Thursday, 22 September 2011 12:42 by Admin
Education, Israel, state government, the news media, and the Tea Party are in the spectrum of topics for Centennial Institute public forums in Fall 2011, according to Director John Andrews. In addition, he said, there will be closed sessions for major donors on constitutional law and for institute fellows on 2012 politics. Issue Monday dates at the CCU Beckman Center include the evenings of Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 14, and Dec. 12. There will be an all-day conference on Friday, Dec. 2, sponsored by Centennial's new project on News in the 21st Century, with Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center as keynote speaker. Here is the complete fall schedule. centennial events 091911.doc (128.50 kb)
For questions or advance reservations, email Centennial@ccu.edu.
Editor: Peg Brady of Centennial, Colorado, a tireless grassroots worker for constitutional government and conservative reform, is first to file again this year, as she was in 2010, with a comprehensive journal of key points and memorable moments from the 19 hours of programming at Western Conservative Summit 2011. If a comparison with James Madison's meticulous and indispensable journal of the 1787 Philadelphia Convention would be too lofty, still we must salute Brady as the Madison of this year's Summit - always with pen in hand when others' attention or stamina may have flagged, faithfully recording all of it to the benefit of everyone else who did - or perhaps even more, who did not - attend the memorable weekend at Marriott Denver City Center.
BRADY'S SUMMIT DIARY
Friday, 29 July John Andrews and Bill ArmstrongTo stirring cheers, WCS co-director and Centennial Institute director John Andrews welcomed us and promised an avalanche of information and inspiration. As CCU president and WCS co-chairman, Bill Armstrong affirmed our shared dedication to our beloved nation’s great future. This year’s Summit upholds as its theme “Fulfilling America’s Promise” through restoring Conservative principles.Rick Santorum and Rick PerryAs joint keynote speakers, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry conveyed their thoughts about “America at the Crossroads.” We all recognize that a vast divide separates our Conservative economic and political perspective and principles from the Left’s viewpoint. The success of our principles is needed to safeguard America’s future, and thus that of all people who cherish freedom. Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum averred that we must all do our part to ensure that success. It will not be pundits and politicos who determine America’s future but energized, dedicated people. The Left’s goal is total government power controlling every possible aspect of our lives. Obamacare is a prime example: more than an economic threat, it undermines our private health choices and insinuates bureaucratic control into every business decision. Obama’s “czars” are not officials elected by the people to govern; rather, they are political cronies with little or no experience in the fields over which they rule.Mr. Santorum defined our Constitution as America’s “operating manual,” our Declaration of Independence as our “heart.” Rights do not come from the government; government’s only role is clearly delimited in our Constitution. The “happiness” our Declaration of Independence proclaims is not self-indulgence; rather, true happiness derives from doing what is right and freely accepting responsibility for our choices. He cited Abraham Lincoln’s straightforward directive, “We do not have the right to do wrong.”Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, emphasized the criticality of a flourishing free-market economy as the bulwark of freedom. In Texas style, he enjoined Americans to “corral the federal government.” While intruding into every corner of our lives, the government nonetheless fails in its responsibility for defending our borders. Government bureaucrats declaim policies without regard for science and aimed at increasing government control, not ensuring our well-being. The Left is “addicted to spending.” He cited four essential Conservative paths, encouraging investment and economic growth:• Spend only what is needed for genuine Constitutional functions• Keep taxes as low as possible• Enact only regulations that are logical, necessary and predictable• Reform the judicial system to forestall frivolous lawsuitsSaturday, 30 July Tucker Carlson Mr, Carlson, editor-in-chief of the Daily Caller political website, addressed “What Americans Want from the President and Congress.” His brief answer – far more than we get. The Left-dominated federal government does not deliver what we expect of them, their Constitutional obligations. Instead their actions target goals that are “unintelligble” to us. Nor is the Left solely responsible for the madness tearing at America’s fabric; party politics weakens the impact of those whom we elected to uphold Conservative principles. We mandated that they reduce spending and limit government, but their promises to do so have scarcely flowered. The Tea Party’s great boon has been holding politicians accountable to Conservative economic constraints. Especially deleterious is the media’s role in undermining American backbone. “The media is even more Liberal than you think,” he warned. Endlessly promoting pleasure-seeking and irresponsible disregard for consequences, the media encourages people to demand ever more government handouts and “rights” without regard for cost. Media promote the notion that government largesse is free. Approximately fifty percent