Ben Weingarten

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Andrew C. McCarthy on Russiagate, Clinton-Trump Investigation Double Standards, Mueller’s Mandate, DOJ-FBI-CIA Politicization (Part II)

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My Guest

Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the JihadThe Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

In Part II of my in-depth interview with Andy, we discussed Russiagate, the pervasive unethical and at times lawless behavior of law enforcement and the intelligence community with respect to Donald Trump and Russia versus Hillary Clinton and her e-mail server, the apparently limitless mandate of Robert Mueller’s special counsel, obstruction of justice and much more.

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Andrew C. McCarthy: Lessons from the Blind Sheikh Terror Trial, What Animates Jihadists, Why U.S. Middle East Policy Fails, Collapsing Iran’s Regime (Part I)

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My Guest

Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the JihadThe Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

In addition to being one of the nation’s foremost national security analysts and legal experts — formerly serving as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the vaunted Southern District of New York — he is one of the most humble, insightful and devoted patriots I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

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Andrew Klavan on the Criticality of Conservative Competition in Culture, Regressive Progressivism, Political Correctness, Free Speech

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My Guest

Andrew Klavan (@andrewklavan) is a screenwriter, bestselling crime and suspense novelist, contributor to publications such as City Journal and PJ Media and proprietor of “The Andrew Klavan Show,” a video podcast on The Daily Wire.

Klavan is witty, he’s got a sense of humor and a keen understanding of the importance of narrative and storytelling to culture.

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Heather Mac Donald on Corrosive Identity Politics, Multiculturalism and Unjust Criminal Justice

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My Guest

Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal and author most recently of The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe.

Mac Donald, the archetype of an unassuming academic, makes for an unlikely counter-cultural figure. She draws protests and outrage on college campuses across the country because she has the gall to challenge the prevailing progressive orthodoxy about subjects like identity politics, multiculturalism and criminal justice.

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How to Listen to the Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten Podcast

Welcome to Big Ideas with Ben Weingarten, a podcast featuring compelling long-form conversations with exceptional thinkers and doers on the most important ideas and issues of our time, and all time.

Our discussions focus on topics ranging from national security and foreign affairs, to economics and politics and philosophy and culture with a classical Liberal bent and a grounding in history — challenging the prevailing progressive orthodoxy with a contrarian counter-narrative based in individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and a strong, national interest-oriented and prudently used defense.

There are several ways you can consume the podcast, summarized below for your listening pleasure:

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Iran Deal Wasn’t the Alternative to War — it was Essential to Iran’s Ongoing War

The Iran Deal Wasn’t An ‘Alternative To War,’ It Was A Continuation Of War
In the wake of the decision by the Trump administration to pull out of the Obama administration non-treaty known as “Iran Deal,” two narratives emerged from the hysterical Iran Deal echo chamber:

1) Iran Deal was the alternative to war;
2) Consequently, jettisoning it was the path to war, part of a “neocon” plot for another invasion, occupation and nation-building effort

Both elements of this narrative are patently false, as I argue in a new piece in The Federalist.

In fact, Iran Deal can best be thought of as the recapitalization effort for a war the Khomeinist regime in Tehran has been waging against all who refuse to submit to its totalitarian Islamic revolutionary rule since 1979.

This recapitalization effort in tandem with a Swiss cheese verification regime provided the funding and veneer of moderation under which Iran rapidly accelerated and expanded its Shia Crescent and malign operations globally.

Stated differently: We in the West bankrolled Iran’s worldwide march. The only thing the verification regime confirmed was the delusion of our purported leaders.

Exiting the deal represents the first step towards stopping Iran’s march, and thwarting its imperialist efforts. It is about stopping the flow of cash to jihadists and indicating a resolve to cease with the appeasement and reassert ourselves in the face of their goose-stepping.

The idea floated by the Iran Deal’s ardent defenders — many of whom shamefully raised the dual loyalty canard to try to browbeat American Jews into supporting the deal originally — that Israel’s defensive attacks on Iranian military assets in Syria immediately following the U.S. decision to pull out of the deal indicates a concerted plan for some long-sought war could not be more wrong.

Israel’s efforts are about defending its sovereignty against a metastasizing threat to its existence aided, abetted and enabled by the Iran Deal-istas.

Iran is not Iraq. It’s a once relatively pro-Western, secular, liberal, modern nation that has been hijacked by jihadists. In order to ensure America’s national interests, and those of our allies are served, there is no need for invasion, occupation and re-casting of a Sharia dictatorship as a Jeffersonian democracy. Rather what is needed is a concerted set of actions to bring down the jihadist regime through means peaceful and militant, overt and covert, enabling the Iranian people to end the Islamic revolution. Ideological warfare, as Michael Ledeen has convincingly argued, must play a significant role.

A fish rots from the head, one of the many reasons why Iran Deal wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. But the necessity for regime change does not necessitate Iraq 2.0.

The Iran Deal echo chamber is, per usual, attacking straw men.

The Paradox of Silicon Valley Progressivism on Display in Compelling New Film ‘General Magic’

Tribeca Film ‘General Magic’ Shows How Capitalism Pulls Big Success Out Of Big Failures
One of the great paradoxes of Silicon Valley is that while its denizens are monolithically progressive, its creatives and entrepreneurs illustrate in their own lives the virtues of the free enterprise system that progressives loathe.

