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
Jul 2, 2018

For episode 89, we talked to Mona Charen, a syndicated columnist and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She is the author of the new book, “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love, and Common Sense”.

 In this conversation we explore the many important themes in her new book: Does women’s equality threaten traditional families? What can be done about rape culture on college campuses? Is chivalry dead? Is gender a choice? Is modern feminism increasing the happiness of women?

Jun 27, 2018

Perhaps no two people have studied Trump voters with greater focus, depth, and commitment than Salena Zito and Brad Todd, co-authors of the national bestseller, “The Great Revolt: Inside the Populist Coalition Reshaping American Politics.”

In this conversation, we first examine why they wrote the book and how they did it – together.

Then we turned to the book’s biggest questions: Is Trump’s election a major political realignment? Are Trump voters misunderstood? How severe is the economic pain that fueled the anger that elected him? Is the media missing this story? And finally, can Trump lose this coalition, and if so, how?


Jun 19, 2018

Mexico is the subject of the 88th episode and I can think of no one I would rather talk to than Alfredo Corchado.

He is the border correspondent for The Dallas Morning News, splitting time between El Paso and Mexico City. He is the author of the fantastic book, “Midnight in Mexico,” and his new memoir, “Homelands” is just out. 

In this conversation, we discuss why he wrote the book, how the guest worker program has been vital to the U.S. and Mexico over decades, where the current Mexican presidential election stands, what Lopez Oprador’s expected victory will mean for the U.S.-Mexico relationship, what life is like in Mexico today, how the trade issue is being negotiated, how Trump is viewed in the country and how the border wall issue plays.

Jun 12, 2018

On the 87th episode, we talk all-things-Trump with Sam Nunberg, a longtime political advisor to Trump who left in the early days of the campaign but remains close to many high ranking Trump world figures.

In this conversation, we discuss the optics of the North Korea summit, the prospects for the midterms, and where he thinks the Russia inquiry stands.

We discuss his questioning before the grand jury, and get his take on Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.

Finally, we delve into the question of whether Trump should agree to be interviewed by Mueller and whether pardons are likely.

Jun 6, 2018

Sean Davis is our guest for the 86th episode.

He’s a co-founder of The Federalist and a former aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

In this conversation, we preview the forthcoming U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General report, which is independently examining how DOJ and the FBI conducted the Clinton email investigation. We explore what questions most need an answer, who the key individuals are, and how this may connect to the Russia inquiry.

Then we discuss the Mueller inquiry, the Steele dossier, Spygate, whether Trump should agree to an interview, and how this all may end.

May 31, 2018

The story of what led to the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens (R-MO) this week is one that will be studied for many years. That story is best told by Gregg Keller, a prominent Missouri-based GOP consultant has worked with many of his state’s top elected officials.

Keller has a unique perspective because he has been at war with Greitens for over a year. It was a war he won – but at great cost. 

In this conversation, we discuss Greitens’ outsider status, how he got himself into this mess, what the legislature was doing to force his hand, how a judiciary ruling pushed him out, what the personal toll was for Keller and his family, and what the state’s future is. Then we looked at the U.S. Senate race in that state, which will be on the of top races in the country in 2018.

Finally, we discussed how he thinks President Trump is doing and how the midterms are shaping up.

May 22, 2018

The intelligence community is in the news.

So for our 84th episode, we wanted to talk to former CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden (USAF, Ret.).

In this timely conversation we explore Gina Haspel’s priorities at CIA, where the line is between Congressional oversight and CIA’s right to protect sources and methods, the curious case of Stefan Halper and the FBI using an informant to collect intelligence on a presidential campaign, as well as how he views Russia, North Korea and Iran.

May 16, 2018

Our guest is Mark Dubowitz, who was recently profiled in The New York Times. 

He is the CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and has been called one of the most influential figures on the Iran Deal.

In this discussion, we discuss the current state of play, Iran’s ballistic missile program, the sunset provisions, John Kerry’s role, Trump’s new national security team, the Iranian uprising, a new maximum pressure campaign, what the future of Iran looks like, his role in influencing the national debate, and whether the U.S. moving toward Saudi Arabia and away from Iran is a good thing.

May 9, 2018

The Iran Deal is the subject of the 82nd episode.

Our guest is Matt Continetti, editor in chief of The Washington Free Beacon.

His recent column, “Donald Trump Ends the Obama Mirage,” explains why he supports President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA.

In this conversation, we discuss how strong Trump’s announcement was, whether the decision will have diplomatic or economic consequences for our European allies, whether any agreement with North Korea or Iran should be a treaty and how Syria and Israel are involved.