of American residents pay no federal taxes, ever worsened by illegal immigration.Foster Friess Successful businessman and inspiring Conservative activist, Foster Friess explored possibilities for “Replacing Obamacare after Its Repeal.” First, he explained, it is necessary to recognize that Obamacare is about power, not about health care. It seeks to drive most Americans into dependence on government welfare and subject to government control. The Left repeats this pattern in climate, energy, immigration, and every arena in which it can stir or exacerbate a “crisis.” Instilling fear and guilt are the Left’s prelude for promoting government intervention. To promote readership/audience, the media intensifies the Left-induced emotional tension.Rather than Obamacare, Americans would be better served by personal and/or employer’s health-savings accounts. Further, founded on his own clear business judgment, Mr. Friess detailed Conservative constraints for sensible legislation:• Base decisions on reliable information sources• Prioritize to pay down the debt and cut spending• Promote self-determination and responsibilityFrank Gaffney President of the Center for Security Policy, Frank Gaffney fully comprehends the threat that Sharia poses for overriding our Constitutional rights. In his topic “Our Choice: Sharia or the Constitution,” he described Sharia as totalitarian. A well-known example is Sharia’s utter disregard for women. Moreover, Sharia promotes overthrow, by violence or by stealth, of all governments founded on personal freedom. Becoming common in Europe are “Sharia-Controlled Zone” signs, delimiting areas within which Sharia, rather than the nation’s political and justice systems, rule. Dedicated to implementing Sharia worldwide is the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood. Its self-proclaimed goal: “eliminating and destroying Western Civilization” by any means. An effective tool of Muslim Brotherhood leaders is inducing citizens to adopt “tolerance” and then to enact Sharia-based legislation. One of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sharia-implementing sub-organizations is the Islamic Free Market Institute, a disguise for persistent and penetrating attacks on capitalism. Countering these seditious assaults is the American Laws for American Courts movement. Mr. Gaffney summarized the threat: “Sharia is completely antithetical to Constitutional freedom.” He urges Conservatives to repeat President Reagan’s defeat of Communism, directing our 21st century efforts to eradicating the Muslim Brotherhood and all of its destructive offshoots. And he averred that Obama embraces the Muslim Brotherhood.John Bolton Ambassador Bolton, a highly respected scholar of geopolitics and fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, explained what “Defending America in a Dangerous World” requires. “Security is being independent,” including freedom from economic dominance. But our current president “has no interest” in defending America. Although bin Laden has been silenced, the threat of rogue nations and terrorist cults has not diminished. Especially dangerous, international organizations have taken upon themselves the power to demand American compliance with policies that undermine America’s economic and personal freedom. The UN Security Council has declared itself “the sole source of legitimacy.” International decisions in such areas as climate, small arms and defense override our Constitution, and our current government subjugates us to these ruinous policies. Theodore Roosevelt believed that we must make the world “safe for ourselves.” But Liberals demand massive cuts in defense funding, and our current president is reducing our missile defense sites and helping Putin re-establish Russian hegemony. Our treasured ally Israel is especially threatened, as are Japan and South Korea, by Obama’s weak-to-nonexistent foreign policy. It is not strength but weakness invites violence.It was Alexander de Tocqueville who first proclaimed that America is “exceptional.” Belief in American exceptionalism is not arrogance. It is love of our great nation, President Reagan’s “shining city on the hill.” John Andrews At the 2010 Summit, participants thronged to sign the Lone Tree Declaration, proclaiming Conservative values and America’s greatness as freedom’s beacon. This year’s Summit appends further clauses to that shining message of America’s promise.Juan Williams National Public Radio fired its political analyst Juan Williams for stating his concern about airline safety after 9/11. He described the experience, especially his dismay that he was denied any opportunity for discussion or rebuttal. “Political debate need not be polarizing. Rather it should be the pursuit of truth.” Instead, now disagreement incurs belittling ridicule and marginalization. Special interests attempt to intimidate those who do not adhere to their dicta. A sad example is the abusive attacks on Bill Cosby for advising young blacks to adopt self-determination and responsibility. While avowing their dedication to diversity, the media exacerbate tensions by exaggerating extremes; controversy sells news. But balance and bridges offer the best likelihood of sound decisions for America’s future.Dennis Prager Honoring President Reagan’s centennial year, author, radio host, columnist, professor and symphony conductor Dennis Prager reminded us of “Lessons from Reagan for the New Century.” Liberals crave self-esteem, hence they promote the nannyist doctrine that self-esteem and equality trump achievement or even effort. But nannyism erodes true self-esteem by destroying dignity and