Higher education

John Carson for CU Regent

When the 6th Congressional District Republican Assembly convenes on April 5, there will be a contest for the nomination to University of Colorado Board of Regents. I am supporting John Carson. His education reform achievements as president of the Douglas County School Board have had national impact. His candidacy is distinguished by a strong determination to fight for intellectual diversity and true academic freedom in CU's halls of learning. Carson will carry on the visionary work begun on this issue by retiring 6th CD Regent Jim Geddes.

Please join me in doing everything you can to see John nominated and elected. Colorado needs Carson! You can learn more and get involved by going to www.CarsonforCURegent.com.

Why Democrats call their critics liars

In their public statements on health insurance reform, Democratic spokesmen have consistently dismissed those with objections to government health care as liars. In emails from the Democratic National Committee (which I have been receiving regularly ever since I asked a question) Republicans such as Reps. John Boehner of Ohio and Michelle Bachman of Minnesota and others have been singled out for this charge. Yes, I know that Republican congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina shouted "liar" at President Barack Obama in a speech to Congress when he denied that illegal aliens would receive medical care under the Democrats’ health reform bill. But several times during his speech Obama repeated the line that he and other members of his party have put forth that critics are lying.

This has gone so far as government agencies ordering health insurance companies to cease informing their clients that costs will go up under government health care, congressional committees demanding access to records of companies who are critical, and most recently Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi chastising those firms for their bad "behavior" that points up the need for a "public option."

So seldom do liberal Democrats make the case for their policies on the merits, I have concluded that they believe that no legitimate reason can justify opposition. Their longest-standing device has been to denounce their critics as "special interests" who are utterly indifferent or downright hostile to the common good or the rights of others.

Insurance and drug companies, doctors and hospitals may not be public office holders, but they have as much right to express their opinion on legislation as anyone else. They are involved in commerce, which is hardly a crime, and they represent thousands of employees and millions of consumers who depend on them for their efforts. All ad hominem attacks on opposing arguments are not only fallacious but a bad reflection on the perpetrators of them.

There is a fundamental reason why so-called progressives habitually dismiss their critics so summarily. It is, I believe, because the now one-century old progressive movement, led by such stalwarts and Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow, concluded that the U.S. Constitution was an antiquated document that stood in the way of regulation of the modern corporation and of the alleged ideal of equality of condition.

Neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution can be honestly interpreted to support equality of condition. The former declares that we all possess the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by nature, and the latter only secures those rights. In the marketplace in which millions of Americans participate every day, government’s role is to make uniform rules to ensure fair treatment, not to redistribute income from one person or entity to another.

Roosevelt, Wilson and their followers over the years in both political parties believed that something they call an historical process or evolution is moving mankind toward greater and greater equality of condition, and their role as statesmen is to lead their fellow citizens (who don’t always share their enthusiasm) toward the "glorious future" awaiting them.

Not our human nature but history unbound by nature is the basis for human progress, a position with which Obama and his fellow Democrats are in full agreement. As avatars of benefits yet to come, progressives have little patience with those of a different mind.

If this weren’t enough, those who have attended colleges and universities have been taught by professors in the social sciences and humanities that human beings are not governed by reason but entirely by passions such as greed (economic) and lust (sexual). Of course, routinely teachers of this doctrine exempt themselves from it as they claim to possess "value free" objectivity. The practical effect of this teaching is to stigmatize those who disagree with it and to license "enlightened" people to indulge any desires they wish.

Republicans, businessmen, middle class homeowners, Caucasians, males and heterosexuals have all been stigmatized for years, and they are expected meekly to accept their reduction to second-class citizenship. That so many Americans have spoken up at tea parties, town hall meetings, in letters to the editor, on talk radio and the internet is extremely inconvenient for those who believe that growing government to seize incomes and manage our daily lives is inevitable.

As ever, we are free to chart our own future which, for a growing number of us, does not include unconstitutional government. That is the truth that progressives must continue to deny.

Artists don’t live in an alternative universe

The current saga of Roman Polanski, who aspires to the lofty category of "artist," reminds us of the old Puritan suspicion of actors as immoral. It may shock people of all persuasions to learn that all artists–and scientists as well–were subjected to withering criticism by that patron saint of modern liberalism, Jean Jacques Rousseau. "[T]he depravity [is] real," wrote the author of the Discourse that won the prize of the Academy of Dijon in 1750, among peoples whose "souls have been corrupted in proportion to the advancement of our sciences and arts toward perfection."

Critics of Rousseau were quick to point out that he did not miss any of Moliere’s plays and thought they had espied a hypocrite. But Rousseau’s main concern was the popularization of the arts and sciences, retaining immense respect for those with genuine talents. He feared that these disciplines, if freed altogether from social or political control, threatened not only to corrupt the nations that indulged them but degraded art and science themselves.

More, as artists and scientists gain prominence they regard themselves as beyond criticism and become indifferent to the fate of their fellow citizens. They even become toadies of corrupt regimes as long as they are left free to do as they please, and those who lived under monarchies were willing to glorify them.

Rousseau believed that the passion for distinction could find an outlet in the arts and sciences no less than in politics and war, and saw clearly that many whose ambitions far exceeded their talents would attempt nonetheless to reap the rewards of celebrity and fame.

Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist that "the love of fame is the ruling passion of the noblest minds," convinced that the greatest among us would perform great deeds so as to be remembered for all time. The patriots of 1776 founded a republic and thereby won lasting fame.

