The clash of two American values -- religious freedom and freedom from discrimination –- didn’t seem so huge when a broad coalition of religious and civil rights representatives got together in a room in 1993. While starting from different ends of the political spectrum, this group came together to push for a new law, The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, meant to protect the religious practice of all faiths, no matter how small. RFRA became the law of the land. But just a few years and a ...more
Our friends at PolitiFact have sorted through a year of lies, fibs, exaggerations, fabrications and outright falsehoods to find the worst of the worst. PolitiFact’s Editor Angie Drobnic Holan joins us to reveal the 2017 lie of the year.
Congress is considering changes to the way it handles sexual harassment complaints after its current rules have been called onerous by critics. We take stock of what might change with Patrick Terpstra of the Scripps Washington Bureau, and we speak with the lawmaker who helped shape the system, retired Rep. Chris Shays, who says it’s imperfect but is a vast improvement over what came before.
America has long sold itself as "the nation of immigrants." But when you look at our history -- even the halcyon Ellis Island days -- that branding has always come with an asterisk. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses... especially if they’ll work for cheap. Our guests on this episode are Hiroshi Motomura of the University of California and Andre Perry of the Brookings Institution.
Judges in a legal stand-off. A power struggle between two branches of the federal government has left potentially thousands of undocumented immigrants stuck in detention centers with no idea how long they'll be there. Are some immigration judges defying the law?Jimmy speaks to Scripps' senior national investigative correspondent Mark Greenblatt about his investigation… “Above the Law?”
With Republicans pushing ahead on their plan to overhaul taxes for the first time in 30 years, we revisit an episode of DeocdeDC that explained how that reform 30 years ago actually came together. Jimmy speaks with two major players in that effort - Pam Olsen of Pricewaterhouse Coopers and former Congressman Bill Archer.
Phyllis Henderson is a state representative in South Carolina, and she is worn out by the state of political discourse. We spoke with her right after the 2016 election, and she had some reservations. Now we check back in with her to see how she thinks the GOP is doing -- and what she thinks about the tone of American politics.
Last Sunday, a gunman walked into a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire on the congregation -- killing more than two dozen people. The next day, President Donald Trump told reporters the mass shooting wasn't a "guns situation," and instead blamed it on "mental health." Politicians have linked mental illness and mass shootings after virtually every mass shooting. In this week's episode, Jimmy talks to The Atlantic's Olga Khazan, who looked into that link... and found that it doesn...more
It seems like for every winner in tax reform, there’s a loser. As the House beings its push for huge changes to how American people and companies pay their taxes, we explain the basics and dig into the intended and unintended consequences of it all. Think of it as Tax Reform 101, with guests Bernie Becker of Politico and Steve Taylor of the United Way.
From the beginning of American politics, politicians have been using the term "bailout" as a political cudgel. In this week's podcast, Jimmy speaks with two experts who explain the what, when, why, where, and how of government bailouts.
Residents of coal country are getting sick, but not everyone is convinced of the cause. Our Newsy colleague Zach Toombs explains what the science says and what the government is — or is not — doing about it.
Local law enforcement and national politicians are struggling to deal with the opioid epidemic gripping American communities, in large part because no one can figure out just how big the problem is. We speak with Angela Hill, who led a Scripps News investigation into a synthetic opioid called carfentanil.
Americans are once again mourning after another mass shooting. We explain why elected leaders fail — despite broad public support — to pass measures like additional background checks on firearm purchases. We speak with filmmaker Michael Kirk, who made the FRONTLINE documentary Gunned Down: The Power of the NRA.
What does the government have to do with the price of milk? Turns out – everything. For decades, government subsidies have tried to balance supply and demand for a commodity that is produced every day, at least twice day, everywhere – and has only hours to go from the cow to the store shelf. This week, Amy Mayer of Iowa Public Radio and Harvest Public Media explains how that support has changed and what the farmers think about it.
A universal basic income isn't a new idea, but it's getting traction in politics today. It's a different type of safety net: free cash from the government, with absolutely no strings attached. It's never been tried in the US in a pure form, but we have had experiments that came close. Ioana Marinescu, a professor of economics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, walks us through some of those experiments, and tells us how this whole idea might work.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency maps flood plains across the country. The maps are intended to show which areas are likely to flood so that local governments can better plan for disasters. They also determine who must buy flood insurance, and at what rates. But there are problems: Many of them are outdated and don’t take into account the anticipated effects of climate change. And if you have enough money and enough political power, you can get your condo or your city ...more
Attorney General Jeff Sessions made some questionable statements to justify ending, DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shielded 800,000 people who were brought to the US illegally as children. In this bonus episode, we fact-check some of those claims with the editor of PolitiFact, Angie Drobnic-Holan.
Hurricane Harvey caused billions of dollars of damage, and Hurricane Irma will likely cost even more. But how will the federal government pay for all of it, and is it possible that Washington had a hand in making the destruction worse? This week we take a look at the National Flood Insurance Program with Michael Grunwald of Politico.
Contaminated drinking water is coming into the homes of tens of millions of Americans, especially in smaller, lower income communities, from aging, under-funded water treatment plant and distribution systems, poorly maintained private wells, and groundwater sources polluted by industrial dumping and agricultural waste. Experts and the GAO say it will require billions of dollars of infrastructure improvements to maintain safe water throughout the U. S. Customers of antiquated, poorly maintained, ...more
The military spent decades contaminating the drinking and ground water at bases across the country and has spent billions to contain the mess.But the veterans and families who lived on those bases are still struggling with the long legacy of that toxic water and feel abandoned and betrayed by their government. Host Jimmy Williams speaks with Adrienne St. Claire, a reporter with News21 Troubled Waters investigative team about their deep dive into the impact of the military’s on-goi...more
You may think the Senators have all the say -- but there's one person in the Senate who may have even more power. Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough complicated the repeal-and-replace plan that Senate Republicans were pursuing when she said parts of the bill would need 60 votes instead of a simple majority. But that's not all she can do, as we learn from former Parliamentarian Alan Frumin.
Researchers Leah Wright Rigueur and Megan Ming Francis talk about where the social movements that have been so important to our politics in the last decade are going from here.
Harvard Kennedy School professor Moshik Temkin says historians must do a better job in comparing our present to our past, and he argues why in a recent New York Times piece titled “Historians Shouldn’t Be Pundits.” He talks with Jimmy — a history lover and regular cable pundit — about the limits in the analogies between Donald Trump and previous historical figures.
President Trump believes he would have won the popular vote -- if it weren't for the 3 million people that voted illegally. Even though there's no evidence to support his claim, he put together a commission to look into the issue, and their first meeting is today. They've already been pretty active, asking for voter data from all 50 states. But what exactly is going on with this commission, and what can we expect?
Senate Republicans unveiled a health care plan that includes deep cuts in Medicaid. We explain what those changes are and how they will be felt by many of the 70 million Americans who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare.
So you may have heard DC referred to as a swamp in the past few months. The thing is, that's not just a political slogan - it used to be an actual swamp. Historian JD Dickey is here to tell us about the secret history of Washington, D.C., and how those beginnings help explain a few things about politics today.
There are a lot of Dicks in office. But after the 2016 election, we're seeing thousands of women sign up to run for office - more than ever before. Clare Bresnahan runs a non-profit called She Should Run that helps women prepare for the unique challenges of being a woman candidate. She talks about how to tackle rampant sexism, double standards, and obsession over eyebrows.
There are so many investigators looking into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign and the Trump Administration that it’s hard to keep track. That’s where friend of the show Victoria Bassetti of the Brennan Center comes in. She’s put together a guide, and walks Jimmy through everything you need to know.
President Trump says he uses Twitter so he can get an "honest and unfiltered message out”to the American people. But investigators and even foreign governments are poring over his Tweets. Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn explains why.
For years, individual Senators have enjoyed wide sway in blocking judicial nominees who come from their home states. But that may soon change, as Republicans in the Senate try to transform the judiciary under President Trump. Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post explains all the ways this could show up in Americans’ every day lives.
Law professor Keith Whittington says the term “constitutional crisis” gets thrown around way too much. He’s studied the topic, and he tells Jimmy we’re nowhere near one right now.
Before David Barron was a federal judge, he was a lawyer helping President Obama wage war. He sheds light on the uneasy relationship between Presidents and Congress when it comes to military might, and reflects on his own role in a controversial drone strike.
So how is Donald Trump is doing on his six promises to clean up corruption and limit special interests in Washington? And — maybe more importantly — what would happen if you really did pull the plug on the swamp of Washington? Our guests for this episode are Jenna Johnson of the Washington Post and Lee Drutman of New America.
America’s crumbling and obsolete infrastructure is a $2 trillion problem. Everyone agrees it needs a fix. So why can’t politicians make it happen? It’s a failure of leadership, says Harvard’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter. She explains why, and we visit the Brent Spence Bridge between Ohio and Kentucky, a poster child for American political dysfunction over our roads and bridges.
If you feel like we're getting more polarized every day, you're right. According to a report by the Cook Political Report, the political divide in America is growing--and as Amy Walter tells us, Trump might be just the type of guy who can change that.
Is the U.S. border with the Mexico really an open border? Is all the talk of building a wall for real, or is it just a metaphorical wall? And who’s really crossing illegally? We separate fact from fiction with the help of Maria Hinojosa of Latino USA. Plus, Maria explains how cows can complicate things.
Russians are using your own media echo chamber to undermine your confidence in democracy. So says Clint Watts, a former FBI agent who recently testified before Congress. We speak with him about why Russia is doing this, and why they’ve been more successful spreading their message on the right than on the left.