motivation. “The bigger the state, the smaller the citizen” because the less they do for themselves; less achievement thwarts self-esteem. Moreover, rewarding non-achievement undermines others’ motivation and ultimately threatens America’s entire self-reliant value system. Welfare corrupts family life and individual freedom as well, further weakening our values. So ingrained has the nannyist interpretation of equality become that the UN ranked Cuba and the US equal in health care – not on the quality of health care but merely on whether health care was equally available to all. Cuba’s appalling health care is indeed equally available to all and hence ranked with our excellent health service.Left-wing intrusion into people’s lives deepens daily. A newspaper’s choice of the 10 best composers omitted Haydn because the list already included too many Austrians. In San Francisco it is illegal to sell soft drinks, in Maryland receiving a high school diploma depends on demonstrating familiarity with environmental dogma, and California schoolbooks expound gays’ and lesbians’ contribution to American history. “Truth is not a Left-wing value.” As Reagan rightly averred, “Government is not the solution. It is the problem.”Arthur Brooks Professor, author and french-hornist Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, compared ”Free Enterprise vs. Big Government.” The budget and debt debates in Washington are the newest manifestation of the 70-year slide into statism, steadily eroding our freedom. Government spending lowers economic opportunity, and burdensome taxation can only bleed the economy. Obama’s so-called “balanced” solution, requiring tax increases, worsens the economic damage that his policies have imposed. Nor is the Left’s doctrine “fair” because it precludes job growth and, far worse, blocks “earned success, the avenue to true happiness.” The Left’s notion of fairness is redistribution, but true fairness rewards merit – hard work, skill, ingenuity. In contrast, it is highly unfair and corrupt to reward non-achievement. Free enterprise, not government spending, offers equal opportunity. And, because excessive government spending necessitates borrowing, the Left is stealing from the American people – and their children. Combating this corruption is vastly difficult but crucial. An important weapon is truth. Reversing the Left’s misuse of language will promote clear discussion. For example, we need not hesitate to state that redistribution is theft. And we can truthfully point out that a government that steals from some people can target anyone. Poverty reduction derives from free enterprise, not government. Mr. Brooks advocates replacing income tax, which penalizes productivity and encourages deceit, with a flat tax so that everyone pays his share. By keeping the amount small, even poor can feel contributive, rather than dependent. True self-esteem grows from doing one’s best.Mr. Brooks concluded with a telling comparison. Free-enterprise fiscal Conservatives view a successful entrepreneur’s millions and fervently hope that their children can succeed as well. A tax-and-spend statist would say, “Let’s steal his stuff.”Kevin Jackson “Answering the Black Lie” has become businessman/engineer Kevin Jackson’s passion. Rather than promoting cooperation, politicos play on racism to advance their own aims. “People are actually less interested in race than in character,” Mr. Jackson contended. After briefly summarizing black history in America, he protested that welfare does not help but deeply harms disadvantaged Americans. “Liberals are destroyers” of peoples’ hopes. They “steal ambition” and “corral” blacks in impoverished neighborhoods with poor schools. Liberals use “sneaky” vocabulary to confound truth. In comparison, Conservativism is the “antithesis to racism” because it promotes self-activation. “Your only entitlement is what you earn.”Pat CaddellAs a Democratic strategist, Pat Caddell is expert at “Understanding the Culture Wars.” Mr. Caddell maintained that “America is too young to die” but is strongly threatened. Our next generation may not be assured a better life enriched with freedom and virtue. How did we let thieves steal our riches? The government never stops spending, Mr. Caddell explained, and he continued that politicians of both parties are at fault. “None cares about us, only about re-election.” So unconcerned are they about Americans’ freedom and prosperity, to fund their runaway spending, they have made China our banker.Freedom of the press is essential for our freedom. Our nation’s founders viewed the press as our protection from government. Now the media side with the statists. Mr. Caddell characterizes our elected officials as elitist, inept and partisan, governing for their own benefit. Democratic Party leaders are corrupt and statist. “If you knew them as I know them, you wouldn’t sleep at night.” Republican Party leadership is unable and unwilling to fulfill their mandate to repeal Obamacare and cut government spending. They approved Eric Holder as Attorney General without a fight. Both parties require our legislators to knuckle under and vote as party leaders, not their constituents, dictate. Worse than the economic waste, political corruption circumvents the Constitutional balance of power and destroys our Constitutional freedoms. We must restore common sense and proclaim once again that power resides exclusively with the people. We should require truthful discourse. Right and wrong do exist and virtue must be upheld. Only in a free-enterprise economy can personal freedom flourish. We must hold our officials accountable to the criterion “Act