The title of this episode pretty much tells its story. Jay plays balm-like music, and delight-giving music—heavy on the Bach. At the beginning of the show, he asks, “Need I say that music is extra-important in these strange and trying times?” He answers, “Of course I don’t.”

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Jay’s guest is his erstwhile podcast partner and always friend, Mona Charen. They talk about this period of home confinement. And when to “reopen” the economy. And the question of the World Health Organization and China. And a lot more. Mona has been baking lately, as many people have, which has led to a shortage of yeast. Mona has always baked when at home for extended periods. It is her “comfort activity.” Now everyone’s gotten in on the act. Among Mona’s recent products are bagels. Jay remembers being at H & H Bagels on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, many years ago. A woman stepped up to the counter, stretched her arms out, and said, “What’s hot?” In other words, “What’s freshly out of the oven?” Hence the title of this “Q&A.”

Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the University of Michigan football team. He quarterbacked that team, too, in college. Then he went to the NFL, for 14 seasons. After his pro career, he turned to coaching, at both the pro and college levels. (University of San Diego; Stanford; San Francisco 49ers; Michigan.)

He and Jay are old friends, having grown up together. They talk about sports – everything from how to throw a spiral to playing golf with Lee Trevino. They also talk about life and even a little politics.

Alberto Mingardi is a writer and political scientist who heads the Bruno Leoni Institute in Milan. This is Italy’s free-market think tank. He is an old friend of Jay’s, and a familiar guest on “Q&A.” Italy has been very hard hit by the coronavirus, and Milan and its environs have been particularly hard hit. Jay asks Mingardi to talk about this, in personal, social, and political ways. Is liberal democracy itself vulnerable in this time of pandemic? An interesting discussion, and one that does not exclude music – as in, What has Alberto been listening to lately?

Katie Harris is an expert on languages and a YouTube star. You will find her in “Easy Italian” videos. You will also find her at joyoflanguages.com. Jay talks about one of his favorite subjects – languages – with a master, and a delightful one at that.

Lots of parents now have kids at home, in need of schooling. A friend of Jay’s asked him, “Could you put together a little program for my kids?” Here it is: Bach, Mozart, Brahms, Chopin, and worthy others. A neat, balanced smattering. For “kids” of all ages.

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Ben Hubbard, the Beirut bureau chief of the New York Times, has written a new book: “MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman.” Jay talks to him about this consequential young ruler. Is he a liberal reformer? What about the “guests” at the Ritz-Carlton? How about the kidnapping of the Lebanese PM? What about Trump and Jared? And the murder of Khashoggi? And the bugging of Bezos’s phone? What about women’s rights? Women are allowed to drive now – but why are women’s-rights campaigners in prison? MBS is a very interesting subject, and Ben Hubbard knows this subject inside out.

One of the China experts Jay most admires is Sarah Cook, of Freedom House. He has read her, consulted her, and relied on her for many years. In this episode of “Q&A,” he talks to her about the coronavirus, of course. And about Hong Kong, Xinjiang Province, and other matters. Ms. Cook is informed to the gills and clear as a bell. Not to be missed.

Jay ends this episode with the beloved theme song to “The Jeffersons,” “Movin’ on Up.” It was co-written and sung by Ja’net DuBois, who died recently. Also in this episode you have two arias by Handel; a piano piece by Ravel, miraculously played; some little-known Mozart, which is knockout; and yet more. Take a break away, as Jay says.

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One of Jay’s favorite guests – and favorite people – is Arthur C. Brooks, of Harvard. For ten years, he was president of the American Enterprise Institute. Today, he is a professor at the Kennedy School of Government and a faculty fellow at the Business School. Brooks was the star of the recent National Prayer Breakfast – or the co-star, with President Trump. He and Jay talk about that, with some wonderment. They also talk about “free-market fundamentalism,” populism, conservatism, Harvard, presidential politics, the question of character, music (Beethoven in particular), and other subjects dear to their hearts. Their conversation and tastes are not for everyone – what is? But many will enjoy tuning in . . .

P.S. The closing music is the Sanctus movement from Beethoven’s Missa solemnis, in a famous recording (1966) conducted by Otto Klemperer.

