Parkland, the Mueller Indictment, and Tabitha Isner's Run for Congress

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Students across the U.S. are demanding action to prevent future gun violence, and Robert Mueller has issued an extensive indictment related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. We discuss the week’s news and talk with Tabitha Isner about her run for Congress. 

Thanks to our sponsors for today's podcast: Tamara Mellon and Martha Stewart Wine Company

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are leading a nationwide movement, demanding that policymakers address gun violence in schools. We discuss their activism and the need for reasonable progress and compromise. 

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in a 37-page indictment, has described Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. We discuss the indictment and updates regarding Michael FlynnRick Gates, and Richard Pinedo

Sarah compliments Congressman Carlos Curbelo for his remarks following the Parkland shooting. Beth compliments the Albuquerque, New Mexico City Council

We talk with Tabitha Isner and her campaign manager, Megan Skipper, about her run for Congress as a Democrat in Alabama. You can find Tabitha on her websiteTwitterInstagram, and Facebook

We end with what's on our minds outside politics. Beth is thinking about her bucket list. Sarah is excited about her friend's new children's album


Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images News / Getty Images

On January 23, there was a school shooting in our home state. On February 14, 17 people were killed in yet another

If you are ready to take action, consider doing one of the following things: 

  • text ACT to 64433 to join Moms Demand Action 
  • host a conversation in your community about the threat of violence (agree in advance about whether you'd like to discuss gun control provisions or not) 
  • contact your elected official to express your insistence on measures to combat gun violence  


At the top of the episode, we cite the statistic from EveryTown that there have been 18 school shootings in 2018. This statistic has been criticized today by, among others, theWashington Post. EveryTown uses an expansive definition of school shooting to encompass every time a gun has discharged live rounds on school property. We encourage you to judge the meaning and importance of this statistic for yourself. 


The stock market and the economy with Heidi Moore.

Photo by phongphan5922/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by phongphan5922/iStock / Getty Images

It’s hard to keep up with the memos, interviews, and leaks coming out of Washington DC so we take a painstaking look at what we do and don’t know about the memo and the Mueller investigation 

Thanks to our sponsor: Martha Stewart Wine and TomboyX Underwear

We discuss the resignation of Rob Porter and the President's wholly unacceptable response to the accusations of domestic violence against Porter. We also talk about the Olympics: North Korea's participation, the ugly part of the event, and why we keep watching

To compliment individuals who aren't members of our respective parties, Beth compliments the Democratic candidate in her home district, Patti Piatt. Sarah compliments Rand Paul on his continued stance against deficit spending. 

For our main segment, business journalist Heidi Moore joins us for a discussion of the stock market, the economy, and why debt colors Donald Trump's opinion of it all. 

We end with a discussion on what's on our minds outside politics. Beth loved Lady Bird and Victoria & Abdul. Sarah loved The Power and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Heidi shares her love for The Good Place and Call Me By Your Name. 

Race, Gender, the Military, Religion, Partisanship, and Rockets


The United States continues to grapple with cultural tension over race, the military, and religion. We talk about the latest news around these topics and listener feedback in today’s episode.

The death of Black Lives Matter activist Muhiyidin d’Baha and the vandalism of a Confederate monument in Louisville, Kentucky, have us thinking about continued racial tensions in the United States. At the same, a message from our listener, Karen, and Sarah's experience passing a Fairness Ordinance in her city have us thinking about tension around Christianity. That tension is not helped by an evangelical minister who made headlines this week by claiming that Christians don't get the flu. 

The President has expressed interest in a military parade. Sarah has a great solution to dealing with this. 

We shared feedback from Michelle regarding #HearHerHarvard and the culture on Harvard's campus. We also discuss Melissa's message sharing her desire for a more balanced conversation -- one of many messages questioning Beth's political perspective. 

Finally, we discuss SpaceX's launch of the Falcon Heavy. 

#ReleasetheMemo, the Mueller investigation, and Uma's #MeToo Moment

Photo by Aquir/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Aquir/iStock / Getty Images

It’s hard to keep up with the memos, interviews, and leaks coming out of Washington DC so we take a painstaking look at what we do and don’t know about the memo and the Mueller investigation 

Thanks to our sponsor: Casper Mattress

First up, we discuss how we think about the economy as we approach another government shutdown this week, including whether or not we should pour more money into the Department of Defense considering the results of the latest audit.   

We discuss Uma's #metoo moment and why the coverage became the story


To compliment individuals who aren't members of our respective parties, Sarah praises recently retiring and suddenly refreshingly honest Representative Trey Gowdyl. Beth compliments Senator Chris Coons on his work on a bipartisan immigration bill. 


