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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Sep 12, 2019

The events of 9/11 are the subject of the 153rd episode.

Our guest is bestselling author Garrett Graff, whose new book is, “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11,” which instantly hit #1 on Amazon.

In this conversation, we explore the origin of the book and his writing process, the scale of the response to the attack, what surprised him about what he learned, how United 93’s hijackers came to be overtaken, the ‘shoot-down’ order, what questions about 9/11 still remain and where the author was on 9/11.

Sep 3, 2019

Retired U.S. Army Captain Sean Parnell is our guest for the 152nd episode.

After retiring from military service, he became a New York Times bestselling author for his memoir of combat in Afghanistan, Outlaw Platoon.

His new thriller is called, All Out War. It will be released on Sept. 3, 2019.

In this conversation, we begin by discussing his Pittsburgh roots and military background, recount his experiences in Afghanistan, discuss the process he used for his first book, how and why he transitioned from writing nonfiction to writing fiction, give an overview of the new novel, consider whether our veterans are getting the help they have earned, and talk about a nonprofit that he works with that helps veterans transition to civilian life.

Aug 26, 2019

The CIA is the subject of the 151st episode.

Our guest is bestselling author Annie Jacobsen and her new book is, “Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators and Assassins”.

In this conversation, we explore the history of covert action, track Bin Laden’s movements before 9/11, examine the skills of CIA operator Billy Waugh, discuss what happens when a missions fails, consider whether there is sufficient congressional oversight and whether these missions are legal, and finally discuss sourcing, whether the CIA makes us safer, Hollywood depictions of the CIA, and her writing process.

Aug 21, 2019

Diversity and college campuses are the subjects of the 150th episode.

Our guest is New York Times bestselling author and Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, author of the new book, “The Diversity Delusion.”

In this conversation we examine whether diversity is a virtue, the concept of mismatch, cancel culture on college campuses, affirmative action and white privilege, the social justice movement, policing, and how conservatives can turn back the culture.

Aug 16, 2019

The economy and the stock market are the subject of the 149th episode.

Our guest is author and Real Clear Markets editor John Tamny.

In this conversation, we review a wild week for the stock market, whether the inverted yield curve is predictive, the current strength of the economy, how he views the Trump tax cut, whether indexing cap gains to inflation would be stimulative, what he makes of recent Federal Reserve actions, how a strong or weak dollar matters, and the trade war with China.

Aug 9, 2019

Gun control is the subject of the 148th episode.

Our guest is Dr. John R. Lott, Jr., president of the Crime Prevention Center.

In this conversation, we examine the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton and consider whether future attacks can be prevented by any of the solutions being suggested, including expanded background checks, an Assault Weapons Ban, or a Red Flag law .

Aug 2, 2019

The other side of the Russia story is our topic for the 147th episode.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative reported and Executive Vice President at The Hill newspaper.

He has been breaking stories on the FBI, the Mueller inquiry, the Steele dossier, and FISA abuse for more than a year.

In this conversation, we explore media groupthink, scrutiny of former FBI Director James Comey’s role, FISA warrants, the I.G. report, the Steele Dossier, Mueller’s testimony, and how U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation may move this story in a new direction.

Jul 26, 2019

New York Times bestselling author Tim Alberta is our guest for the 146th episode.

He is the chief political correspondent for Politico Magazine and the author of “American Carnage”, which traces the arc of the Republican Party before and during the Trump era.

In this conversation, we look back the pre-Trump era and explore whether he caused the current moment or seized it, consider whether Sarah Palin foreshadowed the Trump era, discuss central figures Ted Cruz, John Boehner, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence, finally attempt to answer the question of whether Trump ran for President wanting to win, review the internal deliberations held during ‘Access Hollywood tape’ weekend, consider a post-Trump era and discuss what the author learned from writing his first book.

Jul 19, 2019

The Democratic Party and the Democratic presidential nomination are the subjects of our 145th episode.

Our guest is Christian Hanley, Democratic consultant and founder of Defiance Strategies.