Jan-Albert Hootsen is a Dutch journalist who has long worked in Mexico City. Jay first met him when he went to Mexico City, two years ago, to write about the murder of journalists in Mexico. Mexico is the murder capital of the world for journalists. Hootsen is the Mexico representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He is also a whale of a guy. You will enjoy getting to know him, and hearing about his life and work.

Returning to “Q&A” is David Luhnow, one of Jay’s favorite guests. Luhnow is the Latin America bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal. The conversation took place in Mexico City, where Luhnow is based – and where he did much of his growing up. The two discuss Mexico, of course: its new populist president; its horrendous murder rate; its prospects. They also talk about Venezuela, Cuba, and other key countries – not excluding the United States. Further, they talk about the news: How do people get it? How has the news business changed? As Jay says in his introduction, David Luhnow is “one of the sanest individuals you’ll ever meet, along with one of the most pleasant.” 

Recently, Jay sat down with Nina Khrushcheva in her office at New School University, in New York. Part I of their conversation is here. In this second and final part, they touch on Vladimir Nabokov, William F. Buckley Jr., and other interesting matters – including this one: What’s it like, actually, to be Khrushchev’s granddaughter, especially back in Russia?

This episode begins with a song by Giuseppe Martucci, sung by Rosa Feola, the young Italian soprano. It ends with an aria by Giacomo Puccini, sung by Mirella Freni, the legendary Italian soprano who died in recent days. In between is a smorgasbord, including Haydn, Mozart, and a couple of British songs that Jay and others love.

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Jay sat down with Nina Khrushcheva in her office. She is a professor of international affairs at New School University, in New York. Their conversation is expansive and wide-ranging – touching on Russia, Putin, America, books, William F. Buckley Jr., and a lot more. The “lot more” includes the question, What’s it like to be Khrushchev’s granddaughter? Especially back home in Russia? The conversation is split into two parts. The second will follow shortly.

Jay welcomes one of his favorite guests, and favorite people, Kevin D. Williamson – whose latest book is The Smallest Minority: Independent Thinking in the Age of Mob Politics. They talk about the book, and being a writer, and conservatism, and more. A conversation between two friends and colleagues about some issues of importance to them.

Mariss Jansons, the great Latvian conductor, born in 1943, died toward the end of last year. Jay talks about him, relating stories both from him and about him. (Jay interviewed Jansons twice, ten years apart.) And, of course, we hear music—from Jansons and his orchestras.

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Several weeks ago, Jay sat down with Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University – and a former governor of Indiana. Daniels is a Reagan conservative. They were talking about free speech on campus. And Daniels hailed Professor Geoffrey R. Stone at the University of Chicago – a “lion of the Left,” he said, who had been chiefly responsible for the Chicago Principles, which address this issue of free speech. Purdue, along with approximately 70 other institutions, has adopted the principles for itself.

Jay has now gone to see Professor Stone in Chicago. They talk about life – especially Stone’s, but some of Jay’s, too – and the momentous issue of free speech. Conservatives will not like everything Stone says; he does not like everything conservatives say. But he and Jay have little time for snowflakes and safe spaces. America has become all too “triggerable,” they agree. 

Marina Nemat is one of Jay’s favorite guests and people. She is an Iranian dissident, a former political prisoner, and a human-rights activist. Her memoir is Prisoner of Tehran. In this “Q&A,” she talks about the past and the present, linking the two. Recent events include the killing of General Suleimani and the downing of the Ukrainian airliner. Iranians are massing in the streets. They have been crushed before – will they be crushed again? Marina Nemat’s analysis is based on long, hard experience. It is subtle and often moving. Jay calls her “a beautiful person, inside and out.” She is also very, very brave. 

Jay begins with a Schubert work, and some singers and pianists who have performed it. He moves on to a funky, frenetic thing called “Techno-Parade.” Later, there is some Wagner by a great new singer. There is some immortal Rachmaninoff. And, at the very end, a song by the late Jerry Herman: “It’s Today,” from “Mame.” A diverse, appetizing musical menu.

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