Spy Schools: How Intelligence Services Have Infiltrated Higher Education

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Mike talks with Daniel Golden, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Daniel Golden, author of Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI, and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities. They discuss how widespread spying is (a lot more widespread than Mike thought, that’s for sure), if schools that are recruiting more international students are more vulnerable, how Trump administration immigration policies are likely to affect spying in colleges and universities, and lots more.

Dan Golden on Twitter

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PG127: Net Neutrality, AT&T Time-Warner Merger, Transgender Ban, Sexual Harassment

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Mike and Jay start off this week with a discussion of net neutrality in the wake of the FCC’s move to revoke Obama-era rules that prevent internet service providers from privileging content from certain providers over others. Jay argues that this is a welcome backing off of government regulation that is not only more fair to ISPs but should result in greater investment and better outcomes for consumers. Mike disagrees, saying that investment didn’t drop after the net neutrality rules went into effect and says that this is a perfect example of a market in which natural monopolies cry out for smart regulation to enhance competition. Mike goes even further than this, calling for an internet infrastructure project as a 21st century equivalent of the interstate highway system.

Then the Guys look at the Justice Department’s surprising legal challenge to the AT&T / Time Warner merger. Neither Mike nor Jay think that there’s much of a case, because historically, ‘vertical’ mergers like this – where the two companies involved are not in direct competition – don’t meet anti-trust guidelines. Mike thinks this is probably a negotiating strategy on the part of the Justice Department and that an out-of-court settlement will ultimately be reached.

Next, it’s a look at the latest challenge to President Trump’s ban on transgender troops. Both Mike and Jay agree that the federal judges ruling against the ban made the right call, and they also both have trouble understanding what rational reason the president would have for attempting to change policy in this area.

Finally, Mike and Jay discuss the latest sexual harassment allegations on Capitol Hill involving long-time Democratic Representative John Conyers, new allegations against Democratic Senator Al Franken, as well as President Trump’s semi-endorsement of Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.

What Mike’s Reading:
The chained CPI: Another secret tax hike for the middle class slipped into the GOP tax bills

What Jay’s Reading:
The Desolate Wilderness
And The Fair Land

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Gobble Gobble – The Politics of Turkey

(I normally post on Saturdays, but it seemed fitting to release this ‘turkey politics’ post before Thanksgiving. I hope you like it!)

While Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon – of former Maricopa County Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio – was highly controversial, his second pardon was met with bipartisan support. On November 21, 2017, President Trump pardoned the turkey ‘Drumstick’, carrying on a tradition of pre-Thanksgiving presidential turkey pardons that began with President George H.W. Bush in 1989. (Some claim that the first turkey pardon was granted by President Harry S. Truman in 1947, and others say that President Lincoln was the first turkey pardoner, but these were ‘unofficial’ pardons and the tradition wasn’t picked up by their successors.) read more

Bad News for Mike’s Favorite Agency, Mendez Mistrial, Listener Mail

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Mike and Jay open by discussing what, for Mike, was crushing news – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Rob Cordray announced that he would be stepping down. Mike points out that since its creation as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, the semi-independent CFPB has been a strong advocate for consumers. He laments that this this will largely cease under Trump-appointed leadership. Jay, like most Republicans, believes that the agency is too independent, needlessly harms financial institutions for the sake of powerful Democratic interests, and needs to be reined in.

Next, they talk about the mistrial recently announced in the federal corruption trial of Democratic New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. Had Menendez been convicted, outgoing governor Chris Christie may have been able to appoint a Republican to take Menendez’ place, giving the GOP another much-needed seat to bolster their slim Senate majority. Both Mike and Jay seem to believe Menendez is guilty of, at the very least, unethical behavior, but they point out that it’s incredibly difficult to demonstrate quid-pro-quo corruption (e.g. Wealthy ‘friend’: “Here’s $5,000 in exchange for which I want you to vote ‘no’ on that bill” Senator: “Okay, thanks for the $5,000. I’ll be sure to vote ‘no’.”) especially in the wake of a unanimous 2016 Supreme Court decision.

Then it’s listener mail. Jay responds to a someone who is very disappointed in Jay’s Machiavellian take on politics, Mike and Jay answer a listener who wants some solid evidence that minorities in the United States are being systematically disadvantaged, and Mike and Jay reply to a listener who wonders how to productively engage people like Mike’s friend (and Trump supporter) Joe.

Mike’s interview with campaign finance reform advocate and Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig.

