Government Shutdown, Mattis Resigns, Criminal Justice Reform, Obamacare Declared Unconstitutional

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Mike and Jay open their final show of 2018 with a discussion of the partial government shutdown caused by President Trump’s unwillingness to sign a spending bill that doesn’t include at least $5 billion in border wall funding. House Republicans obliged him, but there aren’t enough votes in the Senate and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to heed Trump’s advice to abandon the filibuster to pass the bill over Democrats’ objections. Jay believes that this issue will ultimately be a winning one for Republicans because we need better border security. Mike argues that what we really need isn’t better security, but better immigration policy.

Next, the Guys talk about President Trump’s declaration of victory over ISIS in Syria and announcement that U.S. troops will be withdrawing. This was quickly followed by the resignation of Trump’s Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. Mike and Jay agree that this was a very bad move by Trump, and one that will benefit Russia. They also believe that the president’s continued erratic behavior will only make it more difficult to attract ‘the best people’ to top administration jobs.

After that, they turn to some good policy news – the passage of the ‘First Step Act’, a significant reform of the criminal justice system. Mike and Jay applaud the measure, with Mike noting that the US leads the world in incarceration and that with only 13 percent of all U.S. prisoners being held in federal prisons, much more still needs to be done.

The show closes with a discussion of the recent ruling declaring the entirety of Obamacare unconstitutional. Mike and Jay agree that the judge in this case almost certainly overstepped, though Jay believes that the mandate portion of the law is in fact unconstitutional and that this portion of the ruling will be upheld on appeal.

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Tyler Cowen on Stubborn Attachments to Prosperity and Freedom

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Mike talks with Tyler Cowen, a professor of Economics at George Mason University, blogger at Marginal Revolution, host of the ‘Conversations with Tyler‘ podcast, regular contributor at ‘Bloomberg Opinion‘, and author of a number of books including The Great Stagnation, Average is Over, The Complacent Class, and most recently Stubborn Attachments: A Vision for a Society of Free, Prosperous, and Responsible Individuals.

Topics Mike & Tyler discuss include:
– Why we should focus more on economic growth.
– The importance of sustainable growth.
– How future people should be valued.
– Why human rights should trump even economic growth.
– Economic growth and human happiness.
– Tyler’s specific policy recommendations.

Follow Tyler on Twitter

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Chief of Staff, Cohen Sentencing, A Not Nice Photo Op, Huawei Arrest

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Trey is joined this week by Athena King. The two begin by looking at the ongoing developments in the roll of chief of staff. Several individuals, including this week Chris Christie, have turned down the position. Announced just before the show, Mick Mulvaney is named new chief of staff. Trey talks about the long-standing difficulty of the role. Both hosts question what Mulvaney hopes to gain and what we have learned about the White House through the chief of staff turnover.

Next Trey and Athena turn to Michael Cohen’s sentencing and the aftermath. The hosts explore Cohen’s statements on TV and President Trump’s Twitter response. It leads to a broader discussion of what comes next.

After the Cohen conversation the pair turn to the not so nice photo op. Trey firmly believes it was Trump at his best — taking control and understanding media better than his opponents. Athena thinks it was a mixed bag and the two argue a bit about who was best served by the exchange and if it marks a longer term change for strategy.

Finally, Trey and Athena discuss the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Huawei. The talk about China’s retaliation against Canada, the ongoing trade war with China, and if recent changes to policy in China are a Trump win as he suggests.

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Complex Government, Gerrymandering, Moral Foundations of Politics, Election Misconduct, Mandatory Voting

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In this listener comment show, Mike & Jay address questions concerning:

  • The complexity of the U.S. system of government.
  • Minimizing partisan advantage in redistricting.
  • The moral foundations of conservative and liberal thinking.
  • If Jay was wrong about election misconduct in Florida.
  • Whether mandatory voting is a good idea.

What Mike’s Reading
The inexhaustible desire to keep talking about Marx

What Jay’s Reading
President George W. Bush’s eulogy for his father.

