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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Tom LoBianco on Mike Pence

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Will talks with Tom LoBianco, author of Piety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House.

Topics Will and Mr. LoBianco discuss include:

    • The role of Mike Pence’s faith in his politics
    • The process that led to Pence landing the Vice Presidency
    • The impact of Pence’s wife Karen on his political career
    • The difficulties in transitioning from a news reporter to writing a biography

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Syria, Impeachment, China-NBA, and the Supreme Court Term

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Will and Brian begin by discussing President Trump’s decision to pull troops for Northern Syria and its potential impact on the Middle East and America’s battle with ISIS. Will points out that even Trump’s typical allies are openly questioning this decision—including Graham, McConnell, Netanyahu, and Saudi Arabia. Brian is concerned with the impact this could have on the Kurds—even projecting that ethnic cleansing could be the ultimate result of this decision. Will and Brian both posit that this could have electoral impacts—possibly even swaying some on their feelings toward the impeachment inquiry.

Next, the Guys turn to examining the current state of the impeachment inquiry. Will notes that there still doesn’t seem to be a smoking gun that makes it likely to him that Trump is removed from office. Brian agrees, noting that while he finds plenty of things Trump has done to be impeachable they read like an anthology. Will continues to question why if the Russia investigation was such a smoking gun for Democrats that they have completely abandoned that narrative in exchange for the Ukraine. He further wonders why Democrats aren’t focusing their energies more toward the 2020 election. Brian also argues that awakening the Trump base and relying on polls today is problematic for Democrats.

Brian and Will then turn to discussing the free speech and trade implications of the current National Basketball Association-China feud. Both believe the Rockets General Manager was well within his rights to tweet support for Hong Kong but should have realized it could lead to significant backlash. Given the current NBA revenue coming from Chinese partnerships, Will wonders how league owners will ultimately respond. Both Guys believe the NBA was wrong to not unequivocally back the right of the individual to send the tweet in the first place and wonder how the timing of this event will impact ongoing U.S.-China trade talks.

Lastly, the Guys talk about the upcoming Supreme Court term. They focus on the Louisiana abortion case in this episode. Brian is concerned about diminishing rights for women. Will argues that regardless of what one feels about the issue of abortion, using assumptions of risk to justify limiting abortion is not a data-informed argument to make today.

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Nick Tomboulides on Term Limits

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Trey talks with Nick Tomboulides, an Executive Director of U.S. Term Limits. Under his leadership, USTL launched the Term Limits Convention, a campaign to obtain a congressional term limits amendment via the state-directed convention. Nick also serves as a policy advisor with a national think tank and is on the board of directors for a local political caucus in Florida.

Topics Trey and Mr. Tomboulisdes discuss include:

  • Why should Americans want term limits?
  • Why should citizens want a national convention as opposed to more traditional Constitutional amendment processes?
  • Should we be worried about a runaway convention?
  • Why not bypass state legislatures?
  • State term limits and their shortcomings

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Ukraine, Hunter & Joe Biden, Impeachment, Bernie’s Heart, Warren’s Rise

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This week, Mike and Kristin unpack the current hot topic of Ukraine/Trump/Biden and impeachment inquiries. Mike kicks things off with a detailed list of the facts. Both note that it’s far too easy to tread into conjecture and opinion, which is why the conversation gets muddled. 

Mike and Kristin then dive into each of the points, discussing recent subpoenas and text messages, whether Trump’s actions were politically motivated and/or definitively corrupt, Trump calling on Chinese government officials to investigate Biden’s alleged corruption, America’s long history of putting pressure on Ukrainian officials to investigate and end corruption, Rudy Giuliani’s role in the matter, and how Hunter and Joe Biden play into all of this. Mike and Kristin each try to see things from the other’s perspective, and both admit that bias is causing significant divide. 

Mike says that he has a hard time not seeing clear corruption, while Kristin says that she has difficulty seeing this as different from anything else Democrats have done. Both agree that investigating facts is important, and Kristin mentions that she felt the same way during the Mueller Investigation and will keep an open mind, but she will need evidence of quid pro quo in order to render a decision. They both predict that impeachment will move through the House and stall in the Senate with a successful Motion to Dismiss. 

Next, Mike and Kristin tackle Democratic campaign updates. From Bernie Sanders’s heart attack, timing, and 3rd quarter fundraising reports, some candidates are emerging as winners or losers. Mike and Kristin discuss Biden’s dip in popularity and fundraising issues. Mike says that he feels Biden is the candidate who has the experience and approach necessary to be a successful President. Kristin mentions that energy and personality need to be considered, and that the Democrats may be sacrificing Biden for impeachment headlines. 

Mike also notes that things may start to “thin out” after the next Democratic debate on October 15th – both will wait to see what happens in the aftermath.

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Bruce Ackerman on Revolutionary Constitutions

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Mike talks with Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale. Dr. Ackerman is one of the world’s preeminent scholars in the area of comparative constitutional law, with his ideas having been the basis for constitutional reforms in multiple countries. He’s the author of 19 books, the most recent of which is Revolutionary Constitutions: Charismatic Leadership and the Rule of Law.

Topics Mike and Dr. Ackerman discuss include:

  • how regime change happens
  • charismatic leaders and movements
  • if the US Supreme Court should look to other high courts for guidance
  • major constitutional revolutions in American history
  • FDR and the constitutional revolution that wasn’t
  • Ronald Reagan and the strategy of transformative appointment
  • the anti-constitutionalism of Donald Trump
  • why the 2020 election is so critical

Bruce Ackerman on Twitter

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