In recent days, Kevin D. Williamson and Jay Nordlinger—among others—have been writing about our old friends, our old enemies, the federal budget deficit and the federal debt. (KDW, here; JN, here.) Something’s gotta give, right? We Americans have to act at some point, right? Jay and Kevin jaw it out. 

What’s bugging Dennis Kneale this week? How about the recent riot in Atlanta? Let’s investigate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

Then ex-PriceWaterhouseCoopers CMO John Sviokla talks about the reported fusion breakthrough and why we won’t deliver on its promise without more government support.

This week on The Learning Curve, Cara and Gerard talk with Kevin Chavous, president of Stride K12, Inc. and a former member of the Council of the District of Columbia, on the growing movement toward school choice in education. Chavous discusses the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue and Carson v. Makin, as well as the expansion of private school choice programs, education savings accounts, vouchers, and education tax credits. Amid the successes, however, he also addresses some of the self-inflicted wounds that have harmed the charter public school movement in recent years, and what lessons educators should draw from the challenges schools faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, in the wake of recent nationwide declines in NAEP scores in both reading and math, he offers key suggestions for governors, state legislators, education reformers, and school choice advocates alike on a constructive future for K-12 education reform.

Stories of the Week: The state’s education community paused this week to pay tribute to former Massachusetts State Senate President Tom Birmingham, who passed away Saturday at the age of 73. Birmingham was instrumental in passage of the landmark 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act. In recent years, as Cara notes, Birmingham was a distinguished senior fellow in education at Pioneer Institute, working tirelessly to defend high academic standards, U.S. history and civics, school choice options, and accountability. Gerard discussed the U.S. Supreme Court case involving a 24-year-old deaf Michigan man, Miguel Perez, who says he was denied a qualified sign language interpreter for years, and later sought relief under both the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Court will decide whether federal law required him to exhaust administrative proceedings before seeking relief in federal court.

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I’d love it if the Ricochet flagship podcast could get Yeonmi Park as a guest. I’ve been a fan of hers for some years, but even more so recently. She’s a North Korean defector who wrote a book some years ago about her experience of escaping from North Korea, through China, to South Korea. Since […]

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This week Dennis talks to Thomas Julin – a top litigator for the First Amendment – about the #TwitterFiles and exactly what Section 230 means in practice.

Join Jim and Greg as they welcome new developments in two key Senate races. First, they are intrigued by popular GOP West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice seriously considering a challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin in 2024. They also discuss Indiana Rep. Jim Banks announcing he will seek the open U.S. Senate seat in Indiana, which is already held by Republicans. They also fume as multiple school districts in Northern Virginia fail to tell National Merit Finalists of their awards out of fear of making those who didn’t receive the honor feel badly. But they do cheer Gov. Glenn Youngkin for blasting the administrators in three separate districts for their decisions. Finally, they shudder as the supposed elites gather at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to decide what sacrifices we’re supposed to make in order to advance their global agenda.

 

Join Jim and Greg as they are pleasantly stunned by CNN’s Don Lemon telling Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that he seems more measured in his reaction to Biden possessing classified documents than he did to the Trump case. They also roll their eyes at the organization behind the “study” suggesting gas stoves are bad for respiratory health – and wonder if the 3 Martini Lunch is indirectly responsible for this nonsense. Finally, they go through the latest lies uncovered about Rep. George Santos, whether we know anything about this guy, and whether he can stay in Congress.

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up a bad martini and a couple of crazy ones. First, they sigh as the mainstream press does damage control for the Democrats. Axios contends that Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg is just the victim of unfortunate circumstances and Republicans are the real problem for pouncing on his problems. Meanwhile, CNN chalks up the Biden classified document problem to the unease of Trump coming to the White House. They also get a kick out of Georgia Democrat Hank Johnson, who once worried that America’s military presence on Guam might cause the island to tip over, openly suggesting that the classified documents were planted in Biden’s office and garage. Finally, Jim fires back at the Club for Growth for launching an attack as against possible Indiana GOP Senate hopeful Mitch Daniels that greatly distorts his record as Indiana governor and president of Purdue University.

Sol Stern is a veteran writer and policy analyst. He was born in Israel—actually, Mandatory Palestine—in 1935. The Sterns moved to New York when Sol was three and a half. As a young journalist, he was part of the New Left. Disillusionment set in. For more than 20 years, he worked at the Manhattan Institute, becoming best-known for education policy. These days, he says he belongs to what Robert Conquest referred to as the “United Front Against Bullsh**.” With Jay, Sol Stern talks about Israel, New York, and more. 

Join Jim and Greg as they assess the news that another classified document was discovered at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, home. They also groan as New York Gov. Kathy Hochul plows forward with plans to ban gas appliances or gas hookups in construction in the coming years – even in the face of massive public backlash to the Biden administration’s agenda on gas stoves. Finally, Jim comes ready to mock the latest lefty speech banning into oblivion as the University of Southern California and the State of Michigan decide that “field” – as in “field work” – is racist and offensive to people of color. And just when we thought today’s podcast was over…it wasn’t.

