This week on “The Learning Curve,” Cara and Gerard talk with Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a pianist, conductor laureate of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, principal guest conductor of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, and son of the Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. They discuss his father’s legacy, his courageous work to debunk the Soviet Union’s utopian myths, and key lessons American educators and students should draw from his life, writings, and battle with Soviet communism. They also explore his warning to Western democracies in his historic “A World Split Apart” Harvard Commencement speech, about their own crippling “short-sightedness,” “loss of will,” and crisis of spirit. Ignat describes his family’s 20-year exile in rural Vermont, recounted in his father’s newly released memoir, Between Two Millstones, Book 2, in which Solzhenitsyn expounds on the vital importance of local self-government, the rule of law, liberty, and what he called “self-limitation.” Ignat describes the education he and his brothers received at home, his own impression of the strengths and weaknesses of American education, and what inspired him to become a classical musician and conductor. He concludes with a reading from one of his father’s works.

Related: 2018 op-ed by Jamie Gass: “As we mark 100th anniversary of Solzhenitsyn’s birth, we appreciate importance of historical literacy

More year-end awards today!  Jim and Greg embark on the second half of their six-episode saga known as the 2020 Three Martini Lunch Awards. Today, they offer up their selections for the best political idea, worst political idea, and boldest political tactics for the year.

Alexei Navalny and His (Real Life) Hollywood Thriller (The Borscht Report #5)

 

Alexei Navalny knows who tried to kill him and he wants you to be entertained. 

On the face of it, this seems quite odd. Since his poisoning in August, Navalny has become undisputedly the most prominent figure in the Russian opposition and has used his already well developed social and alternative media presence to keep supporters, foreign observers, and enemies well appraised of his progress and actions. Like fellow anti-Putinist Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Navalny is an expert in using social media platforms, especially YouTube, to spread his message in a way that is friendly and accessible to young people and supporters, even those residing abroad. (A not insignificant thing, just considering the size of the Russian diaspora in places like London and New York, not to mention the many non-Russians who take an interest in seeing Putin thrown from power). And now, only months from what many suspected would be his deathbed, Navalny has returned to tell his tale and that of his would-be murderers. 

Join Jim and Greg as they detail the lengths China went to in its efforts to manipulate media coverage of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. They also try to beat back the global freak out over a new strain of COVID seen in Britain. And they react to young healthy members of Congress getting vaccinated before some medical personnel and more vulnerable people.

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss what appear to be lengthy, intrusive hacking operations into some of our nation’s most sensitive national security data. They also roll their eyes at Joe Biden’s defense of his son. And they unload on a University of Pennsylvania “ethicist” who want all frontline personnel to be vaccinated before the elderly because the elderly are whiter.

Join Jim and Greg as they wonder what could possibly qualify Pete Buttigieg to be the next Secretary of Transportation. They also react to Russian President Vladimir denying his government killed a prominent critic because his people would have finished the job. And they unload on the frauds at the Lincoln Project, who finally admit they’re now an anti-Republican outfit.

Join Jim and Greg as they cheer the effort from House Republicans to kick California Rep. Eric Swalwell off the House Intelligence Committee. They also welcome AOC saying Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should no longer be leaders but she gives a surprisingly interesting answer for why they still are in charge. And Jim and Greg fire back at critics whining that the nations that developed the coronavirus vaccines get to use it first.

What’s Not On My Radar

 

2020 has been a rather rough year: Mask scolds, the constant hammering of despair concerning Covid, and the usual suspects that refuse to acknowledge that the virus may well have been a CCP biological warfare experiment that escaped a lab in Wuhan has been forgotten. The refusal to investigate that possibility is to protect American corporations such as Nike, Google, Apple, Microsoft, the NBA, and of course the new POTUS as well as his family.

The Australian newspaper has obtained the leaked database of almost two million CCP members – including their party position, birthdate, national ID number and ethnicity – and 79,000 branches, many of them inside companies, universities and even government agencies.

Member Post

 

If you like your historical background delivered painlessly in the form of entertaining fiction, I have a couple of suggestions for you.  Amazon author Andrew Wareham writes historical fiction, some recently set in WWII, but up until that, mostly taking place from the mid-18th century to WWI. His protagonists tend to be sons of privilege […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they wrap up the week with three big stories. First, they recoil at the radical anti-Israel statement from Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock. They also fire back at the Democrat in Texas who wants to limit when you can defend your life and property. And they react to a Los Angeles Times editor urging Sen. Dianne Feinstein to resign so Gov. Gavin Newsom can appoint both black and Latino senators.

