U.S.

News Flashes

A tornado in North Dallas, Texas, October 20, 2019. (Philip Ellis/Social media via Reuters)

A tornado tore through Dallas not too far from where I live last night. I slept through it.

A Home Depot got leveled, and there was a fair amount of damage to houses and other structures, but as of this writing there is no report of death or much in the way of serious injury. This is not to minimize the loss of a home or other property, of course, but only to call attention to one of those many blessings we overlook: the great blessing of all the things that might have happened but didn’t.

These events make me think of my mother, who had a charming habit of calling me to tell me about the weather. She’d sit at home a thousand miles away in Texas, watching the Weather Channel (a Winston in one hand and a Dr Pepper in the other), and see that snow was expected in Philadelphia. And then we’d have a telephone conversation that went, roughly:

“It’s going to snow in Philadelphia tomorrow. Did you know that?”

“Yes. I live in Philadelphia.”

“But I didn’t know if you were paying attention to the news. You don’t even have a television.”

“I’m the editor of the local newspaper. I have my sources. One of them is the weather report in the newspaper, which I read regularly as part of my duties as its editor.”

“You don’t have to be such a know-it-all.”

In 1970, a couple of tornados tore through my hometown, Lubbock, Texas, and obliterated about a quarter of the city, including much of the downtown business district. Thirty-one people died. In 1979, a truly bonkers event known as the Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak saw 59 separate tornados descend on the same day, mostly on and around Wichita Falls, Texas. Fifty-eight people died, most of them in Wichita Falls but others in Oklahoma and as far away as Indiana.

I’ve been around a lot of tornados (they call rednecks “tornado bait” for a reason), and the thing is that, unlike a blizzard or a hurricane, you don’t get a lot of warning with tornados. When Hurricane Sandy flooded my neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, I wasn’t there for it. We’d been warned days in advance — the phrase “super storm” was used — and like anybody else in possession of a credit card and a will to live, I was on the other side of the country, sitting by a pool in Palm Springs, when the lights went out.

But not everybody is that lucky, and some trouble cannot be foreseen or escaped. (Or bargained away, or dealt with by means of a credit card.) And so we call our loved ones to tell them what they already know, just in case. Just in case.

Elections

Elizabeth Warren Is Dodging Questions . . . But It Probably Won’t Matter

Sen. Elizabeth Warren responds to a question during a forum held by the Giffords group and March For Our Lives in Las Vegas, Nev., October 2, 2019. (Steve Marcus/Reuters)

Those of us who are not fans of Elizabeth Warren and who think she’s gotten mostly a free ride from the media are enjoying the current moment, where Democratic rivals are hammering her over a stubborn refusal to admit that paying for Medicare for All would require tax increases on more than just “the rich” and big corporations.

In the last debate, when asked, “Senator Sanders acknowledges he’s going to raise taxes on the middle class to pay for Medicare for all. You’ve endorsed his plan. Should you acknowledge it, too?” Warren responded by shifting to discussion of “costs” and hoping no one would notice the difference.

“Costs will go up for the wealthy,” she said. “They will go up for big corporations. And for middle-class families, they will go down. I will not sign a bill into law that does not lower costs for middle-class families.”

Unfortunately for Warren, her rivals did notice.

Pete Buttigieg called the issue a “a yes-or-no question that didn’t get a yes-or-no answer.” Amy Klobuchar said, “At least Bernie’s being honest here and saying how he’s going to pay for this and that taxes are going to go up. And I’m sorry, Elizabeth, but you have not said that, and I think we owe it to the American people to tell them where we’re going to send the invoice.”

Joe Biden got in on it, too: “The plan is going to cost at least $30 trillion over 10 years. That is more on a yearly basis than the entire federal budget . . . If you’re making — if a fireman and a schoolteacher are making $100,000 a year, their taxes are going to go up about $10,000. That is more than they will possibly save on this health care plan.”

Ask Warren about the costs, and she’ll respond a non sequitur about how awful it is when insurance companies refuse to cover particular treatments.

Now Warren is promising to come out with a more detailed plan.

The bad news for those of us who like seeing her grilled is that her answers or non-answers may not matter much. She’s following a well-worn playbook by previous successful Democratic candidates. Democratic presidential candidates insist that their plans will not increase taxes on the middle class, and furthermore pledge to reduce the tax burden on the middle class. And then, once inaugurated, they suddenly reveal, “oh, wait, never mind, your taxes are going up after all.”

