LedeenNTK FeatureMona and Jay have a guest this week: Michael Ledeen, that scholar and champion of freedom. He talks about Iran, primarily. The Khomeinist regime has been a curse on humanity—especially the Iranian people—for 35 years. Its downfall will be a great day. The hosts join Ledeen in his trademark refrain, “Faster, please.”

Mona and Jay then discuss President Obama’s abuse of power, his “climate” pact with China, and several other matters. Jay is exceptionally shouty and worked up; Mona is naturally more levelheaded but still impassioned. The podcast goes out with a stretch of the Shostakovich Eighth, written in the dead of the war.


NTK FeatureWarning: This podcast may induce feelings of elation, giddiness, and possible trouble sleeping. Jay and Mona, gloomy to the point of depression in 2012, revel in Tuesday’s results. There are so many things to celebrate: the failure of the war on women; the rising number of Hispanics and Asians voting R; the sound defeat of turncoat Charlie Crist. Each race is savored, turned this way and that to catch the light, and enjoyed.

Mona condemns those who vote only in presidential years, but praises the essential stability of American politics.


NTK FeatureMona and Jay’s guest is Jason Riley, author of the new book Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed (use the coupon code RICOCHET for 15% off). There is enough in this subject for 100 podcasts, but Jason, Mona, and Jay make do with approximately half a one. Then the hosts traverse other subjects: including the Obama administration’s unremitting hostility to Israel, or at least to its prime minister. They also talk about children and politics, and of course next Tuesday’s elections. Jay is excited for victory, and overexcited. Even Mona, the cool-as-a-cucumber intellectual, is rather looking forward.

The ending music, in honor of Halloween, is Camille Saint-Saëns’s ghoulish little masterpiece Danse macabre.


NTK FeatureJay reports from his annual trip to the Oslo Freedom Forum this week, where he met, among other extraordinarily brave and inspiring figures, 21- year-old Yeonmi Park, an escapee from North Korea. Her story – of starvation, and rape, and terror — is the kind that makes you feel guilty for the ample meal you just consumed and the comfortable life you enjoy.

But we do live in the comfortable west, and as Jay and Mona next discuss, it may be about to become a little more palatable – at least politically. The absurd “war on women” trope that succeeded in 2012 and 2013 is falling flat this year – along with the gender gap among women. They analyze and relish the demise of this most insulting of appeals.


N2K_001bMona and Jay have a guest this week, Greg Lukianoff, who discusses free speech on campus—more like the suppression of. Examples will curl your hair, if your hair is still curlable, after all these years of free-speech erosion.


Then the hosts range widely, as is their wont, discussing issues both political and cultural. Political issues include Ebola, or the politicization of (and racialization of). Cultural issues include this curious question: Shouldn’t it be possible to buy a pair of sneakers or a shirt without attending what amounts to a rock concert? (Jay fears he is turning into Andy Rooney, the paradigmatic curmudgeon.)


N2K_001bRepublican candidates are giving us many reasons for pride this year, and Democrats are offering a few chuckles. Cheers for Ed Gillespie, Mike McFadden, Bobby Jindal, and Chris Christie. Mona and Jay note with wry amusement the inability of Democratic senatorial candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes (she does have a musical name, Jay observes) to say whether she voted for Barack Obama. They laugh at her – and him.

Grimes is one of the Democratic candidates who thought the “War on Women” farce could be reprised in 2014, but that is looking increasingly unlikely. Grimes has been hit with one of those secret tapings that make Jay and Mona a little queasy, but which reveal the truth nonetheless.

Henry Olsen

This episode begins with a guest, Henry Olsen, a guru on elections and electorates, among other things. Then Mona and Jay proceed with a smorgasbord of issues—beginning with Hong Kong. Could Tiananmen Square be repeated? And how about the broader question of democracy, for peoples that don’t have it? Democracy for me but not for thee?NTK Feature

Mona and Jay wonder whether President Obama has learned a little humility in the business of terrorist-killing: It can be hard to do it without injuring or killing innocent people in the process. Is it okay when we inflict collateral damage but not when Israel does?


NTK FeatureIt’s quite the personality parade this week on Need to Know. Jay and Mona note Ezekiel Emanuel’s proposal that everyone should die at age 75. The only way Obamacare will be financially viable, they wonder? Jay notes that Rahm (mayor of Chicago, brother of Ezekiel) is a former ballet dancer – and worthy of admiration on that score. “He still stands like a dancer.” Those may be the kindest words Jay has said lately about a leading Democrat. But wait, he also praises Obama’s UN speech (with qualifications)!

Remember all the caterwauling by Harry Reid about the Koch brothers, and by Barack Obama about Citizens United? Well, it seems Democrats are outraising and outspending Republicans this year – by a lot.


N2K_001bThis week, Need to Know breathes a huge sigh of relief that our second favorite country (or maybe tied for second with Israel, in Mona’s case), Great Britain, remains intact. Jay and Mona talk of Edmund Burke and Al Qaeda, and whether spanking children is bad for the black community. Jay recalls that of all the left’s depredations over the years, the libeling of Republicans and conservatives as racists was the worst. Mona agrees and notes that it’s always Groundhog Day on matters of race relations for a very good reason – it’s the only way Democrats can get elected.

Music from this week’s episode:


NTK FeatureMona and Jay begin with a guest, Michael Rubin, the foreign-policy analyst. He briefs us on ISIS, and the American response. Later, Mona discusses the return of the “security moms” — American women concerned about security, and acting on those instincts, politically. She also mentions an Obama official’s geography blunder. If a Republican had made the same blunder . . .

