At the end of an especially busy week in pundit-world, Jonah sits down with us all to ruminate on some of the more noteworthy topics that may have flown by too quickly to actually wrap one’s brain around them. On the docket: The final debate, some useful counter-programming on the Biden email hullabaloo, getting (erm…) a “grip” on Jeffrey Toobin, and much more. Plus, Jonah has some more evergreen thoughts on the gradual defining down of conservatism, and what the G-File has meant to him after all these years.

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Last time Tim Alberta, Politico’s chief political correspondent, was on the program, life in America was crazy, but in a typical, everyday, post-2016 kind of way. We figured that it was time to have him back now that we’re in the process of rushing towards a new form of crazy at Spaceballs-levels of ludicrous speed (“They’ve gone plaid!”). Tim takes us through some of the issues that voters in purple states actually seem to care about (Hint: The Hunter Biden drama isn’t one of them) while also touching on the confusing lack of a substantive foreign policy debate in this election cycle, the simpler times of the Christmas Tree tax and the Dubai ports deal, and the shocking value-add provided to one’s life by the purchase of an Arby’s gyro.

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This weekend’s Ruminant sees Jonah starting off in some classic Remnant Bingo™, but peppered in with a healthy dose of interesting new information on those topics – in this case, anti-Enlightenment nationalism, and the establishment of fair rules under classically liberal societies. This comes along in addition to a rundown of the ham-fisted efforts by many outlets to pretend that “originalism” is actually something much more radical and antediluvian than it really is. Then, Jonah moves on to a topic that our culture could desperately use some clarification on: “Justice” and “social justice” are two different things – and “bending the will of every institution towards social justice … is how you end up with a kind of soft totalitarianism.” And, in this particularly relaxed-fit episode, we even get some rank punditry on the tail end on subjects like the censored New York Post story and much more.

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Here we are, in the wreckage of another simply wonderful Supreme Court confirmation hearing; who better to discuss the aftermath, next steps, and what these hearings do to the court than Ilya Shapiro? As Jonah says, Ilya is likely “the guest most consistently asked to make a comeback – mostly by the guest himself,” but it’s easy to see why. In addition to giving the 411 on why these hearings have transformed into so much “senatorial bloviation,” he also can talk about the bigger picture as a result of the research he did for his incredibly timely new book on the politicization of SCOTUS. It has been a long time coming for this return – and much like Ulysses’ journey back from Troy, it was worth the wait.

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Today, we bring you Will Saletan of Slate – after having struggled mightily against the malevolent whims of technology in order to get it ready. Not since Episode 11 has an installment of The Remnant so risked the sanity – nay, the very essence – of all participants involved. Luckily, the conversation more than makes up for these struggles. Jonah asks Will what it’s like to be a genuinely liberal guy in an industry space that has moved largely past actual liberalism, and then Will turns the tables on Jonah and asks him what it’s like to be genuinely conservative in an era of dwindling conservatism. Afterwards, stick around for SCOTUS punditry and what could be described as a worrying amount of Hegel-talk (for awareness: a worrying amount of Hegel-talk is any Hegel-talk).

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TO OUR FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD! Not seniors this time around, but Remnant listeners, that is. Jonah returns to ruminate with some fire in his belly this week – on the wasting of energy on Twitter, the bizarre phenomenon of the mainstream-media respectable conservative, court packing, The Worst President in History™, a revisiting of the weed conversation from the last Remnant, and more. Also, the quote of the day – or maybe the month, or the year – might be this: “The very essence of serious thinking … is the ability to make distinctions between superficially similar things.”

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Remnant first-timer Jonathan Adler joins Jonah today, not to watch Cheech and Chong over a bag of Doritos, but to talk about the politics of marijuana. Earlier in the year (right around the time that the world was ending, actually), Adler edited a volume entitled Marijuana Federalism, which explored the legal contradictions within the laws regarding cannabis in the U.S.; the situation is somewhat unprecedented, in that we now have a substance that is a federal crime to possess, while many states have had such an overwhelming turn in public opinion that this same substance has now become perfectly legal within their own jurisdiction. How do individual states get away with this without the feds swooping in? The amusing answer is something like: Eh, turns out that the feds are pretty understaffed.