On the campaign trail in 1992, Bill Clinton promised an income tax cut for the middle class; once he was in office, he abandoned the plan to cut income taxes and enacted a variety of tax hikes, some of which hit the middle class: raising the federal tax on gasoline, raising the percentage of Social Security benefits subject to income taxes, phasing out various deductions, and raising the alternative minimum tax.

Then-Senator Obama promised, on Sept. 12, 2008, speaking in Dover, N.H., “I can make a firm pledge.  Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase.  Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.

But as president, Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, which enacted 21 new taxes, some of which hit the middle class.

Separately, under President Obama temporary payroll tax break was not renewed in in 2013, creating a de facto tax increase for millions of workers. A worker making $50,000 per year found his tax bill going up by about $1,000.

Any country that has almost $23 trillion in debt is not one that spends a lot of time worrying about how the government is going to pay for its promises. While running for president, Donald Trump pledged to completely eliminate the debt — not the annual deficit, but the entire federal debt — within eight years. Needless to say, he hasn’t come close; we’re back to trillion-per-year deficits again. If Republican primary voters aren’t asking about how we’re going to pay for things, there’s no way Democratic primary voters are.

Sure, the pledge to not raise taxes on the middle class is a lie. But a lot of voters want to believe the lie.

Culture

Fifteen Things That Caught My Eye Today (October 21, 2019)

1.

2. About China’s Organ Harvesting

3. A New York Times reporter on ISIS and the fall of Mosul

4. Coptic Christians in Egypt fear martyrs are being forgotten

5.

6. Catholic priest murdered in Kenya, latest in string of killings

7. Robert Nicholson: Hit Turkey Where It Hurts: Help Armenia

8. AP: Syria crisis tests Trump’s global religious freedom vows

9. WSJ: Youth Suicide Rate Increased 56% in Decade, CDC Says 

10. Pew: In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace

11. In the Atlantic: All the Pregnancies I Couldn’t Talk About

12. On CNN.com: This may be the secret to Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s amazingly long marriage

13. Babylon Bee: Politics Now Nation’s Fastest Growing Religion

14. Meet the Almost-100-Year-Old Priest Who Knew St. Maximilian Kolbe

15. Jeff Jacoby: Amid rising anti-Semitism, the People of the Book rejoice with the Law

PLUS: On NYC and Mother Cabrini

A job opening

Amazon has run out of A Year with the Mystics, but says it will be back in stock on October 29. In the meantime, you can order and lock in the 26 percent off sale price here.

An interview about A Year with the Mystics: What ‘A Year with the Mystics’ can teach us about thoughts and prayers

Elections

We’re at the Point Where Campaign Expenses Could Call Julian Castro Home . . .

Former Housing Secretary Julian Castro speaks at the Democratic presidential debate in Houston, Texas, September 12, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Way back on January 10, 1987, evangelical television viewers witnessed a rather infamous request for money:

Oral Roberts needs about $4.5 million in “quick money” from followers or God won’t let him live past March, the evangelist says.

“I’m asking you to help me extend my life,” Roberts told his television audience Sunday. “We’re at the point where God could call Oral Roberts home.”

Speaking from the clinical laboratory at his City of Faith Medical and Research Center, Roberts asked viewers to send $100 immediately and pledge additional amounts for February and March.

The evangelist, who will be 69 on Jan. 24, said God told him that raising the possibility of his death was necessary to get the attention of his followers.

Oral Roberts did hit his fundraising mark, and — perhaps because God was pleased with his fundraising, or perhaps coincidentally — lived to age 91, passing away in 2009.

Earlier this year, Cory Booker said that if his campaign didn’t raise $2 million in ten days, he might not be in the race much longer. Booker hit the threshold. Now, Julian Castro is making a variation of the same pitch: donate now, or the God of Campaign Expenses will call Julian Castro home!

The fundraising tactic is a last-ditch effort for a candidate who has struggled to raise money for much of his campaign; he entered the fourth quarter of 2019 with less than $700,000 in the bank. In the email, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary writes that the donations are needed to help him qualify for November’s Democratic debate, something he has failed to do so far.

“I’m asking you to fight for me like never before,” Castro says in the email. “If I don’t meet this deadline, I won’t have the resources to keep my campaign running. I’m counting on your $5 in this critical moment.”

In related news, National Review could really use your support, but as far as we know, God isn’t threatening to off anyone if you don’t give enough.

