A few times a year, we take break from guests and the news cycle and throw the floor open to you, our valued Ricochet members. Even with one man down, we take on favorite trees, the election, best books, and a plethora of other topics. Thanks to all who submitted questions. We’ll do this again in the summer.

Music from this week’s episode:

zhong_weifengChina often seems to be the only country that can possibly compete with or overtake the US in economic horsepower. This isn’t just international opinion; the Chinese seem pretty optimistic about how they are doing too. In 2015, 90% of Chinese citizens ranked their economy as good or very good, and 88% think their children will be better off than they are.

But will this last any longer? Given recent movements in the market and the Chinese government’s suppression (maybe even alteration) of crucial economic data, it seems like a real possibility things are taking a turn for the worse.

I talked all this over with Weifeng Zhong, a research fellow here at AEI specializing in China, macroeconomics, and political economy. Zhong holds a degree from China’s Shantou University, MEcon and MPhil degrees in economics from the University of Hong Kong, and MSc and a PhD from Northwestern University.

Since our last show was recorded on location at political ground zero (at least for that week) and was almost all about the race, the men of GLoP insisted that for this show we throw politics to the side of the road and riff on whatever comes to mind. That includes a long windup to the start of the show (Rob insisted we keep it in) their favorite books, how to fix Twitter, The Walking Dead, beloved but long unseen sitcoms, and of course the annual GLoP Oscar picks.

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Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review see political upsides if Pres. Obama nominates and Senate Republicans refuse to consider Nevada GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval for the Supreme Court.  They also sigh as more chatter emerges that John Kasich should be the VP nominee for the Republicans.  And they slam millennials for not eating cereal because it requires them to wash the bowl.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review marvel at Donald Trump’s huge win in Nevada and start to winder if getting the race down to two candidates will even make a difference.  They also scold Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for constantly trying to paint huge losses as proof that they are the one to take down Trump.  And they react to Donald Trump saying he loves the poorly educated.

Commentary Editor John Podhoretz and Assistant Online Editor Noah Rothman lament the failure of the Republican party to take on a certain orange-haired frontrunner, seek to explain the reasons the party has yet to challenge him, discuss the application of Occam’s Razor to 2016, wonder why the media are so determined to end the Bernie Sanders campaign, and argue that Barack Obama’s new plan to close Gitmo is an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign and a middle finger to his fellow Democrats. Listen in!

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review relish watching Joe Biden’s 1992 Senate speech in which he tells President George H.W. Bush not to nominate anyone for the Supreme Court in an election year or it would do lasting damage to the Senate.  They also slam President Obama for pushing forward with his demand to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay.  And they wonder why John Kasich is still running for president.

The two debaters in this program are Daniel Dennett, famous philosopher from Tufts University (and one of the main advocates of the “new atheism”) and David Cook, professor of philosophy at Wheaton College. Of some seven or eight times that we did discussions on the atheism/religion conflict, this one was most frequently requested for rebroadcast.

Thomas C. Leonard of Princeton University says that 20th-century Progressives weren’t the people you may have thought they were, in his new book Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Leonard talks 41zMhIbMYKLabout how the Progressives of yesteryear differ from the Progressives of today, whether eugenics really was central to their politics, and what lessons their experience holds for us now, at a time when we possess unprecedented powers to alter the human genome.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review clap for Jeb Bush for realizing he needed to get out of the GOP race.  They also groan as the Republican race appears to be shaping up to be a Trump win or a giant mess.  And they marvel at the media declaring Hillary’s win in Nevada as proof she is now the inevitable nominee.

Harper Lee Dead


Harper Lee died at the age of 89, it was confirmed today, in the same small Alabama town where she lived most of her life, and the setting for her one and only masterwork of published writing, To Kill a Mockingbird.

I don’t know much about Harper Lee. She was such a private person, I’m not sure anyone does. But, I imagine she told us all she wanted to about herself in her semi-autobiographical character, Scout. That’s how I’m going to remember her, anyway. As Scout, all grown up and grown old, still at the heart of her beloved Monroeville.

President Obama has announced that he will travel to Cuba next month. Jay discusses this, and related matters, with Otto Reich, late of the Reagan, Bush 41, and Bush 43 administrations.

150px-Otto_ReichReich was born in Cuba. What’s he doing with a name like “Otto Reich”? Jay explains, and Reich explains further. Obama’s trip to Cuba is very important – not in a positive way. Otto Reich knows exactly what it means.

Well, maybe not this year, but someday, it could well happen. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, is, after all, one of the new stars in the conservative firmament.

D7idMyaSHe joins Need to Know this week to talk about the coming battle over Justice Scalia’s replacement, the state of the Republican Party (and the party system in general), and across-the-aisle comity, among other topics.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review cross their fingers and hope that the South Carolina primary will lead to fewer GOP candidates going forward.  They also slam two major school districts in Northern Virginia that are cancelling school on Super Tuesday to avoid congestion at polling places, but we explain why it’s good for kids to be there on Election Day.  And we wade into the Pope vs. Trump debate.

