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Civics 101

Civics 101

Why does the U.S. have an Electoral College? How do congressional investigations work? What does the minority whip actually do? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on some basics you may have forgotten, or slept through, in school.

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Episode 41: Obstruction of Justice

Civics 101

“Obstruction of Justice” has been a term swirling around in the headlines lately, but what does the charge actually mean? And how do you prove it?

13 Min

Jul 21, 2017

Episode 40: Church and State

Civics 101

Today's civics lesson looks into the separation of church and state.

16 Min

Jul 18, 2017

Episode 39: Lobbying

Civics 101

Where we discover what a lobbyist actually does all day - besides hand over checks.

14 Min

Jul 14, 2017

Episode
Podcast
Time
Released
13 min
Jul 11, 2017
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A primer on what happens if a president dies, resigns, or is no longer able to carry out his duties.

11 min
Jul 7, 2017
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A brief primer on different forms of government.

12 min
Jun 28, 2017
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Presidential job approval. It seems we get a weekly report from news organizations on how citizen’s think the President is doing, so we're digging into how it gets calculated and how much that number really matters with Dan Cassino, Associate Professor...

14 min
Jun 21, 2017
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With more than 500 members of Congress, parties have to coordinate members and keep them on the same page. Enter: party whips. But what do they actually do? Several of you asked us to find out. We asked Larry Evans, the Newton Family Professor of Gover...

13 min
Jun 14, 2017
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In this episode we untangle two terms that are closely related, but not the same: Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances. The framers envisioned a government structure that would consist of three separate branches, each with their own power, in o...

13 min
Jun 7, 2017
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War, what is it good for? For a country that’s spent a significant amount of its history engaged in conflict, the United States has only officially declared war 11 times – most recently in WWII. So what about all the other conflicts we’ve entered into ...

14 min
Jun 1, 2017
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We've received a LOT of questions about how the budget process works and honestly, we had a lot of our own! It should come as no surprise that the budget process of the United States government is complex and difficult to explain in less than 15 minute...

15 min
May 24, 2017
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Even if you slept through most of your Government classes in High School, there's a good chance you have a vague recollection of how a bill becomes a law thanks to Schoolhouse Rock! The series designed to teach kids about grammar, science, math, civics...

14 min
May 17, 2017
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The National Debt and The Deficit: two terms that are often used interchangeably, but take on different meanings when it comes to the government. Louise Sheiner is a Policy Director for The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings...

11 min
May 10, 2017
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We do our best to answer your questions about how American democracy works, but many of you have also told us you like to get the insider's view from people who work, or have worked in government. We asked Sarada Peri, former senior presidential speech...

13 min
May 5, 2017
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We've received multiple questions about Congressional Caucuses, what are they, how are they formed, and what is their purpose? We asked Colleen Shogun, Deputy Director of Outreach at the Library of Congress to help us understand the approximately 800 C...

14 min
Apr 26, 2017
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The Supreme Court of the United States hear about 80 cases each year, but how do lower court cases make their way to the highest court in the land, and how do they decide which ones to hear? We asked Behzad Mirhashem, Assistant Professor of Law at Univ...

14 min
Apr 21, 2017
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Kristen in California asked: "How exactly does the cabinet work? How much control do the secretaries have? And are they loyal to the president or the department." We asked Dean Spiliotes, Civics Scholar at Southern New Hampshire University to help guid...

15 min
Apr 18, 2017
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Why are there no term limits on Congress, how long has it been that way, and what would it take to actually change how long someone can serve? In this episode we look into the long history of term limits for government officials from the President to t...

15 min
Apr 14, 2017
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When Congress imposed the first personal income tax on Americans in 1861, nothing happened – because there was no agency to collect it! The following year saw the creation of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, or as you know it today, the Internal Revenue...

11 min
Apr 11, 2017
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One of our listeners sent in a question asking about “the ethics clause”, which forbids presidents from receiving foreign gifts. As it turns out, there isn’t something in the constitution with exactly that title – but there is something called the “Emo...

16 min
Apr 7, 2017
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The Army-McCarthy hearings, Watergate, the Iran-Contra affair, the Select Committee on Benghazi, the Russian hacking probe. Congressional investigations are a staple of American politics, but how do they work? When is it Congress' job to investigate a...

12 min
Apr 4, 2017
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When Republicans first submitted their alternative to the Affordable Care Act, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle anxiously awaited the release of the Congressional Budget Office's analysis—or "score"—for the bill. Determining the long and short-te...

19 min
Mar 31, 2017
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We've received a lot of questions about The Electoral College from listeners, from how it works, to why it was set up, and whether or not it can it be changed or removed. So we asked Ron Elving from NPR to explain the basics of The Electoral College, f...