Elections

Buttigieg Is Definitely Gaining Momentum

In response to Is Pete Buttigieg Gaining Momentum? Or Just Managing Expectations?

Jim, I think Buttigieg is definitely gaining momentum. I’ve been a Mayor Pete skeptic. But he’s been in double digits in Iowa for about a month; he’s emphasizing his relative moderation more, clearly with an eye to Biden’s weakness (and Warren’s strength); and he’s an extremely deft talker. Obviously, there’s still a big question whether he can possibly break out of his demographic silo of college-educated whites. I’d think he’d top out as a Gary Hart 1984– or John Edwards 2004–type candidate, a newcomer who vastly outperforms expectations. As for the general state of the race, I think it’s foolish for anyone to insist it’s a three-person race or a Biden–Warren race. It could still end up a Warren–Buttigieg race, or have some other unexpected configuration, especially if Biden fades.

White House

The Hotelier-in-Chief

Mick Mulvaney over the weekend said, regarding the Doral decision, that Trump “still considers himself in the hospitality business.” This is an innocent explanation in one sense: It doesn’t occur to Trump that he’s doing anything untoward in, say, wanting to host the G-7 at Doral because he just wants to show people a good time at what he, of course, considers one of the best golf resorts in the world. On the other hand, it’s quite damning — the president of the United States should be focused on one role and job at a time, which is obviously being president of the United States. That Trump has never absorbed this basic insight is one of the worst aspects of his presidency.

Elections

Is Pete Buttigieg Gaining Momentum? Or Just Managing Expectations?

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Westerville, Ohio, October 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

There are two ways to look at this cycle’s Democratic presidential primary. Robert Reich lays out one way — that this is a three-candidate race between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders, and that while everyone else who’s running deserves a pat on the back, it’s always been a choice amongst the big three. Reich wants the other candidates off the debate stage, so the party can focus upon the realistic options.

The other way to look at the cycle is that the big three septuagenarians are all weaker than they look, that they’re coasting on name recognition for now, and that when the decision time gets closer for Democratic primary voters, those voters will take a second look at the trailing candidates. That’s probably wishful thinking on the part of most of the also-rans . . . but a new poll does put Pete Buttigieg in third place in Iowa at 13 percent, with Biden leading at 18 percent and Warren at 17 percent. Sanders — who came within a few coin tosses of beating Hillary Clinton — is down at 9 percent, and Kamala Harris, once considered part of the top tier, is now in a three-way tie for sixth.

It’s worth noting that the most recent Emerson poll in Iowa had Buttigieg in third with 16 percent and the most recent CBS News/YouGov poll had him in fourth with 21 percent. The 15 percent threshold matters a lot: “At each caucus, each presidential contender who fails to get at least 15 percent support among the participants in the initial balloting after a period of discussion will be considered ‘non-viable’ and all supporters of such ‘non-viable’ presidential contenders will then be required to join in the support of presidential contenders who have remained ‘viable.’”

Perhaps the most important caveat is that if Buttigieg can’t do reasonably well in Iowa, a neighboring state, it’s fair to wonder where he will do better. He’s in the high single digits in New Hampshire, is in the low single digits in Nevada, and the last Gravis poll in South Carolina had him at . . . 0 percent. A lot of campaigns tout the notion that a surprisingly strong finish in the Iowa caucuses will be a springboard to more success in the following states, but it rarely works out that way. (Certainly not on the Republican side; ask Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, or Ted Cruz.)

Culture

Monday Links

From 1960, here’s how to build your own fallout shelter.

When Americans Dined (and Dated) in Cemeteries.

A Million People Are Jailed at China’s Gulags. I Managed to Escape. Here’s What Really Goes on Inside

October 21 is Trafalgar Day: history, videos, art, and links. Trafalgar was the greatest British naval victory of the Napoleonic wars, and essentially destroyed the sea power of France in a single engagement.

Air Force finally retires eight-inch floppies from missile launch control system.

How Do Sodas in Outdoor Vending Machines Not Freeze in Winter?

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include the 1814 London Beer Flood that killed eight people, a detailed account of the Notre Dame restoration process, a map of the entire Internet as of 1973 that fit on one sheet of paper, and, from 1865, Mark Twain’s proposal for climate control.

