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A Prior Republican Presidential Debate

There was a time when Donald Trump, and the less sensational but still controversial Ted Cruz, did not dominate the discourse and depress the hopes of the Republican Party establishment. Back in 2000, there were 6 candidates to pick from, and none of them prompted calls for a contested convention. Even so, these six seemed like quite an odd bunch at the time, and they took their place on stage in Durham, New Hampshire for an influential Republican Presidential Debate only weeks before the first-in-the-nation primary on February 1st. This was the first time citizens cast their votes in a primary for the future President George W. Bush.
Let’s rewind the tape, and take another look. (NB: click on the link just provided, NOT on the images.)
georgeWbush This January 6th debate was moderated by Tim Russert, the host of NBC’s Meet the Press, and featured Arizona Senator John McCain, conservative political activist Alan Keyes, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, publisher Steve Forbes, Christian pro-life spokesman Gary Bauer and George W. Bush. As things turned out, Bush fared poorly in New Hampshire, and lost the primary to the “straight talk express” candidate John McCain, who pushed for campaign finance reform.
jennyrepdebate1 I participated in the debate as a correspondent for New Hampshire Public TV, and was able to ask McCain, who was campaigning to clean up Washington, a question about his influence as chairman of the FCC.
So — let me ask the same questions I posed in my Democratic Presidential Debate post: In taking a look 16 years after the fact, how does it seem to you now? Quaint and out of date? Does it hold hints of what was to come? What should we have done differently that might have made the future a better place?

Posted on March 18, 2016 in Front Page, History, Politics
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A Prior Presidential Primary

Back in 2000, before we’d ever heard of Al Quaeda, Abu Ghraib or ISIS, we somehow managed to survive a Presidential Primary season with our national dignity relatively intact. Those were however less traumatic times. Do you know what we were worried about back then? Whether or not our computers would implode when their 1s and 0s flipped over to face the new century. Good old Y2K. How innocent we were back then.
But — it could be argued that this same Presidential race and its hotly contested aftermath, oh so indelicately umpired by the Supreme Court, was the spark which lit the fuse that hurtled us down the path to our current predicament.
So let’s rewind the tape, and take another look. (NB: click on the link just provided, NOT on the images.)
AlGore New Hampshire is always the first state to vote in the primaries, and the millennial year was no exception. It was scheduled for February 1st, 2000, and was less than a month away when a Democratic Presidential Primary Debate took place in Durham, New Hampshire, pitting Vice President Al Gore against former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley. The January 5th debate was moderated by ABC TV’s Peter Jennings. I too was a participant, as a correspondent for New Hampshire Public TV.

jenny:dems So — in taking a look 16 years after the fact, how does it seem to you now? Quaint and out of date? Does it hold hints of what was to come? What should we have done differently that might have made the future a better place?

Posted on February 25, 2016 in Front Page, Politics
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Beacon Hill Seminars Writing Workshop

I’ve had the pleasure of leading a Beacon Hill Seminars Writing Workshop this autumn. Sadly it’s almost over, but I wanted to let you all know about this marvelous resource in the Beacon Hill area.

Beacon Hill Seminars Beacon Hill Seminars is described as “a membership organization of people who have a vigorous interest in continuing their intellectual growth.” I like the use of the word vigorous. Just to give you an idea of the kinds of courses that are usually offered, Lyle Miller is currently leading a seminar titled Hemingway’s Wives, Hemingway’s Works.  And Francesca Piana is teaching International News with a Historical Background and Discussion.
There will of course be more programs offered this spring!

Posted on November 29, 2015 in Front Page, History, Ideas, Literature, Politics
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Arianna Huffington on Picasso and the Clinton White House

Arianna Huffington, the author, journalist and founder of The Huffington Post, spoke with Jenny Attiyeh at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Today she is a media mogul, one of Forbes’ 100 most influential people. But back in 1999, when I had the chance to interview her, Huffington was merely a media star. Her book Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom had recently been released, and not to universal acclaim. It’s a frolic of a book, a fanciful tale of the Clinton (Bill) White House. But I was more interested at the time in her powerful and still shocking biography of Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.  Huffington, of course, could answer all my questions with ease.
This is the final interview that took place at the Fourth Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 1999. The second interview was with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt, and the first was with the comedian and writer Sandra Tsing Loh.
For an audio version of this interview with Arianna Huffington, click here: to listen.

Posted on August 31, 2015 in Art, Biography, Current, Front Page, History, Literature, Politics
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George W. Bush, Beforehand

I interviewed George W. Bush during his first New Hampshire Presidential Primary, when he was still a newcomer to the country at large, just the free and easy – and sober – Governor of Texas, the oldest son of the former President, George Herbert Walker Bush.
Here he is, “W”, buoyant, almost boyish, back in January 2000, before he was defeated in the United States’ earliest primary by John McCain on February 1st.


That was back when we too were innocent of what was to come… before this nation changed irrevocably. I asked Bush about our national interests, and when – if ever – the U.S. should intervene in foreign conflicts.
Let us know what you think of his perspective, and whether it evolved…

For an audio version of this interview, click here: to listen.

Posted on June 28, 2014 in Front Page, Politics
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Black Bear Orphans and the Man who Reads Their Minds

Note: This story was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station and by KPIP in Missouri. It is also featured on NHPR.org.

You’re about to hear a story about the bear whisperer of Lyme New Hampshire, Ben Kilham, and the abandoned black bear cubs he has rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the wild. Some of these cubs have formed such strong bonds with Ben, that even when they’re fully grown, they still treat him as a member of the family, so to speak, and allow him special access to their bear secrets and behavior. And on occasion, if I promise to be quiet, and obey the rules, I get to tag along –

This video of Squirty and Ben in the clearing is a rather noisy appetizer.
Click here: (17 minutes) for the story.

Ben Kilham is one of the foremost black bear researchers and rehabilitators in the country, and here he is, with one of his star bears, Squirty, now 17 years old. He took care of her and her siblings after they were separated from their mother during a logging operation that had disturbed her den. She, along with many other orphaned or abandoned cubs, has taught Ben the characteristics of black bear behavior, which share some surprising similarities to our own species. For one thing, once thought to be solitary, Ben has discovered that they are often quite social!

Photo by Ben Kilham
Ben’s featured in several nature documentaries, and he is also the author of two books — Among the Bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild, and Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me About Intelligence and Intuition, with a foreward by Temple Grandin, which was just released this fall. ThoughtCast has also interviewed Ben’s sister and colleague, Phoebe, and the interview, accompanied by a slide show of their bear cubs, was posted on New Hampshire Public Radio’s website this spring, and can be seen here.

Posted on September 17, 2013 in Environment, Front Page, Science
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