PG13: Navigating the News: A Political Media User’s Guide

In this episode, Jay interviews Mike about his book Navigating the News: A Political Media User’s Guide. After nearly two decades of teaching college students about politics and the media, Mike decided that he wanted to write a book on the topic – something short and engaging that brought together the best of what he’d been recommending and using in his classes for years, most notably Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Farhad Manjoo’s True Enough.

In the interview, Mike and Jay discuss:
– If this is a new golden age for media.
– Whether the mainstream media has a liberal bias.
– Why you shouldn’t get your political news from TV.
– The challenges of filtering out bad political media.
– Why all media is biased, and what you can do about it.
– The Twinkies and broccoli of political media.
– Where to go for the best political information.

PG12: America’s Failing Experiment: How We The People Have Become The Problem

This week, I interview Dr. Kirby Goidel, political scientist and author of the book America’s Failing Experiment: How We The People Have Become the Problem.

Dr. Goidel is a Professor and Fellow in the Department of Communication and the Public Policy Research Institute at Texas A&M. Prior to that, he was Scripps Howard Professor, Director of the Public Policy Research Lab, and Director of the Louisiana Survey at LSU. He’s authored or co-authored several books – including Misreading the Bill Of Rights: Top Ten Myths Concerning Your Rights and Liberties which was released on March 31 of this year. Dr. Goidel also has a long string of publications in a wide range of peer-reviewed academic journals over the past several decades. In other words, when it comes to American politics and public opinion, he really knows his stuff.

And so when I saw he’d written a book about about how ‘we the people’ were the problem with American democracy, I was intrigued. His argument – essentially that the problem with modern democracy is too much democracy – is both contrarian and controversial, but he backs it up with strong arguments and plenty of data. We had a great conversation and I think you’ll enjoy hearing what he has to say.

In this episode, Dr. Goidel and I talk about:
– Whether Americans can handle the job of self-governance.
– Politicians who are *too* in touch with the people, and why that’s a problem.
– How a more democratic system is more vulnerable to special interests.
– Whether Ted Cruz is more dangerous than Huey Long.
– If a return to ‘Constitutional Principles’ would help.
– Why more education won’t help much.
– Why campaign finance reform won’t help much either.
– Some ideas as to what could turn things around.
– If American democracy is doomed to fail.

PG11: Police Brutality, Riots, and Same-Sex Marriage

This week, the Politics Guys look at the situation in Baltimore: the riots, the causes, and what can be done to reform the police and restore the community. We also discuss Obergefell v. Hodges – the same-sex marriage case heard by the Supreme Court this week. Finally, we talk about Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, the first Democratic challenger to Hillary Clinton.

In this episode, we discuss:
– Police corruption.
– If there are justifications for rioting.
– Whether Democrats are to blame for what happened in Baltimore.
– Federal aid: a way to help Baltimore, or throwing money away?
The Wire’s David Simon on the disastrous drug war and bad policing.
– Whether there’s a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
– Predictions on how the Supreme Court will rule.
– How a pro-same-sex marriage ruling might help Republicans.
– Bernie Sanders’ quixotic challenge to Hillary Clinton.

PG10: Can Politics Save The Planet?

In honor of the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, the Politics Guys focus on the environment. Our air and water are much cleaner than they were in 1970, and there’s no longer a gaping hole in the ozone layer. Today, the big concern is the threat of global warming. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, which they shared with Al Gore) has concluded that climate change is real, it’s almost certainly caused by human activity, and if we keep on doing what we’re doing we’ll be in Big Trouble before long.

In this episode, we discuss:
– How much we can trust climate scientists.
– If working to minimize climate change is the best way to spend scarce resources.
– Why we’re still subsidizing coal and oil.
– Whether it would be smart to increase subsidies for renewable energy.
– What types of energy are the most cost-effective (there are some surprises here).
– Building more nuclear reactors: Smart move, or disaster waiting to happen?
– Whether technology will save us from ourselves.

PG09: Hillary & Marco Join the Party, Obama Makes Nice with Iran and Cuba

This Week’s Stories:
– Why Hillary will win the nomination, but maybe not the presidency.
– Marco Rubio: everyone’s second choice.
– Obama compromises on Iran, but will there even be a deal?
– Start planning that Havana vacation: Obama opens relations with Cuba.

PG08: Rand Paul, Iranian Demands, and Police Brutality

This Week’s Stories:
– Rand Paul: His strategy, his chances (slim), and his backup plan.
– Iran’s Supreme Leader makes life even more difficult for US negotiators
– Police Brutality: what, if anything, can we do?

PG07: Iran, Indiana’s Anti-Gay Law, Corruption in the Senate

This Week’s Stories
– The Iran Deal: Will ‘The Great Satan’ Get Burned by the Mullahs?
– Indiana: We’re Not Anti-Gay, Honest! We Even Changed Our Anti-Gay Law.
– Senator Menendez: A Corrupt NJ Politician (Shocking!)
– McDonalds Pretends to Care About Workers

PG06: Ted Cruz, Anti-Gay Laws, Bowe Bergdahl

This Week’s Stories
– Ted Cruz: Why he won’t win, but what he could accomplish.
– Indiana: Anti-gay or pro-religion? (Both, maybe?)
– Bowe Bergdahl: should he be prosecuted, or has he suffered enough already?
– The ungodly mess that is U.S. foreign policy.
– The mystery man behind California’s “Sodomite Suppression Act”

Ted Cruz’s phenomenally bad idea (Washington Post)
Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act’
The proposed ‘Sodomite Suppression Act’

PG05: Meaningless Budgets, Mandatory Voting, Talking Race at Starbucks

This Week’s Stories
– The stingy, shortsighted, and essentially meaningless GOP budget plan.
– President Obama on mandatory voting (he’s for it).
– Starbucks attempt to get us to talk about race with our baristas.
– Mitch McConnell to the EPA: I hate you guys so much.
– The (not so high) rise and fall of Congressman Aaron Schock.
– The Obama / Magnum P. I. Connection.

How the Budget Process Works (in theory)
If Everyone Voted, Not Much Would Change (The Monkey Cage)
The Aaron Schock Workout (Men’s Health)
Obamas not buying Magnum P.I. House (we refuse to believe this)

PG04: The Senate Writes to Iran, Hillary Hides Her Email, Progress in Ferguson?

This Week’s Stories
– The Senate GOP ‘open letter’ to Iran: secretly brilliant, or not-so-secretly moronic?
– Hillary Clinton to the media: I didn’t do anything wrong. Technically.
– Ferguson, Missouri: some positive developments, then a tragedy.
– Is climate change a belief system or scientific fact?
– “It’s never good to be drunk at work, especially if you are in the Secret Service.”

The Senate GOP’s open letter to Iran (with the Iranian Foreign Minister’s reply)
– Climate Change: It’s not a religion. It’s a scientific fact. (The New Republic)