My History Can Beat Up Your Politics

By Bruce Carlson

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Subscribers: 923
Reviews: 3

 Aug 18, 2018
I listened to this podcast for years without knowing the personal political views of the author. To me that speaks volumes. This podcast is a great view into history's parallels with current events, presented in an interesting way.

 Aug 17, 2018
MHCBUYP is required listening for anyone interested in diving into the uniquely compelling intricacies of American political history. Informing, entertaining, and addicting.

 Aug 17, 2018
One of the best, politically neutral podcasts for analysis of current political events within the context of history. No Spin, No Bias, ... just good historical context for the issues we face today.


Since 2006, bringing historical context to the politics of today. TV pundits discuss politics in a vacuum. Cable news tells you everything is 'breaking news' but in most cases, events have long roots in history. In this podcast, we smash and bash the politics of today with a healthy dose of history

Episode Date
Granting of Certiorari: The Hidden Process Behind the Supreme Court

A bit about an obscure procedure that can mean everything, from a 2011 episode.

Feb 27, 2021
1866 Mechanics Institute Attack

One violent event, captured in the best media technologies of its time and brought to American living parlors, completely changed American politics during the Reconstruction period.  A convention at the stately Mechanics' Institute in New Orleans, determined to create a new constitution where all races could vote, was forcefully ended by police in what investigators could only describe as a massacre.    We discuss the event, the reasons behind it, and how it affected political power in Louisiana and in Washington for ten years.  

Feb 21, 2021
George Romney

A look at the Senator's father, his 1968 run, and time as HUD secretary.

Feb 20, 2021
16 Obscure Facts About Presidents w/ Jeremy Anderberg of The Art of Manliness and

Who was Chester Arthur's secret pen pal?  How did Herbert Hoover spend his last day in office?  What was McKinley's obscure accomplishment?  What was Rutherford B. Hayes passionate hobby? What event hurt Taft's Presidency from the get-go? How did Martin Van Buren contribute to today's politics?  For Presidents Day, a conversation with Jeremy Anderberg of The Art of Manliness website and podcast and newsletter.  

Music -"Swallow" by Pistol Jazz 

Feb 14, 2021
We've Got Problems. We've Always Had Problems.

In this episode, no big deal, we just tackle about every significant problem we have in our politics today.  norm-breaking, free-speech and free-speech limits, threats and violence, double impeachments, pushing envelopes and reverse virtue signaling is all part of this episode.  Also, Abigail Adams, a treaty won by a forceful speech, a shadowy organization rising up to oppose a President's agenda, two Founders debate and trade charges of hypocrisy. And a bowling ball.    Lee Rosevere -music.

Feb 07, 2021
On The Lincoln Train: The 13-Day Journey of a President-Elect

Lincoln's turbulent period as President-elect also featured a novel twist: a thirteen-day train ride through the states that had cast their votes for him, and two that had not.  He countered large cheering crowds and some security risks, while he managed to avoid opining on the fast-paced events of the day and to avoid compromising with violence.  We look at some of his speeches, how he handled being President-elect, and the last-minute change and secret voyage conducted for safety reasons.

Jan 18, 2021
The Power to Pardon

From Eugene Debs to Richard Nixon, from a previously run episode, the President's power to pardon is examined.  

Jan 17, 2021
I Don't Want to Trick You: The Lyndon Johnson - Richard Nixon Presidential Transition, and Other Stories

Nothing starts a good presidential transition like charges of treason, and thus it was in 1968 that a tense election ending started a transition between Presidents of two parties.  Yet all things considering, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson's transition is considered one of the better ones.   We look into the circumstances, the actions and the phone calls between LBJ and Nixon, from November 5th, 1968 to January 20th, 1969.  We also look at contemporary news stories, and stories of other presidential transitions.   Music from Lee Rosevere- Music for Podcasts (turns out the true crime edition music really fits)

Dec 29, 2020
Pirates and America, w/ Rebecca Simon, Author of "Why We Love Pirates"

America's fascination then and now with sea rebels, sea dogs, privateers, smugglers, and pirates by other names is pretty clear.  Books, movies and video games with pirates sell.  We talk with pirate expert and historian Rebecca Simon, Ph.D. and author of "Why We Love Pirates: The Hunt for Captain Kidd and How He Changed Piracy Forever"   We talk about connections between the American Revolution and piracy, and the different ways pirates were viewed in Britain and America, how pirate crews worked, women pirates and more.   

Dec 17, 2020
Why Do Nebraska and Maine Vote for President The Way They Do? And Other Esoterica of The 2020 Election

It started with one guy's idea.  And nothing happened with it until after he died.  We look at the Maine and Nebraska congressional district system of Presidential elector assignment and its history as both the NE2 and ME2 went for different candidates than the statewide winner for the first time in history.  That and other 2020 Election thoughts.  

Dec 12, 2020
Did Nixon Win the Popular Vote in 1960? And Other Stories

In this episode we look at an enduring mystery, one that didn't matter too much in the 1960 election but has since taken on significance. Could it be that Kennedy lost, and Nixon won, the popular vote nationally in 1960. We looked at it a decade ago, and at that time MHCBUYP declared that Richard Nixon may rightly join popular vote winners but election losers: Cleveland, Jackson, Tilden and Gore.   Now, we think it's complicated.  But still possible.  This, plus the "Gumps of History" and other listener questions.  

Dec 07, 2020
The War Powers Act (from 2011)

If the Congress hadn't tried to give Nixon trouble, they might have not handed the Presidency so much power, and other thoughts.

Dec 05, 2020
The Creation of Children: Child Labor in the U.S. and Child Labor Laws

A look at the history of child labor and attempts, mostly unsuccessful for decades, at child labor restrictions.  From 2014.  

Dec 02, 2020
I Travelled Through Time to Tell You This - 14 Years of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics - Plus Listener Questions

Host Bruce Carlson reflects on 14 years of the podcast, provides a show update.  Plus some listener questions on masks then and now, Presidents leaving (or not leaving) the Oval, and Kennedy's 1960 election and allegations of fraud.

Nov 22, 2020
Notes of 1884: Thoughts on That Election, and the Current One

We discuss the tight election that elected the first Democratic President in 25 years and some comparisons and contrasts to the current election.  A President's umbrella, salutes for his "big foot," chain-armor clad parades, and the importance of a concern for the "general weal." all in this episode. 

Music by Stephan Siebert, About Life.

Nov 09, 2020
The 1796 Presidential Election: Placing us in a Point of Opposition to Each Other
'The public and the public papers have been much occupied lately in placing us in a point of opposition to each other. ' So wrote Jefferson to Adams about the 1796 Presidential Election, America's first with two candidates with true campaigns.  The letter didn't reach its recipient, the opposing candidate of a party; the old friends became political figures and their letters potential weapons as opposing sides had gelled too much.  
The 1796 Presidential Election was America's first with two candidates with true campaigns.  Before it was over there would feature negative ads, misconstructions of candidate statements, foreign interference and backlash to that interference, and election count disputes.
Oct 30, 2020
Don't Run for President: Candidates Who Ran, Didn't Run, Didn't Want to Run, Couldn't Run or Didn't Know They Were Running for President

A candidate who didn't run for President.  A candidate who ran, but didn't know he was running.  A candidate who didn't want to run, but had no choice.  A candidate who ran without seeming to run, and a candidate who ran but died before the votes were counted.  An election that didn't happen, but would have been a humdinger if it did.  A President who thought he had no competition, thus no true election, but at the very last minute did.  A history of running for President, not running for President and running for President in the worst way.  Grab a mug of hard cider and enjoy the tales of infinite jest and educational interest.  There might even be a thing or two that relates to today.

Oct 25, 2020
What You Haven't Been Told About The 1860 Election: Houston vs. Lincoln, Woke Volunteers, Fossil Politicians and More

Abraham Lincoln running against...Sam Houston? It is not a far-fetched idea that Abraham Lincoln might have faced Texas hero Sam Houston in the election of 1860, as he  was under serious consideration to be one of the candidates in what became a four-way Presidential election of 1860.  And he would have been a formidable one, except backroom candlelight politics ended Houston's presidential dreams.

Also, how Lincoln benefit from "woke" political "armies," and how an old enemy helped him beat off a third party annoyance.  How two slaveholder candidates got into a debate about who was the bigger slaveholder, how a houseless man sought the Presidency, how the Democratic Party in several states tried to eliminate the split right before the election to beat Lincoln, and how Lincoln and the Republicans won.  

Oct 21, 2020
The "Gaffe-a-thon" of the 1976 Election

Jimmy Carter's speechwriter said "We were 30 points up, but unfortunately we had to campaign."  A tight race turns to a veritable battle of gaffes between two newbie Presidential candidates.  A surprise challenger and an unelected President.  We go over the close '76 election, including a last-minute event that almost changed history.  

Oct 19, 2020
Dewey Gets Mad: Another Look at the 1948 Election

Truman's high-tech train, Dewey's We Go High optimism and the defeat that made him cling to it, Truman's risky calling of a Session of Congress and how it went badly for him in a few ways, and Dewey's decision to get angry, unfortunately first at an average citizen and only later at his opponent.  This and other lesser-known stories of the 1948 Election.  

Oct 15, 2020
The Fifth Debate That Never Happened - 1960

After the four TV debates between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy in 1960, there was talk of a fifth.  That talk didn't result in another TV debate, but did provide one more campaign issue for a very tight election, and developed a new thing - TV debate negotiations.   We look at 1960, the fifth debate talk, and other reasons besides the debates that affected the 1960 election results.

Oct 09, 2020
Blaine, Washington, and Stories of Health and Sickness and Politics

From James Blaine's fainting spell days before Republicans chose a candidate, to Washington's extreme flu scare, to the SARS epidemic and a look at the Ever-So-Prescient Defoe's Journal of a Plague Year, Health and Sickness and Politics.

Oct 07, 2020
John W. Davis Also Ran

When an obscure lawyer won a party's nomination for President in a surprise convention choice, he used his platform to take on a hate group. 

Oct 06, 2020
Introducing: The Fault Line: Bush, Blair & Iraq

Why did we go to war in Iraq in 2003? What happened in the 18 months between 9/11 and March 2003 that drove that decision? What was it about George Bush and Tony Blair that meant war was in the cards? And what motivated these two men at the peak of their powers – with the world on their side – to pursue a war that would prove to be historically unpopular

Sep 29, 2020
Earl Warren Replacement, Election Year SCOTUS Battles, Mario Cuomo and Court Packing

The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has brought forth a week of mourning but also politics over the Supreme Court.  We discuss the history behind election-year appointments, most notably 1968 and we look at the thorny issue of Court-Packing.   