Sports

The Agony of Defeat

The Yankees lost the ALCS to the Astros three games to two, and it was instructive on the worst way to lose. You can go down without a fight the way the Cardinals did in getting swept by the Nationals, and if you are a Cards fan, you know the writing is on the wall and probably stop paying attention before the series is over. There is the way it seemed the Yankees were going to lose Saturday night, 4-2, trailing the entire game, disappointing but not shocking. Then, there is the way the Yankees actually lost on Saturday, tying it in the top of the ninth with one of the most masterly, clutch at-bats you’ll ever see, and going on to get crushed in the bottom of the ninth by a Jose Altuve two-out two-run bomb. That way of losing will haunt you all winter. Congrats to the Astros, go Nats.

 

Politics & Policy

What Deficit?

In Washington, the remainder of this year looks likely to be dominated by the impeachment of the president. House Democrats seem eager to move the process relatively quickly, perhaps voting on articles of impeachment in late November or in December, and Senate Republicans have said they will then swiftly hold a trial, even though most of them don’t now think impeachment or removal is warranted. Whatever you think about the merits, it’s hard to deny that pretty much nothing else is likely to get done in Congress.

Of course, it’s also true that fairly little has gotten done in Congress over the past few years anyway, so it won’t be all that easy to tell the difference. But the emphasis on impeachment does exacerbate one particular problem that will demand to be noticed: The twelve appropriations bills that compose the federal budget all expire on November 21, one month from now, which could be near the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment schedule. Congress needs to pass spending legislation by then or else face a shutdown.

There is no prospect of the regular appropriations process functioning to achieve that goal. Over the summer, Congress and the president did agree on the overall discretionary spending levels for the year, but at this point the Senate has not passed even one appropriations bill, while the House has passed most of the needed bills but in versions that couldn’t hope to survive in the Senate.

All this suggests that Congress will yet again package the appropriations bills into one or (more likely) a few consolidated packages. A couple of these “minibus” bills could start getting considered as soon as this week, though it’s still not clear how much can really get done by the deadline—there are only about 15 legislative days before November 21, and if House Democrats are serious about moving quickly on impeachment, it’s hard to know how many of those (especially in November) will really be available for spending bills.

Of course, that may not mean a shutdown. It might just mean that, yet again, Congress appropriates for the year to come in a mad rush without considering its options or its fiscal circumstances, bargaining much, or giving most members any real role in the process. And in the meantime, the government’s fiscal situation grows worse despite a fairly strong economy, and we are further than ever from any prospect of reforming the entitlement programs that are responsible for the bulk of the problem.

Recent data from the Congressional Budget Office illustrate the shape of that problem. On its current course, the federal government will run about a trillion dollar deficit this year—despite decent growth and low unemployment. And although CBO does not assume a major recession in its projections, it expects deficits over the coming decade to reach the levels reached at the heart of the Great Recession ten years ago. Here’s a quick snapshot of the last ten years and projections for the next ten years (this is my chart, but made from data CBO released this summer here).

Simply put, the (modest but meaningful) deficit reduction achieved by the congresses of the Tea Party years and President Obama is being undone by today’s Congress and President Trump—and by the sheer demographic pressure of an aging society with an old-age welfare state. The result, of course, is swiftly rising debt.

Here (this time from data released with CBO’s latest long-term outlook) is how the projected debt buildup of the coming decades looks in historical perspective.

Nearly every past peak in the chart is explainable by some significant national emergency: the civil war, the first and second world wars, the Great Depression, the Great Recession. The exceptions are the bump in debt in the Reagan years (which might in part be plausibly explained by the defense buildup that helped end the cold war) and, all the more so, the enormous projected explosion of debt that we have begun to live through, and that we know will grow much worse but have decided not to address.

This is essentially entitlement-driven debt, and there are ways of at least mitigating its growth to reduce the risks involved and the costs to the economic prospects of the rising generation without endangering vulnerable and elderly people now or later. For a sense of these ideas, see for instance proposals from my AEI colleagues Jim Capretta and Andrew Biggs, regarding Medicare and Social Security, respectively.

But to say that the will for such reforms is absent would be a gross understatement. Republicans have read the politics of the Trump era to suggest they should no longer even pretend to care about this problem (and as ever, they seem unaware that the left’s caricatures of what would be involved in addressing it are false). And the Democrats are going even further, promising to expand the reach and scope of the entitlements responsible for these projections.

