Ryan Crocker is one of the outstanding U.S. diplomats of our time. In addition to his other posts, he was ambassador to Lebanon, Kuwait, Syria, Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has had some of the most challenging assignments on offer. George W. Bush, in the last days of his presidency, hung the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Crocker’s neck.

In this “Q&A,” Jay asks Crocker about the State Department today. Along with others, Crocker has sounded the alarm about cuts to the Foreign Service. He and Jay also take a tour of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, discussing matters past, present, and future.

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Jay and Mona talk a little Roy Moore (as little as possible) and then consider the state of the Democrats and Republicans, the recognition of Jerusalem, Kuwaiti TV, immigration, abortion, and Hogan’s Heroes – inter alia.

Music from this podcast: Martin Fröst and VFCO play Giora Feidman “Let’s be happy” (Klezmer tune) – Verbier Festival 2010

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Ash Carter is a physicist and a defense-policy expert, having served in government periodically for decades. He was secretary of defense from 2015 to 2017. He has spent his academic career at Harvard, where he is today. In this “Q&A,” Jay asks him about some of the biggest issues: nuclear proliferation, North Korea, Iran, the size of the U.S. military. He also asks about the relation between our servicemen and the general American population. Is there too great a gulf between them? Do people sentimentalize our military? Is it okay to say “Thank you for your service”? Carter is an exceptionally thoughtful person with a wealth of experience.

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Victor Davis Hanson’s new book is “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.” Jay asks him a slew of questions, including: What caused the war? Was Hitler dumb to declare war on America? Was Japan dumb to attack America? How was FDR as wartime leader? And Truman? Were we right to drop the A-bomb(s)? Was Yalta a crime, committed by the West? Is the Holocaust separable from the war? Who are some unsung heroes of the conflict?

VDH knows the answers — backwards and forwards. An education and a pleasure.

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But taxes first. National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru joins to provide his perspicacious insights on all things tax related, including a rebuttal to the WSJ arguments about the child tax credit.

Jay and Mona then consider whether Trump’s style will harm the Republican Party, and how well populism is faring. They also discuss the hypocrisy of both right and left regarding sex scandals and sexual harassment.

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Anne Applebaum is a historian and journalist, a columnist for the Washington Post. She is a particular expert on the former Soviet Union and its bloc. Her latest book is “Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine.” With Jay, she discusses this book: the “terror-famine” that killed so many Ukrainians. She also discusses contemporary issues, such as the war going on in eastern Ukraine. A lady who knows a lot, and says it with confidence – a well-earned confidence.

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In this second episode of his new “Jaywalking” podcast, Jay Nordlinger plays some music from Massenet’s “Thaïs,” including the Meditation, which is how the episode gets its name. Jay also talks about Fritz Kreisler and Fritz Crisler (a legendary violinist and a legendary football coach, respectively). Then he’s got Nazis, slavery, North Korea, and other cheerful stuff. He ends with genuine cheer, however: the American Dream and more music.

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Jay began his Impromptus column in 2001. It is a potpourri of a column, covering politics, foreign affairs, language, music, and a lot more. Now he is starting a podcast version of it, called “Jaywalking.” This podcast will feature extra touches as well – such as the playing of music.

In fact, he begins this inaugural episode with some impromptus – some piano pieces by Schubert, Fauré, and Chopin. He goes on with talk about Roy Moore, Sweden, and an Israeli judo star. He tells an old joke, on the bawdy side. And he ends with what he calls “pretty much the best thing on earth” – a song, a spiritual, in a transcendent performance from 1975.

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Need to Know pulls back the lens on the storm of sexual harassment charges to ask how this happened. Jay and Mona speak of uncomfortable subjects, like whether you should always believe women, the malice and schadenfreude on both sides, and porn, the great sewer beneath all of it.

Music from this week’s episode: To A Wild Rose – MacDowell, J.J. Sheridan, Piano

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This week, Daniel Hannan, the one and only, dropped by National Review headquarters in New York. Taking advantage, Jay sat down with him for a “Q&A.” Hannan, as you know, is the British writer-politician extraordinaire.

With Jay, he discusses the nature of America. And then the question of national self-determination: What right do the Catalonians and Kurds have? Everyone can’t have his own country, can he?

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Jay and Mona chew over the election results and ask whether the Republican civil war is on or off. They also consider Chief of Staff Kelly’s comments about China, the reforms – if that’s what they are – in Saudi Arabia, Nigel Farage and the “Jewish lobby,” and whether music can mean something.

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The Chinese Communist Party has just conferred on its leader, Xi Jinping, the status of Mao Zedong. He is the most powerful boss in China since Mao. His status is virtually god-like.

Having Xi’s number, and the CCP’s number, is Stein Ringen, a professor emeritus at Oxford University. Ringen is the author of The Perfect Dictatorship: China in the 21st Century. For the Washington Post recently, he wrote an article summing up China today, here.

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That could describe Charlie Sykes – a powerful batter for truth, conservative ideas, and integrity. He joins to talk about his new book – How The Right Lost Its Mind.

Jay and Mona then turn to the Mueller investigation, latent libertarianism, and yes – baseball.

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Or very nearly. Jay and Mona reflect on New York City’s glorious renewal, the work of great philanthropists, the worth of work in general, Putin’s Kafkaesque assault on truth, and a grim anniversary, among many other topics.

Here is a link to the Bach piece mentioned toward the end of the podcast. 

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Catalina Serrano is a Colombian and the wife of Andrés Felipe Arias, a minister in the cabinet of President Álvaro Uribe. Arias was, in fact, Uribe’s chosen successor. But Arias was railroaded in the Colombian judicial system. His case is positively Kafkaesque. With his family, he fled to the United States to seek political asylum. He is now in federal detention, scheduled to be extradited.

Jay wrote about all this in a piece called “Asylum Now: The awful case of a splendid man.”

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Angela Gheorghiu is a Romanian soprano, and one of the starriest, and most controversial, opera singers in the world. She is a legend in her own time. Jay interviewed and wrote about her in 2012 (here). For this “Q&A,” she is in Palermo and he is in New York. They discuss a variety of issues, including Gheorghiu’s new album, “Eternamente.”

Listeners to this podcast may need a cheat sheet, as Gheorghiu refers or alludes to things without making them explicit.

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Jay and Mona talk gossip—the morality of it. They don’t traffic in it. They offer their take on the week’s imbroglios, and touch on GWB, Harvey Weinstein, Colin Kaepernick, Putin’s comely fake opponent, John Kelly, and Jerry Brown among others.

Music from this episode: “La calunnia” from Rossini’s “Barber of Seville,” sung by Ezio Pinza

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He has a new novel out, Mark Helprin does: “Paris in the Present Tense.” Among his previous novels are “Winter’s Tale,” “A Soldier of the Great War,” and “In Sunlight and in Shadow.” The new one is about love and loyalty. Aren’t they all? As Jay says, it’s another blow by Helprin for truth and beauty. Enjoy the show.

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Is the word ‘conservative’ up for grabs? Does lying matter? What Harvey Weinstein should have said. Who’s worse: Trump or Pence?

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Policy guru Avik Roy joins to consider whether there’s still space for market oriented reform in health care and in American life in general. He also explains how he became a wonk.

Jay and Mona then turn to the Las Vegas massacre, Tom Price’s departure, Rex Tillerson’s honesty (and likely tenure), going easy on Trump, and Mona’s experience at a rock concert. Yes, really.

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