Kennedy Retires, Travel Ban, Public Unions, CA Abortion Law, TX Redistricting, Immigration

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This week’s show starts off with Mike and Jay discussing Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement. There’s so much to cover here that the Guys decided to do an entire episode on it, which will drop in the usual Wednesday slot (July 4).

There were a bunch of important Supreme Court decisions announced this week, which Mike and Jay then get into. First was a big win for President Trump’s travel ban. Jay thinks the Court make the right call, but Mike – after initially agreeing earlier in the week – has changed his mind, and thinks the four liberal dissenters got it right.

After that is another 5-4 conservative ruling that overturned a 41-year-old precedent that allowed public sector unions to charge non-members a collective bargaining fee. Jay once again sides with the conservative majority, while Mike argues that their decision rests on shaky grounds and, as such, he would default to allowing the policy of the states as opposed to what he sees as conservative judicial activism.

Then it’s a look at the Court – yet again along 5-4 ideological lines – overturning the California FACT Act, which required anti-abortion ‘pregnancy crisis centers’ to make mention of abortion services available elsewhere as well as to let clients know if the center does not have a state medical license. Mike agrees with the 9th Circuit, which held that this was neutral commercial speech and therefore subject to regulation. Jay believes the majority on the Supreme Court was right in arguing that this amounts to compelled speech promoting abortion, and therefore a violation of the 1st Amendment.

The final big case of the week involved a Texas congressional and state legislative redistricting plan that a lower court said was an impermissible racial gerrymander. It was another 5-4 ideological split, with Jay standing with the conservative majority who argued that the burden of proof was on the plaintiffs and they didn’t demonstrate that Texas acted in bad faith. Mike is pretty sure that Texas did act in bad faith, but because he didn’t see clear proof of this, he reluctantly agrees that the Court’s conservatives were right on this one.

Finally, Mike and Jay discuss the major developments in immigration policy in the last week: President Trump’s suggestion that immigrants aren’t entitled to due process, the multi-state lawsuit against family separations, a federal judge ordering the administration to reunite families, the incompetence with which the policy has been carried out from the very beginning, and why Congress hasn’t acted, and it’s likely to any time soon.

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Police Immunity, Regulating Business, Covering Trump’s Lies, How We Perceive Migrants

In this listener comment episode, Mike and Jay address the following listener questions:

  • Should police be given the level of qualified immunity from prosecution they currently receive? Will a recent federal court ruling change anything?
  • We need to keep an eye on regulators, but doesn’t Jay think we also need to watch companies? How do we keep companies honest, and working in the best interest of consumers and the public?
  • How can the media balance respect for the office of the presidency with fair coverage of presidential untruths?
  • How do our perceptions of migrants shape our attitudes toward immigration policy?

What Mike’s Binge Watching (and reading) While his Wife is Away on a Month-Long International Trip

What Jay’s Reading

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Family Separation, SCOTUS on Gerrymandering & Sales Tax, Space Force!, US Leaves Human Rights Council

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This week’s show starts with Mike and Jay discussing the bipartisan furor over family separations that have occurred as a result of the Trump administration’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ immigration policy. Mike argues that the policy is inhumane, that Donald Trump lied when he said he could do nothing about it – as evidenced by the Executive Order he signed halting the policy – and that the policy was incompetently rolled out. Jay agrees about the incompetence and the president being wrong about having his hands tied, but believes that the policy’s effects have been exaggerated by many on the left and in the media.

After that, it’s a look at two important Supreme Court decisions. The first is a highly anticipated ruling on partisan gerrymandering. The Court disappointed many people by deciding not to decide, arguing that the cases weren’t ready for their review. Mike and Jay, while disagreeing on the underlying issue of partisan gerrymandering, agree that the Court made the right call here.

The second case involves an ideologically unusual 5-4 split in a ruling that will allow states to require out-of-state merchants to charge sales tax. Mike agrees with the policy, but sides with the dissenters – led by Chief Justice John Roberts – on the law, agreeing that this was a matter for Congress to address, not the Court. Jay, while less pleased on policy grounds, shares Mike’s approval of the judicial restraint argued for by Roberts and the three other Justices in the minority.

