The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies

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Mike talks with Susan Jacoby, an independent scholar specializing in the history of reason, atheism, secularism, and religious liberty. She’s the bestselling author of 12 books, including Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism and The Age of American Unreason, which just came out in a new, updated edition titled The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies.

They discuss American anti-intellectualism, the meaning of unreason, if unreason has become a bigger problem in recent years, whether this is a bipartisan phenomenon, if Donald Trump is an aberration or a sign of things to come, and lots more.

Susan Jacoby’s Website

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The Flu Bug Strikes! | Sam Quinones on the Opioid Epidemic

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This week, disaster struck The Politics Guys. Well, okay, maybe not disaster exactly, but a truly nasty flu bug felled Trey late in the week. We’d planned to have Trey run the show along with a special more far left than Mike guest co-host, but that all fell apart when Trey’s thermometer hit 105 yesterday afternoon. (He got some good drugs and is feeling slightly better today.)

Mike and Jay had planned to take the week off and so neither of them was ready to do anything but provide off-the-cuff, uninformed opinions. (Yes, we realize that sometimes it seems like they do that every week, but trust us, they spend a lot of time preparing.)

And so, instead of throwing together some shoddy instant-analysis of the news (which you can get so many other places) we decided instead to run Mike’s recent talk with San Quinones about the opioid epidemic.

Sam lived for 10 years as a freelance writer in Mexico, where he wrote his first two books, returning to the U.S. in 2004 to work for the L.A. Times, covering immigration, drug trafficking, neighborhood stories, and gangs. In 2014 he resigned from the Times to return to freelancing, working for publications including National Geographic, the New York Times, and Los Angeles Magazine. He’s the author of three books, including Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, which appeared on numerous ‘best book of the year’ lists and won the National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction. He’s spoken about the crisis in many venues, including Marc Maron’s WTF and Russ Roberts’ EconTalk (two of Mike’s favorite podcasts), and he recently testified on the opioid crisis before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee.

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Give Trump His Wall – On Our Terms

The immigration plan released by the Trump administration this week provides legal status and a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers. Of course, any immigration proposal that has the support of hard-liners Stephen Miller and Tom Cotton is going to contain some pretty tough provisions, as this one does. There are plenty of things in the plan that I  think Democrats are right to resist. But lately, I’ve begun to wonder if we should be willing to give some ground on what many see as an absolute deal-breaker: funding an expanded border wall. read more

Dana R. Fisher on American Resistance

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Mike talks with University of Maryland sociology professor Dana R. Fisher about her research on activism and protests, the Women’s March, who protests and why, whether protests can drive real political change, differences between Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, and lots more.

Follow Dr. Fisher on Twitter

Show Links
The Women’s March


Mike’s Talk with Indivisible’s Jeremy Haile


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The Strange World of Medical Pricing | Why I Gave Up Football

This week, I got a call from the nursing supervisor at my mom’s assisted living community. She told me that my mom needed to have a minor outpatient procedure performed, and asked if I wanted to take her. I did, which was how I spent most of my Friday morning.

In thinking about the experience, a few things struck me. First, when the nursing supervisor called, she simply told me where the procedure would be taking place, and I automatically accepted that. It didn’t even occur to me to ask why that was the outpatient center her doctor had chosen and what, if any, other options there were. I’m someone who comparison shopped for days before buying a new laptop, but when it came to an invasive (albeit minor) medical procedure, I didn’t shop around at all. But even if I had, it would have been incredibly difficult for me to get any solid information about pricing and quality, because that’s just not how things work in American medicine. read more

PG134: Government Shutdown, March for Life, NC Gerrymandering

This week’s show starts off with the story everyone’s been talking about – the government shutdown. Mike and Jay largely stay away from the blame game consuming most of the media, and try to focus on why both parties did what they did and the role President Trumps leadership (or lack thereof) played.

