Dennis Prager on the Self-Righteously Suicidal West and False Morality


For this week’s Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten podcast, I had nationally syndicated radio host, columnist, author of numerous books, teacher, film producer and co-founder of PragerU, Dennis Prager, on the podcast to discuss among other things:

  • How Dennis Prager ended up a conservative as an Ivy League-educated Jewish intellectual from Brooklyn, New York — contrary to so many of his peers
  • How perceptions of human nature divide Left and Right
  • Whether government has filled the void of religion for the increasingly secular and progressive American coasts
  • How the good intentions that underlie Leftist policy prescriptions lead to horrendous outcomes — and emotion versus reason on the Left and Right
  • The false morality underlying European immigration policy with respect to the Muslim world, and Prager’s criticism of Jewish support of mass immigration consisting disproportionately of Jew-haters
  • The self-righteous suicidalism of the West
  • The Leftist bias of social media platforms and PragerU’s legal battle with YouTube/Google

You can find the episode on iTunes, everywhere else podcasts are found, download the episode directly here or read the transcript here.

Real Donald Trump Blunder? “Montenegro” Isn’t Montenegro.


No president is perfect, else we would allow unlimited terms. I support President Trump’s actions towards Russia, am not discomforted by the Helsinki summit, and believe the upcoming DC summit to be a good thing. I also recognize that the relentlessly hostile network and cable news media make the islands of apparently friendly forums attractive. With all those qualifications, I was jarred by the President’s response to Tucker Carlson on “Montenegro.” I am concerned because of history and because it is clear “Montenegro,” in Tucker’s agenda, is not Montenegro. A quick look at the map shows what I mean.

Putin Speaks Code. Does Trump Understand?


Back when word first leaked that Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Donald Trump, Jr., had met with a Russian lawyer and others offering dirt on Hillary Clinton, President Trump seemed to think he was supplying an exculpatory cover story. Flying home from Germany on Air Force One, Trump reportedly instructed Don Jr. to claim that he and the Kremlin-linked lawyer had “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.” There is apparently some debate about whether that misleading statement places the president in any legal jeopardy, but there is another aspect to the story that has received less attention. It came up again during the Helsinki debacle – Putin, the world’s richest man and most successful thief, is obsessed with the Magnitsky Act.

In fact, the very mention of Russian adoptions was a tipoff that Ms. Veselnitskaya was probably representing Vladimir Putin. Whether Trump knew this at the time is unclear. After all, he could not say what the nuclear triad was and endorsed “Article XII” of the U.S. Constitution. Maybe he thought mentioning that they discussed Russian adoptions was the most anodyne-sounding explanation for the meeting.

Except it wasn’t. If they spoke of adoptions, it means they spoke of the Magnitsky Act, the sanctions bill the U.S. enacted at the urging of William Browder, a hedge fund manager and, at one time, the largest foreign investor in Russia. Funny, Browder’s name came up again in Helsinki, when Putin accused him of tax evasion and theft and contributing to the Hillary Clinton campaign (all totally false) and suggested that the U.S. should hand him over for questioning in exchange for permitting Robert Mueller to question the 12 GRU agents just indicted for meddling in our election. Putin later added former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul to the list of those his goons would interrogate. Our stable genius president leaped at this as an “incredible offer.” A few days later, he scaled back.

Loose Cannons and Nuclear Buttons: Dealing with Russia


Every time I see “statesmen” foaming at the mouth about insufficient posturing against Russia, I go back to the basics. There are exactly two countries on this planet capable of reducing any country on the face of the earth to toxic, smoldering ruins in hours. These are the United States of America and the Russian Federation (the latest manifestation of the Russian empire).

President Trump has done an admirable job, like most presidents in the Atomic Age, of keeping the natural tensions between the two megadeath powers inside the safety limits. He has succeeded, so far, despite the worst efforts of his domestic enemies, who are more serious about destroying him than they are about national security.

Victor Davis Hanson describes how President Trump’s unconventional approach to foreign policy has often proved to be more effective than the conventional wisdom proffered by the Washington establishment.

Victor Davis Hanson argues that the best way to upend insular elites is to relocate political institutions out of cosmopolitan settings.