Next is a discussion of the Trump administration’s proposals to create a ‘Space Force’ and to combine the Departments of Education and Labor. Mike is skeptical about the need for a sixth branch of the armed forces, while Jay thinks it could be a reasonable idea given what’s sure to be the increasing military importance of space. Mike’s less sure about the Education / Labor merger, and Jay agrees that it would need to be fleshed out considerably more. Given that neither of these things can occur without Congressional approval, it seems unlikely they’ll happen any time soon, though Jay points out that it can be useful to float big ideas as trial balloons.

Finally, the Guys debate the wisdom of the United States withdrawing from the UN Human Rights Council. Jay points out that the Council has a massive bias against Israel and is filled with human rights abusing states. Mike agrees, but believes that the Obama approach of engaging with even very flawed international organizations in an attempt to improve them is usually a better strategy than walking away.

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Why the Electoral College? Why a Two Party System? Ranked-Choice Voting Systems Explained

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This episode features Trey and Ken’s responses to the following listener questions:

  • Why do we have the Electoral College?
  • Why isn’t there a way to invalidate fraudulent elections?
  • What would it take for a third party rise to national prominence?
  • Can you explain ranked-choice voting?
  • What do you think about ranked-choice voting in light of the recent Maine election?

What We’re Reading
A Spy Named Orphan: The Enigma of Donald Maclean by Roland Philipps

The Kennedy Brothers: The Rise and Fall of Jack and Bobby by Richard Mahoney

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Introducing Politics Plus

Mike talks about his new interview podcast, Politics Plus. On the show, he’ll be interviewing men and women from across the ideological spectrum about American politics, economics, history, and culture.

You can find and subscribe to Politics Plus by searching for it in your podcast app. If for for any reason that doesn’t work, you should also be able to subscribe by entering the show’s feed URL into your podcast app. You can also listen on the Politics Plus website.


DOJ Investigates FBI, Trump Meets Kim, Supreme Court Upholds Ohio Voter Purge, China vs U.S. on Tariffs

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Trey and Ken open the show by discussing the 500 page Justice Department finding on the FBI. They both largely agree the report shows former FBI Director James Comey was insubordinate, but they differ on who it helps most rhetorically. Trey thinks that the FBI agents didn’t express their political positions in a responsible way while Ken thinks that the report understates the amount the FBI helped Trump.

Then it’s a discussion of Trump’s meeting with Kim Jung-Un in Singapore. The Guys generally agree that the outcome didn’t amount to much. They agree that the more discussion is better, but they’re pessimistic on the long-term benefits of the meeting.

Next, Trey plays devil’s advocate and asks Ken what he liked or didn’t like about the Supreme Court decision upholding Ohio’s method of purging non-voters. Ken thinks it pointlessly culls the rolls of voters without netting much of a benefit to the state.

Finally Trey and Ken talk free trade and the increasingly angry trade war emerging between the U.S. and China, spearheaded by Trump. The two spar a bit about the benefits of free trade and when trade barriers might be a good thing.

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Pro-Choice Healthcare, North Korea, Voter Mobilization, GOP Strategy, Trade Philosophy, Good Regulations?

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This episode features Mike and Jay’s responses to the following listener questions:

Jay says he’s pro-choice with it comes to people choosing their own health care. Is he also pro-choice when it comes to a woman’s right to choose whether or not to end her pregnancy?

Jay suggested that President Trump’s hardball negotiating style brought North Korea back to the bargaining table. But President Trump was the one who initially cancelled the summit, meaning that Jay’s comment is factually inaccurate. Can Jay explain this?

How can both parties energize voters to participate and turn out in 2018 and beyond?

Aside from judicial nominations, is the Republican Party too short-term oriented in its thinking?

What’s the justification for free trade with emerging economies, especially if the result is lost American jobs? Don’t emerging economies need the U.S. more than the U.S. needs them?

Government regulation ended child labor, provided us with a safer food supply, and has led to many other societal goods. Does Jay really oppose government regulation? Can he explain his position on regulation?

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G7 Meet, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Immigration, Trump’s Pardons

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Mike and Jay open with a look at the G7 meeting in Quebec, Canada. They agree that President Trump’s protectionism is bad policy, though Jay still thinks that the president might be using his tough talk as a negotiating tactic and may not impose long-term tariff barriers. Mike says that President Trump’s call to readmit Russia to the group is a horrible idea because, unlike the G7 countries, Russia is not a real democracy.

