In the episode of Acton Unwind, Dylan Pahman, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger focus on the war in Ukraine and its religious context. What battles over ecclesiastic authority are involved? What is the Russian Orthodox Church saying about the conflict? The discussion then turns to the economic effects of the war upon the rest of the world, with particular focus on food production and distribution. Why are some countries affected more severely than others? Also among the discussion is a focus on China and its COVID lockdowns and growing economic problems. How is China moving away from its limited economic liberalization of the past? What does this mean for America’s future relationship with China? Lastly, Nancy Pelosi has been recently barred from receiving holy communion by the Archbishop of San Francisco. What makes the Pelosi case different from instances of Roman Catholic politicians in conflict received Church teaching on abortion? What does this case say about how many Americans view the relationship between church and state?

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the arrest of Cardinal Joseph Zen in Hong Kong on charges of violating the National Security Law and allegedly “colluding with foreign forces.” The arrest of Zen and three others comes in the wake of the arrest of other pro-democracy and human rights activists like Jimmy Lai, the subject of Acton’s most recent documentary feature film, THE HONG KONGER: JIMMY LAI’S EXTRAORDINARY STRUGGLE FOR FREEDOM. What does this arrest tell us about the state of Hong Kong? And how has the Holy See responded to this incident? Then the guys break down the latest inflation numbers and the proposed “anti-price gouging” legislation and other supposed “solutions” to inflation that have nothing to do with inflation or that would simply make matters worse.

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This week, Eric Kohn, Dylan Pahman, and Dan Hugger tackle the issue that’s on everyone’s mind: the leak of the Supreme Court draft option in the Dobbs case overturning both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. How monumental is the leak itself, and how does it threaten the institution of the Court? What does the draft opinion from Justice Samuel Alito actually do? What do the American people actually think about abortion? What happens now? And finally, assuming the Court overturns Roe and Casey in the Dobbs decision, how will the period of time between Roe and Dobbs be remembered?

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the case that was argued before the Supreme Court last week about whether Joseph Kennedy, a former football coach in Washington State, could pray with others at the 50-yard line after public school football games. Kennedy looks likely to win his case, but should he? Why do we have such a hard time grappling with the role of religion in public life? Will this case do anything to help that problem? Next, we already have inflation. Now we have negative GDP growth. Are the 1970s back in full force? Would a recession be the worst thing that could happen right now if we need to head off inflation? And if inflation is still a problem, why are we even talking about “canceling” $1.75 trillion in student loan debt? Finally, the Department of Homeland Security’s new Disinformation Governance Board—Orwellian nightmare or total joke?

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger give quick takes on two developing stories previously discussed on this program: the French presidential election, in which the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, has emerged victorious over Marine Le Pen; and Twitter’s reported acceptance of Elon Musk’s purchase offer. Then they turn their attention to Florida and the recently passed legislation to strip Disney of its Reedy Creek Improvement District carveout in retaliation for Disney’s objection to the Parental Rights in Education bill. How much can the political ideas of Nazi legal theorist Carl Schmitt explain what’s happening in Florida right now? Finally, after a Florida judge ruled against the transportation mask mandate, acceptance of the endemic nature of COVID-19 in the U.S. became pretty much a given. China, however, is still invested in their COVID-Zero policy by completely locking down the port city of Shanghai. What does that portend for other cities in China?

 

This week, Eric Kohn, Dylan Pahman, and Dan Hugger update the Elon Musk twitter drama. How serious should we take Musk’s attempt to purchase Twitter? And even if he did, how much would it impact people who aren’t just very, very online. How much has this episode revealed about the people who are either outraged or delighted by the story? Then the guys dive into the most recent Atlantic essay from social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, “Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid.”

