A two-part Need to Know this week begins with the American Enterprise Institute’s James C. Capretta, who knows everything there is to know about Obamacare and related questions. Mona asks him about the Aetna decision to withdraw from exchanges and what the state of the law is generally. He’s not optimistic, but then, who is?

Jay then joins from Salzburg (within sight of Mozart’s home) to discuss Louisiana flooding, Bill Clinton, music, what we expect of politics, and many other subjects. The one topic not covered: Trump. Everyone needs a break from time to time.

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That was the name of a Mel Brooks flick. And that’s how many people think of Election 2016 – including Mona and Jay. They go over the latest. Trump and Hillary. The media. McMullin, Johnson, and Stein (yes, Stein). At the end, the hosts leave off politics to talk about an extraordinary incident in Rome – involving a quarreling old couple and their tender, sweet treatment by the police. The closing music is Respighi’s “Pines of Rome,” conducted by the great Fritz Reiner, leading his Chicago band.

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For conservatives, is the Supreme Court reason enough to vote for Donald Trump? Also, if you’re a conservative and you’re voting for neither Trump nor Hillary, are you really voting for Hillary, as so many allege?

Jay explores these questions with a brilliant colleague of his from National Review, Ian Tuttle. They also talk about Tuttle’s alma mater: St. John’s College. There, young people study the best that has been thought and written. Are they better off for it? Is their society?

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What is up with the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump? Michael J. Totten of World Affairs Journal joins NTK to talk about the connections. They go way back.

Jay and Mona then discuss the Kahns, partisanship poisoning, rigged elections, economic growth (remember that?) and “Article XII” of the Constitution, among other topics.

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51G93vyEl5L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_J.D. Vance joins to discuss his fantastic new book Hillbilly Elegy, a book that gets to the heart of the troubles of working class white Americans, which could hardly be more topical.

Jay and Mona then speak of Democrats – who continue to act like themselves, sowing racial disharmony, for example – but have added odd moments this year because it’s a year like no other. And nothing will ever be the same.

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avatar_1428772734-192x192The Baltics are little, beautiful countries a long way from the United States – and very close to Russia. They were once ruled – captured and brutalized – by the Kremlin. Today, they are members of NATO.

What does this mean? Does it matter? The issue has come up in the current presidential race. And Andrew Stuttaford is an excellent man to address it. He talks with Jay about matters historical and burningly current. They are related.

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UnknownWhat follows is a complete list of those who know more about American politics than Michael Barone: . Okay

Barone is Jay’s guest, and they talk about conventions, primaries, parties, presidents, and the Fate of America. The guru is in: Michael Barone is in, expounding on the subject he has devoted his life to.

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Mona and Jay welcome Wall Street Journal foreign affairs columnist Bret Stephens to pick over the wreckage, er, evaluate the Republican National Convention. Putin seemed the big winner, both in style (we all worship strong men now) and substance (Trump kicked the Baltic ySzcskV-States away in a NY Times interview).

They consider whether the Republican Party is any longer the freedom party, and where this leaves conservatives.

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It’s the Ides of July. Trump has chosen Mike Pence and Jay and Mona have chosen to withhold laurels. They consider the state of the Republican Party – is there room for Reaganism anymore? – as well as who’s being asked to pay for the big show. (Hint: The guy who claims to be worth $10 billion ain’t the one.) The week saw another horrific terror attack, a discouraging Obama speech in Dallas just when the moment demanded largeness of spirit. Mona and Jay disagree about W’s performance at the memorial service for slain officers, wonder about who is the biggest liar this year, and note the Pokemon craze.

Music from this week’s episode: Berklee Percussion Ensemble, “Ogoun Badagris”

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As Jay says at the outset of this episode, there is a lot to follow in the world: ISIS, the American presidential election, and so on. But Venezuela is not to be ignored: It is a fascinating, appalling story. A state is failing before our eyes. And it was once a prosperous, pleasant state. Now hunger, robbery, and murder are routine life.

vZplNTrx_400x400The correspondent of the Associated Press in Venezuela is Hannah Dreier. She is Jay’s guest on this “Q&A.” She has seen a great deal and knows a great deal. She reports the eye-popping facts.