worthy of your office.”John Andrews, Theresa Melaragno, and Kevin MillerBecause the Summit schedule is too tight, the “Is Freedom or Responsibility Paramount?” debate will take place at one of Centennial Institute’s upcoming Issue Monday events. Entrepreneur and author Theresa Melaragno spoke briefly about the “integrity meltdown” of Washington’s elitist bureaucrats and officials. Their decisions are based on greed, not the nation’s well-being. They are addicted to tax-and-spend power games. Their personal lives manifest infidelity and self-aggrandizement. To them, democracy means two wolves and a rabbit deciding what’s for lunch, whereas we know that democracy requires a well-armed rabbit.Kevin Miller, consultant, author and founder of CCU’s School of Business, believes that we Conservatives are our own worst enemy. Government cannot deliver freedom nor ensure virtue. Government should (although our current leaders don’t) protect freedom, while virtue is our own job. Because giving government control over virtue (e.g., reducing obesity and carbon usage) empowers their intervention in our lives, we must guard against such encroachment, however well-intended. What government is most likely to deliver is unintended consequences.Mark SteynCanadian activist Mark Steyn introduced his topic “After America” by quoting Tony Blair: “All power is transient. All that matters is what did you leave.” Will we soon lose the world’s beacon of prosperity and hence liberty? He declared that the Left is seeking power at all cost, and the cost could be ruinous. “It’s not about the debt ceiling, it’s about the debt,” as America spends $1 billion every hour. By 2020 we will spend more on debt interest than on defense. We now fund 80% of China’s military; by 2025 we will fund it all. How ironic that the Left discounts American exceptionalism but believes that we can defy economic reality forever.Still, “It’s not just a spending crisis. It’s a moral one.” Too many Americans have abdicated on personal responsibility. The Left’s incremental erosion of our moral fiber is nearly impossible to combat – but we must.Brad StineNew Yorker magazine described Brad Stine as “God’s comic,” blending Christian values with edgy cultural satire. He advocated personal responsibilty; for example, the “pursuit of happiness” does not guarantee outcomes but instead requires hard work. “Decisions have consequences.” Countering Lefty trends, he declared that “Political correctness … restructures reality” and that “Not all ideas are equally valid.” “If the truth offends you, that’s your problem.”Sunday, 31 July Cal ThomasAuthor and columnist Cal Thomas decried activism’s misdirection, eroding morality in its efforts to instill “good.” When the Left takes up funding our nation’s institutions (with our money), they redefine the purpose of those institutions. Schools have become bastions of “feel good” equality but fail to educate kids nor develop their understanding of right and wrong. Families are enjoined to ensure their kids’ self-esteem and safety, defeating the kids’ need to become functioning, responsible adults, “Good” behavior – or bad – is the person’s individual choice, and people need to accept responsibility for their choices. Yet the Left wants a safety net always protecting people from responsibility. That’s bad policy, keeping people dependent rather than helping people grow in freedom.Kate ObenshainRecognizing the truth of President Reagan’s admonition that “freedom is always only one generation from being lost,” Mrs. Obenshain, vice president of Young America’s Foundation, emboldens young people to become knowledgeable and active in the cause of freedom. She introduced her topic “Young and Conservative: Anybody There?” with the belief that one informed, dedicated person can change the nation. She reported that young people are disillusioned with “hope and change” rhetoric, especially those who are now seeking jobs in the market Obama squelched or those who are employed but find themselves paying exorbitant income taxes. Surrounded by Left-wing diatribe and anti-Conservative discrimination, though, they flounder for lack of guidance. They intuitively perceive that the Left’s rhetoric doesn’t make sense, but that’s all that they are taught. As a result, young people are disillusioned, rather than disaffected or disinterestedIn its place, we Conservatives must proclaim our values, our economic concept and our dedication to freedom. We can create a new “morning in America” to re-vitalize President Reagan’s great message. Obama speaks at a campus on average once every 12 days. We must counter that by boldly and openly championing our principles, and she empowers young people to do just that. She helps them learn to “stand up [to Left-wing teachers and activists] courteously but firmly” so that their fellow-students will hear Conservative thought. She teaches them to employ the Left’s language – to say, for example, “I feel excluded” or “I feel unwelcome” when a teacher mocks their ideas. Her proteges also learn to speak to their fellow-students in terms that will reach them – as an example, pointing out that letting the government tell them what to do is even more limiting and demeaning than their parents’ rules. Herman CainFrom childhood poverty to academic success to stunning business achievement, Herman Cain epitomizes the American Dream, and he wants that dream to remain viable for the generations that follow. To do that, he averred, requires faithful application of our Constitution “as written” as the safeguard for liberty. Echoing the Founding Fathers’ courage and dedication, we must become Defending