pic_giant_071513_SM_Picking-Tom-Cotton-Arkansas“Tom Cotton is perfect,” an Arkansas lady confided to Jay Nordlinger when he traveled to the state. “No, he’s not,” responded Mrs. Cotton, mother of the congressman and candidate for United States Senate, when Jay repeated the story to her later. Chatting with Jay and Mona, Tom Cotton endorses his mother’s view. See what you think. He seems to have it all: Harvard, military career, solid conservative values, wholesome life, sense of humor, good looks. He shares his thoughts about the campaign against Mark Pryor, how to answer accusations that Republicans want to throw widows and orphans into the snow, and what Republicans should do with the filibuster if they’re fortunate enough to gain the majority.

After Cotton’s departure, Jay and Mona mark the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, chew over the election results in Europe, and agree that economics is key to maintaining our liberty.

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NTK FeatureMona and Jay have a rollicking discussion, ranging from A to Z, or at least A to R. Among the personalities discussed are Elizabeth Warren, Ted Kennedy, Rand Paul, Narendra Modi, Marco Rubio, and Solzhenitsyn. Among the topics discussed are totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, the VA, student bodies, the courage of black conservatives, and baseball. Mona and Jay don’t solve many of the problems of the world, but they are pretty good at identifying and explaining them. The show ends with “America,” because Mona brings up the classic rhyme “I like the island Manhattan. / Smoke on your pipe and put that in.” (That is one of Jay’s favorites too – along with “Glory hallelujah, I give my praises to Ya,” which he learned from a Kirk Franklin song.)

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Stuart TaylorJay and Mona welcome Stuart Taylor, Jr. author of Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It. They’ve both mentioned Stuart Taylor in the past and don’t stint on the opportunity to tell him just what they think of him to his face.

Affirmative action/race preferences are the topic for the first half hour, including a review of the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding Michigan’s ban on the practice. In a particularly powerful passage, Taylor wonders at the presumption of Justice Sotomayor, who implied that all of her colleagues who disagreed with her don’t understand the issue of race in America. This – to Clarence Thomas.

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NTK FeatureIn their latest episode, Mona and Jay talk about the scourge of widespread and chronic unemployment; the withdrawal of Condoleezza Rice from a commencement date; the Benghazi investigation; and other weighty matters. They also discuss the joys of language. Mona has been interested to learn lately that – ta-da! – saturated fats are good for you. Or at least not harmful. She is also faced, as a cello student, with learning a new clef. For her, that has been like castor oil, so far.

The exit music is a cello piece: the (exciting) finale of Tchaikovsky’s “Rococo” Variations, played by Leonard Rose and the Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Eugene Ormandy.

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Everyone knows that the Republicans are the party of the rich, right? Matt Continetti, editor of the Washington Free Beacon, joins Jay and Mona to Continettidebunk this with gusto. He details Hillary Clinton’s cozy relationships with big donors, and provides the details about the lavish lifestyles of the rich and Democratic (the Podestas, to be exact). Nothing wrong with wealth of course, except when you’ve waxed prosperous entirely at the taxpayers’ expense.

Mona and Jay then offer a tour of useful idiots, starting with the late Gabriel Garcia Marquez, stopping by to wave at Edward Snowden, and finishing up with Jay Carney, who apparently thinks it’s cute to hang Soviet propaganda posters in his kitchen. Does he see himself as a propagandist perhaps?

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Mona pauses in the preparation of matzah balls (that’s an actual, un-retouched photo of them, photographed in the their native habitat by Mona herself) to discuss lobbying with Jay. Not the virtuous, policy-oriented lobbying that is the lifeblood of democracy, but the smarmier kind that involves big business paying the well-connected (these days mostly Democrats, though Republicans are hardly pure) to impose disadvantages on their competitors.

Speaking of democracy, Jay and Mona agree that the Nevada stand-off attracting so much attention is not good for it.

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This week, Mona and Jay talk about John Kerry and that chimera known as “the Middle East peace process.” The truth is sadly simple, they say: There will be peace the second the Arabs want to coexist – and not a second before. Then they chew over leftist nonsense on campus. Jay says that maybe we make too big a deal out of this nonsense; Mona quickly talks him out of it. Later, they discuss a Kennedy-family award to George Bush the Elder. You know how Democrats like their Republicans: dead or long retired. Finally, Mona and Jay go down Memory Lane a bit about Edwin Edwards, the Louisiana politician and rascal – who’s out of jail and runnin’ for office again.

Early in the podcast, they talk about Breaking Away, the 1979 movie set in Bloomington, Indiana. That movie uses Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony, which is the music the podcast exits on.

