PG143: VA Shakeup, Census Concerns, Kim Jung Un Takes a Trip, Repeal the 2nd Amendment?, Russia Relations

Subscribe:  iTunes | PocketCasts | Overcast | Stitcher | RSS

Mike welcomes The 45th Podcast’s  Susan Simpson to the show, in Part II of The Politics Guys / The 45th Podcast host exchange. Mike and Susan open with a look at the shakeup at the VA, with Mike questioning the managerial qualifications of Ronny Jackson, President Trump’s choice to take over for David Shulkin at the massive VA. Susan argues that no reasonable person would even want the VA job, and suggests that Jackson’s fawning estimate of the president’s health, along with a desire for power, are what may have made him Trump’s pick.

Next it’s discussion of the recent announcement by the Department of Commerce that the 2020 Census will have a questions about citizenship status. Both Mike and Susan are skeptical of the motives of the Justice Department, which requested the question be added. Mike hesitates to call the move racist, but points out that any likely political advantage from the move will be to the Republicans.

After that, Mike and Susan turn to a discussion of what North Korean leader Kim Jung Un’s recent meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and his upcoming meetings with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and President Trump, might mean. Mike suggests that President Trump’s tougher stance could be bearing fruit, though he concedes that even a Democratic administration would have almost certainly ratcheted up sanctions in response to the North’s nuclear tests. Susan says there’s no policy here but chaos, and is concerned that President Trump might lead us into an unnecessary armed conflict with North Korea.

Then it’s a look at the March for our Lives and Justice Stevens recent call for repeal of the Second Amendment. Mike and Susan are both big supporters of the March and hope that it leads to significant change. They differ somewhat on Justice Stevens advocacy for a repeal of the Second Amendment. Mike feels it’s a gift to the NRA and not necessary, as even the draconian gun regulations in Washington D.C. – far tougher than what most people are calling for – are possible without touching the Second Amendment. Susan doesn’t entirely disagree, but argues that the Second Amendment can make reasonable gun laws more difficult to pass, and points out that even a repeal wouldn’t make firearms illegal.

After that, they discuss the increasingly strained relations between Russia and the United States in the wake of tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats and closing of consulates. Susan points out that despite this strong U.S. response – which she argues Trump was forced to make – we still haven’t heard the president say anything negative about Vladimir Putin. She argues that’s because Putin almost certainly has damaging information on Trump.

Show Notes

What Susan’s Reading & Listening To:
– Maryland appeals court decision in Adnan Syed case.
Missing and Murdered (podcast)

What Mike’s Listening To:
Philosophize This. Stephen West (podcast)

The 45th Podcast
The 45th on Twitter

Listener support helps make The Politics Guys possible. If you’re interested in supporting the show, go to

9 thoughts on “PG143: VA Shakeup, Census Concerns, Kim Jung Un Takes a Trip, Repeal the 2nd Amendment?, Russia Relations”

  1. Absolutely awful episode. There reason I like this show is because it’s not two liberals/conservatives jerking each other off. At one point, the guest said repealing the second amendment isn’t the same as banning guns. Of course Mike said nothing and will no doubt say next time he’s in a conversation with a pro 2A guest that no one wants to take their guns away. So much else is said with absolutely no push-back from Mike. I don’t think they disagreed on a single thing. I pretty had to stop listening to interview episodes because of this entirely. You can do so much better than this Mike.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I agree that the show is at its best when we have a liberal and a conservative. This was an exception to our usual format that we did to introduce the audience of The 45th to us and vice versa. We’re working on getting a few more occasional hosts from the left and the right so that when one of our regular hosts has the week off, we’ll be able to maintain the left / right balance. (As you may know, every once in a while we end up with a Trey / Jay show, which means that the liberal viewpoint largely goes missing.) I agree that Susan and I didn’t disagree on as many things as Jay or Trey and I would disagree on, but I definitely think my views were to the right of Susan’s, especially in the case where I suggested that President Trump’s North Korea policy might be working out, my somewhat sympathetic view of VA privatization, and my view that the 2nd Amendment repeal was too radical and unnecessary. But even so, you’re absolutely right on the larger point about the benefit of having both a left and right view. -Mike

