Mona is absent this week, so Jay grabs the mic and welcomes a guest co-host: David French. They proceed to take a tour of the news.

Our relations with Australia. Our relations with Russia. Justice-to-Be Neil Gorsuch. The National Prayer Breakfast. The Wall. The refugee “ban,” or whatever the agreed-on word is. Betsy DeVos. Holocaust Remembrance Day. Steve Bannon. Three to five million illegal votes (?). The American flag (especially on lapels). Victimology versus personal responsibility. Etc.

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Daniel Ikenson of CATO and Steve Moore of Heritage (who has advised Donald Trump) drop by to talk about trade and the Trump Administration. 

Jay and Mona then move on to discuss populism left and right, the “women’s march” against Trump, and other matters. They appraise Nigel Farage, praise George Will, and remember the great Mary Tyler Moore. RIP.

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Years ago, Radek Sikorski was the chief foreign correspondent of National Review. Later, he was a major politician and statesman in Poland: first the defense minister, then the foreign minister.

With Jay, he talks about some of the most important issues facing Europe and the world: NATO, the EU, the Kremlin, the United States, and so on. He is a man of immense learning and experience, as you will see.

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To mark this historical day, we’ve assembled a panel that we think reflects all sides of the new Trump administration — a mashup of the Ricochet Podcast and Need To Know with Charen and Nordlinger with a dash of Victor Davis Hanson thrown in for flavoring. It’s a bracing conversation that really gets into the weeds on the election and what may lie ahead.

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To mark this historical day, we’ve assembled a panel that we think reflects all sides of the new Trump administration — a mashup of the Ricochet Podcast and Need To Know with Charen and Nordlinger with a dash of Victor Davis Hanson thrown in for flavoring. It’s a bracing conversation that really gets into the weeds on the election and what may lie ahead.

Public service announcement: if you’re not a member of Ricochet and enjoy this podcast, be one of the 1,500 and join today.

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Alexandra DeSanctis is a colleague of Jay’s at National Review. A recent graduate of Notre Dame, she is a William F. Buckley fellow at NRI (the National Review Institute). She is especially knowledgeable about the “life” issues. About abortion in particular. Also, she has been on the beat of Planned Parenthood, doggedly. She and Jay talk about that organization, and about abortion, etc.

“Is this dinner-table conversation?” Jay asks at the end. Is abortion a topic for polite company? For a podcast? In any event, it’s an important one. Both Jay and his guest are pro-life, or anti-abortion, if you like. (Jay will even accept “anti-choice,” on the subject of abortion.) But perhaps even the other side will be interested in what they have to say. To “know where they’re coming from,” as was said, once upon a time.

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National Review’s Ian Tuttle joins Jay and Mona to talk about BuzzFeed and the press, among many other things. They consider whether, on balance, the past few weeks have been good for conservatism. There were one and a half cheers for Rex Tillerson, and some full-throated enthusiasm for others. Does the cabinet matter, when DT is in the Oval? Jay and Mona differ.

The podcast closes with thoughts about the “real America.” 

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Ildar Dadin is a political prisoner in Russia. He has the unwelcome distinction of being the first person imprisoned under an onerous new law: a law that effectively bans protests of the government without permission from that same government.

Dadin has been tortured. He feared that he would be killed. Just recently, he was transferred from one prison, in Karelia, near Finland, to another, in Siberia, near the Kazakh border. The good news is: Ildar Dadin is alive and well, after all he has been through.

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Piotr Anderszewski is one of the leading pianists in the world. He paid a visit to New York, where Jay caught up with him in the offices of the Steinway company (in the Lady Gaga conference room, specifically). (Really.) Anderszewski has recently returned to concert life from a short sabbatical. During this sabbatical, he made a film about Warsaw. He and Jay talk about this and many other issues, concerning music and not. A distinctive personality, Anderszewski.

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That’s what an Obama staffer asked when he/she saw the term “the least of these” in a memo about the proper policies on poverty. What a chasm separates the two parties! Which brings up Kerry, Putin, the UN anti-Israel vote, changes on the right (is it protectionist now?), and much more. We close with a special contribution from two much-appreciated listeners.

