Nord Stream Sabotage, Russian Annexation, Special Master Overruled, McConnell, Old Joe

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Trey opens the episode with a brief tribute to the passing of Coolio before Trey & Ken start the episode with the recent sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines. Relatedly they discuss Russia’s recent annexation of parts of Ukraine and what political or military changes that might bring.

Next, they discuss Judge Cannon’s overruling of special master Dearie. Ken explains why he was wrong about the appointment and the legal oddities of arguing for executive branch privilege against the executive branch.

Then it’s a discussion of McConnell’s support for the Electoral Count Act. The guys discuss the differences between the Senate and House version of the bills and why McConnell has decided to agree to legislation on the issue after Jan 6.

They close the show with a discussion of Joe Biden’s age in regards to his Jackie Walorski comments and the White House followup. Trey argues that there is eventually a reason for individuals to age out of the executive office while Ken argues a dead Democrat is better than a live Republican.

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Trump’s Legal Troubles, Putin’s Nuclear Threat

Mike & Jay open the show with a discussion of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that District Judge Aileen Cannon abused her discretion in denying the Department of Justice use of the roughly 100 classified documents they seized in their Mar-a-Lago raid until a special master reviewed them. Jay doesn’t entirely agree with the 11th Circuit, arguing that Judge Cannon acted reasonably given the history of deception by the FBI and the more general perception that the government is out to get Donald Trump. Mike agrees that this is a perception, but only on the right, and that one can acknowledge unlawful behavior by some people in law enforcement without believing that this requires that judges create a more lenient set of standards for Donald Trump.

Next is a look at the civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against Donald Trump and three of his children for misrepresentation of assets. Mike surprises Jay by coming out against the lawsuit – not because Mike thinks Donald Trump didn’t overvalue assets, but because he sees it as a largely victimless offense (those who lent to Trump seemed willing to accept his valuations without independent confirmation) and nearly impossible to prove, making it not only a questionable use of government resources, but also something that might actually strengthen Trump’s “they’re out to get me” narrative.

They close by considering Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s announcement of sham elections in four Russian controlled Ukrainian areas, and Putin’s threat to use any means necessary to defend “Russian territory” from attack. Mike expects that the West won’t be willing to risk escalation over a low-yield Russian nuclear strike and that in the end, Putin will come away from this in control of at least part of Ukraine. Jay is more optimistic about the potential for Ukrainians to reclaim much of their territory as well as the willingness of not only the West, but China to punish Russia for using nuclear weapons.

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Special Master, Inflation, Migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Graham’s Abortion Ban

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Mike & Jay open the episode with an update of developments in the FBI search of Donald Trump’s home and office, including the special master appointed by Judge Cannon, Cannon’s denial of DOJ’s request to allow them access to certain documents, and how they expect the process to play out.

Next, they take a look at the August inflation report. Mike & Jay agree that the current inflation picture is troubling, but Mike points out that things could potentially look a lot better before too long. They conclude that while the Fed should continue to raise rates, they shouldn’t raise them too high too quickly.

Then it’s a discussion of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flying a bunch of migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. The guys both see it as a political stunt – along with fellow GOP Governor Greg Abbott’s migrant relocations – but Jay believes it’s making an important point about our broken asylum system. Mike doesn’t dispute the brokenness of our system but argues that the Biden administration has tried to advance immigration legislation, only to have it spurned by Republicans in Congress.

They close the show with a discussion of the 15-week national abortion ban proposed by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsay Graham. Mike thinks it would be a reasonable compromise policy if only it didn’t include a provision allowing stricter state limitations on abortion. Jay isn’t quite sure whether Graham’s proposal is politically brilliant or a dumb move just before the midterms, but in either case, he agrees with Mitch McConnell that this is an issue best left to the states.

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Bill Kuhn on the GOP as a Threat to Democracy

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Mike talks with Bill Kuhn, co-founder of Fight for a Better America and author of Facts & Fury, where he make the argument that the Republican Party has done significant damage to American democracy.

Topics Mike & Bill discuss include:

  • how Republicans are strategically smarter than Democrats
  • the electoral advantages of the GOP
  • important differences between Republican activists and ‘regular Republicans’
  • the potential value and danger of inflammatory rhetoric
  • the GOP’s ‘unhealthy obsession’ with private enterprise
  • pushing unpopular policy through manufacturing outrage & division
  • Republicans and cancel culture
  • and lots more!

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Special Masters, Trump Rally, Removing Insurrectionists, Labor Laws

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Mike & Jay open the episode with a discussion of Judge Aileen Cannon’s order to appoint a special master to review the Trump Mar-a-Lago raid documents. Mike agrees with many legal analysts (including former Trump Attorney General Bill Barr) that the ruling is on shaky legal ground but sees is as politically wise. Jay agrees, though he thinks that Cannon’s order is more defensible than Mike believes it is.

Next, they turn to Donald Trump’s Pennsylvania rally, which was full of the usual Trump tropes – wild unsupported assertions, airing of grievances, as well as the occasional mention of the candidates he was ostensibly there to support. Mike and Jay agree that Trump may have willingly walked into a trap set by Biden and Democrats, who are eager to make the upcoming midterm elections about Trump. But Jay doesn’t think that it’s likely to move the needle much, while Mike cautions his fellow Democrats to not be too surprised if Republicans end up with control of both chambers in January of 2025.

Then it’s a look at the decision of a New Mexico judge who removed county commissioned Couy Griffin from office, citing his violation of the 14th Amendment’s Insurrection Clause. Mike & Jay agree that what Griffin did doesn’t amount to insurrection, and that it’s a bad precedent for judges to start deciding that those convicted of no more than misdemeanors are insurrectionists who are barred from office.

Finally, they discuss California’s Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, which Governor Newsome signed into law on Labor Day. Mike really likes the sectoral bargaining basis of the law, but he was disappointed in finding no good analyses of the costs and benefits of the legislation. Jay comes out firing, as he hates pretty much everything about the new law.

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Gorbachev, Biden on MAGA, Trump Search, Alaska’s RCV Election

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Mike & Trey open the episode with a look back at the political legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, who died this week. They believe that even though Gorbachev has long been out of power, his impact is felt to this day and there are important lessons we can take away from his failure to preserve the Soviet system.

After that, they’re joined by Ken Katkin for a discussion of President Biden’s prime-time speech warning of the danger to democracy posed by MAGA Republicans. Ken and Mike end up being somewhat more critical of Biden’s speech than Trey, who believes it was important for Biden to make a strong, public statement against forces that turned the current GOP into a party Trey finds difficult to support.

Then it’s a discussion of the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and office. They get into what the unsealed affidavit revealed (not much, due to all the redactions), Trump’s call for a special master to go through the seized materials, the potential dangers of a Trump prosecution, and how they envision events playing out.

They close the episode by looking at the special election to fill Alaska’s lone US House seat, where Democrat Mary Peltola came out on top of Republican Sarah Palin. Mike, Trey, and Ken consider what this election might tell us about the upcoming midterm elections, as well as their thoughts about rank choice voting more generally.

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