Sep 20, 2020
The 1880 Election and The Morey Letter: a Tale of October Surprise, Immigration, Memes and Counter Memes and Nothing to Do with Today's Politics

The 1880 election was close, with Democrats and Republicans seeking an advantage in its waning days when a letter hits a major city newspaper purporting to be in the hand of a candidate.  It is a letter that could turn the election.  With Todd Arrington, a historian at the  James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor, Ohio, we discuss James A. Garfield's surprise nomination and the Morey letter.  We also discuss what could have been had Garfield lived.

Sep 17, 2020
All That Stuff Before the Debate Happens

From belt buckles to town-hall meetings, to letting the veeps debate, a history of debate negotiations.

Sep 08, 2020
Cholera and Benjamin Harrison

In 1892, a dreaded disease caused a President to navigate local health situation and created a new law.  We look at the precedent-setting quarantine order of the 23rd President, Benjamin Harrison.  While we are at it, we look at Harrison's presidency, policies, his influence on future events, his failed attempt to obtain fair elections for both African Americans and city dwellers, and how he annoyed Theodore Roosevelt.

Sep 01, 2020
"It Looked Like Hell" - The Story of The 1980 DNC Convention w/ Rick Perlstein, Author of 'Reaganland'

The Democratic Convention in New York City in 1980 was not the example to follow for how to run a convention. With the help of "Reaganland" author and historian Rick Perlstein, we look at one of the most frustrating modern conventions. The fight between Ted Kennedy and Carter for the nomination, obscure rules challenges, delegates cajoled by generals, men in green and white, just a blip of Bill Clinton, Communists and fireworks, speech flubs and the handshake that doomed a ticket are among the items discussed.

Please go out and get Rick Perlstein's Reaganland, available today.

Aug 18, 2020
Top 10 Worst VP Picks in History

Usually a choice at the top of the ticket helps. But sometimes it doesn't. Bruce goes into his Top 10 Worst VP Picks.

Aug 11, 2020
Best Convention Ever? New York, 1976 DNC

The convention that nominated then-unknown Jimmy Carter in 1976 convention was worth 30 percentage points in the polls, and is seen as one of the best organized events by many who study politics. We look at what happened - from a strict chairman's gavel to a secret VP pick, from expert badge distribution to garbage cleanup, Along with possibly bugged phones, polyester suits, Delegate stories, Hunter Thompson and Joe Biden appearances., peanuts and fried chicken.   And a Yellow Camaro that changed the Presidency by flipping an unexpected state Carter's way.  We talk to three convention delegates about their experiences with an upstart campaign that went all the way to New York.  

(1980 four years later would be was one of the worst run. More on that in a few weeks.)

Music by Lee Rosevere and Dee Yan Key

Jul 27, 2020
The Man in the Cave and Other Stories of the Signers of The Declaration of Independence

We know Jefferson and Franklin, but what about the other signers - John Hart, John Penn, William Williams, Richard Stockton, William Whipple, John Morgan, William Floyd, George Read and others.

I released this series as its own podcast in 2012, some listeners may have listened to it.  I have combined it into one volume.  

Jul 03, 2020
Operation Eagle Claw and the 1979 Iran Embassy Storming

Eagle Claw, popularly known as Desert One, was the unsuccessful attempt to rescue hostages in Iran in 1980, hostages that had been held since the storming of the embassy in 1979.  Replaying two previous podcasts on the topic, we look at the hostage-taking and the rescue attempt.  How the plan may have worked?  What went wrong?  Also, why the embassy was stormed in 1979 and why it was the second time that year.  Why one hostage was mad that he was rescued.  These topics are discussed and more.

Jul 02, 2020
Partisanship, 1850's Style w/ Josh Mensch, co-author of The Lincoln Conspiracy

High political stakes, secret plots, Plug Uglies armed with sharp awls to help 'convince' voters... Baltimore in the 1850's was a fearsome place where politics and gangs were hard to separate.  Yet it was the connecting stop for new Presidents and Union Soldiers getting to Washington D.C.  We speak with Josh Mensch.  Josh is the co-author with Brad Meltzer of the New York Times bestselling nonfiction history book The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16th President—and Why It Failed

We talk to Josh about his book, the story of the plot to stop Lincoln's Presidency even before it happened, how it was foiled, and about political partisanship in America then and now.  

Jul 01, 2020
A Powder Keg About to Explode: Newark, NJ 1967

Newark N.J. suffered a brutal and consuming riot, or rebellion, depending on how you see things, in the hot summer of 1967. Through the voices of history, we hear about those events, what caused it, and the musician who got caught up and became an unlikely spark. Caught off guard, police and National Guard and a scuffle became a war, some say outside agitators and opportunist looters planned it all; others say police and Guard units rioted themselves.  Most agreed - they didn't want to see it again. The line between crime and politics, the role of the riots in change, a government report that called out the madness of it all. How the '67 events caused a change in government, was noticed in national politics, and how it remains an influence even for today's events.

Jun 08, 2020
The Cabinet, George Washington's Creation, with Lindsay M. Chervinsky

George Washington did not get a Cabinet as President. He created it. His precedents forged the institution and the President's relationship to the Executive Departments. Washington didn't fire a cabinet member, but he set the precedents in this area and in others. We are joined by Lindsay M. Chervinsky, a historian with the
white house historian Her book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution has been published by Harvard University Press.

May 26, 2020
What The Great Depression Felt Like, And Other Things

What caused The Great Depression, did FDR do anything to fix it, and how does it compare to our recent recessions? A 2008 cast that holds up well...As events started to take shape in '08, , I remember sitting down in a park and scribbling the base of this podcast, with factoids thrown in later and stories from letters to the editors of newspapers of those who suffered through the Great Depression, and some from Studs Terkel's work.   

May 17, 2020
History's Nine Most Insane Rulers w Scott Rank of "History Unplugged" Podcast

We talk about Idi Amin, Kim Jong-il and other despots with Scott Rank of History Unplugged Podcast.  He joins us to talk about his book History's Nine Most Insane Rulers.  We get into Amin's awful suppression of opposition, deportation of Indian and Pakistani Ugandans, and extra judicial killings.  Other insane rulers were more amusing, and we talk about that too.   Lee Rosevere provides music on this program - check out his music on

May 12, 2020
Representation: A History

A history of government representing, or not representing, people.

May 05, 2020
Kent State: After the Bullets

We know that on May 4th, 1970, fifty years ago, four students were killed by the National Guard at Kent State in Ohio.  What is not always known is everything that happened after that.  Opinion wasn't universally with the slain students, the school had little interest in memorializing for decades, courts turned a blind eye, and the criminal justice system focused not at those who killed students but at thee students themselves.  We look at Kent State and everything that happened after the shots was fired,, including dozens of stories.  We talk to Howard Ruffner, author of "Moments of Truth" and both a photographer that day and an eyewitness to the events.  His photo appeared in LIFE magazine thee week of the shootings. We also discuss the famous screaming photograph, the iconic image of Kent State and how the photo changed the life of its subject.  We discuss the Tent City protests of alumni, students and parents, the fight over a memorial in the 80s and 90s.  And the statue that spoke through its metal about the day.

May 03, 2020
Eyewitness to Kent State Shootings: Paula Stone Tucker

The May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State killed 4 students and wounded 9. Paula Stone Tucker was a student going through her work and studies on campus when she witnessed a historic event. We talk about Kent State, how the 4 days unfolded, and get Paula Stone Tucker's take on events. She is the author of the book Surviving a Kent State Memoir.

We are grateful to Ohio vs. the World Podcast for lending the story of another Kent State shooting survivor Dean Kahler. Sign up for Alex's podcast.

May 01, 2020
Measure Everything: Ark of Commerce Part 5

An unknown man in a forgotten office develops a number that makes and breaks Presidents. A poet turns his song towards a metal object. Two 19th century men tire themselves out making machines They can't know their work will one day put us on the Moon.   And a man tries to invent an un-commerce, but may have built the 21st century economy instead. In the fifth episode of our series on American commerce, we look at the appraisal and measuring and counting of business.

Apr 19, 2020
Make It Stop: When Commerce Stopped (Ark of Commerce Part 4 Replay)

When we aired this last year, the topic of commerce shutting down did not seem timely.  Thus a re-run of our fourth of a series on American commerce, a look at three instances of when U.S. commerce was stopped seems appropriate.  From an offensive war effort, to a bid for peace, to a management of peacetime. And we look at the effects of those interventions. The embargo of 1807 is an important part of the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, not often examined in detailed compared to other events. It brought serious economic problems, but was held up by Jefferson as an experiment by a peaceful power. We also examine his Treasury Secretary Gallatin, who had to implement the plan. We also look at Wilson's railroad takeover and Nixon's wage price board


Apr 18, 2020
Truman, the Marshall Plan and the 1948 Election w/ A.J. Baime

A look at Truman,, the Marshall Plan and the 1948 Election.  Why Truman thought he won, and why his opponent Dewey thought he ended up losing.   How he pulled it off.  With A.J. Baime, author of Dewey Beats Truman.  This is A.J. Baime's second appearance on the podcast.  Big national projects, big sacrifice and an incumbent President up for election all figure in.  

Apr 02, 2020
Stop Carter: A Story of 1976 Politics

The last-minute bid of California Governor Jerry Brown to unseat Jimmy Carter's nomination raised a lot of questions about politics that are still present today.  Should electability be a factor among primary voters?  Can you out-new the new candidate?  What time is the right time for candidates to 'get out' Should critics shut up to help a nominee in the general or speak their mind?  This, and the surprising figure still very much in politics today who tried to Stop Carter.  

Mar 23, 2020
Swan Events: Democratic Debates, COVID19 and Other Topics w/ Chris Novembrino of Don't Worry About the Government Podcast

Big discussion with Chris Novembrino of Don't Worry About the Government Podcast.  The Democratic campaign started with over 20 people but ended up in a retro pattern of two candidates by March, a virus has entered politics, an incumbent is up for re-election.  What does it all mean?  

Mar 15, 2020
American Epidemic: Philadelphia's Yellow Fever of 1793

Five thousand people died in Philadelphia, then the capital of the United States in just a few months.  Between August and November of 1793.  Thousands of others, including the President, fled the city.   Preachers told of sins coming to roost, while doctors looked to mercury and bloodletting.  In this recast of a 2014 episode, we look at this epidemic and the reaction to it at the time, what healthcare looked like in the 1790's, and other topics.

Mar 12, 2020
The Spanish Flu of 1918 and Its Aftermath - Conversation with Laura Spinney

We speak with Laura Spinney, science journalist and author of "Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World" and discuss the dreadful disease that claimed 50-100 million lives, more than the Great War that preceded it.  The so-called 'Spanish Flu' caused global damage but also caused scientists to reflect and develop better science and public health strategies.  And it forced new measures implemented by governments.  But how much have we learned those lessons?  We discuss these topics.  

