Marvin Olasky joins Eric and Noah this week to discuss his feature essay in the new Fall 2023 issue of RELIGION & LIBERTY, entitled “The Thrill and Chill of Compassionate Conservatism,” in which Marvin revisits two of his books: The Tragedy of American Compassion (1990) and Compassionate Conservatism (1999). What has transpired in terms of poverty intervention and amelioration on the federal, state, and local levels since their publication and the welfare reforms of the 1990s? Where are we doing now to address effectively issues of poverty in America? How has conservatism itself, and its expression through the Republican Party, changed since the compassionate conservatism days of George W. Bush’s first term? Next, the guys examine Sen. Josh Hawley’s proposal to cap credit card interest rates at 18%. How many unintended consequences would this produce if it were enacted? And finally, the headlines about a Canadian study on cash transfers claim it “debunks stereotypes of homeless people’s spending habits” and that cash transfers “reduce homelessness” and will supposedly enable them to save money. Are they sure about that?

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This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan discuss the United Auto Workers strike. Are the demands from the UAW reasonable? How should we think about trade unionization in America today? Are there any risks to the new strategy that the UAW is engaging in? Next, the guys evaluate the FDA’s decision to make Narcan, the treatment for opioid overdoses, available over the counter. Is this a good thing? What are the potential downsides, if any? And how do we need to look at ways to treat the underlying disease of the soul that’s driving addiction problems like the opioid epidemic? And finally, the truth is out there about “Mexican aliens.” The UFO kind, that is. Mexico’s Congress heard testimony as to their “authenticity.” The truth, however, is that it was all a sham. So why the big show?

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This week, Eric, Dylan, and Emily parse former vice president Mike Pence’s speech in New Hampshire, which was aimed at drawing distinctions between his definition of conservatism and the populism of the New Right and Donald Trump. Does Pence’s definition of the two in opposition to each other make sense? Or has populism always existed in American conservatism and on the left? Next, the panel looks at the implications for the Church of Scientology of the conviction and sentencing of former THAT ’70s SHOW co-star Danny Masterson to 30 years to life for rape. There are many people who would like to see Scientology lose its tax-exempt status and other constitutional protections, but what concerns should we have about the implications of those kinds of calls for other religions? And finally, the group reflects on the 22nd anniversary of September 11 and the passing of Jimmy Buffett.

Pence Calls Trump’s Populism a ‘Road to Ruin’ for the G.O.P. | New York Times

This week, guest host Dan Hugger is joined by Dylan Pahman and Emily Zanotti to discuss the Georgia election racketeering prosecution of former President Donald Trump. What is this case actually about, and how does it differ from the other Trump indictments? Are mug shots exploitative? Why did President Trump choose this moment to break his long Twitter silence?

Then the panel examines last week’s Republican presidential debate. Have we leaned anything new about the candidates? How do we best think about the place of debates in our national life? Is Twitter/X the future of presidential politics?

This week, Eric and Dan are joined by Sarah Isgur, senior editor of The Dispatch, to examine whether there’s a crisis in masculinity. With the successes of feminism and the shift in gender roles and expectations, how do men grapple with society’s needing less of what they traditionally have provided? How is the internet and social media influencing this supposed crisis? Is it helping in any way, making things worse, or is it a mixed bag? Then the gang closes on two quickly minted internet celebrities: Oliver Anthony of “Rich Men North of Richmond” fame, and the “crazy plane lady” who appears to be rebranding herself after her “not real” meltdown.

How to Bury a Billionaire | The Remnant with Jonah Goldberg

This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan are joined by James M. Patterson, associate professor of politics and chair of the politics department at Ave Maria University, to discuss his essay from the Summer 2023 issue of RELIGION & LIBERTY, “Is the New Right Fascist?” What is fascism, beyond the most common Orwellian definition “that which is not desirable”? How much of the radicalism of the New Right is driven by a lot of young members who are “very online”? How seriously should we take the arguments of these people, and how much should we engage with them?

This week, Eric is joined by Daniel Baas and Titus Techera, Acton’s premier movie reviewer, to discuss all things cinema, including: the success of Oppenheimer (which Titus liked), the success of Barbie (which Titus did not like), and what it is that’s bringing people back to theaters. Also, is it really a big deal that Dune 2 will bump The Marvels out of IMAX theaters, since The Marvels wasn’t made for that format anyway? Is it all right that some movies hit you over the head with a message sledgehammer-like? And finally, what explains the surprise success of Sound of Freedom?

