Oswaldo Payá was a great Cuban democracy leader. He was killed by the regime in 2012. His daughter, at some risk, is carrying on his work. Jay talked with Rosa María Payá at the Oslo Freedom Forum, the annual human-rights conference in the Norwegian capital. They talked about her dad, of course. And her upbringing, and the murder, and President Obama, and many other things.

Incidentally, Ted Cruz has proposed renaming the street outside the new Cuban embassy in Washington after Oswaldo Payá. It is an inspired idea.

One of Jay’s favorite politicians, and favorite Republicans, and favorite Americans, is Robert Ehrlich, the former governor of Maryland. Governor Ehrlich is the author of a new book, Turning Point: Picking Up the Pieces After Eight Years of Failed Progressive Policies. He BobEhrlich_Govand Jay talk about “where we are now”: with Obama, Trump, Hillary, and America. Jay thinks we are at a really lousy pass, as his readers and listeners know: but Bob Ehrlich always cheers him up. Ehrlich is clear-eyed and can-do.


kristol-190aBill Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, is interested in an alternative to Hillary-Trump – a third option on the ballot, preferably a conservative one, and definitely an honorable one. Jay is interested in the same thing. They discuss it in this half-hour – with a mixture of wonder, anxiety, and hope.


Jay and Mona are actually in the same place for this edition of Need to Know — on a boat on the Danube courtesy of National Review. With the river (which is not blue) as backdrop, they discuss travel, and the state of things in the post-Trump inevitability world. NR senior editor Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 5.33.57 PMRamesh Ponnuru joins to discuss whether the people are to blame, how and whether to reform the primary system, and whether conservatism was rejected. Jay announces that he has left the Republican Party. Mona is unusually indecisive. Even Ramesh (unlike the river) is a bit blue.


There are too many people to condemn to fit into one podcast, but Jay and Mona do their level best to race through some of the most deserving: John Boehner, Bob Corker, Terry McAuliffe, Will Ferrell, Mike Pence, and Hillary Clinton. But there are a few bright spots: the late Harry Wu, a hero, former Senator Tom Coburn, ditto, and well, that’s it for heroes. These are not good times. Still, this podcast sets some records for sheer number of topics covered – and with pizazz!

The music is from Tom Lehrer’s That Was The Year That Was.

David Landon Cole is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of York. He was also the captain of York’s team in “University Challenge,” the British quiz show – which has its origins in America’s “College Bowl.” “University Challenge” is Jay’s favorite television show, and he treats Mr. Cole as the celebrity and phenomenon he is, in the Old Country.

They talk about the show, of course. And about life in Britain. And about learning, and the love of it. And about other things. Tune in for a most unusual, interesting, and genial guest.

The greatest player of our day, Jordan Spieth, had an epic meltdown at the Masters. Then he charged back, bravely — and came up short. Jay discusses this with an expert: Mark Farrell, a pro golfer, teacher, and analyst, and an old friend of Jay’s. They “workshop” the matter, to use Mark’s lingo.

They also discuss, or workshop, some other matters: Rory, Bubba, Tiger, Jack, “Caddyshack,” etc. Jay has always found it a joy to talk with Mark, and suspects that you will too.

Donald Trump and his army are not too happy about Colorado. Mona and Jay are not too happy about Trump and his army. They discuss.

They also discuss Ted Cruz, about whom they have sharp disagreements. And Bill Clinton, about whom they are in harmony. And Paul Ryan (ditto).

The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes joins Need to Know to talk about the critical Wisconsin primary (he’s a native), the state of the Republican race, conservative media, and the condition of the Republican Party.

Jay and Mona then consider Bernienomics, the pageant of the presidential primary season, George W. Bush, charity (pro and con), and a visit by a certain political figure to a matzah factory in New York, among other topics. There is the usual complement of stories, book recommendations, plus a bonus – a Bill Buckley quote Mona hadn’t heard before. It’s a good one.

Manfred Honeck is the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and one of the best conductors in the world. He has been in New York this week, to guest-conduct the Philharmonic. Jay caught up with him for “Q&A.”

They talk about music and the musical life. What does it take to be a conductor? What are the differences, if any, between American orchestras and European ones? (Maestro Honeck is an Austrian and, indeed, a Manfred_Honeckformer member of the Vienna Philharmonic – where his brother is a concertmaster.) What about new music? How about the future of classical music (a much worried-over question)?

