Strategic Voting, Hunter Biden, ‘President Pelosi’, Warren’s Roots

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In this episode, Mike and Jay respond to listener questions on the following topics:

  • Social Security
  • strategic voting in primary elections
  • Hunter Biden, Michael Cohen, and ‘soft corruption’
  • expertise in cabinet positions
  • Donald Trump and fiscal conservatives
  • Jay’s nightmare scenario – ‘President Pelosi’
  • bipartisan blame for the financial crisis
  • the value of Elizabeth Warren’s conservative past
  • a depressing present and hope for the future

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Impeachment, Deval Patrick, Sandy Hook Gun Lawsuit

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Mike, Jay, and Kristin open the show with a discussion of the first week of open hearings on the impeachment of President Trump. Mike argues that it’s clear that Trump ‘did it’ (or at least clear enough to require a vote for impeachment) but that it could be argued that what he did is not cause for removal. Jay and Kristin are less convinced by the evidence presented to this point. They all believe that the most likely outcome is straight party-line votes to impeach and convict, resulting in the acquittal of the president. Mike wishes it would be possible to hear from those closest to the president on this issue, specifically Mulvaney, Bolton, and Giuliani, but he doesn’t think that’s likely. Kristin and Jay would also like to hear from them, but even if they testified that the president attempted bribery, they’re not sure that would justify his removal from office.

Next, they discuss the entry of former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick into the Democratic presidential nomination race, bringing the total number of candidates to 18. Everyone agrees that this is due to Joe Biden’s perceived weakness and the lack of a popular center-left candidate with strong minority support. Patrick faces daunting challenges, but he may be in a position to pick up significant black support should Biden’s campaign implode. Mike half wishes that Barack Obama had endorsed a candidate, but Jay points out that that would be very much going against past precedent, at least in cases where a vice-president isn’t immediately running to succeed the president, as would have happened had Biden run in 2016.

Finally, it’s a look at the Supreme Court’s decision to not take up a ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court that allows families of the Sandy Hook mass shooting to sue the gunmaker who sold the weapon used in the massacre. While they all more or less agree that Supreme Court non-intervention was the right call, Mike goes further and argues against the special carve-out in federal law to protect gunmakers from lawsuits – at least until some counter-arguments from Jay make Mike waver a bit in his commitment to that position.

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America, Compromised: Lawrence Lessig on Corruption in America

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Mike talks with Lawrence Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Professor Lessig co-founded Creative Commons in 2001 and is the author of numerous books, including Republic, Lost: Version 2.0 which he and Mike talked about on the podcast a few years ago (here’s a link to that interview). In this episode, they discuss about his recent book America, Compromised.

Topics covered include:

  • why the Mafia isn’t corrupt, but Congress is
  • raising the cost of corrupting Congress
  • giving American citizens Democracy Vouchers
  • why we should pay members of Congress a lot more
  • good people in the bad institution of Congress
  • corruption in the financial industry
  • why no financial institution heads were prosecuted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis
  • corruption in political media
  • and lots more!

Lawrence Lessig on Twitter

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Impeachment, Election Results, and the State of the Democratic Field

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Having heard from our listeners, this week we have a special three-person edition of The Politics Guys with Will Miller, Michael Baranowski, and Jay Carson. The Guys start off the show with a lengthy discussion around current developments in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Much of the discussion focuses on the application of process and differences between an investigation and an impeachment inquiry. Mike posits that he believes what Trump has been accused of merits an impeachment inquiry and will merit removal from office if proven true beyond a reasonable doubt. Will and Jay both agree—in theory—that the allegations merit some form of investigation but are concerned about the rush to impeachment as opposed to formally looking into the allegations in a public venue first. Given all of the unusual variables in this case—the use of a personal attorney and having it all based on a whistleblower—it is even more difficult to determine what could happen next. All three note the need to have a process that can be trusted in place. Will continues to worry about what Jay terms a permanent impeachment campaign becoming a way of life in American politics while Mike argues that if the president isn’t behaving like Trump that shouldn’t be a future problem.