While the propensity for risk-taking is in part cultural, the ability to create and bring new goods and services to the public requires favorable social, political and economic conditions. This is why a communist nation like China resorts to stealing intellectual property to compete. It’s why innovation in progressive Europe pales in comparison to what we see in America.

Innovation requires the protection of individual liberty, private property rights and free markets. But Silicon Valley’s progressive political allies are often hostile to these principles.

A compelling new film featured at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival reflects this tension. While the liberal audience at the world premiere for “General Magic” — a new documentary about the “failed” tech company of that name — might not have realized it, the movie is an exceptional story about capitalism that viewers of all stripes will appreciate.

I recently reviewed this documentary at The Federalist.

Here’s a taste from the piece:

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My Interview with Leon Kass on Leading a Worthy Life in the Modern Age

For Encounter Books I recently had the opportunity to interview the eminent Professor Leon Kass on his latest book Leading a Worthy Life: Finding Meaning in Modern Times.

During the interview [audiotranscript], Professor Kass and I discussed among other things how one defines a “worthy life,” finding meaning in this modern libertine (though often not libertarian) age, the decline but potential for rebirth of core values and principles of Western civilization, squaring scientific progress with ethics, rekindling a love of excellence and much more.

Disturbing Admission of Former CIA Director Inadvertently Illustrates Disastrous Politicization

Gen. Michael Hayden, the former NSA and CIA director, has inadvertently revealed the ultimate subtext for the political establishment’s antagonism towards President Trump.

He writes in a recent New York Times editorial:

When asked for counsel these days by officers who are already in government, especially more junior ones, I remind them of their duty to help the president succeed. But then I add: ‘Protect yourself. Take notes and save them. And above all, protect the institution. America still needs it. [Emphasis mine]

This is the buried lede in an essay adapted from Gen. Hayden’s forthcoming book The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies.

The focus of his piece is that we are moving into a new “post-truth era,” making it impossible for intelligence agencies to do their job.

But as I show in a new piece at The Federalist, this premise masks the true animating factor behind the words and deeds of the national security and foreign policy establishment in relation to President Trump from the 2016 campaign on.

The establishment has served under presidents before who have not been, to put it politely, paragons of truth and virtue — sometimes to the great detriment of our national security.

What really differentiates the current president from his predecessors is his willingness to speak one major inconvenient truth: The world has gotten progressively more dangerous and chaotic under establishment leadership in the post-Cold War era, in particular under the Obama-Clinton administration.

Calling out this failure, and challenging the worldview that has led to the actions that caused it, is what these individuals cannot abide because it represents an attack on their power, influence and credibility.

“[A]bove all, protect[ing the institution” is a sentiment that would suggest those in our bureaucracies would condone all manner of actions that undermine our constitutional order.

And what have we seen over the last two years in the national security and foreign policy establishment, as well as our justice system?

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Why Euphoria Over the Korean Détente is Dangerously Premature

When news broke that President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un would sit down for negotiations with a specific focus on “denuclearization,” I counseled that America deal with North Korea skeptically, cautiously, and with no illusions about the Stalinist regime’s nature.

This advice still holds in the wake of the euphoric coverage of Kim Jong-Un’s historic trip to South Korea, and the sweeping declaration the two nations signed emphasizing their dedication to ending the Korean War and normalizing relations, “denuclearization,” and ultimately reunification of the Korean peninsula.

In a new piece at The Federalist I parse the perilous Panmunjom Declaration.

As I note, words shared by Kim Jong-Un and dovish South Korean leader Moon Jae-in such as “peace,” “denuclearization,” and “unification” are at present ill-defined.

While acknowledging the magnitude of a potential “peace” on the Korean peninsula, we must remember that the terms of that peace, and who is dictating those terms, matters.

While denuclearization — if it means the dismantling and destruction of North Korea’s nuclear program in its entirety — would be excellent, how do we know this wouldn’t be a Potemkin exercise with the North concealing sites, weapons and materials of which we are unaware? Remember that North and South Korea have been party to a denuclearization agreement since 1992.

While in theory reunification might sound like a positive development, we have no idea whether South Korea’s relatively free governmental system would prevail, or if North Korea’s Communist gulag state system would dominate.

When Kim says “We will work towards preventing another horrible war…North and South Korea will be joined as one nation,” consider: What if the means to “preventing another horrible war” is the imposition of a horrible peace?

Last but not least, one should read the Panmunjom Declaration in context of Kim Jong-il’s alleged last will and testament. The declaration tracks perfectly with what Kim Jong-Un’s father advocated in terms of its means and ends. His goal was reunification under Communist rule, with NO denuclearization.

Is the North’s charm offensive a ruse? Will Kim collect all of the benefits of at best some form of a freeze and perhaps superficial dismantling efforts, only for the United States to wake up one day with a reunified Korea rid of U.S. soldiers under one-party Communist rule, and thus an even more dominant China proxy with an expanded regional footprint?

If past is prologue, America’s utmost skepticism is more than merited.

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