PG135: GOP vs FBI, State of the Union, Immigration, Infrastructure

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This week’s show opens with Mike and Jay’s discussion of the ‘Nunes Memo’, in which the GOP majority of the House Intelligence Committee suggests that the FBI obtained a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page using highly questionable evidence. Jay believes that it’s important for this information to come out, while Mike argues that the GOP was wrong to release what he believes to be partial and misleading information.

Next is a look at President Trump’s State of the Union address. Both Mike and Jay agree that the SOTU is painful and largely pointless political theater – after explaining why they move on to discuss the two major substantive policy proposals in the speech: a four-point immigration plan and an outline of an upcoming $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal.

What Jay’s Reading:
Polarization is an Old American Story. (Wall Street Journal – paywall)

What Mike’s Reading:
TV Gave Us the Modern State of the Union. Then It Killed It. (Politico)

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4 thoughts on “PG135: GOP vs FBI, State of the Union, Immigration, Infrastructure”

  1. The idea that gave life to this podcast, and that acts as the mission statement for each episode, is profoundly admirable. The belief that two people of disparate ideological persuasions can talk politics respectfully and cogently, is, and always should remain, the baseline for all democratic discourse.

    It is a worthy (sadly sorely needed) aim, that I hope inspires further such programming in future.

    But this promise is also what frequently makes it so frustrating as a listener when the show fails in this stated goal. No doubt this will be interpreted and dismissed as bias, but I honestly believe that Mike strives to uphold his end of this debate (as evidenced by how often I am surprised by his perspective), but all too frequently, Jay, disingenuously, does not (proved by how predictable I now find his opinions on most every issue). Indeed, lately Jay seems willing to descend into the kind of cheap, partisan rhetoric that you can find spewing out of any 24 hour “news” network, hypocritically spinning the details of a story to suit his own partisan agenda.

    And I do not mean that as a some ‘All republicans are this…’ insult. I literally mean that Jay happily utilises arguments and methods of selective reasoning that fail his own personally stated standards in corollary circumstances.

    Hearing him get incensed about the contents of the Nunes memo, for example, hearing him repeatedly try to bait Mike into admitting some sense of shock and outrage at the supposedly suspect actions of the FBI, reads as ludicrously hypocritical for someone who, every time details of potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has argued that it is wrongheaded and improper to talk about the investigation while it is still in motion. For someone who sees no fire among the smoke of Trump’s campaign managers, advisors, cabinet members, and family all having verified meetings with Russian representatives that they conveniently forget about; who sees nothing in the financial ties Trump has had with Russian oligarchs; and who hand-waves away Trump’s repeated attempts to obstruct justice (again, some of which he has boasted about on Twitter!); for someone who sees all of this but consistently argues that we should all ‘wait and see’ and let the investigation process quietly do its work, suddenly get all insistent that it is in the public interest to take at face value a 4 page summary memo of an investigation that has been put together and released by a man who is himself potentially a subject of the investigation (its interesting that Jay seems to have forgotten Nunes’ weird little disappearing Uber ride…) without the corresponding democratic memo that might put these “facts” in better focus.

    But this appears to be the kind of slanted rhetoric that Jay willingly appeals to more and more frequently, a pattern that has become as sadly predictable as his weekly slagging off the ‘left wing news media’s’ group-think, before dutifully recommending everyone read an article spun and sanitized by Rupert Murdoch’s masthead publication.

    But it has to stop.

    Because this kind of lazy fear-mongering, reveling in confusion is what, I thought, this podcast was meant to combat. It’s why it is so important for Mike actually press Jay on the details of a story like this (something that I feel he too infrequently does). Because the purpose of releasing this memo was not to alert people to the facts – the memo is too cherry-picked, context-free, un-vetted and (as has since been revealed) factually inaccurate (Page was no longer even working for Trump at the point this warrant was issued; there was other evidence beside the Steele dossier to validate the scrutiny, etc) for this to be the case.

    The memo was released so that it could gain purchase in the minds of the public, to muddy the waters of any investigations surrounding Trump and to preemptively discredit the FBI, because it is always easier to fan the flames of conspiracy than it is to clean up the misconceptions now seeded into the communal consciousness – something that Jay himself has argued vehemently when the subject of investigation is a republican.

    My apologies for going on so long. It just frustrates me to see a podcast whose purpose I so admire indulge disingenuous argument by allowing one member of the discussion to select when it is appropriate for some subjects to be discussed, and when they should be conveniently ignored.

    1. Wow- that’s a lot to digest, and I think it’s well worth our careful consideration. While I won’t be able to read your entire comment on the air, I most definitely plan to read parts of it so that Jay and I can have a discussion about the important issues you raise. -Mike

  2. Thank you, Mike. I really do appreciate you taking the time to read my feedback.

    And again, I hope that it is clear through my garbled comment that my issue is not that Jay has conservative opinions, or, at times, seeks to articulate the republican party line – that is precisely why I come to this podcast, to hear multiple sides of a discussion and to hopefully better understand them.

    My issue is with hypocritical rhetoric. The fact that it seems to be okay to whip people into an unsubstantiated, outraged froth when it’s your enemies who are being scrutinized, no matter how partisan the “evidence” presented, but demand silence and trusting the system when its your guys. Or being furious when one party exploits the rules in congress, but delighting when your team gets away with the very same tricks.

    And by the way, this is not a hypocrisy localized to one party. It’s just sadly not something I hoped to hear on this podcast.

    1. I posted about your concern – something I’ve heard from a few other people to – on our Facebook page a few days ago. If you haven’t checked out the comments, I hope you will. I thought it was really interesting to see the various views people had on this. -Mike

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