Reasons to be Rationally Optimistic About The Coronavirus Pandemic

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In this special episode, Mike and Trey suggest reasons to feel at least potentially optimistic about the coronavirus pandemic. Their reasons for optimism cover likely outcomes, government response, and longer term ramifications. They also share some things they’ve found useful in coping with the crisis. (Such as Mike’s recommendation to fellow liberals to check out moderate-right news sources like The Bulwark and National Review.)

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Coronavirus, Ohio’s Primary That Wasn’t, Social Media in an Emergency

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On this special episode Trey and Ken are joined by Mike. They begin the show discussing the California lockdown, the first of its kind in the country, and the Senate Republican direct payment relief plan. Next the trio talk about the Democratic primary, focused primarily on the primary that wasn’t in Ohio. They finish the show discussing social media in an emergency and their respective weekly recommendations.

Recommendations

Mike’s Recommendation is his own, ongoing creation: The Reluctant Detective.

Mike also recommends When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times. Pema Chodron. and Living Beautifully With Uncertainty and Change. Pema Chodron.

Trey recommends CBS All Access’s Star Trek Picard.

Ken recommends the music of Paul Kopasz (aka Paul K).

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The sponsor for today’s show is Coronavirus Daily Briefing.

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Thomas Philippon on How America Gave Up on Free Markets

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Mike talks with Thomas Philippon, a Professor of Finance at the Stern School of Business at New York University. Professor Philippon is a member of the Monetary Policy Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the author of the recently released book, The Great Reversal: How America Gave Up On Free Markets, which they discuss on this episode.

Topics discussed include:

  • the many benefits of competition
  • how and why the US became much less competitive over the last two decades
  • how, in many ways, Europe is actually much more competitive than the US
  • how lobbying and campaign finance contribute to the problem
  • the ‘revolving door’ between government and the private sector
  • the decline of competition in finance, health care, and the tech sector
  • what can be done to increase competition

Thomas Philippon on Twitter

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Coronavirus Pandemic Response & How Moderate is Joe Biden, Anyway?

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Mike and Kristin discuss the many political and policy implications of the Coronavirus pandemic. They begin with a synopsis of the past week and a review of Trump’s address and press conference, the takeaways, the stock market rebound, and their thoughts. Then, they weigh some of the deeper policy issues that this crisis has dredged up – public health funding, emergency preparedness, paid sick leave, and government embracing big tech. They also discuss how moments like this often have lasting effects on culture, and vice versa.

Finally, Mike and Kristin turn to the Democratic Primary and have a conversation about Biden and whether he is a “moderate” or a “progressive”.

Nick Shabazz (the YouTube knife guy Mike recommended)

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup (Kristin’s book recommendation)

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Super Tuesday, Biden Rising, Bloomberg & ‘Buying an Election’, Warren & Sexism, Coronavirus Response

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Mike and Jay discuss the state of the Democratic primary in the aftermath of a Biden resurgence. Mike Bloomberg makes us wonder whether anyone can,in fact, buy an election and Mike and Jay give their takes on Elizabeth Warren’s “sexism” comments.  Then the discussion turns to the political and economic impact of the coronavirus and whether the crisis highlights Trump’s incompetence or confirms validity of some of his platform points. Finally, Mike and Jay recommend some stuff to read that is older than the remaining presidential candidates.

Jay & Mike’s Recommended Reading
Ohio 1912 State Constitution Debates
Discourses & Handbook of Epictetus

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Presidential Electability, Constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Patterson v. Walgreens

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This week Trey is joined by Ken. The two start the show by discussing what it means for a presidential candidate to be electable. Given the focus on Sanders post Nevada the pair focus specifically on how him in a general election against President Trump. Trey and Ken explore what historically drives candidates to be viable outside of the horse race narrative. Trey’s interest in the Democratic primary makes him particularly concerned for a candidate that can beat Trump. He believes that voters will more generally punish Sanders for his socialist policies, but that the recent market correction will aid him. Ken agrees that Sanders has a liability in his socialist title, he thinks it is a smaller problem and can be fixed with proper messaging.

Next the pair turn to the issue of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency, created via Dodd Frank, is at the center of an unusual controversy over the relationship between the President and Congress. The Supreme Court took the case this week. The key controversy surrounds presidential appointment: can president’s be restricted by Congress in their removal power? Trey recounts the history of the removal power and the facts of the case, Ken explores the likely Supreme Court outcome.

Finally Trey and Ken turn to the recent case of Patterson v. Walgreen. This case, which the Supreme Court declined to hear this week, more narrowly defines religious exemptions for employees. Specifically, as outlined by Trey, Patterson was fired for not coming to work on a Saturday due to his Seventh Day Adventist practices. The lower courts ruled that Walmart did have the power to fire him. Ken believes the lower courts were wrong, but he surprises Trey by suggesting that he disagrees with religious exemptions for generally applicable laws.

