Washington D.C. – Monday, May 14th CCU students gathered on the top floor of the American Enterprise Institute. The room could almost be mistaken for a combat command room thanks to AEI scholars leading students into a military simulation of the March 2002 Operation Anaconda during the Afghanistan war. The operation lasted several days and resulted in a Coalition victory with nearly 100 casualties and 500-800 Taliban killed.
Students were tasked with roll playing key persons in the U.S. attack. At the end of the simulation students were asked a very straightforward question “was this mission a success?” The majority of students seemed to think that the mission was not a success due to confusion and the loss of U.S. soldiers in battle. Now it is clear that, having gone through the simulation, aspects of the operation were not handled properly and that mistakes were made; but is it unreasonable for us to look at a battle where fifteen Coalition lives were lost en route to disbanding the largest gathering of Taliban and killing 500-800 enemy fighters? I think so.
We are at a strange time. With great advancements in technology we are made to think that anything is possible and in an arena where human lives are on the line we are hesitant to accept any loss. But this is still war and the men who fight for this country believe that there are certain things worth dying for. I believe we all should take such a noble stance and honor their sacrifices and acknowledge the great victory of this battle. Of course I pray that no life is needlessly lost, but I will not look on this battle as a loss.
For the information given to students by AEI click here.
Wednesday night, Washington, D.C. – American Enterprise Institute & Heritage Foundation scholars, media members, writers, donors, Congressmen gather along with 20 CCU Washington Week students & faculty. The occasion; Arthur Brooks, president of AEI, is speaking about his new book, “The Road to Freedom”. The lecture focused on the battle between conservatives & liberals in the public square. Brooks explained that as president of AEI it is clear that the truth and statistical backing rests within the conservative ideas and policies. Despite this, the left is winning the battle. Brooks believes this quandary is caused by the failure of conservatives to make a strong moral argument for our beliefs and our ignorance of the neuropsychological proof that moral arguments affect human brains in a way far more powerful than solely logical arguments.
To illustrate the failure of strictly logical arguments versus a moral case Brooks tells a joke – ‘Three friends go out golfing; a psychologist, a priest and a free market economist. They find themselves playing behind two incredibly slow golfers. These golfers are painfully slow and are ruining the friends’ day at the golf course. After several holes of impatiently waiting behind these two men who are shooting upwards of 12 strokes per hole, the three ask the caddy to allow them to play through. The caddy replies “you guys are free to play through, but I want you all to be aware of how rude you’ve been… Remember the fire at the schoolhouse last year, and the two firemen who lost their sight while rescuing 13 children from the blaze? Well that’s them and this weekly golf game is their most coveted source of fun since losing their vision, and you three have been heckling them this entire time.” The psychologist replies, “Wow, here I’ve devoted my life to trying to help people and I just learned a valuable lesson today.” The priest says “Oh my, I have a contrite heart and I have been humbled by these two great men.” The free-market economist pauses for a moment, and then says, “It would be more efficient if they were to play at night!”’(Paraphrase Quote)
Clearly the economist in this joke has made a factual and relevant argument, but he has completely failed to address the moral reality of this situation and thus ignored an integral element of human nature. This anecdote masterfully illustrates the climate of political discourse between the right & left today. Brooks went on to show that the right is not devoid of moral substance. Rather he showed that every claim has moral implications, and that we must reach towards those implications in our argumentation in order to reach others with the truth where it so often is overlooked.
My time in D.C. with the CCU and Centennial Institute Washington Week clan began with not the greatest of surprises – after driving 1,670 miles from Denver my car’s fuel pump failed just twenty miles short of our destination. Sparing you further details of the dilemma; I had a very interesting discussion with the driver of the tow truck, Kevin. Kevin made it very clear that he backed Obama for re-election. After unsuccessfully prying into his reasoning for such a stance, I began to lose hope for the discussion. Then Kevin introduced the idea of term limits for Congress. Kevin was highly in favor of a possible limit of service on the Hill for both chambers. This proposition is not foreign at CCU, Centennial Institute, or conservative dialogue in general, and provided a needed common ground between Kevin and myself on our short ride to the garage. This conversation would not be the last time that term limits would be raised during this trip.