Then it’s a discussion of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. The Guys agree that this was a very narrow ruling (in scope, not vote split) and that the Court should have addressed the key free expression issue that was raised. Although Mike is a strong supporter of LGBTQ rights, he thinks the concurrence of Justices Gorsuch and Thomas, which argues that forcing the baker to create a cake for a same-sex wedding is a form of unconstitutional compelled speech, makes some strong points.

After that, it’s immigration – first the move by House GOP moderates to force a vote on allowing Dreamers to stay in the country legally, and then a discussion of rising illegal border crossing arrests, the wisdom of the Trump administration’s ‘family separation’ and ‘zero tolerance’ policies, and a big-picture look at what U.S. immigration policy should be.

Finally, Mike and Jay talk about President Trump’s commutation of Alice Marie Johnson’s sentence and his view that he can pardon himself, if he so chooses.

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Robert Sutter on US China Relations

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Mike talks to Dr. Robert Sutter, a Professor of International Affairs at the Elliott School of George Washington University. Dr. Sutter has worked both in government and in academia, including positions with the CIA, State Department, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He’s published 20 books, over 200 articles and several hundred government reports dealing with contemporary East Asian and Pacific countries and their relations with the United States. His most recent book is US-China Relations: Perilous Past, Uncertain Present.

Mike and Dr. Sutter discuss how China is like Prussia, China’s investment in Africa, the US / China trade deficit, China & North Korea, if the 21st century will be the ‘Chinese Century’, and lots more.

We’d really appreciate it if you could take the short, super-easy Politics Guys libsyn survey. Here’s the link:

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Trade Wars, Trump-Kim Summit, Jobs Report, Arkansas Abortion Law, Trump’s Pardons

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This week, Mike and Jay start with a look at the Trump Administration’s announcement that it would be imposing hefty steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. allies Mexico, Canada, and the European Union on ‘national security’ grounds. The administration is also considering a major tariff on imported cars (also ostensibly for national security). Both Mike and Jay think this protectionism is one of the worst things to come out of the Trump administration, though Jay is more hopeful that it’s more bluster from the president that won’t end up as set policy.

After that, they discuss the off-again, on-again summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un. Mike says that President Trump is exactly the sort of person least suited to carry out the sort of careful, patient negotiations that could defuse the threat posed by North Korea. Jay feels that the president’s show of strength is the right approach for North Korea, though both he and Mike wish the president understood the importance of dealing with U.S. allies differently than he deals with adversaries.

Next is a look at the extremely good jobs report. Mike points out that while the U.S. is in the midst of the second longest expansion in modern history, wages are still somewhat stagnant and economic growth is far slower than it’s been at many points in the post World War II era. Both Jay and Mike agree that President Trump can’t claim responsibility for the expansion any more than President Obama could, and they lament the tendency of the media to overemphasize the importance of government when it comes to economic growth.

Then they turn to the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear a case involving an anti-abortion law from Arkansas. While Mike and Jay differ on the wisdom of abortion rights restrictions, they agree that the Court was correct on procedure. In the end, they expect Arkansas’ law to be overturned as unconstitutional, as the Court did with a similar Texas law in 2016.

Finally, the Guys discuss President Trump’s pardon of conservative provocateur Dinesh D’Souza, and whether the president is using his pardons to send a message to people Robert Mueller has indicted in his Russia investigation. Mike doubts it, believing that it’s simply President Trump being his impulsive self for the most part. Mike somewhat surprises Jay by favoring the president’s pardon of D’Souza, who Mike says is an awful person, but who was unfairly singled out by the Obama administration for prosecution. Jay points out that it’s the awful people who are most in need of protection – and sometimes pardons.

If you haven’t yet filled out the super quick and easy (literally no more than a minute) Politics Guys survey, we hope you will. It will help libsyn, our new podcast host, grow our audience and keep the show financially viable. Here’s the link:

What Mike’s Reading
Mind Control: Barbara Ehrenreich’s radical critique of wellness and self-improvement.

What Jay’s Reading
Worried About Incivility? Start With Yourself.

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