Next, the Guys turn to discussing Tuesday’s election results. Jay begins by pointing out that he has difficulty in putting much stock in the results of off-year elections with historically lower turnout. Will points to the statewide results in Virginia as continuing evidence of a shift of Democrats to affluent suburbs that can change elections—especially, as Jay notes, in new districts. Mike echoes this and rightly suggests the 2020 race may come down to whether Trump can turnout rural voters at a higher rate than Democrats can these new suburban voters. The Guys discuss Bevin’s loss in Kentucky but also acknowledge that for such a poor candidate, not even Trump’s support was likely to resonate, which is evidenced by Republican performance down-ballot. And even though the Republican was only able to carry Mississippi by 6 points (compared to 17 for Trump), it was one of the strongest Democratic challengers that could have been brought forward.

Lastly, Mike, Will and Jay discuss the state of the Democrats heading into 2020. First, Mike explains how Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare for all plan is a political document that even Democrats acknowledge has no chance of being enacted. He also questions the impact this has since it will be easy for Trump to denounce the plan in a general election if her own party is doing so already. Further, Mike pushes for Democrats to adopt a more centrist pitch that focuses on opportunity and growth. Will and Jay point out that despite progressives clamoring that they are so large in number, that Joe Biden—as a centrist candidate—is out-performing both Warren and Sanders in polls versus Trump in key battleground states. Will believes if progressives continue to speak louder than their numbers can support, they will only help Trump gain a second term. Lastly, Jay wonders about whose votes Michael Bloomberg might take when he enters the race while Mike points to the strangeness that the general election could be between two New York-based, party-switching, billionaires in their 70s with a history of sexual harassment allegations.

Before we start putting together our show host schedule for 2020, we wanted to get your thoughts on our hosts. We’ve put together a short survey for that purpose at the below link. It’s only a few questions, plus some comment boxes if you want to comment on your answers. We do this show for you, and so getting your responses to this will be extremely helpful. Thanks!

Politics Guys Hosts – Listener Survey:

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Scott Adams on how ‘Loserthink’ is Ruining America

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Mike talks with Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, one of the most popular comic strips of all time. In recent years, Adams has become an important part of the political conversation through his commentary on Donald Trump as well as the bestselling book Win Bigly. He’s got a new book out called Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America, which he and Mike discuss on the show.

Topics Mike & Scott discuss include:

  • Donald Trump as the ‘most psychologically capable leader we’ve ever had’
  • why people think like losers
  • the value of mockery
  • the loserthink surrounding climate science
  • why Adams watches both Fox and CNN (as painful as that may sound)
  • how and why to think like an engineer
  • the use of hyperbole and thinking like a leader
  • the ‘48 hour rule’ the ‘20 year rule’ and the ‘magic question’

Scott Adams on Twitter

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Impeachment Rules, Baghdadi Dead, Another Fed Rate Cut, Democratic Race

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The show kicks off with Mike & Jay discussing the House resolution on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Jay says that it partly addresses procedural fairness issues many Republicans have been raising, but that it’s still not fair enough to the president. Mike disagrees, arguing that the president will get every procedural protection he should – and then some – during a Senate trial. Things get a bit heated as Mike and Jay discuss whether there’s sufficient evidence to impeach the president and they come to differing conclusions as to what constitutes ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’.

Next, the Guys turn to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. special forces raid. Jay loved the president’s comments about the raid, which he felt made for great political theater. Mike points out that the raid was made possible by intelligence help from the Kurds, and argues that we need a continued presence in the region to make these critical relationships possible. They both agree that this is good news for the fight against radical Islamic terrorism.

Then it’s a turn to some contradictory economic news – another good jobs report, wages exceeding inflation, and a record-setting economic expansion, but with overall growth down and businesses reluctant to spend. Both Mike and Jay believe the slowdown is due in no small part to President Trump’s trade war with China. Mike makes a case that the president might actually be working against his short term electoral interest by pushing the trade war, though Jay points out that that’s likely why Trump is pushing so hard for Fed rate cuts.

The show closes with a discussion of some important developments in the Democratic presidential nomination race – Beto O’Rourke pulling out, Kamala Harris cutting staff and going all-in on Iowa, and Elizabeth Warren releasing details on how she’d pay for her Medicare for All plan.