On Friday, former Colorado Congressman and Senator, Hank Brown led CCU students on a tour of the Capitol. Senator Brown has extensive knowledge of the Capitol’s art, history, and symbolism. As a former Senator, Hank Brown provided CCU students a nearly unlimited access tour of both chambers. One very special place we found ourselves in was the House Appropriations Committee room. In this room, a portion of the fresco is composed of a painting of the Roman Senator and leader Cincinnatus being called from his plough to defend Rome. Senator Brown told us the significance of this lies not in the fact the Cincinnatus heard the call of duty and went to save Rome, but that he returned to his farm and denied the dictatorship of Rome after completing his service. This historical event was repeated in the life and service of George Washington. Both men loved their country, they left their home to serve and defend but returned when their service was no longer required, turning down dictatorial power.
These two men, Washington more commonly, are cited by those who argue for a Congressional term limit. We have seen a handful of men go to congress and serve valiantly at their posts as Senators of Congressman then return to their homes and occupations, imploring others to do the same. But are these self-imposing term limiters to be compared to Cincinnatus and Washington? To know this we must know the enemy in all three cases. In Cincinnatus’s time the enemy was the attacking Aequi forces. During Washington the threat was the British Empire. But today the greatest fight in front of a conservative congressman or woman is the fight to stop & reverse government growth and defend constitutional government. And while universally imposed term limits would theoretically aid that pursuit, Conservatives are not raising the memory of Cincinnatus or Washington when they leave the government in the hands of the entrenched spenders while patting themselves on the back for showing restraint. I applaud the honorable service of these Senators and Representatives, though I feel this is one area where leading by example hurts our cause. These strong conservative members should fight to the end of the battle; until term limits are instated, then leave their posts with dignity.
(Centennial Fellow) President Barack Obama's $840 billion stimulus contained more than a million dollars to study erectile dysfunction, and yes, I know, any complaint will be identified as a war on men.That would be in addition to a Republican war on women as alleged by zanies not liking perfectly sound criticisms of Obama's health insurance mindlessness.Let's get serious, because there is a real issue here, namely that the runaway, reckless stimulus is part of an Obama agenda Europeanizing America and bringing us ever closer to a disastrous tipping point.It would be one in which our program bloat, romance with debt, smothering regulation and other governmental excesses get even more out of hand, creating a mess resembling what we now see most vividly in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.
Much of the rest of Europe is not that far behind, thanks to trying to give the public more and more with policies that leave businesses producing less and less. When escaping reality became impossible, officials tried timid austerity measures. In some elections this month, spoiled voters cast ballots as if the diet would kill them. It's actually governmental obesity that could prove fatal.America has long thought of itself as different -- an energetic, freedom-hugging land made splendidly successful by self-reliance and individual initiative. There has been a lot of truth in that description, despite an ever-growing federal government that is spending a fifth of a borrowed billion every hour, according to an article by columnist Mark Steyn in Commentary magazine.