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Trump’s Pardons, Mike Bloomberg, What to Look for in a Presidential Candidate

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This week, Mike and Kristin first take on the issue of pardoning. They discuss Trump’s most recent 11 pardons and commutations. Mike’s concern is rooted in who President Trump has pardoned – largely his political friends and allies. Kristin brings up historical pardoning to these ends, as well as the First Step Act in relation to Mike’s point that Trump could be doing much more for overlooked nonviolent offenders. On a broad scale, they also discuss the Founding Fathers’ original intentions when creating the power of pardoning and whether this deserves a second look, as we seem to have drifted from these intentions over time.

Next, Mike and Kristin give their impressions of the Democratic Debate that took place in Nevada (ahead of the Nevada Caucuses) this past week. Mike elaborated on his impressions as a Democratic voter, the factors he feels are most important for voters to consider, and the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate. Kristin also gave her impressions about candidate strategy. In the end, Mike said that he wasn’t sure who he’d cast his primary vote for, but that he’d let the audience know soon.

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Justice Department Independence, NH Primary, Bernie and a Democratic Socialist President

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After a big announcement about some significant changes to the podcast, Mike and Jay turn to a discussion of the independence and integrity of the Justice Department and its leader, Attorney General William Barr. Mike attempts to understand Barr based on his views of executive authority, which Mike believes are wrongheaded. Jay, on the other hand, thinks that Barr is absolutely right about sweeping executive authority. One thing Mike and Jay agree on is that President Trump’s tweets about ongoing Justice Department cases make it very difficult for Barr to convince people that the department is acting with integrity.

After that, they turn to the New Hampshire primary and the state of the Democratic race. Mike argues that it’s far too soon for anyone to panic, though Jay thinks that some panic might be appropriate for Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. With Bernie Sanders emerging as an early frontrunner, the Guys next discuss what a Sanders presidency might look like, and whether or not Democratic Socialism is something to be applauded or shunned.

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Allan Lichtman on Repeal The Second Amendment

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Trey talks with Allan Lichtman, a Distinguished Professor of History at American University and author of many books including on impeaching Trump and on the keys to the White House. In this episode they discuss Allan’s latest book Repeal the Second Amendment: The Case for a Safer America

Topics Trey and Allan Discuss include:

  • What compelled him to write such a provocative book (and provocative title)
  • What the framers actually meant by the second amendment
  • The likelihood of truly repealing the second amendment
  • The usefulness of repeal in making actual gun policy
  • The power of the NRA over gun policy
  • The shift in the meaning of the second amendment
  • An open invitation to debate the NRA on the second amendment
  • Data on gun violence and gun control
  • What kind of gun control may help society

Allan Lichtman on Twitter

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Impeachment, Iowa Apps, Barr’s Memo, SOTU

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This week Trey and Ken are joined by Mike and the three begin the show by discussing the final impeachment vote. Ken notes the historic nature of Romney as the first to ever cross party lines for an impeachment vote. Trey argues that Romney is the consistent conservative and both the Republicans and Democratic parties have shifted around him. Mike and Ken counter that Republicans are the party that has far more profoundly shifted. Ken is not surprised, but disappointed, that President Trump was not found guilty. Mike, although he believes President Trump to be guilty, does not agree the President should have been found guilty. For Mike the penalty did not fit the crime.

Next the trio turn to Iowa and the procedural mess that resulted from the use of a new app. All three agree that it might mean the end of Iowa as the first in the nation status. While there are downsides to that, all agree this is generally a positive development if it occurs. The three also address what, if anything, the results mean to an ultimate winner. Ken sticks by his assessment earlier last year that Joe Biden would fade early and never recover. Mike continues to disagree and argues that, while Biden will fade, he has enough momentum to win the nomination.

Then the three turn their attention to Attorney General Barr’s three page memo outlining new rules for investigations of political figures. Specifically the memo gives the Attorney General the power to determine which, if any, political investigations can be undertaken. Ken and Mike generally agree this is evidence of further corruption on the part of the Trump administration. Trey counters that it is perfectly consistent with presidential power to make the determination political and that Ken and Mike would not find it an abuse of power if it was someone other that Barr at the helm.

Finally the trio discuss the State of the Union Address. Here the focus is on the images of the handshake denied and Pelosi’s ripping up of the address itself. Trey worries that these “memeable” moments are all that matters. Further that political communication is primarily about effectively creating such images. Mike agrees to a degree, but Ken doesn’t think such discourse ultimately effects real political outcomes.

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