Since the election of Donald Trump, immigrants and their lawyers have been preparing for the worst. In part 2 of our series on the role some local police play in the enforcement of federal immigration laws, we spend time with the immigrant community in Frederick County Maryland, one place that’s been helping the feds since 2008. Minor offenders who were allowed to remain under the Obama administration are getting their papers together, avoiding the police and getting ready to be deported after l...more
Negin Farsad is fighting stereotypes one joke at a time. A self-described social justice comedian, Farsad jokes about Islamophobia, race and bigotry - trying to make people laugh and talk about identity. “People can conceptually hate another group of people…people can conceptually hate Muslims” she tells Jimmy. “But when someone is put in front of their face its hard to hold onto that bigotry..” Negin says that the election of Donald Trump has made her work so much harder. She says she has to ...more
In the first of two episodes, we visit Frederick County Maryland where local law officers are working hand-in-hand with federal immigration officers to detain and deport undocumented immigrants in the community. Now President Trump wants to give them more authority and that makes the sheriff very happy.
The President came out with his version of the budget - which he called a "skinny budget". While lots of people freaking out, we ask: what is a skinny budget, and does it really matter?
The warnings George Washington made in his farewell address — about hyperpartisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars — have incredible resonance today, says John Avlon, the author of “Washington’s Farewell.” He speaks with Jimmy about what we can learn from the address and how its message was once appropriated by Nazis, in 1939. Plus: John reveals that President Washington had bad credit.
What’s the individual mandate? Who’s in a high-risk pool? How do tax credits work in health care? With the debate over the future of health care in America raging, we go back to basics and explain some important concepts with the help of Sarah Kliff from Vox. Also in this episode, Jimmy reveals his age — and Sarah reveals which health care option tripped her up last year.
President Donald Trump recently gave the federal courts the proverbial middle finger, lashing out on Twitter at a “so-called judge” who had ruled against him and promising “see you in court” after losing an appeal. Has this happened before or is this the new normal? This week: Donald Trump’s apparent disdain for the federal judiciary and whether there’s a precedent in history.
You asked and we answered. This week: what’s the difference between lobbying and bribery, a real example of a lobbyist buying their agenda into law (or failing to), and the best reform for the lobbying industry. Plus, Jimmy’s former salary.
When Tien Nguyen stopped at a rest area in Kansas, he didn't expect to have his car searched by the highway patrol - and when they took $40,000 he had in cash and sent him on his way, he was furious. But he was astounded when he learned that it was all completely legal. It's a practice called civil asset forfeiture, and in this week's episode, we hear about how Tie has to go to court to get his money back. We also talk to his lawyer, who wants the system changed completely, and we hear from some...more
Everything you’ve always wanted to know about trade, trade deficits, tariffs, trade wars, courtesy of Felix Salmon of Slate Money. Plus, Felix explains which is better — a strong dollar or a weak one.
Imagine being lied to, repeatedly, for days on end, and what that does to your brain. Well, you may not have to imagine it—it seems like more and more “alternative facts” are coming out of Washington every day. In this episode, author Maria Konnikova tells us how repeated lies affect our brain, and Paul Singer of USA Today tells us how to deal with it.
After this election, some on the left are feeling pretty powerless - but Angel Padilla isn't. He got together with 30 other former congressional staffers to put together a concrete guide on how to resist President Trump's policies, and they borrowed all their knowledge from an unlikely source--The Tea Party. It's called Indivisible, and in this episode, Jimmy gets to the bottom of how it might work.
In his inaugural address, President Donald J. Trump said America will be first. But what did people actually hear when he said that? DecodeDC was at the National Mall to ask inaugural attendees.
The Constitution requires only one thing for a person to become President of the United States--reciting an oath. But the inauguration has become a sort of spectacle that requires months and months of detailed planning. On the latest episode we go behind the scenes to understand what it takes to pull off the peaceful transition of power.
Every day, there are more and more questions about conflicts of interest and president-elect Donald Trump--questions about how Trump will handle his businesses interests, the role of his family and the investments of his Cabinet nominees. To sort out the ethical issues facing the Trump White House, we sat down with Richard Painter, who teaches law at the University of Minnesota and worked in the White House as President George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005-2007.
January 20th is Inauguration Day. It’s also moving day at the White House. Jimmy talks with Anita McBride, who was part of three presidential transitions, and with presidential historian Jeffrey Engel about when transitions don't go so smoothly.
When it comes to American politics, many people will choose to give up money, rather than listen to the other side. That's the result of a new study by Canadian professor Jeremy Frimer, at the University of Winnipeg. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, Jimmy talks to Jeremy about a phenomenon he calls 'motivated ignorance,' and why Americans are choosing to remain, well, ignorant.
As you sit down for giant family meals this holiday season, here's something to keep in mind--every year about 40% of America's food goes uneaten. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, Jimmy chats with Dana Gunders, a leading expert on food waste, about who's to blame (hint: you) and the limits on what the government can and can't do about it.
When it came time for PolitiFact to chose the “Lie of the Year,” for this bonkers year, editors had plenty to work with. On the latest podcast, Jimmy chats with PolitiFact‘s Angie Drobnic Holan about 2016's biggest political whopper, and what it was like being a fact-checker during an election when facts didn't seem to matter.
President-elect Trump is trying to make good on a big campaign promise--bring back manufacturing jobs to the U.S. The Carrier deal announced last week seems like a good start. But a jobs program that boils down to a POTUS making deals with companies could have big economic ramifications. On the latest podcast, Jimmy talks with Adam Davidson, a writer for the New Yorker and former co-host of NPR's Planet Money podcast. Adam explains why President Trump won't be able to create 25 million jobs, any...more
Donald Trump’s attacks on elites and us-versus-them rhetoric are classic populist themes. But what happens when populists actually take office, and suddenly joins the ruling class? John Judis, author of "The Populist Explosion,” helps us define populism and explains why Trump may not be able to live up to voters’ expectations.
Heading into Turkey Day, we at DecodeDC are thankful for you, our listeners, so we're going to spare your ears this week from another episode about electoral politics. Instead we're rebroadcasting one of our favorite shows about a different political topic--the politics of sugar. We hope you'll be able to use what you learn from this episode as fodder around the dinner table to change the topic of conversation when one of your family members starts talking about the election.
When Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the United States on January 20, 2017, the clock starts ticking on his political agenda. Trump's goals for his first 100 days in office include repealing and replacing Obamacare, deporting criminal undocumented immigrants and banning people from terror-prone countries from entering the U.S. Can he really do all these things? On the latest DecodeDC podcast we try to answer that question, and figure out what President Trump can do on his own and what h...more
Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. Let that sink in for a minute. On the latest episode of DecodeDC, we're checking back in with some of our favorite experts who've helped us 'decode' American politics to ask the question, now what?
While millions of Americans cast their votes on Election Day, one segment of the population will be left out. More than 6 million people have lost their voting rights because they committed a felony, and millions more can’t vote from prison. In fact, 1 out of every 13 African Americans has lost their voting rights due to felony disenfranchisement. But some states, like Virginia and California, are trying to change that. On this bonus episode of DecodeDC, Jimmy speaks with Terry Garrett, a former...more
It's crunch time. Doomsday--er, Election Day--is almost here, so we're checking back in with our undecided voters. For the past few weeks DecodeDC reporter Miranda Green has been profiling four voters on the fence. She fills Jimmy in on their feelings of disgust toward the election, and the sense of unease after the news about the FBI's investigation into Clinton's emails.
Donald Trump is on pace to lose the African American vote, and lose it bigly. So it’s useful to remember a time when black Americans were reliable Republicans. We talk with Leah Wright Rigueur, author of “The Loneliness of the Black Republican,” about what changed.
If you’re worried about voter fraud, there’s a good chance you’re worried about the wrong thing. We speak with Victoria Bassetti of the Brennan Center about the myth of widespread voter fraud, and a vulnerability that election officials do acknowledge: Absentee balloting. This episode is produced in conjunction with the Brennan Center and its new election podcast. Search for it on iTunes under the Brennan Center.
Donald Trump hasn’t given any money to the foundation that bears his name since 2008, and that’s just the beginning of the oddities surrounding Trump’s charitable giving. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has been digging into it, and you might by shocked by what he’s found.
How can a voter possibly be undecided? In an episode co-reported with Buzzfeed’s Meg Cramer of the No One Knows Anything podcast, we look at why so many voters are undecided this presidential election and what it’s like to be one of them. Jimmy also reveals that he likes 7-Eleven cheese dogs. Gross.
How do you run a business when Congress keeps getting in the way? That’s what farmers in Washington State are grappling with as Congress keeps punting on immigration reform. They are faced with a big labor shortage. That means crops—and profits—are left sitting in the fields. On the latest podcast, reporter Miranda Green explains to host Jimmy Williams how livelihoods are being affected on a daily basis by congressional inaction.
In his new book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”, author J.D. Vance recounts his experience of growing up poor in the white working class communities of Appalachia. It’s not just a personal story but an examination of the culture from where he comes from, as Vance tries to understand why so today feel disillusioned and disconnected with American politics. This week on the podcast, Jimmy sits down with J.D. for a personal conversation about his family, community, and ...more
A recent Scripps investigation found that the New York Attorney General has the power to force the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Health Access Initiative to publicly disclose the names of foreign governments and the millions they donate each year to the charities, but he’s not doing it. In this episode we speak with investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt, who pored through IRS tax returns and required NY charity filings and found that year after year the Clinton charities have ignored New Y...more
Corporate America has found a new way to exert its influence: think tanks, the non-profits dedicated to independent, scholarly research. That’s according to a recent investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and The New York Times. This week on the podcast, reporter Brooke Williams explains how this new type of backdoor deal-making is blurring the lines between scholars and lobbyists. Williams details how a $15 million donation by JPMorgan Chase to the Brookings Institu...more
When the two U.S. Senate candidates went to bed on election night 2002 in South Dakota, it looked like the Republican would be the winner. But then late results came in from two Native American reservations, and Democrat Tim Johnson won re-election. It’s this potential power of the Native American vote to swing local and state elections that voting rights activists in South Dakota are trying to unlock. And they argue the state has spent decades trying to block that power. In part two of our inve...more
Salt is a magical substance. An essential nutrient, it was once even used as currency. So what’s behind the push to get food makers to reduce sodium — one of salt’s components — in Americans’ diets? In partnership with the Gastropod podcast, we look at the science and history of salt, and explain how and why the government is trying to lower sodium intake.
