Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Mere Libertarianism


Libertarianism is the subject of regular debate on Ricochet, both between conservatives and libertarians and — if you really want to see heated debate — among different kinds of libertarians. Taking inspiration from C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, member Sal Padula and I recorded a conversation in which we attempt to distill libertarianism down to its essence and explore some basic questions about it, including:

What is libertarianism? What isn’t libertarianism? What is its relationship to conservatism (both in America and abroad)? How do contemporary politicians fare under a libertarian analysis? The results may surprise you (and are largely free of references to Rand Paul!).


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Technology and Moral Hazard


shutterstock_125082089Thinking on the confluence of technology tends to run either very hot or very cold: either we stand at the precipice of a new golden age in which sin, suffering, and ugliness are to be banished to the past, or we are about to flush away millennia of hard-won gains to secure some fickle gain or fad.

History shows that both of these visions are flawed, in that our choices are rarely (if ever) as stark as that; it’s always a bit of a mixed bag and more complicated than we expect. However, there are real, and significant trends out there that are worth our notice and attention. One of them is that technology can make the world a better place, not so much by improving ourselves — as the utopians think it will — but by simply changing incentives in such a way that better decisions are clearer and easier to take.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. So, at Long Last, What Is Barack Obama’s Religion?


ahaloPresident Barack Obama has said that he is “Christian.” But isn’t that a bunch of religions? Which is his? It’s actually complicated as to whether “Christian” is several different religions or “one true catholic and apostolic church,” as many claim. More on that in a moment.

For some reason, the President’s religion keeps popping up. Candidates are asked if Barack Obama is a Christian. Candidates are told by questioners that Barack Obama is Muslim. A recent poll shows one percent of Americans think he’s a Jew. This persists despite the President’s own testimony of being Christian.


What Is Conservatism? It’s not a hard question — it’s a title that proves everything old is new again. ISI Books has reissued What Is Conservatism? It’s the 1964 classic edited by Frank S. Meyer and featuring contributions from the likes of William F. Buckley, Jr., Russell Kirk, and Friedrich Hayek, plus a new foreword by Jonah Goldberg.

In a 10-minute conversation with The Bookmonger, Goldberg explains why he calls this volume, “The Federalist Papers of American conservatism,” which of its essays everyone should read right now, and what a book from half a century ago can teach conservatives in 2016.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Ricochet Essay Question of the Weekend, or, Michelangelo for Sale?


Pieta For SaleLet us suppose that a rich man — a very, very rich man, such as, for example, Jack Ma, who possesses a net worth of some $20 billion — makes a straightforward proposition to the Vatican.

Aware that Pope Francis speaks constantly about the plight of the poor, an inspired by the Morris West novel, Shoes of the Fisherman, which culminates in a decision by the pope of the day to sell all the Vatican’s treasures to avert a famine, Mr. Ma has decided to make an offer for one Vatican treasure in particular: the Pieta.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Kim Davis, the Pope, and NPR


Kim-Davis-mugshotAn email from a friend:

“A holiday, like Liberalism, only means the liberty of man. A miracle only means the liberty of God. You may conscientiously deny either of them, but you cannot call your denial a triumph of the liberal idea. The Catholic Church believed that man and God both had a sort of spiritual freedom. Calvinism took away the freedom from man, but left it to God. Scientific materialism binds the Creator Himself; it chains up God as the Apocalypse chained the devil. It leaves nothing free in the universe. And those who assist this process are called the ‘liberal theologians.'” — G. K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy


Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review enjoy watching liberals get a shock from reports that Pope Francis met with and supported embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis. They also slam the Obama administration for outsourcing Middle East policy to the Russians. And they have fun with the Trey Gowdy rumors, ranging from a movement to draft him into leadership to rumblings that he will retire.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Report: Pope Francis Met With Kim Davis


From the NYT:

Pope Francis met secretly in Washington last week with Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who defied a court order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, her lawyer said in a telephone interview Tuesday night. Francis gave her rosaries and told her to “stay strong,” the lawyer said. Ms. Davis and her husband, Joe, were sneaked into the Vatican Embassy by car on Thursday afternoon, according to Ms. Davis’s lawyer, Mathew D. Staver. The couple met for about 15 minutes with the pope, who was accompanied by security, aides and photographers. Mr. Staver said he expected to receive photographs of the meeting from the Vatican soon.


Bourke on Burke — say that ten times fast. Or better yet, listen to the Bookmonger’s 10-minute conversation with Richard Bourke, author of Empire & Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke.

We discuss why American conservatives admire Burke so much, what Burke liked about the American Revolution but hated about the French Revolution, and how Burke’s life in the grubby world of politics shaped his ideas as a thinker whose work we still read today.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Adios Francisco


PopeAirToward the end of last week, a Jewish friend asked me what I thought of Pope Francis’s performance on his North American tour. I hesitated to answer. What I wanted to say was that he’s driving me crazy. “I’m conflicted,” was the best I could come up with.

I’m the type who thinks you don’t talk smack about the pope. Call it the Catholic version of Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Are Christians Still Salty?


shutterstock_225165391This morning, I went with my daughter’s church youth group to a local farm to harvest sweet potatoes. The farm’s name is Serenity Farms. The man who ran things, Bernie Fowler Jr., told us the the farm’s story after we’d finished taking our turn digging in the field. He’d been a developer who hit a very low spot in his life during the housing market crash. In addition to his business collapsing, he went through a long and bitter divorce, and his daughter ran off with a heroin addict, had a baby, and became an addict herself. He contemplated suicide, but instead turned to his faith and found solace in helping others.