Fathers for our precious Constitution. Unlike the Left’s rhetoric, Mr. Cain maintains that the American Dream ensures the opportunity to pursue fulfillment, but hard work and virtue lay the groundwork for happiness. He explained that business is the foundation of a flourishing economy, and that government’s only economic role is to nurture business:• Making capitalist economic policy permanent to free business and citizens from crippling economic uncertainty• Not burdening business with undue regulation• Not imposing excessive taxation on business and citizens• Replacing the personal income tax with a sales tax, known as the “fair tax”• Establishing a maximum tax ceiling at 20%• Eliminating all capital gains taxA vital immediate step is repealing Obamacare and nurturing free-market health care – allowing people to purchase coverage from insurors in any state, for instance. On the question of illegal immigration, Mr. Cain advocated thoroughly securing the borders, enforcing current laws, improving the Immigration process and promulgating a strenuous citizenship path for persons already contributing to America, and returning power to the states. America’s foreign policy should not strengthen nor subsidize our enemies. Improved information-gathering and analysis will result from clearly defined short- and long-term plans. Mr. Cain expressed his deep faith in the American people’s common sense. The people, who pay the bills and hold the real power, should make the decisions. Given truthful information, we can judge wisely. He counters criticism that he lacks previous experience in government office by citing his record for problem-solving and economic success. “Businesses, not bureaucrats, promote prosperity.” When told that he doesn’t know how Washington works, he responds, “It doesn’t.” Dick MorrisAuthor and columnist Dick Morris, who served as political consultant to leading Democrats, including President Clinton, opined that Washington elitists have forgotten who pays the bills and owns the power. Obama’s Keynesian economic advisors assumed that we would spend the “stimulus” money, but in the current deep uncertainty we chose to save it or pay down our debt. People, corporations, small businesses and banks will “hunker down” until Obama and his cronies are out of office. When they threaten tax hikes, we stop spending. When burdened with excessive regulations, businesses stop hiring and forego capital improvements. That the administration punished Boeing for wanting to develop a factory in a right-to-work state taught other businesses to lie low. Mr. Morris contrasted the current economic trough with those normal business cycles that recur periodically. This trough he described as a “debt implosion cycle” that will last decades. Quashed by Obama’s regulations and intervention, banks demur making loans, thus further constraining economic recovery. Obama permitted some institutions – notably Fanny, Freddy and AIG – to forego repaying their “stimulus” funds, deepening the recession. Not even China will buy our bonds, and the false money supply only powers inflation. Now Obama wants Congress to raise the so-called debt ceiling so that he can continue spending. He continues to blame capitalism and corporations for the failed economy, but the cause is out-of-control government spending. Mr. Morris stated that Congress should extend the ceiling 6 months, providing time for rational debate on genuine solutions. Meanwhile, we must expose Obama’s spending addiction. But we cannot expect the media to do so. Countering a frequent accusation that Obama is a socialist, Mr. Morris pointed out that a socialist seeks government ownership of industries whereas Obama wants to control them. Labeling that “corporatism,” Mr. Morris explained that Obama’s policies drive small businesses and small banks into ruin, then requires them to merge into ever larger entities which Obama expects to control. Mr. Morris predicted that Obama will be defeated, perhaps not even nominated, because he has lost his support. Obama is a gifted orator, but a weak and ineffective leader. Our immediate mission as Conservatives is to ensure that the officials whom we elected and will elect uphold our principles. The Tea Party’s high-energy activism has had a powerful impact by strengthening that resolve and cleansing the Republican Party of business-as-usual politicos. Americans, he affirmed, are moderates who want minimum government interference and a strong economy, not costly and often misguided social programs.John AndrewsConcluding this year’s splendid Summit, Mr. Andrews announced the results of the “straw poll” documenting attendees’ 2012 presidential preferences. Those results – and a recording of the entire Summit – can be viewed on the Centennial Institute website: www.ccu.edu/centennial.Bill ArmstrongEmpowering us to manifest Conservative values in all our daily encounters and tasks, Mr. Armstrong assured us that, by their the logic and wisdom, those values will thrive. He proclaimed, “The long night of Liberalism is coming to a close.”LET FREEDOM RING!Peg Brady
I am blessed to be in Colorado but I am most blessed because I have the absolute honor of calling myself an American. My mother and father are my inspiration. My father dreamt of coming to America and conferred with his family about his desire. His sister agreed to sell her gold to purchase a ticket for the young couple to come to America in addition to some spending money - -one hundred dollars. They started their life in the mire of desperation and poverty in one room of a terrible apartment in Brooklyn, New York City, where I was born.