When San Juan County, Utah made the move to all mail-in voting in 2014, it seemed like a great idea. The county is almost 8,000 square miles with about 15,000 residents and voting by mail meant you no longer had to travel to a polling place. But for residents of the Navajo reservation, about half the county’s population, that change actually made voting more difficult. Gone were the six in-person polling places on the reservation and gone were the translators to help the many Navajo-only speake...more
How does Donald Trump figure his net worth? It depends on his mood. So says Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist, David Cay Johnston. In his new book, "The Making of Donald Trump," Johnston combs through his findings after 28 years of reporting on Trump. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, Johnston tells Jimmy Williams about Trump’s business dealings with the mob and his ruthless mentality toward others.
You may think the founders gave us the right to bear arms as a way to defend against government tyranny. But in this episode, Carl Bogus, a professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, tells Jimmy that that's not entirely true.
Throughout his campaign for the Democratic nomination, the "small donor revolution" became a rallying cry for Bernie Sanders and his supporters. While counteracting big money with the little guy sounds like an appealing idea, it ain't that easy. And it doesn't always produce the best candidates. On the latest podcast, host Jimmy Williams chats with Victoria Bassetti of the Brennan Center for Justice about her study into why small donations aren't the solution to money in politics.
So what's it like to run an event with tens of thousands of people for four straight days? That's what host Jimmy Williams asks Matt Butler, the number two guy in charge of this year's Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. We take you behind the scenes (we literally did this interview behind the stage) of all the bells and whistles that go into running a convention.
If you've been tuning into the political conventions, you've been watching a staged performance. But behind the scenes there's a different show going on, one that you can only access through money or power. On this episode, host Jimmy Williams explains how the money game being played in Cleveland is different than past years.
Now that Donald Trump has the nomination, what's the game plan to win the general election? That's the question DecodeDC host Jimmy Williams poses to Kellyanne Conway, a top advisor to the GOP nominee. We bring you this podcast from Cleveland, Ohio at the Republican National Convention.
The day no one thought would actually happen has arrived. As the Republican National Convention kicks off this week, Donald J. Trump, real estate magnate-turned-reality TV-star-turned-birther-turned-presidential candidate will formally accept the Grand Old Party's 2016 presidential nomination. By all accounts, Trump is the most unlikely candidate to receive a major party nomination in recent memory, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have seen it coming. This week on the podcast, host Jimmy Wil...more
Kindergartners having nightmares of Donald Trump. Second graders wondering if their families will be deported. Muslim students being called terrorists. This is the trickle down effect of the 2016 presidential campaign in schools, and it’s happening across the country. That’s according to a survey of 2,000 teachers released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, titled “The Trump Effect: The Impact of the Presidential Campaign on our Nation’s Schools.” On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Will...more
This ain't your daddy's federalism. Heather Gerkin of Yale Law School tries to convince Jimmy that even though federalism (or states' rights) was used in the past to keep segregation in place, today it can be used to knock down discriminatory laws.
People really don't like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. But will that matter come election time? Probably not. Are voters ditching the parties in droves to declare themselves independents? Not really. Take everything you think you know about this election cycle and throw it out the window, says Alan Abramowitz, a professor of political science at Emory University. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, Abramowitz strikes down some of the conventional wisdom surrounding the 2016 campaign, and instead...more
Every campaign season has its winners and its losers - but there are some people who win no matter what happens. Political consultants are considered a necessity in today's elections, and about half of all money spent in campaigns is going through consultants, whether their candidate wins or loses. Adam Sheingate, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, explores the world of political consultants in his new book "Building a Business of Politics: The Rise of Political Consulting and the Transfor...more
Nearly a year after the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, the main plaintiff in the case, Jim Obergefell, has released a new book called ‘Love Wins.’ On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Williams talks with Obergefell about the book, his relationship and marriage, the legal road to the Supreme Court and other plaintiffs in the case. We should note that this interview took place before the Orlando massacre, where 49 people were killed for being gay or trans, gay all...more
Bernie Sanders isn't giving up. The Vermont senator is vying for a contested convention in Philadelphia this July, even as Hillary Clinton has reportedly reached the golden number of delegates to win the Democratic nomination. As is par for the course this election cycle, the convention this summer could be full of surprise, drama and who knows what else. In fact, it could mark a return to the very theatrical conventions of decades past, like in 1952, where both the GOP and Democrats had contest...more
Can you feel the Bern yet? With the California primary less than a week away, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders continues to battle erstwhile frontrunner Hillary Clinton despite a clear deficit in delegates. The longtime independent has staked his campaign on grassroots support from middle and working class voters, but it's a different electorate that has kept him afloat: snake people--er, millennials. This week on the podcast, host Jimmy Williams and Scripps campaign reporter Miranda Green dig in...more
One grew up the daughter of a Navy petty officer in 1950s suburban Chicago, the other spent formative years in Indonesia before being raised by his grandparents in Hawaii. Their experiences couldn’t have been more different but over the last eight years, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have become the twin pillars of the Democratic Party. Once rivals, then colleagues, it would seem that there’s not much daylight between the President and his former Secretary of State on major foreign policy iss...more
Dick Durbin is a four-term senator and the Democratic whip, whose job is to keep the party together. So what does he make of the fact that the GOP has its presidential nominee while the Democrats are still fractured? ”It’s a split that can help us,” he says. This week on the podcast, we speak with the senator about the biggest lesson he’s learned from the 2016 campaign so far.
Quick, what do these things have in common: Cocoa Pebbles and Winston cigarettes? One answer might be that Fred Flintstone is their biggest fan. Another might be that they’re highly addictive. And that’s not the only thing they share. When former dentist Cristin Kearns was told at a conference that sugary sweet tea was a healthy choice, she went searching for evidence that the sugar industry was trying to spin the science. What she found was a strategy to push products and influence policymakers...more
And then there was one. Following the Indiana primary earlier this week, Ted Cruz made the inevitable but shocking decision to suspended his presidential campaign. Less than 24-hours later, John Kasich followed suit. That makes real estate developer and reality tv star Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee. But the one remaining candidate for the GOP has divided the Republican party in two. This week on the podcast, we ask supporters on both sides what’s next for the GOP? On one side i...more
In 1942, Norman Mineta and his family were forced from their home in San Jose, California and into an internment camp in Wyoming. The Minetas were among tens of thousands of Japanese-Americans subjected to internment in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor Mineta left the camp in 1945 and went on to become the first non-white mayor of San Jose. Then, as a congressman from California, he sponsored legislation that paved the way for reparations for thousands of Japanese-Americans. And as George W. Bush's...more
More than 70 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision often regarded as one of the worst in its long history. In Korematsu v. United States, the court validated putting American citizens in internment camps during wartime, based on their race or ethnicity. The decision came in the wake of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which came after the Pearl Harbor attack and granted the U.S. military the power to ban tens of thousands of American citizens of Japanese an...more
She’s made millions of dollars, achieved world-wide fame and yet, former world number one tennis pro Martina Navratilova likes to spend her days tweeting about...politics. The tennis legend is a self-identified liberal, and two major events affected her politics and how she sees the world. At age 18, she defected from the then-Communist country of Czechoslovakia. She’s also an openly gay woman. “I was political when I came out of the womb, I just didn’t know it,” says Navratilova. On the latest ...more
When Ronald Reagan signed the 1986 Tax Reform Act into law, the Republican president hoped that the law would simplify the tax code and close loopholes. Reforming the tax code had been Reagan’s number one domestic priority during his campaign and it took him more than two years of wrangling members of Congress, even pushing past a blockade by House Republicans. But according to Pam Olsen, whose résumé includes stints at the IRS and U.S. Treasury Department, says the Tax Reform Act did the exact...more
When Hillary Clinton first ran for president in 2008, forecasters and prognosticators quickly seized on what they perceived as a concerted effort to project an image of strength, in part by de-emphasizing her gender. But eight years later, her 2016 campaign seems to be embracing her potentially historic election as the country's first female president. This time, so goes the story, Clinton is "running as a woman." This week on the podcast, we sit down with Corrine McConnaughy, a political scient...more
The 2016 presidential election is on track to becoming the most expensive campaign in U.S. history. But the the Federal Election Commission, charged with regulating how that campaign money is raised and spent, may be the least understood and most ineffective agency of them all. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Williams sits down with three people who have all been part of the FEC. They explain that from the start, the agency had a built-in partisan divide that made decision making diff...more
On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Williams sits down with Scripps Investigative Reporter Mark Greenblatt about his 6-month-long investigation into problems at the Cincinnati VA. Greenblatt teamed up with WCPO reporter Dan Monk, who together connected with more than 30 whistleblowers. They discovered that a new solution created to solve the VA wait-time scandal that left some veterans for dead back in 2014, may be causing new problems for veterans and hospital staff alike. From staffing ...more
The status of the Supreme Court in American government has ebbed and flowed since the Constitution was ratified. But starting in the 1950s, the Court has had a long and unchallenged reign of extraordinary power and authority as the final guardian of the Constitution. In the sweep of history, this is a great aberration, not the norm. This week on the podcast, Larry Kramer, former Dean of the Stanford Law School and now head of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation says we have largely and regr...more
Madeleine Albright describes herself as a late bloomer but boy, has she made something of that late push. After starting her political career as a Senate staffer at the age of 39, Albright went on to the National Security Council, before serving as UN ambassador and the country’s first female secretary of state. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Williams sits down with the storied stateswoman as she describes her journey and how the she came to find her voice. As someone who’s been thro...more
Superdelegates. Maybe you’ve heard something about them, but might not know how they came to be, how they work, who they are and why they matter. But if you want to make sense of the delegate math in this year’s Democratic contest, you need to understand what a superdelegate is. Bob Shrum was there when superdelegates were created. The long time Democratic operative says if you trace the origins of this uniquely Democratic Party invention, you’ll see a battle between the people and their party w...more
Long ago in South Carolina, an unholy alliance was made to keep the races separate. In the second episode of our two-part series on the politics of race in the Palmetto State, we introduce you to two of the people who keep that pact going. And they hate it. So while all the talking heads and politicians turn their attention to this Saturday’s Democratic primary in South Carolina, listen to our latest episode on the real problem down in Dixie: Race.