That extravagance means our pursuit of happiness could become a run for survival.The Obama stimulus is part of the overkill. It included defensible provisions, indefensible hubris and unrivaled amounts of pork. The recently publicized research on erection dysfunction is laughably far from the kind of project that spurs quick economic recovery, and the stimulus has loads of similar stupidities.Estimates of stimulus benefits cannot possibly calculate the pluses of leaving more money in the private economy, and the Congressional Budget Office is among those worrying about long-term harm offsetting current advantages.Thanks not just to the stimulus, but to fervor for more spending generally when revenues are down, the debt has grown by $5 trillion under Obama. That renders us vulnerable to immediate danger on top of saddling our grandchildren with impoverishing repayments.Unfathomably, the president ignored corrective recommendations of his own debt commission, and this year offered a $3.8 trillion budget defeated 99-0 in a Senate vote that left Democrats making flimsy excuses for what was really a rejection of ruin.Ours is a president of spectacular negligence. A prime example has been his refusal to propose changes in Social Security, Medicare (beyond cuts that were not overall budget deductions) and Medicaid, even though those three entitlements and debt interest will consume all federal tax revenues as soon as 2025 if not restructured.Obama himself has acknowledged that something has to be done, but instead of doing it, created a new health care entitlement worsening the jam we are in by more than a trillion dollars over the next decade.Obamacare malfunctions keep popping up. One is a tax levied on manufacturers of medical devices, causing some of them to give up plans for new factories and depriving Americans of still more jobs. And then there is the ending of insurance copayments for contraceptives, even though basic kinds are cheap, the poor can get them for free and those getting a break at the expense of everyone include millionaires and billionaires.You might remember that, during the health care debate, European systems were held up as the cat's meow, even though they themselves have a host of issues. Obama and Congress headed in that direction, ending up with a mishmash that ignored straightforward, relatively cheap alternatives.Sadly, this administration has a European cast of mind, and America will pay dearly if a second term eventuates.-------
Jay Ambrose was formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver. He is a columnist living in Colorado and a Centennial Institute Fellow
I’m thankful. I’m very thankful. And not just today, Thanksgiving Day, but every day. I grew up in a family with loving parents and siblings. I don’t mean to demean the rest of you, but I’ve got the world’s best wife (some of you are undoubtedly pretty good, but no one can hold a candle to Courtney, the love of my life). We have a home that someday we’ll own, in the great State of Colorado, a state whose abundance of outdoor beauty and recreation gave birth to my entrepreneurial spirit. We live in a land of liberty and opportunity, and for all these things, I’m grateful.
Dad worked hard to provide for us, but also instilled a strong work ethic so that we could provide for ourselves. I remember working with Dad after school one day as an 11 year old. We were picking up scraps and trash at a home he was building. A subcontractor stopped to talk to Dad, and I stood idly by and listened for most of an hour. Then it was time to go home. As we got into the van I was foolish enough to remark how easy it was to earn my 50 cents for that last hour. Man, did he lay into me! He said he wasn’t going to pay me for that hour. I complained that I was there to help him, and since he was listening to the subcontractor, I was helping him listen. Dad carefully explained that he pays me to work, and that we each have different jobs. If I expect to get paid, I had better stay busy doing my work.
My dad taught me that hard work in this land of opportunity is rewarded. Indeed, the United States of America is the most prosperous nation in history. Even the poorest among us live far better than most of the rest of the world. We owe that to our history of respect for liberty. It is our deeply held belief in liberty that gave us a legal system that protects property rights. Without property rights there is no incentive to create or produce anything more than what it takes to survive. After all, if you can’t enforce your right to own what you produce, why bother?
As thankful as I am for all these things, I’m also deeply concerned. Former State Senator John Andrews today told me of the writings of Alexander Tytler:
The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always have progressed from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and from dependence back into bondage.
In Senator Andrews’ book “Responsibility Reborn” he says, “You’d have to be dreaming, not to recognize that we have been living in a nation that has for quite a while been somewhere on the declining side of the cycle”. He also points out that the cycle can be reversed. If I didn’t believe that, I would not write these columns. I would not have run for State Representative in 2010. Simply put, I wouldn’t bother. If we don’t renew our respect for liberty, if we don’t restore limits on government that respect property rights, we will continue down that cycle.
We have gone from a nation that was built on a rugged entrepreneurial spirit, on self reliance and personal responsibility, and on mutual respect for rights and liberty, to a nation with a culture of dependence that relies on what the government can take from one to give to another.
During this season of thanks, let us be grateful for the work of those who established, secured, and protect our freedoms. Let us be mindful of the abundance we enjoy, and how the blessings of liberty created that abundance. And let us commit to not decline into complacency, apathy, and dependence, but embrace the independence and personal responsibility that will ensure the survival of the Republic.