Mar 02, 2020
Disco Demolition and The First South Carolina Primary

A look at the first South Carolina primary in 1980 and its intended role at the time as a firewall for conservative politics. We also look at how disco sucked, Dylan went Christian and some events that happened at the same time, all unrelated but in their own way meaningful. Lee Rosevere's excellent Music for Podcasts featured on the episode.

Feb 23, 2020
Washington and The Bill of Rights: A Mystery

George Washington was highly influential in constructing a Constitution, but less so when it comes to the Bill of Rights. A few of them he even found unnecessary. We just don't know which ones.

We talk about Washington's role in the convention, his influence on government and what clues he gave in his politics of silence.

Feb 15, 2020
Iowa, Impeachment and the Universe

A stubborn impeached governor, odd caucus locations, real estate and politics. Bruce talks about the Iowa Caucus, how it works, changes in 2020, its history and influence and what things look like this year. Impeachment and the current universe of politics in the United States. He finds a silver lining in the whole impeachment discussion, and discuss impeachment and political fallout, and Trump's chances.

Feb 02, 2020
The 25th Amendment, Section Four Explained, w/ Brian C. Kalt

The Constitution contains two possible forms of presidential removal outside of election, one is the much-discussed impeachment process. The other is the 25th Amendment's fourth section. We discuss 25 Section 4 with Professor Brian C. Kalt, Professor of Law & Harold Norris Faculty Scholar at Michigan State University, including how the amendment works, its uses and its common misunderstanding by the public and Hollywood writers.

Jan 21, 2020
Enemies: Nixon Goes to China

Nixon Goes to China, and what it might mean for the Iran Deal

Jan 20, 2020
Truman's Mild Support of JFK

HST and JFK did not have a close relationship.

Jan 17, 2020
Your TV Lied To You...All About Presidential Scandals

Presidential Scandals from Nixon to Grant

Jan 06, 2020
Mister 22 and Mister 24: Grover Cleveland

A look at Grover Cleveland, the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.

Jan 01, 2020
Unfriending From Jefferson and Adams, to today

A look at the famous series of letters between Jefferson and Adams.  Friends as young diplomats, they 'unfriended' and 'refriended' from the time of their Presidencies and politics to their old age.

Jan 01, 2020
Impeachment - Conversation with David Priess and Bruce Carlson

It's all of those things.  Conversation with David Priess, MHCBUYP listener, COO of Lawfare, Author of several books - about impeachment and the decision to impeach, and the many sides to this question from Tyler to Clinton to Trump.  

Dec 02, 2019
A World Disrupted - Interview w/ Charles Emmerson, Author of "Crucible - The Long End of the Great War and the Birth of a New World, 1917-1924"

The years from 1917 to 1924 are fractured yet formative for the world. After a terrible war, Germany, Russia and Ukraine are forever changed. New movements and scientific developments occur. We speak with Charles Emmerson, author of "Crucibe The Long End to the Great War and the Birth of a New World" about the period between 1917 and 1924 and what it says about today.

Dec 02, 2019
You Break Everybody's Back Part II: The 1988 Election

Attack videos, apology tours, inoculation ads, presidential circles and glib phrases make up the scuttle for the Presidential race in 1988.  Part II of our series.  Biden's all, Dole's rise, Hart's second coming and  the 3x5 card that won the race.  

Nov 16, 2019
You Break Everybody's Back: The 1988 Election - Part One

The quote from Atwater sums up the race 31 years ago nicely. Gephardt eyes a rusty belt. Dole proto-snarks, Jackson thunders, Biden runs a post route, Bush looks for his soul. Dukakis tries error free ball. Simon finds his inner bow tie and Bruce Babbit also runs. Find leadership where you can. What could it possibly say about today's times?

Nov 15, 2019
A Deep Dive into The Emancipation Proclamation

What was the true function of the Proclamation and the context surrounding it?  How did people react at this time?   

Music from Chris Zabriskie, Chris Novembrino and Lee Rosevere on this episode. 

Nov 14, 2019
Switching VIces

We look at vice presidential and vice presidential candidate switches throughout history.  And we speculate if a tactic last used in 1976 might find its way into the 2020 Election.  We also get into the McGovern-Eagleton 1972 events and talk about Nixon and Hunter Thompson's car ride.

Nov 11, 2019
Butterfield: Nixon’s Watergate Frenemy

Alexander Butterfield, Nixon’s deputy COS who revealed the existence of the taping system in the White House, gets only a small mention in Watergate history but he has a lot to contribute to the understanding of it.   He recently spoke to Bob Woodward in a new book and his account and the records he kept for decades.

Nov 05, 2019
Stop Talking About Momentum: The Race for President 1984

It wasn't supposed to be a race.  Gary Hart, Walter Mondale, Jesse Jackson, John Glenn battle to take on Ronald Reagan in 1984.  As do some other candidates.  We look at the race that year and mine it for any insights into 2020 and American politics in general.    

Oct 22, 2019
The Mystery of Impeachment - How it Works, What Happened in 1868 and More

Savior or scoundrel?  We look at the case of one of the most celebrated heroes of Presidential impeachment.  And in the course of that - we look at the  Chase, Clinton and Johnson precedents for attempted impeachment, we attempt to answer questions about this oft-discussed, rarely used, and perhaps, poorly understood Constitutional function.

 That the President would be subject to impeachment was almost never questioned.  And the language in the Constitution is clear.  But that doesn't mean all questions are answered.  Why is impeachment so rarely used?  Why does the Senate try the President?  Does the Senate become a Court when it does, or stay the Senate?  What is a High "Misdemeanor?" And what does Aaron Burr have to do with all of this?


Our sponsor for this episode is Bombfell. a styling service for men.    Try out their service for $25 off your first purchase.  

Oct 20, 2019
Beam Me Up: The James Traficant Story w/ Alex Hastie of The Ohio v. The World Podcast

We discuss the life and career of Youngstown, Ohio congressman James Traficant with Alex Hastie of Ohio v. The World Podcast. We rerun part of the episode from his podcast.   We hear from Eric Murphy, director of the documentary "The Congressman from Crimetown"  The frumpled congressman was a fixture of Ohio politics and a national controversial figure until his death in 2014.  We discuss do as you please politics and if there is similarity between Traficant and Trump. 

Oct 20, 2019
Small Money and Big Hope / Dasher's Run

A bit about small money donors in history, and about Jimmy Carter's (Code name Dasher) 1976 run.  A rebroadcast of an episode that seems apt as another campaign begins.  

Oct 11, 2019
Bruce Talks About Everything, Dem Debates Trump 2020 and Clinton 1996, Supreme Court

Trump Reelection, Democratic Debates and Recent Court decisions discussed on the episode.  It's a bit more lose than the norm, bear with Bruce as he tackles a lot in a short time and provides some sketches of things to come.  

Oct 01, 2019
Why is There an Electoral College?

A look at the Senator who tried to end the Electoral College and the original reasons for it.  It has as much to do with 1969 as it does with 1787

Sep 24, 2019
Brexit, Boris and UK and Irish Politics w/ Steven Byrne from What am Politics

We talk about the new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brexit, and Irish politics with Steven Byrne of What Am Politics Podcast.

Aug 31, 2019
How to Rank The Presidents, with Susan Swain and Brian Lamb of C-SPAN

With C-SPAN's Susan Swain and Brian Lamb we talk Theodore Roosevelt and LBJ.  And we discuss their book The Presidents, and the unique ranking system they use to assess and order America's POTUSes.  e also talk abut some of the historians who helped them.  

Jul 24, 2019
The Ark of Commerce Part IV: Make It Stop

In our fourth of a series on American commerce, a look at three instances of when U.S. commerce was stopped, for a variety of reasons - from an offensive war effort, to a bid for peace, to a management of peacetime.  And we look at the effects of those interventions.  The embargo of 1807 is an important part of the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, not often examined in detailed compared to other events. It brought serious economic problems, but was held up by Jefferson as an experiment by a peaceful power. We also examine his Treasury Secretary Gallatin, who had to implement the plan. We also look at Wilson's railroad takeover and Nixon's wage price board. 

May 23, 2019
Sedition, Presidents and the Press

From John Adams and the Alien Sedition Act, Lincoln's rage and FDR's giggling sidekicks, from JFK's light warnings to Trump and the press as the people's enemy, we look at the relationship between President and the Press.  Plus we are joined by Chris Novembrino of the Don't Worry About the Government and All in the Family Podcast to discuss recent effects, where the press stands today, and why actions of the 18th century may still be alive in today's politics.  

Music from Lee Rosevere, Nctrnm, AAAlato and Chris Zabriskie in this episode.  

May 01, 2019
Surprising Facts About Accidental Presidents - Interview w Jared Cohen

Surprising facts about the presidencies of John Tyler, JFK, LBJ, Chester Arthur and Millard Fillmore from Jared Cohen, author of Accidental Presidents, Eight Men Who Changed America. From Tyler's Grandkids, Arthur's Secret Correspondent and Adviser, and a new fact about LBJ's place on the ticket we discuss some surprising facts about those who became president by surprise.

Apr 19, 2019
Third Parties: The Moped and the Maserati - Why Third Parties Haven't Won in American Politics

About 3rd parties, with a focus on John Anderson's campaign and many others.

Mar 20, 2019
The Myth of "The Founding Fathers Said..This or That!"

In this episode we look at the concept of "Founding Fathers."  It's not a term common to use on this podcast, but it's not without any meaning either.  We look at the early Americans that helped to 'found' the nation.  One thing is clear - there's a lot of them.  

Mar 19, 2019
Woodrow Wilson Has No Friends: Wilson, His Politics and His Image Today with Patricia O'Toole

Or so it seems these days.  Liberals, conservatives, anti-globalists, Fed haters, socialists, libertarians all have a bone to pick with him.  how much criticism does he deserve?   We speak with Patricia O'Toole, the author of 'The Moralist - Woodrow Wilson and the World He Made."We look at the politics of tariffs, foreign policy, intervention, immigration, war and race through the lens of Woodrow Wilson.  

Remember to subscribe to My History Can Beat Up Your Politics on iTunes/Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, CastBox, Google Play or your favorite podcast app.  

Mar 18, 2019
The Slaughter Could Not Be Ignored -

Rerun from 2013, but obviously seems very relevant now.  A look at this attempt at a single, fix it amendment, to get over a reluctant President, which didn't work but has impacts on today's politics.

Mar 15, 2019
You Don't Know About Franklin Pierce

The 14th President is among the most unknown, as he was when he won in a surprising election.  Yet he started with great promise.  Youthful, regal in manner and style, with celebrity friends, many thought his Presidency was a renewal for the country.  Instead he provoked a resistance movement.  His fall in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska act reveals a lot about the Presidency in a time of scattered politics. 