We’re all over the galaxy this week with our guests The Federalist’s Ben Domenech and Ricochet’s own Saturday Night Science guy himself, the always awesome anonymous. Ben stops by to discuss the unpredictable election cycle and throw some shade The Donald (you comment, we listen). Then, we get our wonk on with anonymous who explains gravitation waves (we were told there’d be no math on this podcast) as well as Apple’s tussle with the FBI. Finally, our in-house Catholic Peter Robinson has some word for the Pope, who has found himself sparring with a certain Presidential candidate (hint: he has a wicked comb-over).

Music from this week’s episode:

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review welcome two national polls showing the public evenly divided on whether the Senate should confirm a Supreme Court justice this year.  They also rip Obama for traveling to Cuba next month to celebrate ties with the Castro regime, which still brutalizes political opponents.  And they discuss President Obama’s decision to pay respects to Justice Antonin Scalia at the Supreme Court on Friday but not attend Scalia’s funeral on Saturday.

John, Paul, and Steve got together for Episode 33 of the Power Line Show. They were joined by Jason Riley, author of Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. It is a terrific book, and Riley was an excellent guest. Among other things, they talked about the fact that blacks made more economic and educational progress prior to the civil rights era and the dawn of affirmative action than they did subsequently. It is truly unfortunate that this history, which can fairly be described as heroic, has been obscured for reasons of political opportunism.

John, Paul and Steve went on to discuss the two hottest issues in the news: the Supreme Court vacancy resulting from the death of Antonin Scalia, and the GOP presidential race. Will Mitch McConnell and Charles Grassley find the right strategy to prevent the Court from lurching decisively to the left? Will Donald Trump’s supporters ever wise up to the fact that he is a Republican In Name Only, and an ugly one at that? No doubt these will still be burning questions when we get to Episode 34.

We’ve been waiting for and dreading this day for months: Kudlow and Pawlenty’s Money & Politics co-host Larry Kudlow explains his reasons for not running for Senate in Connecticut. While we’re thrilled that Larry will be doing the show through the election, we’re sad that there won’t be a Kudlow in Congress. Also, Apple versus the FBI, Larry and Tim #FeelTheBern, SCOTUS, and some thoughts about Trump and South Carolina.

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Editor John Podhoretz and Assistant Online Editor Noah Rothman try yet again to decipher the Donald Trump strategy—this time his decision to relitigate the War on Terror and the War in Iraq as a means of winning Republican support for his candidacy. What sense does this make for someone attempting to seize control of the very party that embraced both a decade ago, and still views itself as the better of the two parties when it comes to national security? Also on tap: Is Hillary Charlie Brown? Is the Democratic nomination the football? Is Bernie Sanders Lucy? And a tribute to Nino Scalia.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review enjoy watching President Obama squirm as he demands Senate consideration for his eventual Supreme Court nominee but tried to filibuster Samuel Alito back in 2006.  They also like a new poll showing Nevada to be  a dead heat between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.  And they discuss the new book from liberal commentator Bill Press that calls President Obama a disappointment and says Obamacare and the stimulus were not successes.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review enjoy watching Hillary Clinton lower expectations in Nevada and feud with Harry Reid.  They also laugh as Sen. Chuck Schumer claims this Supreme Court vacancy is a totally different situation than when he urged Democrats to block any nominees from George W. Bush in the final 18 months of his presidency.  And they discuss the latest sordid tale involving former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and are relieved that Spitzer is not running for president right now – which he likely would be if not caught up in his original sex scandal.

It’s rare for the discussion in the faculty lounge to stay on one topic for an entire hour, but how could it not when the subject is the late, great Antonin Scalia? In this episode, Professors Epstein and Yoo recall their personal memories of the departed Supreme Court justice, explain his place in the history of the judicial branch, hash out whether or not Republicans should attempt to block President Obama’s nomination of a replacement, and explain how the president could put the GOP on its heels. Finally, the boys give their answer to this query: what’s the single most important question a president can pose to a potential Supreme Court nominee?

All that and more in this hour of Law Talk.

Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s best-loved presidents. Does he really need redemption? Allen C. Guelzo says yes, in his new book called, appropriately, Redeeming the Great Emancipator.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Guelzo explains why Lincoln suffers a barrage of attacks today, what motivated him to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and whether he was a racist and an atheist.

Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review mourn the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and remember him as faithful to the Constitution, a towering intellect and a larger than life personality.  They also shake our heads as the Republican front-runner uses the latest debate to say Planned Parenthood does wonderful things for women – except for the abortions – and that 9/11 was George W. Bush’s fault and that he lied to get us into the Iraq War.  And they express disgust at the left’s horrific reaction to Scalia’s death and the instinct by some on the right to conclude that Scalia’s death was the result of foul play.

Mona welcomes the Daily Caller’s Matt K. Lewis to Need to Know this week. They discuss the Democratic debate, Bernie Sanders and socialism, and Matt’s new book Too Dumb to Fail. Matt’s book, a critique of some aspects of the right (“con$ervative” media, for example) couldn’t have been better timed.

MattLewisHeadshotTalk of the right and its woes leads naturally to theRepublican race. Could “con$ervative” media have given us Donald Trump? Is Ted Cruz the only man who can stop him? What is Jeb Bush’s legacy? Can Rubio still come back?