The two discuss Common Core, and this relevant question: What do you do when your gurus disagree? There is some remembering of 9/11, including the bravery and example of the passengers aboard Flight 93.


NTK FeatureIt’s British week on Need to Know – not by design, but Jay and Mona found themselves commenting on the cousins. Some news from the mother country is profoundly disturbing – like the story of Rotherham, where a ring of Pakistani Muslim men raped and abused young girls while authorities turned a blind eye so as not to offend multicultural sensitivities. And there’s the Sainsbury store that emptied its shelves of kosher products in response to mob threats.

On the other hand, Jay and Mona recall fondly the BBC shows they loved – “My Word” and “My Music,” and Mona gushes a bit about old recordings of “Desert Island Discs” which she’s recently discovered are available on iTunes. 


BDBITL-O-H-I-OIn this week’s episode, Mona and Jay cover even greater ground than usual. They talk about the fragility of civilization (a perpetual theme). The degradation of America’s cities. The drama in Ferguson, Mo. The problem of policing.

They also talk about ISIS, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. Are they a group that simply needs to be pulverized? Then the discussion turns naturally to Iran, and the question of the mullahs’ deterrability, or non-deterrability.


NTK FeatureWhat do the King of Saudi Arabia, the leader of Egypt, and the leader of India have in common? They’re all more anti-Hamas than our president. Jay and Mona consider the oddness of this moment, and then move on to the question of why – of all things – Israel is routinely accused of being Nazi.

There are countries and movements in the world that resemble Nazis, and Jay discusses a new book about the abuse of Falun Gong by China. It’s one small window into the horrific nature of that regime. And yet, we trade, we travel, we study – we pretend that China is just another normal country.


UnknownNTK FeatureMona and Jay welcome a guest, Andy McCarthy – with whom they discuss a topic of the hour, impeachment. Has it come to this ultimate measure? When might it? Mona and Jay continue to talk about Obama, in duly aggrieved tones. They also talk about Israel and anti-Semitism. And the immigration debate and other topics of the hour. Relief comes at the end, when they turn to music. The music we leave you with is Maria Callas in the Habanera from “Carmen.”



Nina_Teicholz_photoNTK FeatureEverything you thought you knew about what to eat and what not to eat is wrong. That’s the thesis of guest Nina Teicholz’s book The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. No, Need to Know has not become the Today Show, and Mona hastens to clarify that she finds diet discussions a major bore. Teicholz’s book is something different – a deep reflection on how scientists, public health authorities, government bodies, and nutritionists could have gotten it so wrong for so long. Teicholz doesn’t shrink from drawing lessons about other areas where conventional wisdom might be mistaken.

Jay and Mona then move on to the competing appeals court decisions on Obamacare this week. Looking forward to a Supreme Court resolution, Jay notes that it’s never the liberal justices who surprise us. 


NTK FeatureOn this week’s ’cast, Mona and Jay talk about Obama as foreign-policy disaster. There is some talk about domestic-policy disasters, too. And will Hillary Clinton, if president, be another master of disaster? Mistress of disaster? Is there any difference at all between BHO and HRC? The latter thinks that the “reset” with Russia has been a crashing success. “Crashing” is the word.

Mona and Jay also talk about the Koch brothers, and the gross, indeed frightening, demonization of them. Furthermore, they weigh in on Cleveland—not as the city that LeBron James will call home once more, but as the site of the 2016 GOP convention.


NTK FeatureWhat happened to the missing white voters in 2012? That’s one question Jay and Mona chew over with political guru Sean Trende of Real Clear TrendePolitics. Sean is one of the smartest analysts studying secular trends in voting patterns and he offers insights on how young voters, African Americans, and whites have been moving in recent cycles and are likely to move in coming elections. Tune in for one of the biggest underreported shifts between 2008 and 2012.

Next our hosts take note of the impeachment talk circulating among some Republicans, attend to the performance of the Iron Dome in Israel, bow our heads at a street ceremony in front of the Cuban mission in New York City marking a grim anniversary, wonder whether Obama is tired of being president, and doff our caps for Antonio Vivaldi. We close with a particularly apt story about Giacomo Puccini contributed by a Ricochet listener!


NTK FeatureOf course, this could be the title of most any Need to Know. This week, Mona and Jay talk about France: its glories and its shame. That leads to talk about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—which has voted to divest from Israel. The IRS’s e-mails crashed and burned. Rose Mary Woods, President Nixon’s secretary, should have had such a kind and understanding press. Hillary Clinton sometimes goes southern in her speech—which is amusing. It has now been 20 years since O.J. Simpson committed those murders—or do we need to say “allegedly”? The Obama administration is practically married to the media. Etc., etc.

Toward the end of the podcast, Mona and Jay talk about music and some music-related issues—for example, the latest controversy from the Metropolitan Opera. The Met will stage John Adams’s Death of Klinghoffer, but will not broadcast it in theaters. A testy decision. In other news, Sir Mix-a-Lot performed “Baby Got Back” with the Seattle Symphony. If these aren’t the end times, they are near.


NTK FeatureJay and Mona both thought of Saigon this week as the monsters took Mosul and Tikrit and set their sights on Baghdad. It’s a moment of shame for the country, they agree, but the frightening and surreal aspect of the story is the total inability of President Obama to learn from his mistakes. Carter, for all his many faults, could be swayed by reality. Obama seems immune to it.

As grim as the news is this week, the always spirited and insightful Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post cheers up the Need to Know hosts by helping to analyze Eric Cantor’s loss – and defending his reputation. We close with a few smiles about Hillary Clinton’s many stumbles.

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