Repost Episode 16: Belly of the Beast

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 who give the money want something in return. That may not be corrupt, it’s certainly not illegal —but it does put disproportionate influence on the money side,” he says.

Hamilton cautions against the assumption that the American system has worked for more than 200 years, so it will continue to do so. 

And another reminder that we’re getting ready to relaunch in DecodeDC in the coming weeks. We’re almost ready with a new logo, a multimedia blog, and even more content.

Repost Episode 15: What's Wrong?

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 political climate, it’s much harder to do the basic work of politics, which, according to Hamilton, is finding common ground. You can read the full essay here. Next week, we’ll repost our conversation with Hamilton about the biggest problem he sees in politics today: money.

On another front, stay tuned for the relaunch of DecodeDC in just a few weeks. We’re almost ready with a new logo, a multimedia blog, and a lot more content.

Episode 32: Inside the Investigation

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 thought the story of the story said a lot about the government – and about trying to report on the government. So we debriefed him for this week’s podcast.

Semi-spoiler alert: Yes, NASA does spend millions on so-called “premium travel.” But there also is a deeper story about how the government as a whole does not know how much is spent on something as simple as premium travel, despite being ordered to keep track of it. And that raises the question: How does the government keep track of the really complicated stuff?

In case you missed them, here are the stories Greenblatt produced:

NASA spends millions to fly first and business class with little oversight

Some federal employees are flying high on taxpayers’ dime

And now another reminder: The launch of our new, multi-media DecodeDC blog is only a few weeks off. Sit tight. And tune in.

Repost Episode 23: Morality 2.0

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 classified secrets, or keeping quiet about what could be a violation of Americans' constitutional rights?

We've gone back to the DecodeDC archives to re-present Episode 23: Morality 2.0, which tackles this issue, and what we should do about it. Featured is Northwestern Professor Peter Ludlow, who explains a generational rift, and where the country should go from here.

A reminder: We are getting ready to relaunch DecodeDC in the next few weeks. In addition to the podcasts, which will be weekly, we are planning a daily, multimedia DecodeDC blog for all Scripps properties -- and for a national audience. Until then, we'll be reposting some of our favorite and smartest podcasts.

Repost Episode 18: The Paperwork Reduction Act

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 2013 features Clay Johnson, a tech CEO and former Presidential Innovation Fellow. He explains how the implications of the PRA go beyond tax time, playing a fundamental role in how we interact with government. So if you feel like the government isn’t listening to you, Johnson says you have to take a look at the PRA.

Another reminder: We are getting ready to relaunch DecodeDC. In addition to the podcasts, which will be weekly, we are building a daily, multimedia DecodeDC blog for all Scripps properties—and for a national audience. So over the coming weeks, we’ll be reposting some of our favorite and smartest podcasts while we build the team and our new online space.