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This week, Eric Kohn and Sam Gregg pilot this two-person ship through four topics. First, they tackle the first round of French presidential elections, where the incumbent Emmanuel Macron will face off in a rematch with Marine Le Pen. What does the rise of Le Pen’s right-wing populism mean for France, and why have the two major political parties lost support so dramatically? Next, Elon Musk is now the largest shareholder in Twitter, prompting a mini-freakout in the Big Tech world. Are Musk’s actions a clear example of the way the market can deal with Big Tech issues better than the heavy hand of government? And why is Musk so hated among the left for finding more effective and fun ways to address their concerns, like climate change and space travel? Next, Eric and Sam take on the continued call to cancel all student-loan debt. Who would really benefit if this happened? (It’s probably not the people you think.) And finally, the right’s fashionable new epithet to hurl at opponents is “groomer.” Maybe it’s not OK to cheapen pedophilia…

 

This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger take on Florida’s HB 1557, christened by the media as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. While it doesn’t say, “Don’t say gay,” it does say several things worth discussing. And how much of a backlash could Disney be in for now that their internal conversations about adding “queerness” to its programming are public. Next, the guys consider President Joe Biden’s pledge to release 1 million barrels of oil per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Is this anything but political posturing? And finally, Ezra Klein of The New York Times had an extraordinary interview with economist Larry Summers during which Klein’s feelings ran headlong into reality. We can help him connect his good intentions to sound economics.

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It’s a two-man show this week as Eric Kohn and Dan Hugger begin by discussing the slap heard ’round the entertainment world. In the event you haven’t heard yet, actor Will Smith stormed the Oscars stage last night to slap Chris Rock after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Was it staged? Was it real? Can we know? Does it matter? Speaking of blurring the lines of reality and fantasy, next Eric and Dan examine the stolen Jan. 6 text messages from Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas. How much of politics now is just playacting of the kind we see in Hollywood? Finally, what is a woman? Perhaps Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson can’t define one, but Dan and Eric can.

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Today, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the controversy surrounding Lia Thomas, the transgender swimmer on the women’s swim team at the University of Pennsylvania, who just recently took home the NCAA Division I national championship in the women’s 500-yard freestyle. What questions does this raise about the nature of the human person, and to what extent has that anthropological question gone unexamined and ignored by the people and institutions surrounding this story? Then the gang examines Pope Francis’ comments from last week that “wars are always unjust.” What is the church’s just war theory, and what did the pope mean by his comments? And finally, the guys answer the first listener question with some book recommendations to acquaint you with how they see the world.

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Stephen Barrows discuss the latest spike in inflation, hitting 7.9% over last year. That’s the worst it’s been since 1982. What action will the Federal Reserve take? Has the Federal Reserve simply failed? If so, what’s the lesson we should learn? Then the guys discuss the sanctions regime that’s been put on Russia. Are sanctions effective? Are they moral? Are they working? And finally, would you fight for your country if it was invaded? In a new poll, an alarming number of Americans say no. What should be the takeaway from that?

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dylan Pahman discuss the latest on Ukraine and Russia. Should we be surprised by the unanimity of the European response? To what extent did Vladimir Putin underestimate the strength of Western institutions and alliances? Then they discuss how both the Orthodox Church and the Vatican have responded to the crisis. Finally, they close with brief reactions to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the Russian invasion of Ukraine. How will this change the rules-based, post–World War II world order? How did the West misread Vladimir Putin? How did Putin misread how the invasion would go? How surprising is the story of actor/comedian-turned-stateman Volodymyr Zelensky? And how much has this international crisis revealed about the corruption of the American political right? Then the guys turn their attention to the upcoming State of the Union address that President Joe Biden will deliver on March 1. What actually is the state of the union?

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This week, Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the end of the Canadian trucker convoy as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invokes the Emergencies Act—the precursor of which was last used to respond to domestic terrorism—to clear the convoy from the capital. Boy, that escalated quickly. What will be the lasting effects of this protest, not to mention the way it ended? And how chilling are the threats to freeze bank accounts of protesters and supporters, even as donation data is leaked from the crowdfunding site that hosted a fundraiser for the convoy? Next, the Acton gang examines the recall of three members of the San Francisco school board by overwhelming margins. If a parent uprising against out-of-control public school systems can happen in San Francisco, can it happen anywhere? And finally, the guys remember the late, great writer and humorist P.J. O’Rourke, who passed away last week at the age of 74.

