NTK FeatureMona and Jay range widely in this episode – even more widely than usual. They talk about Congressman Steve Scalise and his current trial. The talk about Bob McDonnell, the ex-governor of Virginia, and his literal trial. They talk about Obama and NPR – a match made in heaven (or somewhere).

They talk about Cuba, Mario Cuomo, and Jonathan Gruber. Is there more to say about Gruber? Oh, yes, considerably more. They talk about the head ayatollah in Iran – who tweeted “Black Lives Matter.” Too bad no lives matter in Iran.


NTK FeatureThe liberated President Obama, liberated from the voters that is, has done something morally shameful in the name of realism – restoring diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. Jay and Mona make short work of the claims that this will liberalize the vicious regime of the Castro brothers. This is a betrayal of the Cuban people.

Jay, but not Mona, would have gone to see “The Interview” before the North Korean tantrum and cyber attack, but in the wake of it, both would consider it a patriotic duty to go now – if it were showing anywhere. They are not impressed with Obama’s limp response and ponder what a real president would have done.


NTK FeatureMona and Jay are a hundred years old today—or rather, they have just recorded their hundredth podcast. They had lengthy discussions about how to mark their “centenary.” In the end, Mona asked Jay questions about music. And the podcast is replete with musical examples, or clips.

Sample question: “What is the most comforting music you can think of?” Another sample: “What is the most rousing?”


headshot1Linda Chavez, survivor of a thousand insults and worse (mostly, but not alas exclusively, from the left) joins Jay and Mona to talk about Ferguson, the New York asphyxiation case, and our never ending race NTK Featurepreoccupations in America. Linda Chavez is widely believed to be either a first or second generation American. She can, in fact, trace her family back hundreds of years here. She’s been a brave champion of the battle against quotas and for equal opportunity and delivers her views about Hispanics. Hint: They’re assimilating very well.

Jay and Mona then offer further thoughts about the race cases in the news, the hatred that characterizes one of our political parties, the great Rob Portman, the not great Clintons, taking to the streets, the British royal family, and Hollywood music. We close with a bit of Erich Korngold’s violin concerto. He wrote many things for the movies – though not this.



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. 

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