Join Jim and Greg as they discuss confirmation that a federal prosecutor is investigating Hunter Biden on tax issues, his foreign ties, and possible money laundering. They also sigh at the revelations of China’s efforts to infiltrate the inner circles of politicians supposedly on the rise, and how easily multiple figures seem to have fallen for it.  And they react to reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein is suffering from cognitive decline but find the timing awfully convenient for the far left.

Friends, Enemies, and Frenemies

 

As I study the prospect of Joe Biden becoming President, I realize he will probably try to turn our national security on its head. Following the policies of Barack Obama, he will work to ingratiate himself to the rest of the world, following the theme of globalization. He has already stated his intention to re-enter the JCPOA.

But cozying up to the Iran regime isn’t the only danger we might anticipate. He’s signaled his intention of re-building a relationship with China—you know, the country who regularly stole intellectual property and indulged in a trade imbalance with us—until President Trump came on the scene.

Before Joe Biden takes the helm, it will be critical for our government to prioritize our international relationships. In politics, there are no friends for life, nor enemies for that matter. And some countries, for one reason or another, are on the fence, due to their choices or ours, about the kind of relationship they want to have with us.

They Can’t Kill Us All…

 

China has been cracking down on the Democracy Movement in Hong Kong for awhile. Today I learned that these three brave activists fighting for democracy in Hong Kong have been sentenced to prison by China. They are Sarah Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong.

Will Biden Trigger War in the Middle East?

 

When President Trump pulled us out of the Iranian deal, also known as the JCPOA, it was one of the most sensible and appropriate actions of his Presidency. The deal, which was supposed to “slow” the Iranian development of a nuclear weapon, was a sham from the start: they refused to adhere to certain inspection guidelines from the beginning, then violated others as time passed; the IAEA figuratively and repeatedly threw up its hands in frustration. When we pulled out, the Iranians used our lack of support as a further excuse to continue to ignore the limitations of the agreement.

Now with the opportunity to manipulate the latest version of an Obama administration (also to be known as the Biden administration), the Iranians know that Biden has stated he will sign on again to the agreement. Biden’s goal is not only foolish but meaningless, since the Iranians have significantly progressed in their nuclear bomb development. What in the world will our re-engaging provide? Here are some of Biden’s ideas about re-joining the JCPOA:

In an op-ed in September, Biden said as president he would ‘make an unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.’ He argued the best way to achieve that was for the U.S. to re-enter the deal.

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For some months now, I have been following what I am convinced is the legal witch-hunt against Benjamin Netanyahu. My sources are largely conservative and/or philosemitic/Israel-friendly online press outlets in English, German and Dutch. With the developments this week, Gantz now threatening to break the coalition and trigger new elections, I am going to ask […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they welcome a six-vote win for Republican Marianette Miller-Meeks in a very tight Iowa House race. They also hammer China for covering up what it knew about COVID in the early days of the pandemic as leaked documents confirm what many suspected for months. And they slam a Detroit Free Press columnist for labeling every man, woman, and child as a potential serial killer since they could possibly spread COVID.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome the news that a top figure in Iran’s likely nuclear weapons program was targeted and killed and they marvel at how it was done. They also bang their heads against the table as some Trump supporters suggest opposing GOP senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for being insufficiently vocal about the alleged election fraud and believe writing in Trump in the Senate races would send a powerful message. And they groan as the media clearly intends to stay in full Joe Biden cheerleading mode, including one story featuring an animal psychic who says Biden’s dogs are convinced he will be a great president.

Member Post

 

I was pretty disappointed when General Mattis parted ways with the Trump administration, as he was highly touted by veterans here on Ricochet.  I was shocked this week when Mattis participated in a hit piece on Trump’s “America First” foreign policy.  Today, I find out that Mattis has been a member of The Cohen Group, […]

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Join Jim and Greg as they reveal what they’re politically thankful for in 2020. From the fight against COVID to domestic politics to major events on the world stage, they each find three things they’re thankful for from this difficult, unpredictable year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all 3 Martini Lunch listeners and your families! There will be no podcast on Thursday. Please join us Friday for our special Black Friday edition, as Jim and Greg pick out gifts for various political figures.