The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens joins to pay tribute to his late colleague Daniel Pearl and consider the state of truth – and dedication to it – in our time. Pearl gave his life for it.

Jay and Mona then consider the Attorney General’s predicament, the state of nationalism around the globe, tribalism and Balkanization at home, President Trump’s much-lauded joint session speech, the “Blacksonian,” and “opera in the outfield.”

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No, not the president. Betsy Hart of the Heritage Foundation joins to report on parents pushing back against a public high school’s progressive indoctrination plans.

Jay and Mona then move on to things they love (Jay loves Emma Stone, Mona loves the series “The People v. O.J. Simpson”) and some of the things they hate. There’s some CPAC, Milo, “repeal and replace,” and consideration of the life and meaning of John C. Calhoun. Was Yale right to remove his name?

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Conservatives are united in praise of Neil Gorsuch, but what do those terms – originalism, textualism, and so forth – really mean? Ed Whelan, former Scalia clerk and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, joins to explain all.

Jay and Mona then chew over President Trump’s week. Flynn, Conway, nuclear holocaust, anti-Semitism, Electoral College tallies, truth, lies, and the rock ’em sock ’em press conference. Other topics include Down syndrome, and the courage and love of parents.

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Jay and Mona are very enthusiastic Betsy DeVos fans, but they are skeptical, to say the least, about the federal department she will now head.

They also cover the president’s immigration order (pro and con), Garry Kasparov and the right, France’s election and Wikileaks, conservative versus liberal isolationism, Roberta McCain, Ben Sasse, and a hummingbird egg.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Henry Olsen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center joins to analyze the election results (Olsen was one of the few to predict the outcome within a point or two) and consider the big takeaways from 2016 about ethnic and working class voters. What matters more: identity or issues?

Jay and Mona then read the tea leaves emerging from Trump tower and Bedminster, NJ and offer some praise, some relief, and some alarm.

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The Catholics say hope is a theological virtue, and while none of the four participants in a special Need to Know is Catholic, all are upholding it this week.

Peter Wehner joined first, Wednesday morning, for reflections on the challenge to conservatives of a Trump presidency. On Thursday, Jay and Mona welcomed David French. They talk Supreme Court, Obamacare, and then, inevitably, foreign policy and character. It’s a bizarre stew, cooked up by history.

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Jay and Mona wonder what the next four years will look like now that the Republican Party has taken on so many of the features of the Democratic Party. Is demography destiny? Does anyone still uphold good character and deplore the “coarsening of the culture”? They close with light and dark: A note of fortitude about our task, and dark foreboding from Shostakovich.

Music from this week’s show: End of Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink

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Did Citizens United hand the US electoral system to nefarious corporate interests and “dark money”? We ask former FEC chairman and free speech advocate Bradley Smith. His lucid explication makes even this murky realm of the law very clear.

Jay and Mona then consider emotionalism, tribalism, and extremism in American politics. Also, is it just the women angle that makes Trump unacceptable? Bob Dylan gets a shout out that he might not like.

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Presidential historian Tevi Troy drops by to talk about crises. He’s written a book titled Shall We Wake the President? Wilson was a flop at responding to the 1918 flu, but Reagan responded well to the Tylenol poisoning case. This much is certain: Every president will have to respond to a crisis, so . . .

After Tevi departs Jay and Mona consider the crisis of the election and the hypocrisy of the right. How did we get here? Will we all come back together after November 8? 

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Note: This podcast was recorded before the Trump video story broke. 

Mona and Jay talk about him and her – you know, the major-party presidential nominees. They also talk about some other things: including the Nobel Peace Prize, Captive Nations Week, Bill Cosby, and music.

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The match of the century? Hardly. Jay and Mona speculate on which Republican could have done what Trump failed to do in the first debate – really take it to Hillary Clinton. They talk trade, Lewinsky, taxes (did Trump admit he doesn’t pay them?), “trickle down” economics, demeanor, and more. The closing music is emblematic of the Republican Party this year.

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