  2. You episode on the VA and census citizenship question is horrendous. I cannot believe the ridiculous claims you made in this episode. Trying to imply adding a citizenship question is racists shows you are the true racists. It is asking about citizenship not race. Somehow you extrapolate this to race which is beyond disgusting. Also, your lack of ability to see both sides of the coin once again is apparent. You claim it is an attempt at hurting democrats but what about the other side, looking at removing the advantage grabbed by the democrats. See that, there are two side depending but you lack the ability to see it. I find your junior college level analysis of the political landscape within the US to be to uninformed and poorly formulated that I am unsubscribing to your podcast.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I didn’t mean to imply that the citizenship question was racist – I believe it’s mainly a political move, not a race-related one. I’m not sure what you mean about an advantage gained by the Democrats – the Census is about counting everyone, and while counting everyone may be to the Democrats’ advantage, that’s the point of the Census (counting everyone, not advantaging the Democrats). The difference here, in my view, is that the GOP is doing this with the knowledge that a less than full count will disadvantage the Democrats and help them. Sorry you’re unsubscribing based on this one special guest episode, but there are a lot of other great podcasts out there, and I’m sure you’ll find something that works for you. -Mike

  3. I really like this podcast when it’s a conservative and progressive viewpoint, but yes – the other commenters are correct. This episode was subjectively horrible.

    The description of the podcast is: “If you’re tired of liberals and conservatives screaming at each other and you’re looking for reasoned, civil political debate and analysis, The Politics Guys is here to help. **Every week,** a liberal political scientist and a conservative attorney discuss the latest political news, going beyond the **stale, partisan talking points** so often parroted by party hacks.”

    I understand that people take time off. But I also understand that it shouldn’t be difficult to schedule someone whose views aren’t so close to yours. The episode seemed like a lot of mutual grovelling on topics of agreement instead of any kind of substantive discussion or debate. You can tell, quite readily, by the smooth way that topics transition due to the lack of any sort of real disagreement on any fundamental level.

    Especially on the topic of gun control/gun rights (“I know this phrase drives people on the right crazy and I don’t care.” – that would have been better received if it could have been followed up by someone who might take offense to the statement and who could respond with a legitimate defense), and in the political climate that we’re currently in concerning said topic… I think having that conversation without any sort of real, substantive, counterargument is, well, counterproductive to the established intent and purpose of this podcast.

    You alluded to times when you take time off and it’s just Trey and Jay. I feel like that’s not a particularly defensible argument. If you need to have another full-time progressive/Democrat viewpoint on the show, then that would help mitigate that moment. That being said, I have to reiterate that I believe having this podcast without a discernible distance in the opinions/viewpoints of the participants in the podcast goes directly against the purpose/intent of the podcast in the first place.

    I can listen to progressives grovel over each other on a thousand different podcasts on the internet. I listen to The Politics Guys specifically to hear civil, mature discourse on topics that the hosts disagree on.

    This episode did not do that.

    I’m not unsubscribing, but I think you’re doing yourselves a tremendous disservice by not ensuring that there’s some substantial level of ideological difference between hosts on each show. Your views may have been to the right of Susan’s, but they were still incredibly far away from the center or conservative perspective.

    1. I agree that I should have worked things out so that Trey was doing the episode with Susan, for all the reasons you and other listeners have mentioned. Despite enjoying doing the show with Susan, it was a mistake to not be ideologically balanced, and I’m going to do everything I can to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment – I love that our listeners don’t just say, ‘you guys are great’ but also care enough to let us know when we’re not living up to our self-proclaimed standards.

      As for getting more hosts to ensure ideological diversity, it’s actually a bit more difficult than you might think (for a lot of boring reasons I won’t go into), but it’s important to do, I’m working hard on it, and I think you’ll find that it won’t be a problem going forward. -Mike

  4. The first 5-10 minutes of this episode with guest host Susan Simpsonamounted to you and she chortling about the Trump administration and lobbing thinly-veiled, snide little comments left and right. Pathetic. This guest host had little to offer and her anti-Trump bias did little to balance your discussion. I am no fan of Trump and enjoy when Jay rightly takes him to task for his misguided policies, anti-presidential behavior and lack of political savvy. But with you and Susan, it’s like listening to teenagers gossip and snicker and when you did get around to the news of the day, there was zero balance to the discussion. Sad. This is not the show I tune in for.

    Balance the content or I’m moving elsewhere.

    1. You’re right, and it’s entirely my fault. Susan would have been a great guest host to have on with Trey or Jay to counterbalance her, but not with me. I screwed up and I’m taking steps to ensure that all of our future weekend news analysis shows have the ideological balance you have a right to expect from The Politics Guys. -Mike

  5. I actually greatly enjoyed this episode. I tend to lean liberal in many things, but I honestly do not think that was a factor. Indeed, there were many opinions offered that I did not agree with – but, of course, that’s not the point. What was offered here was intelligent, reasoned, observant discussion.

    I would not want every episode to be two perspectives that lean in the same direction, but the occasional one is more than fine.

    And I notice that many of the people complaining about how ‘bad’ this episode is don’t seem to get outraged when Jay and Trey do an episode alone without a ‘liberal’ perspective.

Leave a Reply