15 min
Mar 28, 2017
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When Senator Mitch McConnell barred Senator Elizabeth Warren from speaking during the debate over Jeff Session’s nomination for Attorney General, he invoked Rule XIX. It's safe to say many people suddenly realized how little they knew about the rules o...

15 min
Mar 24, 2017
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If managing your personal appointment calendar is a struggle, imagine what it must be like for the President of the United States? From daily meetings, to promoting policies in speeches across the country, to elaborate trips abroad, the Office of Sched...

15 min
Mar 21, 2017
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The presidential veto is one of the cornerstones of the system of constitutional checks and balances the framers used to prevent the misuse or abuse of power within any branch of government. How has the veto been used historically and more recently? I...

14 min
Mar 17, 2017
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Over the years, gerrymandering has become synonymous with weirdly-shaped maps of electoral districts, nefarious political maneuvering, and partisanship. But when did gerrymandering become the norm? Is it always used for political gain? And is there any...

17 min
Mar 14, 2017
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They are two of the most powerful positions in a president’s cabinet: the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. One has been around since the American Revolution, the other is relatively new. So what exactly do these two departments and thei...

15 min
Mar 10, 2017
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George Washington received five letters a day, Theodore Roosevelt received so many letters it became a fire hazard at the White House, and Ronald Reagan loved reading mail from the country’s youngest citizens. In today’s super connected world, who’s in...

15 min
Mar 6, 2017
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From Jimmy Stewart's unyielding speech in "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" to today's threats of using the nuclear option for approving Supreme Court nominees, the term "filibuster" gets thrown around a lot, but what is it? What are the rules governing t...

12 min
Mar 2, 2017
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What exactly does it mean when we say a president “has the nuclear codes”? Is it really as simple as pressing a button? And what happens after a president does order a nuclear strike? Retired Marine lieutenant colonel James W. Weirick explains. #civi...

13 min
Mar 1, 2017
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The State of the Union address is a longstanding tradition that involves bizarre, unexplained protocol and more applause than a high school graduation. It’s also mandated by the constitution. In this episode, we learn how the SOTU has changed since Geo...

13 min
Feb 24, 2017
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A number of listeners have asked about a consequential government procedure: How is a president impeached? And why is it that the presidents that have been impeached haven’t been removed from office? Our guide today is Julia Azari, Associate Professor ...

13 min
Feb 21, 2017
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We're staying on the federal court system beat with a deeper look into the Supreme Court. The word "supreme" is defined as: “an authority or office superior to all others.” So when the Supreme Court decides on a case, it’s final, right? Not exactly. I...

13 min
Feb 16, 2017
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When a trio of judges on a federal appeals court in Washington state upheld a freeze on president Trump's Executive Order on immigration, some people celebrated, the administration protested - and at least a few people said: “Wait a minute... How *do* ...

16 min
Feb 13, 2017
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You may have heard of executive orders… but how about executive memoranda? Today, we talk about the different tools of executive action that the President uses to direct his administration, and enforce public policy. Are they laws? Can they be revoked...

15 min
Feb 9, 2017
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What's the purpose of the National Security Council? When was it created? Who serves on it? And why is Steve Bannon's appointment to its principals committee such a big deal? Former NSC member Stephen Sestanovich helps answer those questions. Submit yo...

17 min
Feb 7, 2017
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We're often urged to call our elected representatives to voice opinions on the issues, but what happens after that call is made? Where does the message go? And do those calls ever sway decisions? In this episode of Civics 101, we go into a congressio...

13 min
Feb 2, 2017
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It’s been 25 years since the last constitutional amendment was ratified. How hard is it to change our most sacred document? We discover that there are not one, but two ways to amend the constitution – and one of them has never been used. Walter Olson,...

10 min
Jan 31, 2017
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You've probably heard the term "comment period", but do you know what it means? What exactly happens when a government agency opens a proposed rule to public comment? And do these comments ever sway decision making? Today, a look into the notice and c...

14 min
Jan 25, 2017
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What's it really like for a journalist stationed at the White House? We go inside the press briefing room with NPR's Senior White House Correspondent, Scott Horsley. Civics 101 is a production of NHPR www.nhpr.org #civics101pod

13 min
Jan 19, 2017
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We're all familiar with the title, but what does a White House Chief of Staff actually do? What does the daily routine entail? And how much power does the position hold? Our inaugural episode covers the basics of the President's gatekeeper. #civics101pod

1 min
Jan 13, 2017
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Ever wonder what a White House Chief of Staff actually does? How about a Press Secretary? When did gerrymandering become a thing? The first 100 days of the Trump administration is the perfect time to bone up on civics you should have learned in school…...

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