Bruce goes through his four-year Presidency and the reasons why he's one of the few to never obtain a re-nomination from his own party.  His Presidency is one of several factors setting up war.  Though his administration was disastrous, there might even be an issue or two where you like him on.  

Feb 28, 2019
LBJ 's Cell Phone and His Decision to Jump on the Ticket in 1960

In answering a question about JFK's health and its role in Lyndon Johnson's decision to accept the Vice Presidency, Bruce takes a look at the people and factors surrounding Johnson's decision, Kennedy's motivations, Eisenhower's indirect role, and the confusing hours in a Los Angeles hotel that changed history.

Feb 20, 2019
Nixon in Full

A look at the life and career of Richard Nixon, from childhood to Presidency, originally aired in 2014 as 'Get Your Nixon On' This title feels more descriptive.  I don't know whether time has changed this cast, or if this cast has more meaning now, or less, that is for the listener to judge.  Music by Lee Rosevere.

Feb 20, 2019
Interview with Sidney Blumenthal - Putting Lincoln in a Political Context, Stephen Douglas, Jefferson Davis, The Whigs and More

We are joined by the author of Wrestling With His Angel: The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln  Vol II, Sidney Blumenthal.  In this cast, he talks about Lincoln in the 1850's, as he emerges as a small-time lawyer to being 'woke' by the passage of the Kansas Nebraska Bill to make a stirring speech and come to a definite conclusion about the future of the nation.

In the process Sidney provides details on the passage of both the Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska act, and the role that Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas plays in it, Zachary Taylor's Presidency, the Whigs and Franklin Pierce.  

Feb 12, 2019
Etiquette and Social Media: Where are Our Manners? Social Etiquette from Ben Franklin to Dale Carnegie to Today, w Jessica Weisberg

Jessica Weisberg has traced Ben Franklin's early advice-writing, read the "Lord Chesterfield" letters that early Americans read to learn how to act, attended Dale Carnegie workshops and spoke with Miss Manners all in a quest to track down why Americans are so obsessed with advice.  We speak with Jessica about her book "Asking For a Friend" and discuss whether we've gotten far away from Dale Carnegie or Chesterfield, the selfless advice of our early American ancestors and gone into another mode.  We also tell some stories.  

Feb 01, 2019
28 Minutes

Carter Ford '76, and the Presidential debate snafu that lead to an unplanned moment of silence.  

Feb 01, 2019
Skokie, Neo-Nazis and Free Speech

In the wake of the events of Charlottesville, a look at the Neo Nazi rally in Skokie, IL in 1977 and the resulting Supreme Court Case and the ACLU's role.  In recent days Skokie has been brought up; and a look at the history of events is useful. Starting with of course, there actually was no rally in Skokie after all.  And while there was a Supreme Court decision, it was not a full decision.  We look at other cases, and what this means for speech and politics.   We look at Louis Brandeis's great speech on the First Amendment, Chief Justice Robert's view of it recently, Alito's other take.  Finally Bruce wonders about the consequences of these rights in a social media world.  

Jan 16, 2019
Dueling -The Bad Side and The Secret Good Side to a Tragic American Practice

The Two Hamiltons, and other Americans lost to the practice of dueling.  We explain what dueling is and what dueling is not and explore the issues around a practice that was common, if somewhat illicit in the time of the founding of America. 


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Jan 09, 2019
Elvis Meets Nixon - The Insider Story

A look at a frenetic day at the Nixon White House.  

Jan 07, 2019
The Shays Rebellion and Its Implications

The history behind a rebellion against a state of the new United States, why it happened, its impact on our Constitution, and what it means today.   From a 2014 cast, but it's been a while. 

Our sponsor is Warby Parker - excellent glasses (wearing them now as I write the shoow notes) check them out at

Jan 05, 2019
Investigating the Executive Branch: The Trial of Thomas Jefferson, Governor

"Public offices are, what they should be, burdens to those appointed to them which it would be wrong to decline, though foreseen to bring with them intense labor and great private loss." So wrote a newly elected governor Jefferson to a friend.  Thomas Jefferson's experience as a wartime governor was, even as judged the most favorable biographers, not the best part of his career.  We take a look at his experience and the Revolutionary War in Virginia, discover a forgotten hero and learn a bit about Executive branch meets Legislative branch in the process.  

Jan 02, 2019
Rules of Political Debate: Godwin's Law is Not a Law

Godwin's Law is Not a Law.  And yet, it probably should be followed in most cases.  (re-do of past episode that contained an error).  The surprising history of the rule that one should not discuss Nazis in debates, and the person who is not a scientist nor a lawmaker who came up with it.  Also, when you can violate the rule and what the rule says about meme-driven discussions in 2017.

Jan 02, 2019
Economy and Jobs: Debunking "The Good Old Days" Argument with Gregg Easterbrook

Was the past better?  Were the "Good Old Days" really all they are chalked up to be?   Gregg Easterbrook, author of It's Better Than it Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear, has a bold argument.  Things are better now then they have ever been.  That will surprise a lot of people who did not feel 2017 was a great year.  But on economics, environment, culture and crime, Easterbrooks thesis is that on average, stats have improved and "Good Old Days" Arguments are no more than opportunist political rhetoric. 

A reminder about our sponsor Warby Parker eyeglasses - get your try on pack of 5 frames at

Jan 01, 2019
Searching for Eisenhower: Ike on War, Civil Rights, Big Government and Political Moderation (with William Hitchcock)

We discuss all things Ike with William Hitchcock - author of "The Age of Eisenhower."  We talk about how President Eisenhower was a surprisingly good politician, how he navigated Civil Rights, Social Security and other domestic programs, how he dealt with LBJ.  We discuss the failure that upset him the most, and what he may have gotten wrong. 

We also get to the bottom of that Military Industrial Complex.

Premium Podcast subscribers - Special episode where we go more into Eisenhower and the 1957 Civil Rights Bill-  As little as 2 a month.  

Jan 01, 2019
The Ark of Commerce, Part III: Loco

A mysterious crash.  A strange contraption.  A fateful race, an outbreak of violent activity and a crafty watch-seller.  A look at the railroad history of America and the changes the railroad brought.  

Dec 29, 2018
Curtis LeMay, Warrior, Candidate - with Alex Hastie of Ohio v. The World Podcast

Bruce is interviewed on Ohio v. The World Podcast, which is the creation of MHCBUYP fan Alex Hastie.  The subject is Curtis LeMay.  Politically we know him as George Wallace's reluctant running mate in 1968.  But there was much more to him, as Bruce and Alex discuss. His career spanned World War II, Kennedy,  Vietnam, The Cold War and more.   

Dec 28, 2018
LBJ and The Creation of Medicare - 50 Years Ago

50 years ago, Medicare was created and some of it was recorded.
We'll look at the original conversations that demonstrate LBJ's work on the bill, and compare the enactment of Medicare to the Affordable Care Act. And we'll contrast the two bill's passages and implementation, effect and popularity.

Based on a previous cast called 'Medicare Atmosphere' from 2010... but updated and re-recorded.

Dec 28, 2018
The Ark of Commerce, Part II: Two If By Sea

A unique boat is built to overcome a powerful challenge in interstate water commerce.  a revolution is fed by fish.  A writer turns commerce into words.   A well known Revolutionary figure finds an agreeable industry, while young workers take a stand.   A new high tech monopoly is broken, and a young boy gets his dream. 

Dec 28, 2018
The Ark of Commerce - Part I: Crash Party

In this look at American commercial history we discuss the Black Thursday Stock market crash, the early career of Thomas Edison, how a popular game evolved from a anticorporate activist, and how Wall Street was once in Philadelphia, so to speak.   

Dec 27, 2018
The Craziest Speaker of The House Election, Indian Removal Petitions and Other Thoughts

A few questions, some from an older cast that now bears repeating in the wake of a new speaker election, and others from the premium channel now elevated.  Was Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal allowed to happen by a quiet public, or was thee resistance?  And what would Revolutionary protests look like.  

Dec 25, 2018
Saturday Night Nixon: The Firing That Sealed Watergate

The Saturday Night Massacre was the name given to the triple firing of a special prosecutor investigating President Nixon, the AG and the deputy AG on the same night in 1973. After the firing of the FBI Director by President Trump, all eyes are looking back on this historical event. Are they right to do […]

Dec 17, 2018
George H.W. Bush, 03 30 81

We take a look at one day in the life and career of President George H.W. Bush - not in his presidency but in his vice-presidency.  That day revealed his leadership style and set future precedents, perhaps.  March 30, 1981 the day of the attempted assassination of President Reagan.  We also look at Bush's Presidency and legacy.  

Dec 02, 2018
I Am James Buchanan

He's the President that is on the bottom of most lists.  But why?  And is it fair?  What did he think about his place in history?  We talk about POTUS 15 and look at the events of the run-up to the American Civil War, and we hear from Buchanan, and get his take on his Presidency, through his memoirs.  

Nov 21, 2018
Presidents After Midterms with Matt K. Lewis

Bruce and Daily Beast/CNN correspondent Matt K. Lewis talk about midterms, and Presidents post midterms.  Bruce tells a story about Lincoln that he told 11 years ago. (more information on that story in the premium podcast). 

Nov 20, 2018
David Priess on the Realities of Impeachment and the History of Presidential Removal

We are joined today by David Priess, former CIA intelligence officer and author about his new book on the history and the realities of impeachment, and the 25th, what people think it is, and what has really happened in history.  He is the author of How To Get Rid of a President: History's Guide to Removing Unpopular, Unable, or Unfit Chief Executives.  

"With the objective eye of a former intelligence officer and an uncanny instinct for deep truths, David Priess paints a genuinely non-partisan portrait of presidential removals. The stories here are eerily relevant to today's headlines, but also disarmingly fun to read."—Michael Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and author of The Assault on Intelligence

Nov 14, 2018
The Black Bands on the Goal Post -'Leftovers' from the Argentina 1978 Episode

More insights from our Episode 'Soccer and Repression' about the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.  

Nov 07, 2018
Introducing: The City

The City tells true stories of how power works in urban America. Season 1 begins in Chicago, 1990.

 After years of disinvestment, highways are rebuilt, old buildings demolished, and new skyscrapers erected. All that rubble has to go somewhere, and its destination isn’t a landfill—it’s a pair of vacant lots in a predominately black, working-class neighborhood called North Lawndale. The man behind this operation is a white guy sporting a Cosby sweater and underworld connections. What follows is a tour de force through Chicago’s underbelly: Aldermen get indicted. An FBI investigation goes awry. A community’s resilience is tested—all unfolding under the specter of racism in America.

