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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 Quaint and out of date?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 History, 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 History, Ideas, Literature, Politics
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Larry DiCara on Boston’s Busing Era @ Boston Public Library

The Central branch of the Boston Public Library was the setting for the attorney and civic leader Larry DiCara‘s talk on his new book, Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era.

Larry DiCara
Larry DiCara
When a federal court order mandated busing to achieve racial integration in the public schools, the city of Boston was in danger of ripping apart. In his memoir, DiCara reveals how the public policy decisions and economic and demographic changes of that period helped transform Boston into the thriving city it is today.
Larry DiCara served on the Boston City Council from 1972 to 1981, has taught at Harvard, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts, and today is a partner at the Nixon Peabody law firm, where he practices real estate and administrative law.

Click here: to listen to the talk.

The Boston Public Library’s Author Talk Series continues on February 27th with Stephen Brumwell, author of George Washington: Gentleman Warrior.

Posted on January 31, 2014 in History, Politics
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Islam and its Coat of Many Colors – with Ali Asani

Can a multi-faceted Islam be whatever you want it to be?
All things to all people?

To listen to the renowned Harvard Professor Ali Asani tell it, Islam is a religion of multiple dimensions, interpretations, and perspectives. It’s almost like an all-encompassing religion, whose core beliefs can serve to unite widely diverse cultural groups, which eventually combine to form a dazzling coat of many colors.
But with such a cornucopia of rules and rituals, might the basic tenets of Islam get lost? Could they become confused with ancient tribal codes, which existed prior to Islam, and are difficult to puzzle out, to separate from the Muslim doctrines of today?
This Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School, asks — but perhaps does not always answer — many of these questions. So take a look, see for yourself, and join Ali Asani, Harvard’s Professor of Indo-Muslim and Islamic Religion and Cultures,  in the debate!

Posted on January 30, 2013 in Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Ideas, Politics, Religion
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The history and future of the New England Forest

Note: an audio version of this interview was broadcast by the WGBH affiliate WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR station, and by KPIP in Missouri.

The forests of New England are, remarkably, a success story. They’ve recovered from attack after attack. The early settlers hacked them down, by hand, for houses, fences and firewood. Later on, the insatiable sawmills of a more industrial age ate up the lumber needed for our expansion.
Today, the forests contend with acid rain, invasive plants and exotic beetle infestations — evidence of our ever more global economy. And the future of these forests? Going forward, that’s a story that’s largely ours to shape, and narrate.

If only these trees could talk … Well, we have the next best thing – Donald Pfister, the Dean of Harvard Summer School, curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium, a fungologist (the more erudite word is mycologist), and the Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany at Harvard University.
In this Faculty Insight interview, produced in partnership with ThoughtCast and Harvard Extension School, he tells the tale of the New England forest from as far back as the glacial Pleistocene era.
To help illustrate this tale, we’ve made grateful use of high resolution images of some dramatic landscape dioramas, which are on display at Harvard’s Fisher Museum, in Petersham, Massachusetts.
And finally, for an audio version of this story, click here: to listen (9:47 mins).

Posted on September 3, 2012 in Economics, Environment, Faculty Insight, Harvard Luminaries, History, Science
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