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DecodeDC

Updated 2 months ago

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A reliable, honest and entertaining podcast about Washington D.C’s people, culture and politics.

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A reliable, honest and entertaining podcast about Washington D.C’s people, culture and politics.

iTunes Ratings

1225 Ratings
Average Ratings
668
512
17
8
20

Nonpartisan, not afraid to tell it as it is

By BrianDomanski - Jan 17 2018
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Just listen. It’s a rare thing today when you can find people talking about policy without getting all the commentary and bias. It’s broken down here and they show you what is behind each sides argument without telling you which side is right. Politics and policy without the talking (screaming) opinionated heads.

Over?

By Ebuni - Jan 07 2018
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I was so heartbroken to hear that you had your final episode. It was a great source for an unbiased look into the way the government and DC works. You will be truly missed. I wish Jimmy, and everyone involved with the show, the best.

iTunes Ratings

1225 Ratings
Average Ratings
668
512
17
8
20

Nonpartisan, not afraid to tell it as it is

By BrianDomanski - Jan 17 2018
Read more
Just listen. It’s a rare thing today when you can find people talking about policy without getting all the commentary and bias. It’s broken down here and they show you what is behind each sides argument without telling you which side is right. Politics and policy without the talking (screaming) opinionated heads.

Over?

By Ebuni - Jan 07 2018
Read more
I was so heartbroken to hear that you had your final episode. It was a great source for an unbiased look into the way the government and DC works. You will be truly missed. I wish Jimmy, and everyone involved with the show, the best.
Cover image of DecodeDC

DecodeDC

Latest release on Dec 28, 2017

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A reliable, honest and entertaining podcast about Washington D.C’s people, culture and politics.

Rank #1: 129: Superdelegates, WTF

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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 where the power to select the nominee for president has swung back and forth and sort of back again.
The idea behind the superdelegates is that "they would provide a balancing force in case the voters went off the rails in Democratic primaries and chose somebody the party establishment didn’t like,” Shrum says.
On the latest DecodeDC podcast, host Jimmy Williams talks to Shrum about the secret world of super delegates and their potential to cause a train wreck in the Democratic Party.

Mar 03 2016

20mins

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Rank #2: 80: U.S., Russia and Ukraine: A web of complexity

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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 passed unanimously. Four days later President Barack Obama signed it into law, authorizing $350 million in lethal and nonlethal military assistance to Ukraine. But while the bill allowed the United States to send weapons to Ukraine, it didn’t force the administration to send them – and it hasn’t. Ukraine is still waiting.
The U.S.-Russian relationship is complicated – real complicated. On the one hand, there are disagreements and clashes between the two countries over Ukraine’s sovereignty. On the other hand, they need to work together on things such as a nuclear deal with Iran. And that may mean that even though Congress has overcome its usual gridlock on this one issue, the former member of the Soviet bloc may never get its weapons.
On this week’s podcast, guest host Todd Zwillich decodes the web of foreign policy issues around sending – or not sending – weapons to Ukraine. It’s a story that reaches from Washington to Moscow to Berlin to Tehran.
Want to keep up with all the latest DecodeDC stories and podcasts? Sign up for our weekly newsletter at decodedc.com/newsletter.

Mar 19 2015

23mins

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Rank #3: 161: Hillbilly Elegy explained — The forgotten Americans

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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 the state of American politics.

Sep 22 2016

30mins

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Rank #4: 164: Trump Foundation 101 -- Funny Money

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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.

Oct 13 2016

32mins

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Rank #5: 72: The politics of love

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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 we could just end this date right now,” said Jessica Morales Rocketto.
It may sound a little dramatic—refusing to date someone based on political ideology. But on this week’s podcast, host Andrea Seabrook and producer Rachel Quester explore the wonky world of how much politics actually affect our romantic relationships.
For liberals and conservatives, compatibility on political ideology is more important when picking a spouse than personality or physical characteristics. That’s according to John Alford, a political science professor at Rice University.
Alford says that our biology predisposes us toward one ideology or the other—that the brains of liberals and conservatives are just wired differently. And that, he says, is why it’s really difficult to marry across the aisle.
“One of the nicest views about the United States is this idea of the United States as a melting pot where over generations, differences disappear…. because we’re mating disproportionately with people of like-political views, there is no melting pot,” Alford said.
Now for those who haven’t already picked their mate, there is hope for the politically minded single.
Two dating sites, Red State Date and Blue State Date, match people based on compatible political ideologies. Alex Fondrier, the founder of both sites, said the purpose of the dating service is to help people passionate about politics find others who share that same passion.
Listen to this week’s podcast for political dating advice, and why you should start every date with this question: What’s the first word that comes to mind when someone says Hillary Clinton?
Want to keep up with all the latest DecodeDC stories and podcasts? Sign up for our weekly newsletter at decodedc.com/newsletter.