President Obama sat down with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic for a series of interviews. Those interviews concerned foreign policy and America’s place in the world. Goldberg wrote them up, here. And Jay wrote a couple of columns, critiquing Obama (here and here).

elliott-abrams1Wanting reinforcement, he has called on Elliott Abrams, the conservative foreign-policy guru, and veteran of the Reagan and Bush 43 administrations. The two men talk about Reagan-era events and people – Grenada, the Contras, Gorbachev – and more recent events and people: the Iraq War, the Syrian Civil War, Putin . . . Mainly, they talk about our current president, Obama.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) watched President Obama’s trip to Cuba with keen interest. She was born in that country. In 1960, when she was eight, she came to America with her family. She still has her return ticket, issued by Pan Am. The airline is long dead. The Castros live and rule on.

With Jay, Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen talks about Obama’s trip: What does Ileana_Ros-Lehtinenit mean? She speaks of the FARC, the Colombian terrorists, who, amazingly, attended that baseball game with Obama and Raúl. She speaks of the dissidents who are largely ignored and demoralized. And she asks, in essence, “Are we still America? Are we still the leader of the Free World?”

Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu speaks to the media in Boca Raton, Florida in this October 22, 2012 file photo. Sununu was recovering in Boston on August 24, 2015 after undergoing heart surgery last week, the Republican's office said in a statement. REUTERS/Andrew Innerarity/FilesJay’s guest today is John H. Sununu, the former governor of New Hampshire, the onetime chief of staff to Bush the Elder, and the current and forever politico. He talks about his upbringing: how he came to his views. He talks about the importance of a serious (non-frivolous) education. He talks about free enterprise and some other things that made America great.

He talks about his old boss, GHWB, and the book he has written about that president: The Quiet Man.

Once more, Jay shamelessly exploits “Q&A” to do a music program – this one in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. You’ll hear Irish music of various types – performed by John McCormack, Kathleen Ferrier, Bryn Terfel, and noteworthy others.

You get songs, needless to say. But you also get a famous march – “Brian Boru’s March” – and a selection from The Father of the Nocturne, the Irishman John Field.

A few weeks ago, the Iraq War was in the news again, briefly: That’s because Donald Trump went all Cindy Sheehan on the subject. In response, Victor Davis Hanson wrote an important piece – certainly what Jay regards as an important piece: “Iraq: The Real Story.”

VDH-picIn this “Q&A,” Jay talks to VDH about Iraq. Among other things, VHD explains the practical effect of getting Iraq wrong – of allowing a false picture to take over. The effect isn’t good.

President Obama has announced that he will travel to Cuba next month. Jay discusses this, and related matters, with Otto Reich, late of the Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 administrations.

150px-Otto_ReichReich was born in Cuba. What’s he doing with a name like “Otto Reich”? Jay explains, and Reich explains further. Obama’s trip to Cuba is very important – not in a positive way. Otto Reich knows exactly what it means.

samp021aa8a0b09303d7This is not a regular “Q&A.” As before, at Christmas, Jay is cheating a bit: doing a music program under the guise of “Q&A.” The question is, “Do you want to play some music related to love, in honor of Valentine’s Day?” And the answer is, “Sure, now that you ask.”

There are nine tracks here, from Handel to Berlioz to Brahms to Prokofiev and more. The program ends with what Jay calls, in a flight of hyperbole, “the greatest love song ever written.” It is a justifiable flight, however.

President George W. Bush did a remarkable thing: He carried, for all to see, a copy of Eliot A. Cohen’s book “Supreme Command.” Not many of us have our books publicized that way.

Cohen is the famous foreign-policy analyst, a professor at SAIS (the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University). He has served in the State Department. He also advised Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign.

Raif Badawi is the Saudi political prisoner, sentenced to ten years and a thousand lashes. His is one of the most famous, or infamous, cases in the world. He is a very brave man: a man who has sacrificed a lot for human rights and democracy.

His wife is Ensaf Haidar. She lives in exile, with their three children. They found asylum in Canada.

… or Nordlinger-Kristol? Tongue in cheek, Bill Kristol suggests such a ticket if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee – because Reagan conservatives will need someone to vote for. “Neither Trump Nor Hillary,” in a slogan that Kristol is spreading.

He is Jay’s guest on “Q&A.” They talk politics, of course: Hillary, Bernie, Donald, and others. They also talk about the media. Does media bias matter as much as it used to? Is it still the advantage for the Democrats, and disadvantage for the Republicans, it once was?