 Look for The City on Apple Podcasts and subscribe to USA TODAY’s new investigative podcast series:

Nov 05, 2018
Posse Comitatus and Billy The Kid

A law that may have given Billy The Kid a few more months of life, long enough to build a legend is still a part of today's politics.  The rich history of the Posse Comitatus law that separated military from law enforcement and forbids, in some cases, the use of military on American soil.  From the laws enactment by people intending to keep African American citizens from polls, to its current meaning in a time of terrorism and drug trafficking, we look at the evolution of this law.  Music by Lee Rosevere, Squire Tuck and Lucas Gonze at freemusicarchive


Nov 04, 2018
Valley Forge Myth and Reality - Interview with Bob Drury and Tom Clavin, Authors of Valley Forge

Separating truth from lore about what is perhaps the most important moment of American Independence, along with authors Bob Drury and Tom Clavin.  A very different Valley Forge emerges than the one in the textbooks.  An integrated army of lower middle class soldiers, along with immigrants and Indians suffering tragic conditions, avoidable deaths and disease.   Only Washington's leadership and the arrival of a foreign drillmaster saves the United States.   As Clavin and Drury indicate while food was scarce, politics, not snow, bore the blame.   Also how Valley Forge leads to an American near-victory.  And how veterans were treated then and now and the politics of war.   Music by Lee Rosevere and Chris Novembrino.

Oct 21, 2018
Thomas Paine, Common Sense and The American Mind

A look at one of America's earliest blockbusters, the little book that changed American minds: Common Sense, its author Thomas Paine, the impact it had at the time and what it might mean today. We also examine the creative differences Paine had with his printers, and how much it might have cost to advertise for a book in that time.

Oct 16, 2018
About That Court-Packing Idea. SCOTUS Discussion Part II w/ Chris Novembrino

With some fringe talk about adding members to the court, a look FDR's court-packing scheme of 1937, why it failed and why it is a cautionary tale of a defeat of a powerful political figure.  However, the story also has unique qualities and may not be the exact precedent some people use it for.  What would be the consequences of an expansion of the Court's members, and what will happen with the Court post-Kavanaugh? Chris Novembrino of Don't Worry About the Government Podcast joins to discuss in Part II of the discussion about the Supreme Court.  

Oct 16, 2018
Small Money and Big Hope

Back and forth on the significance of small donors, and other stories.

Oct 03, 2018
Healthcare: Doctor Nixon, President Nixon on Healthcare

The views of the 37th President on healthcare, his reaction to Clinton's healthcare plan and his own 1974 healthcare plan.  Also: Nixon on Ike and Reagan. 

Sep 18, 2018
Republic vs. Democracy: Radical Revolution - The Pennsylvania Radicals and the State Constitution of 1776

The Pennsylvania State Constitution of 1776, born in the fever of the signing of the Declaration and the radicalization of the city of Philadelphia expanded the rights of many but turned off a great many of those who had fought for independence.

In this episode we look at the history of the singing of the Declaration and Pennsylvania's state Constitution, we examine its contents, and we look at the men - radicals of their time that helped organize the streets of Philadelphia to the independence cause, and how some of their dreams came crashing down.

We also look at the debate of republic vs. democracy in the United States.

Sep 08, 2018
Presidential Scandals: Watergate, Whiskey Ring and Others

All about Presidential Scandals.  From how Watergate may have seemed like in 1972 on Election night, to Grant and Carter's troublesome friends, to the Iran Contra story, we look at White House mess-ups and election impact.    Though recorded in 2012, and originally titled 'You're TV Lied to You' I believe it's just as relevant today.  

Sep 03, 2018
Midterms: They Don't Always Work Out Badly for Presidents (But Mostly They Do)

In the past 100 years, over 80% of the first term midterms went badly for Presidents, and their party lost seats.   But in a few cases they did not.  And a few times when they did, the result was very little real change or even a kind of win.  A look at first term midterms during the Presidencies of Chester Arthur, Harding, FDR, GW Bush, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. 

A combo of new and previously recorded MHCBUYP episodes reveals that while many first term midterms have devastated the President's plans, Presidents don't always do badly, there are 'stave' elections where Presidents have lost so little it's almost a win.   And sometimes, a defeat has positive effects.   

Music by Josh Woodward and Lee Rosevere in this episode. Find them on the Free Music Archive website.

Aug 06, 2018
Statue Removal: National Valhalla: Statues, Confederates, Slaveowners, Washington, Trump, Memory and Time

From the early attempts to depict Washington, to the first Congressional attempts to block Confederate statues, to today's debate.  In this episode Bruce examines the history behind statues in America, and Bruce looks at every debating point and angle he can think of regarding Confederate statues, the dates of their construction and their removal.  Bruce relates a bust removal debate involving the Declaration Signer Richard Stockton.  

Please remember our sponsor Mack Weldon and their great clothes -   Use promo code "history" for 20% off.  

Aug 03, 2018
Protests: The Whole World is Watching - Chicago 1968

In the wake of Occupy Movements, we took a look at what happened at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968.  

Aug 01, 2018
Presidential Scandal: Watergate, Whitewater, and The Rich Texture of Presidential Scandal w/ Leon Neyfakh of The 'Slow Burn' Podcast

With Leon Neyfakh of The 'Slow Burn' Podcast, now in its Season 2,  (make sure to subscribe) we take a look at Presidential scandals and investigations including Watergate, Whitewater, the Travel Office snafu during the Clinton administration and others.  We learn about a Congressman who tried to investigate Watergate too early, and we discuss the Clinton Impeachment 20 years later.  Are there connections between the Nixon and Clinton misdeeds, and similarities to today's politics.  Do supporters care about investigations?  How would Clinton fare with the Me Too Movement today?  Give a listen.  Music by Lee Rosevere in this cast.  

Aug 01, 2018
War: 1983 and How Close We Came to Nuclear War w/ Marc Ambinder

Examining the moment in 1983 when nuclear war was possible with new research and stories from the Soviet side.  How close did we come to war?  And could that war have been accidental?  w/ White House Correspondent for National Journal and Political Editor of The Atlantic Marc Ambinder, author of "The Brink - President Reagan and the Nuclear War Scare of 1983."  We double down on some of the points made in the Reagan podcast with Marc's exhaustive research.  We also get into the recent Trump-Putin summit. 

Jul 29, 2018
Tariffs: Smoot - The Man Behind the Tariff

You may know his tariff, but not him.  A look at the man behind the Smoot-Hawley Tariff.  Reed Smoot, Senator from Utah.  His history, his politics, his views on tariffs.  His battles for a mix of conservative issues and progressive stands.  And his battle to keep his own seat from religious intolerance.  

Plus a discussion on tariffs in history and the variety of different historical figures who have positive and negative views of tariffs.  

Jul 28, 2018
RFK Anniversary: Chris Matthews on Bobby Kennedy and the Missing Element in Today's Politics

Chris Matthews of Hardball joins the program!! He has just finished his book Bobby Kennedy - A Raging Spirit.  Chris talks about RFK and how his history and childhood, and his relationship with Joe Kennedy Senior that informed his own politics. Those politics, according to Matthews, were just starting to develop at the end of his life, as he sought to defend society's less fortunate, while keeping working people of all races in mind.  In the interview, we discuss:

  • RFK - Brash Political Operator or Inspiring Leader?
  • Kennedy on Civil Rights
  • Kennedy and Joe McCarthy - Did he do enough?
  • Reagan and RFK
  • Would Bobby Kennedy have won in 1968?
Jul 28, 2018
Economy and Jobs: Dark Side of Booms Part 2: Wild Times in the North Dakota Bakken Fields w/ Maya Rao

All about the Bakken oil region of North Dakota and the recent boom.  Fast money and fast growth in a state that had peaked in the 1930's High volume trucking on unsuited roads, High wages matched by high rents and local price inflation, hungry outsiders and upset locals, and ubiquitous "Man camps" housing workers from all over the world.  We speak with Maya Rao, Washington D.C. correspondent for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and author of "Great American Outpost: Dreamers, Mavericks, and the Making of an Oil Frontier"

Music by Lee Rosevere, Squire Tuck and Josh Armistead (Redfen) is featured in this episode - find them on the free music archive.  

Jul 22, 2018
Russia: Everything You Know About The Russian Revolution is Wrong - Russian Journalist Mikhail Zygar on 1917, History, Putin, Democracy and More

Crushing myths about the 1917 Russian Revolution that both Russians and Americans still get from Soviet textbooks.  Understanding that is the key to understanding today's Russia as well.  A very interesting conversation with Mikhail Zygar, Editor in Chief of the TV Dozhd and the Author of All the Kremlin's Men.  He joins us to speak about his book The Empire Must Die - Russia's Revolutionary Collapse.  We talk Russia 1917 and the revolution before the Bolsheviks.  We also talk Russia 2017 and Putin, America, democracy, struggle and more.  

Jul 18, 2018
Gerrymandering: Gerry and His "Mander" (from 2013, with an Update on Gerrymandering Supreme Court case)

Elbridge Gerry lent his name to a tricky political maneuver.  Not that he wanted to, or perhaps, deserved it.  With gerrymandering of congressional districts and state legislative districts on the agenda of the Supreme Court, Bruce discusses the court case Gill v. Whitford and then revisits his cast from 2013 about Elbridge Gerry 

Jul 18, 2018
Good Economic Times: The Dark Side of Booms: The 1920s

Are economic good times always good?  A look at the 1920's and the other side of booming economic times.  This episode was recorded in 2014. 

Jul 17, 2018
Soccer and Repression: 1978 and the World Cup in Argentina

The story of the 1978 World Cup, a cautionary tale about democracy.  The world spotlight on the junta that controlled Argentina that year helped focus some attention on the plight of the victims of a vicious dictatorship, but locally, may have enhanced support for the regime.  We talk about soccer and politics, we talk about democracy and the dangers of losing it, we read a bit of Eduardo Galeano's Excellent "Soccer in Sun and Shadow."  

Music from Lee Rosevere 

Jul 08, 2018
Democracy: The Life, and Hopefully Not Death, of Democracy - A Conversation w/ Dr. Paul Cartledge

We speak often of Democracy, but do we really know what it is?  We point to Athens as an example.  But what was Greek Democracy really like?  A conversation with Dr. Paul Cartledge, A.G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, author of "Democracy: A Life."  

We look at democracy as it existed in Athens, what the American Framers thought of it, and what the future of democracy might be.  Also we provide some information for that 'Democracy vs. Republic' debate.   (A lot of topics here and while we chose not to break it up in 2 parts, you might want to listen to it in 2 parts.)   

Music from Lee Rosevere on this episode.