For our main segment, we start with a mini-primer on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act ("FISA"), which was enacted in 1978 to protect Americans’ privacy in the midst of counter-terrorism efforts. A law enforcement training white paper helped us significantly in understanding key provisions of FISA. FISA was enacted to limit the presidents' power and to create a judicially-manageable standard for issuing warrants in national security investigations. 

The key provisions of FISA were: 

  1. Non-criminal electronic surveillance can only occur for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence and foreign counterintelligence
  2. Foreign powers and agents of foreign powers could be targeted for electronic surveillance (foreign powers and agents of foreign powers are defined in the statute—explicitly says “non US persons” — US persons are citizens, legal permanent residents, US corporations, unincorporated associates with a substantial number of members who are citizens or lawful permanent residents) 
  3. The government needs probable cause to conduct surveillance (and set a probable cause standard)
  4. Established foreign intelligence surveillance courts (FISC) at the district and appellate levels to review applications for warrants under the act
  5. The government can only conduct electronic surveillance in the US for the purpose of collecting foreign intelligence or foreign counterintelligence pursuant to a warrant issued by a FISC or in an emergency with approval from the attorney general provided that a warrant is sought within 24 hours 

In 1995, FISA was expanded to include physical searches (which meant a recognition that the president’s power to order physical searches in the interest of nat security is limited)  In 1998, provisions were added on pen registers and trap and trace - includes phone calls, email, and all electronic forms of communication. These provisions specifically prohibit investigation of US persons for activities protected by the 1st Amendment. 

Often the collection of information under FISA leads to collection of evidence of a domestic crime (not the intention of the surveillance). The FBI is obligated by the statute and executive order to pass that evidence the appropriate law enforcement agency. But, there have been many challenges to evidence collected under FISA in criminal cases because of 4th and 5th Amendment concerns. These challenges led to the establishment of the “primary purpose” test and “the wall” — the intelligence community became very careful about ensuring that applications for FISA warrants demonstrated that the primary purpose of surveillance was foreign intelligence or foreign counterintelligence — not law enforcement. Law enforcement and intel community have struggled a little with the appropriate sharing of information. 

This information-sharing struggle was directly confronted and significantly altered by the October 2001 passage of the Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act (the PATRIOT Act).

Under the PATRIOT Act, the intelligence community's burden on a FISA warrant application is to show that collection of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence is a significant purpose rather than the purpose of the activity.  In 2002, the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (part of the DOJ) asked the FISC to remove “the wall” (separating law enforcement and foreign intel collection). The FISC declined and wrote its own minimization standards, trying to maintain a balance between effectuating the PATRIOT Act and limiting the very intrusive methods available under FISA. The DOJ appealed to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The Court of Review said that the FISC was wrong and was trying to end run the PATRIOT Act. It found that the wall did not survive the PATRIOT Act. 

Now, disclosure and use of FISA information: 

  1. Must be for a lawful purpose
  2. Must be accompanied by an admonishment that FISA derived info can only be used in a criminal proceeding with the advanced authorization of the Attorney General 
  3. The government has to give notice to the criminal defendant and the Court if it is going to use FISA derived info in a criminal proceeding (so the defendant has a chance to contest the use of the evidence)
  4. There are no exceptions to the AG having to approve disclosure in advance, and the government never produces a copy of the application to obtain a FISA warrant. 

In 2008, FISA amendments were passed. These amendments included section 702, which allows the government to collect email and other communications of non-US persons. Over 25% of the NSA’s intelligence relies on information obtained under 702. Section 702 expires at the end of 2017 and needs to be reauthorized — that’s what House Republicans were referring to in the Comey/Rogers hearing. This section has been widely criticized but not well understood. Surveillance under Section 702 can only be directed at specific foreign targets outside the US. It doesn’t allow for bulk collections. There are two important aspects of the Section 702 program: PRISM and upstream collection. Section 702, FISC, and intelligence agencies use minimization standards to protect incidental collection of information, including masking

We then review the major actions of taken so far by Robert Mueller during the course of his investigation. We then discuss the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence which was created in 1977 to oversee the US intelligence community. It was created in response to the Church and Pike Committees investigating the CIA and other intelligence agencies in response to Watergate. Because the Church and Pike Committees found evidence of spying on American citizens, illegal wiretapping, and coverups, the Senate and the House established intelligence committees to prevent future abuses of power. The HPSCI has 22 members, including at least one member from Appropriations, Armed Services, Judiciary, and Foreign Affairs and is chaired by Representative Devin Nunes, recently cleared of an ethics investigation regarding the release of classified information. Last, we discuss the infamous memo and what we think it does (and doesn't) mean.  