Right now, a battle is being waged between Apple and the government over encryption. A federal court has ordered the tech giant to unlock an iPhone used by one of the attackers in the San Bernardino shooting that left 14 people dead. Apple is fighting the order, and a huge public debate is going on about privacy and protection. A few months ago, right after the Paris terrorist attacks, we did a podcast about a Scripps News investigation into encryption. We've decided to repost that episode and ...more
From 2010-2014, more than 200,000 people moved to South Carolina. The South is the fastest growing region of the county but unlike its neighbors, the Palmetto state seems to be stuck in time. South Carolina’s schools rank 43rd in the nation. The median income in South Carolina is $44,000 dollars a year. That's nearly $10,000 dollars less than the national average. Democrats have been hoping that the influx of Latinos and African Americans, combined with the movement of retirees might turn the tr...more
Today Americans view privacy as a fundamental civil liberty, a right that puts a boundary on what the government can do. Our ‘right to privacy’ has become part of the essential contract Americans make with their government, a system that protects individuals from the government’s ability to intrude into the private sphere. But it wasn’t so long ago that the very idea of a right to privacy, even of a right to one’s own thoughts, wasn’t such a foregone conclusion. This week on the podcast, we take...more
Adams, Bush, Clinton, Kennedy. Somehow the same family names keep popping up in American politics. And that raises the question: Why, in a proudly democratic country, do we wind up with something that doesn’t feel very democratic? This week on the podcast, guest host Michelle Cottle speaks with historian Stephen Hess about our obsession with political dynasties. Hess, whose best seller “America’s Political Dynasties” was recently updated, says we will always have dynasties—but they won’t always ...more
Beyoncé had it right. Who runs the world? Girls. Just ask Jay Newtown-Small, a Time magazine correspondent and author of the new book, “Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.” This week on the podcast, Newton-Small speaks with host Jimmy Williams about her experience reporting her book and it’s key takeaway: once women make up between 20 and 30 percent of an institution, they begin to impact and change the way that institution works.
From the outside looking in, Brian Sims seems to have it all. He’s young, energetic, well liked, and his political career’s on the rise. After becoming one of the first openly gay college football players in NCAA history, Sims went on to law school and embarked on a career as an LGBT activist before becoming the first openly gay candidate elected to Pennsylvania’s state legislature. Now he’s ready to take the next step: the US. House of Representatives. Is Sims crazy? No one seems to have a kind...more
We thought you might enjoy a look at Scripps News' newest podcast, TrailMix 2016 - a weekly conversation about the state of the campaign. This week’s topics include: Is it time to take Bernie Sanders seriously? What about Bill Clinton and women? Do endorsements make a difference? And, what does Nickelback have to do with the campaign? Join Scripps politics reporter Miranda Green, Daily Beast social media editor Asawin Suebsaeng and Independent Journal politics editor Justin Green for insight, cu...more
Jeremy Frimer, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Winnipeg, teamed up with some other researchers in Canada and Germany and tried to answer this question: Why do the American people seem to hate Congress so much? And what they found was that it’s all about what Congress says, not what it does.
From members of Congress jockeying for the best tv spot, to constant interruptions of applause, the State of the Union address has become a primetime spectacle. On our latest podcast, former Capitol Hill staffer and current lobbyist Steve Moffitt offers up some advice on how to fix the State of the Union.
Jimmy Williams is a veteran of Washington, D.C.'s political scene, engaging in nearly every facet of American politics, as a congressional staffer then lobbyist and now, as DecodeDC's new host. Podcasting is new to Jimmy, so he sought ought the advice of some experienced pros, including Gimlet Media CEO and Start-Up host Alex Blumberg , the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis, Adam Davidson, co-founder of Planet Money and co-host of Surprisingly Awesome, and Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers of Pants...more
It's been a big year in politics - and an even bigger one is on its way. Before we dive into the coming year of campaigns, candidates, and conventions, host Jimmy Williams sits down with DecodeDC's producers and editors to talk about some of our best moments from the last year. From our deep dive into America's prison problem, to our explorations of racist government policies, and even to a Donald Trump rally in Dallas, you'll get some insight into what goes into producing and reporting a Decod...more
Tis the season of year-end lists – and so we offer our second annual Lie of the Year podcast thanks to our friends from PolitiFact, the fact-checking Website. PolitiFact Editor Angie Drobnic-Holan talks us through this year’s top 10.
Conservative media has gone through surprising changes in recent years, not that many people outside that orbit have noticed. There is a world of talk radio, podcasts and websites far bigger, a new breed like the commentator Steve Deace, who are more conservative and, surprisingly, more hostile to the Republican party than Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. And they're having a serious influence on Republican lawmakers. On this week's podcast, we speak with Jackie Calmes, a national correspondent for T...more
In today’s political atmosphere of partisan bickering and congressional dysfunction, there’s something reassuring about reflecting on a time when things actually worked on Capitol Hill. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, we’re traveling back to the 1940s to tell you a story about Congress at its very best. It’s a story about a little known senator named Harry Truman and the committee he led that investigated waste, fraud and abuse in the lead up to the United States entering World War II. “It reall...more
This week on DecodeDC, Dick Meyer and Dr. Anthony King discuss American elections and how they're viewed abroad. King is a British professor of comparative government and the author of "Running Scared: Why America’s Politicians Campaign Too Much and Govern Too Little," He questions some of the fundamental assumptions Americans make about what an election is supposed to look like and how long it should last.
As you sit around the dining room table this week with family and friends, giving thanks and enjoying roasted turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and warm stuffing, here’s something to keep in mind: Some of that food you’re chowing down might have originated in a military lab. Every once in awhile we like to re-run one of our more popular episodes, and this is one of those occasions. Enjoy listening—or re-listening—to our conversation with Anastacia Marx de Salcedo about her book, “Combat Ready Kitch...more
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the battle between privacy versus public safety has become ever more relevant. Law enforcement agencies maintain that the same encryption you use on your cell phone to keep your private information safe has become a tool for criminals and terrorists. Scripps News and the Toronto Star teamed up over the past several months, investigating how law enforcement is losing the war over access to information they need to solve crimes. On the latest DecodeDC...more
At this point, the Washington federal budget cycle is pretty well established. A stalemated federal government leads to the predictable standoff. Cue the shutdown clocks on cable news, ignore the threats lobbed between members of Congress and await the prospect of “closed’ signs at federal agencies and national parks. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, we take a look at the federal budget and try to answer the question: what’s broken about the federal budget – the process or the politicians?
The Electoral College - it's something we have to deal with during every presidential election. But should we? This week on the podcast, we look at how and why the Electoral College system came to be. We also talk with Dr. John Koza, chairman of the National Popular Vote, a movement dedicated to changing the presidential election process entirely. If his group succeeds, our system of voting for president could be completely different by 2020. CORRECTION: In a previous version of this episode, we...more
Capitol Hill can be horrifying… On this bonus episode of DecodeDC, we focus on the spookier aspects of Capitol Hill during a ghost tour with ScaryDC. Long-dead Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase comes back to walk us through the stories of haunted architects, spectral spies, and General Logan’s stuffed horse.
Things are pretty weird in the House of Representatives right now. Paul Ryan was just chosen to be the next speaker of the House, a position he never wanted, after a fractured Republican Party united behind him. Republicans have the largest majority of seats in the House since 1920, so it should be a golden time to move their agenda forward. Instead, it's been pretty miserable. Lots of fingers are pointing to the House Freedom Caucus, a group of about 40 of the most conservative members of the ...more
It’s a bizarre question at first: Is our capacity for meaningful, soul-nourishing conversation something that can go away? Sherry Turkle, professor of psychology at MIT, and author of “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age”, says yes, emphatically. On this episode of DecodeDC, Dick Meyer has a long conversation with Turkle about conversation - and then invited the newsroom to join. Spoiler alert: We’re all at risk of becoming device-addicted, never-present techno-dweebs ...more
If it seems impossible to talk about poverty in the U.S. without talking about race and culture, that's thanks in large part to one man: Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 1965, Moynihan wrote a government memo that changed the way we think about poverty. In this episode, writers Peter-Christian Aigner and Stephanie Coontz weigh in on the report's legacy, and Moynihan's intentions.