However, Abraham Lincoln warned in his famous Lyceum Speech of 1838 that those who seek fame are as likely to win it by destroying republics as by establishing them, indicating that moral virtue in our leaders was necessary to avoid the fate of ancient Greece and Rome with Alexander and Caesar, and modern France with Napoleon.

Lincoln’s political critique applies to no less to other famous people, particularly artists and scientists. Is it difficult to see the passion for fame in Charles Darwin’s challenge to the natural law teachings of the founders of modern science with his theories of random chance in the biological world? Of Pablo Picasso’s revolutionizing of painting as no longer a representation of the visual world?

The dime store versions of these talented but misguided souls are persons who advance their careers by endorsing the "consensus view" in the learned academies, such as the dangers of "global warming," and Hollywood producers who confuse their passion for pushing the moral and political envelope with genuine talent.

People who seek distinction from being contrary to what the majority of their fellow citizens believe or support have convinced themselves that they are "a cut above" all those they regard as dummies, and use their status as a free ticket to a life of unaccountable behavior.

Polanski illustrates this perfectly. He committed a heinous crime and fled the country before sentencing, living on the lam in Europe for over 30 years. He and his "artistic" friends believe that his status entitles him to immunity from laws that govern everyone else. No one exposed this vanity better than The Nation's Katha Pollitt:

"The widespread support for Polanski shows the liberal cultural elite at its preening, fatuous worst. They may make great movies, write great books, and design beautiful things . . . But in this case, they're just the white culture-class counterpart of hip-hop fans who stood by R. Kelly and Chris Brown . . . "

Wasn’t Polanski in Switzerland, a neutral country, and attending an international arts festival, a world of the immortals? Who are these narrow-minded law enforcement officers who think they can arrest the producer for something that Whoopi Goldberg informed us was not "rape rape?"

The arts and sciences are among the greatest gifts of our Maker to the human race, but every gift should be treated with the respect it deserves and not used as an excuse for vicious acts and cults of personality. Whether or not they make people corrupt, it is clear that they are no barrier to corruption. Morality remains central to civilized life.

Crazy college costs: Hear the podcast

Taxpayers beware. Politicians want you to provide a revenue guarantee for higher education. The campaign has already started. But how can students, parents, and citizens be sure their college dollar is buying real value? And how does our state’s experience fit with the national picture of campuses across the country? Get early intel on this upcoming 2010 ballot issue when you hear my 9/24 issue special from 710 KNUS in Denver. Listen to the podcast at this link.

"Under the Dome: College Costs Gone Crazy" is my conversation with CU Regent Tom Lucero, Ohio University economist Richard Vedder, and conservative curriculum expert Charles Mitchell.

This is the latest edition of a citizens alert we're now doing monthly for Colorado conservatives. BackboneAmerica.net will have followup information and a podcast starting Friday.

Young conservatives at Washington & Lee

Editor: Fire up a group blog and you never know who may want in. A Denver businessman asked me if his daughter and her college pal could try out as contributors for us. Three minutes into the first meeting, after getting past the unnerving impression they were twins, I knew the conversation here would improve with Kari Ann and Corinne taking part. But what was to be the byline for this sister act? They've dubbed themselves "Roommates Rally," and here is their debut contribution: Everyone has heard...

...their fair share of college roommate horror stories. Thankfully, ours is not one of them. We are two conservative Christian college roommates that met at a small, private, liberal arts school in the small but quaint town of Lexington, Virginia. Our little slice of paradise is Washington and Lee University. During our first, very awkward, phone call, Kari Ann learned Corinne’s name isn’t pronounced “cream,” and Corinne began to stress about possibly having a Midwestern hippy for a roommate. However, now we both believe that it was God that brought us together. We feel so blessed not only to attend a great university, but also to have made such a strong, life-long friendship with each other. Since this will be our first blog entry here, we thought that we would introduce ourselves.

My name is Kari Ann Pfannenstein.

I am a Colorado native, and have lived in Littleton all my life. I am one of two daughters of John and Rama; my older sister is Amy. I am so grateful for my parents; they not only planted and nurtured my relationship with God, but also continue to provide me with the best advice and support. I attended Cherry Hills Christian School k-8 and transitioned to Heritage for my high school career. I was the drummer for an all-girls Christian rock band called “Forever’s Beginning,” but unfortunately my music career ended when all the older girls went off to college. I played four years of varsity basketball for Heritage, summers for the Colorado Hoopsters, and continue to play for W&L. Though I haven’t declared a major yet, I plan to be a Journalism and Mass Communications and English double major. Almost nightly dinner discussions and my daddy’s humorous, politically-charged e-mails first sparked my interest in politics. I am not a Midwestern hippy as my roommate once thought. My name is Corinne Smith...

...and I am the Southern counterpart of the Roommates’ Rally. I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC and attended a catholic elementary and middle school. I then transitioned to a large, public high school where I played soccer throughout my four years there. Once I got to college, I continued to play soccer, but I also broadened my horizons and got involved with the Catholic Campus Ministry as their service chair. I also serve on the Executive Committee at W&L as the student representative to the faculty. Right now, I plan to be a Politics and Business Administration major. I first became interested in politics after taking an inspiring AP Government class taught by a teacher whom I would consider one of my most influential. I hope to some day work with a political interest group in Washington, D.C. that caters to my conservative Christian background and beliefs.

Now that you know...

...a little more about us, we hope that you will continue to read as we tackle some of the current, debate-inducing topics.