Join Jim and Greg as they serve up two good martinis and a very bad one. First, they cheer House Republicans for making good on their promise to pass legislation repealing funding for 87,000 new IRS agents and building a campaign issue against every Democrat who voted against it – which was all of them. They also shudder at the Biden administration’s attempts to demonize gas stoves as increasing the odds of developing asthma and other ailments, but they are glad to see the intense pushback that appears to have forced the government to back down. Jim also notes an annoying and tedious tactic employed by Democrats on issues like this. Finally, they not only wonder about the health of our aviation sector after today’s major computer problem triggered a ground stop across the nation, but are increasingly sure Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg is simply not up to the job.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Dr. Richard Vedder, Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Economics at Ohio University. He shares analysis on the macro impact of COVID on the U.S. labor market, and the long-term economic prospects of American college students. He reviews insights from his recent book, Restoring the Promise: Higher Education in America, on the true cost of higher education to American society amid the student debt crisis, administrative bloat, controversial admissions policies, and intercollegiate athletics scandals. They discuss the need for greater transparency about students’ earnings potential, the key ingredients of higher education reform, and what he refers to as the “three Is”: information, incentives, and innovation.

Stories of the Week: In Arkansas, Governor-elect Sarah Sanders has hired Jacob Oliva, a senior chancellor in Florida’s education department, to lead reform efforts, and focus on school choice and early literacy. Congress recently passed a $1.7 trillion federal omnibus package that provides $70 million in additional funds for statistics, research, and evaluation within the U.S. Education Department.

Hubwonk host Joe Selvaggi talks with Pioneer Institute’s senior healthcare fellow Barbara Anthony about her recently released paper, Massachusetts Hospitals: Uneven Compliance with New Federal Price Transparency Law, and how price transparency can empower consumers to shop for better value and encourage hospitals to offer more competitive costs.

Guest:

Russell D. Moore is an evangelical thinker and leader, the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today. His world, in recent years, has been rocked by politics. With Jay, Moore discusses this, and much more—including his love of country music. Moore lives a minute from Dolly Parton. And his dog’s name is “Waylon.” 

As we enter the New Year, Dennis Kneale takes a contrarian view of the McCarthy Mess, dives into media ignorance on the #TwitterFiles, and asks “Wealth Wizard” Ed Butowsky to explain his surprisingly bullish outlook for investing in 2023.

Put a smile on your face! Things are looking up!

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Professor Roosevelt Montás, Director of the Freedom and Citizenship Program at Columbia University, and author of the book, Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation. Professor Montás shares his background as an immigrant from the Dominican Republic who attended Columbia, and what inspired his appreciation for the Great Books tradition. He explains the deep connection between philosophy, liberal learning, and a good life, why this tradition matters for advancing liberal education, and its implications for K-12 students in a world that is increasingly centered on technical skills, and that has become overly politicized. They delve into lessons from works like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, about how literature and art can ennoble our young people and elevate our democratic ideals. Professor Montás concludes with a reading from his book.

Stories of the Week: Chronic absenteeism, or missing more than 10 percent of the school year, has likely increased dramatically since the pandemic, and can lead to increases in school-related stress, social isolation, and decreased motivation, all of which contribute to behavior problems. Veterans Affairs officials will now receive greater authority to adjust funding for housing, work-study programs and other education benefits for students relying on the GI Bill, after the COVID-era shift to online-only classes prompted stipend reductions and emergency legislation.

New Year Podcast, Lethal Weapon 2

 

Here’s a sequel to the Christmas Lethal Weapon podcast I recorded with Pete Spiliakos. This time, we talk about not just screenwriter Shane Black, but also his friend, novelist Warren Murphy, author of a successful series, The Destroyer, and writer of the Lethal Weapon 2 screenplay. We do our best to explain how middlebrow art worked, how storytellers dramatized the great American democracy one issue at a time, a skill since lost, but which audiences and artists both might use…

“Our guest today,” says Jay Nordlinger, “is a writer, a journalist—an unusual one, a distinctive one: her own woman. She is Stephanie Slade, a senior editor at Reason…” She is a libertarian who is religious and pro-life. With Jay, she discusses a number of issues, all of them at the heart of our politics today: the political wars, liberalism, conservatism, economic policy, drugs, marriage, public accommodation, and so on. A candid and thoughtful conversation.

It’s media day in our year-end Three Martini Lunch awards and Jim and Greg have plenty to say about how things were covered – if they were covered at all.  Specifically, they look at the stories the mainstream media covered far too much, the ones they conveniently ignored because they didn’t fit their narrative, and they highlight what they saw as the best stories of 2022.