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Bush Funeral, NC Vote Fraud, Lame Duck Legislation, Khashoggi Killing, Trump and China

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This week’s show opens with Jay’s thoughts on the life and presidency of George H.W. Bush. Mike, who like Jay greatly admired Bush, adds that it wasn’t long after Bush left office that the GOP took a decisive turn toward a nastier, more in-your-face approach to politics that he thinks was a wrong turn for the party and the country.

After that comes a discussion of alleged absentee ballot vote fraud in North Carolina. Both Mike and Jay have concerns about it, with Mike pointing out that this isn’t the sort of fraud targeted by all of the Republican anti vote fraud measures of recent years. Mike argues that that’s because absentee voting tends to favor Republicans, and the whole vote fraud crackdown has been a cover for suppressing Democratic turnout. Jay disagrees, arguing that in-person fraud has been the initial focus because it’s easier to address. He adds that there should be less voting by mail, a position Mike strongly disagrees with, over concerns with unfair barriers to participation.

Then it’s a look at actions taken by the Wisconsin and Michigan lame duck Republican legislatures to limit the power of incoming Democratic officials. Mike says that this sort of kneecapping of the other party, while done by both sides, is done more by Republicans. Jay isn’t so sure, and doesn’t really buy Mike’s argument that this violates an important political norm.

Next is discussion of CIA Director Gina Haspel’s briefing to Senators about the involvement of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mike and Jay agree that the evidence seems compelling, but they disagree about what the consequences should be. Mike argues for cutting off all military aid and weapons sales to the Saudis, at least for a while, whereas Jay thinks that might be too damaging to the important US / Saudi Arabia relationship.

The show closes with the U.S. / China trade war. Once again, it seems that President Trump has overstated what he accomplished, with Jay pointing out that Trump’s injection of so much uncertainty into the trade relationship has been tough on businesses. The Guys also discuss what effect the arrest of the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei might have on U.S. / China relations.

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Trump vs The Fed, Compulsory Voting, Underreported Bipartisanship, Hidden Tribes

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Will and Mike open the show with an analysis of President Trump’s criticism of Fed Chair Jerome Powell. As part of the discussion, they walk through the role of the Fed and the differences between fiscal and monetary policy. They agree that Trump’s politicization of the Fed is potentially problematic for both the short and long-term.

Next is listener mail, where Will and Mike answer questions regarding compulsory voting and the media’s lack of focus on bipartisanship in American politics.

Lastly, Mike talks about an extended profile of Nancy Pelosi he says is worth checking out as well as a ‘Hidden Tribes ideology quiz‘ that he and Will recently took. Will says that lately he’s been reading a lot about college football coach firings and the impact of diminished state funding for higher education on coach firing decisions.

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George H.W. Bush, Cohen Plea, Mississippi Senate Runoff, GM Layoffs, Tear Gassing Children

On this week’s show, Will and Mike begin by speaking about the legacy of President George H. W. Bush and their memories of his career. The first story discussed from the week is the guilty plea entered by Michael Cohen in federal court. Will and Mike use the plea to discuss the status of the Mueller investigation and the impact Cohen’s plea could have on Trump. Both agree that impeachment is likely off the table as neither expect a smoking gun to emerge. But they disagree on how helpful the investigation may be to the Democrats in 2020.

Next, they discuss the results of the Mississippi Senate run-off election on Tuesday. Neither were surprised by the results. Will explained that the results suggest there are areas of the country where even moderate Democrats are going to struggle due to demographics and history. Mike points out how elections like this help Republicans in the Senate—especially considering recent judicial confirmation challenges.

The next topic is the decision by General Motors to idle five plants in North America. Will—who grew up near GM Lordstown—discussed the impact of the closure on local communities and the potential reasons for GM’s decision while Mike reminds listeners of Trump’s promises regarding no plant closures under his administration. Both agree the response by politicians to GM will be worth monitoring. They close with a discussion of the role and impact of unions on the closures.

Lastly, Will and Mike talk about the situation on the San Diego-Tijuana border last weekend. While neither directly challenge the use of tear gas, they differ on how to best handle asylum processing and the expectation on Mexico to house refugees while they await a response from the United States.

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