The prospect we face likely is not a matter of existential disaster or some kind of fiscal implosion. We can probably live with debt like this, but it will mean that our economy has less to offer our people and that we are much weaker and more vulnerable than we have to be. Doing something about it would require modest reforms, reached as compromises. But that’s just what we can’t do now. And so instead we find cowardly silence on the right and careless, nonsensical promises on the left.

In this arena as in others, the legacy of this period looks likely to be a legacy of recklessness and missed opportunities. Doing better would require us to step back from a politics of outrage and counter-outrage and so, although it is something we should plan and work for, at least for the time being it just isn’t something we should expect.

National Review

Where Our Free-Speech Fight Stands

(Pexels)

Your help is needed, but first, you should know: Last week we learned that the SCOTUS justices had, for the third time this month, chosen to postpone for another two weeks a decision on granting (or denying) review in National Review v. Mann. What does this mean?

The vast majority of cert petitions are rejected by the High Court immediately, at the time when they are first scheduled to be considered. The fact that our petition has not been declined, that it persists, that it remains ripe for consideration, means, in the calculus of any seasoned high-court observer, that there is clearly some interest in the case among the justices.

Define “some.” We can’t. How about making odds: Does the delay (it looks like the Court will next formally consider the matter in the first week of November) mean that the case will be taken up? Not necessarily. But then, is there reason to see all this as measured good news? It’s fair to say: Yes.

Heck: The cert petition could have been denied immediately, as most are. So it is indeed good news that we are still in the fight — a fight not of our choosing, but one we intend to engage in with every ounce of institutional energy, every iota of institutional resources. After all, there is an unalienable right being messed with.

Whether SCOTUS takes up the case, or if it proceeds on its current track — a jury trial before the very liberal District of Columbia court system — the facts remain that National Review is

  • engaged in a consequential and expensive legal battle
  • that it is a battle for the protection of a fundamental right to free-speech
  • that even this process, of having the case be heard by D.C. jury, is a serious challenge to long-standing First Amendment protections
  • that this is as much your fight as it is NR’s.

Well over a million dollars have been spent in National Review’s defense since Michael Mann initiated this assault on the First Amendment in 2012 (we wonder: what cabal of liberal moneybags is paying his big tab?). Our insurance pays for much of our defense, but NR has had to pay boatloads of money for costs not covered by the insurer. That burden could be an institutional back-breaker, but as yet it hasn’t been, because so many generous people, good people, patriotic Americans — folks who abhor the thought that their own right to free speech is being monkeyed with (and is it ever!) — have stepped up (nearly 1,300 and counting since we launched this effort last week) to provide NR with real and meaningful financial aid.

Have you helped us out in this matter? If you have, thanks very much (feel free to help some more). The strife persists. Have you yet to help? You are under no obligation to do so, but remember: This fight is not our fight . . . it is our fight. NR does not own the First Amendment — it’s yours too. And so should be the fight to protect it.

Help us fight this fight by contributing to our 2019 Fall Webathon. Please note that contributions to National Review Inc., while vitally important, are not tax deductible. No amount is too small (or big!). If you prefer to fight by check, make yours out to the order of “National Review” and mail it to National Review, ATTN: 2019 Fall Webathon, 19 West 44th Street, Suite 1701, New York, NY 10036. Please know we look forward to having you alongside us at the barricade, where we can employ our free-speech right to assure you of our deep appreciation, and the thrill of your camaraderie.

Economy & Business

Hike Taxes, Lose Residents: Estate-Tax Edition

From a new study:

Before 2001, some states had an estate tax and others didn’t, but the tax liability for the ultra-wealthy was independent of their domicile state due to a federal credit. In 2001, the credit was phased out and the estate tax liability for the ultra-wealthy suddenly became highly dependent on domicile state. We find the number of Forbes 400 individuals in estate tax states fell by 35% after 2001 compared to non-estate tax states. We also find that billionaire[s’] sensitivity to the estate tax increases significantly with age. Overall, billionaires’ geographical location appears to be highly sensitive to state estate taxes.

Of course, this doesn’t imply that killing the estate tax “pays for itself.” To the contrary, in the vast majority of states, these taxes manage to hit enough dead billionaires to offset the loss of income-tax revenue from the out-migration they cause. But the study serves as another warning that in a highly mobile, globalized world, high taxes can have all sorts of unintended consequences.

Culture

Not Less Religion, Just Different Religion

The Pew Poll tells us that society is secularizing — particularly among the young — and who can deny it? That is one reason that the free expression of religion is under such intense pressure in the West.