May 1, 2018

Amy Chozick spent ten years covering Hillary Clinton.

She writes about the experience in her new bestseller, “Chasing Hillary.”

She’s a writer-at-large who covered Hillary’s 2016 campaign for The New York Times and previously reported for The Wall Street Journal, where she covered Hillary on the 2008 campaign after being a foreign correspondent in Tokyo.

In this conversation we examine who Hillary really is, what drives her, what defines her, how the campaign unfolded, what it was like covering it, how journalism is changing, and what one question she wants to have Hillary answer.

Apr 25, 2018

Andy Puzder was one of the most successful CEOs in the past few decades, leading CKE Enterprises which brought back national fast-food chains Hardees and Carl’s Jr.

He was then nominated to be Labor Secretary by President Trump before he withdrew after questions were raised from his past. 

Now he is the author of the new book, “The Capitalist Comeback: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It”, which is a very timely read.

In this conversation, we first check in with his current assessment of the U.S. economy and the tax law and then discuss the regulatory rollback and trade. Finally, we discuss his personal relationship with President Trump and his unpleasant experience being nominated to serve in the Cabinet as his nomination was brought down by decades-old allegations.

Apr 19, 2018

We examine the political environment and the midterms in the 79th episode with our guest, Josh Kraushaar, politics editor for National Journal.

Our topics: The current state of play, how fundraising is going for both sides, what factors could help each party, whether GOP enthusiasm will catch up, why House GOP retirements are so high, whether Democratic primaries will threaten their chances, how the GOP may deploy Trump in the fall and whether vulnerable GOP incumbents will distance themselves from him.

Apr 10, 2018

Syria is the subject of the 78th episode.

Our guest is Danielle Pletka, Senior Vice President at the American Enterprise Institute.

As President Trump weighs his response to the most recent chemical weapons attack in Syria, we discuss whether Trump’s past military response has boxed him in, how this mess was created in the first place, what Iran and Russia are up to, how ISIS plays into this, what military options exist and what Assad’s future might be.

Apr 4, 2018

Our guest is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

He’s been in the news lately, with questions about a room he rented on Capitol Hill and the costs of his travel and security detail.

This was not why we initially wanted to speak to him, though we did ask him those questions. 

In this conversation, which was taped in The Washington Times newsroom with the video live-streamed online, my guest co-host Charlie Hurt and I discussed his mission at EPA, how it is working with President Trump, and what he believes he has accomplished in his first 16 months on the job. 

We then specifically talked about the “Waters of the U.S.” regulation, Superfund cleanup, fuel economy standards for automobiles, ethanol and the renewable fuel standard, and the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord.

Mar 26, 2018

The hottest nonfiction book in publishing right now is the newly released, “Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends”) by New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer and he is our guest.

He is the author of several other bestsellers, including “Clinton Cash” and “Throw Them All Out”, which revealed insider trading by members of Congress.

His new book reveals how some of the most prominent names in national politics have earned tremendous wealth personally and for their friends and family, including the Bidens, the McConnells, the Obamas, the Kerrys and the Kushners.

In this conversation, we explore the goal of the book, whether this ties into recent revelations from the Panama Papers, whether any of what he found is illegal, how this problem can be fixed and whether it will, what effect his previous books have had, what his next project is, and how his nonprofit advances its mission.

Mar 22, 2018

Our subject for the 75th episode is Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Our guest is Sasha Issenberg, who has followed the use of data and digital targeting in campaigns for many years, culminating in his groundbreaking book, “The Victory Lab”, which was published in 2013 and updated in 2016.

In this fascinating conversation, we delve into what Cambridge Analytica is, how the use of data and digital strategy have been converging since at least 2004, how addressable TV may be the next innovation, how these technologies may be used in the 2020 presidential campaign, whether corporate ad campaigns are more advanced than political ones, how the Obama, Clinton and Trump digital efforts were unique, to what extent truly fake news effected the 2016 campaign, and where this story is going for both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

Mar 15, 2018

Jonah Goldberg is our guest for episode 74. 

He’s a senior editor for The National Review, a syndicated columnist, a Fox News contributor and a New York Times best-selling author whose new book, “Suicide of the West,” is available for preorder and will be released on April 24. 

In this conversation we examine the Trump staff shakeup, how cable news is affecting his presidency, where the Mueller inquiry may be headed, how Trump’s first year went, what the PA-18 special election tells us, whether Trump can be reelected, and whether ideas matter anymore.

Mar 9, 2018

North Korea is the subject of the 73rd episode.

The stunning news that President Trump will meet with the North Korean leader before May to discuss denuclearization made international news.

