP pick).

The show ends with a discussion of the border wall – first, allegations that President Trump has promised pardons to those who break the law to get the wall built, followed by President Trump’s keen interest in the aesthetics of the wall. Trey thinks that Trump probably did at least joke about pardons, and that it was either intuitively or strategically a smart move. Mike says that the focus on building a big, intimidating wall is largely empty symbolism, and characteristic of Donald Trump. 

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‘Democrat’ Party, Injunctions, Ranked-Choice Voting, Democracy, Presidential Candidate Priorities, Gun Control

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

  • calling the Democratic Party the ‘Democrat’ Party
  • the conservatism of nationwide judicial injunctions
  • pros and cons of ranked-choice voting
  • how small-d democratic Mike and Jay really are
  • whether Jay tries to speak for the GOP or for himself on the show
  • what issues Democratic presidential candidates should focus on
  • why conservatives who want to ban abortions and drugs don’t want to ban guns

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Trump vs the Fed, ‘Disloyal’ Jews, Flores Settlement, Buying Greenland, Planned Parenthood & Title X

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Jay and Mike kick off the show by discussing President Trump’s tweets in response to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium. Jay says that the tweets, which led to an over 600 point drop in the stock market, take him close to a breaking point with President Trump. Mike points out that this is yet another indication that the presidency is not a job for amateurs and that Donald Trump is in over his head.

Next, they discuss Trump’s comments on the ‘disloyalty’ of American Jews who vote for Democrats. Both Mike and Jay agree that this is an attempt by Trump to gain more Jewish support by painting the Democratic Party as anti-Israel. Mike says that while there are some Democrats who oppose Israel, they no more represent the bulk of the Democratic Party than right-wing extremists represent the Republican Party as a whole. Jay says that Trump’s remarks were stupid, but not anti-Semitic. Mike isn’t entirely sure about that, but suggests that Trump may be too self-involved to be anti-semitic.

After that, the Guys talk about the Trump administration’s attempt to dissolve the Flores Settlement, which puts a 20-day cap on the time that undocumented minors can be detained. Neither Mike nor Jay believe that the judge overseeing the settlement will allow this, and while they have their ideas on how to improve the broken immigration system, they agree that nothing significant can happen without congressional action, which neither sees coming any time soon.

Next, Mike & Jay consider President Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. buy Greenland from Denmark. Mike agrees with the Danish PM’s view that Trump’s idea was absurd, and points out that leasing would probably be a better idea. He also says that the president’s inartful remarks make any potential deal that much more difficult. Jay is more open to the idea of buying Greenland, or at least the idea that an American president can openly discuss it.

The show closes with a discussion of Planned Parenthood’s decision to no longer receive Title X funding, due to a Trump administration regulation that disallows Title X recipients from referring patients to abortion providers. Mike doesn’t think this is exactly a gag rule, but he argues that it’s anti-speech and anti-choice, and hopes that the next administration reverses it. Jay feels that the state can reasonably restrict information about abortion because it’s something a large number of Americans view as morally wrong.

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Will & Brian Take Your Questions!

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On this episode, Will and Brian respond to listener questions. Topics covered include:

      • The lack of ideas being publicly announced from the Left and its impact on American politics today
      • Allegations of racism against Republicans and how it feels different today
      • The impact of media coverage of the Mueller investigation on the impact of his report
      • How senate majority leaders obstruct the legislative process—and whether we should keep accepting it
      • The direction of the Democratic and Republican parties in America today

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Epstein, Israel, Hickenlooper and the Dems, New Immigration Rules, and the American Dream

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Will and Brian kickoff this week’s episode by discussing the death of Jeffery Epstein, the fascination with Clinton conspiracy theories, and the potential need for prison reforms across the United States. Will posits that the Clintons seem to have really bad luck with their acquaintances and sudden deaths. He does, however, firmly believe Epstein’s death shows a drastic need for both transparency in autopsies and some degree of prison reform. Brian doesn’t buy the conspiracy argument, but he does believe the public fascination with conspiracies is telling of political society today. He also thinks prison reform is not likely in response despite the very public nature of problems today due to lack of attention for particular offenses.

Next, they turn to discuss Netanyahu’s decision to not allow Representatives Tlaib and Omar to enter Israel to visit the West Bank and Palestine. Will believe this is well within the nation’s rights given the obvious goal of the two to use the trip as a means for further protests, directly questioning Israel’s legitimacy. Brian points to the unusual actions of President Trump in suggesting they should not be permitted to enter and Netanyahu’s response. He also brings up the pressures faced by the two for not agreeing to sign the statement saying their visit wasn’t going to be politics. Will also points out how this decision could impact younger American Jews as they think about the nation of Israel.

Next, they turn to discuss the decision by John Hickenlooper to resign from the Democratic nomination battle to run for Senate and Beto O’Rourke’s defiance when asked to consider the same. Neither Will nor Brian believe either candidate had a chance of winning, but Will believes this may better reflect O’Rourke’s Vice-Presidential aspirations. Brian discusses how Hickenlooper ran his campaign and failed to distinguish himself. Moreover, he believes O’Rourke is clearly living in a delusional world after plateauing during the Cruz debate. They also discuss Joe Biden’s continual gaffes in recent weeks. Will believes this is tried and true Biden and will help him appear genuine. Brian, on the other hand, questions if this may be a reflection of Joe’s age and ultimate ability to win a contested primary.

Will and Brian then turn to discuss the Trump Administration’s new immigration rules, which limit the ability for individuals to receive visas for mailing to meet income standards or for receiving public assistance. He believes tradition should not dictate future direction, and that the president is exercising his legal and constitutional rights to do this. Brian agrees that Trump is within his rights and aiming to develop a self-reliant American citizenry. He does believe, however, that the public charge is being misapplied in this case given the data on who uses which policies. Brian believe this is symptomatic of a larger concern, however: the demise of the American Dream. He is concerned about what the image of America is today to the world and how it will impact our short- and long-term futures. As he posits, why are the companies using these workers not being punished, as well?

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Jennifer Rauch on Why Slow Media is Satisfying, Sustainable, and Smart

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Mike talks with Jennifer Rauch, Professor of Journalism and Communication Studies at Long Island University Brooklyn. Dr. Rauch is an award-winning writer, educator and researcher whose work focuses on alternative media, media activism and popular culture. Her latest book is Slow Media: Why ‘Slow’ Is Satisfying, Sustainable, and Smart.

Topics Mike and Jennifer discuss include:

  • Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death
  • Jennifer’s extended digital media retreat
  • the Slow Food movement’s influence on slow media
  • the best slow journalism being produced today
  • whether slow media is elitist
  • liberal bias in slow media
  • why Luddites get a bad rap
  • the politics of time

Check out Jennifer’s Slow Media Blog
Jennifer Rauch on Twitter

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