Editor: Karthik Venkatraj is completing a John Jay Fellowship, a postgraduate year helping prepare young Americans for public service on biblical foundations, in the tradition of our nation's first Chief Justice and a co-author of the Federalist Papers, John Jay. We're delighted that he will be interning with us at Centennial Institute this semester and contributing frequently to '76 Blog. This post responds to my request for Karthik to introduce himself to our readers - John Andrews
Eventually, my father found a job in the subways of New York City ferrying x-rays between hospitals and my mother found a job as a nurse’s aide in a busy Manhattan hospital. Ten years later, my father would be graduating from New York University as a PhD in Molecular Biology and my mother would be finishing her M.D. and working at the Oncology Ward in Albert Einstein Hospital. This position was a far cry from their struggle to make ends meet each month as well as raise a child. Indeed, I can distinctly remember the culmination of a month’s paycheck in a splurge of eight dollars at a run-down Chinese buffet in Brooklyn.
Their narrative can be found in no other nation, their ability to succeed can be predicated on no other ideals than those of America. My parents ensured their children were cognizant of their narrative and of the greatness that is our nation; thus, it shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise when I raised my right hand to pledge defend our nation against all enemies. In response to the attacks of September 11th, I decided to enlist in the Army National Guard and soon entered the ROTC program at Texas A&M University’s Corps of Cadets in addition to serving within the Texas Army National Guard Armor Squadron.
In five years, I would be appointed to serve within the Pentagon under the Bush Administration, travel on a diplomatic mission with the Army to my parent’s homeland of India, study Arabic with the Army in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, serve as an appointee to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and graduate as one of two distinguished military graduates from the largest commissioning program in the nation outside of the service academies.
Once again, this narrative would be possible in no other country, within the context of any other ideals than that of our nation. But the ideals that informed and propelled my narrative and that of my parents were not based in the progressive thought dominating our nation’s modern political landscape but hearkens to those debates in the Continental Congress of Philadelphia, in the impassioned petitions of John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison within the Federalist Papers, within the Declaration of Independence, and within the Constitution of 1787.
And that is why I am here at Centennial Institute, because I want a better nation for my children and their children, a nation with values and a solid moral compass. I am here because I am convicted that it is the duty of all Americans to preserve our republic and I am very concerned that we are losing that duty. I, like most Americans, do not want to see an America of 2076 as an irrelevant nation that has passed the torch of global leadership to another country but as a nation renewed and convicted in its role as a global leader.
Above all, I am a concerned American who wants to foster a revival of the Spirit of 1776 in our nation - - a spirit that created what is now known as the greatest experiment that the world has ever witnessed, that of our democracy. Let us not be naïve to see that our nation has great challenges ahead of her; an enormous deficit that seems insurmountable, a war on multiple fronts with a virulent and violent enemy, failing schools struggling to compete on a global scale, a sluggish economy as well as a rising unemployment rate, a society mired in a degradation of traditional values, and a government unresponsive to common sense approaches. I will stop here because our role is not to merely articulate a litany of issues but to find solutions to them. Indeed, the state of our democracy is predicated on our search.
Some may ask: “Where is the Spirit of 1776? Where is our nation going?” I would answer that the Spirit of 1776 is here: it’s in the coffee shops and diners, it’s in dinnertime conversations of families, it’s in the workers of a coal mine punching in, it’s in the ranches and farms of rural America, in the junior baseball leagues, in our servicemen and women, in the pastors writing their sermon for their Sunday service. In short, the Spirit is in you, it’s in all Americans who love and care for our republic. The way this spirit will manifest and direct our people will determine 2076. Let us not forget the absolute providence that has guided our nation since its conception and to this point in our nation’s history. Let us take solace in the fact that this spirit, properly guided and convicted, in conjunction with providence has and will always lead to miraculous events and glorious beginnings.
My name is Karthik Venkatraj and I am a concerned American, analyzing and revering our past but looking at our future. I take solace in the fact that there are millions of Americans like me, who want America to not only see another centennial but to see its best centennial ever. I believe in the inherent goodness and exceptionalism of our nation and its people and I look forward to our progression towards a better America together. As we say in the military, it’s something worth fighting for.
Your fellow patriot,Karthik
(CCU Faculty) This week, The Centennial Institute hosted a debate on the question of whether, and to what degree, marijuana should be legalized in the state of Colorado. This is obviously a very important issue and extremely relevant. The Colorado legislature is currently attempting to deal with the continuing issue of how best to administer its current medicinal marijuana law.
During the Centennial Institute debate, the libertarian position favoring the easing of restrictions and possibly outright full legalization continued to surface. At the root of this argument is a belief that people should be able to make choices for themselves, without government restriction.