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This week Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger are truckin’ to the Canadian truckers’ blockade of Ottawa and the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor. Even if the truckers’ cause is just, are their tactics justifiable? And does it mean now that famously polite and compliant Canada has a populist uprising on its hands over overreaching COVID policy? Then they dissect The New York Times op-ed from three post-liberal conservatives on foreign policy hawkishness. Is the hesitancy to get into foreign entanglements all that novel an argument, or is it concealing something far more radical than mere retrenchment? And finally, the guys discuss Dan’s Detroit News op-ed on Joe Rogan and the problem of misinformation in the media.

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National Review ISI fellow Nate Hochman joins Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger this week to discuss his recent reporting on the Ilya Shapiro controversy at Georgetown Law School. The student sit-in in the wake of Shapiro’s poorly worded tweets produced demands for cry rooms and reparations. Will they get what they want? Why do people in places of authority seem incapable of standing up to these outrage mobs? Then the group discusses the surprisingly good jobs report for January, where the economy added nearly 500,000 jobs—and all during the Omicron wave. If this is more evidence that the public is moving on from the pandemic, why do so many political leaders refuse to take the off-ramps they’re being offered and instead stand by mask mandates and other mitigation measures? And finally, should we have boycotted the Beijing Winter Olympics?

 

This week Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the retirement of Stephen Breyer from the Supreme Court. Will he have an enduring legacy, or will he be largely forgotten? How should we evaluate his jurisprudence? He is often thought of as a moderate liberal but was frequently deferential to state power. Can we expect any fireworks from the confirmation hearing of his successor, or will it be a far duller affair compared to those of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett? Then the Acton gang discuss what action the Federal Reserve is likely to take to combat inflation. How much of a shock to the economic system would an increase in interest rates be, and what’s the likely political fallout? Finally, they consider Eric’s recent Detroit News op-ed, arguing for COVID-19 risk assessment and decision making to be made on a personal and family level. How long can “COVID Zero” approaches endure? And how much longer will we continue masking kids in schools?

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Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Stephen Barrows discuss the “the big quit,” as more than 20 million Americans quit their jobs in the second half of 2021. With more than 10.5 million job openings right now, what does this pandemic-induced change in the labor market mean for workers and employers going forward? Next, they look at President Joe Biden’s speech in Atlanta, Ga., on voting rights, comparing anyone not in agreement with him to being on the side of George Wallace, Bull Connor, and Jefferson Davis. So much for turning down the temperature on political rhetoric. Finally, they examine the incident at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Why is it so hard for some to identify anti-Semitism as anti-Semitism?

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Eric Kohn, Sam Gregg, and Dan Hugger discuss the progress of the House Select Committee on the events of January 6. Has everyone already formed their conclusions about what happened? Is there anything that could be revealed that would change anyone’s mind? Is there any civic good that could come from this? The Omicron variant appears to be more transmissible but less deadly. That’s a good development. So why is it prompting renewed talk of school shutdowns, greater lockdowns, and mask mandates that extend forever? Are we perpetually searching for a technocratic solution to a problem that has no actual solution? And finally, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed the Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees (W.O.K.E.) Act to extricate wokeness from schools and businesses. Is this a problem that we can legislate away?

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This week, Samuel Gregg, Stephen Barrows, and Michael Matheson Miller discuss two topics. The first is the ongoing rise of inflation in the United States. Whatever happened to “transitory inflation”? Who benefits and who doesn’t from inflation? What needs to be done to bring inflation under control? Then this week’s all-Catholic team weighs in on a broader topic: the state of the Catholic Church around the world today. Much of the Church seems to be in disarray, whether it’s the resignations of bishops, the state of the Church in Germany, the Synod on Synodality, disputes about Holy Communion and liturgy, or the Vatican’s deal with the Communist regime in Beijing. We discuss some of the underlying causes, but also where we can find signs of hope.

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