Jun 25, 2018
Tariffs: Taft Walks Away - The Payne-Aldrich Tariff of 1909

Taft fails in trying to lower tariffs, setting up his successor to do it.  In frustration, he walks away from the White House.  Meanwhile, his opponent, William Jennings Bryan, destroys the tariff in several populist arguments.  A look at Payne-Aldrich, the 1909 tariff bill that was as least as important as Smoot Hawley.  

Jun 10, 2018
Generations and Politics: I Was Born in 1869: A Look at a Generation

A generation defined by a technology that shook off the yoke of their parent's Civil War and took on the world, and took over the country by the turn of the century. This cast, which was previously recorded.  It is as he reveals, Bruce's own favorite cast that he recorded in the show's 12-year history.    Music from Lee Rosevere and KieLoKaz

Jun 06, 2018
Infrastructure: The Bad Side and Good Side of Infrastructure - Robert Moses and Other Tales with Greg Young of the Bowery Boys NYC Podcast

Is infrastructure always good?  We talk with Greg Young of the Very Popular "Bowery Boys NYC" podcast, about infrastructure.  In particular the story of Robert Moses and his career reforming New York's infrastructure.  Until he met his match.  We also talk about Trump's career in NYC, and whether Mark Zuckerberg is the new Vanderbilt.  

Music from Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band in this episode.  

May 31, 2018
US Intelligence Services: The Secret Intelligence of All The President's Men: Interview with David Priess on CIA Briefings, History, Trump, Mueller and More

We speak once again to David Priess, former CIA Briefer and the author of The President's Book of Secrets.  While last time we spoke mostly about Presidents and intelligence, this time we get into the other people who use intelligence and how they support the President.  Priess talks about Dan Quayle, Al Gore, Dick Cheney, and other VPs as well as other officials.  In the course of the discussion, we talk about what we can know about Trump's briefings, what it's like to be a briefer, and what it's like to work with Robert Mueller.  

May 14, 2018
Rigged Elections: That Time the DNC Rigged a Nomination

A look at 1944 and how intrigue, manipulation, misrepresentation, a few martinis, a song, an axe, and a finger in the page of a book changed the history of the Presidency.

Apr 26, 2018
America and Rome: w/ Mike Duncan

Populism, Corruption, Citizenship and Immigration.  Rome struggled with these issues in its Republic phase.  Bruce is joined by Mike Duncan, host of The History of Rome Podcast, to talk about the pre-fall of the Roman Republic, period of 146 to 78 BC and the cast of characters that struggled for power at the time.  Mike has come out with a recent book called "The Storm Before the Storm," which delves into this topic.  


Apr 01, 2018
Movies and Politics: Writing History With Lightning: The Controversial Mix of Movies and Politics and History

from D.W. Griffith to today, we look at the controversial use of movies and film in politics.  And how using video instead of argument may be popular, but it has its flaws.  We also look at some recent projects, Lincoln, Boardwalk Empire, Game Change to see how faithfully the history is treated.  

Apr 01, 2018
Presidential Power: Democracy's Diet? The Two-Term Presidential Limit of the 22nd Amendment

With the leader of China erasing that country's 2 term limit, we are taking a look back at the 2 term presidential limit in the United States, how recent it is and whether it's a good thing.  This episode is from 2012.  

BTW - As you listen this will make more sense - Hilmar Moore died in 2012 and thus is no longer mayor of Richmond Texas, his wife is currently mayor.  Probably makes the case in a way.  

Feb 27, 2018
U.S.-Mexico Relations w/ Bob Crawford and Ben Sawyer of "The Road to Now " Podcast Live in Mexico

The Mexican War, current U.S. politics, Mexican history are all topics Bruce joins Bob Crawford of the Avett Brothers and Dr. Benjamin Sawyer of Middle Tennessee State University, hosts of the Road to Now Podcast in Mexico where they discuss Mexico relations in front of a live audience.  But first a little commentary about Benito Juarez.  Thanks to the Road to Now for hosting us at the Avett Brothers at the Beach Festival 

Working on the last two Reagans - (yes very close).  

Photo by Josh Timmermans


Feb 24, 2018
Where's Reagan? Reagan in Our Politics Today - The Final of the Dozen Ronald Reagans Series - Episode Twelve

Where does Reagan fit into politics today?  Would he fit in the modern GOP?  Or somewhere else.  Can you compare and contrast Reagan and Trump in any meaningful way?  How was his Presidency?  How do his accomplishment stack up and what can future politicians learn from his example?  We review the dozen episodes of our series on President Reagan and attempt to answer a few questions.

Jan 22, 2018
Did Reagan Win the Cold War? A Dozen Ronald Reagans - Episode Eleven

Did Gorbachev?  Did anyone?  Starting with the Reykjavik Summit of 1986 and a fly on the wall view of the events there, we look at the pro-Reagan and anti-Reagan arguments regarding his role in the ending of the Cold War, and try to capture everything.  This is part eleven of A Dozen Ronald Reagans.  

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Jan 21, 2018
Year of the Missile: Reagan's First Term Cold War Steps - A Dozen Ronald Reagans, Part 10

It's 1983 and the world is scared.  In answering the question of Reagan's credit for "winning the Cold War." it's necessary to break up the first-term pre-Gorbachev moves from the second-term moves.  We do that in this episode. 


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Jan 20, 2018
Shockwave 1981 - A Dozen Ronald Reagans Part Nine

An Election Changes Everything...A Secretary of State Loses Favor with the White House...A President Defies Norms...Secretaries Make Shocking Statements...Springsteen is Angry  -A tremendous upheaval in politics occurred with a new President influenced by new media and speaking new political language, with a willingness to bend the rules.  The upending culminates in a radical foreign policy no one expected and few, at that time, understood, so different it was literally thought to be from outer space.  

Jan 11, 2018
White House on Fire: Iran Contra - A Dozen Ronald Reagans Part 8 -REPLAY

In the eight part of our series on the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, we look at the scandal that engulfed his administration, and management style mistakes that may have led to it.  In the course of doing this we peel back a few layers, including the Walsh investigation and the critical Senate investigation.


Jan 09, 2018
Reformation: Tax Reform , Immigration, S&Ls - A Dozen Ronald Reagans - Part Seven

Reagan is not often seen as a reformer but in many cases, there were massive shifts on domestic policy in the 1980s and not all of them were to the standard political right. Strange bedfellows Bill Bradley and Ronald Reagan work together to achieve something that hasn't been done since. Also an incredible failure that could paint the economic picture of the Reagan years.

Jan 06, 2018
Hands Across America:: A Dozen Ronald Reagans Part Six - REPLAY

Homelessness, education, healthcare and other domestic issues under constant evaluation during the time of the Reagan Presidency. We look at the personal Ronald Reagan and the contention of critics that his policies didn't match the person. We look at first term and second term policy differences on homelessness, and the contention by supporters that homelessness was focused on by media in the 80's but not during other Presidencies. Finally, we look at Reagan's response to AIDS.

Jan 04, 2018
1976 Convention: A Dozen Ronald Reagans - Part Five

Reagan Battles Ford for the GOP Nomination

Jan 02, 2018
A Telephone Scandal, and People Giving Their Money to the Treasury

Bell's telephone was not the first.  Another competing company had a unique marketing method - bribing Congress.  And Bell spent his life dealing with it.  About the Pan-Electric Telephone Company.  Also about citizens giving their money to the Treasury without the IRS asking.  It has a longer history than you might think.  From a bonus episode, recorded in 2018 but released in 2021 to the public site.

Jan 01, 2018
That "Other Part" of The Declaration of Independence: The Grievances and What They Say About Executive Power, Immigration, and Other Issues

We know about the first half of the Declaration of Independence and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But the Declaration also contains a listing of facts submitted to a "candid world" detailing what was wrong in the American colonies and the need for Revolution. The Grievances are the second half of the Declaration of Independence We discuss with Tim Patrick, listener and author of "Self-Evident: Discovering the Ideas and Events That Made the Declaration of Independence Possible" 

Jan 01, 2018
Witches' Brew: Central America, Lebanon, Poland - A Dozen Ronald Reagans: Part Four

James Baker called Reagan's foreign policy "a witches' brew." In one country, a longshot try for peace. In others, alliances with warmakers. In one country, an invasion, others aversion to invade. In one country, an odd combo of labor unions, the Catholic church and the CIA led to a successful result, in others people suffered. And finally the GOP's staunchest anti-communists completes the approval of trade with Red China. Reagan's policy towards seven nations - El Salvador, Lebanon, Poland, Nicaragua, China, Grenada and Guatemala examined in this episode.

Dec 31, 2017
Rubik's Cube: Two Reagan Mysteries Solved - A Dozen Ronald Reagans: Part Three -

We seek to solve two puzzles: How did Reagan the Truman booster become Reagan the Goldwater acolyte? And when he entered politics, became GOP nominee and President, what were the economic results of his Presidency?

Plus the KAL007 Airliner Incident, and President Reagan's Reaction to it.  And Reagan and the Ranch.  

Over 30 Bonus Episodes

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Dec 29, 2017
A Taxing Second Year - A Dozen Ronald Reagans Part Two

1982 doesn't go as well for Ronald Reagan as 1981 did.  Recession hits, a recession that challenges cuts of the previous year.  Compromises, new taxes, the reality of deficits hit hard.  David Stockman, the chief budget czar of Reaganomics is blocked by others and gets frustrated.  Reagan makes a defining speech.  Part 2 of 12 of our series. 

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Dec 26, 2017
Rawhide is OK - First of Our Series on a 'Dozen Ronald Reagans' -REPLAY

Replay from 2016 as we prepare the last three eps in January. 

First in our series on Ronald Reagan that will have twelve episodes. The Presidency we discuss almost didn't happen. A look at the attempt on Reagan's life, his first year and why the shooting was not an unimportant incident of his Presidency but directly connected to his performance in the first year. We also go over the Dozen Ronald Reagans Concept - that there are twelve different aspects to him to examine both in reality and in the perception of Reagan in political debates.

Dec 23, 2017
Charles I, Monarchy and Mobs, 1640's Fake News and War on Christmas w/ Leanda de Lisle, Author of The White King

Charles I of England was executed after losing the English Civil War to Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentary Forces. We take a look at his struggle with author Leanda de Lisle.  In her book, The White King, she portrays King Charles I as a defender of the law and notes the mob-like and fanatical actions of the King's opponents.  

We also compare events of the 1640's, including Fake News and Wars on Christmas, to the politics today.  

(Music by Lee Rosevere was used in this cast. )

Dec 17, 2017
William McKinley Got Us Here: Interview with Robert W. Merry about POTUS 25, American Expansion, Income Taxes, Presidents and Press and More

He's more than the President that was shot in office, more than just the guy before Teddy Roosevelt.  And he wasn't handled by anyone.  William McKinley set in motion the America that we have now.  His views on expansion, free trade, taxes, and money set up modern America.  We speak with Robert W. Merry, the author of President McKinley - The Architect of the American Century about these topics.  Merry previously authored a significant book that put James K. Polk back on the historical radar, and his book has great insights about Potus 25.  