Feb 12 2015

24mins

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Rank #6: 69: Obama's Legacy on Race

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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 as the first African-American president will be the defining aspect of his legacy.
Yet they didn’t always agree on how race would affect the way we will remember Obama. Some pointed to the effect his race had on the opposition. These historians said what contemporary pundits won’t: that the rise of the Tea Party had something to do with Obama’s race.
“Seeing a black family in the White House reminds us that this isn’t a white nation,” wrote historian Annette Gordon Reed.
That simple fact, said the historians Haskell interviewed, riled up the opposition in a way that we wouldn’t have seen if he hadn’t been black.
In fact, when Haskell asked historians what they thought the most enduring image of Obama’s presidency would be, one recalled the moment during the 2009 State of the Union address when Republican Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie!”
As for Obama’s biggest disappointment, Haskell said he mentioned it himself in Tuesday’s speech. He came into the office with a desire to unify, but even he admits he’s fallen short.
Obama said he still believes we can overcome partisanship and gridlock -- but the historians overwhelmingly told Haskell he probably can’t -- and they don’t fault him for it.
They don’t believe Washington can be a more civil, less polarized place. In the words of historian Paul Kahn, the Obama presidency will be remembered as “...the moment at which gridlock became institutionalized.”
Want to keep up with all the latest DecodeDC stories and podcasts? Sign up for our weekly newsletter at decodedc.com/newsletter

Jan 22 2015

14mins

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Rank #7: 162: Politicians really suck at immigration

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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.

Sep 29 2016

34mins

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Rank #8: 158: The biases that keep Native Americans from the polls

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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 investigation into voting rights for Native Americans, we go to South Dakota, where access to the ballot box is crucial for solving issues of poverty and suicides on reservations. We take you to the second oldest powwow in the nation, where deep racial and cultural tensions between Native Americans and non-natives create a different type of barrier to voting.
This report is part of a project on voting rights in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. Make sure to check out News21’s full story here.

Sep 01 2016

31mins

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Rank #9: 93: LBJ and the racial divide, 50 years later

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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 think anyone could give that speech today, and with few exceptions, not recognize that it was something that was related to a 50-year-old occasion,” said Judith Winston, a Howard student at the time who was there. “It’s a speech that in many sad ways has the same resonance today that it had 50 years ago.”
Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a voting rights bill that was on its way to getting passed, Johnson told the crowd of mostly African-Americans gathered in the quadrangle that those laws were not enough.
“You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want and do as you desire, and choose your leaders please,” he said. It was time for the next and the “more profound stage of the battle for civil rights…”
The speech is known as the intellectual framework for affirmative action. Johnson spoke of a widening gulf between blacks and whites in unemployment, infant mortality and economic opportunity. “It is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates,” he said.
“It was good to hear him speak of those things and to realize that he really understood, and not only understood but really wanted to do something about it,” said Pricilla Harris Wallace, graduate of Howard’s School of Social Work. Half a century later, Wallace says she is still waiting for things to change, “We’ve made progress along the way, but when you look at things and where we should be as far as race is concerned, economics and other things of that nature, I feel that we’ve gone backwards.”

Jun 18 2015

19mins

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Rank #10: 94: The $140 Billion Investment No One Is Tracking

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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.

Jun 25 2015

24mins

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Rank #11: 77: Inside House of Cards 5

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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 of podcasts, “Inside House of Cards,” Willimon tells us that working on the series and working on a campaign are not that different.
“You have a big team of people who are all trying to accomplish the same goal. In the case of the campaign, it’s to get someone elected on a certain date. On a TV show, its to have 13 hours of content produced and ready to be delivered by a certain date and then on that date you see what the world thinks.”
Frank Underwood, a ruthless and conniving congressman maneuvers his way to the Oval office through all means necessary – regardless of the legality or the body count. But Willimon says it’s not a show about politics.
“What the show is really about is power,” he says. “It’s about how we navigate power not just in D.C. but with our spouses, our lovers, our friends, our colleagues … and that’s what makes it universal.”
In this final installment of “Inside House of Cards," go inside the show with the man who invented Frank, Claire, Zoe, Remy and the world they occupy.