Jonah then moves on to his role – well-known among the Remnant fan base – as Inquisitor of Libertarians, figuring out how Adler feels about total drug legalization. He gives one of the most grounded and logical responses to this inquisition we’ve ever heard on the program, continually emphasizing the fundamental fact of American federalism: “The freedom to live how you want to live also includes the freedom to live conservatively.” This brings the two gents down the avenues of nationalism, post-liberalism, and the hope for a return to localism, all wrapped up with a bow of “420” puns that Jonah just can’t help but put to good use.

Since the first six days of October 2020 have felt like 87 years, who’s better to sift through everything that has happened than one of The Dispatch’s own quadrumvirate of podcasters, Steve Hayes? Here to give Jonah the inside scoop on some of the background reporting he’s done for The Morning Dispatch, Steve has some ideas about how Trump’s overly-cinematic return to the White House could’ve been handled better, why there was a communication breakdown between Trump’s medical staff and his PR people, and, most mysteriously, what on God’s green earth Mark Meadows has been trying to do for the past few days.

Beyond these more Machiavellian machinations, they also delve into some of the downright silliness that’s gone on – such as the new pessimism that anything can even be done to stop COVID, since it’s a contagious disease (the stamping out of which has characterized (“Uh… literally the entire history of human civilization,” in Jonah’s words). They also give an update on the State of The Dispatch, and ponder what their place in the conservative media landscape may look like in a post-Trump era – whether that’s sooner or later.

This weekend’s Ruminant features Jonah running through a set of possible scenarios that might play out given President Trump’s COVID diagnosis – if we do say so ourselves, it’s a positively David French-like methodology given the approach to David’s new book (Out now!). Will Trump be able to do a Zoom debate? Will Mike Pence have the opportunity to do more than he currently does (which, as of now, seems to be standing completely still in a pensive silence like a sculpture of a Roman general)?

Then, Jonah discusses the current partisan tendency for “both the right and the left [to] weaponized norms,” chastising opponents for hypocrisy while refusing to adopt responsibility for their own flubs that damage the constitutional order. He explores the ways in which this manifests in both the nationalism debates as well as the current SCOTUS mess, and how the more intellectually serious proponents of nationalism can’t seem to decide whether they actually like to play by the rules or make things up as they go. All of this is followed up by a veritable potpourri of quick hits: Inside baseball on how syndicated column publishing works, how dumb the tax code is, steaks, dogma, and more.

In true Remnant fashion, Jonah speaks to Seth Masket – a political scientist at the University of Denver – in an attempt to understand why so few people in American life actually get what they want out of their vote. In Seth’s new book, Learning from Loss, he traces the Democratic Party’s inability to come up with a coherent “autopsy” post-2016 as Republicans did post-2012 (which is not to say that the GOP actually followed its own advice; we wouldn’t have Trump if it did). There’s some debate punditry at the beginning, before Seth and Jonah swiftly move into the explanations that Democratic organizers and activists have developed for why Clinton lost to Trump. The primary explanations often focus on a contentious topic: identity politics. As Seth says, “Doing this research helped to remind me that all identity claims are essentially a construction,” but for something so artificial, they have a very outsized effect on our politics. While Seth and Jonah effectively take opposite sides on this issue, they generate much more light than heat, while also arriving at an answer to the fundamentally important question in 2020: For a party so concerned with diversity, how is it that the Dems ended up nominating a septuagenarian white guy?

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Join Jonah on today’s episode of The Remnant with our first-time guest: CBS’s John Dickerson. The subjects included in John’s latest book, The Hardest Job in the World, will allow you to get a fix of incredible nerdiness about presidential history in equal proportion to your daily recommended dosage of rank punditry. Why is it that we’ve made the presidency, in John’s words “essentially an impossible job”? Another shock: Many of the parts of presidential decorum that we consider par for the course are actually pretty ahistorical, and John makes the case that this weird, patristic view of the presidency in which the Executive has to appear in person at every important going-on throughout the country actually erodes some of the prudential, quiet, considered principles meant to undergird the job. Oh, and there’s some mutual Wilson-bashing in store as well, which is always a bonus.