Nov 15, 2017
Bruce Takes Twenty Questions on History and Politics

Early colonial income tax, Pardons, Third parties.    Herbert Hoover.  The Grand Old Democratic Party?  Mexico's contribution to WW2.  The ERA, DNC primary rigging.  A little alt his where Ford becomes VP under Reagan...Bruce takes questions and offers his attempted answers.

Remember the premium cast -

Nov 09, 2017
What if there was no Constitution? Emoluments, Tariffs, the 17th

get more into a bunch of topics

Nov 02, 2017
President by Accident: Truman, Atomic Warfare, Russians and Trump w/ A.J. Baime

In a day everything changed and a new President inhabited the chair in the White House.  The country and the world were anxious.  Russia and Asia Pacific were frightening foreign policy issues.  We are speaking of 1945, but as A.J. Baime, author of The Accidental President suggests, there are some similarities to today.  A.J. Joins us on the program.  

A note that A.J.'s book comes out on the 24th, but you can pre-order.  

Also, a reminder about he Premium Podcast. 

Oct 17, 2017
Patrick Henry, Underrated Founder - Interview with Jon Kukla

He was essential to the colonial resistance to the Stamp Act.  He was the bulwark of the American Revolution in Virginia.  He raised troops and supplies and organized the America's largest state.  He may have saved Washington's job, championed a Bill of Rights, and might have been President himself.  Yet for many Americans, Patrick Henry is known for making one speech and uttering the words 'Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.' In this interview with Jon Kukla, author of Patrick Henry: Champion of Liberty, we seek a fuller picture of this important man and discuss the Revolution, the Constitution and Slavery.  

Sep 05, 2017
The Split on The Left of Politics and Why it Matters, w/ Chris Novembrino

While so much attention is focused on splits in the GOP, there is a gaping split on the left that while, perhaps not large, is important to understanding both what happened in 2016 and the politics of 2017 and moving forward.  Special guest Chris Novembrino, of the 'Don't Worry About the Government' Podcast, has an interesting analysis of the splits between Progressives and Technocrats that will determine what happens in the future.  

Aug 22, 2017
Elvis Presley and America

On the 40th Anniversary of the rock star's death, We talk to Bob Crawford and Dr. Ben Sawyer of The Road to Now Podcast about the day Elvis died in '77,  The Elvis phenom, his manners, American life, rock and roll, drugs, the 'Shut Up and Sing' debate and many other things.  Journey front man Steve Perry does not appear on the show, however we do make a special plea to him regarding Bob's Elvis T-Shirt.    Music  (theme and -background)

Aug 15, 2017
Sinking of the Lusitania

About the tragic event and its impact on Wilson and the U.S. entering the war.  

Aug 09, 2017
Written Out of History? Robert Yates, Luther Martin, Mercy Otis Warren

James Otis, Robert Yates and Mercy Otis Warren are not names that roll off the tongue, but they did make important contributions to Constitutional debate. Senator Michael Lee's recent book Written Out of History details Founders he says have been 'written out of history.'  Bruce looks at some of these men and women, and while finding them interesting figures that should be known, finds it difficult to say they are principals in league with Washington or Jefferson, and several factors explain their lack of prominence in at least short textbook histories.  However, those who have a greater than average level of historical knowledge should know them and the stances they took, and how they fit into political arguments today. 

Aug 01, 2017
Charleston 1860 and Secession: Interview with Paul Starobin

Polarized politics, fear, a media with intent to inflame and make its owners famous, no budging on either side, confidence and even mania - that's the combo that author Paul Starobin of the Atlantic and the New Republic describes as the factors that lead to South Carolina's secession in 1860. We talk to him about his book "Madness Rules the Hour:" Charleston 1860 and the mania for war.  

Jul 22, 2017
John Jay's Horse , George Washington's Mill and the Emoluments Clause

A trip to Mount Vernon through the eyes of visitors, and an examination of some old documents, provides rich insight into today's debate over the The Foreign Emoluments Clause.  This obscure item has received as much attention as ever with the Presidency of Donald Trump.  A look at the history of the Clause, which predates the Constitution.  We also look at George Washington's business empire and how it might compare and contrast to a current business.  

Bruce also notes how Washington's purchasing of public land in the Federal City (now D.C.) in an auction during his Presidency has not been contextualized enough by those using the actions in the current debate, and a letter from 1796 reveals a pretty big miss by those citing the purchases - Washington's never-completed desire to create a national university. 

Jul 08, 2017
Interview with Kevin Lacz, Decorated Navy SEAL and Star of "American Sniper"

In this episode, I interview decorated Navy SEAL and "American Sniper" Star Kevin Lacz. He is he author of THE LAST PUNISHER, A Seal Team Three Sniper's True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.  He served with Chris Kyle, the subject of the movie American Sniper and played himself in the film.  

We about veterans issues, the Iraq War, what it's like to go from training to combat and then back to the homefront.   We also discuss the making of the American Sniper movie, PTSD stats, the accomplishments of veterans, and more.  


Jun 23, 2017
Public Sector vs. Blue Collar Unions and Other Questiions

We tackle a group of topics in this episode.

May 29, 2017
Of Vice and Men

Everything about Vice Presidents running for President, why the office was almost eliminated after an election, a little about me, more about Nixon and Kissinger and a What If about the 1976 election.

May 29, 2017
It's Not Common to Be Unconstitutional

The rareness of SCOTUS actually finding laws of Congress unconstitutional might surprise some, though it does act in big ways when it feels it hast to.  That and SCOTUS judges who have surprised Presidents.  

May 28, 2017
Lincoln Over Easy: The Creation of a President's Image

How does history create a Presidential image?  We try to answer this with a look at how Lincoln became an image.  Not only were historians involved but the family, a sculptor, some oddballs and some really good Lincoln friends.  

In the course of answering, we take a look at Lincoln today and how he influences discussions of history.  Is there too much Lincoln talk?  What other aspects of the Civil War should we also look at.  

Shouldn't there be an Oliver Morton movie?

Based on a 2012 episode.

May 20, 2017
Explaining Brexit and The U.K Election to Americans – Conversation with Stephen Byrne of WhatAmPolitics Podcast

In this episode, we go ‘across the pond’ and think about politics, with our special guest Stephen Byrne from WhatAmPolitics Podcast, a listener to the program and someone that Bruce has spoken to whenever UK events happen. We discuss: Why is Britain voting for the 3rd or 4th time in 3 years? What does this […]

May 16, 2017
JFK at 100 – Searching for The True Kennedy (Interview with Thomas Oliphant)

Will the real JFK please stand up.   What image should we have today of the 35th President.  Our interview with author and Boston Globe reporter Thomas Oliphant, about his book Road to Camelot Inside JFKs Five Year Campaign.  We talk about how we should view the President who will turn 100 this month. We […]

May 09, 2017
Bringing Texty Back? Gorsuch, Scalia, Hugo Black and the Words of Law

The textualism of conservative Justice Scalia and liberal Justice Hugo Black is contrasted and compared as we anticipate the arrival of Neil Gorsuch to the Court.  Gorsuch is a committed textualist.  What does that mean?  We look at that, we look at all of the different ways judges think, and the (often straw-manned) concept of a […]

Apr 13, 2017
The President’s Book of Secrets: Interview with David Priess

Presidents and Intelligence, from Kennedy to Trump.  With a particular focus on the PDB or the Presidents Daily Briefing with Dr. David Priess, the Author of The President’s Book of Secrets. We discuss: Tension Presidents and The CIA, In History and Today How Kennedy’s Pace Dictated How Agencies Work What the President’s Daily Brief Does and […]

Apr 02, 2017
Labor Unions in Five Angles

A look at labor unions from their historical beginnings and their height in the 30s to 60s to today.  

Mar 16, 2017
The Dark Side of Rights

It's always assumed that rights are a good, but as Bruce discusses in this cast, a replay of one of the most popular My History Can Beat Up Your Politics casts, this is not always the even trade off it appears.  Rights complicate democracy and the political process, though it may be for a very good reason.  So long as we are not blind to how they are working, they may have great merit.  But a recent court case brings up the challenges with rights.  

Mar 12, 2017
Four Stories of #Resistance
Looking at the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Freedom Summer, Mothers of the Disappeared and the American Revolution, we look at change, from despair to anger to moderation.  These stories are used to answer the question – What does political change take?  What numbers does it take?  How do you know when it’s happening?  We looked at […]
Mar 11, 2017
That Time When a Presidential Candidate Actually Was Bugged
…and probably for a good reason. 1968 and an announcement of a bombing halt over Vietnam by LBJ in the last week of the election has all sides moving in many directions. Evidence points to Nixon campaign involvement in scuttling talks through a third party connected to South Vietnamese elites, that the FBI became aware of […]
Mar 04, 2017
Alcatraz: The American Indian Movement

The 1969 occupation of the former federal prison by Native American activists was the beginning of a movement and a shift in perception that lives on today. We discuss: Why Alcatraz? The 1973 Standoff at Wounded Knee,  South Dakota Vine Deloria and “Custer Died for Your Sins” NoDAPL as Part of an Arc of […]

Feb 21, 2017
Interview w/ John Avlon, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast, Author of Washington’s Farewell
George Washington is a distant figure.  Sometimes, because of the distance in time, he appears too ancient to influence America’s debates today.  But he was a real person, and he was involved in politics and dealt with partisanship.  He also left behind instructions for future generations. Daily Editor-in-Chief, CNN Political Analyst John Avlon joins […]
Feb 13, 2017
The First Hundred Days from Wilson to Trump
Not everyone can be an FDR, but everyone tries. A look at the American tradition of 100 days – the period in which the President, supposedly, must get everything done.  A White House mastering it, and another White House, besieged by the press, not mastering it.  A professor turned politician driving Congress in a forgotten fight. […]
Feb 05, 2017
How Mandates Were Invented
The concept of a President earning a right to govern and direct the agenda on behalf of the People is, in historical terms, a new concept.   No such concept is present in Constitution, nor does it appear, was imagined by Constitutional supporters or opponents.  Instead it is the result of Andrew Jackson’s Presidency.  A President that has […]
Jan 30, 2017
The Census - The Original Big Data

Despite a tendency towards state action and small actions at the general level, even the early American government knew that data - seeking would have a role.  and they put a man in charge of it up to the task - Thomas Jefferson.  From the 1790's to the 1880's to today, a look at Big Data and the government.  Based on an episode from 2013.  

