Monthly Archives: August 2004

Bombs and Ballots in Afghanistan

Listen / Download

From Herat to Kandahar people are preparing to vote in their very first presidential election. But it won’t be all smooth sailing for the U.S.-backed Interim President Hamid Karzai as he faces a resurgent Taliban, warlords, fresh kidnappings and more car bombings. Despite the violence, Afghans seem determined to give democracy a try. Some election watchers say that nearly 90 percent of eligible voters have registered and nearly half of them are women. And while some in the administration are lauding the upcoming elections as the first big step toward democratizing the Middle East, critics say it just goes to show the weaknesses of nation-building on the cheap.


Sarah Chayes, Afghan’s for a Civil Society

Paula Newberg, author, columnist and Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution

Rina Amiri, Political Affairs Officer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)

Assem Akram, Afghan historian and author;

The War President

Listen / Download

The latest volleys in the war on terror are being fired from Madison Square Garden in New York City. Party luminaries are rallying around the commander in chief, praising him as a leader who does not flinch before his enemies or waver before public opinion. On the campaign trail, Bush actively portrays himself as a war president and insists that Iraq is another front in his war on terror. But more recently he has acknowledged “miscalculations” in Iraq. And yesterday, he suggested that it may not even be possible to win his much vaunted war on terror.


Patrick Buchanan, conservative commentator and author of “Where the Right Went Wrong”

David Frum, former speech writer and author of “The End of Evil”

Frank Luntz, independent pollster

GOP 101

Listen / Download

Republicans control the White House, both houses of Congress, and dominate state houses and legislatures throughout the country. While party stalwarts such as Senator John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger take to the stage this week to present a united, moderate front for the party, some powerful ghosts from conventions past will be standing in the shadows. The different influences of Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, are never far from the podium as the party prepares to make its best case for four more years.


Byron Shafer, professor of political science, University of Wisconsin and author of “The Two Majorities and the Puzzle of Modern American Politics”

John Micklethwait, coauthor of “The Right Nation, Conservative Power in America” and Washington correspondent for the Economist;

Congressman Patrick Toomey(R-PA), member of Congress since January 1999 who recently lost Republican primary challenge to Senator Arlen Specter

Opening Day in New York City

Listen / Download

George Bush has a week to convince the nation that he and Dick Cheney are the men best able to lead it for another four years. The GOP brings its case for the presidency to the city where the memories of 9/11 are strongest and where passion about the administration response to those attacks runs high.

Party leaders and bright lights are lining up to praise the incumbent, rally the faithful and sway any of those elusive swing voters who just might be watching.


Dan Janison, Newsday City Hall Bureau Chief

Charles Black, Republican Strategist

Jim Barnes, Political Correspondent with the National Journal

Eugene Richards

Listen / Download

Photojournalist Eugene Richards images are both searing, and incredibly intimate. There’s the young boy crying on the bathroom floor of a housing project; the hollow eyes of a mental patient in Mexico; a needle gripped in the mouth of a heroin addict in New York City. Richards himself grew up on the gritty streets of Dorchester, MA, a place he says he never quite got used to because everyone was supposed to be afraid of everyone else. He wasn’t and it shows. For thirty years, Richards has focused his lens on all that is human, while the rest of us hold our breath.


Eugene Richards. His books include “Dorchester Days,” “Exploding into Life” and “Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue.” His latest collection of photographs is “The Fat Baby.”

Spoiled Sports?

Listen / Download

Before the U.S. Olympic team left off for Athens, members got some last minute coaching on how to win with grace. Team America understands that the last thing international viewers want to see is the ugly American celebrating victory with chest thumping and finger pointing. Then there’s the money. U.S. athletes thrill for victory, but the sponsorship payoff behind the gold medal is equally inspiring; like the $1,000,000 bonus offered to the swimmer Michael Phelps by his sponsor Speedo if he won seven gold medals.

Has sportsmanship taken a back seat to sponsorship?


Kathryn Jay, author of “More Than Just Game: Sports in American Life Since 1945,” and Director of American Studies at Barnard College

Allen Barra, author of “Brushbacks and Knockdowns: The Greatest Baseball Debates of Two Centuries,” and regular contributor for the Wall Street Journal

King Kaufman, Sports Columnist for

Jim Caple, Senior Writer for

Adventures in Trash

Listen / Download

New York is a city of stuff. Nowhere is the sidewalk picking as good for the spare chair, the fur coat or perhaps even the first edition of a James Joyce novel.

Those whose mantra is “collect because it’s there,” will pick through sewage sludge and landfill and slit open those black bags in hopes of treasure. They know people think they’re crazy, but they don’t care. They are the canners, the coin shooters, and collectors who know it’s worth it. The writer Ted Botha has patched together a trashy tale of these New York City characters who poke and pick and squirrel away what’s called “mongo.”


Ted Botha, author of “Mongo: Adventures in Trash”

Faltering Front Lines

Listen / Download

Constantly attacked by insurgents and reviled by many Iraqis for collaborating with the Americans, Iraqi soldiers and police have the impossible job of trying to keep the peace where there is none to keep.

The U.S. military knew they’d have to train Iraqis, they just didn’t know it would be so difficult. In Fallujah, many of them turned and ran, explaining that they did not sign up to fight fellow Iraqis. The U.S. general in charge of training Iraqi forces worked at it for a year, but concluded that America should have known better, and done things differently.


Army Major General Paul Eaton, Commanding General, Coalition Military Training Team in Baghdad

Scott Baldauf, reporter for The Christian Science Monitor in Najaf

Dying in Darfur

Listen / Download

Despite the front page news stories and calls by political leaders for action, the situation in Sudan keeps getting worse.

The writer Samantha Power, has made it her business to study why it is that a humanitarian crisis like Darfur is not or will not or cannot be fixed. She’s recently returned from Sudan, where she spoke with both survivors of the violence and those considered the masterminds behind it. She discusses the dying in Darfur and what, if anything, can be done to stop it.


Samantha Power, Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.” Her article in the current New Yorker magazine is “Dying in Darfur.”

Attack of the 527s

Listen / Download

With the GOP convention only days away, Republicans and Democrats are trading some of the ugliest blows of this campaign: television ads that aim low and hit hard.

The sponsors of these ads are allowed to raise as much money as they want, so long as they stick to issues and don’t favor one candidate over another. Historically, the Democrats have used the power of these groups to their advantage. Now, the Republicans are getting into the act.


Larry Noble, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics

William Brock, co-chair of the November Fund

Jim Jordan, spokesperson for America Coming Together and Christopher Shays, U.S. Congressman (R-CT)