We end with a discussion on what's on our minds outside politics - mainly the Super Bowl and America's obsession with football.  

The Campaign to Recall Judge Persky, Conspiracy Theories, and the Physical Realties of Gun Violence


California voters will soon decide whether to recall the judge who sentenced Brock Turner, and conspiracy theories seem to be taking over our public discussions. We’re talking about institutional trust and accountability as well as discussing the brutal realities of gun violence in today’s episode.

Thanks to TomboyX for sponsoring today's podcast. 

We discuss the campaign to recall Judge Persky, how elections impact the judiciary, and the punitive side of rape culture. 

We also talk about "The Storm" and how the Nunes memo is mainstreaming conspiracy theories. 

Finally, we talk with Dr. Sterling Haring about his experience treating victims of the Marshall County High School shooting. Content warning: Our conversation with Dr. Haring includes some upsetting and graphic information about how bullets impact human bodies. 


Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Moral Authority

Photo by olm26250/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by olm26250/iStock / Getty Images

John Adams said that “because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” Every headline in the past week has us thinking about abuse of power and the moral authority required to stand up to that abuse.

Thanks to our sponsors: ModClothEllevest, and ThirdLove.

In this week's show, we discuss the growing violence in Afghanistan and the terrible attacks in Kabul. We also ponder the motivations behind President Trump's solar tariffs. In our #metoo moment, we talk about the #HearHerHarvard movement at Harvard University and the criticism of Judge Aquilina and her decisions involving the Nassar trial. We also discuss the economic motivations behind the recent Russian protests and why economics always becomes our central concern.   

To compliment individuals who aren't members of our respective parties, Sarah praises Representative Will Hurd and his bipartisan immigration bill. Beth shares the encouraging reactions of several Arizona state legislators in the face of ugly immigration protests

For our main segment, we discuss the moral authority and the arguments surrounding the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Beth shares her journey with John McCain as a presidential candidate and we ponder the growing disgust among the moderate middle at the current state of politics in our country. 

We end with a discussion on what's on our minds outside politics - specifically when we sleep - as Beth shares a common dream she has and Sarah worries about the epidemic of teeth clenching among Americans. 

Gun Violence and Activism (with Special Guest Dr. Dana Fisher)


In 1997, three of Sarah's classmates were shot and killed in the lobby of my high school. 20 years later and 30 miles away, her community is again mourning the deaths of two 15 yo high school students shot in the in the lobby of Marshall County High School. We’re thinking about activism to prevent these tragedies and talking about activism through protests with Dr. Dana Fisher.

Thanks to our sponsors for today's podcast: Crane and Canopy and ModCloth

The Courier Journal describes the shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, in excruciating detail. We discuss how we think we can break the logjam on action to do better at preventing future gun violence.

We talk with Dr. Dana Fisher about the Women's Marches and the Resistance movement in the context of sociological activism data. You can find Dr. Fisher on Twitter, at her University of Maryland website, and at the website for her eye-opening book that's being shared as she develops it. 


Negotiating with Jello: What to Make of the Government Shutdown and the Next Stage of Immigration Talks


How does one negotiate with jello? We talk negotiations, compromise, and the government shutdown on today’s episode. 


Thanks to our sponsors: Unladylike, ModCloth, and Ellevest

We begin with our #metoo moment, discussing the sentencing hearing for Larry Nassar, the former physician for the U.S. Olympian gymnastics team. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina has admirably allowed survivors to speak during the hearing, and survivors like Aly Raisman have used their time to powerfully indict everyone who has been complicit in Nassar's abuse

Next, we talk about the talks between South Korean President Moon and Kim Jong Un regarding the Olympics. We don't know what the President's actual strategy is, but we're hoping for a productive and peaceful path forward in light of apparent cooperation around Pyeongchang. 

To compliment individuals who aren't members of our respective parties, Beth celebrates the achievements of Oregon governor Kate Brown. Sarah appreciates Senator Lindsay Graham's efforts on immigration. 

For our main segment, we discuss the government shutdown -- how and why it happened, the costs involved, what we can expect next, and how we can productively move forward. 

We end with a discussion of books and movies (which should you do first?) and Beth's favorite romantic comedies -- one of which was made better by learning that Jack Nicholson sent a check to his co-star Diane Keaton, who was underpaid. 

The Budget, DACA, and Listener Feedback on Aziz Ansari and Grace


The President of the United States, through his party's website, actually gave out Fake News Awards this week. There is an epidemic of pettiness in our politics. Let's discuss. 

Thanks so much to ModCloth for sponsoring today's podcast.

