Our Gun Control Debate Misses The Target. We Need A New Conversation.

  

I do a podcast called “How Do We Fix It?.”  And it would be good thing if we could get a conversation going about gun crime. One that went somewhere and introduced some new ideas.

But I’m not sure it’s possible.
It’s been a week since the Umpqua Community College massacre in Oregon and America’s debate over guns is still poisoned by anger, fear and incredulity. It is possibly the worst example of how polarized our politics have become.  

One side pretends the Second Ammendment doesn’t exist, while the other insists that levels of gun ownership have nothing to do with America’s very high rate of gun deaths.

Both are wrong.

The ease of buying weapons and our longstanding gun culture lead to large numbers of disputes being settled by firearms. Americans own about 270 million guns, which is more than one for each adult.  About 10,000 people have been killed by guns so far this year and more than 20,000 were injured. 

The toll in the U.S. is far worse than in almost any other industrialized nation.  But ever since white settlers first arrived in the early 1600s, guns have been a fundamental part of the American story.  The frontier was settled with guns.  

Writing in The National Review, Rich Lowry is right to point out that banning semi-automatic assault rifles and closing gun show loopholes would do little to reduce the number of homicides or horrific mass killings. 

Also, you may argue that the U.S. Constitution is a deeply flawed document in this regard, but it very clearly states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

Gun rights opponents often say the bit about “a well regulated militia” confuses the meaning of the second part of the sentence.  But let’s say the Constitution gave completely a different reason.  Doesn’t matter. The right to keep and bear arms still remains.

The only way to implement strict gun control would be to strike down or alter the Second Ammendment. And that’s not going to happen anytime soon. 

Hillary Clinton has called for tighter gun-control, including expanded background checks, but Congress is in no mood to approve them.  If elected she’d also consider executive power to achieve her goals. That may please supporters and help win Democratic primaries, but the growing use of executive orders by Presidents of both parties is damaging to our democracy.  

Support for gun rights is strong.  Many believe passionately and perhaps wrongly that having several guns in their homes makes them safer.  The NRA is strong because it has a very large and passionate membership. 

As The New York Times reports, in Roseburg, Oregon, the site of last week’s massacre,  “Some said they were planning to buy guns. Others said they would seek concealed-weapons permits. Others, echoing gun advocates’ calls for more weapons on campus, said the college should allow its security guards to carry guns.”

Others argue that having guns in churches, schools and supermarkets comes at a terrible cost, making us more suspicious, fearful and less safe.

“Firearms are America’s Pandora’s Box,” writes Justin King in an article with the headline  ‘The Facts That Neither Side Wants To Admit About Gun Control.’ The box is open and more legislation won’t have a major impact, he argues. “If you want to change society, you have to actually change the whole of society.”

That’s a conversation that would be worth having.  Perhaps it can begin with an honest, compassionate debate about how we treat mental illness and better enforcement of the background checks that we already have.

Photo (above) Jim Wrigley Photography on Flickr Creative Commons license

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Don’t Put His Views In a Political Box.  What The Media Are Missing About Pope Francis.

  New Republic

“We in the press are about to over-politicize his visit to America,” writes New York Times columnist David Brooks.

How right he is.

The media are awash with bland, secular generalizations. The trumpets of left and right are already at blaring with either praise or denunciations of the Pope’s message.

House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Pope Francis to address Congress “will be at his own party’s expense,” declares Brian Beutler in the increasingly hardline liberal journal “New Republic.”

In a scathing article, curmudgeon conservative George Will blasts The Pope for “his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies.”

  The New York Post

But comments from both sides that seek to put the Pope in a box miss this importance of his message and above all, his example.

American Catholics don’t fit neatly into frames tethered to snippets extracted from a hugely complex spiritual leader,” writes conservative Catholic Ashley McGuire. As “a capitalism-loving, pro-life advocate who is quite possibly obsessed with abortion, I could not be more excited to welcome Pope Francis to America.

Regardless of political affiliation, many Americans appreciate the Pope’s emphasis on love and mercy over dogma and orthodoxy. 

He is humble and a warm presence in world of snarky pundits and fiercely opinionated politicians. As a Jesuit, Francis takes his vow of poverty seriously. He believes we can learn from the poor. His heart is with those who suffer and are in need.

