Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Three Faces of Eve


Before her brave stand for civil rights for women fades into memory, we salute Michelle Obama for her wardrobe during her recent trip to Saudi Arabia.

Washington Post:  Make no mistake: Michelle Obama just made a bold political statement in Saudi Arabia



That is what a feminist looks like.

At least, that’s what some feminists look like, sometimes.   When other feminists, like US Rep. Betty McCollum, go to Middle Eastern countries ruled by brutal patriarchies, they look like this.



And when other feminists, like Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges go to certain neighborhoods in Minneapolis, they look like this.



Lesson learned, you can’t judge a feminist by her covering. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Bizarro Economics

A Wall Street Journal editorial premised on a Seinfeld reference? Yeah, that’s way too good not to note.

President Costanza’s Jobs Boom:

In a 1994 “Seinfeld” episode, George realizes that “every decision that I have ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be.” Jerry replies: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

So Costanza approaches a gorgeous woman in the coffee shop and announces, “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” To his surprise, she’s interested. He lands a job with the Yankees after insulting George Steinbrenner.

Maybe President Obama ought to take Jerry’s advice too. That’s our reading of a striking new economic study that examines Congress’s decision to zero out extra unemployment benefits last year.

The authors find that this abrupt policy shift created some 1.8 million jobs, or slightly more than three of five net positions filled in 2014. The cuts also pulled a million workers who dropped out of the labor force back into the workplace. This reality happens to be the opposite of what Mr. Obama and other liberal sachems predicted.


The idea of President Obama going the opposite direction from everything he’s done in the past is intriguing however implausible especially in the realm of foreign affairs.

The fact that ending unemployment benefits did actually help get people back to work is, as the editorial notes, pretty much exactly the opposite of what progressives enamored of government spending to stimulate the economy had predicted.

One of my favorites was Nancy Pelosi’s claim that unemployment benefits were the best way to create new jobs:


Monday, January 26, 2015

Throwing Light on the Darkness

The latest course offering from Prager University is now available and it concerns one of the most misunderstood periods of history:

When you hear the term "Dark Ages," what comes to mind? How about: dreary, backward people, plagued by disease and ignorance, oppressed by the Church and the aristocracy. Author and professor Anthony Esolen would disagree. In this week's video course, he shows why the Dark Ages ought to be called the "Brilliant Ages" because they were actually a time of remarkable progress in science, medicine, art, and philosophy.

Mr. Esolen is one of the sharpest of minds when it comes to history and religion. I’ve read a couple of his books and enjoyed his works that have appeared in First Things. I can’t imagine a better teacher for the subject.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Better Together

In today's WSJ, Tim Busch weighs in to explain that despite claims to the contrary Catholicism and capitalism can be compatible:

Lest more controversy swirl, it is important to point out that the principles behind this initiative and the principled entrepreneurship program are consistent with Catholic teaching. Consider the seminal text on Catholicism and economics, Pope Leo XIII ’s 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, which discusses at length the “rights and duties of capital and labor.”

The encyclical, along with the resulting body of literature from successive popes, lays out the qualities that must be present in a just economic system. Among other things, the list includes the protection of private property and human freedom, a concern for the common good, and, most important, a deep respect for human dignity and a “preferential option” for the poor.

Capitalism meets these criteria better than any other economic system. It is also the single most effective means of alleviating poverty. In the past 20 years alone, it has lifted more than a billion people out of extreme poverty, according to the Economist. It is also single-handedly responsible for creating a global two-billion-person middle class over the past 300 years.

But free markets only work within a moral culture. When business is unmoored from a concern for the common good, capitalism can slide into cronyism and corruption—exactly what Pope Francis has critiqued in recent months. It is such perversions of a free-market economy that do not fit Catholic teaching.


This is why it's important to distinguish between critiques of what you could call perversions of capitalism and free markets and critiques of the principles of capitalism and free markets. Those who really understand and espouse capitalist principles abhor cronyism and corruption as much as the critics who lump it all together under the umbrella of capitalism. Just as those who truly understand and espouse Catholic principles abhor the abuses and corruption of the those who act in the name of the Church.