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Behind the Scenes in the Obama White House with Lawrence Jackson

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Mike talks with Lawrence Jackson, an official White House Photographer in the Obama administration. He’s just released a beautiful book of photographs and stories about his time with the Obamas called Yes We Did: Photos and Behind-the-Scenes Stories Celebrating Our First African American President

Topics Mike & Lawrence discuss include:

  • what the Obamas are really like
  • being behind the scenes in the White House
  • the ultra-competitive nature of President Obama
  • the toll that being president takes on a person
  • the survey Jackson took of 300 former White House staffers
  • and lots more

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Deficit, Subpoenas, Trump’s Sixth Veto, Tulsi Gabbard

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Trey and Ken host this episode of the Politics Guys. The duo begins by talking about the increasing U.S. deficit. Trey explains the what the deficit and the national debt are. Then Trey gives some historic context before asking Ken his opinion on the rising deficit under President Trump. Ken argues that Democrats, as Keynesians, would better manage the budget without Republicans. His basic argument is that Republicans never pay for needed spending. Trey pushes back and asks, if that is the case, why Democrats have never stopped deficit spending when they held office. Trey suggests that the problem lies with Democrats spending policy and Republicans tax policy. He sees the compromises of the Clinton era as the solution forward.

Next they turn to the ongoing impeachment investigation and, more specifically, the recent subpoenas of high ranking Trump officials. They pair also discuss Lindsey Graham’s weak measure to ensure the House’s impeachment inquiry. They also get into the polling data on impeachment. Ken predicts that the House will vote on articles of impeachment by December.

They then discuss Trump’s relatively underreported sixth veto. Trump was once again forced to veto the House and the Senate ending his emergency declaration for the southern border. The pair speculate on what this means for Trump’s policy. Trey probs more deeply into the political communication side of the question and asks how it is Trump in some areas is able to stay quiet. Is this an indication of a more powerful media strategy?

Finally Trey and Ken talk Tulsi Gabbard and Hilary Clinton. In addition to discussing the current spat between the two Democrats, they ask what might have motivated Clinton’s comments. Unlike many Trey and Ken agree Clinton is not preparing to enter the race. Ken hypothesizes that Clinton sees Gabbard as another Jill Stein.

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U.S. Congressman Thomas Massie on How Congress *Really* Works

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Mike talks with Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Kentucky’s 4th Congressional District. Massie attended MIT, where he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to serving in Congress, he was an inventor, an entrepreneur, and Judge Executive of Lewis County, Kentucky. In Congress, he serves on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure and the Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Topics Mike & Rep. Massie discuss include:

  • how members of Congress have to ‘buy’ seats on committees
  • the congressional extortion racket
  • why the minority party in the House is irrelevant
  • Congress’ abdication of responsibility
  • the political pressure to weaken Congress’ ability to do its job
  • why Rep. Massie would be in favor of repealing the 17th Amendment
  • what Rep. Massie would change about the House and the Senate
  • and lots more!

Follow Rep. Massie on Twitter

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Rep. Elijah Cummings, Turkey’s Invasion, Impeachment, Presidential Contest, Growing Senate GOP Opposition to Trump?

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This week’s show starts with a short tribute to U. S. Congressman Elijah Cummings, who died this week. Both Mike and Jay have positive things to say about Cummings, who was a great fighter for important causes.

Next, they turn to Turkey’s invasion of Syria and the cease fire deal in which Turkey got more or less everything they hoped for in exchange for token concessions. Mike believes this showed horrible judgement on the part of President Trump and that it makes the United States look weak and untrustworthy. Jay mostly agrees, but advances an argument that, if not supporting Trump’s actions, tries to put them in a different and more nuanced context- something he feels has been lacking in many media reports.

After that it’s an update on the impeachment inquiry. Mike defends the process and argues that Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney flat out admitted a political quid pro quo with Ukraine (just not the Biden / Burisma quid pro quo). Jay contends that while corrupt things may have happened, what Mulvaney admitted wasn’t technically a quid pro quo. He also argues that even if House investigators have good reason for closed-door hearings, this makes the investigation appear less legitimate to the public. 

Then it’s a look at the state of the Democratic presidential contest after the recent Ohio debate. Mike & Jay agree that Warren looks like a frontrunner right now (despite Biden still leading her in most polls), with Mike arguing that Pete Buttigieg is well positioned to break out of the pack and move into the top tier currently occupied by Biden, Warren, and Sanders.

The show closes with discussion of the Senate’s failure to override President Trump’s veto of legislation that would have nullified the president’s national emergency at the border with Mexico. This is the second time the Senate has failed to override the president’s veto of this measure, but this time there were 11 Republicans (19 percent of all Senate Republicans) who joined with Democrats in voting against President Trump. Jay thinks that there may be growing GOP congressional opposition to Trump, which comes at the worst possible time, given the ongoing impeachment inquiry.

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