PG23: Another Mass Shooting, Russia & Syria, The Pope and Kim Davis, Goat Sacrifices and the Invincible Sun God

The Politics Guys devote most of this week’s episode to the mass shooting in Oregon and what, if anything, can be done to decrease the insane number of gun deaths in the United States. They also look at the situation in Syria, where both Mike and Jay find themselves in the strange position of agreeing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who told the UN that President Obama’s Syria policy has been a big fat failure. Along the way, Mike tries to explain the Middle East situation in under two minutes, with predictable results. In pope-related news, Jay points out that someone at the Vatican must have been listening to him when last week he suggested that Francis meet with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis. Finally, Jay tells a tale of Florida libertarians, ritual goat sacrifice, and the Invincible Sun God.

PG22: Republican Quitters, China Talks, VW Cheating, Popeamania in D.C., and Monkey Selfies

This week, The Politics Guys talk about how John Boehner was hounded out of office by the radical Republicans in his caucus and why it matters, using football *and* baseball analogies. The second big Republican quitter of the week was Scott Walker, an early favorite for the GOP presidential nomination whose campaign ran out of money at the same time his SuperPAC had millions in the bank. Mike explains how SuperPACs work and why Walker’s SuperPAC couldn’t save him. Mike is a big fan of China’s announcement that they’ll be instituting a cap-and-trade system to clean up their air starting in 2017, pointing out that this is a policy that Congressional Republicans rejected when President Obama tried to enact it. Jay is more skeptical about the announcement, calling for a ‘wait and see’ approach. Both Mike and Jay agree that the agreement between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping about cybercrime may not amount to much, thought it’s better than nothing. The Guys next get into the VW emissions cheating scandal, drawing very different lessons from it: Jay sees it as an example of poor management at the EPA (which needed outside help to catch the violation) while Mike says it’s the inevitable result of years of Republican budget cuts to regulatory agencies. Finally, Mike and Jay discuss PETA’s attempt to secure intellectual property rights for a monkey.

PG21: Ridiculous Presidential Debates, What the Fed Didn’t Do, Planned Parenthood, Nobel Peace Prize Second Thoughts … and Bigfoot.

The Politics Guys return from their summer vacation tanned, rested, and ready to dive into the free-for-all that is the 2016 GOP Presidential Contest. Mike and Jay agree that modern debates are ridiculous, which may be why the ridiculous Donald Trump seems to be doing so well. Turning to something that’s not actually ridiculous, they discuss what the Federal Reserve didn’t do this week – raise their benchmark interest rate – and why that’s a good thing. Things get heated when Mike and Jay get into the GOP move to defund Planned Parenthood – Jay has major ethical issues with fetal tissue donations (which he doesn’t really think are ‘donations’), while Mike feels that it’s better to donate the tissue to science rather than dispose of it as medical waste. Finally, the Guys discuss a former Nobel Committee member’s comment that giving the Peace Prize to President Obama was a mistake, and look into the effect that climate change may be having on the global Bigfoot population.

Summer Vacation

The Politics Guys are taking the rest of the summer off – just like the Supreme Court. But, unlike Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, Alito, Kennedy, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg, we hope to be back with new episodes before the first Monday in October. (Maybe even as early as mid-August, depending on how Michael’s new book is coming along.)

PG20: Chris Christie, Jim Webb, Supreme Court Leftovers, and The Dukes of Hazzard

This week, The Politics Guys talk about the latest entrants into the presidential free-for-all: New Jersey governor Chris Christie and former Virginia senator Jim Webb. Neither of them has a chance at winning the nomination, though Mike is pulling for Webb so that he can see his ‘Moderates Dream’ presidential contest: Webb vs Ohio governor (and soon-to-be presidential candidate) John Kasich. They also wrap up the Supreme Court’s recent term, looking at cases involving redistricting in Arizona and capital punishment (Mike gets more than a little bit worked up during the capital punishment discussion.) Finally, Jay casts his gaze back to his youth, reflecting on the cultural significance of the Dukes of Hazzard and the decision TV Land made this week to cease broadcasting the show.

PG19: Justice Scalia’s Really Bad Week

This week on The Politics Guys, it’s wall-to-wall Supreme Court. We start with the biggest decision of the Court’s term, and probably the biggest civil rights decision of the last half century: Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriage is a Constitutionally-protected right. Next, we turn to the other huge decision of the week: King v. Burwell, in which a 6-3 Court more or less saved Obamacare.