In this, both Catholicism and capitalism have something in common. To borrow from the great G.K. Chesterton: both have not been tried and found wanting; instead all too often both have been found difficult and not tried.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Nothing to Kill or Die For

George Weigel says that when it comes to the key problem facing France and much of Europe when it comes to battling Islamic extremism is that you can't beat something with nothing:


If all that Europe can say in condemning the despicable murders of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists and editors is “We are all Charlie Hebdo,” then what Europe is saying is, in effect, “We are all nihilists.” And how, pray, is nihilism—nothingness raised to a first principle, skepticism taken to the last extreme—supposed to defeat conviction, however warped that conviction is? If all that Europe can say to murderous jihadism is “Why can’t we all just get along?” its fecklessness will make it an even softer target for the kind of lethal fanaticism that recently turned Paris into a war zone.

There’s another aspect to this tangled and bloody business that’s worth noting, and that is the high price that Europe, and France in particular, is paying for culturally engrained (and sometimes legally enforced) political correctness. Virtually proscribing public discussion of the threat to European civility and order posed by Islamist maniacs has made dealing with that threat far more difficult: for citizens, for the security services, and for the public authorities. In the years since 9/11, the French public square has been dominated by the jihadists and the xenophobes; and in that volatile social environment, something very bad was going to happen. Now that it has, perhaps steps can be taken to bring the adults—and the real issues—back into the discussion.

“Liberty, equality, fraternity” can be a noble slogan, bespeaking noble aspirations. But freedom, justice, and human solidarity cannot be grounded in nihilism. If all Europe is Charlie Hebdo, then Europe is doomed.


I was not particularly outraged when President Obama did not attend the "unity" march in Paris after the recent attacks. While from a purely diplomatic perception perspective it would have been a good idea to have some high ranking US official put in an appearance, what was the point of the march other than an expression of feeling? What was the call to action? How were people in Europe, and throughout the world for that matter, now going to prevent future attacks and, more importantly, eventually defeat the various movements of Islamic extremism?

If the majority of Europeans truly no longer believe in anything (be it Christianity, Western civilization, or liberal democracy) then it is going to be difficult to rally them to fight a foe who does. Nihilists are not going to heed the call to man the barricades.

Monday, January 12, 2015

What the Pope Knows

Before Catholics start freaking out (in fear or joy) over Pope Francis' recent comments on global warming, Robert P. George offers up some important things to keep in mind:

1. The Pope has the right and responsibility to teach and even bind the consciences of the faithful on the truth of proposed moral norms, including those norms pertaining to our obligations concerning the natural environment.

2. Pursuant to the norms set forth in Lumen Gentium and other relevant documents pertaining to the teaching authority of the magisterium (including the papal magisterium), Catholics are bound to give religious assent to the norms formally proposed for such assent by the Holy Father. There is no area of morality in which the papal writ does not run. The Pope can speak authoritatively on questions of our moral responsibility to care for the natural environment, just as he can speak authoritatively on the obligation of truth-telling, the sanctity of human life, questions of marriage and sexual morality, matters of war, religious liberty, criminal punishment, and so forth.

3. The Pope has no special knowledge, insight, or teaching authority pertaining to matters of empirical fact of the sort investigated by, for example, physicists and biologists, nor do popes claim such knowledge, insight, or wisdom. Pope Francis does not know whether, or to what extent, the climate changes (in various directions) of the past several decades are anthropogenic—and God is not going to tell him. Nor does he know what their long term effects will be. If anything he teaches depends on views about these things, all he will have to go on is what everybody else has to go on, namely, the analyses offered by scientific specialists who have studied the matter. He has (just as we have) no guarantee of the soundness of the views of any scientist or group of scientists. A view that he adopts based on what a climate-change scientist or group of scientists—be he or they believers (known to their critics as “alarmists”) or skeptics (known to their critics as “deniers”)—say, could be wrong.