Feb 27 2015

28mins

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Rank #12: Episode 33: Future Congress

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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 massive proliferation of ways you can contact your representatives in Washington -- email, Twitter, Facebook, and so on. The problem is, the people on the receiving end of those messages -- Congress -- hasn’t really put in place ways to deal with the modern onslaught of messages.
In fact, unless you take great pains to be clear that you live in the district of the lawmaker you’re contacting, the truth is, by and large, members of Congress ignore your messages.
By contrast, consider Finland. There, lawmakers are experimenting with a bold new way of reforming a law: crowdsourcing -- meaning turning the legislative process over to the people.
Or consider Brazil, where there is now an experimental computer lab smack in the middle of the Parliament’s committee rooms. There, official staff hackers throw together apps and games and data visualizations to help Brazilians -- and the members of Parliament -- understand the legislative process.
Today on the DecodeDC weekly podcast, we explore these forward-looking examples of legislative innovation, and ask the question of our own lawmakers here in Washington, DC: What’s the future of Congress?

May 08 2014

22mins

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Rank #13: 169: What can President Trump do Day 1?

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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 he'll need help with.

Nov 17 2016

36mins

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Rank #14: 96: Revisiting Populism's Popularity

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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.

Jul 09 2015

17mins

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Rank #15: Andrea Seabrook is a 2012 SoundCloud Fellow

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A short introduction to my project!

Aug 23 2012

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Rank #16: 203: What you should know about Trump's voter fraud commission

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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?

Jul 19 2017

30mins

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Rank #17: 73: Inside House of Cards 1

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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 dealing going on all around us – with a large dose of dramatic license.
Where exactly is that line between truth, fiction and Washington politics? That’s the question we try to answer with a special series of podcasts – that’s right, it is “House of Cards” week on DecodeDC. Whether you are a series fan or just want to get the inside scoop on the dirtiest deeds of politicians, journalists and the political operatives that occupy Washington, you will definitely want to listen.
Spoiler alert – we’re going to talk about things that happened in seasons one and two.
In case you missed the first two seasons – here are the essentials.
Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, has wheedled and schemed 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. Along the way there’s murder, blackmail, a risque assortment of sexual forays, a crazy trade deal with China, a lot of seduction and deception. Those on the Underwoods’ side are rewarded, those obstructing their path are mowed down. Where do these people come up with these plots? We go to the sources for the answer.
In episode one of “Inside House of Cards,” we take you into the writers room. Staff writer Bill Kennedy explains the narrative and the relationships and the key scenes that define seasons one and two.
Journalism takes a shellacking in the series and in our second episode, we speak with Matt Bai, formally a political reporter at The New York Times Magazine. Bai plays a political reporter for The New York Times in season two and says the series gets at some essential truths about Washington and journalism.
In episode three, we enter the world of Capitol-Hill-staffer-turned-lobbyist. Jimmy Williams has led the real life of one of the fictional characters in the series, Remy Danton. Williams says the life of a lobbyist is about one thing, raising money for members of Congress.
House of Cards has a lot of nasty people, but some of the nastiest are female reporters. In episode four, we talk to two real-life women journalists who cover Washington -- Pam Kirkland of the Washington Post, the paper fictionalized in "House of Cards", and Carrie Wells of the Baltimore Sun, stand-in and real life set for the imagined "Washington Herald."
In our fifth and final episode, we speak with Beau Willimon, the man behind the series. Willimon adapted the British version of “House of Cards” for the American audience and runs the show. A former campaign staffer, Willimon knows how the system works from the inside out, and as playwright he knows how to do drama.
Download the DecodeDC's "Inside House of Cards" special series starting today and all next week – or, you can just binge listen to them all before the 27th!

Feb 19 2015

33mins

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Rank #18: 74: Inside House of Cards 2

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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 Cards” is much darker than what really happens in Washington, D.C., he says there still is a lot that rings true. Frank Underwood and other characters are more transactional than real politicians, Bai says, but the series represents some essential truths about how the public sees Washington politics.
“Sadly the thing that ‘House of Cards’ gets at is that everybody is about themselves, everybody is trying to game the system to their own advantage” Bai says. “There’s virtually no one for whom the end game is the actual enactment of policy.”

Feb 23 2015

25mins

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Rank #19: Episode 38: Why hardball tactics have led to the most polarized Congress ever

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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 research at the University of Texas at Austin, and says that unlike in the past, the current polarization in the House and Senate has little to do with big societal issues, or sea-changes in American culture. The fighting is about something much smaller, more arcane, and frankly, boring: congressional procedure.
The fight, says Theriault, has become “not about the issues but about the war.”
This week on DecodeDC’s podcast, Theriault explains why procedure, and not big issues, are dividing Congress. It’s because of the permanent campaign, he says, bringing hard-ball politics into an institution that used to rely on a basic level of compromise to conduct the day-in, day-out operations of the House and Senate. This is the biggest driver, he says, of the years of gridlock Americans have seen in Washington.
If that makes you angry, says Theriault, don’t blame Congress. Why? Because we elected them.
Earlier this week, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor’s historic primary election loss -- the first and only time in America’s history a top GOP leader has lost his primary to a challenger -- provided a perfect example of how divisive hard-ball politics have become. In recent years Cantor had been a major player in those tactics.
Unfortunately for him, another Republican in his district picked them up too -- and used them against him.
Amarra Ghanni contributed to this post.

Jun 12 2014

24mins

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Rank #20: 178: Hey Tea Party, meet your lefty cousins

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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.

Jan 26 2017

31mins

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225: Where's the line between religious freedom and civil rights?

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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 huge cultural shift later, the law was found to be only applicable at the federal level, and the coalition could not find a way to balance religious freedom with the civil rights of LGBT persons and women. That rift continues today as we continue to ask what does it mean to be free to exercise one’s religion? We hear from the people who were in that room in 1993 – and now are living with the consequences of their efforts.

Dec 28 2017

27mins

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224: The 2017 Lie of the Year

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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.

Dec 21 2017

26mins

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223: This is what happens when Congress polices itself

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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.

Dec 14 2017

29mins

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222: The Changing Race of Immigration in America

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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.

Dec 07 2017

34mins

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221: What happens when the DOJ defies the courts?

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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?”

Nov 30 2017

22mins

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Revisiting how tax reform really works

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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.

Nov 21 2017

20mins

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220: A Republican has some advice for the GOP

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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. 

Nov 16 2017

20mins

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219: Fact checking the link between mental illness and mass shootings

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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't exist.

Nov 09 2017

23mins

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218: Don’t touch my tax loophole!

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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. 

Nov 02 2017

29mins

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217: When politicians scream "bailout," what do they really mean?

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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.

Oct 30 2017

25mins

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216: A coal community divided

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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.

Oct 19 2017

28mins

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215: No one knows how big the opioid epidemic really is

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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.

Oct 12 2017

20mins

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214: Why can’t Congress get anything done on guns?

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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.

Oct 05 2017

30mins

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213: Got milk subsidies?

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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.

Sep 28 2017

25mins

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212: What if the government gave everyone free money?

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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.

Sep 21 2017

24mins

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211: The problem with FEMA's flood maps

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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 moved off the map, even if you are in the eye of a storm. Host Jimmy Williams talks to two experts on why these maps don’t tell the true story of where floods are happening now and in the future.

Sep 14 2017

30mins

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Bonus: Jeff Sessions spins the facts on DACA

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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.

Sep 08 2017

14mins

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210: Why Washington isn’t ready for the next hurricane

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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.

Sep 07 2017

29mins

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209: The Texas town with no drinking water

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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, under-funded systems in rural areas, smaller communities and neglected older urban areas – who are disproportionately lower income, African-American and Latino – are most at risk.


Today we're going to Sand Branch, Texas, where 100 residents haven't had access to clean water for decades. What's it like to not have access to clean drinking water, and just how far do residents have to go to get it? Jimmy speaks with Brandon Kitchin, a reporter with News21's Troubled Waters investigative team, about their deep dive into clean water access across the country.

Aug 31 2017

22mins

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208: The military's toxic water problem

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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-going toxic water problem.

Aug 24 2017

28mins

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iTunes Ratings

1225 Ratings
Average Ratings
668
512
17
8
20

Nonpartisan, not afraid to tell it as it is

By BrianDomanski - Jan 17 2018
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Just listen. It’s a rare thing today when you can find people talking about policy without getting all the commentary and bias. It’s broken down here and they show you what is behind each sides argument without telling you which side is right. Politics and policy without the talking (screaming) opinionated heads.

Over?

By Ebuni - Jan 07 2018
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I was so heartbroken to hear that you had your final episode. It was a great source for an unbiased look into the way the government and DC works. You will be truly missed. I wish Jimmy, and everyone involved with the show, the best.