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RosettMona and Jay have a guest, Claudia Rosett, one of the best journalists in America, and particularly valuable on the subject of international relations. She talks about the threat of a nuclear Iran, and what America is doing to meet it. And not doing. Iran is not a topic that Americans, among others, can afford to get sick of. Rosett tackles it with authority, both reportorial and moral.

Then Mona and Jay talk about a mélange of issues and personalities. The issues include feminism; the personalities include Gertrude Himmelfarb, that exemplary intellectual. There is not much levity in this show. There is more Armageddon. But the show ends on a hopeful note, with the final few minutes of Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, nicknamed the “Titan.” These few minutes are a stretch of music that symbolizes human perseverance, defiance, and ultimately triumph.

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In the first part of this podcast, Mona and Jay host Mitch Daniels, the old Reagan hand who was governor of Indiana and is now president of Purdue University. They talk about higher ed, the general direction of the country, etc. Mona is almost to the point of forgiving him for not running for president two years ago.

In the second part of the podcast, Mona and Jay talk about an array of issues. For instance, America’s standing in the world — does President Obama want it this way? How about the people who elected him, twice? They talk about awfulness at Stanford, and awfulness at Rutgers. They note that Paul Ryan, of all people, is being called a racist. Must mean he’s sticking his neck out and trying to do some good.

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Mona and Jay’s guest this week is Professor Richard Pipes, the historian of Russia (and national-security official in the Reagan administration). His subjects are Russia, Ukraine, Putin, Obama—and some others as well. He is one of the leading scholars of our time. Then, Mona and Jay take up yet more subjects: national greatness, and the question of honor; America’s energy revolution; charter schools, and a fissure on the left; Lincoln and Churchill, as a pair; the abominable Harry Reid; the interesting Maria von Trapp (daughter, not governess); etc.

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This week, Mona and Jay welcome Brad Smith, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission. He explains some of the strange doings of the IRS and other federal bodies in the Age of Obama. Then, Mona and Jay discuss a vexing question: Why do the people let the government get away with it? Why do they let the government tie us down, in nonsensical and harmful ways? The second the people want a different kind of government, we will have it. There is talk of Ted Cruz, the Olympics, opera, and even Ike’s Tree (R.I.P.). Finally, Mona has some kind words for the New York Times, which, even more amazing, are justified.

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If there’s one political trope that Jay and Mona have no patience with, it’s the Remocrats and Depublicans bit – the notion that the two parties are like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

This week they note several examples of how worlds apart the two parties are: Obama’s nominee to head the civil rights division of the Justice Department, Debo Adegbile is of the hard left, and Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, seems to delight in scorning Israel, while Romney would have appointed someone who actually sticks up for our friends.

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As usual, Mona and Jay talk about subjects beautiful and ugly. In the latter category: Bill Ayers, IRS harassment, and Pete Seeger’s Communism. In the former category: Brahms, congressional oversight, and free enterprise (particularly as a means of uplifting the poor). Mona gives a tour de force on the effects of family breakdown. The two do some chuckling over the New York Times. There is also a Buckley story or two. The podcast ends with music that Mona mentions at the top of the show: the final movement of Brahms’s G-minor piano quartet, orchestrated by Schoenberg. It’s marked “Rondo alla zingarese,” i.e., “Gypsy rondo.”

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Jay and Mona confess to not watching the State of the Union address for maybe the first time in their lives. Still, the misrepresentations, ahem, lies delivered in said address come in for some timely correction. Jay notes the appropriateness of the podcast date – Groundhog Day – as they once again debunk the old chestnut about women earning 77 cents on the dollar compared with men.

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Social issues predominate as Jay and Mona consider the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. The term “pro-choice” is on the way out apparently, to be replaced by the more anodyne “women’s health.” Persisting in what the left would doubtless label a “war on women,” the Need to Know pair consider the bona fides of pro-“women’s health” pin-up Wendy Davis and swing by Brooklyn to consider whether it’s okay for religious Jews to ask women to dress modestly in their shops.

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Mona and Jay are joined by their friend and colleague Richard Brookhiser, the journalist and historian. They talk a little about “Right World,” i.e., the world of conservatives. And then they talk about the American Founding. Later in the program, Mona and Jay discuss David Horowitz, the Left, the tragedy of race, the crisis of debt, the balm of music, and other things.

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Jay and Mona welcome back the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald who discusses her Wall Street Journal op-ed about the self-sabotage of Western Civilization – that is, the decline of the study of Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer, and other DWEMs in favor of race, gender, disability and other “identity” writings. Mac Donald focuses on UCLA, but it’s a national phenomenon. 

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Mona and Jay are in relatively high spirits, hoping that 2014 will bring positive things. They talk about Obama, the Clintons, MSNBC, Harry Reid, the new leftist mayor of New York – and yet they’re still in high spirits. They end with a word on “Die Fledermaus,” the New Year’s Eve operetta. When it has its fizz, it’s hard to beat.

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