Trump’s Op-Ed, Kavanaugh Apology, Midterms, Haley’s Exit, Khashoggi’s Murder

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Trey Orndorff welcomes Alexandra Filindra from the University of Illinois at Chicago to The Politics Guys this week. The Politics Guys ask listeners to give us your comments and feedback on Alexandra and the show this week.

First up Trey thanks listener Erik who caught a mistake last week. Trey said Justice Kennedy withdrew his support of Kavanaugh when he meant to say Stevens. Thanks Erik, we truly appreciate it!

After the correction Trey and Alexandra get into the midterm question. Specifically Trey brings up Trump’s USA Today op-ed and his apology to Kavanaugh. Alexandra is surprised that Trump would write an op-ed and wonders aloud what the benefit might be. Trey sees a consistent communication pattern and thinks the op-ed is good strategy — as is setting up opposition to Kavanaugh as being for “the mob.”

This leads Trey and Alexandra to talk in detail on the midterm election strategy and transitions to questions of election fundraising in the wake of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Democrats are reporting big dollar donation increases and Republicans are pointing to percentage increases in funds. Both point to Kavanaugh as the reason why.

Trey asks Alexandra what she thinks of the Democrats chances in the Senate given the dip in the polls for Democratic Senator Heitkamp after voting against Kavanaugh. Alexandra brings up it is more difficult for Democrats due to gerrymandering and Trey argues it was a Republican party focused on local elections that set them up for these wins.

Trey and Alexandra then turn to Nikki Haleys resignation. Specifically they discuss the timing, both in relation to the midterm elections and to the Kavanaugh confirmation process. It also gets both of them to discuss party and campaign strategy for 2020 and beyond.

The final story is the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. As of the show’s airing it appears likely that the Saudi King ordered Jamal killed with video evidence coming from Turkey. On the American front it has led to a split between Congressional Republicans and President Trump on the proper response.

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Sami Saydjari on Cyber-Threats

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Mike talks with cybersecurity expert Sami Saydjari. He’s been deeply involved in the fields for over three decades, working for organizations including the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Security Agency, and NASA, among others. He has published numerous papers, consulted national leaders on cybersecurity policy, and educated the public through interviews with national media including CNN, PBS, ABC, the New York Times, Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Time Magazine. He’s also the author of the recently published book, Engineering Trustworthy Systems: Get Cybersecurity Design Right the First Time.

Topics Mike & Sami cover include:
– Security issues with voting systems
– Hacking infrastructure
– If military command & control systems are safe
– Why more complex = more hackable
– Sami’s cybersecurity policy recommendations

Sami on the Web

Follow Sami on Twitter

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Kavanaugh, Nafta 2.0, Hacks, Trump Money

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This week Trey Orndorff and The Politics Guys is excited to introduce Athena King, a political scientist from Virginia State University. The Politics Guys asks that listeners listen to Athena and send us your feedback on what you think of the show.

After introduction Trey and Athena again dress the newest developments concerning Brett Kavanaugh. Specifically the two discuss Kavanaugh’s Washington Post Op-Ed in defense of his hearings and the Friday cloture vote that opens the possibility of a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Saturday or Sunday. Both Trey and Athena agree that Kavanaugh is likely to be confirmed, but Trey thinks it will be a wider margin with limited Democratic support and Athena believes Mike Pence will be necessary to cast a tie-breaking vote.

Trey and Athena the address “Nafta 2.0” or more properly USMCA. Athena argues that American supply chains need more open markets. Trey agrees but is willing to concede that this is a win for the Trump Presidency and a fulfillment of a large campaign promise. Athena gets into the details of automobiles while Trey focuses on the international economic questions of the shift. Only time will tell if and when the Senate will take up the issue.

Next the pair move to an underreported story out of Bloomberg on the possibility of a Chinese hardware hack on American company servers. Apple and Facebook have denied the allegations, but it appears that China has been trying to infiltrate servers in the U.S. Trey wonders if this might not be an argument for a more nationalist economic policy and is, at a minimum, a question that free marketeers like himself must answer. Athena questions what the Chinese motive is.