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This holy week, “while no creature was stirring, not even a mouse”, several publications posted some startling articles. For example: Dec. 21, 2017 The following story appeared in Military.Com, regarding a routine rotation of 300 marines in Norway this year. We are there at the invitation of Norway to “enhance partnerships” with European Allies. However, […]

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President Donald Trump held a joint press conference with the president of Finland, Saudi Niinistö. Topics included NATO, the Arctic, Russia, NATO, Hurricane Harvey, FEMA, and NAFTA, among others. President Niinisto twice deflected leading questions from reporters asking him to give Trump advice on Russia. When Fox News’s John Roberts asked Trump about the president’s pardoning of Joe Arpaio, Trump’s lengthy response included pulling a piece of paper from his breast pocket on which he had written a list of pardons that presidents Clinton and Obama had given to criminals and terrorists. The list included Marc Rich who, Trump pointed out, Clinton pardoned after Rich’s wife donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons. Trump also told a reporter from One American News that “one way or the other, Mexico’s going to pay for the wall, that’s right. It may be through reimbursement, but one way or another Mexico will pay for the wall.”


Melissa O’Sullivan of the Danube Institute: Two Europes?


On this episode of Whiskey Politics, we discuss President Trump’s recent speech in Poland, paying NATO, the reality of two Europes, Immigration, Putin, Brexit, and much more with Melissa O’Sullivan, the Deputy Director of the Danube Institute in Budapest, Hungary, and Washington DC. Melissa represents the Danube Institute through her involvement with the International Women’s Club and other organizations. A former professional in the field of security working with the federal government, she is a graduate of the University of Alabama and a commentator on the political scene on both sides of the Atlantic. Melissa works with her husband John O’Sullivan, former senior policy writer and speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher when she was British prime minister, Editor at National Review, and former Editor in Chief at UPI.

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America react to reports that President Trump wants to create a NATO-like group in the Middle East, involving Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the UAE.  They also dissect what we know of the memo former FBI Director James Comey reportedly wrote about Trump asking him to back off the investigation of Michael Flynn.  And they discuss the speculation swirling around the future of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and explain how Trump is making the work of the communications team much more difficult.

Richard Epstein reacts to the first round of balloting in the French presidential election and explains the implications for the broader state of politics in Europe.

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As recently reported General Mad Dog Mattis met with NATO allies and made a rather non-mad request to other NATO members: “Pay your fair share for your own security”. Matties continued “No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of western values”. Of the 28 members of NATO (the world’s […]

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Mattis to NATO Allies: Pay Your Fair Share


Defense Secretary James Mattis met in Brussels Wednesday with the defense ministers of our NATO allies. His message was characteristically honest and blunt:

“I owe it to you all to give you clarity on the political reality in the United States and to state the fair demand from my country’s people in concrete terms,” Mattis said. “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense.”

…Mattis, a retired Marine general, recalled Wednesday that when he was NATO’s supreme allied commander of transformation from November 2007 to September 2009, he watched as then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned NATO nations that Congress and the American people “would lose their patience for carrying a disproportionate burden” of the defense of allies.

NATO East Europe report: Romanian politics in 2017


The Romanian legislative elections of December 2016: A disaster for decent people, a bitter victory for the anguished majority deprived of a sense of its dignity, a season of fearful Socialism to come, and an opportunity for American grand strategy. Though the picture is bleak, this is what NATO-Eastern Europe will have to work with in the coming years. Before I attempt to write something worthwhile about Poland, the other country of some importance in Eastern Europe, let me wrap up the series I started on the political situation in my native Romania with a report about the anti-government protests. I’ll tell you how this new government got into office which in one month managed to create the scandal I’ve already covered for Ricochet.

We have to talk foreign affairs, the less urgent half of politics, but the one concerned with war and the threat of war. Conservatives now run America’s foreign policy and that seems rather providential, because the world stage is bleak and unfriendly, and conservatives are the less likely party to believe in a fairy tale peace. Foreign affairs, after all, means dealing with America’s enemies and the threat of war. The oldest and most openly bellicose of America’s three major enemies is Russia, and therefore Americans who are interested in politics should care to an extent about Eastern Europe, where lies my unhappy native country, Romania.