Jan 26, 2017
The Power to Pardon
One of the President’s greatest and least checked powers is designed to overcome unfortunate guilt, legal error, or to take some action for national good.  A look at what Alexander Hamilton called “the benign prerogative,” and its history. Recorded at the time of President Bush’s last days, it makes sense again.
Jan 16, 2017
The (Very Few) Rejected Cabinet Choices
From Roger Taney to Charles Warren (pictured) to John Tower, the few and the not so proud perhaps.  It is rare for the choice of a President not to get their choice.  But there have been a few rejections.  And why?  Were they rejected for great reasons?  Not often.  Politics sometimes very insider and even petty lead […]
Jan 11, 2017
Russian Intelligence and Control from Soviet Times to Putin

Russians, spying, Putin, Soviets, American responses.

Jan 01, 2017
Fib That American President Creates Jobs

Based on a new book by Bruce, a look at the myth that the President creates jobs, from Monroe to Kennedy to Trump

Dec 01, 2016
The 2016 Election, Taken with a Swig of History

A look at the election of 1916, also a surprise to supposed-President Hughes.  And about 2016, how close all of us were and how far away, and what happens now.  

Nov 10, 2016
Bruce Carlson Interviewed on the Road to Now

An interview with Ben and Bob (who turned out to be a fellow college grad of mine) of the excellent Road to Now podcast we discuss all sorts of things about Presidential elections.



Nov 07, 2016
The Real Story of the 1948 Election

Was it a comeback, really, or did the polls just get what was going on wrong.  Days before the 2016 election, we looked at this question.

Nov 01, 2016
Navy Blue Nixon and Other Stories

The history of 2nd debates in American History.  Often this is where the action happens. In 1960, it changed the election campaign even if no one noticed.  

Oct 13, 2016
1884: A Very Unpleasant Election - Cleveland vs. Blaine

Two candidates.  Both disliked by their parties.  Not loved by voters.  One maybe slightly better than the other.  Until a scandal breaks, making the election a squeaker.  

Oct 02, 2016
Walter Jenkins and the 1964 Election

The October Surprise scandal that could have been, but almost brought down LBJ.  What it says about history and today. 

Sep 29, 2016

The final speech of a candidate throughout history.  It's usually a smooth process, but sometimes there's a story.  

Sep 14, 2016
Bob Seeger and the Steelworker - Manufacturing vs. Service in Political Debates

The debate rages over how to bring our factories back in the United States and in 2016, it crossed parties to the Republican side as well as the Democratic party side.  We look at the issues behind this debate. 

Aug 02, 2016
Rottenborough Delegates

Delegates to a party from a state that the party wont carry in an election.  (Vermont for today's Republicans, Alabama for today's Democrats).  Should they have an influence on party nominations.  This question is as old as at least 1860, and it helped Trump as much as it helped Lincoln a bit. 

Jul 07, 2016
1840 -Clowns With Pink Noses and Lofty Tumbling

Story of the zany election in 1840 which some felt was to "Pop" for its time.

Jul 07, 2016
A Little Story About 1824

A Surprise populist candidate excites the electorate, and the attacks go back and forth.  He almost upsets a Secretary of State that is well in the Washington establishment.

Jul 02, 2016
Why is the GOP Convention First, Democrats Second, Brexit Other Topics.

Convention scheduling, and the reasons for it.

Jun 16, 2016
Bruce Carlson Interviewed on DWATG Cast - Trump VP, Conventions, If Biden Had Run, and More

Interview with the Don't Worry About the Government Cast from May 2016

May 25, 2016
The First Presidential Farewell

As President Obama offers his farewell commentary, a look at our 2012 cast on George Washington‘s Farewell Address and a few other timely thoughts.

May 11, 2016
The History of Cinco De Mayo

Not just a holiday.  We go to post-Civil War Mexico and find out the true story of a significant battle.  

May 05, 2016
Madison Can't Get a Seat at the Starbucks, and How to Read a Constitution

How James Madison and Alexander Hamilton interpreted the Constitution, from a 2012 episode.

Mar 09, 2016
The Fib That Your Side is Going to Win

From 1812 to today, a lesson:  Neither side will win.  Your'e side probably won't win, not for long, per this episode.  It was recorded before 2016, and still I think it applies.  

Mar 09, 2016
Huey Long and Trump, Vetoes, and Other Stories

Bruce gives his best imitation of a PBS telethon and reveals a special offer for donors. Also Huey Long visits the show (well you know, not really) a discussion of vetoes and the naming of wars...and because not even MHCBUYP can avoid it, we talk about Trump...and the Kingfish.


Jan 19, 2016
The Craziest Speaker Election Ever and Other Ephemra

There have been some pretty interesting elections for Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States, but only one where the Congressional Mace had to be pulled out in order to be used as a potential weapon.  We go over the 1849 election, as well as some other past speaker elections.  We look at the question: Could a coalition of party members elect their own speaker.  While technically possible, it simply hasn't happened since 1855.

What about the 1976 election?  Carter's win was so close.  Many people said the Nixon pardon affected their vote?  We discuss some other factors, including Reagan's primary challenge, Carter's electoral strengths and inflation to come to a conclusion that the White House was going Democrat in 1976 in any case, unless the memory of Watergate could be removed from voters' memory.  Of course Democrats would only hold the White House for four years, before inflation among other factors would kick them out.

Dec 20, 2015
LIncoln Goes to China

Even while dealing with a Civil War, Lincoln was focused on foreign policy.  And one key nation was China.  

Nov 25, 2015
Damned Fool Mistake: Eisenhower's Real Feelings About the Supreme Court

We look at the famous - darn fool mistake comment.

Oct 21, 2015
The Man Who Saved Boston But Never Got Credit, Also - the Last Lincoln?

A bit about Cotton Mather and the unknown man held in slavery to him (for a time) who saved Bostonians from smallpox.

The story is an odd mixture of religiousity and science.  Since vaccines could not be proven for years to come, it took a man of faith to spread the word that they were a good thing.

Also, the Year of 13 Candidates.  A Supreme Court plaintiff that wanted to lose.  The very small Lincoln family tree (though that's controversial)

And more, in this hodge-podcast.

Oct 15, 2015
Your TV Dinner Is Served -Mad Man Finale, 1980 Election and Many Other Side Dishes

The 1980 GOP primary, a year with a large field of candidates- larger than remembered - makes up Your Tasty Entree in this delicious podcast of TV history and politics.  Also the series finale of Mad Men and how it links to historical discussion.  Call this Your Starch Dish.  For Your Veggies, a discussion of the 13 other prominent British Colonies that didn't rebel, and why.  Finally for Your Dessert Pie, a discussion of the plot of House of Cards and its plausibility regarding the resignation of a VP based on history.   It's a hodge-podcast that you'll enjoy, so get your tray table ready.

May 20, 2015
Social Security Had Its Glitches Too

In the wake of Obamacare problems, we look at the frustrations of those attempting to implement Social Security.  The first consultant told Congress to drop the idea.  When they refused, an incredible system was developed in the Pre Computer Age. 

Dec 25, 2014
King's Rook: When the President's Party Has the House, Not the Senate

Will President Obama retain his protective Senate, a very rare political situation.  

Feb 02, 2014
What's All This Talk About Swapping Horses?

War and the effect on Presidential elections.  It's not as clear as we think from the Lincoln quote, which even Lincoln didn't mean to be applied the way it is today.

Oct 10, 2013
Abolish the Senate!

Or Don't.  

Apr 05, 2013
Why The 1916 Election Matters

1916 was different in many ways.. 

Jun 07, 2012
In Which the Winner of the '12 Election is Revealed

All about the 1812 Election, a rough one for James Madison

Mar 03, 2012
FDR's Newsreels, Coolidge's Microphone - Presidents and Their Fave Media

Some Presidents have mastered a certain kind of media or another.  We look at this in this episode.  

Feb 02, 2012
The Boston Police Strike of 1919 and Public Sector Unions

From 2011.

Jun 27, 2011
A Little About Anarchism

and communism, and a few other things (from 2011)

May 04, 2011
Does the Challenger Even Matter?

The last days of Ford and Carter 76 illustrates how close an election can get when the President is not popular but not unpopular.  When it's a sitting President - does the person the party picks even matter or is it all about the Incumbent?  We look at this. 

Feb 20, 2011
Does a President Lose the Presidency When they Lose the House? "The 2 Year Ditch" of American Politics

There appears to be a trend that when Presidents lose the House, the party loses the next Presidential Election.

Dec 11, 2010
Social Security, Civil War Pensions

While Social Security was developed in the 1930's, it's possible to say that there were always some mechanisms for older persons, though not universal ones. 

Mar 16, 2010
What George W. Bush Says for Himself - A Brief Read of Decision Points

we look at former President Bush's memoir.

Oct 10, 2009
Beer and Politics, Tea and Taxes, and Other Listener Questions

Let's talk about beer, tea and veeps.  

Jan 01, 2009
An Historic Election, for Many Reasons, Episode from 2008

About the 2008 Election

Dec 02, 2008
Election of 2008 Review, with an eye to history

Why did the 2008 election go the way it did?  we look at that.

Dec 01, 2008
Why Cant We Lean on a Shovel?

Would a WPA style program work in modern times?

Nov 11, 2008
British Prime Ministers and US Presidents

From MacDonald to Churchill to Blair, a little bit about British Prime Ministers and U.S. Presidents

Dec 01, 2007
Gerald Ford and His Times

From 2007 a talk about Gerald Ford

Oct 11, 2007
Three-Way Elections

Three way elections in history

Aug 08, 2007
History of Objectivity in the Media

How Objective Has the Media Been in History

Apr 10, 2007
The Veto Override

The defense to a Presidential Power, and its usage over time.  

Mar 04, 2007
American Zig Zag on Immigration Policy

history of immigration

Feb 03, 2007
The History of the Federal Reserve

A Brief history of the Federal Reserve. 

Jan 20, 2007
The Veto and its History

 History of the presidential veto.  Andrew Jackson to now.

Jan 12, 2007
Savings and Loan Crisis

S&L crisis - comparison to today.

Jan 02, 2007
All About Polls

a history of polling and polls, and Truman 1948 is only part of it.  

Nov 01, 2006
Filibuster: A Brief History

an unintended instrument

Sep 01, 2006
How Do You End A War?

How wars are ended in Vietnam and elsewhere.

Aug 17, 2006
Abe Lincoln That NeoCon, That Liberal...

many sides of the 16th POTUS

Aug 16, 2006
A History of Speakers of The House

In one of our first episodes when we launched the podcast, we talked all about Speakers.  From Mullenburg to Hastert, to Joe Cannon. 

Aug 01, 2006
Presidents and the Media - Coddling, Manipulating from Lincoln to Bush

The first episode of My History Can Beat Up Your Politics rom July 2006. 

Jul 01, 2006