Finally Trey and Athena discuss the issue of Trump’s finances in wake of a New York Time story highlighting the dubious — and potentially fraudulent — money policies the Trump family used. Athena and Trey agree that this is unlikely to move the needle of support for Trump, but wonder what the broader picture will continue to be as more information slowly drips out.

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Onkar Ghate on The Enduring Appeal of Ayn Rand

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Mike talks with Onkar Ghate, a senior fellow and chief philosophy officer at the Ayn Rand Institute. Dr. Ghate is the Institute’s resident expert on Objectivism and serves as its senior trainer and editor. He has taught philosophy for over ten years at the Institute’s Objectivist Academic Center.

Dr. Ghate studied economics and philosophy at the University of Toronto and worked in the financial industry prior to joining the Ayn Rand Institute in 2000. He received his doctorate in philosophy in 1998 from the University of Calgary.

Mike & Dr. Ghate Discuss:
– Why Ayn Rand would hate Donald Trump
– Misunderstanding ‘selfishness’
– Objectivism and Judeo-Christian Values
– Why Rand wasn’t a Libertarian or a Conservative
– The 75th anniversary of Rand’s The Fountainhead
– Are there American politicians who embody Rand’s values?
– And lots more!

The Ayn Rand Institute on Twitter

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Kavanaugh-Ford, the Budget,Jay Responds to His Critics, and a Trump Hypothetical

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This week, Mike welcomes political scientist Will Miller back to the show. Will and Mike open by discussing the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Included is the perspective of Mike’s politically astute friend, Leah. While the Guys differ on whether Kavanaugh is the right person for the vacancy of the Court, they do agree on the credibility of Dr. Ford and her testimony. They also discuss what this means for future nomination battles and the willingness of individuals to even consider being nominated for the Court.

Next is a discussion of the federal budget process, which is progressing surprisingly smoothly. While Mike and Will agree that the budget is largely inflated, they disagree on the causes and solutions. Mike advocates for increasing taxes to balance the books, while Will suggests something akin to zero-based budgeting would require agencies to justify the money they request in a more meaningful way.

After Jay responds to some fairly intense criticism concerning his comments on last week’s show, Ryan provides Will and Mike with their listener mail question this week. Ryan asks the Guys response to a recent Robert Reich opinion piece suggesting Congress or the Supreme Court could annul the totality of Trump’s presidency if he’s found of colluding with Russia to get elected.

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Kavanaugh Accusations, Trump Intel Release, Trade War, SCOTUS & Anonymous Donations

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This week, Mike and Jay open the show with a look at the accusation of attempted rape leveled at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford. The Guys have a lot of differences of opinion on this issue, though they do agree on the importance of a process that is fair to both Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh.

Next is a discussion of President Trump’s call to release intelligence related to the Russia investigation. Jay advances that argument that President Trump is lying when he said he hasn’t read the documents and that the president is timing his order for maximum media impact and the greatest political benefit.

After that, the Guys talk about the latest in the ongoing trade war with China. Mike points out that the best possible outcome for the United States would be President Trump being right about his risky, unorthodox strategy. Jay adds that even if Trump is right regarding China, his trade strategy with our EU and Canadian allies still seems highly suspect.

Then Mike and Jay discuss an important federal court ruling on political contribution disclosure rules. Mike thinks the ruling is both an example of what happens when Congress delegates too much authority to regulators, as well as a win for transparency. Jay agrees on the delegation issue, but has his doubts about the wisdom of the ruling, as well as whether it will be affirmed on appeal.

Our listener mail question this week comes from Don, who asks if terms limits might make government more responsive and effective.

Help Mike decide on the topic of his next book by taking this super-quick one question survey. (The survey is open until Friday, September 28.)