Nestled in the woods just outside of Boston sits the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Systems Center. The base does research on the necessities soldiers need on the frontline, such as clothing, shoes, body armor and food. Part of Natick’s mandate is to get the food science it uses in producing military combat rations onto grocery store shelves and into your kitchen. That’s what Anastascia Marx de Salcedo writes about in her new book, “Combat Ready Kitchen: How the U.S. Military Shapes the Way You Eat.” ...more
DecodeDC reporter Miranda Green and producer Eric Krupke recently took a trip to the frontlines of the 2016 battlefield -- a rally for Sanders in North Carolina and one for Trump in Texas. And what they learned was surprising. While visibly different on the surface, the events had one clear similarity: supporters, on both sides of the political spectrum, with a deep fear of big money in politics. On this week’s podcast, Green and Krupke take you to the rallies and let you hear from the supporte...more
Less than 24 hours after touching down on U.S. soil for the very first time, Pope Francis made quite clear his stance on issues such as immigration and climate change. Confronting major global disputes with forceful words is nothing new for Pope Francis. He has used the worldwide papacy platform to speak out on issues both inside and outside the church. But according to David Gibson, a national reporter for the Religion News Service, the challenge lies in transforming the pope’s words into globa...more
Antoine Lynch is having a hard time finding an affordable place to live. That is, until the DC government provided him with a housing voucher that guaranteed partial payment of his monthly rent. But, when he called around to housing complexes where he wanted to live - apartments that were in neighborhoods with grocery stores, good schools, and low crime rates - the landlords told him they wouldn’t accept his voucher. Antoine is facing what’s called source of income discrimination, and it’s illeg...more
We think our cities look a certain way because of people’s choices and preferences, but it turns out, the government has had a huge hand in keeping neighborhoods separate and unequal. This week on DecodeDC, we tackle the question that’s been vexing the country for more than half a century, how much can, and should, the government do to right its past wrongs when it comes to housing and segregation?
This week’s podcast challenges a political sacred cow. In fact, it might be the mother of all sacred cows. It is the belief that foreign terrorism is one of the most serious threats to the safety of Americans and the security of what since 9/11 we have called the “homeland.” That belief is deep. The facts supporting it are thin. But it is a premise so fundamental to our post-9/11 worldview that is rarely debated, challenged or reexamined. No one has tried harder to unsound the alarm, to show tha...more
Every once in a while, we like to rerun one of our most popular podcasts, and this is one of those occasions. Enjoy listening--or relistening--to our conversation with Yuval Noah Harari about his book "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind".
Renee Petro was desperate to help her son, Brandon, who sometimes would experience as many as 100 seizures a day. She tried medications, she looked into surgery...and then she discovered cannabis. On this episode of the DecodeDC podcast, guest host Miranda Green teams up with News 21 reporters who talked to parents desperate to get their children access to medical marijuana.
On this week’s podcast, we sit down with reporter Carol Rosenberg, who’s outlasted soldiers, interrogators, and lawyers at Guantanamo Bay. For more than 13 years, she has become the keeper of record for what remains a controversial response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 – the decision to detain, without trial, hundreds of men picked up around the world for their alleged connections to al-Qaeda and other U.S. enemies.
The creator of The Wire and Treme has a new miniseries debuting this Sunday. We talk with David Simon about 'Show Me A Hero,' Simons's first project that he says is explicitly about race, class and how decades of government policy have created 'two Americas'.
With more than two million people behind bars, a 500 percent increase since the mid 1970s, politicians on both sides of the aisle have come to agree that America has a prison problem. On this week’s DecodeDC podcast—our 100th episode—guest host Emily Kopp sits down with Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Sean Walker, a former inmate who spent two decades behind bars, about what they see in the push for prison reform.
The similarities of reality TV and politics – especially with The Donald on the debate stage – are the topic of this bonus episode of the DecodeDC podcast. Host Miranda Green talks with Robert Galinsky, president and coach at the Reality TV School of New York, who says politicians could learn a thing or two from reality TV stars. Alanna Haefner contributed to this story.
On this week’s DecodeDC podcast, guest host Todd Zwillich talks with Rupal Mehta, an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska, about why countries that start down the path of developing nuclear weapons decide to stop.
Forget the debate over Alexander Hamilton’s spot on the ten-dollar bill. The founding father’s image may be better suited on a bottle of bourbon. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, guest host Todd Zwillich sits down with Reid Mitenbuler, author of Bourbon Empire: The Past and Future of America’s Whiskey. Zwillich and Mitenbuler discuss a battle between two founding fathers—Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson—and how that battle has profoundly affected both American bourbon and business.
Political campaigns are about a lot of things: message, money, organization and of course, more money. But campaigns are also about storytelling. Stories help candidates connect with voters, putting a human face on dry policy debates. Some politicians are born storytellers, while others need some help. That’s where strategists like Burns Strider come in. Strider is a long-time Democratic operative who has worked on more than 100 campaigns, including as the head of faith outreach for Hillary Clin...more
The number keeps growing but at the moment there are 22 noble or nutty (you pick) souls running for president – and the election is still 16 months away. One of them, Bernie Sanders, says he is a socialist, whatever that means in 2015 America. Sanders certainly does, however, fit in to the great American populist tradition, so we thought this would be the perfect time to rerun our podcast on the origins of populism.
The Supreme Court’s term has ended with two supreme-sized rulings, one affirming a right to same-sex marriage, the other upholding the Affordable Care Act. Overall, the conventional rap on the term has been that it was a decidedly liberal year for the conservative Roberts court. That’s true but simplistic, according to Stuart Taylor Jr., whom we brought in to decode the court’s most recent pronouncements on this week's podcast. Taylor graduated from Harvard Law School and went on to cover the Su...more
Every year, we spend $140 billion on grants and loans for college students. How's that investment doing? Well, we really don't know, and to find out, it turns out we'd have to break the law.
It isn’t often that the president of the United States opens up about America’s history of racism or about how African Americans have suffered because of it - or about how white America must accept responsibility for these wrongs. But that is exactly what happened 50 years ago this month when President Lyndon Johnson delivered the commencement address at Howard University in Washington, D.C. And those who were in the crowd June 4, 1965, say what they heard on still feels relevant today. “I thin...more
Host: Dick Meyer I’ve gotten interested in humorlessness. I’ve come to believe that politics has become less funny, more humorless. I think this is certainly true of professional politicians and their henchmen and henchwomen. I think it is true of pundits and talking heads. Most important, I think it is true of regular civilians who like to talk – and argue – about politics over dinner or at a bar. Stridency is up; the capacity to take teasing is down. At least that’s my hunch. There is no natio...more
It’s no secret that members of Congress spend much of their time raising money. But here’s something you probably didn’t know: A huge chunk of the money they haul in is not spent on their campaigns. It’s funneled directly to the political parties in the form of dues. On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Andrea Seabrook explains how Congress works a little like another organized group when it comes to money, power and loyalty — the mafia. There are no Don Corleones, of course, in the strict sense...more
Once upon a time in the fairytale land of politics, there was an epic clash of magical beasts. On one side, the sea-unicorn called the narwhal. With a wave of his single tusk, he could muster thousands of volunteers, knock on millions of doors and direct a laser-beam of votes on behalf of Barack Obama. On the other side, the narwhal’s natural enemy, the orca, tasked with unearthing voters across the realm for challenger Mitt Romney. This may sound too fantastical to believe, but it’s actually cl...more
There’s been a major development in the wake of a Scripps News Investigation featured in a DecodeDC podcast last December. Congress has now passed legislation that requires the Department of Defense to register sex offenders directly with an FBI database available to civilian law enforcement agencies and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website prior to an offender’s release from a military prison. A Scripps News Investigation found hundreds of convicted military sex offenders flying ...more
In Baltimore it was Freddie Gray. In Ferguson it was Michael Brown. on Staten Island it was Eric Garner. And in many other places, poor black men and boys have died in confrontations with police. On this week’s DecodeDC podcast, we talk with author, journalist and historian Isabel Wilkerson, who says the social unrest we’ve seen in some of these places shouldn’t be shocking at all—it’s absolutely predictable. “What we’re seeing right now when we look at Ferguson or we look at Baltimore in this m...more
For the past 20 years, Dr. M Sanjayan has devoted his life to environmental policy and the protection of wildlife. After decades in the environmental movement, Sanjayan has come to realize that you can’t separate humans from the natural environment around them. That’s a pretty radical idea in the environmental movement and a theme that pervades his new PBS series, "Earth: A New Wild." On this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook speaks with Sanjayan about his television series, his views on pres...more
“Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari is a book that has more ideas per rectangular page than anything I have read in years. I was lucky enough to have a long conversation with Harari for this week’s podcast. Harari is a historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “Sapiens” was published in Hebrew in 2011 and has since been translated into 26 languages. It is a challenging, serious book, and it is a best seller all over the world. I suspect that is because the questio...more
No matter where you stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, Tuesday's historic oral arguments at the Supreme Court represented the next step in what will be an unprecedented moment to define - or redefine - the institution of marriage. On a special episode of DecodeDC, host Andrea Seabrook examines the most powerful moments from the hearing.