We discuss Congress's inability to pass a budget and inability to do a "deal" that the President will sign on DACA. We also talk about the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that devoted a sad amount of time to whether the President actually said the word "shithole."

It's difficult to know what's happening in the Mueller investigation, but we do know that Steve Bannon has agreed to be interviewed. 

Finally, we discuss the State of the Commonwealth given by Governor Matt Bevin in our home, Kentucky. 

We then share listener feedback and continue the conversation regarding Aziz Ansari and Grace. There are too many think pieces and opinions to link because this issue has touched such a nerve--and that's exactly why we think it's so important. 

Medicaid in Kentucky, Aziz Ansari, and Immigration Policy

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

The news this week has been explicit — both in language and in what that language reveals. We’re discussing the President’s comments on immigration and the US’s role in the world. 

Thanks to ModCloth and Ellevest for sponsoring today's episode. 

Our home state of Kentucky has been granted a waiver to add work requirements to Medicaid. We discuss the facts of the new program and our thoughts on what it does and doesn't accomplish. 

A piece about "Grace's" date with Aziz Ansari has fueled controversy over the past three days. (Please note that the linked content is explicit). We discuss where #metoo stands and what lessons we can learn from the Ansari allegations. 

To compliment the other side, Sarah compliments Representative Mia Love for her statements on President Trump's "shithole" comments. Beth compliments Senator Dick Durbin for trying to stay focused on DACA. 

We discuss President Trump's widely-publicized comments and general attitude regarding immigration. We talk about what drives our immigration policies, the data on the importance of immigration in the United States, and our national values. 

Outside of politics, Sarah is thinking about all of the snow in Kentucky. Beth is planning a class on boundaries



#Oprah2020, DACA, and a Report from the Paducah City Commission

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment / Getty Images

The Briefcase is our shorter episode each week when we catch up on news and often share listener feedback. Today, we're covering a local fairness ordinance, the Oprah 2020 frenzy, and the public DACA meeting President Trump convened. 

Thanks so much to Zola, the wedding company that will do anything for love, for sponsoring today's episode. 

In our first block, Sarah emotionally describes the difficulty inherent in holding public meetings to pass a fairness ordinance in the city of Paducah, KY. Paducah is Kentucky's 9th city to pass protections for LGBTQ+ individuals. In this segment, Beth mentions the work of Equality Ohio to support state-wide fairness legislation in Ohio. 

We then turn to the frenzied discussion of Oprah's presidential prospects -- which we believe misses the point of her speech entirely. In this discussion, we reference Susan Faludi's piece, The Patriachs Are Falling. The Patriarchy is Stronger Than Ever, and a conversation on Twitter resulting from listener M.E. sharing an article about soft skills in the tech industry. Unfortunately, we are unable to locate any nuance for the gentleman who is suing Google for discrimination

Finally, we break down the public negotiation President Trump convened on DACA -- we cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. We also give a brief overview of earmarks, since that seems to be on the President's mind. 


Fire and Fury, Oprah for President, and faith and politics with Michael Wear


We discussed #MeToo's moment at the Golden Globes, including Oprah's (presidential?) speech. Beth is reading Fire and Fury and keeping us all updated and we talk faith and politics with Michael Wear
Thanks to our patrons; we hope you'll consider supporting Pantsuit Politics by making a monthly contribution at Patreon and by leaving a positive review in the Apple Podcast Player for Pantsuit Politics and The Nuanced Life. Thanks to today's sponsors: ModCloth, Lola, and Ellevest.

Sarah live tweeted The Golden Globes and we had lots of thoughts on political statements, Oprah's speech, and Hollywood's participation in the #MeToo #TimesUp movement. Beth also wanted to share an amazing interaction between Sarah Silverman and a Twitter troll
Beth is currently reading Fire and Fury and we discuss the book, the coverage, and the biggest problem for the White House. 
Sarah compliments Indiana State Representative Matt Lehman and Beth compliments Tabitha Isner
In our main segment, we talk with Michael Wear, the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC, and a leading expert on the intersection of faith, politics and American public life. Wear directed faith outreach for President Obama's historic 2012 re-election campaign and was one of the youngest White House staffers in modern American history, leading evangelical outreach and helping manage The White House's engagement on religious and values issues, including adoption and anti-human trafficking efforts. He is also the author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America and the recent viral post Pro-life Voters and Pro-Choice Politicians.

Outside of politics, Michael joins us to talk about The Crown and his love for Lidia Bastianich

The Great Redhead Debate: Rebroadcast

Sarah from the Left.png

We decided to rebroadcast this popular episode to remind everyone that we do disagree occasionally. 

