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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Feb 18, 2019

For the 122nd episode, we zero in on the real story on the southern border.

Our guest is Brandon Darby, who has been covering the border for eight years as Managing Director of Breitbart Texas.

In this conversation, we examine the question of whether the U.S. has operational control, how the cartels operate, how asylum seekers are profit centers for the cartels, what the drug trade has changed, whether Mexico is a true partner, and what he makes of the recent budget deal and the national emergency declaration.

Feb 11, 2019

Social justice is the subject of the 121st episode.

Noah Rothman, Associate Editor of Commentary Magazine, is the author of the new bestseller, “Unjust: Social Justice and the Unmaking of America”, a thoughtful critique of the social justice movement.

In this conversation, we examine why he wrote the book, the concepts of ‘white privilege’, excessive policing, campus culture and Occupy Wall Street, race-based Affirmative Action, abortion and school choice, and the motivations of Social Justice.

Feb 5, 2019

For the 120th episode, we go deep inside the Trump White House.

Our guest is Cliff Sims, former Special Assistant to the President and author of the national bestseller, “Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days Inside the Trump White House”.

In this conversation, we talk about how he came to join the Trump campaign, how they weathered the Access Hollywood tape, what Election Night was like, what his considerations were when he was asked to join the White House, how it operated like a team of vipers with rival power centers and constant leaks, what Donald Trump is really like behind closed doors, what one thing would make his presidency more successful, and whether he thinks he traded private White House conversations as part of his book.

Jan 30, 2019

In the 119th episode, we spoke with MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki, author of the new book, “The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism.”

In this conversation we examine the political intensity of the 1990s, Bush 41 breaking his ‘no new taxes’ pledge, comparisons between 1992 and 2020, the independent candidacy of Ross Perot, the leadership of Newt Gingrich, how Perot’s bid differs from a potential independent bid by Howard Schultz, and whether Trump is a populist billionaire. 

Finally, we look forward to the 2020 presidential election.

Jan 22, 2019

North Korea is the subject of the 118th episode.

Our guest is Victor Cha, who withdrew from consideration to be U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in the Trump administration, and is currently Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He formerly served on the National Security Council staff.

In this conversation, we preview the upcoming 2nd Trump-Kim Summit, how China plays a crucial role, whether North Korea has made a meaningful denuclearization commitment, how sequencing matters, whether their secret weapons programs have been growing, where the negotiations currently stand, the issue of human rights, the intel challenge that North Korea presents, what message our guest would have for President Trump, and what a successful summit looks like.

Finally, we delve into what life in North Korea is really like – especially compared to South Korea.

Jan 18, 2019

Energy is the subject of episode 117.

John Tintera has 30 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, as a geologist, regulator, and now as the President of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.

In this conversation we discuss the current strength of the U.S. oil and gas industry, where Texas fits in, how oil prices affect production, the role of state and federal regulation, how tariffs and infrastructure impact both the industry and the communities, and how expanding LNG exports from the U.S. are a game changer.

Jan 11, 2019

In the 116th episode, we check in with AB Stoddard, Associate Editor and Columnist for Real Clear Politics.

In this conversation, we discuss the partial government shutdown and potential ways it may end, the Mueller inquiry and where it may be headed, how the new Democratic House majority is shaping up, and what the 2020 Democratic presidential primary looks like.

Jan 4, 2019

The economy is the subject of the 115th episode.

In this conversation we are joined by Steve Forbes, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media.

We discuss the current state of the economy, how he thinks the tax cut law is working, whether new trade deals will pass and other new trades deal will be negotiated, what he makes of the current Federal Reserve, whether he thinks inflation is a real concern for the U.S. in 2019, what he makes of U.S. policy with China, how he believes President Trump should deal with Congress and how and why he believes the partial government shutdown will end.

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.

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