In this conversation, we talk about this week’s racial storyline and whether it will matter over the long term, whether the 2020 election will be a base election, whether the Democratic Party is moving too far to the left, how he ranks the current 2020 field, how he evaluates President Trump’s reelection prospects, whether Pelosi is leading her caucus in the right direction, and whether he thinks beginning an impeachment inquiry is necessary.

Jul 11, 2019

The 2020 Democratic primary is the subject of the 144th episode.

Our returning guest is veteran Democratic strategist Joe Trippi.

In this conversation, we explore the state of the Democratic primary, who he sees as the top tier, how he assesses Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris and Buttigieg, who he thinks can surprise people in Iowa, whether the debates matter, whether the primary will go to the convention, how the top tier ranks as general election candidates, what he makes of Trump’s general election standing, and we take a stroll down memory lane for our guest’s history on presidential campaigns.

Jul 1, 2019

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George F. Will, the author of the new bestseller “The Conservative Sensibility”, is our guest for the 143rd episode.

In this conversation, we explore the balance between freedom and government, the importance of federalism, how a limited federal government should look, the state of the conservative movement, the rise of socialism and populism, how the Democratic Party is changing, what the GOP looks like after Trump, how he views the 2020 presidential election, and what challenges face America in the future.

Jun 24, 2019

Iran is the subject of our 142nd episode.

Former U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker served in the Middle East for much of his career, representing the U.S. in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In this conversation, we explore President Trump’s decision to pull back on a planned military strike, what a proportionate response to Iran shooting down an American drone would be, whether reopening negotiations is a worthy strategic goal, how the US can restore deterrence, whether the ‘Maximum Pressure’ campaign is working, how our allies in the region may be viewing this, what the chances of war are, and what it was like to be stationed in Iran in 1972.

Jun 21, 2019

Congressman Chip Roy (R-TX) is our guest for the 141st episode.

The humanitarian crisis at the southern border is our subject.

In this conversation, we discuss how he sees the problem, what the Democrats’ position is, what reforms he’d like to see, how the asylum process is broken, how he has used procedural tactics to draw attention to the issue, and whether it’s all been worth it.

Jun 14, 2019

Brad Thor is the guest for the 140th episode.

He is a New York Times bestselling author of thrillers who has sold more than 15 million books.

His newest book, “Backlash”, will be released on June 25.

In this conversation, we discuss what he tries to do in each of his books, how this book looks at cold weather survival tactics, how training is integral to his characters, how common ‘snatch and grab’ operations are, how private intelligence companies operate, how he’s cooperated with the U.S. government, whether operatives like Scot Harvath really exist, how he learned enough about Russia, whether his books will be made into films, and what his writing process is.

Jun 4, 2019

The CIA is the subject of the 139th episode.

Our guest is Nada Bakos, former CIA analyst and author of “The Targeter: My Life in the CIA, Hunting Terrorists and Challenging the White House”.

In this conversation, we discuss how she overcame confidentiality process delays to get the book published, the importance of having women in CIA leadership, her role analyzing Iraq and 9/11, her role writing the President’s Daily Brief, the Bin Laden manhunt, her role as the targeting officer for al-Zarqawi, the current threat from ISIS and al Qaeda, and her favorite depiction of the intel community in popular culture.

May 29, 2019

The future of Britain and Europe is the subject of the 138th episode.

Nile Gardiner is our guest. He is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at the Heritage Foundation and a former senior aide to PM Thatcher.

In this conversation, we discuss PM Theresa May’s tenure, the status of Brexit, the current leadership race, potential bilateral trade deals for Britain, the state of the Tories and Labor, the EU Elections, and what Britain and the EU look like in a post-Brexit world.

May 28, 2019

Dan Abrams is our guest for the 137th episode.

He wears many hats, hosting the Dan Abrams show on SirusXM, hosting #LivePD on the A&E Network and serving as chief legal analyst for ABC News.