This week we took a break from our normal format to create a special episode for y'all by stepping behind the podium (figuratively of course) for the Great Redhead Debate. For two weeks we took questions from listeners and prepped hard to bring a real debate feel to this election cycle, Pantsuit Politics style - with substance and issues taking center stage. Dante moderated, and we touched on topics like school choice, the economic recovery, the Dakota Access Pipeline, climate change and clean energy spending, teacher shortages, and lots more. Things even got contentious at times, but don't worry, we kept it nuanced. 

Questions for New Year's Eve reflections on the year in politics

Photo by asbe/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by asbe/iStock / Getty Images

2017 has been a long year, to say the least. We’re reflecting on that year the same way we’ve gotten through it - with a little help from our friends

Thanks to our patrons; we hope you'll consider supporting Pantsuit Politics by making a monthly contribution at Patreon and by leaving a positive review in the Apple Podcast Player for Pantsuit Politics and The Nuanced Life. Thanks to today's sponsors: Better Help and ModCloth

We're using Tsh Oxenreider's 20 Questions for a New Year's Eve reflection through the lens of politics to look back on 2017. Even better, we got help from Tsh herself, as well as other friends of the pod - listener Jennifer, our producer George, Anne Bogel of What Should I Read Next podcast, Emily Ellsworth, and Mark McKinnon.


"The Governing Wing of the Republican Party" with Sarah Chamberlain

Sarah Chamberlain

Sarah Chamberlain

While Sarah enjoys some holiday time, Beth shares an interview with Sarah Chamberlain, President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership -- a coalition of 70 members of Congress. 

Thanks so much to the sponsors of today's podcast: Better Help and ModCloth. To support Pantsuit Politics, please visit our Patreon page--we're so grateful for the listener support that sustains our podcasts. 

The Republican Main Street Partnership prides itself on its commitment to "kitchen table issues." Beth asks Sarah about the party's agenda, media coverage, and the Women2Women National Conversations Tour

The Tax Plan, Evangelicals, and Gendered Conversations

Photo by ALotOfPeople/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by ALotOfPeople/iStock / Getty Images

We’ve been talking about the #metoo movement at length. As the year draws to a close, we’re thinking more about what gender equality could really mean. We discuss the Republican tax plan, evangelicals and the President, and ways that our everyday conversations can promote greater equality between men and women.

Thanks to our patrons; we hope you'll consider supporting Pantsuit Politics by making a monthly contribution at Patreon and by leaving a positive review in the Apple Podcast Player for Pantsuit Politics and The Nuanced Life. Thanks to today's sponsors: StoryWorth, ThirdLove, and ModCloth

The Republican tax plan brings many changes to the tax code and we talk through the changes to deductions, credits, and rates. Beth liked the Rattner charts on Morning Joe -  Final GOP plan still benefits wealthy the most: Rattner charts. She also saw an interesting musical analogy. We also discussed the drive for profit v. profit maximization and a similar question asked in the documentary The Corporation

There was an incendiary story about the CDC and banned words - we tackle the story and the real story, which didn't make us feel a little bit better.

Jenn Hatmaker is back in the political news with a profile in Politico. We discuss that and the broader conversation regarding evangelicals post-Roy Moore's campaign and this excellent article on the subject.  

Sarah compliments Rex Tillerson and Beth compliments Senator Joe Manchin

In our main segment, we discuss how to talk about gender issues and gender equality without reverting to defensiveness. We tackle mansplaining, emotional labor, and how to move the conversation forward. 

Outside of politics, Sarah is thinking about the holidays and Beth has launched her new coaching business!


Doug Jones and Roy Moore, the Mueller Investigation, and a Kentucky Tragedy

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News / Getty Images

Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in Alabama’s special senate election. We reflect on that race, complaints about bias in the Mueller investigation, and the tragic suicide of a Kentucky lawmaker. 

Thanks so much to our patrons, who make our work possible. If you'd like to support Pantsuit Politics, please visit our Patreon page. We also truly appreciate today's sponsors, ModCloth and Virtue Labs. 

We discuss the turnout and results of the Alabama special election, in which Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore. We have different perspectives about the role that race and gender played in this race and what the race means long-term. 

The House Judiciary Committee believes that the Mueller investigation into Russian election interference is being tainted by partisan bias. We discuss what it would mean to adopt this theory. 

We'll discuss net neutrality and the tax bill in greater depth next week. We wanted to acknowledge the tragedy of Kentucky state Representative Dan Johnson's death. We reflect on the relationship between this incident and the #metoo movement. 

We end with listener feedback from Kerry and Erin on our Jerusalem discussion.