The Anti-Business Businessman


We’ve been instructed not to take our new president literally, but instead seriously (in the felicitous phrasing of Salena Zito). As I write, there are hints that the inaugural address will focus on the theme of “America First.” President-elect Trump may or may not be familiar with the historical taint of that phrase, but in any case the meaning he attaches to it has been clear enough.

Throughout his career, Mr. Trump has been consistent on two issues: trade and admiration for strong men. He departs from the consensus about American leadership in the post-World War II era. Rather than seeing US security guarantees and promotion of trade as providing the means through which the world (and the US) has seen unprecedented growth, peace, and prosperity, he thinks we’ve been chumps.

“America First” is a declaration of No More Mr. Nice Guy. This is the link between his views on NATO and trade. In the former case, he appears to think that the NATO alliance is a favor we do for an ungrateful Europe. While it would be a very positive development if every NATO member were to spend the agreed-upon two percent of GDP on defense, there is reason to doubt that Trump’s comments are simply veiled threats to achieve that. Is it pure coincidence that while denigrating NATO, Trump has shown excessive friendliness to Putin, whose chief goal (just ask Gen. Mattis) is undermining the alliance?

Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America get the popcorn ready as the Hillary and Sanders Democrats feud over the future of the party.  They also rip the media for overblowing Donald Trump’s statement on NATO being obsolete but also scold Trump for stoking some of the confusion.  And they unload on the radical leftists Project Veritas caught trying to ruin an inaugural ball with stink bombs and triggering the sprinklers.

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I’ve been given a writing assignment this week, and I was hoping that Ricochet members could counsel me. I got an email yesterday for an Estonian daily newspaper to write a piece for this weekend’s edition of their weekly supplemental magazine about what, from the perspective an American, the “feelings, fears and hopes” are of the […]

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Do NATO and the EU Have a Future?


I was recently asked to contribute to a series on the website of the Hoover Institution Working Group on Military History. The topic was “The Unraveling of the EU and NATO,” and the precis I provided took the following form:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union are in disarray. The former has fulfilled its mission. Were it not for Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and invasion of Ukraine and the refugee crisis in Europe spawned by the sectarian Muslim conflict raging in Iraq and Syria, it would be an empty shell without any obvious function. The latter has overreached. A great success as a customs union, it is a disaster as a currency union; and the attempt to turn it into a federation—oligarchic in governance and equipped with an intrusive administrative apparatus—will end in tears.

Russia Is a Threat, But Not Because They’re Hacking John Podesta’s Emails


A Russian fleet is steaming toward Syria from the North Sea through the English Channel. The New York Times, formerly a newspaper, has no information about this anywhere on the front page and none on its world page either. You can read about how Egypt is having a sugar shortage and people with a sweet tooth are undergoing hardship because of it — no, really, you can — but you won’t be able to read about the real growing threat from Russia.

NATO in the 21st Century


Truman_signing_North_Atlantic_TreatyWhen I was a senior in college, I was enrolled in two different seminar classes taught by the same professor. He was a very wise and experienced man who fought with MacArthur in the Philippines before receiving his doctorate in history. He is the preeminent NATO historian as well as a distinguished early American history scholar. The two classes were called “NATO: A Modern History” and “Jeffersonian America,” and both of those courses have been on my mind recently.

The Jeffersonian America class began with Washington’s Farewell Address from in 1796. Washington used the address to discuss what he believed should guide American foreign policy. He expressed a desire to uphold current alliances, but also cautioned against creating more alliances, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements.” Washington feared a United States being pulled into the conflict because of rivalries that have defined much of European history. “Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe,” he asked “entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?”

Now let us fast forward to April 4th 1949 and the founding of NATO by twelve nations. The alliance was formed less than four years after the surrender of Germany and four months before the first successful Soviet nuclear weapons test. The free world was threatened by the Soviet Union’s expansionist foreign policy in Eastern Europe and the hardcore communist philosophy that underpinned it. My thoughts on communism are pretty much in line with those of Brigadier General Jack Ripper. The Soviet Union represented a real and present danger to the entire world because of its communist philosophy. NATO was formed to protect the United States and the other member nations from Soviet aggression and was central to the eventual collapse of the USSR.