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This week, Eric, Noah, and Emily are joined by Christine Rosen, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of the cover story in the Summer 2023 issue of RELIGION & LIBERTY entitled “The Death of Conservatism Is Greatly Exaggerated.” Why have there been so many attempts to declare American conservatism dead? Why do so many of them, and in particular a recent piece from Jon Askonas in Compact magazine, ignore the fact that so many of the criticisms the current “New Right” levels at conservatism and American life are not all that new? How should we grapple with the effects of technology on American life? And what is our politics supposed to be for, as opposed to what we’re using it for now? Next, they discuss an open letter primarily written by Harvard Law School professor Mark Tushnet calling for President Joe Biden to ignore Supreme Court rulings he doesn’t like. Does the left have a comprehensible legal philosophy? How much was the rise of the New Right derailed by the success of the Federalist Society and the Dobbs decision? And is this just a mirror version of what Harvard Law professor Adrian Vermeule is calling for? And finally, three members of our four-person panel have seen Oppenheimer. Was dropping the bomb on Japan the right decision?

This week, Eric, Dan, and Emily discuss the recent decision in the 303 Creative from the Supreme Court. Is bad journalism the major culprit in people misunderstanding both the holding in the case, as well as the very facts of it? How much does it matter that it’s a First Amendment speech case and not a First Amendment religious case? Next, they tackle the newly announced plan from the Biden administration to cancel a load of student loan debt and ask the question, this again? Then, they examine the story of Hunter Biden’s daughter who has not been accepted or acknowledge by President Biden. Is it fair to hold this against him when making a political analysis of his fitness for the office? And finally, they look at two stories – the elevation of Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, who authored a book 30 years ago titled “Heal Me with Your Mouth. The Art of Kissing,” to the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the statements by Bishop Américo Aguiar about not seeking to convert people at World Youth Day – and ask the question: what’s up with the Catholic Church?


This week, Eric, Dan, and Noah Gould, Acton’s Alumni and Student Programs manager, are joined by Jane Clark Scharl. Jane is the author of the essay “Blood of a Thousand Christs: The Violent Faith of Cormac McCarthy,” which appears in the Summer 2023 issue of RELIGION & LIBERTY. What are we to make of McCarthy’s style and the prevalence of violence in his works? Where is God in McCarthy’s work? How much is obscured by McCarthy’s unique and stripped down style? Then, Eric, Dan, and Noah discuss two of the recent big rulings by the Supreme Court: overturning affirmative action policies at elite universities and tossing out President Joe Biden’s student debt relief program.


This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan discuss the coup attempt in Russia over the weekend, as the Wagner Group paramilitary organization marched from its position in Ukraine toward Moscow before suddenly calling off the revolt. What does this mean for Russian president Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine? Do we have reason to believe this was an actual revolt or coup attempt—or something orchestrated by Putin for his own purposes? Then the guys recap the tragic story of the OceanGate Titan submarine, which imploded while on a trip taking people to view the wreck of the Titanic. Is this, like the story of the Titanic itself, the high cost of hubris? Why do so many people so quickly retreat into making jokes about an awful tragedy?


Is the New Right Marxist, or Just Confused?

Our Otherworldly Postliberal “Future”

This week, Eric and Dan are joined by Emily Zanotti, a new contributing editor at the Acton Institute, as they tackle the latest indictment of former president Donald Trump. Again we ask: Does the act of indicting a former president and current candidate for president alone render America a banana republic? What’s the difference between this case and cases of other prominent politicians—such as Joe Biden, Mike Pence, and Hillary Clinton—mishandling classified information? If there is a double standard at play, how do we rectify that situation to make it a single standard going forward? Next, the group examines comments by Bishop Athanasius Schneider that Catholics can’t suffer from depression. How should we think about the power of faith in the context of mental illness? How much of this is an overreaction to the seeming obsession with mental health problems in the modern world? And finally, we take a look at the lives of two very different people who passed away this week: Christian TV broadcaster and founder of Regent University Pat Robertson and the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski.