But it seems to me that we aren’t really becoming less religious. Rather, many are merely changing that in which they put their faith. For some, it is the neo-earth religion of radical environmentalism that personalizes nature and advocates “nature rights” for “Pachamama,” (the Incan earth goddess), or sees the earth as akin to a sentient organism, as in Gaia theory.

Transhumanism comes even closer to that mark. The movement began advocating the right to engage in radical body alterations, such as brain implants to increase intelligence or genetic engineering to grant one the powers of a comic book super hero. Lately, it has evolved (if you will) to promise that we never have to die if we only harness the wonders of technology. There is even a prophetic point in time, known as the “Singularity” — akin to the fundamentalist concept of Rapture — when the cascade of AI and other tech advances will birth a corporeal New Jerusalem.

Here’s a description of this idea just published in The Guardian:

Imagine that a person’s brain could be scanned in great detail and recreated in a computer simulation. The person’s mind and memories, emotions and personality would be duplicated. In effect, a new and equally valid version of that person would now exist, in a potentially immortal, digital form.

What good is that, you ask?

At the simplest level, mind uploading would preserve people in an indefinite afterlife. Families could have Christmas dinner with sim Grandma joining in on video conference, the tablet screen propped up at the end of the table – presuming she has time for her bio family any more, given the rich possibilities in the simulated playground. It’s this kind of idealised afterlife that people have in mind, when they think about the benefits of mind uploading. It’s a human-made heaven.

I hate to disappoint the transhumanists, but their minds and personalities uploaded into a computer would be no more “them” than the animatronic Abraham Lincoln at Disney World is the real Honest Abe. It would be a mimic computer program. Wherever “you” were, it wouldn’t be in cyberspace.

The neo-religions we see emerging in the contemporary era tend to be anti-human. Radical environmentalism perceives us as the cancer afflicting Gaia. Transhumanism posits that we are are so inadequate that we have to be remade in our own image.

But both — and others — offer their believers meaning, which is no small thing. Transhumanism also provides its mostly atheistic or agnostic adherents hope that is destroyed by naked materialism — and with the additional “benefit” of never having to atone for sin.

As the West becomes less theistically religious generally and increasingly anti-Christian specifically, expect new forms of faith to continue emerging. A society crafted along the lines of John Lennon’s “Imagine” is unattainable. The need to believe is hard-wired in our beings. We will always have religion.

Politics & Policy

‘The Kindling of a Flame, Not the Filling of a Vessel’

That’s how Socrates described his approach. He thought that education ideally was a collaborative process in which the instructor draws out ideas in conversation with students rather than simply lecturing to them.

That educational philosophy used to be more widely used than it is today. For one thing, it’s easier to just talk at students (or, worse yet, put power-point screens up for them to copy) than to try engaging their minds. For another, many educators are trying to fill vessels — they want students to believe what they believe.

The Socratic (or classical) approach to education isn’t gone, however. In today’s Martin Center article, Shannon Watkins writes about a recent conference she attended that was devoted to reviving it. She writes, “The symposium’s overarching theme was ‘Reading as Soul-Formation: How Great Books Change Lives.’ During the symposium, educators spoke about living the examined life, cultivating one’s ‘moral imagination,’ and how words provide an understanding of objective reality.”

Professor Matthew Post of the University of Dallas emphasized that Socratic method is beneficial because it breeds intellectual humility in both students and instructors, and because it leads to better retention of concepts.

At least two colleges have programs to help future teachers absorb the Socratic method — Hillsdale and Grove City.

Watkins concludes:

Modern cognitive research affirms truths about human nature that Socrates recognized years ago: ‘[E]ducation is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.’ He understood that education is not simply about giving students the “right answers,” but about compelling them to participate in the lifelong search for wisdom.

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More
Elections

Put Up or Shut Up on These Accusations, Hillary

Look, one 2016 candidate being prone to wild and baseless accusations is enough. Appearing on Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s podcast, Hillary Clinton suggested that 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was a “Russian asset,” that Republicans and Russians were promoting the Green Party, and ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More
PC Culture

Defiant Dave Chappelle

When Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special Sticks & Stones came out in August, the overwhelming response from critics was that it was offensive, unacceptable garbage. Inkoo Kang of Slate declared that Chappelle’s “jokes make you wince.” Garrett Martin, in the online magazine Paste, maintained that the ... Read More
U.S.

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More