A little thing called marriage is about to have a big day in court. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on state bans against same-sex marriage. This is such a huge case that DecodeDC recently teamed up with the Scripps television station in Cincinnati, WCPO, for a multi-platform event to explore the changing face of marriage. On this week’s DecodeDC podcast, we bring you highlights from that event, from the incredible history of marriage to the dramatic shifts in public opini...more
When someone asks what the most important event in Washington is every year, you’d hope that the answer would involve a key piece of civic action or an instance of Americans making their voices heard. In reality, D.C’s biggest event is an altogether different affair - a weeklong extravaganza of lavish parties where journalists rub shoulders with the very people they’re supposed to hold accountable. It all leads up to one night in particular, the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, or ...more
Unless you’ve been trapped in a monastery over the past month, you’ve witnessed the fire and brimstone storms over so-called religious freedom laws in Indiana and Arkansas. Coverage of the push for these religious freedom laws tends to focus on how they have emerged as pushback against gay marriage. They are that, but the backstory is more complicated. These laws deserve some serious decoding and on this week’s podcast, we turn to Robert Jones, the director of the Public Religion Research Instit...more
The Voting Rights Act. The Civil Rights Act. Medicare. Vietnam. The 1960s were a transformational time for America and at the center of much of it was Lyndon B. Johnson. This year marks the 50th anniversary for landmark legislation that would not have been possible without one of Washington’s most heralded legislators. On this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook sits down with Julian Zelizer, author of “The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress and the Battle for the Great Society....more
For spring break, we are going to take you on the ultimate insider’s tour of the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol. Your guide: Senate historian Donald Ritchie, who will retire in May after nearly 40 years in the Senate Historical Office. The office serves as the Senate's “institutional memory,” according to its Website, collecting information on important dates, precedents and statistics. But it is so much more. Movie set designers, mystery writers and biographers have depended on Donald Ritchie ...more
It isn’t every day that Democrats and Republicans are on the same side of anything, so it may come as a surprise that the nation of Ukraine has not only brought them together, but brought them together in opposition to the White House. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle feel the United States should send lethal weapons to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia. The White House does not. Only minutes before the 113th Congress was about to adjourn in December, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act p...more
“What did they know and when did they know it?” It’s Washington’s favorite question for scandal, for mystery or subterfuge. Senator Howard Baker coined “what did they know and when did they know it” back in the Watergate hearings. It’s what lawmakers are asking about politics within the IRS, what regulators asked bank executives about the financial crisis and, of course, what EVERYONE wants to know about Hillary Clinton’s emails. But it also is the question at the heart of the current challenge ...more
Political scientists and lawyers have had their chance to diagnose the causes of the obvious ills in the American body politic, and to write some prescriptions. It’s high time to give some other faculties a chance. In this week’s podcast, we talk to a psychologist, Dr. Jean Twenge, of San Diego State University and the author of “Generation Me.” Twenge’s research often involves psychological differences between generations. Her writings are smart, thought provoking and very in tune with the tim...more
We are only hours away from the release of season three of House of Cards, the dark, cynical world of Washington politics as ruled by Francis Underwood. It’s a world that series showrunner Beau Willimon is well familiar with. As a playwright, he tackled similar themes with Farragut North, later adapted into the film Ides of March, starring George Clooney. And it’s a world Willimon has also lived as a former campaign staffer during several elections. In the final installment of our special series...more
Francis Underwood has finally made it to the White House. The character, played by Kevin Spacey, spent the first two seasons of “House of Cards” scheming, murdering and blackmailing his way from Congress to the vice presidency to the Oval Office. Together with his equally conniving wife, Claire, played by Robin Wright, they knock down every conceivable barrier, using any means necessary, in their quest for power. The show is filled with a lot of people willing to do almost anything to get what...more
It’s “House of Cards” week on DecodeDC. We are helping get YOU ready for the release of Season 3 of the Netflix series with a five-podcast special series, “Inside House of Cards.” Today’s installment – the third – is all about the business, or maybe the bloodsport, of lobbying and politics. One day, you’re an elected official or a political staff member. The next, you’re a member of a K Street firm trying your best to influence the very same government officials and legislators you just worked w...more
In the second installment of our DecodeDC special series, “Inside House of Cards,” we go into the world of journalism and politics. Our guide, Matt Bai, spent years as a Washington political reporter for The New York Times Magazine and is now a political columnist for Yahoo News. He has a particularly interesting perspective on how “House of Cards” depicts his profession, because Bai plays himself in several episodes of the second season of the series. While Bai thinks journalism in “House of C...more
February has been a brutal month for most of us – snow and cold and ice and kids home from school and trips cancelled. Perhaps the only thing that redeems this month is the release of season three of “House of Cards” on Feb. 27. Perhaps it is our fascination with the dysfunction of Washington that makes the Netflix drama so irresistible. Perhaps it’s the fact that the series takes you where no journalist is allowed to go - into the fantastical and not so fantastical political wheeling and dealin...more
Picture this: Girl agrees to go on date with boy. Girl and boy are having a great time together. But girl has a really bad feeling about boy. Girl thinks boy is a Republican. Date comes to a screeching halt. No, this is not some weird political romance novel. It’s the true story of Jessica’s first date with her now-husband, Ross. (Side note, he’s not a Republican.) “I sort of stopped and was like, can we set the record straight on this, like are you a Republican or not? Because if you are, like ...more
Ever since President Obama unveiled his proposal to make two years of community college free for every American, it seems like all we’ve heard about is the money. How much would it cost? (Answer: about $6 billion.) How much would it bring in, once those students graduate, get better paying jobs, and contribute more in taxes? Here’s what no one seems to be talking about: actually finishing. Just 35 percent of students who start a two-year community college program get their degree within six year...more
Crowds in the street chanting, “Bring back our girls!” Images of distraught parents and an outraged community. That’s how most Americans first learned about the terrorist group Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 250 school girls from a state run school in Nigeria last April. In recent weeks, several brutal attacks have brought Boko Haram back into the news, from the all out assault and destruction of a fishing village in northeastern Nigeria that may have left as many as 2,000 dead, to the us...more
So, here’s a question. When is it too early to assess a president’s legacy? How about two years before his term ends? Not for David Haskell, an editor at New York magazine, who polled 53 historians and asked them how they thought we’d remember President Obama 20 years from now. On this week’s DecodeDC podcast, we talk with Haskell about his piece and what he learned. When asked what the president's legacy might be, the overwhelming response, according to those Haskell spoke with: Obama’s status ...more
For the Obama administration, it’s the beginning of the end: the fourth quarter of his presidency. That means political junkies have moved on to 2016, while historians, scholars and, undoubtedly, the president himself have turned their attention to Obama’s legacy. Will he be known for Obamacare? For his Wall St. reforms? Or for ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? And how will people view those actions -- as accomplishments or failures? “These things are not fixed,” says Julian Zelizer, poli...more
We’ve all been watching events unfold in Paris with sinking horror. Another terrorist attack, turning police, civilians, writers and satirists into blood and meat. Another man-hunt broadcast on TV; mugshots of terrorists with Muslim names. And now the chattering class is once again embroiled in the divisive argument we’ve witnessed for the last couple of decades; the argument over terrorism and Islam. To one side it seems obvious that Muslims condone violence, that Islam is the problem, or part ...more
Picture this: two candidates take the stage for a debate. One steps to the podium and begins with a few biographical facts. He was born to a factory worker and a stay-at-home mom, and he went to public school. Before says a word about policy, the second candidate steps up to the mic. You find out he went to private boarding school, and his dad was a doctor. Whether you realize it or not, in that moment, your brain has already taken some shortcuts to help you process what’s going on. Despite the ...more
‘Tis the season for the year-end list. And we thought it fitting that our contribution to this mainstay of holiday journalism be the best political lies of 2014 - from tiny truth-stretching fibs to all out, no-shame whoppers. To help us in our task, we turned to our friends at Politifact , the Pulitzer Prize- winning independent journalism Website that fact-checks statements from the White House, Congress, candidates, advocacy groups and pundits. Politifact uses very complex, purpose-built techn...more
It was the early morning hours of Oct. 6, 1976. Adolph Lyons, a 24-year-old African-American, was driving through Los Angeles with a broken taillight. Two LAPD officers in a squad car pulled Lyons over, and approached with their pistols drawn. Lyons got out, the cops turned him around, spread eagle, and placed his hands on the back of his head. Lyons’ keys, still in his hand, dug into his scalp and he complained. One of the police officers called that resisting arrest and grabbed Lyons from behi...more
There are hard, deep-seeded questions in the public’s outcry following two police killings – that of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City. Race, poverty, police training, and the use of deadly force are only a few of them. There’s a legal question, too, only a small slice of the issue, but one that could be worked on in concrete ways. It stems from this: In both Ferguson and New York City, local prosecutors took the cases before local grand juries, and in both in...more
Like any parent might, one Wisconsin mom wanted to make sure her adult daughter’s new boyfriend was a decent guy. So she went online and and searched for his name, Matthew Carr. What she found was nothing -- which, in retrospect, is incredibly shocking. A few years earlier, while serving in the Air Force, Carr had been court-martialed for posing as a doctor and luring women into “gynecological exams.” The Air Force convicted Carr of “indecent assault" of seven women and sentenced him to seven ye...more
Does the thought of Thanksgiving make your palms sweat? Does your stomach hurt, BEFORE the meal? Maybe holiday fun translates to holiday dysfunction when it comes to your family gathering? We hear you. So just in time for your yearly gathering of the relatives, from the left, right and center, we offer this survival guide for talking turkey and politics. On this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook takes your stories of politics and holidays past and runs them by journalist Amy Dickinson , who...more
If you’re anxious about the dinner topics during the holiday season, Decode has your back. We hope to help you navigate your way through the Turkey dinner with our political guide to surviving Thanksgiving. So, for your listening pleasure we are releasing snippets, sneak-peeks, giblets—if you will of our upcoming Thanksgiving episode: Politics around the Turkey.
If you’re anxious about the dinner topics during the holiday season, Decode has your back. We hope to help you navigate your way through the Turkey dinner with our political guide to surviving Thanksgiving. So, for your listening pleasure we are releasing snippets, sneak-peeks, giblets—if you will of our upcoming Thanksgiving episode: Politics around the Turkey.
If you’re anxious about the dinner topics during the holiday season, Decode has your back. We hope to help you navigate your way through the Turkey dinner with our political guide to surviving Thanksgiving. So, for your listening pleasure we are releasing snippets, sneak-peeks, giblets—if you will of our upcoming Thanksgiving episode: Politics around the Turkey.
