PG102: Paris Accord Exit, Afghanistan, Suing Big Pharma

This week, Mike and Jay start off by talking about President Trump’s announcement that the United States will be leaving the Paris Climate Change Accord, making it one of only three countries in the world to not be participating (the other two are Syria and Nicaragua). Mike, who was hoping against hope that US would stay in, is disappointed, feeling that President Trump is stuck in the past and that his actions may have a negative effect on the environment, future job growth, and US global leadership. Jay, on the other hand, thinks President Trump made the right call.

Then it’s a look at the US role in Afghanistan in the wake of a major terrorist attack last week that left 90 dead and hundreds wounded. Should the United State up its military commitment to the country and try to turn the tide against the Taliban, or would it be best to cut our losses, given the potentially unwinnable situation?

After that, the Guys look at Ohio’s recently announced lawsuit against Big Pharma for allegedly misleading doctors and the public about the dangers of prescription opioids. The state’s move is part of a growing trend of states and counties taking legal action against pharmaceutical companies. Mike feels this is a step in the right direction but Jay, who agrees that the opioid crisis is extremely serious, says he’s not crazy about the approach Ohio is taking.

What Mike’s Reading This Week:
The Conversation

What Jay’s Reading This Week:
The Case for Nations. Roger Scruton (WSJ – paywall)

6 thoughts on “PG102: Paris Accord Exit, Afghanistan, Suing Big Pharma”

  1. I have been listening to your podcast for a few months now. At first I enjoyed it, but now you have gone off the deep end to the right.

    Jay’s comments on climate change are the last straw —
    Or more aptly, last giant old-growth tree. Sorry, but if you can’t see the big picture on climate change, there is no point in listening to you. Paris isn’t perfect? No sh*t. But it’s a step in the right direction. Backing out and doing *nothing* — even denying that climate change exists… well your grandchildren can judge you for that.

    I have unsubscribed from your podcast.

    1. Hi Douglas,

      We’re always sorry to lose a listener, and I’d like to think that my views on climate change are a solid counterpoint to Jay’s. Plus, with his moderate-conservative view, I think my fellow liberals get a valuable insight into how ‘the other side’ sees this issue. Thanks for taking the time to comment and let us know what you thought about the latest episode. – Mike

  2. Dear Mike and Jay,

    I have been listening to you guys for many months – since that seemly prehistoric time when the election was but a dot on the horizon, and the primaries were choking every news broadcast. I have been an eager listener because I appreciated the opportunity to hear reasoned, thoughtful debate from both sides of the needlessly rancorous divide that sadly constitutes contemporary political discussion. You guys have helped make sense of arguments that frequently seemed intractable.

    In particular (since I more frequently align with Mike’s perspective on issues) I found it invaluable to hear conservative perspectives explained calmly by Jay, to hear him demystify policies that to my liberal-leaning sensibilities, can risk appearing wholly callous when uncontextualised. I still often disagreed with such policies, but discovering how someone could legitimately hold such beliefs without simply being some unthinking partisan parrot helped me understand the push and pull of America’s own moral and ethical self-examination.

    But I actually had to stop listening to this episode of your podcast. I literally had to switch it off. And believe me – that gives me absolutely no pleasure to say, so please do not confuse this statement as a petty attempt to claim some moral victory. I despise the knee-jerk, I-don’t-like-what-you’re-saying-so-I’m-gonna-block-it-out mentality that audiences too often feel entitled to employ when an entertainment does not reflect their preconceived biases. You have every right to say and think whatever you both feel, it’s just that for me, listening to the show has been getting too sad. Because hearing Jay steadily give over to politically expedient rhetoric is just becoming too depressing.

    Suddenly questions of potential conflicts of interest or possible collusion with foreign governments are now waved aside by Jay as topics to explore at a later date, maybe, and who really cares anyway, the election is over; even though just the whispers of any impropriety in the Clinton Foundation would at one time have sent him into a tailspin. Obama showing anything less than full-throated aggression to countries like Cuba was once seen as weak; but Trump cosying up to dictators and autocrats is ‘Presidential’. Egregious, dissembling misdirection and fraud from Press Secretaries and representatives are now excepted as just the way the playful scamp in the White House does business; despite numerous digs in the past to how loose with the truth anyone named Clinton always was. When the Democrats pushed Obamacare through it was rushed; when the Republicans whip through an unbudgeted, unread, cobbled together mess in a handful of weeks, that’s just how the sausage gets made. Even nepotism is seemingly fine now if it’s done by the good guys.

    In this week’s episode (the point after which I had to stop listening) Trump’s arguments for pulling out of the Paris Accord were labelled as ‘honest’. He was at least being ‘honest’, Jay said, despite Trump’s speech being shot through with falsehoods, seemingly both of wilful deception and general ignorance. Everything from it actually being non-binding, to his claims that it was financially ruinous, to claims that America is disproportionately punished, that he even could ‘renegotiate’ the deal in future, or his usual paranoid populist fear-mongering that the world is laughing at America, on and on. It was anything but honest, but the myth has to go that Trump is a truth-talker, even when what he’s talking bares no relation to truth, so Jay made that case.