(Foxnews.com, Sept. 1) Memo to Mark Steyn: America is not the Titanic. Our decline is not a done deal. This country can sail through the present storm and into favorable seas again, if enough of us will just man the pumps and not the lifeboats.
In his latest book, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, the brilliant and prolific Steyn, a Canadian now living here, warns that the USA is headed for the graveyard of nations unless big changes occur soon. Can it be so?
Plenty of trends and symptoms bear out Mark’s concern over the “impending collapse” of American society. But along with my amen to his alarm, I want to say a sharp nay to any sense of fatalism that Uncle Sam is finished. No way.
It’s true things are grim. The ennui of the elites, the demographic data, the debt crisis, the downgrade, the stagnant economy the gridlock in Washington, the demonizing of Tea Party reformers, the drift in American foreign policy, the dynamism of China, and the expansionism of Islam all suggest that our nation, like its parent civilization in Europe, may be a sinking ship.
Steyn’s introduction to After America refers to his previous bestseller, America Alone, this way: “Last time ‘round, I wrote that Europe was facing a largely self-inflicted perfect storm that threatened the very existence of some of the oldest nation-states in the world. My warning proved so influential that America decided to sign up for the same program but supersized.”
The longer Obama stays, the truer this seems. Nor would his departure brighten the picture much, for the real problem is less political than spiritual, as Alexander Tytler and John Glubb could attest.
Tytler, an 18th century Scottish thinker, observed that the average age of the world’s great civilizations is about 200 years. They go, he said, “from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and from dependence back into bondage.”
In 1976, Glubb, the British historian and soldier, published The Fate of Nations, his own analysis of the decline syndrome. He gave a slightly longer lifespan – 250 years – but laid out a life cycle similar to the one portrayed by Tytler, ending with an age of decadence brought on by “selfishness, love of money, and the loss of a sense of duty,”and marked by “defensiveness, pessimism, materialism, frivolity, an influx of foreigners, the welfare state, and the weakening of religion.” It sounds all too familiar. Indeed both characterizations bear remarkable resemblance to the trajectory of American history. And, if the window for great nations to commit moral and fiscal suicide is about 200 to 250 years, America at age 235 is right in the kill zone. You’d have to be dreaming not to recognize, as Steyn does, that we live in a nation that has for quite a while been somewhere on the declining side of the cycle. But a pattern isn’t destiny and a trend isn’t irreversible.
At the Western Conservative Summit in Denver several weeks ago, it happened that I spoke on the renewal agenda in my new book, Responsibility Reborn, just an hour before Mark Steyn regaled the audience with a chilling yet hilarious riff on the declinist warnings in After America. But were we at odds? No.
Steyn’s inspiring close, invoking the motto of his adopted state of New Hampshire, “Live free or die,” and the defiant spirit of Flight 93, “Let’s roll,” heartened me with the assurance that Mark is no more ready to give up the ship than you and I are. Both of those rallying cries, like the ten-word keynote of my book, “If it is to be, it is up to me,” remind Americans of the opportunity to control our own destiny through personal responsibility and voluntary initiative.
Neither the dependence that Tytler said leads to bondage, nor the denial of duty that Glubb saw as fatal, can be remedied by legislation or elections. Changing the occupant of the Oval Office won’t suffice to avert the self-inflicted Armageddon that Steyn sees coming. Nothing short of citizens one by one looking into the abyss and then into the mirror, and vowing “Not on my watch,” will begin to remedy the responsibility deficit and break the entitlement addiction that’s killing us.
But break it we can. America has been here before, remember. Written off by declinists in the 1970s, she came roaring back in the ‘80s after responsibility was reborn in the heartland. All of us are crew members on this voyage, not just passengers. Decline is a choice, as Charles Krauthammer has pointed out. With everything that’s in me, I choose against it. How about you?