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PG126: Tax Bill Advances, Sexual Harassment

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This week’s show opens with Mike and Jay taking a look at the current state of the Republican tax reform bills in both the House and the Senate. Mike points out – once again – that it’s a horrible idea to ram a huge, complex tax bill through only weeks after it was introduced, and that the measure is essentially a big tax cut for businesses and the rich that will be paid for by future generations of Americans. Jay believes that in the end the cuts will result in enough growth to make them worthwhile.

After that, the Guys turn to the recent wave of sexual harassment revelations, specifically more women coming forward to accuse Alabama Republican Roy Moore, who maintains his innocence, and Democratic Senator Al Franken, who has admitted his guilt. Mike also shares a personal story, in the hope that it might encourage others to speak out.

We hope you’ll check out the sponsor of today’s show:
Dollar Shave Club. Go to dollarshaveclub.com/TPG to get your first month of their best razor along with travel size versions of their shave butter, body cleanser, and butt wipes for just $5.

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com and click on the Patreon link.

The Politics of Farm Labor

Last time, I looked at how trade policy helped the avocado become one of the hottest fruits in the produce section. One problem with the surging demand for avocados in recent years is that they’re not exactly easy to harvest. Every single avocado has to be picked off of a tree by hand. Tree-shaking machines, like those used for harvesting almonds and cherries, don’t work for avocados because even on the same tree, avocados mature at different rates.

Another reason why mechanical picking isn’t an option has to do with basic physics – unlike almonds or cherries, avocados are fairly substantial. When a heavy fruit drops 15 to 30 feet – the height of most avocado trees – it will bruise, which is great for guacamole but not for getting avocados to the market unscathed. read more

How Safe Is Your Food?

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Mike talks with Dan Flynn, Editor in Chief of Food Safety News about the Food Safety Modernization Act, whether FDA inspections are tough enough, if regulations are unfair to smaller farms, and the state of food safety regulation in the Trump administration.

Food Safety News on Twitter

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Blue Bottle Coffee. Hurry to bluebottlecoffee.com/TPG for $10 off your first coffee subscription order.

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Avocado Politics

(This is the first in what I hope will be a long series of food politics posts. I hope you enjoy it, and that you’ll let me know what you think. I’ve never tried writing what’s essentially a first draft of a book in blog form, and I’m hoping your feedback will make what I feel is a fascinating topic as interesting to you as it is to me. You can contact me directly at mike@politicsguys.com. Thanks! – Mike)

I eat avocados nearly every single day. Mostly in salads, but I make a mean avocado-chocolate-peanut butter smoothie too. Sometimes I’ll just slice one up, add hot sauce, and enjoy. It’s hard for me to believe now, but most of my life was largely avocado-free. That’s not because I was a weird, sheltered kid (well, I was definitely weird, but that’s another story) – it’s because until not all that long ago, avocados were practically an exotic fruit to most Americans, including me. read more

PG125: The Great House and Senate Tax Plan Question, Elections in VA, NJ, and ME, Trump Visits Asia, and Roy Moore’s Denial

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This week Trey and Jay start by taking on the Senate’s proposed tax plan. It differs from its House counterpart. Trey worries about the deficit and Jay focuses on growth.

Next they turn to the major Democratic wins in Virginia, New Jersey, and Maine. Both hosts agree that they are not necessarily representative of the country as a whole, but they do point to the Trump problem all Republicans now face: to Trump or not to Trump.

After the elections the hosts discuss Trump’s week in Asia. They note that the two big areas of concern were North Korea and trade policy.

Trey and Jay conclude by discussing the recent Washington Post story arguing that Roy Moore had inappropriate relationships with underage girls.

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ZipRecruiter. Politics Guys listeners can post jobs on ZipRecruiter for FREE. Just go to ZipRecruiter.com/politicsguy


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For the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s election, we brought back Mike’s friend Joe, who Mike talked to in the ‘A Trump Supporter Speaks‘ episode in October of 2016.

At the time, Mike thought it would be good to hear from an actual Trump supporter (as opposed to an ‘anyone buy Hillary’ Trump voter) to get a sense of how Donald Trump convinced so many people to follow him down a path that would surely lead the Republican Party to a crushing electoral defeat giving President Hillary Clinton House and filibuster-proof Senate majorities.

Obviously, things didn’t turn out that way. One year on, how does an intelligent, decent Trump supporter see the Trump presidency? In this interview you’ll find out. (And no – ‘intelligent, decent Trump supporter’ isn’t an oxymoron. Mike says that Joe is one of the smartest and most fundamentally decent people he knows.)

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to politicsguys.com and click on the Patreon link.