This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan talk conservative boycott culture: Bud Light, Target, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and more. If the social responsibility of business is to increase profits, as Milton Friedman said, is there a way we can return to that understanding? Or are we going to be stuck in a political tug-of-war where people on the left and the right want the oars of every institution pulling in the same direction—their direction? Next, they examine the newly passed debt ceiling deal. Will we ever find a way out of government-by-crisis so we can have a real conversation about the utterly irresponsible debt load the country is carrying? And finally, have you heard of the Marvin Heemeyer “Killdozer” story from 2004? If anyone tries to tell you he’s some kind of a hero, just a regular guy pushed to the limit by a capricious city government, don’t believe it. Eric lays out the real facts.


This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan rummage around a grab bag of topics for this potpourri episode of the podcast. First up: The expiration of Title 42, the pandemic-era border-security measure. Will its going away create new problems at the border? Almost certainly. But the policy can’t stay if the pandemic is, according to the federal government, over. If Congress could find a way to do its job, it could reinstitute a similar policy. Next, a communist coffee shop in Toronto closes. Might it have been a good idea to be open before 9 a.m., when most people want coffee? The laws of economics and the marketplace will get you every time. Then, is it appropriate for women to wear yoga pants in public? Is it even appropriate to wear yoga pants for yoga? Penultimately, the guys marvel at the tale of La Sombrita, a piece of metal that’s supposed to provide light and shade at bus stops in Los Angeles that does neither and came at the low, low cost of $200,000 and three years in development. And finally, Pastor Tim Keller is remembered a few days after he passed away at the age of 72.


This week on Acton Unwind, special guest panelist Farah Adeed along with Dan and Dylan discuss two major stories in the majority-Muslim world: the arrest and subsequent release of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan and Sunday’s election in Turkey.


This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan discuss the suspension of the Acton Institute’s TikTok account after it shared promotional content for our award-winning documentary feature film, The Hong Konger: Jimmy Lai’s Extraordinary Struggle for Freedom. Is it just a weird coincidence that these kinds of suspensions keep happening to accounts that share content that the Chinese Communist Party would disapprove of? How should we think about attempts by Congress to address the risks presented by the TikTok app, which funnels a ton of personal information back to its parent company, ByteDance, in China? Would banning the app even be effective at reducing such a threat to privacy? Next, the guys turn their attention to CPAC Hungary, the Conservative Political Action Conference’s latest international summit. What are the lessons we’re supposed to learn from Hungary that could actually apply to the United States, which is a vastly different country in almost every conceivable way?


This week, Dan, Dylan, and Stephen discuss recent housing policy proposals in Texas. What market-based reforms could lower housing costs? What should policymakers keep in mind when seeking to lower housing costs? What are the biggest political obstacles they face and how might moral arguments help in overcoming them? The panel’s ears then turn to the AI song stylings of “Fake Drake.” Is the music industry poised to be disrupted by AI? What sort of property rights are likely to emerge in the wake of AI disruption? Is all music just copying already? Are music and Muzak that different? Finally, our panel turns to a discussion of “Everything-Bagel Liberalism.” Why do progressives feel the need to satisfy all constituencies in every policy all at once? How can economics help translate policies from mere good intentions into real-world change?


This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan discuss Dan’s essay in the Spring 2023 issue of RELIGION & LIBERTY magazine, “National Conservatism One Year Later,” revisiting the National Conservatism movement one year after his essay on his visit to the NatCon2 conference. What, if anything, do we now understand better about the NatCon movement? Does it stand apart from traditional American conservatism, or is it slowly being subsumed by the mainstream right? And where do the post-liberals and Catholic integralists figure into this movement, if at all? Then the guys turn their attention to the expulsion of two Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee from the State House. Was this move by Tennessee Republicans wise, prudent, or even necessary? Is it in keeping with a very NatCon mentality to turn all political fights up to 11? And finally, they take a look at the ProPublica story about the hospitality benefits billionaire Harlan Crow has provided over the years to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Is there any there-there to this story? Or is the simple appearance of impropriety bad enough to warrant concern?


This week, Eric, Dan, and Dylan discuss what we know (and there’s still much we don’t know) about the indictment of former President Donald Trump by New York City District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Was it a wise move to indict Trump? Does indicting a former president for the first time in American history presage the “end of the republic”? Next, the guys discuss the horrible school shooting in Nashville and the quick descent into collectivist thinking on the part of both the political left and the political right. And finally, Dylan shares a horrifying AI-created video of Will Smith eating spaghetti that highlights just how far some AI technology has to go, while Eric uses it to make a point about what AI creators won’t allow to be created, like political satire of China’s president, Xi Jinping.