As a devout Catholic he understands how symbols send a message. After arriving at Andrews Air Force Base and being greeted by President Obama and Vice President Biden, the Pope hopped into a small Fiat instead of the usual large limo reserved for dignatories.

He says the church should be “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out in the streets,” instead of being unhealthy “from clinging to is own security.

As Gerald Seib points out in The Wall Street Journal, this Pope is a disrupter: “in sync with the dissatisfaction with the status quo” and also recognizing that The Catholic Church establishment has lost its way.

Many of us like leaders who would shake things up. Think Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. This Pope challenges the existing order. An overwhelming majority of American Catholics approves of what he’s doing.

“I don’t think the categories Left and Right are very useful for understanding the Pope,” says theologian and papal expert Lawrence Cunningham of Notre Dame.

On some social matters he is deeply conservative. “Francis unflinchingly maintains the church’s ancient teaching about the sanctity of human life and total opposition to abortion,” writes Timothy Carney in a highly perceptive piece in The Washington Examiner.

“Although he has urged Catholics to drop their “obsession” with such issues, Francis would also stand with his predecessors against gay marriage. In fact, he clashed with the Argentinian government when it was expanding marriage to include same-sex couples.”

“On economics, Francis would look more like a Democrat than like a Republican, but so would his “conservative” predecessors,” writes Carney.

On the environment he has been more outspoken than those who came before him. But with rising carbon levels in the atmosphere and a growing sense among global leaders that action is required, the need is greater than it was years ago.

Fact is, whether  we’re conservative, liberal or independent, most of us like the guy.

“Pope Francis is an extraordinary learner, listener and self-doubter,” says David Brooks. “The best part of this week will be watching him relate to people, how he listens deeply and learns from them, how he sees them both in their great sinfulness but also with endless mercy and self-emptying love.”

 

Why Hillary Clinton May Have To Make Only Simple Change To Turn Things Around.

  
The one really big thing the polls are telling us right now is that the American people want a Presidential candidate who tells it like it is. 

Donald Trump is the prime example of the unplugged guy who says outrageous things and is fun to watch.  Ben Carson and Bernie Sanders are also anti-establishment “outsider” candidates who are doing far better than expected.  

Hillary Clinton is the prime example of someone who’s telling it like it isn’t.  Her campaign is boring, ultra-cautious, and buttoned-up.  She’s facing an enthusiasm gap.

But despite her apparently disastrous poll plunge, Hillary is still in a place where nearly every competitor would like to be.

Her campaign has a ton of money and a strong organization to fight the primary and caucus states next year after Iowa and New Hampshire.

Unlike Sanders, or Trump for that matter, she has strong support among minority voters. 

Above all, she is un-peaking early and still has plenty of time to recover.  At this point in 2007, with 14 months to go before an election, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson were the top two Republicans in the race. Remember them?

To turn things around, Clinton must make just one really big change. Instead of keeping the press and her critics at a distance, she should welcome them in.  Answer their questions until she’s blue in the face. 

The former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State needs to get into the trenches.  That should include an offer to make regular appearances before Republican-led committees in Congress.  She’s a very smart and seasoned operator, who would do nicely in the spotlight offered by Capitol Hill.

Instead of just doing friendly softball TV shows like “The View” or “The Ellen DeGeneres Show“, she ought to go on Fox. Appear with the scrappy Bill O’Reilly.  Do a bunch of talk radio, just like Trump has. 

Fight back, Hillary.  Get your hands dirty.  Take on your critics in unedited, spontaneous settings.  Go beyond the political echo chamber.

Detractors say Clinton is too defensive and doesn’t like the press.  Those aren’t disqualifications for the White House.

You don’t have to be the most likable candidate in the race.  Face it: she never will be. 

But people do respect a fighter. And above all they want someone who explains in clear English exactly why she wants to be President.

She should find her passion and shed her caution. And yes, be herself.
Recent polls say Democratic voters care far less about the email server controversy than journalists or political elites.

The reason why Bernie Sanders is gaining support not just because he’s an outspoken liberal.  Voters may not agree with all his positions, but many see him as authentic, who sticks to his guns.

Hillary Clinton, if you want to win the Democratic Presidential nomination, stick to yours.

Seeking Solutions in an Age of Division, Despair and Donald Trump

  
Take a look at this slide. It’s all about hope and building a better future.

The 7 P’s were for podcasters who gathered recently at Podcast Movement, an annual industry conference held in Texas. As I’ve written before, the event was a rally: a celebration of what we do in podcasting. The message was overwhelmingly positive.

But have you ever wondered why the language used to discuss business and politics are so different?

When company profits or sales are down, ideas are shared about how to change course.  At the best institutions and firms, innovation and fresh thinking are encouraged, especially when times are tough.

Not politics.  Outage and disgust are Donald Trump’s currency.  

Instead of offering a detailed, well-thought out vision for the future, what we get are furious outbursts and personal put-downs. Much of the news media only make it worse by feasting on controversy and highlighting the day’s most outrageous comments.

That’s why my friend, Jim Meigs and I decided to do “How Do We Fix It”. Both of us spent decades as mainstream media journalists, and we thought there was room for a show about solutions. So far we’ve done 14 weekly podcasts on matters that matter: From parenting and personal debt to politics and identity theft.   

The latest show came this week in response to the turmoil on Wall Street, when words like “fear”, “pandemonium”, and “panic” were being used to describe the stock market.

We were lucky when Redfin Senior Economist Nela Richardson promptly said “yes”, to our invitation to be the guest on our latest show. With rich experience in the private sector, academia, think tanks, and as a regulator, Nela is an economist who knows her stuff and can talk about it in an engaging way.

  
While she told us that the stock market turmoil was “shocking”, Nela also said “it’s important to remember that the stock market is not the economy.”

“The economy hasn’t changed. It’s still slowly humming along, and a lot of the fear and panic came from overseas markets. It wasn’t home-bred like the financial crisis eight years ago. There’s a big difference between now and back then.”

One takeaway from our interview was “keep calm”. Compared to most overseas economies, the U.S is doing reasonably well. This week’s volatility was largely caused by fears of a sharp slowdown in China.

Nela’s special focus is real estate and young home buyers. The outlook for 2015 “looks really good,” she says. “The housing market is going to out-perform last year’s level.”

But what concerns her is that incomes are flat and that many college graduates have much big student loans to pay off. “Wages are really stagnant and yet we see every month that house prices keep grow a little a bit higher.”

On the other hand, interest rates are very low and inflation shows no sign of being a threat soon. Most millennials are patient, says Nela, and don’t appear to be in a hurry to buy their first home.

But there are signs that more young adults are responding to the housing crunch in the most expensive markets on the coasts by moving to cheaper areas.

“There are some places where we still see a lot of affordability… Places like Oklahoma, Texas and South Carolina, where you can still get a good job make a good living, provide for your family, and buy a home.”

As for solutions, Nela says: “I think we need to get smart about home ownership policy.”

Because of rising income inequality, “the next generation of homeowners are going to be less wealthy, more ethnically diverse and without the same resources as previous generations. We need to figure out how to extend credit without tanking the financial system.”

“I think there are ways to acknowledge the new forms of households that we’re seeing growing up all around us.” Nela suggests that banks should be more creative about lending money to baby boomers and millennials who buy property with friends.

“There is really no banking product that takes account of three or more household incomes.” Multi-generational households with more than two wage earners are quite common among Hispanics and some Asian communities.

 “Why not create products that make sense for the new types of families and households that we are seeing pop up.”

 Another way for homebuyers and banks to respond to the changes in the economy is view rental income from spare rooms in a positive light.

But many people may never be able to afford a mortgage. “We are going to see more renters in the next ten years that homeowners. We have to make sure people have a place to live.”

As urban areas expand, says Nela, local and federal home building policies should reflect the these changes. And better data collection will be needed to show where the needs and demand for housing will be greatest.

Next week, we’ll be looking at another part of our rapidly changing economy: the jobs market. We’ll focus on fixes and real-world ideas for change.  Want to find out more about “How Do We Fix It?” Head to our web page and sign up for “The Fixer”, our newsletter.  

Coca Cola vs. Science?  The Sour Fight Over Sugary Sodas, And What You Can Do About It.

   

When I was a kid I thought Coke was the best thing ever. From about the age to 10 to 15, my day wasn’t complete unless it included a seven ounce bottle of the sweet stuff.
Even better was Coke with four cubes of ice and a slice of lemon plus maybe even a shot of grenadine in a grownup highball glass. To me aged 13 that was sophistication itself.

Even now decades later I still like an occasional Coke.  It’s way better that Pepsi.  And yes, if you put a blindfold on me, I could still tell the difference.

But the fuss raised rhis week by The New York Times over Coca Cola’s funding of scientists to influence the debate over what causes weight gain leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

Coca Cola has spent millions of dollars to back researchers who claim that lack of exercise is a far greater cause of the obesity epidemic than poor diets.  According to The Times, a non-profit group called the Global Energy Balance Network said the company gave it $1.5 million last year to start the organization, and nearly $4 million in funding for other projects.

“Most of the focus in the popular media and the scientific press has been ‘Oh they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ – blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on,” says Steven Blair, an exercise scientist in a video made by the group. “There’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause.”

Most prominent obesity and diabetes researchers disagree.  The news about Coke’s activities provoked uproar in the public health community. 

For this week’s How Do We Fix It? podcast, we invited Dr. Kelly Brownell, Dean of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy to be our guest.  As our show is about solutions, we asked him to look at fixes for America’s worst health crisis. 

“There’s very good science showing that consumption of sugary sodas is strongly related to risks for obesity, diabetes and some other major health problems,” Kelly told us.  

After decades of rising obesity and diabetes, the trend appears to have peaked.  A Gallup poll says 60% of Americans are trying to avoid drinking soda.  So Coke may have good reason to try and influence the debate and stop its sales slide. 

While there is nothing new about corporations paying money to fund scientific research, Coca Cola is playing a political role in the shifting debate over health and diet, as well as fighting back against soda taxes and efforts to stop the sale of high-sugar drinks in schools.  

Parents have a right to know the facts.

More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. “Obesity around the world is now a more significant problem than hunger,” Kelly Brownell told us.

As for dealing with the causes, here are his takeaways:

 1. Parents should know that weight problems usually start very early in life. “Early obesity tracks into the adult years,” he says.  

 2. Government can help with “policies that only allow healthy foods in schools. There could be restrictions on what foods are marketed to children.” Dr. Brownell also supports a soda tax.

 3. His best advice for individuals? “Try to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and keep meat consumption under control and watch your calories.”

I’ve got a fourth one. Portion control.  Eat and drink less. 

When I was a kid, Coke came in 7 ounce bottles.  Then 12 ounce cans were introduced. Now the stuff comes in 20 ounce single-serve containers.  

Is it all the beverage industry’s fault? No.  As my pal and podcast show co-host Jim Meigs says: “Never under-estimate the ability of captalism to give us what we want.” Marketers and makers will keep on finding new ways to tempt us. 

But ina free-market society built around choice, stupidity comes with a cost.  We all have a role to play in making reasonable choices.

 

Something Liberals and Conservatives Can Agree On: Slow Down Washington’s Revolving Door!

  

I’m writing this on a really hot, clammy day in New York.  So, forgive me if I’m a little bit steamed.

Recently, political journalist Matt Taibbi sounded an alarm that should have sparked a national debate about the conduct of ex-Attorney General Eric Holder.  The story was crowded out by the furore over Donald Trump, and the fuss about the crowded field of Republican Presidential candidates.  Once again, personalities trumped real matters of importance. 

While in office, Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement official for six years, was repeatedly criticized for failing to send a single senior banking boss to jail for playing a role in the mortgage fiasco that led to the 2008 financial crisis. 

Taibbi calls him a Wall Street “double agent” for returning to his lucrative partnership at a powerful law firm, known for defending financial firms.  At the very least, Holder’s actions raise questions about the cozy relationships between top officials and the industries they are supposed to regulate.

His case is far from the only one.  This widespread practice by the Beltway’s power players has a profound impact  on the system of corporate subsidies, tax breaks, and other ways that special interests benefit from their ties to Congress and the Administration. 

“The revolving door phenomenon is particularly acute in the financial services sector,” writes Craig Holman of he liberal group Public Citizen.  “Statistics published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York show a dramatic rise in the movement of financial executives into positions as financial regulators, and regulators into private sector financial firms, growing threefold over the last decade.” 

  
Liberals aren’t the only ones to call for action.  In this week’s episode of our How Do We Fix It? podcast, University of Tennessee Law Professor Glenn Reynolds, a well-known libertarian conservative blogger on Instapundit, calls for a surtax on top or regular earnings of at least 50% on pay hikes received by former senior government officials when they go back to the private sector.  

 “There are all kinds of laws to limit influence peddling and they’ve all been failures,” Reynolds told us.  Powerful interests are willing to pay large amounts of money to former cabinet members and top officials for what they know. “It seems only fair for the government to share in those profits.”

The revolving door, where Washington D.C. “Fat Cats” jump back-and-forth from powerful government positions to highly-paid lobbying and industry jobs, is a “corrupting influence,” says Reynolds.  He sees the tax code as the most powerful instrument to reduce this corrosive threat to our democracy.

His proposal may not go anywhere, but Glenn Reynolds, Matt Taibbi, Elizabeth Warren and others who’ve called to laws to slow down the “automatic door” deserve far more attention than they’ve received so far. 

 

My Favorite Holiday:  July 4th Fireworks and Festivities Celebrate Our Freedoms and Democracy.

  Symbols of pride:  flying the flag for Independence Day.



Happy July 4th!   Independence Day is my favorite holiday.

On this vacation we celebrate something that many of us complain about for the rest of the year: our democratic institutions.

As a first generation American I love the freedom that this country represents.  239 years ago, The United States was the first nation to be founded with a formal statement that asserted the people’s right to choose their own government.  

That’s a pretty cool fact.

The Declaration of Independence was a bold statement of ideals by profoundly practical men.  It’s signficance rolls down through the ages, and continues to be an inspiration to oppressed people around the world.

The words were chosen carefully.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  These most famous lines from Declaration give me chills. 

As a radio guy, I applaud NPR’s Morning Edition for its annual tradition of having hosts, contributors and commentators read the Declaration aloud.  

From the beginning – “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another” – until the end – “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” – the sound of those profound words, written at a time of great danger, never fails to impress.

Despite a steady decline in trust in national institutions in recent years,  “questioning the aims and efforts of government is a foundation of American citizenship. It’s how the nation was born,” writes Lynn Vavreck, a professor of political science at U.C.L.A. in The New York Times.  “The colonists didn’t trust King George III, and they carefully laid out their reasons for breaking away from his rule in the Declaration of Independence.”

But still we celebrate the 4th with fireworks, parades and barbecues.   For one day each year it’s time to put aside our complaints about the President, Congress, law enforcement and our system of justice.  We are lucky to be Americans.

At a time of doubt, division and even disgust with government, this country is still a beacon of hope for tens of millions of immigrants and many others who wish they could live here.

Although I was born in the USA, my parents were British and moved me back to England as a child.  After going to school there, I chose to leave my family and return.  I am glad that I did.  

So grab a burger, pour a cold one, and celebrate the Fourth with pride and gratitude for America and the best of its principles.

President Obama’s Amazing Grace Eulogy, and the Power of Love at Emanuel AME Church

  President Obama’s “Amazing Grace” eulogy (from ABC News coverage)
It’s been a long time since you could say it was a good week for President Obama.
And for good measure, this was also one for the history books.

In addition to two sweeping Supreme Court decisions on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, the President scored a crucial win in Congress, thanks mostly to well-organized support by Republicans.  He gained full authority to negotiate a sweeping Asia free-trade agreement.  After all the gloom and gridlock of late it was enough to make your head turn.

At the end of the week Obama flew to Charleston, South Carolina to deliver a moving, rousing and eloquent eulogy to Rev. Clementa  Pinckney, who was murdered nine days before at the historic church he led.

The President is very good at this: much better at giving speeches and presiding over somber public ceremonies than the daily grind of governance.  But his even partisan critics cannot deny that Barack Obama’s heartfelt and at times profound remarks on race come from his own lived experience.

During his long address, Mr. Obama evoked the history of black America, through slavery, discrimination and violence. The crowd responded warmly with many “amens”, “yes sirs”, and standing ovations.  There were strains of the church organ and electric guitar.

To the surprise of the congregation and those watching on TV (the three legacy broadcast networks broke into their daytime programing), the President launched forth with a rousing chorus of “Amazing Grace.” His singing may be much better remembered than what he said!

But what moves me the most about what happened in Charleston and elsewhere in recent days has nothing to do with the President words or the  fuss over that blighted Confederate Flag.

It has been the stunning response of the good people of the Emanuel AME Church. After a young white man seized by racial hatred murdered their pastor and eight others in the church basement and devastated their community, they responded with words of love and even forgiveness.

Somewhat incredible you may think.  The increasingly noisy critics of organized Christian religion might stop to ponder that.

This church still stands strong and proud in the belief that love is more powerful than hate. Its open-doors policy to strangers and newcomers remains in place.  As one AME pastor in New Haven, Connecticut told a news reporter, he prefers God’s protection to security guards or surveillance cameras at his church.

One member of the congregation who stood in line for hours before the President’s eulogy said: “I want to be here to show love. You can feel the love, and see the love.”

And love was also front and center at The Supreme Court this week.  The hashtag #lovewins was tweeted more than five million times in the hours after the court’s decision was released.

Writing for the majority in same-sex marriage case, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that “no union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, devotion, sacrifice and family.”

Every year in late June the major decisions of the Supreme Court are a time for passionate debate about moral and ethical concerns raised in the U.S. Constitution.  This year the  practical importance of love is part of our national conversation. Amen to that.

Mocking Donald Trump: Fun For Some, But It’s Bad For America

  

Sure, it’s easy to make fun of Donald Trump.  The front-page of the New York Daily News portrayed him as a clown.

The mocking mainstream media had a field day after Trump announced that he was running for President. The speech was “like it was plagiarized from an old drunk man mumbling to himself in a bar,” wrote Chicago Tribune columnist, Red Huppke.

Others called Trump egotistical, bombastic, a bloviating buffoon. 

The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart sounded positively gleeful about the Trump event saying “it was over a half-hour of the most beautifully ridiculous jibber-jabber ever to pour forth from the mouth of a billionaire.”

How hilarious.  It’s easy to sit back and have a good laugh at those we despise.

But there’s a dark side to the thrill of political hating.  It contributes to a nasty climate of cynicism, distrust and even despair.

“We citizens need to look inward a little,” says Arthur C. Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute. 

“Whether or not we want to admit it, political hate is a demand-driven phenomenon.  We are the ones creating a big market for it.”

This week Donald Trump is the most searched Presidential candidate on Google.

Do your own calculation.  For every newspaper article, radio or TV story about a new idea or a constructive way to think about a political problem, there must be a hundred examples of ridicule, sensation or mockery.

What the heck are we doing to our public square?

I agree with Arthur Brooks.  You can fight back.  Whatever your own view of the world, “avoid indulging in snarky, contemptuous dismissals of Americans on the other side.”

Lessons I learned from “How Do We Fix It?” Podcast #1

  Developmental Psychologist Abigail Baird… Our first guest on our new podcast.


This is launch day, and there’s excitement in our house.  

I’m writing this on the morning of June 10th, two months to the day since I moved on from full-time employment as Business Correspondent and news anchor at ABC News Radio to work on my digital audio startup.

Our new weekly half-hour podcast, How Do We Fit It?, is now searchable on iTunes and other podcast sites.  There are four episodes so far with new ones being added each week.  Please subscribe! 

With a great deal of help from our fab producer, Miranda Shafer, we built a website that has lots of info on us and what we are up to.  We’re also posting photos on Instagram and thoughts on Twitter and Facebook.

My buddy, former Popular Mechanics Editor-in-Chief,  Jim Meigs, and I are both practical guys, impatient for solutions.  We’ve spent decades reporting the news, and want to move past tired old left vs. right rhetoric of yesterday to something new.

Instead of despair, our podcasts are about hope.  Each show is a lively conversation, built around a smart guest, who is known for fresh thinking and innovative ideas.

The expert we reached out to for our first show is Abigial Baird.  As Developmental Psychologist at Vassar College, Abi studies the teenage brain.  She’s a thinker and a doer – the proud mother of two young twins.

As dads and journalists, Jim and I know what a challenge technology presents for parents and kids.   Computers, video games and mobile devices are a huge temptation. But are they an obstacle or a great opportunity as children learn about the world? 

Here on our first show, Abi shares her humor, enthusiasm and wisdom as a caring parent and a whip-smart neuroscientist.  We learned a lot listening to her.  We think you will too!

Please download and subscribe to our podcasts.  If you like what you hear, share us on social media.  We’d very much like to read your suggestions for new shows.

We are public radio without the N P R.  Thanks for being part of our brand-new community.