On what he described as a prompting of the Holy Spirit, Bernie stopped by the farm to talk to the owner about an idea he had. The farm was on the verge of bankruptcy, and he and the farmer began working together. Bernie’s initiative is called Farming4Hunger. They grow crops, assisted by inmates from the local pre-release detention center. Volunteer groups harvest the vegetables, and it is immediately delivered to local food banks, soup kitchens, and — on occasion — directly to poor families in the area. Since 2012, they have grown and delivered millions of pounds of food.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Francis Effect


shutterstock_313976906According to a comprehensive Pew poll, since Francis became the supreme pontiff, the number of Catholics in this country has remained unchanged, the rate at which Catholics attend mass has remained unchanged, and the rates at which Catholics go to confession or participate in volunteer activities in their churches and communities has remained … unchanged.

In view of all this, Mollie Hemingway on the Pope’s visit:


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Freedom Through Natural Law


While one bishop (the pope) offered a sadly forgettable speech before Congress, another bishop hit one out of the park at the World Meeting of Families.

Though I believe Christians of all sorts would appreciate Bishop Robert Barron’s full speech, this bit about acquiring freedom through adherence to natural law should be accessible to non-Christian Ricochet members as well. This is what is meant by the famous claim, “the truth will set you free.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Redistribution: The Unconquerable Delusion

Ivan Cholakov /

“A Pope that mentions Dorothy Day is a pope that rocks,” tweeted Neera Tanden of the left-leaning Center for American Progress. Tanden might have wished to reel back that praise if she had known that Day, though a prominent pacifist and socialist, was also a fervent opponent of abortion, birth control, Social Security, and the sexual revolution.

It’s fitting that Pope Francis should have invoked Dorothy Day among his pantheon of great Americans – she’s a symbol of where leftists always go wrong. This Pope is going wrong in the same way. The left’s delusions of “social justice” seem indomitable – impervious to evidence.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. A Fool’s Errand? Attempting to Educate Pope Francis on the Climate and Economics

The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.
The First Family of the US with the pope at the White House on September 23, 2015.

Below is a piece that Heartland Senior Fellow James Taylor and I got published at US News and World Report yesterday about how Pope Francis is being misinformed by the bureaucrats at the United Nations about the causes and consequences of climate change. (Hint: It’s not caused by man, and any natural warming that might occur is not bad .. and might be good!)

I’d like to think that Pope Francis can be persuaded by actual data — such as the fact that the global warming “panic” pushed as “fact” by the United Nations ended nearly two decades ago. So it stands to reason, one would think, that the pope might realize that humans aren’t causing global warming to happen because it’s actually … you know … not happening.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. America, Give Francis a Chance


21663687125_ad4250b5d1_kPope Francis has arrived in America. Good for him and hooray for the American Catholic Church. It’s always nice to hear a good news. Living in Ireland, where the Roman Catholic church has been turned into the proverbial boogeyman once reserved for my English cousins — with falling priest numbers and even fewer congregations — I am always happy to see a positive story about the Catholic Church, no matter the occasion. Let us hope it leads to a boom in vocations in the American homeland, and perhaps a trickle here in Ireland, too.

Since his election two years ago, Francis has done more wonders for the Catholic Church’s public relations than 1,000 spin merchants working day and night across the oceans. Ordinary people — believers and non-believers, Catholics and non-Catholics — who would normally never give the Church or its leaders the time of day fall over themselves to praise or take interest in him.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Conservatism, Libertarianism and Other Distinctions


I recently got back from attending the 10th annual meeting of the Property and Freedom Society. It’s a libertarian organization of the anarcho-capitalist variety, started by Hans Hermann Hoppe (John Walker recently reviewed one of Hoppe’s books). I found the visit rejuvenating: rarely do I spend four or five days in the company of so many libertarians.

Even on Ricochet, there seems to be a constant conflict between conservative and libertarian ideology. What most people — including many of my fellow Ricochetti — would find most surprising about the conference is how conservative these anarcho-capitalists are. I present to you a speech from last year’s meeting by Dr. Gerard Casey, a Catholic, conservative anarchist, and a lovely and brilliant man. To me, it encapsulates why so many anarchists exist in the libertarian movement, and why they aspire to the same morals as most conservatives.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The First Yom Kippur


shutterstock_291906152Although Jewish customs vary around the world, the rhythm of the Jewish calendar is substantially the same. There is one notable exception, though, and you see it this time of year as we prepare for the High Holidays — Rosh Hashanah (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

Ashkenazi Jews (of European origin) begin to say the special selichot prayers about a week before Rosh Hashanah, continuing daily through Yom Kippur. Meanwhile, Sephardi (North African) and Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) Jews drag themselves to synagogue before sunrise for a full month before the new year — since the beginning of the month of Elul.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Francis in Cuba


From an editorial in the Washington Post:

A Cuban dissident is prevented by securiThe pope is spending four days in a country whose Communist dictatorship has remained unrelenting in its repression of free speech, political dissent and other human rights despite a warming of relations with the Vatican and the United States. Yet by the end of his third day, the pope had said or done absolutely nothing that might discomfit his official hosts.


Promoted from the Ricochet Member Feed by Editors Created with Sketch. Flyover 42 – Soto Returns!


Frank Soto joins us this week; pessimistic about the pope, optimistic about conservatives’ political future. Is Marco Rubio out of the race? We’re done talking about Trump, and — given the prescience of Flyover Country — let us simply assume that this is the start of something. Speaking of which, Rob Long points out an article in which Newsmax declares Flyover Country to be the #1 conservative podcast in the Multiverse. You’ve got to read between the lines, but that’s essentially what they’re saying.

Intro includes a song from Ronald Jenkees; closing music this week comes from Public Service Broadcasting; h/t Ricochet member Lance.