While respect for liberty is indeed a fine thing, liberty itself is not unlimited. The approach of most libertarians typically seeks a liberty unchecked. None of the participants at the Centennial Institute debate expressed a personal desire for to have access to marijuana, and all expressed personal reservations for themselves and their family members concerning its use. What this position amounts to is the following: its wrong for me but you can do whatever you want.
During the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858, Senator Douglas explained how slavery had existed in his home state of Illinois for a time, but when the people of his state decided that it no longer worked for them, they voted to end it. In contrast to this, Kentucky, Illinois’ southern neighbor, had slavery and continued to have it. In Douglas’ mind, they continued to have legal slavery, as it worked for them. Douglas’ opinion of this discrepancy between Illinois and Kentucky concerning the legality of chattel slavery was an attitude of indifference. It was not right for some, but was for others.
Abraham Lincoln responded to Douglas’ indifference to slavery in the last of their seven debates, held in Alton, Illinois: [Douglas] says he “don’t care whether it is voted up or voted down” in the Territories.... Any man can say that who does not see anything wrong in slavery; but no man can logically say it who does see a wrong in it, because no man can logically say he does not care whether a wrong is voted up or down....
Lincoln correctly questions the logic of Douglas. If something is wrong, how can we not care whether it is legal? If there is something wrong with marijuana, how can we “not care” whether or not it is legal? The panelists all seemed to agree that for them, marijuana wasn’t a good thing. Is this merely a personal preference or it there something inherently wrong with it, which explains why they don’t want to use it, nor do they want their children to?
This is in no way an attempt to equate slavery with marijuana usage. What is similar is the argument that was put forth by Senator Stephen Douglas in 1858 concerning slavery and the argument put forth by most libertarians concerning marijuana and most other morals laws that exist in the United States.
There are indeed obvious and significant differences between slavery and marijuana. What needs to be acknowledged is that the libertarian argument shares the same “don’t care” indifference of Senator Douglas. If we recognize that something is indeed wrong, how can we not insist on laws prohibiting it?
This attitude toward law and governance is enormously important, not simply in the debate over marijuana. The other, more significant example of this indifference and its tragic consequences is our current laws on abortion. Again, the libertarian position is often one of: I wouldn’t do it, but that doesn’t mean we should prevent others from making this choice. If we know something is morally wrong, how can we argue that we “don’t care” whether it is voted up or down?
(’76 Editor) Since our big debate on Colorado drug policy, Feb. 17 at CCU, I’ve been repeatedly asked who won or what conclusion emerged. There’s no simple answer in light of the cross-cutting perspectives from our five debaters – legislators Shawn Mitchell and Tom Massey, psychiatrist Chris Thurstone, and attorneys Carol Chambers (opposed to outright legalization of marijuana) and Jessica Corry (in favor of same) – and the three-layer complexity of the subject.
(1) How to regulate medical marijuana, (2) what to do about marijuana’s illicit recreational users, and (3) how much to use state power for the individual’s own good, were all topics in play during the 75-minute discussion.
Questions from the panelists on stage (myself, CCU senior Natasha Starceski, and CCU freshman Drew Goorabian), along with written questions submitted from the audience, most of which weren’t put to the debaters because of time limitations, are tabulated in full below. They reflected a commendable degree of thoughtfulness on a difficult matter of governance and civic standards, I believe.
Moderator's Opening Question: What difference can you see, if any, between America’s failed experiment with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and the marijuana prohibition of today, with or without a medical exception?
Is the federal heavy hand on marijuana an example of the welfare clause gone amuck or do we actually need a stronger federal government than Mr. Madison believed? Was Madison wrong?
What do you think of legalizing marijuana but requiring drug testing for welfare/tax supported programs?
Would the legalization of marijuana in Colorado provide an economic boost within the state; does the economic boost outweigh the detrimental effects on society as a whole?
If marijuana is legalized, what can be expected when it comes to the price and legal limit? How much is too much, and what will the legal buying age be?
If marijuana is legalized, should its regulation be handled by state or federal authorities?
It is common knowledge that the prohibition of alcohol did not work – why do you think the prohibition of marijuana is any more effective?
Generally, marijuana has the same psychological effects as alcohol and the same physiological effects as tobacco, yet alcohol and tobacco are legal. Alcohol, if used in excess, can lead to alcohol poisoning and kill a person, but it is impossible to O.D. on marijuana. Why then is tobacco and alcohol legal, but marijuana is not?
Dr. Thurstone: Could you please explain smoked marijuana verses a pill or the patch?