Our guest is Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

We discuss the importance of the meeting, whether preconditions are necessary, whether South Korea would likely be included, how the maximum pressure campaign and the credible threat of military force contributed to this development, how sanctions relief and independent verification might work, and whether Kim Jong-Un may be stalling for time.

Then we turned our discussion toward his experiences dealing with the Trump White House, what the Congress should do for the rest of 2018, and how we views the midterm elections.

Mar 2, 2018

Phillip Stutts is our guest for the 72nd episode.

He’s a fascinating interview for two reasons.

First, he just wrote a best-selling book, “Fire Them All: The 7 Lies Digital Marketers Sell…”, which reveals much about how digital strategy works in politics and business.

Second, he has been battling a rare disease for several years. About a year ago he made a startling and deeply personal decision.

His story will inspire you.


Feb 21, 2018

Gun control is the subject of this episode, in light of the horrific recent school shooting in Parkland, FL.

Our guest is Washington Free Beacon staff writer Stephen Gutowski, who covers these issues and is a licensed gun safety instructor.

We begin by assessing what happened in Parkland, to what extent law enforcement failed to prevent the shooting, whether school safety is a realistic solution, how concealed carry for teachers might work in conjunction with the Gun Free School Zone Act, whether there is real momentum for banning bump stocks, passing mental health reform and fixing the NICS background check system, how concealed carry reciprocity would function and whether bans on high capacity magazines or an age limit for gun purchases make sense. Finally, we discuss the power of the NRA.

Feb 20, 2018

With March Madness looming and a pivotal Supreme Court case ruling around the corner, on the 70th episode we talk exclusively about sports betting with ESPN Staff Writer David Purdum.

We began by discussing the upcoming Supreme Court ruling in Christie vs. NCAA and what the effect will be across the country.

We then talked about high volume wager events like the Super Bowl and March Madness.

We turned to Daily Fantasy Sports and how two successful companies found this market and whether the court case will matter for their customers.

We then delved into how betting lines are set and how professional bettors move lines with their action.

We next explored whether cheating concerns are warranted.

Finally, we discussed how he got this unusual beat at ESPN, and how and why ESPN started openly discussing sports betting on air.

Feb 15, 2018

White House reporter Olivier Knox, currently of Yahoo News and previously of the wire service AFP, is our guest for the 69th episode.

We dig into the Rob Porter story with the latest on where it stands, what his job was, and how the security clearance process works. We then looked at the White House’s crisis communications response, how Chief of Staff John Kelly is doing, and what it’s like covering this White House.

Finally, we talked about this year’s legislative agenda and discuss his journalism career.

Feb 8, 2018

The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross joins us for the 68th episode.

He has been a news-breaking machine on the recent revelations about rogue FBI agents and FISA abuse.

In this timely conversation, we begin with his view of the state of play, what the FBI agent text messages tell us, what the mysterious text about President Obama “wanting to know everything” could mean, what questions he has about the dossier at this point, whether Steele might have been used by Russian sources, what Sid Blumenthal’s involvement signifies, where he thinks the story is headed and what the hysteria on the left portends.

Feb 2, 2018

For the 67th episode, we turn to CBS News correspondent Bianna Golodryga, who is also a CNN contributor.

Fluent in Russian and a native of Moldova, we begin by discussing the newly released Nunes memo, whether the debate will turn to declassifying the FISA application, whether this qualifies as reasonable congressional oversight, whether it appears the ultimate goal is firing special counsel Robert Mueller, and what risk Donald Trump, Jr. and Jared Kushner may have. 

Then we talk about Trump’s business profile in New York, the state of the economy, the current media environment, as well as finishing with a bit about her upbringing.

Jan 26, 2018

For the 66th episode, we dig into questions about the FBI and political bias from two thoughtful, intelligent, and experienced perspectives.

First, we talked to U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), a former U.S. Attorney and a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He is part of a six-person Congressional task force looking at FBI activity over the past two years. We discussed the Nunes memo, the 50,000 deleted text messages sent between two FBI agents and the attempt to recover them, why the Hillary Clinton FBI investigation still matters, whether DOJ has been cooperative and whether the Nunes memo can and should be declassified.

Then, we were privileged to speak to Ron Hosko, a 30-year veteran of the FBI, who rose to become Assistant FBI Director before he retired in 2014. We delved into why the text message story matters, what questions he wants the FBI inspector general to answer, what his personal and professional views are of his former colleagues Robert Mueller and James Comey, how he evaluates the FBI’s Clinton investigation, what he makes of the Nunes memo and the FISA (or “unmasking”) process, and how all of this is affecting the reputation of the FBI.

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