He is also the co-author of the new bestseller, “Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense”, which chronicles a fascinating ‘trial of the century’ forgotten by history.

In this conversation, we explore why he wrote the book, how defamation worked at the time of the trial, what he learned about Teddy Roosevelt, how the boss system of politics of the time was central to the trial, whether current defamation laws need to be changed, what he makes of the Trump administration’s legal battle with Congress, whether today’s justice system is fair, how criminal justice reform will improve sentencing, and whether today’s perception of policing is accurate.

May 24, 2019

The resignation of British prime minister Theresa May is the subject of episode 136.

Our guest is an old friend, Richard Allen Greene, deputy news editor for CNN, who joins us from London.

In this episode we discuss May’s resignation, the process for choosing a new prime minister, the field of candidates, how candidates determine their strategy, and how Brexit forced May’s resignation and where it goes from here.

May 14, 2019

Rising star U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is our guest for the 135th episode.

He is the author of a new book, “Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour of Arlington National Cemetery”.

In this conversation, we explore why he wrote this book, how he describes the sacred mission of 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, otherwise known as the “Old Guard”, how the author conducted interviews while serving in the Senate, how Arlington has changed in recent years, what he believes is the state of the U.S. military and how our guest views current military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

May 9, 2019

The migrant crisis on the southern border is our topic for the 134th episode.

Our guest is Steve Hecht, an American who has lived in Guatemala for more than 40 years. He joins us from the capital city.

In this conversation, we discuss what he thinks Americans don’t understand about the migrant crisis, the reality of Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, the state of the Guatemalan economy, the upcoming Guatemalan presidential election, how children are being used by economic migrants, what Trump should be doing, whether foreign aid matters, and why he has chosen to live there all this time.

Apr 29, 2019

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is our guest for the 133rd episode.

He has just written a new book, “Our Lost Declaration”, which highlights the importance of the Declaration of Independence.

In this conversation, we explore why he wrote the book, why storytelling matters, whether he considers tyranny a real threat in today’s climate, how he defines the term ‘deep state’, whether Congress should seize back some of its Constitutional power, and what the legislative outlook is in the U.S. Senate.

Apr 25, 2019

Faith in American life is the subject of the 132nd episode.

Our guest is Chris Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and co-editor of a new book, “On Faith: Lessons from an American Believer”.

In this conservation, we examine why they wanted to release this book with Justice Scalia’s spoken and written words on this subject, what he believed about religious liberty and the separation of church and state, what he might have thought about expanding the Supreme Court, whether a religious test should be applied to nominated judges, how his own faith journey changed over time, how his father’s jurisprudential influence endures and what his father might make of today’s court.

Apr 22, 2019

Career prosecutor Jim Trusty is our guest for the 131st episode.

He served in senior roles at the Department of Justice and was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Maryland.

In this conversation, we explore his impressions of the Mueller Report, whether the obstruction examples are serious, whether obstruction requires an underlying crime, whether a sitting President can be indicted, what the criminal referrals mean, what he makes of the entire Mueller inquiry and what he wants to know about the origin of the counterintelligence operation.

Apr 19, 2019

Dissecting the Mueller Report is the subject of episode 130.

Our guest is David Harsanyi, a syndicated columnist and senior editor at The Federalist.

In this conversation, we explore his first impressions of the report, whether the obstruction angle has merit, how concerned Trump should be about 12 unknown criminal referrals, why the collusion angle evaporated, how much Russian meddling matters, the role Attorney General Barr has played, whether Mueller should testify, what we hope to learn from the DOJ IG report on the origins of the counterintelligence investigation and how the media has covered this story.

Apr 12, 2019

2020 politics is the subject of the 129th episode.

Our guest is Josh Holmes, former Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and president of Cavalry, LLC.

In this conversation, we begin by sizing up the Democratic field of presidential candidates, then discuss the relative strength of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, Trump’s political position for reelection, discuss the importance of the GOP launching a small dollar donor online platform, and analyze the state of the modern day Republican and Democratic parties.

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