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Michele Gelfand on Rule Makers & Rule Breakers

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Mike talks to University of Maryland cultural psychologist Michele Gelfand about her new book, Rule Makers, Rule Breakers: How Tight and Loose Cultures Wire the World.

Topics Mike and Michele discuss include:

  • the importance of culture in understanding politics
  • why some cultures are ‘tight’ and others are ‘loose’
  • the advantages and disadvantages of tightness and looseness
  • tight culture support for ‘loose’ Donald Trump
  • the geography of tightness and looseness in the United States
  • threat perception, political ideology, and tightness
  • if the United States should be tighter or looser than it is
  • how tight and loose cultures can better communicate
  • and lots more

Follow Michele Gelfand on Twitter

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Woodward, Op-Eds, Cruz, Canada, and Manafort

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Trey and Ken this week start off the show by looking at both the content and the fallout from Bob Woodward’s new book Fear. Both are fascinated with what it might mean for the organizational structure of the White House. Ken suggests that the drama of taking papers of the president’s desk is probably overplayed.

Relatedly, Trey and Ken then look at the anonymous New York Times Op-Ed. In uncommon agreement, although for slightly different reasons, both Guys agree that the author should simply have resigned and gone public with his criticism of the president instead of continuing to engage with a president who is “anti-democratic.” Ken and Trey also suggest it is undemocratic to try and undo the president’s agenda.

Next The Guys turn to the tight race Ted Cruz faces in Texas. The big question is: is this closeness related to the actions of Ted Cruz or is it part of larger demographic shifts?

Then Trey and Ken look at the most recent NAFTA developments. Specifically the bilateral agreement with Mexico and the remaining issues with Canada. Ken points out it is unlikely to move forward, but Trey wonders if Democrats in the Senate might not shift to deal a blow to a free trade agreement.

The last issue is the Manafort plea deal. Ken has a unique take arguing that Manafort may be trying to angle for a better deal and, perhaps even a pardon.

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Larry Bartels on Democracy for Realists

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Mike talks to Vanderbilt University political scientist Larry Bartels about his book (co-authored with Christopher Achen) Democracy for Realists: Why Elections Do Not Produce Responsive Government.

Topics Mike and Larry discuss include:

– identity politics
– tribalism
– the ‘folk theory’ of democracy and why it’s wrong
– inattentive, uninformed, and irrational voters
– if the problem of ‘bad voters’ has been getting worse recently
– if polarization is really such a big deal
– the potential problem of too much democracy
– what we can do to get more responsive government

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Kavanaugh Hearings, ‘Resistance’ Inside the White House, Arizona’s New (Old) Senator, Tech Threats

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This week, Mike and Jay open the show with discussion of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Judge Brett Kavanaugh. They agree that the hearings are almost entirely political theater at this point and that everyone’s mind is made up. Mike argues that despite this, Democrats’ claim that they should be given sufficient time to review all of the potentially relevant documents relating to Kavanaugh’s career in public service is a good one. Jay is skeptical.

Next is a look at leaked material from journalist Bob Woodward’s upcoming book on the Trump administration as well as the bombshell New York Times Op-Ed in which an anonymous senior White House staffer suggested that he and others like him are actively working to frustrate parts of President Trump’s agenda. Mike and Jay think it would be in the best interests of the country if this anonymous source revealed himself. While Mike is strongly against almost everything that President Trump has done, he doesn’t believe that Senator Elizabeth Warren and others on the left are right in calling for the potential removal of Trump through the 25th Amendment, as in Mike’s reading of the amendment, it doesn’t apply to President Trump (though impeachment and removal might).

After that the Guys evaluate the choice of former Arizona Senator John Kyl as the replacement for John McCain. They share the views of almost everyone outside the extremes that this was a solid choice, though Mike of course laments that McCain wasn’t replaced with someone equally if not more liberal (a relative term, to be sure).

Finally, Mike and Jay discuss the testimony of Facebook and Twitter on Capitol Hill regarding free speech and government regulation, potentially anti-competitive behavior, as well as the threat posed by voting systems lacking paper trails.

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