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Roger Scruton, the English philosopher, political writer, novelist, composer, etc., has just been knighted. So he is Sir Roger (as he long should have been). Jay points out that, within the past year, he has published four books, at least. The most recent is about Wagner’s “Ring” cycle: “The Ring of Truth.”

He and Jay end this “Q&A” with a discussion of Wagner. But before that, there is much more: Brexit; Trump ’n’ Hillary; Islam and Europe; trade and protection; nationalism and patriotism . . .

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It has been a week heavy with news, most of it bad. Shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas. The FBI/Hillary drama. On hand with Mona and Jay is Andrew C. McCarthy, the onetime prosecutor and a friend, as it happens, of the FBI director.

McCarthyIn due course, Mona and Jay talk about the presidential race: Trump and Saddam. Trump and Newt (who was once immensely proud of NAFTA). The Libertarian nominees, Johnson and Weld.

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Nominally, this is “Q&A,” but it’s really a music program: a program of music in celebration of America and its independence day. Jay plays an assorted concert: You have some Gottschalk, some Dvorak, some Joplin, some Copland, some Ravel. And you have a couple of star-spangled singers at the end. A musical tribute to America.

The complete track list for this show is here.

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Hugo Gurdon, editor of the Washington Examiner, English born and bred, joins Jay and Mona to talk about Brexit and the slightly lurid accounts of internecine battles within the Tory party in the aftermath of the vote.

Gurdon-3Mona and Jay then speak of Loretta Lynch’s meeting — on the fly, as it were — with Bill Clinton, the Benghazi report, how conservatives size each other up in the Trump era, the Labour Party’s Jewish problem, and why Republicans should think twice before rejoicing at the idea of a Hillary indictment.

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Corey Lewandowski was fired on Monday (and quickly hired by CNN). Michelle Fields, late of Breitbart, now of the Huffington Post, joins Jay and Mona to recount her experiences with Lewandowski, Trump, and some of his more vicious followers.

90Jay and Mona then speak of Brexit (Jay isn’t happy about how the debate was conducted in the UK), the EU, immigration, trade, multiculturalism in Europe and here, and the DOJ’s boneheaded decision to redact the Orlando shooter. They are beyond dismayed by Donald Rumsfeld – among other things. But there are still great concerts to attend, and ballets to love.

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Earlier this week, Jay wrote a piece about Donald Trump and the “F-word”: fascism. In response, Mark Helprin had this to say, about the 2016 presidential election: “… we are skewered on the devil’s fork of fascism lite and communism lite, both of which can change rather speedily into heavies.”

1007636In this “Q&A,” Helprin and Jay talk about this, of course. Helprin is utterly uninhibited in expressing his disgust at the two major-party nominees. He says that we are in a time of craziness and criminality. Those two C’s are in the saddle.

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Andrew Roberts is one of the foremost historians in the English-speaking world. His recent books include a history of World War II and a biography of Napoleon. With Jay, he talks about Napoleon. And also some other characters: Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton; Paul Johnson; Winston Churchill; Boris Johnson; Roger Scruton. Furthermore, he talks about the critical referendum in Britain tomorrow, the one on the U.K.’s relationship with the EU.

A conversation with Andrew Roberts is an elegant, nourishing meal. Enjoy.

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Evan Sayet is a stand-up comedian and writer in Hollywood – and a conservative. How’d he get that way? Well, he discusses it with Jay.

They also talk about Carson, Leno, Letterman, Maher, Stewart, Colbert, and others you know. Evan Sayet, you will very much enjoy knowing.

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That’s the question former CIA officer Herb Meyer answers on this podcast. Meyer was one of the only people, maybe the only person, to predict the fall of the Soviet Union, and he offers insights on Orlando and the terror threat generally. They also discuss his brand new booklet, Why Is the World So Dangerous?

HerbMeyer1Jay and Mona then consider the left’s unwillingness to confront homophobia if it comes wearing a hijab, what killed JFK, the “see something/say something” fraud, Muslim allies in the fight against extremism, boots on the ground, and, naturally, some Clinton/Trump.

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James Rosebush was chief of staff to Nancy Reagan. And senior advisor to President Reagan. He was now written a book: True Reagan: What Made Ronald Reagan Great and Why It Matters. And he discusses it with Jay. (They’re old friends.)

3b01b3dAmong the questions: Was Nancy a tough boss? How about her clash with Donald Regan? What about astrology? What about political differences with her husband?

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