Some politicians slide into Congress after a boring, predictable, easy win as the predestined candidate. Others practically stumble — like Congressman Bill Owens, who was the last man standing in the dust of a political nuclear war back in 2009. In this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook sits down with the Democratic congressman from upstate New York as part of DecodeDC’s Exit Interview series. Owens announced his retirement in January of this year. Congressman Owens is one of the most endange...more
There was a time when Americans weren’t so intensely divided as we are today. In fact, says journalist and writer Bill Bishop, from World War II to the mid 1970s, Americans’ attitudes about culture, family and politics grew more alike. Then things started to change, says Bishop. Politics split us up, became harsher and more polarized. At the same time, economic forces and rising standards of living sparked a huge increase in people’s mobility; it’s no longer common to spend your life in one town...more
There’s really only one story to tell about the 2014 midterm elections, right? Only one story, that is, if you rely on the constant stream of chatter from 24-7 cable TV, election-obsessed political rags, and the twitterverse for your news. The story? Republicans won – BIG TIME. And it’s true. Not only did the GOP swoop in and seize more than enough seats to take control of the Senate, in the House they likely* increased their majority to a margin Republicans haven’t enjoyed since Harry Truman wa...more
Next Tuesday Americans across the country will participate in one of the most basic civic duties: voting. For many, that means taking time off work, driving to a designated polling place and casting their ballot through standalone voting machines. But what if the process of voting could be vastly different? Today we can do almost anything on the Internet from banking to ordering take-out, so it only feels natural that we should be able to vote that way too. In this week’s podcast, host Andrea Se...more
Tis the season for elaborate costumes, anonymous boogiemen and masked pranksters. That's right, it’s election season. Across the country, races for the House, Senate, governors and state legislators are being haunted by nasty attack ads. In this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook takes a deep dive into dark money groups, responsible for some of the nastiest ads . As the co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, Michael Franz tracks political ads on TV stations across the country and collects ...more
Ebola has killed nearly 5,000 people and put America and the world on high alert. In contrast, the world’s worst pandemic, AIDS, hit the U.S. three decades ago and was largely ignored. Because of that, hundreds and then thousands fell sick and died of AIDS before the U.S. government even mentioned it publicly. “The country had never had much of a discussion about homosexuality, they loathed us and feared us,” says long-time AIDS activist Peter Staley. In those bleak years, activists organized, s...more
A staggering number of young women are having babies today who say they didn’t mean to get pregnant. New statistics from the Brookings Institution show that, among American women under age 30, more than 70% of pregnancies are unintended. In her new book, “Generation Unbound: Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage,” Brookings fellow Isabel Sawhill tackles the hot-button issues of poverty, contraception and having children out of wedlock. DecodeDC host Andrea Seabrook talked to her for ...more
This week on the DecodeDC podcast we’re talking to Scripps national investigative reporter Lee Bowman about his story on the disaster behind federal disaster aid. When your house or town gets destroyed by a hurricane or a tornado, you may expect the federal government to step in and help. But whether you get money from the feds may depend more on where you live than on the extent of the damage. The original idea behind federal disaster aid was to help only when the damage and scope of an event e...more
On April 14, 1994, the top executives of America’s seven largest tobacco companies filed into the hearing room before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. Before speaking, the CEOs took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – as most witnesses before Congress do. Each man then proceeded to testify that cigarettes and nicotine are not addictive. It was a moment that would change America’s relationship with tobacco. On March 17, ...more
He is called the Vicar of Baghdad, though his life couldn’t be more different from the average English vicar. The Reverend Canon Andrew White leads St. George’s Church, the last Anglican church in Iraq. He also runs a clinic that sees thousands of patients a month, and a food program that feeds hundreds every week – regardless of their beliefs or religious affiliation. But though this work is much admired, it is not what has made Rev. White famous. As president of the Foundation for Relief and R...more
On this week's DecodeDC podcast, host Andrea Seabrook talks to three experts about a deceptively simple question: What responsibility does the U.S. have, if any, to respond to ISIS? Many Americans have been surprised in recent weeks by the brutal takeover of large regions of Iraq and Syria by the fundamentalist regime as it threatens men, women and children who don’t comply with its violent form of strict Sharia law with the most atrocious consequences -- massacres, beheadings and crucifixions. ...more
It aired only once. A one-minute spot during “The NBC Monday Night Movie.” But it changed every political ad that came after -- as well as the entire field of advertising. The Daisy ad aired during the height of Lyndon B. Johnson’s re-election campaign, on the night of Sept. 7, 1964. Republican Barry Goldwater, LBJ’s challenger, had said in speeches and interviews that he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to better America’s position in the Vietnam war. The ad was the Johnson campaign’s at...more
Americans can carry more guns in more places than ever before. Across the country, grassroots movements in states and on college campuses are demanding that gun regulations be relaxed -- and lawmakers are meeting those demands. This is one, major trend reported by News21, an eight-month project in investigative reporting that brought together top journalism students to study one issue: Guns in America. Here at DecodeDC we’re featuring many of the News21 stories, from the prevalence of women carr...more
It has been twenty years since Congress passed federal gun control legislation. That’s two decades in which America has seen some of the most horrific massacres in our nation’s history. But despite DC's gridlock on the issue, America’s debate over gun rights and gun regulations has gained energy. Just not in Washington. That’s just one conclusion of an in-depth, eight-month reporting project by this year’s News21 team. Student journalists tackled the issue of guns in America, turning out dozens...more
This week’s podcast is a conversation with Arthur Brooks, who runs the American Enterprise Institute, a big conservative think tank in Washington and our chief Washington correspondent Dick meyer. It didn’t turn out to be the podcast we expected. Brooks is a very smart, very passionate, very articulate guy. He always has a take on things that is fresh so we wanted to hear his thoughts on the world of Washington think tanks. We in the news business use the phrase “think tank” all the time but we ...more
Tens of thousands of children have crossed into the United States this year, fleeing desperate conditions in Central America. The news media have dubbed it a “border crisis,” though none of these kids stays at the border for very long. And in Washington, Congressional leaders seem more focused on who to blame rather than what to do about it. In this week's podcast, host Andrea Seabrook goes straight to the front lines of the crisis. No, not the border but an elementary school just a few miles fr...more
It was three days after the attacks —September 14th, 2001 -- that Congress gathered in Washington to respond to the vicious blow America had sustained. Every member of the House and Senate, save one, voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to capture or kill those responsible. The bill they passed that day is called the AUMF -- The Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Terrorists. Many predictions were made that day, of the coming war, the stamina and depth of the comm...more
Members of Congress are notorious for being tight-lipped about the details of the legislative process -- especially when they’re talking to journalists. Luckily there are exceptions to the informational lock-down reporters face: members of Congress who are on their way out. Our “DecodeDC: Exit Interview” series continues with one of only a couple of lawmakers who is also a scientist: New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt. Rep. Rush Holt Jr., a Ph.D. in physics, says science trains your mind. “Scienti...more
House Speaker John Boehner, the country’s most powerful Republican, says he’s going to sue President Barack Obama on behalf of the Congress for alleged misuse of executive orders. Is Boehner's threat more of the same partisan Washington theater or a real constitutional crisis? "The House leadership is scrambling so hard to try to reassert some kind of actual leadership, that it’s I think awfully hard for most Americans to see really this in serious way as the Congress trying to defend its author...more
Members of Congress are notorious for being tight-lipped about the details of the legislative process -- especially when they’re talking to journalists. In part this is because of the intense polarization of our day. It's also because lawmakers are wary of describing the kind of compromise and flexibility it takes to actually get legislation passed. At the same time, the two-year election cycle in the House of Representatives and the narrow margin of control in both chambers makes for an enviro...more
Episode 41: Critical Infrastructure and The Next War by The Scripps Washington Bureau
When hackers broke into the computers of top American discount chain Target Corp, it made international headlines. Cyber-criminals sucked up tens of millions of credit card numbers, email and home addresses, phone numbers and more, selling them on the blackmarket to reap untold millions of dollars in profits. Target was forced to spend hundreds of millions in computer security upgrades, and much worse for the company was the loss of its customers’ trust. But what if you didn’t have a choice abou...more
The words “populist” and” populism” have been ubiquitous on cable news talk shows and in the political press for the past couple of months. This makes us at DecodeDC cranky. The words, it seems to us, are being used in silly, nonsensical ways, sullying the great tradition of American populism. One person’s populism is another’s demagoguery; there’s right-wing populists, centrist populists, libertarian populists and unpopular populists. As we covered earlier this week, it’s an etymological mess...more
Pop Quiz: Which was the most polarized time in American history? The Civil War? Prohibition? The Civil Rights Movement? Nope, no, and nyet. Well, if you gauge by the House and Senate, that is. Political Science professor Sean Theriault tells us that, though the American public has been extremely divided at times over the course of the nation’s history, today’s Congress is more polarized than any before it. Despite the fact that the public is much less so. Theriault teaches and conducts his resea...more
There’s a quiet movement afoot in Washington; one you won’t hear about on cable news or flashy political blogs. It is the 21st century iteration of a classic American ideal: radical transparency in government. The modern pursuers of this goal include non-profits and business titans, hobbyists and hackers. They have formed a kind of nerd-corps of cyber-civics - designers, computer programmers, hackers and political activists - all working to build technology that makes government more accessible ...more
"Can you spell logorrhea?" That's what DecodeDC asked Members of Congress and their constituents -- specifically those whiz-kid spellers who are in the nation's capital for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Turns out, the answer is N-O; just about every US Representative we spoke with had no idea what logorrhea means (excessive wordiness), and not a single one spelled it correctly. Most admitted to relying heavily on spell check and their smartphone to pick the right word at the right ti...more
DecodeDC podcast episode #35: Bright, Young Conservatives; But Who to Look Up To?