John Andrews, former president of the Colorado Senate and current director of the Centennial Institute, is the author of “Responsibility Reborn: A Citizen’s Guide to the Next American Century” (MT6 Media, 2011).
(CCU Student) There is something quite profound I have come to recognize within my family dynamics as I enter adulthood and start investigating the truths of our nature, politic, and universe myself. I have hit a lot of opposition between members to the point of near to complete estrangement. Disagreements over public policy, political philosophy, morality, religion, creation… etc, have crept their way into our lives creating relational barriers between ones I have known all my life and will always love. Yet, despite such pronounced dissimilarities and disagreements, when everything hits the fan, when one member of the family completely falls apart, we all hurt with them and come to render aid.
The American family functions in the same way. I think September 11, 2001 was a great example of that. In an era of relativity and progressive morality, where the political left and the political right are in constant battle, where debates over social values and morality stream the mainline, all Americans were brought back together as fellow Americans, in the horror of one morning in September 2001.
Now, 10 years later I can still remember where I was and every moment of that day as I saw over and over again the first plane hit… and then the second. I was sitting in my 6th grade home room class with my peers watching the scenes through a television set that was brought into our classroom by our teacher. I was only 11 years old, but I remember.
Now we are again back to our old family dynamics, bickering, debating, and even arguing over our intent of going to war post 9/11. Some even advocating for the rights of the terrorists that have been apprehended in affiliation with the aggressor of the attacks. The fire for justice that was so strong post 9/11/01 has seemed to simmer down in many Americans hearts. Yet, with the tenth anniversary of the attack, we must remember the day that will be engrained in the souls of American’s forever, young and old. Even if we are not prepared to pick up the guns ourselves, remembrance and support is what fuels the love felt between bickering, yet hurting family members.
There is truly a unity in the heart of America that will always burn on the anniversary of the attack. I say now in hindsight, God bless America for that unity, which brings forth the memory that displays the true heart of America. May we always remember.
(Centennial Fellow) There is much doom and gloom out there in the economy. Many say America’s best days are over, and that we will be eclipsed by Europe or China. That just will not happen.
Thirty years ago everyone talked about how America was in decline, that Japan would pass us. That was until the Reagan administration turned our country back toward free markets (allowing greater innovation and a technological revolution), while Japan hit a glass ceiling (their production possibility frontier).
Europe’s economic problems are currently worse than ours (a deeply embedded culture of socialism and a dismal birthrate). China will soon hit their glass ceiling, caused by a lack of freedom (they still have a communist bureaucracy) and geographical disadvantages (having only one coast, while Siberia and the Himalayas define their other borders).
What we need to do is vote Obama and his ideological cronies out of office, which will happen next year. Then we can turn again to free markets, freeing our economy to soar once again. This can be done by lowering (if not eliminating) capital gains tax, lowering (if not eliminating) oppressive regulations, and begin drilling once again for oil (in Alaska, off our coasts, anywhere it can be found). All of these things were done by the Reagan administration in the 80s, the last time our nation rebounded from lethargy.
President Obama often claims he “inherited” a bad economy from the Bush administration. Nonsense! Financial markets don’t trail after events; they are leading indicators. They move by expectation of what the future will bring. The closer Obama got to the White House, the more cash was moved out of markets into someplace where socialist-minded bureaucrats couldn’t seize it, and the more investors panicked about what the economy would look like with an intrusive government pushing a left-wing agenda. Some may say I am ignoring the housing crisis, but that too was caused by excessive government intrusion.
The good news is that America is resilient. We are a free people who can succeed, if the government doesn’t get in the way and punish the successful while rewarding the indolent. Socialism has not yet produced the culture of entitlement in America to the degree that it exists in Europe. We also have great ports on two great oceans, military domination of the seas and air, reasonably stable borders, and a constitution which protects its citizens from government tyranny (if we care to keep it).