4. Although faithful Catholics are not bound by positions adopted by the Pope on such matters, they are bound by the moral norms he proposes for them to hold definitively. So, for example, let’s imagine that a Pope writing in an encyclical says that pregnant women should not take ibuprofen (as they might do for a headache or toothache) because it will cause the death of the children they are carrying, and there is a basic moral responsibility not to cause the death of a child at any stage of development. The fact that one need not believe that ibuprofen is an abortifacient (since there are very good reasons for believing it is not—and, in fact, it is not) does not affect the validity of the norm against causing the death of unborn children, nor does it alter the authority of the Pope to teach the norm as a norm to be held definitively by the faithful. So to disagree with a pope on the question of empirical fact about whether ibuprofen is an abortifacient is not necessarily to dissent from his teaching that a child has a right not to be killed by abortion—a right corresponding to a duty to refrain from causing embryonic or fetal death. (I’m prescinding here, of course, from the analytically separate question of when performing an act that forseeably results in death as an unintended side-effect of an otherwise morally permissible action is not unjust and may therefore itself be morally permissible.)


It's a bit complicated to digest, but the important distinction is between the positions themselves and the moral norms associated with them.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

HWX: Auld Lang Syne with Rep. Michele Bachmann

HWX returns for a final, gala broadcast of 2014. Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and, filling in for a still vacationing John Hinderaker, Paul Happe, aka the Nihilist in Golf Pants, reconvene to discuss the critical issues of our time. Topics include:
* Sony Pictures vs. North Korea and the lingering ramifications on the culture wars and humanity’s capacity for freedom
* Minnesota’s lack of a white Christmas and the adult beverages we turn to for solace* Loon of the Week, featuring Anderson Cooper
* This Week in Gatekeeping, and the link (or no link) between cancer and breastfeeding.
Bachmann2011We were also pleased to be joined by Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN-6). In a pre-taped interview moments after her final speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives, Michele reminisces on her eight, sometimes tumultuous, years in Congress. Michele addresses her thoughts on leaving office, her victories and her setbacks, and how she dealt with the specter of despair in the face of so much resistance and withering criticism.
Screen-Shot-2014-07-18-at-10.49.08-AMHWX is brought to you by Harry’s Shave. Christmas may be over, but the gift that keeps on giving is Harry’s. High quality shaving instruments and accessories, convenient ordering and shipping, all at low, low prices. Have a late gift you still need to send? Need to buy yourself a gift? Looking ahead to the busy President’s Day and Groundhog Day gift giving season? There’s no better place to shop than Harry’s. And you’ll save $5 off your first purchase, by entering the coupon code HWXHoliday at checkout.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Small Flock With a Great Responsibility

Pope Francis recently sent a Christmas Letter to Christians in Middle East:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction, with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God" (2 Cor 1:3-4).

When I thought of writing to you, our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, these words of Saint Paul immediately came to mind. I write to you just before Christmas, knowing that for many of you the music of your Christmas hymns will also be accompanied by tears and sighs. Nonetheless, the birth of the Son of God in our human flesh is an indescribable mystery of consolation: "For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people" (Tit 2:11).

Sadly, afflictions and tribulations have not been lacking, even more recently, in the Middle East. They have been aggravated in the past months because of the continuing hostilities in the region, but especially because of the work of a newer and disturbing terrorist organization, of previously unimaginable dimensions, which has perpetrated all kinds of abuses and inhuman acts. It has particularly affected a number of you, who have been brutally driven out of your native lands, where Christians have been present since apostolic times.

Nor, in writing to you, can I remain silent about the members of other religious and ethnic groups who are also experiencing persecution and the effects of these conflicts. Every day I follow the new reports of the enormous suffering endured by many people in the Middle East. I think in particular of the children, the young mothers, the elderly, the homeless and all refugees, the starving and those facing the prospect of a hard winter without an adequate shelter. This suffering cries out to God and it calls for our commitment to prayer and concrete efforts to help in any way possible. I want to express to all of you my personal closeness and solidarity, as well as that of the whole Church, and to offer you a word of consolation and hope.

Dear brothers and sisters who courageously bear witness to Jesus in the land blessed by the Lord, our consolation and our hope is Christ himself. I encourage you, then, to remain close to him, like branches on the vine, in the certainty that no tribulation, distress or persecution can separate us from him (cf. Rom 8:35). May the trials which you are presently enduring strengthen the faith and the fidelity of each and all of you!


This Christmas season we should all say a prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East who demonstrate what real faith in Christ means. And give thanks that we live in a land where we don't have to worry about being persecuted for ours.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

In Name Only

There is an insightful piece by an anonymous author at First Things on their experiences at their "Catholic But Not Too Catholic" school and church. Who Am I To Judge?

At noon I have to be at the local Catholic school—let’s call it St. Dismas—to train altar servers. I will arrive a few minutes early, and by 12:05 most of the kids will have trickled in. We are in Southern California, so most of the boys at St. Dismas wear short pants year-round. Students are required to attend one Mass per month with the school, but it has never occurred to anyone, not their parents, not the pastor, not the teachers, and certainly not the students, that they should wear pants to Mass. The girls wear skirts that in 1966 would have been described as “micro-minis.” When I told the boys’ parents that I expected them to wear their uniform pants to Mass when they become servers, the school principal—a genial thirty-something man who insists on the rigorous use of the title “Dr.” but often wears sweatpants and flip-flops to work—cornered me outside his office for a talk. He warned me that I might get some pushback from parents on the pants requirement. “We are only a medium-Catholic school,” he informed me. “We’re not really that Catholic.”

When we walk as a group into the nave (the church itself is almost barren of Catholic art or iconography), none of the kids bow or genuflect before the tabernacle. They are unaware that this is something they should do. They don’t know, because none of these children attend Mass on Sunday. When they do become altar servers, they will be dropped off moments before Mass begins and picked up by an idling SUV before the organ has finished the recessional. From time to time, the parents of altar servers can be seen standing outside the church, hunched over a smart phone, killing time while they wait for Mass to finish.

At this point in the school year, the first-time altar servers have developed a rudimentary understanding of what is expected of them during Mass, but when they began their training in September they needed quite a lot of attention. As I said, they attend Mass once a month with their class, but never on Sunday. Therefore, none of them are aware of the Gloria, the Credo, or the Second Reading. On the first day of training, several kids made the Sign of the Cross in the eastern fashion, and I had to take several minutes to correct them. I brought this up with a member of the school administration, and she was somewhat surprised. The kids say a morning prayer each day, she said, and they begin with the Sign of the Cross. It’s possible that no one ever corrected them. I have never seen any of the teachers at Holy Mass, so it seems likely that this sort of attention to detail isn’t a priority for them either.

The children know nothing of vestments, sacramentals, the prayers of the Church other than the Hail Mary and the Our Father, feast days, or the concept of Sanctifying Grace. None has been to confession since the first one, but all receive communion without any thought. If their parents are forced into Mass, they too will line up for communion and receive it happily and without qualm. The teachers aren’t practicing Catholics, the parents aren’t practicing Catholics, and the parish priest would never dare suggest to the congregation that they go to confession. He correctly understands that there would be outrage among his flock.


Keep reading the piece. It gets even better worse and is a perfect example of what ails too many Catholic parishes in America today. I foresee a day soon when there will be a shaking out within the Church which will lead to a separation of those who are more serious about their Catholic faith and those who are more loosely connected. It will likely mean a smaller Church, but hopefully a much stronger one.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Media Alert: HWX on AM1280 the Patriot

They said it would be a warm day in December when Hinderaker and Ward returned to the concrete bunker of AM1280 the Patriot, at least for something other than a legal deposition.

Looks like we get the last laugh on that one.

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Back by popular demand, for one show only (filling in for Mitch Berg, who's taking a rare and well deserve break), the Hinderaker Ward Experience, from 1-3 pm today on AM1280 the Patriot.

And like today's weather, it's not the heat of this broadcast that will get you (a tepid 42), it's the humidity  - at 100%!  I think that's the functional equivalent of being underwater, so for goodness sake people stay indoors, stay safe, and stay glued to your radios.

Guests include:

*  Rep. Michele Bachmann, reminiscing on her 8 years in office, what she learned, where she's going, and what's it all about Alfie.

*  John Nolte of Breitbart.com, the point man on debunking the Lena Dunham allegations of a Republican rapist at Oberlin College.

Also Loon of the Week, This Week in Gate Keeping, and more surprises.

Check us out, from 1 - 3pm central, LIVE on AM1280 or via the internet on I Heart Radio.   Don't you dare miss it.