Garland’s Special Counsel, Trump Tax Returns, MBS Immunity, Pot Legislation

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This week, Kristin returns to the podcast! She and Mike start off by discussing Attorney General Merrick Garland’s appointment of Jack Smith as Special Counsel in the Trump investigations. They also unpack the Trump Tax Return saga, as well as the Biden Administration’s ruling that Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has immunity in a civil lawsuit concerning the brutal torture and murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. They close with prospects for bipartisan cannabis legislation in the lame duck Congress in the form of the SAFE Banking and HOPE Acts.

Kristin’s Recommendations
The Splendid and the Vile. Erik Larson
Yellowstone

Mike’s Recommendations
Caravan. John Wasson
Inside Man

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Trump Special Counsel, Midterms & 2024, Same Sex Marriage, Biden & Xi

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Mike & Ken kick off the episode with a brief discussion of a story that just broke as they were starting to record – Attorney General appointing a special counsel in the Trump case.

Following that, they look at the nearly final results of the 2022 midterms, discussing what each party might take away from the elections, and then look toward the 2024 presidential and congressional races.

Then they turn to legislation – the Senate’s same sex marriage bill, which is expected to pass with bipartisan support and be signed into law by President Biden.

They close the show with a discussion of the meeting between Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Bali, the likelihood of even more aggressive Chinese action against Taiwan, and the G20 statement on the war in Ukraine.

Ken’s Recommendation
Chuck Berry: An American Life. R.J. Smith

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Midterms: Results, Reactions, Consequences, Ballot Issues

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It’s all midterms on this episode, with Mike & Jay starting with the results and their reactions, thoughts on why the ‘fundamentals’ got it so wrong, how the polls (mostly) got it so right, the Georgia runoff election, how this affects the Trump / DeSantis battle for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, what both parties should take away from the midterms, and how ballot issues related to abortion, marijuana, and election law changes fared.

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Pelosi Attack, Affirmative Action, Trump’s Taxes, Twitter, Midterms

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Mike & Jay open the show with a discussion of the response to the attack on Paul Pelosi, which sent the 82-year-old spouse of the Speaker of the House to the hospital with a fractured skull.

Next is a look at Supreme Court oral arguments in Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard. It seems likely that the Court will find racial preferences in college admissions unconstitutional, overturning its 2003 precedent in Grutter v. Bollinger.

Then the Guys turn to Chief Justice Roberts order preventing the House Ways and Means Committee from seeing Donald Trump’s tax returns. They consider the right of the committee to obtain the records, separation of powers issues, and how much this is likely to matter in the end.

Following that it’s the tumultuous takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk. Is Twitter being unfairly targeted by “woke” activists as Musk seems to think? Will Donald Trump soon be back on the platform and, if so, how much will this matter to his soon to be announced 2024 presidential campaign?

The episode closes with final thoughts on the 2022 midterm elections – Mike is preparing for what he sees as the almost inevitable, followed by some grim years for Democrats.

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Episode Release Delay

Due to an extended power outage, Jay and I weren’t able to record today. The juice is once again flowing and the next episode should be up by noon (EST) Sunday, November 6. – Mike

Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel on Strengthening American Democratic Attitudes

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Trey talks with Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel about their research on the interventions that increase Americans’ democratic attitudes.

Topics Trey, Robb, and Jan discuss include:
– What led to studying democratic attitudes?
– How can we decrease partisanship?
– What are antidemocratic behaviors?
– Democratic backsliding
– Relating to those who are not like us

Follow Robb Willer and Jan Voelkel on Twitter

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Fetterman & Oz, Midterms & Polling, Republicans & Ukraine

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Mike & Jay open the episode with a discussion of the debate between Pennsylvania US Senate Candidates John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz. They agree that Fetterman’s performance was difficult to watch, though Mike suggests that Fetterman’s difficulty on the debate state doesn’t necessarily tell us that much about his ability to function as a United States Senator. Jay raises concerns about the Fetterman campaign deceiving voters and wonders whether the Democratic Party shouldn’t have replaced Fetterman as a candidate. He also suggests some parallels between Fetterman and Georgia US Senate Candidate Herschel Walker.

After that, they discuss the midterm elections more generally. Both Mike and Jay stick with their predictions from a few weeks back, though Mike is more pessimistic about the chances of the Democrats maintaining control of the Senate and Jay more optimistic about his party’s shot at being in control of both chambers in January of 2023.