Ms. Corry: Part of your stance is that legalizing marijuana will help reduce our deficits… How do you balance that with the cost that this issue has placed on local government at a time when they are struggling to provide basic services in this economy?
Ms. Corry: Is there any free market (perhaps human sex trafficking) that government should limit or eliminate?
Why is medicinal marijuana so much more expensive than illegal marijuana?
Dr. Thurstone suggests that marijuana increases violent behavior; however, anyone who has used it knows that this is false. Has he ever had any personal, legitimate experience with marijuana?
Would you all agree or disagree that seniors may be more likely to treat ailments such as arthritis with marijuana if it were legalized?
Micah 6:8 says, “Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Lord your God.” Since laws are meant to punish those who cause harm to others, how can we justify laws that are more harmful to our citizens than the substances they ingest?
When does state law trump federal law? How does that affect federal dollars to our state for drug enforcement
Marijuana is known as a “gateway” drug – will this therefore lead to increased use and incidents of heroine, cocaine, meth, etc.?
Rather than enacting immediate government regulation, why don’t we allow the free market to handle the over supply?
Many “conservatives” profess a belief in state sovereignty and the 10th Amendment, yet support the DEA’s recent arrest of a medical marijuana grower who was in compliance with Colorado law. How can one reconcile those two positions?
Making marijuana legal will not prevent the crime we are seeing now like robbery or dispensaries – nor will it prevent a black market. Will your view tolerate this associated crime?
Cain asks God: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” If the answer is yes, how forceful should I be in protecting my brother from marijuana, or fatty foods, or whatever? Man needs free will to serve God or not and otherwise behave.
I could understand legalizing marijuana if Medicare and Medicaid did not pay for the consequences thereof. Why should Medicare pay for a new liver for an alcoholic?
If drug abusers were allowed to die on a Denver sidewalk, cry out in pain for another joint, then legalization would make some sense. We could make sure our children could see the miseries of a dopey life.
Do you think prohibition of marijuana leads to more problems than just if it was legalized?
Marijuana is known for being a "gateway" drug - therefore, do you foresee an increase use and abuse of other illicit drugs if marijuana were to be come legalized? Would this in turn lead to higher incidence of drug-related crime
Students know it is possible to fake ADD symptoms and get a Ritalin prescription (“my new homework buddy”), so wouldn’t it also be easy for young people to fake and lie their way to a medical marijuana card?
If we legalize marijuana, should we therefore legalize ALL drugs?
Moderator's Closing Question: What is the single most compelling reason Colorado should not go ahead and legalize all marijuana?
('76 Editor) Student conservative leaders from three colleges told a Centennial Institute forum last night that they sense growing receptivity among their generation for a right-trending political mood of self-reliance and limited government.
Issue Monday, our regular monthly series resuming in 2010, packed a CCU Business School classroom with an audience ranging from teens to senior citizens. Also present were two congressional candidates and a recent CCU graduate who is running for State House.
I served as moderator for the 90-minute session (linked here as a podcast) where Sean Doherty, Jimmy Sengenberger, and Megan Brophy related their political experiences, quizzed each other about lessons learned, and took questions from the audience.
Brophy, the daughter of Colorado State Sen. Greg Brophy, said her College Republicans chapter wants to tap CCU's potential to "become the Hillsdale of the West." Sengenberger, a regular contributor on this blog, told how his weekly Internet radio show helps him warn fellow students that "politics affects everything you hope to do or be." Doherty, who started a constitutional-themed newspaper on his campus -- which administrators tagged "extremist" -- drew on his marketing studies to recommend a "listen to the customer" approach for political outreach.
Click for the "Seng Center" online talk show hosted by Jimmy Sengenberger. Click for the Constitutional Reporter paper edited by Sean Doherty.
From right: Sean Doherty of Metropolitan State College, Jimmy Sengenberger of Regis College, Megan Brophy of Colorado Christian University.
('76 Editor) What's the practical meaning of Centennial Institute's goals about teaching citizenship, renewing the spirit of 1776, advocating for faith, family, and freedom? The Centennial Program Board, a new group that held its second monthly meeting on Jan. 19, helps me tackle those questions.
The board is made up of CCU students from all four classes -- including Lawson Cheek and Natasha Starceski ('10), Joni Mitchell ('11), JT Weinroth ('12), and Drew Goorabian ('13) -- plus faculty members Bill Saxby, Chuck King, and Greg Schaller along with retired pastor Jerry Nelson and businessman Kevin Miller and Wil Armstrong. Several of the latter are also Centennial Institute Fellows.
Got a suggestion for the Centennial Program Board in their advisory role with me, Director John Andrews? Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.