Matt Mackowiak's Mack On Politics

Smart political talk every week from Austin, Texas political consultant Matt Mackowiak, who has served in senior roles for two U.S. Senators and the Bush administration.
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Matt Mackowiak's Mack On Politics






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Now displaying: 2018
Dec 28, 2018

For our final episode of 2018, we take a trip around the world with Washington Examiner columnist Tom Rogan to explore the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the U.S.

In this conversation, we discuss the withdrawal from Syria and its effect on Russia, Iran and the Kurds, the state of the House of Saud, the upcoming Israeli election, the whether the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan.

Dec 17, 2018

A stunning District Court ruling wiping out Obamacare is the subject of the 113th episode.

Our guest is South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman. 

We begin with his summary of the ruling, then delve into the concept of severability, who the plaintiffs were, whether the ruling is fully in force, how the appeal may work, how Democrats are responding, what it means for the popular provisions, why the next two weeks matter, and whether the Supreme Court will hear this appeal.

Dec 14, 2018

British politics is the subject of episode 112.

Our guest is Alastair Campbell, press secretary and strategist for former Prime Minister Tony Blair and an advisor to the People’s Vote campaign.

In this conversation we discuss this week’s unusual ‘no confidence’ vote, division within the Tory party, how difficult it is to be prime minister and usher through Brexit, if Theresa May is offering a false choice between her deal and no deal, how the votes stack up in Parliament, whether May’s lame duck status is a problem, what leverage the EU has, whether May will hold another vote on the same deal, and what the future looks like in British politics.

Dec 3, 2018

He survived an assassination attempt.

In episode 111, we spoke to House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who on June 14, 2017 was the target of an assassination attempt while practicing for the congressional baseball game.

We discuss his new bestselling book, “Back in the Game: One Gunman, Countless Heroes, and the Fight for My Life”.

In this conversation, we discuss why he wrote the book, what actually happened, the heroes that helped save his life, how it felt, whether he faced doubts at the time, the importance of gratitude, and whether he believes he survived for a bigger purpose. Finally, we talked about the new Congress.

Nov 30, 2018

Russia is the subject of the 110th episode. 

Garrett Graff is a contributor to WIRED Magazine, and his buzzy new piece is, “Robert Mueller’s Endgame May Be in Sight” is insightful.

In this conversation, we review where things stand after a busy week with new developments, how the attempted Trump Moscow development fits into this story, what the joint defense agreements could mean, what Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort are up to, what risk Donald Trump, Jr. is facing, and what major questions still remain.

Nov 19, 2018

Thanksgiving and giving thanks is the subject of this week’s episode.

Operation Turkey began with one person, Richard Bagdonas, delivering one warm meal to a homeless person on Thanksgiving Day in Austin, Texas in the year 2000.

Now they operate in seven states and 30 cities and will deliver 75,000 meals this year – accounting for 15 percent of the national homeless population.

In this conversation, where this idea came from how this all-volunteer effort scaled over time, how corporate partners and individual donors make it possible, what they’ve learned along the way, how they manage tens of thousands of volunteers and what they need this week to be successful.

Nov 16, 2018

Brexit is the subject of the 108th episode.

Our guest is pollster Joe Twyman, co-founder and director of Deltapoll.

In this conversation, we examine where Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal stands, how hard the March 29 deadline is, the specifics of the deal, what the math looks like in Parliament, her own political standing, how a no-confidence vote would occur, how a second referendum vote would occur, where the polling stands on Brexit in Britain, whether Boris Johnson is a likely successor and what Brexit would mean for a US-UK bilateral trade deal.

Nov 10, 2018

In this episode, we look back at the midterms elections and then look forward.

Our guest is The Atlantic senior editor and CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein.

Our topics include how the GOP is moving deeper into white working class sections in America, what both parties should worry about after the midterms, what both parties need to do for 2020, which two states will decide the 2020 election, and whether the GOP can win back the suburbs.

Nov 2, 2018

In this conservation, we talked to Trump economic advisor Stephen Moore about a range of subjects.

His new book, coauthored with Art Laffer, is “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy” is just out.

We discussed the brand new jobs report, why wages are increasing and how the tight labor market is affecting the economy, what Trump is doing with China, whether the tariffs are working, how current deficits risk economic growth, what the Fed is doing, how the tax cut and regulatory rollback have played a role in the economy, what concerns he sees in the economy going forward and what Trump is really like.

Oct 23, 2018

Veteran journalist CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett writes about covering the Trump campaign in his new best-selling book, “Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary Presidency”.

In this conversation we explore the purpose of the book, the state of journalism, what it was like covering Trump on the campaign trail, whether Trump initially ran as a publicity stunt, whether he thought Trump could win, how Trump overcame so many obstacles and won the presidency, and how he wrote the book while also carrying out his duties in the intense job of covering the White House.

Oct 18, 2018

Our guest is U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who is the author of the new national bestseller, “Them: Why We Hate Each Other – And How to Heal”.

We explored a range of subjects in this conversation, including why he wrote the book, how the national media contributes to tribalism, the role both Obama and Trump have played, whether politics can solve our problems, how the Senate is working, and what major issues he wants to see us address in the future.

Oct 12, 2018

Ken Starr is our guest for the 103rd episode.

A former federal judge, Starr served as Independent Counsel from 1994-1999. He is the author of the new bestseller, “Contempt: A Memoir of the Clinton Investigation”.

In this conversation, we explore why he wrote the book, what makes an independent counsel different from a special counsel, why his term lasted five years, how it felt to be in the middle of the storm, what the key decisions were that he faced, whether he is satisfied with the outcome and whether he has any regrets.

Then we discussed the Mueller inquiry, whether a sitting President can be indicted and his view of Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Oct 5, 2018

The FBI investigation into Judge Brett Kavanaugh is the subject of the 102nd episode.

Our guest is Daniel S. Goldman, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and a legal analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.

In this conversation, we examine how the FBI investigation worked, how a supplemental background investigation differs from a criminal investigation, why Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh were not interviewed, whether our guest agrees there is no corroboration, why these allegations were never found in previous FBI background checks and whether Kavanaugh could have been charged criminally.

Sep 28, 2018

Making government work better is the subject of the 101st episode. 

Our guest is Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit founded in 2001.

In this discussion , we delve into several topics: why he started the nonprofit, how government can effectively attract top talent (especially young talent), how the scale of the federal government should be a selling point, why presidential transitions matter, what three things he would do to make government work better, whether he despairs at how difficult it is to reform government and what inspires him.

Sep 13, 2018

Populism is the subject of our momentous episode 100 and our guest just wrote a book on the subject.

Fox News politics editor Chris Stirewalt is the author of the new book, “Every Man a King: A Short, Colorful History of American Populists” and the book’s timing could not be better. 

In this conversation, we examine populism through the years, from Andrew Jackson through Pat Buchanan, whether increasing government dependence is a goal of populism, what he learned in writing the book, how Buchanan brought us Trump and whether Obama’s record created the conditions for the rise of populism again.

Sep 10, 2018

Bill Bradley is our guest for the 99th episode.

He served in the U.S. Senate from 1979-1997 as a Democrat from New Jersey and ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000.

Today he serves as Managing Director for Allen & Company and hosts a weekly radio show on SirusXM.

In this conversation, we talked about trade, Russia, the Middle East, and defense spending, before turning to what worries him most about Trump and how he believes the progressive movement is affecting the Democratic Party.

Sep 4, 2018

Our midterm election expert, Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, is the guest for the 98th episode.

Our topics in this conversation: The current state of play for control of the House, whether either party benefitted from the primaries, whether Trump voters will turn out, if special elections are predictive and whether this is a wave election.

Aug 30, 2018

The Catholic Church is the subject of the 97th episode.

My guest is National Review editor at large and National Review Institute senior fellow Kathryn Lopez, who has been writing about the church for many years.

In this conversation, we discuss the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the Vigano letter, Pope Francis’ response, our ideas for what how the church should respond to this crisis, whether deeper reforms are needed and whether my guest’s own beliefs have made her doubt her faith.

Aug 25, 2018

It was a consequential week.

The Trump legal situation is the subject of the 96th episode.

Our guest is attorney Gayle Trotter, a graduate of the University of Virginia law School and Fox News and Fox Business commentator.

In this conversation, we begin with her take on what happened this past week, address the question of whether a sitting President can be indicted, and examine the details of the alleged campaign finance violations, the Labor Day deadline, the recent immunity deals, and the President’s pardon power.

Finally, our guest makes a prediction about where the story is headed and gives her advice as to whether Trump to submit to an interview with Mueller.

Aug 13, 2018

Trade is the subject of the 95th episode.

Our guest is Tony Fratto, founding partner of Hamilton Place Strategies, CNBC contributor, and former senior Treasury official.

In this deep dive, we discuss the state of play on trade actions and reactions, NAFTA, fast track authority, the Mexican presidential transition, how trade may affect the midterm elections, the recent $12 billion agriculture bailout, the role of Peter Navarro and how tariffs are being used against the EU and China.

Aug 9, 2018

One man was responsible for chronicling the taxpayer dollars wasted and the fraud committed during the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq.

His name is Stuart Bowen. He is our guest for the 94th episode – live from Austin.

In this fascinating conversation, we begin by talking about the role of Inspector General and its limitations, what he found when his work was complete, how sectarianism and corruption paralyze Iraq, how ISIS has been decimated, whether Muqtada al-Sadr will be able to form a coalition government, what Iran wants in Iraq, what the future holds in Syria, whether Trump had sided with the Sunni countries over the Shi’a ones, and what Iraq’s future looks like.

Aug 3, 2018

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) is our guest for the 93rd episode, taped live in Austin from the Resurgent Gathering.

Davidson may be best known for succeeding former Speaker John Boehner in Ohio’s 8th district.

But his story is more remarkable than that.

He was an officer as an Army Ranger, then ran a successful manufacturing company, before winning a 16-way special election to serve in Congress in 2016.

In this conversation, we talked about how he thinks Congress is doing, how he thinks President Trump is doing, how the midterms look, and then pivot to discuss trade, agriculture, Dodd-Frank Reform, the Mueller inquiry, and finally what it’s like to serve in Congress.

Jul 26, 2018

One of our nation’s most respected legal scholars is our guest for the 92nd episode.

Randy Barnett is a law professor at Georgetown and the author of “Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People”).

In this conversation, we focus on the Supreme Court and the recent Supreme Court nomination of DC Circuit Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

We begin by examining the current status of the nomination, then turned to the fight over document production, whether a judge should be reviewed differently for an appellate court versus the Supreme Court, how the Kennedy Court may become the Roberts Court, why Trump’s judicial nominations are historically consequential and how originalism and textualism came to be.

Jul 17, 2018

North Korea is the subject of the 91st episode. Our guest is former CIA senior analyst and CSIS senior fellow and Korea chair Sue Mi Terry.

In this conversation, we begin with a gut check on where the negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea currently stand two months after the Singapore summit.

Then we delved into the issue of suspending military exercises, the return of the remains of American soldiers, what a nuclear inspection regime might look like, whether both sides agree on the definition of denuclearization, whether sanctions relief is North Korea’s primary objective, how the Iran Deal experience is part of this, and what South Korea, Japan, and China are thinking.

Finally, we explore what life is really like in North Korea and what advice our guest has for President Trump.

Jul 11, 2018

Our guest for the 90th episode is former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

He supervised Brett Kavanaugh in the White House Counsel’s office, so we began the conversation with his memory of what kind of lawyer and employee the new Supreme Court nominee was like.

We then talked about the difference between the DC Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, why the public views the Supreme Court as a political institution, what role Congress can and should play, what kind of pressures he felt as Attorney General, how he thinks DOJ is doing today under AG Jeff Sessions, what he makes of the conflict between DOJ and House Republicans and how he views the recent DOJ Inspector General report and the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

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