Next, Mike and Jay discuss the 2018 March for Life, as well as some recent actions taken by the Trump administration and the House of Representatives in support of the pro-life movement. While Mike believes that women have a fundamental right to make reproductive decisions prior to fetal viability, he’s sympathetic to pro-life people who see essentially all terminated pregnancies as needless deaths. Jay makes the case that in this area, the law is on Mike’s side, but that he doesn’t find the fundamental right Mike does in the Constitution.

Finally, the Guys turn once again to gerrymandering, in light of the Supreme Court overturning the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ order that North Carolina redraw its Congressional districts by the end of January. Mike agrees with Jay that the Supreme Court made the right call, though they disagree concerning how the Court should ultimately rule.

What Mike’s Reading
Trump’s Basic Instincts About the Political War Are Essentially Right, and The Establishment’s Sense of It Is Essentially Wrong.

What Jay’s Reading
Bad Weather Is No Reason For Climate Alarm.

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GOP vs Facts, Politics Guys vs Diversity, Jay’s Burkean Ideals, 2020 Contenders

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In this listener mail episode (really more of a listener mail, Facebook, Twitter, and site comment episode) Mike and Jay respond to listener comments concerning:

  • Why Republicans like Jay aren’t nearly as respectful of facts as Democrats are (Jay disagrees, as you might expect.)
  • Why The Politics Guys isn’t more diverse, and whether or not the lack of a liberal further to the left of Mike is a problem.
  • How Jay’s Burkean ideals match up to the modern-day GOP. (And Mike points out that he’s got Burkean ideals too!)
  • Who Mike and Jay think might run for president in 2020

During this episode, Mike waxed rhapsodical about the amazing economic data site put together by the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve – here’s the link.

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The Politics of Farm Labor

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Mike’s back with his second food politics episode. This time, he reads his post on the politics of farm labor , getting into who works on America’s farms (mostly immigrants), how willing Americans are to do farm labor (not very, for understandable reasons), why nearly half of all farm labor is done by undocumented immigrants, abuses of immigrant laborers, and the connection between immigrant labor and food prices.

If you’d like to let Mike know what you think about this episode, or if you have any ideas, suggestions, or you just want to say ‘hi’, you can reach him at

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Putting Faces to Voices, Recommended Reading, Big Changes Coming

Putting Faces to Voices
When I teach online classes, one of the first things I do is post a picture of myself so that students can see who’s teaching them and to try to make more of a connection. Strangely, in the over two years we’ve been doing The Politics Guys, I’ve yet to do the same thing here.

Recently, a listener mentioned that we needed to get some pictures of ourselves up on the Politics Guys website, which finally prompted me to action. Here’s what The Politics Guys look like (for better or worse). I’m first, followed by Jay, then Trey. read more

PG133: Immigration, Is Trump a Racist?, Medicaid, Surveillance Law

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Mike and Jay open the show with a discussion of everything that’s been happening on the immigration front this week, including the Trump administration’s decision to not extend temporary protected status to nearly 200,000 Salvadorians, a federal judge’s ruling that DACA must continue until the courts rule on it, and the potential immigration deal that blew up amid President Trump’s remarks about ‘shithole’ countries. Mike argues that President Trump is both a racist and an impediment to the Republican party. Jay agrees that Trump makes the job of Congressional Republicans much harder, but won’t go so far as to call the president a racist.

After that, it’s a look at the administration’s announcement that it will allow states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. Mike says that this is the Trump version of Obama’s DACA – implementing a program that contravenes legislative intent. Further, he argues that the work requirements arise more out of states’ desire to save money (at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable) than out of concern for the people who will be affected. Jay disagrees, arguing that there are significant differences between DACA and this, and that states are ultimately helping people by imposing a work requirement.

Next, Mike and Jay discuss the bipartisan House vote approving a six-year renewal of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping authority. Mike says this is not only bad for civil liberties, but is yet another example of President Trump’s disturbing lack of policy knowledge and his equally disturbing ability to be influenced by the last person he hears. Jay agrees with Mike’s point about President Trump, but feels that the NSA program is important and that renewing it without significant changes was the right move.

What Mike’s Reading:
The Decline of Anti-Trumpism. David Brooks

What Jay’s Reading:
The Cold War: A World History. Odd Arne Westad

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