On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Anthea about Pope Francis’s new appointment of cardinals. Anthea argues that by appointing no Americans, Francis was working toward parity, and breaking an Italian “cabal.” Has the media created a “fantasy pope?” While Francis is like the new CEO of a company, there are some ways in which business at the Vatican proceeds as usual. Why did Francis appoint so many cardinals from the developing world? Plus: How the US Conference of Catholic Bishops acts like evangelicals.
On The DMZ: How the Super Bowl could affect Chris Christie’s fortunes. What happens to the 2016 field if Christie is toast? Matt and Bill discuss why political tribalism is often rational—and how that fact exposes Christie’s weakness. Bill argues that Obama has shown the value of combining virtue and toughness. Matt warns young political operatives against the seductive pull of the dark side. Plus: Has Obama taken advice from Patrick Swayze in Road House?
On Interrobang‽, Jillian and Mary Anne discuss Amanda Hess’s recent piece on online harassment of women. Jillian expresses concern about the free speech implications of some anti-harassment legislation. Should social networks such as Facebook and Twitter take it upon themselves to regulate speech? Are there risks to criminalizing revenge porn? Are anti-harassment vigilantes like Anonymous helping anything? They conclude with an optimistic assessment of how the conversation about online harassment is changing.
On Rational Actors, Kevin and Robert discuss the conservative struggle to come up with an effective anti-poverty agenda. Can Marco Rubio’s new policy proposal fill the void? They critique the progressive view of the causes of poverty. Is marriage the best anti-poverty program, or is there a chicken-and-egg problem here? How does abortion figure into the poverty debate? Finally: Will conservatives be serious about poverty in the future?
On The Score, Travis says he would vote Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire into baseball’s Hall of Fame, while Michael explains why Cooperstown is still important to him. Why did Frank Thomas get elected while Mike Piazza did not? Travis is sick of the annual Hall of Fame/steroids debate, and Michael makes the case for the Hall as a brick-and-mortar institution. Turning to baseball’s latest scandal, Michael and Travis explore whether justice has been done in the Alex Rodriguez case. Plus: What role does the baseball players union want to play in all this?
On The Posner Show, Sarah talks with Katie about the successes and challenges of the Sunday Assembly, the “atheist megachurch.” How did the Sunday Assembly spread from East London to forty cities around the world? What caused a split between the Sunday Assembly and a group in New York, which complained about prohibitions on talking about atheism? They discuss why atheist church is appealing—or not—to atheists. Katie says when you create a new church, schisms are inevitable. What is the role of charismatic leaders in keeping churches afloat? Finally: What does the future hold for atheist churches?
On Foreign Entanglements, Matt and Yousef discuss John Kerry‘s ongoing attempts to restart the Middle East peace process. Why is recognition of Israel as a Jewish state such a sticking point? Is it fair of Israel to hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for inciting violence? Why is the US giving so much more attention to Israel’s security needs compared to Palestine’s? And what is Abbas’s best strategic option going forward? Matt wonders whether the Palestinians can realistically expect anything better than a semi-occupied state.
On The DMZ, Matt explains why the right isn’t rallying to defend Chris Christie during the bridge scandal. Bill thinks the story highlights that electability is a thin reed on which to base a presidential candidacy. They note that ruthlessness is often rewarded in politics, but only if you get away with it. Next, Matt argues that the right has something important to learn from MSNBC. Do conservatives have a soft spot for monarchies? Plus: On Bob Gates’s new memoir, Bill says we should consider history’s long view.