The future of Congress has been on our minds. Recently, we considered how advances in technology and data analysis can and will change the way legislators do their work. There are places that are pushing the envelope in this arena. In Brazil official state hackers are building apps, games and data visualizations to help Brazilians – and the members of Parliament – understand the legislative process. In Finland, they are trying legal reform through crowdsourcing – literally turning the legislati...more
We have always been innovators. It is in our nature as Americans. Heck, democracy itself was born here, as part of what the 19th century French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville called the Great American Experiment. But with the average age in Congress at around 60, plus a legislative process that has come to a grinding halt in the past several years, could the United States be losing its experimental edge? Sure, it may feel like our civic lives are advancing with the Internet age, what with the...more
This is it, folks — DecodeDC is relaunching next week! Keep an eye out for our new logo, and enjoy multimedia content on our daily blog, which will be posted on all Scripps websites. Thanks for sticking with us as we’ve been preparing for the all new DecodeDC and reposting some of our favorite podcasts. For the final repost, we’re going back to the very beginning of DecodeDC to Episode 1: House of (Mis) Representatives. This very first podcast focuses on a feeling many people get when dealing wi...more
As we prepare for the relaunch of DecodeDC, we are continuing to repost some of our past episodes. This week we re-present our conversation with former congressmen Jim Kolbe, a Republican from Arizona who served in the House for decades. Similar to many of his Republican colleagues, Kolbe is a strong fiscal conservative. But what makes Kolbe such a fascinating political character is what makes him very different from many members of the GOP. He’s pro-choice, and he’s openly gay. Kolbe describes ...more
Last week we re-posted an episode featuring former Congressman Lee Hamilton reading his essay on how politics has changed. As promised, we’re now reposting our follow-up conversation with Hamilton from July of 2013 about the biggest problem he sees in politics today: Money. “While there’s a lot of rhetoric given to the ordinary voter — government of the people, by the people, for the people — the fact of the matter is, a politician spends most of his or her time courting money. And the people wh...more
It’s a question that never seems to go away or have a clear-cut answer: What’s wrong with Washington? For an answer – or some answers – we’re turning to former Rep. Lee Hamilton this week. We’re reposting a June 2013 podcast with Hamilton, who, with a resume that includes decades representing Indiana’s 9th District and vice-chair of the 9/11 Commission, knows a thing or two about Washington. In this episode, Hamilton reads his essay “How Politics Has Changed.” He argues that in the current polit...more
Sometimes the journey is as interesting as the destination. That’s what our colleague at Scripps News, investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt, discovered as he pursued what he thought was a straightforward news story. Greenblatt got a tip: NASA was spending a boatload of money on first-class and business-class airfares. That set Greenblatt off on a quest worthy of Camelot, through mazes of bureaucracy, mountains of Freedom of Information requests and dungeons of unreturned phone calls. We thoug...more
The Obama administration called for an end Thursday to the National Security Agency's bulk collection of data about phone calls made within the United States. The proposal, which would have to be approved by Congress, stems from the uproar following NSA contractor Edward Snowden's disclosure of details about the federal government's intelligence gathering. Disclosures by Snowden and others, such as Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, raise the question of which is worse: breaking the law to leak...more
It’s that time of year again, where flowers are budding, the grass is growing greener, people are shedding their winter layers, and taxes are due—sorry for the reminder. Have you ever wondered why there’s so much burdensome paperwork associated with taxes? In fact, Americans spend more than two billion collective hours filling out income tax forms. To provide some clarity, we’ve gone back to the DecodeDC archives to re-present our episode on The Paperwork Reduction Act. This episode from August ...more
He was an influential figure in one of the biggest social changes the country has seen in decades --x the growing acceptance of gay Americans. But, you've probably never heard of him. So we've gone back to the DecodeDC archives to bring you this encore podcast from June of 2013, featuring Rich Tafel. Tafel opened the first office in Washington for the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest organization representing gay conservatives. Tafel provides stunning behind-the-scenes insight of an e...more
Just a few years ago, it was a big deal when the president unveiled his spending proposal, but “budget day” this week was kind of a snore. That may be because President Barack Obama’s $3.9 trillion proposal for fiscal year 2015, which begins Oct. 1, isn’t likely to have much impact. Why? Lawmakers last December passed a two-year spending plan. Still, the annual ritual does highlight the president’s vision for the coming year – and for the coming election. It's already providing fodder for Democr...more
Some politicians have it, and some don't. That's what award-winning actress Kathleen Turner says it comes down to: There are politicians with an effective stage presence, and there are those without one. Coaching might help some of them, she says. Others, well, the camera just doesn't love them. Last week, DecodeDC asked you to participate in the Academy of Political Performances and pick the best of eight video clips. And the winner is: Sen. Ted Cruz reading "Green Eggs and Ham" on the Senate ...more
Politicians have been performing since history has been recorded – and some performances have stood the test of time for their eloquence, their intelligence and their ability to comfort a nation. And others, well, not so much. We have nominated eight video clips, and we are inviting you, members of the American Citizens Academy, to watch and vote for the one you think is best. You don’t get to vote for the winner of our Lifetime Achievement Award, Vice President Joe Biden. But you do get to watc...more
Five years ago. It was the early days of the Obama presidency. And it was a panicky moment in what came to be called the Great Recession. Congress already had bailed out Wall Street’s most troubled companies with a program called TARP – the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Now Congress was desperately trying to find a way to pump some blood into a very sick economy. The markets, the experts, the country wanted action. In the House of Representatives, the man in the middle of coming up with stimu...more
Something happened. We lost two years. It’s already 2016, and the presidential election is here – as in right now. That must be the case. There’s a new poll out almost every day. One poll after another declares Hillary Clinton is in the lead for the Democratic nomination. Another only a few days ago declared Rep. Paul Ryan has a lock on the Republican nomination. But wait. Check your calendar. No matter how much buzz there is in the news media about the 2016 presidential polls, it’s actually 201...more
If you’ve ever watched or heard a State of the Union address, you might think the event starts like this: “Mr. Speaker! The President of the United States!” But, as is true with so many things in Washington, there’s more to the story. A lot more. The State of the Union address – SOTU as it’s known in Washington – is a mass media event that takes hours, no, make that days, no, make that months, of preparation. The SOTU is highly orchestrated by the White House, by members of Congress, by the new...more
If you've been tuning into the nightly news, you've heard the wrangling over unemployment benefits. It's not really about whether to extend them. It's about how to do it.
Which is worse: breaking the law to leak classified secrets? Or keeping quiet about what could be a violation of Americans' constitutional rights? Andrea Seabrook talks to an expert who believes that these modern times call for a Morality 2.0.
The government shutdown may be over, but has anything really changed? Andrea talks to Patti Daniels of Vermont Public Radio about the problems that caused the shutdown and which still plague Washington. Special thanks to Vermont Public Radio (www.vpr.net) for this episode.
Budget battles. Sequestration. And now, shut down. The political mess in Washington has consequences far from Capitol Hill. Andrea talks to a Chief Federal Judge, Loretta A. Preska, about our system of Justice, teetering on the brink of dysfunction. Read Chief Judge Preska's letter to Congress here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/160532510/Funding-Letter
When the news becomes obsessed with a new story every week, do you ever wonder what's being pushed OUT of the headlines? Andrea Seabrook talks to a media critic and a historian about how news outlets choose the most important story, and why they often get it wrong.
War-drums and peace-cries can drown out more considered implications of US intervention in Syria. We talk about the haunting ghosts of recent wars, plus get a much longer view -- one that advocates the return of mandatory service.
Andrea talks to tech CEO and former Presidential Innovation Fellow Clay Johnson about the Paperwork Reduction Act, OIRA, and unintended consequences.
In an excerpt from DecodeDC's first live episode, Andrea interviews reporter Todd Zwillich on the pressures of covering Congress and doing it well.
Andrea talks more intimately with longtime Congressman and current statesman, Lee Hamilton, about the biggest problem he sees in today's politics: money.
Andrea Seabrook introduces America's best pUNdit -- a man you'll rarely hear from on the daily news, but who knows more than almost anyone about what's wrong with Washington.
Rich Tafel was deeply involved in one of the most sweeping changes of recent decades -- the social acceptance of Gay Americans. What's more, he's a Republican.
DecodeDC collects the stories of those most often left out of the immigration debate: actual immigrants.
In the first of a two-part series on immigration, DecodeDC looks at how humor can get closer to a problem than political talking points ever could. Special thanks this week to Radio Ambulante, a Spanish-language radio program telling uniquely Latin American stories. (Check them out! http://radioambulante.org/)
Let's start from the beginning. To understand what underlies every argument in Washington these days, you have to know the basics of the federal budget. Problem is, most of us don't.
Jim Kolbe, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from 1985-2003, is a political outlier. He is pro-choice, he supports same-sex marriage, and he's against any kind of institutional discrimination. Even more interesting? You probably haven't heard of him.
The Budget, sequestration, and how it all began.
Big and long-term plans SOUND great in politics, but do they really work?
Andrea speaks with Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf about the Net's origins and future.
In January, 2012, America's digerati pulled off the broadest, most powerful political protest ever orchestrated on the Internet. One year later we ask, what happened? And what next?
What We're NOT Covering and Why. DecodeDC explores the interplay of politics and the media, and how press coverage can feed into the negative, partisan bickering in Washington. Case in point: The Fiscal Cliff.
DDC4: The DecodeDC Voter Guide by The Scripps Washington Bureau
A final thought about my fellowship with SoundCloud -- plus big hugs and kisses to my fellow fellows!
Sarah Palin's turkey-slaughter and Kenny G is mistaken for Bill Clinton. Andrea Seabrook and Roman Mars explain the 7-1/2 secrets of political staging. This is a joint episode between DecodeDC and 99% Invisible. Double the fun!
Ever wonder about the neuroscience behind party politics?
Ever have that sinking feeling that your voice isn’t heard in Washington? It could be because it isn’t.
A short introduction to my project!
Intro to DecodeDC Episode1 -- The House of (mis)Representatives.
Washington is broken. You are not. DecodeDC is for smart, engaged, and busy people like you. Through the podcast and blog, DecodeDC will decipher Washington's Byzantine language and procedure, sweeping away what doesn't matter so you can focus on what does.