Don’t sell America short. We will rebound, if we can move once again to free markets. The year before Obama became president was a bad time to invest in the market, but the year before his removal will be a great time to get back in. As investors become more confident in America’s recovery, they will take the money kept in reserve and reinvest it, but only after they regain trust once again in a free America.
America became a nation on July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution became law and together are the moral and political foundation of the United States. It is because of our moral and political foundation that we became different from all other nations in the world, the freest and most powerful one with a leadership which listened to God and applied His commandments. This freedom fostered envy especially from immoral socialists around the world. God is the difference between them and us.
I grew up under the Nazis and know that it was godlessness which brought Nazi Germany down – the absence of God which produced the atrocities of their government. This nation must not take the same road. Every Socialist in the world is closer to Hitler than to our Founding Fathers.
In his 1923 Memorial address, President Calvin Coolidge stated: “There can be no peace with the forces of evil. Peace comes only through the establishment of the supremacy of good.” We as a nation must chose to maintain this supremacy of good.
At the beginning of the Declaration of Independence it states: We hold these Truths to
be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…” It defines that the task of government is to protect these rights of the people and receive their powers from the consent with the governed, who have the right to replace the present government “whenever any form of government becomes destructive to this Ends…”
This means, that Almighty God and His commandments were at the heart of the American nation building. According to the American Political Science Review the Bible contributed 34 percent of all direct quotes made by the founders. John Witherspoon was, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration and served on 120 Congressional committees. He was President of Princeton, leader of a New Jersey committee to abolish slavery and taught 9 of the writers of the U.S. Constitution, including James Madison. John Adams described him as “A true son of liberty… but first, he was a son of the Cross” He told his students, “He is the best friend to American liberty…who is most…active in promotion true and undefiled religion…to bear down profanity and immorality of every kind. Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy of this country.
“The First Amendment was not written to protect the people of this country from religious values” Ronald Reagan told the Alabama Legislature on March 15, 1982, “it was written to protect religious values from government tyranny.”
America with its Constitution and history has the answer for the longing of humanity, it is our strength and our future and has to be taught and discussed in our schools. We must decide to vote for and fight for our freedom, realizing it is the task of all Americans to return God to the center of this nation, or we lose our freedom forever. Witherspoon concluded: “God grant that in America true religion and civil liberty may be inseparable.” That is the challenge today for America.
Hilmar von Campe is president of the National Institute for Truth and Freedom and the author of several books including "Defeating the Totalitarian Lie." His website is www.voncampe.com
(Centennial Intern) "The American people, they're very simple people," said Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of China, according to recent news accounts. Was there a note of condescension in this, coming from a high official of the ancient and self-regarding Middle Kingdom that sees itself superior to all other nations? Maybe.
Regardless, my response to the Vice Premier took shape last weekend, when I had the opportunity of doing what I love most and what continues to be the epitome of honor in my life - - leading our men and women in uniform. One moment that captures what America means to me as well of millions of other Americans is an image vested in simplicity. It is a story that takes us to the wine country of Western Colorado, specifically Grand Junction.
My platoon sergeant (senior most non-commissioned officer in a platoon) and I were driving down a street in Grand Junction next to the farming area of the city. Two farmers, working on their tractor, stopped working and smiled and waved as we passed by. This is one of the several gestures we see during training, whether it is a wave, a smile, or a thumbs up. I believe this is the simplicity Qishan was referring to; however, I am convinced that vested within that simplicity is what makes our nation great.
It is, as I like to refer to it as, the greatness of simplicity. It is the values and morals that make this nation what it is today; a bastion for freedom and a vindication of the words inscribed within the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
Mr. Qishan, we are simple people who are proud of our simplicity and the greatness within it. It is this aforementioned simplicity, vested within the morals and values that define our nation, which will continue to perpetuate its greatness and its beacon of hope and freedom for the world. It is why I am convinced that even though my generation will face the greatest challenges we have witnessed since World War II; we will also see our greatest triumphs.
My unit, the 947th Engineers, Colorado Army National Guard, at work: