All eyes are on Venezuela — to the extent they’re on Latin America at all. But spare a glance for Nicaragua. The Nicaraguans are going through hell right now as the dictator, Daniel Ortega, has cracked down hard. He has made a special villain out of Felix Maradiaga — Jay’s guest on this “Q&A.” The regime has good reason to fear and hate Maradiaga: He is a bold and thoughtful advocate of democracy. In this podcast, he takes us through the Nicaraguan situation, past, present, and even future. A most illuminating interview. A bracing one, too.

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Asma Khalifa is a young woman from Libya — a Berber. She is also a human-rights activist and democracy leader. She is one of Jay’s favorite people. He says he considers her a heroine. Jay recorded this “Q&A” with her in Mexico City, where she was participating in a meeting of the Oslo Freedom Forum. During the Libyan Civil War, she sided with the rebels, against Qaddafi. She volunteered to be a field nurse. She saw terrible things, atrocities. She did not like the hatred that was filling her heart. That was not her, she reasoned. So she did something extraordinary. She requested to treat enemy forces, Qaddafi’s men, for a while. She has an amazing experience to relate. Also in this podcast, Asma Khalifa talks about Syria and other vital matters.

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Madeleine Kearns is a young journalist from Scotland. She works at National Review. She has recently been on an unusual beat: transgenderism as it relates to children. She has written, “… some American children are on irreversible cross-sex hormones as young as 12 and have double mastectomies as young as 13.” When you hear about these cases, she says, you want to ask, “Is this really happening?” It is. Jay Nordlinger talks with her about it: a fascinating, appalling subject. Maddy Kearns would rather not be covering it. But someone has to do it, she says, and what happened is this: “I learned too much to be able to walk away in good conscience.”

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Lindsey Burke of Heritage joins to examine the Democrats’ proposals for universal pre-K. Jay and Mona then reflect on Ilhan Omar v. Elliott Abrams, Kamala Harris v. Neomi Rao, and Robert Kraft’s trouble.

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In an earlier episode, Jay talked with Charles Hill. Now he talks with another Grand Strategist at Yale, Professor John Lewis Gaddis, who is best known for Cold War history. His biography of George F. Kennan won the Pulitzer Prize. Jay talks with him about Kennan, of course — and about Paul Nitze and many another Cold War figure. They also talk about figures more recent, including George W. Bush. In addition to politics and history, they talk about campus life — and about Professor Gaddis’s upbringing in small-town Texas. You don’t have to pay tuition at Yale to sit with JLG. Click on this ’cast.

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Jay’s guest is a legendary teacher at Yale University: Charles Hill, a retired Foreign Service officer and a diplomat-in-residence, among other things, at Yale. He is especially known for Grand Strategy. In previous times, he was an aide to Kissinger, Shultz, and, at the United Nations, Boutros-Ghali. With Jay, he talks about his upbringing in New Jersey, his life in the arena, his career in the academy, and the fate of the world.

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Is that the standard now? Jay and Mona consider the travails of Virginia’s governor, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Elizabeth Warren and many others in this age of shame and shamelessness. They also talk Green New Deal, Kim Jong Un, and much more.

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Jay does a sportscast — but with a twist at the end: a discussion of Star Wars, Star Trek, etc., with two experts on the subject: David French and Sopan Deb. David is one of Jay’s regular sports gurus, and so is Vivek Dave. They are both present. Sopan is a ringer, a guest guru: a writer for the New York Times, a stand-up comedian, a musician, and more. The gang talks about the NBA, including the Boston Celtics (Sopan’s team), recent trade action, the All-Star game (worth watching?), and Charles Barkley (a classic American). Then there is talk about the Super Bowl: Is Tom Brady the GOAT? How about Coach Belichick? Furthermore, what about the Super Bowl ad that relates directly to Vivek? Finally, there is the sci-fi flight. Come along for the ride.

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That was the past week. Jay and Mona cover it, with poll data, a little Starbucks, a little Medicare for All, and some reminiscences about the religion of anti-racism.

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Otto Reich is a former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela. He’s also one of Jay’s favorite people. They talk about the current crisis: where it stands, how it developed, and what might happen next.

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Beholding the government-shutdown fiasco, Jay recalls an old term: “goo-goo.” He and Mona discuss “the wall and the cave,” the Democratic field so far, and “The Three Amigos.” They also ask if the U.S. remains serious about NATO. Mona recounts a personal experience of Roger Stone.

Music from this week’s show: Fazil Say plays his famous jazz version of Mozart’s “Rondo alla turca,” live and in concert.

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Eric Edelman is one of our top diplomats (retired though he may be) and one of our top foreign-policy thinkers. In a long career, he was ambassador to Finland and ambassador to Turkey. Before that, he was an assistant to George P. Shultz. Some years before that, he was a doctoral student at Yale, writing about post-war Italy. Jay reviews some pressing concerns with him, past and present, though mostly present – and future. Edelman is a cool thinker in a hot world.

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A loaded question. There is lots of agreement and some disagreement with this honest man. Then Jay and Mona launch into the news of the week: Bill Barr, the wall, Brexit, left-wing conspiracy theories, and a mini-debate about Ann Coulter.

Music from this week’s episode: Misirlou – Greek Version

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Megha Rajagopalan is a foreign correspondent for BuzzFeed News. She is one of Jay’s favorite reporters. She grew up in Maryland, and for years reported from China. She is now in the Middle East. She and Jay talk mainly about China: the pleasures and perils of reporting from there; the mass round-up of the Uyghurs; the ability of ordinary Chinese to find out the truth about their country; and so on. At the end, Jay asks Megha why she wanted to be a journalist in the first place. You will enjoy getting to know this young woman.

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Peter Wood is the president of the National Association of Scholars. He is also an anthropologist. Jay is an old anthro major. So, they talk anthro major to anthro major, so to speak. What happened to this once-proud field? They also talk about higher education. And lower education. And online education, for college students. Is that a bright prospect? A dim one? Toward the end, Jay asks Mr. Wood what he likes to read, in his off hours. In all, an absorbing conversation with this scholar and gentleman.

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Over the Wall, the R’s and the Dems are playing a game of chicken. That’s one thing Mona and Jay say about this shutdown drama. Who’s going to swerve away first? Is the border a genuine national emergency? Then our hosts talk about Tucker Carlson’s monologue heard ’round the world, or certainly ’round the Right, as Mona says: What are the limits of government? What can government do for people? What should it? Also included in this episode are the greatness of California (whatever its problems), the malice of dictators, the glory of music, and other vital subjects. Have a listen.

Music from this week’s episode: The Allegretto from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, played by the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell

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In a sportscast, Jay asks David French and Vivek Dave about last night’s championship game – Alabama vs. Clemson. Or should that be Clemson vs. Alabama? They also debate the college-football playoff system: Should more teams be involved? Later, there is talk of the NFL – including the dreaded double doink (a field-goal attempt that doinks once, doinks again, and then fails). Finally, the NBA, and the eye-rubbing wonder of James Harden. By the way, does he travel? (Big-time.) Also, is Steph Curry the greatest shooter of all time, hands down? A lively, interesting podcast here.

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Michael Rubin is a wide-ranging authority on the Middle East, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In this “Q&A,” Jay simply picks his brain: about Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Rubin has a lot to say, and he says it very, very clearly. At the beginning, Jay asks him about his background: Rubin grew up in a family of veterinarians. He was allergic to dogs and cats, however. The black sheep in the family, he became a historian of the Middle East.

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Elizabeth Warren is running. The Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby analyzes her “likeability” among other things with Mona. Jay joins later to talk about another Massachusettsite – or is it Utahite?

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David French joins Jay and Mona to explode myths (“Flynn was framed!”) and analyze where things stand with a president unmoored. Secretary Mattis is gone, but Steven Miller goes on and on.

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