Things we discuss:
– whether the Court ‘created’ any rights
– what fundamental rights are, in the first place
– why Mike is impressed with Justice Roberts
– if Justice Scalia is a hypocrite
– if Justice Scalia is George Costanza
– if Justice Scalia is unable to control himself
– what Justice Scalia gets right
– the decline of civility on the Court

PG18: Papal Encyclicals, Right-Wing Terrorism, The Confederate Flag, and Alexander Hamilton

This week, the Politics Guys begin by looking at Pope Francis’ papal encyclical on the environment. It turns out that Jay and Mike agree on everything about this issue  except the fundamental premises underlying the pope’s reasoning. Next, they discuss the tragic events in Charleston, SC. Jay argues that the left has exploited the event for political gain, and while Mike doesn’t disagree, he points out that exploiting tragedies for political gain is one of the view truly bipartisan things in American politics. They both seem to think that it’s maybe not a good idea for South Carolina to proudly fly the Confederate flag, though Jay is a lot more skeptical of the relationship between that and right-wing terrorism than Mike is. The Confederate flag made another appearance in the news last week, when the Supreme Court ruled that Texas could refuse to approve a specialty plate featuring the flag. Jay and Mike discuss the ruling, including the unusual breakdown among the Justices, with the extremely conservative Justice Thomas joining the four liberal members of the Court in the majority. Finally, they express their joint outrage over plans to unceremoniously boot Alexander Hamilton off of the ten dollar bill.

PG17: Iraq, Trade Policy Bizarro World, Israel, Abortion, and Marco Rubio’s Boat

This week, the Politics Guys lead off by discussing troop increases in Iraq. Jay’s take is that the U.S. should ‘go big or go home’ while Mike feels that we should just go home. Next, they look at the strange world of trade policy, where President Obama’s best friends are John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. After that they turn to a Supreme Court ruling that seems to be about passports, but is actually about who gets to make foreign policy for the United States. Sticking with the courts, they discuss a recent circuit court ruling that will further restrict access to abortions to women in Texas. Finally, they talk about a recent New York Times feature article on Marco Rubio’s troubled personal finances, and why it probably helps the Rubio campaign more than it hurts it.

In this episode, we discuss:
– How much it costs to deploy troops overseas.
– Whether the Middle East is worth the trouble.
– Why Democrats abandoned President Obama on trade.
– Whether income inequality is even a real thing
– Whether the president or congress has the final word on foreign policy.
– the Texas legislature’s phony concern for women’s health and safety
Marco Rubio’s $80,000 boat (Jay thinks Rubio got totally ripped off).

PG16: Privacy, Security, a Presidential Cast of Thousands, and Lying Graduate Students

In this episode, the Politics Guys talk about security vs. privacy in the wake of the USA Freedom Act’s passage. Mike and Jay are split on the issue, but not nearly as much as Kentucky’s Senators are. They also check in on the massive 2016 presidential field, separating the contenders – Bush, Walker, Rubio, and Clinton – from the pretenders (aka everyone who’s hoping to use their run to line up a good book deal and/or a commentator gig on Fox News / MSNBC.) Finally, Mike tells Jay all about a scandal in political science and why it should matter to people who aren’t political scientists.

In this episode, we discuss:
– Orwellian-sounding legislative titles.
– Rand Paul vs. Mitch McConnell on security.
– Why Jeb Bush hasn’t formally announced his candidacy (yet).
– What’s Rick Perry thinking?
– The Marine Corps: lots better than the Air Force.
– The Lincoln nobody’s heard of (Chafee).
– If Bernie Sanders is a real threat to Hillary Clinton.
– Why you can’t trust political science graduate students.
– Reasons to be skeptical of all social science research.

PG15: Harvard’s Alex Jones on Losing The News

This week, Michael talks with Alex Jones about his book Losing The News: The Future of the News that Feeds Democracy. Mr. Jones is Director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and Laurence M. Lombard Lecturer in the Press and Public Policy. He covered the press for The New York Times from 1983 to 1992 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1987.

Things We Discuss:
How good news is like an ugly old cannonball.
What Thomas Dewey and Walter Lippmann have to do with the news industry.
Objectivity as a commercial necessity.
Why modern political media is more biased than it used to be.
Bad journalism and the Rolling Stone rape story.
If biased editorial boards influence news reporting.
The liberal bias of reporters.
The bias of the media toward ‘clobbering the president’.
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s hate/hate relationship with the media.
Why faster news isn’t better news.
How accurate news is a luxury the media increasingly can’t afford.
The values of the web and how they degrade good news reporting.
News as an entertainment commodity.
The Buzzfeedificaton of news.
What killed two-newspaper towns.
When owning a newspaper was like having a license to print money.
If the decline of local media really matters.
How local media can survive.
Print dollars and digital dimes.
Why most television news is derivative.
The pros and cons of citizen journalism.
Alex Jones’ news recommendations: New York Times, Huffington Post, Daily Beast, Red StateRealClearPolitics.