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Jonah’s longtime friend Tevi Troy makes his second appearance on the program, this time to discuss not only the history of presidential debates, but also to share some info on how the sausage gets made from his time doing debate prep for George W. Bush. Beyond simply recounting some of the best zingers in the history of these debates (“The youth and inexperience of my opponent…” “You’re no Jack Kennedy.”), they discuss the degree to which these moments are actually staged, and how the pretzel-like overcomplicated logic of certain debate preppers actually contribute to their candidate looking pretty silly on national TV. Keeping this history in mind, Tevi also talks about what he’ll be looking for in the upcoming debates (both campaigns should be taking notes, honestly), and happily discovers that he has reached “Vin Cannato Equilibrium” in the canon of the REU (Remnant Extended Universe).

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Fellow Dispatcher David French returns to the program on the publishing date of his new book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation. If you’ve looked around at American politics over the last few years, and you’ve started to view the coastal states and the middle of the country as a bickering couple – wondering, “Why don’t they just break up already? – David’s book is for you. Jonah asks David to outline some of the scenarios by which a fracturing of the republic could happen, and works through the ways that America’s spirit could be successfully restored – all while avoiding an Articles of Confederation-style mess in which the country’s regions become too individually weak to do anything. Join for this enlightening discussion, and stick around until the end for characteristic rankness on Tenet, Amazon’s The Boys, and the mighty Dune.

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Just as there are different Enlightenments, there are different nationalisms, too. In both cases, it’s important to see what points they all converge on. On this edition of the Ruminant, Jonah walks through the ways in which we’ve seen this all before – even in spite of how strange this moment feels. Confucius says: “Enjoy your weekend!”

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“We need to agree that the Senate doesn’t work,” Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse tells Jonah on today’s episode of The Remnant. “The Founders had this great idea that you separate power vertically and horizontally if you believe in universal human dignity, and the Senate is kind of the most unique single institution that the Founders created in the Constitution.” Sasse’s appearance comes on the heels of his Wall Street Journal op-ed, in which he calls for modified Senate term limits, repealing the 17th Amendment, and cutting the C-SPAN cameras to improve debate on the Senate floor. “The cameras change the dynamic in the room because people don’t ask real questions if they’re instead trolling for a sound bite that they can hope goes viral,” Sasse explains. What’s worse, senators use the C-SPAN camera rules to trick their constituents into thinking they’re debating their colleagues when they’re not. “They regularly do this, hand gesturing to the senator right next to them that they’re supposedly rebutting, but the rules in the Senate require the C-SPAN cameras to be cropped right around their head and shoulders, so you don’t know as a viewer that there’s no one there in the Senate.” After railing against the senatorial political posturing that’s poisoning our parliamentary system, Sasse and Jonah discuss the filibuster, clickbait journalism, and the dangers of perceiving politics as religion. Learn alongside Jonah, and stick around to the end to hear Sasse school his colleagues in real time.

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Let the waves of optimism wash over you as return-guests Ron Bailey (Reason) and Marian Tupy (Cato Institute) join forces as Jonah’s tour guides through the last several centuries of human progress. Listen to the first half to hear why there is actual good news about the human condition – even during a pandemic – and stick around in the second half for a satisfying helping of philosophical eggheadery on education, personal liberty, and the logic of nonviolent protest.

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What happens when you make a pundit talk about Antifa, the Dune trailer, the Republic of Venice, and 60s Iron Man cartoons all in one go? Tune in to the weekend Ruminant to find out!

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Andrew Ferguson’s follow-up appearance on The Remnant has been a long time coming, and you can tell; he and Jonah are filled with plenty of wisdom on the state of modern journalism, what the conservative media landscape used to be like, and how to not go completely hollow while keeping up with the news cycle.

Fresh off the heels of his new manifesto (not of the communist variety, though), Iain Murray, CEI senior fellow, joins Jonah on The Remnant to discuss The Socialist Temptation: what it is, who it hits hardest, why socialism isn’t really even an economic theory, and what to do about it.

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Who actually believes the media anymore? Can you really call yourself a liberal if you’re also a socialist? And what dog species does Zoë hate with a burning passion? It’s the weekend, and you know what that means: These questions and many more will be answered on this edition of Jonah’s Ruminant.

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