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The Venezuelan situation is hard to believe: hunger, violence, a reversion to the primitive. Yet there is beauty there too, and human goodness.

Hannah Dreier is on the scene for the Associated Press. And, once again, she is Jay’s guest on “Q&A.” They talk about parents who give their children away, or even kill them. And people who rob and murder with impunity.

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Who doesn’t love Christmas music? Mona and Jay share some favorite tracks in a special holiday edition of the podcast.From Bach to Berlin, it’s a great journey.

The track list from this podcast may be viewed here.

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Kimberley Motley is an American attorney and human-rights activist. She has been working in Afghanistan. She has been of particular help to girls and women. Last week, she traveled to Cuba, where she hoped to represent Danilo Maldonado.

Maldonado is a dissident and street artist nicknamed “El Sexto” (which means, “The Sixth”). Jay wrote about him here. He has been in and out of prison: and he is in prison again, for not saying and doing the right things after the death of Fidel Castro.

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Jay calls Larry Diamond “Mr. Democracy.” Professor Diamond has devoted his career to the study and advocacy of democracy — a very important thing to study and advocate. “The worst system of government except for all others.”

In this “Q&A,” Jay covers some basic questions with his guest: Why is democracy so important? The United States is a republic, not a democracy, right? 

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Steve Hayes, newly-appointed editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard, joins Jay and Mona to talk about foreign policy (he was a terrific Benghazi reporter), what is detectable about the Trump approach, and the polarization of news and information.

Jay and Mona then mull over the CIA. Can they be political? Are they being political right now?

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As regular listeners may know, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the veteran congresswoman from Miami, is one of Jay’s favorite politicians: favorite politicians, favorite Americans, favorite people. She is a champion of freedom the world over, not just in her native Cuba.

But it is about Cuba that Jay talks with her in this “Q&A.” Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen fled with her family when she was eight. Fidel Castro has at last died – at 90, in bed. He did so much damage. With Jay, Ileana talks about the past, the present, and the future.

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So many issues seem to come down to that. Jay outs himself as a Trumpster (!). Mona talks climate and Al Gore. Who wants to eliminate the Electoral College? Depends. The duo also do a little music. Mona wants to know how not to hate modernism. Jay explains.

Music from this week’s episode: Lorin Maazel conducts Franck’s Symphony in D minor, M 48- III

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Fazil Say is a famous pianist, and a composer as well. He is particularly associated with the music of Mozart. Years ago, he took Mozart’s Rondo alla turca and made a jazzy arrangement of it – an arrangement that has gone all around the world, prized by concert pianists and amateurs alike. Say himself is a Turk. He is the most famous Turkish musician, certainly in the classical world. Yet this has not shielded him from harassment by the regime in Ankara.

On Friday, Say was in New York, preparing to play in a concert at Carnegie Hall: a concert featuring a Mozart concerto and one of his own. Jay Nordlinger talked to him about this, and about a variety of musical issues. You will enjoy getting to know Say’s mind, and, even more, his playing: Start with his jazzed-up Ronda alla turca

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Mona and Jay talk about President-elect Trump and his cabinet-building. Also about Carrier, conservatism, and capitalism. And about the hunt for heretics: Do you now or have you ever belonged to a church that opposes same-sex marriage? There is also some talk about identity politics vs. art: Who will win? The outcome of that war is momentous. And there is an appreciation of the Queen of England, and her husband, Prince Philip.

The podcast goes out with some music from a ballet that Mona brings up, and that is especially popular this time of year. It is the Grand Pas de Deux from “The Nutcracker,” by Tchaikovsky.

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Jay wanted to turn to Lincoln Diaz-Balart, to get his thoughts on the death of Fidel Castro. Diaz-Balart is a veteran Miami lawyer and politician. He served in Congress for nearly 20 years. His family has been prominent in politics, both in pre-Castro Cuba and in the United States. His father, Rafael, was a friend of Castro’s; his aunt, Rafael’s sister, married Castro. But soon, Rafael and Castro had a sharp parting of the ways.

Lincoln Diaz-Balart’s reflections come from deep experience and knowledge. You will want to cock an ear to them.

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