    (By the way, I live in part of the world that is not-America, and believe me, we are not laughing – we are genuinely sad to see a country that is so proud and hopeful allow this small man to denigrate everything beautiful that it stands for.)

    I was once heartened by your two voices because hearing two intelligent people, focused by your political beliefs, but not beholden to dogma, was a ray of hope. But Jay appears to be morphing into some kind of Trump-whispering spin doctor, and there are already enough Kellyanne Conways and Paul Ryans and Mitch McConnells willing to shill the party line clogging up the airwaves. I don’t need that from this podcast, which was once an oasis among that dreck.

    I admit that my distaste for Trump has no doubt impacted my perspective in this matter, but in many ways it simply makes my distaste more acute. Because if Jay can so easily justify the slew of American democratic norms violated by Trump each week with unironic hypocrisy, then it calls into question everything I thought I understood of his philosophy.

    Sorry for the rant. And truly, thank you both for all the months of grounding you’ve offered throughout this miasma.

    I shall make sure to at least keep listening to episodes with Trey, whose perspective I now sorely need.

    1. Hi Colin – thanks for taking the time to comment. I plan on brining up the part of your comment relating to our climate discussion on Wednesday’s show, when we’ll be focusing solely on climate change politics & policy. I hope you give it a listen and let me know what you think. – Mike

  3. I had the pleasure of listening to episode PG102: Paris Accord Exit, Afghanistan, Suing Big Pharma and found the discussion interesting, especially juxtaposing the problems of environmental damage and terrorism.

    If you recognize that both environmental damage and terrorism are threats to the USA and our people, then the weakness in Jay’s logic during the discussion becomes evident. Jay supported Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Accords, arguing, from an economic standpoint, along the lines of the United States is economically disadvantaged by our voluntary commitments to Paris, including financially supporting developing nations efforts to mitigate environmental damage. Yet, when it came to Afghanistan, Jay advocated strongly for unilateral US military action, without regard to the financial and economic implications, not to mention the possible loss of life of American lives. Jay appears to be willing to continue to expend America’s treasure and blood in a country that, as argued on the podcast, appears incapable of establishing a stable and effective government, relegating America’s role to an occupying police force that is unwanted.

    One can argue that “what happens over there, affects us here” for both terrorism and environmental damage. Let me begin with environmental damage. Taking the position that the United States needs to focus solely on what happens in this country, and let other countries make their own decisions with respect to the environment, neglects the interconnectedness of the environment on this single planet we inhabit. Disengagement from an active, leadership position with other nations on improving the environment is the same as my section of the boat is dry, when the whole boat is sinking. We need to be working together. Additionally, one needs to view investments in environmental protection and improvement, whether here in the US, or around the world, benefits the US both in the short term and the long term. Depending upon the degree that one views the immediacy of this problem, you could argue that America must lead in this area, organizing nations across the globe and, lacking willing partners taking unilateral action outside of our borders. Disengagement from the rest of the world, particularly on something that is as universally aligned as the Paris Accords, weakens America both in our ability to achieve needed environmental objectives and creates a dynamic that weakens America’s position with other collaborative engagements, for example, the fight on terrorism.

    America’s fight against terrorist cannot be done alone. It goes without saying that terrorist is a threat to America, not only to our homeland, but to our interests, including economic, around the world. The United States must continue to take a global leadership role in this fight and demonstrate our resolve. The principal questions are: how do we define success, what is the best way to achieve this success, and what costs are we willing to bear. Again, this picture is not entirely clear, and anyone’s answer to these questions are based upon a certain set of assumptions that may not be shared by all (similar to the reactions to global warming).

    I’ve tried to demonstrate the logical parallels between the fights to halt environmental damage and terrorism.

    Jay’s arguments and approach to each demonstrate an underlying set of assumptions that views environmental damage as principally a local problem addressed through capitalist mechanisms, while his approach to terrorism, especially in Afghanistan, appears to require military (not capitalist) mechanisms to address. It is my belief that both are serious, worldwide problems that require active leadership and participation by the United States. Approaching this as “walking a mile on someone else’s shoes”, image using the same set of arguments in the environmental damage debate with terrorism.

    Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts and to contribute to the discussion, with the hope that thoughtful, considered engagement on critically important topics, helps us to understand our differences and achieve better outcomes for ourselves and our nation; something that the Politics Guys does every week.

    Needless to say, I love the show, if for no other reason that it makes me listen and think critically, separating emotion from logic.

    1. Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for that very thoughtful commentary on the episode. I hadn’t thought about the connection you make between the environment and terrorism, which made your comment especially valuable to me. – Mike

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