They close with a discussion of if a GOP-controlled House will continue to support Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Both Mike & Jay believe that Republicans will support Ukraine, and Mike points out that there are legitimate concerns about sending billions of dollars to the Ukrainian government, which has some not-insignificant problems with corruption and institutional capacity.

Jay’s Spooky / Holiday Recommendations
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Washington Irving
H.P. Lovecraft Short Stories. H. P. Lovecraft
Mayflower. Nathaniel Philbrick 

Mike’s Recommendation
Keychron Q-Series Mechanical Keyboards

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Truss Resignation, Russian and Iran, Senate Debates, Midterm Predictions, Lindsey Graham, Loan Forgiveness

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Trey & Ken start the episode with Liz Truss and her 44 days as Prime Minster of the United Kingdom. They consider not only what led to this moment, but also what the probability is for her successor. This includes the possibility of Boris Johnson returning.

Next, they discuss both Putin’s use of martial law, his implementation of strikes on civilian targets in Ukraine, and the involvement of Iran. Ken believes Iranian behavior is solely due to the miscalculation of former President Trump, Trey believes it is more likely related to the inherent biases of authoritarianism.

After that the pair discuss the numerous Senate debates over the weekend, but focus a lot of time on Ohio, Georgia and Nevada. They also include a discussion of their predictions for the midterms as we move closer to November.

They close the show with quickly looking at two court rulings: the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal denying Lindsey Graham’s immunity claims and Justice Barrett’s denial of an emergency injunction on the Biden administrations Student Loan Forgiveness Program.

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1/6 Committee, Trump Documents, Danchenko & Durham

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Mike & Jay kick off the episode with a discussion of the January 6th committee, including allegations that Trump knew he lost the election and chose to knowingly promote a false narrative as well as encourage the January 6th rioters. They also consider what the committee has accomplished overall, with Jay admitting that they ended up doing a better job than he expected. Jay predicts that Trump will be indicted for January 6th related charges, whereas Mike doesn’t think so.

Next, they move into the latest in the Trump documents seized by the FBI. Both Mike & Jay agree that the Supreme Court was right to not grant Trump’s very narrow emergency request. Mike wishes Attorney General Garland would make a statement condemning the leaks in the investigation, which Jay thinks Garland may have possibly had a hand in orchestrating.

They close with a look at the trial of Igor Danchenko, the third person Special Counsel John Durham has indicted as part of his two-year-long investigation in the FBI’s ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ probe into Trump collusion with Russia in the 2016 election. Mike says that while Durham’s investigation hasn’t led to the sort of widespread, high-level convictions some Trump supporters might have hoped for, it served to point out the sloppy nature of the FBI’s investigation. Jay agrees, though he takes a somewhat less charitable interpretation of the Bureau’s motives than does Mike

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Nuclear Armageddon, China Chip Ban, Pot Pardons, Trump Search, Judicial Corruption

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Mike & Jay open the show with a few updates followed by a discussion of President Biden’s comment that. “We’ve not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis”. The guys agree that while this may be technically true, it wasn’t the most politically astute thing for Biden to say, and it’s yet another example of his penchant for less than helpful public statements.

Next they consider the recent Biden administration ban of advanced computer chip technology to China. While Mike & Jay favor free trade as a default, in this instance they feel the administration made a wise decision.

Following that, it’s a look at Biden’s mass pardon of everyone convicted on federal marijuana possession charges. Once again, the guys are in agreement that this was a good thing to do. They get into a broader discussion of pot legalization where they express some concerns over the move to legalize it in the absence of a solid body of research on the long-term effects of marijuana use.

After that, they turn to the latest developments on the documents seized by the government in the search of Donald Trump’s home and office. Jay explains the legal technicalities, and both Mike and Jay conclude that even if the Supreme Court gives Trump what he wants, it will ultimately be a delay that probably won’t have a major effect on the outcome of the investigation.

They close by discussing the state of the federal judiciary as the Supreme Court starts up its new term. The focus is on corruption – why Ken regularly uses the term to describe actions of various conservative judges, what he means by the term, why Jay takes issue with that usage, and how bias and motivated reasoning are inherent parts of any human decision-making process.

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