We're not a newsletter, but a journal of
ideas. Each month we ask why, what's it all mean, and how
can one thinking person make a difference? Editor John Andrews
is a state senator, public policy consultant, church elder,
and college teacher. He surveys the American scene from a
mountain perspective he calls Backbone Colorado USA, with
family views from the summit of Cap's Cap.
That's John next to his mother, Marianne, in the 1955 ranch
portrait above, with Cap, JKA Sr., at right.
The 2002 photo of him with the next generation of young patriots
(and constituents in his senate district) was taken at a July
4 celebration in Foxfield, Colorado.
Notes on Our Times by John K. Andrews, Jr.
Monthly since 1994
April '00: Self-Government or Violence?
CONTENTS FOR APRIL 2000
Self-Government or Violence? - Dueling Soundbites re the Planet, the
Cops, the Net - Website Celebrates 'Permanent Things' - I Didn't Believe
APRIL ANNIVERSARIES POSE CHOICE: SELF-GOVERNMENT OR VIOLENCE?
On April 20 I participated in a memorial service at our state capitol,
honoring the Columbine High School shooting victims of one year before.
Next day, Good Friday, I sent this e-mail to a number of friends:
As we end a week of somber anniversaries -- massacre at a high school,
bomb devastation at a federal building, tanks firing on a religious
commune -- let me suggest this:
Self-government, the key idea of my public endeavors over the years,
is the best antidote for America’s epidemic of lawlessness and violence
as seen in Columbine, Oklahoma City, Waco, and other horrors.
Self-government may sound like a timeworn platitude, but think about
it. It doesn’t just mean voting and democracy, rights and representation.
It means a way of life where every person is permitted to choose freely
and obligated to act responsibly. Every person, one by one.
So the realization of self-government has to be achieved one individual
at a time, bottom up, no short cuts. Institutions and collective arrangements
then follow logically. Political, economic, educational, and cultural
judgments all come clear when we start from the right premise.
Part of the anguish of a week like this one is our awareness that laws,
policies, and programs can do little for the restoration of our civil
peace, our health as a society. But genuine self-government, one individual
at a time, can do everything for that restoration. Let’s commit ourselves
The Judeo-Christian holy days of Passover and Easter testify that brutality
and suffering can indeed be surmounted by renewal, but only when human
desperation reaches out for God’s deliverance. Self-government must
proceed in accord with the operating manual, in recognition of who made
I was honored recently to be the main speaker at a Denver University
forum convened by former Gov. Dick Lamm and his wife Dottie (no great
advocates of the Founders’ theistic worldview), where we challenged
educators with the question, “If not the Ten Commandments, Then What?”
The burden of proof is on those who contend that some view of law and
humanhood, other than a transcendent one, can keep us glued together
as a free society. I don’t see the burden being met. Hence my legislative
battle earlier this year for the schools to reinstate a modest acknowledgment
of America as a nation under God. I see this as an indispensable step
toward no more Columbines, and I will keep working for it.
RECENT TV: THE PLANET, THE COPS, THE NET
Nightly programming on PBS Channel 12 in Denver features dueling soundbites
from right (John Andrews) and left (Dani Newsum) in the “Head On” mini-debates.
After the following pieces were taped, JA went on election leave, yielding
the right seat till November to Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute.
[Right] Earth Day got started in the spring of 1970 amid great predictions
of doom. Mankind was going to destroy itself through resource exhaustion,
pollution, and famine, well before the year 2000. Wrong! Instead the
planet has gotten healthier and human beings are better off than ever.
Score another one for democratic capitalism, Dani.
[Left] What planet are you from? In the US, democratic demands to clean
up our environment have pushed federal, state and local governments
to pass laws and create agencies charged with protecting the environment.
Nixon created the EPA. But around the world, global capitalism is creating
a legacy of massive environmental degradation and human suffering.
[Right] Spare us the enviro-Marxism, comrade. The dirtiest polluter
of all time was the old Soviet empire. The prize for ecological responsibility
goes to market economies and open societies like ours in the West. And
Earth Day, that annual orgy of false fear, has far outlived its usefulness.
[Next Round, Left] State lawmakers are considering a reform bill on
no-knock raids that would require police to obtain the approval of a
prosecutor, in addition to the judicial approval currently required.
Why bother? The real problem is allowing police, judges, and now maybe
prosecutors to collectively batter down people's doors in these mindless
and mostly futile attempts to find drugs.
[Right] Cops risking their lives to bust up gangs, clean up neighborhoods,
and break the cycle of addiction is not mindless. It’s a necessary job,
and a dangerous one, sometimes requiring the element of surprise No-knock
is an important tool, and the new safeguards will keep it in proper
[Left] The only surprise in these raids is when anyone serves prison
time as a result. Denver targeted 146 suspects in no-knock raids last
year. Of those, 49 were charged with felonies, but only two did prison
time. The rest did probation, community service, or a month in county
jail. That’s mindless, dangerous, and wasteful.
[Right] Should the courts be convicting more bad guys? Absolutely.
Can we achieve that by arranging for the police to catch fewer bad guys?
Absolutely not. Abandoning no-knock would be an act of unilateral disarmament
in the war on crime. Colorado should not do that
[Next Round, Right] The Internet has been blessedly free of government
interference ever since Al Gore invented it. That policy should continue.
Internet taxation and online censorship are tempting but wrong. Clinton’s
power grab against Microsoft is an economic atrocity. All three should
[Left] This from the man who wanted government to make public schools
post the Commandments? In principle, taxing e-commerce is sound. But
administering a taxing scheme would be a nightmare. Likewise, the ruling
that Microsoft violated federal anti-trust laws is legally sound, but
the judge must be careful not to destroy Microsoft by judicial sanction.
[Right] Sing that song, Dani – song of more freedom, song of less government,
song of the wide-open Web. Grudging as it may be, your agreement is
music to my ears. Command-and-control public policy passed away with
the 1900s. The anthem for the new millennium is “Hands off the Internet.
WEBSITE CELEBRATES ‘PERMANENT THINGS’
Logging onto the new www.AndrewsAmerica.com, Web users find JA’s message
introducing “a site for citizens, thinkers, friends of freedom, and
participants in the human adventure. I'm passionate about those treasures
that wise men have called ‘the permanent things.’ This site is about
working together for some of them, such as…
America as the founders envisioned it
Self-government as practiced with backbone
Colorado as a special place on earth
Civilization as given us by godly tradition
“Are you concerned, as I am,” the intro asks, “for conserving and renewing
these things? If so, we should connect. To learn more and explore ways
of getting involved, click from this page to any of our departments. One
is devoted to my Senate legislative activities and re-election campaign,
another features this month's edition of ‘Andrews’ America,’ and a third
introduces my Synthesis consulting firm. A fourth department links you
to ‘Backbone,’ Colorado's hometown of the heart. Take a tour, e-mail your
comments, and consider how much richer life can be as we all stay closer
to the permanent things.”
I DIDN’T BELIEVE IT EITHER
Many people over the course of many years tried to give me one piece
of information, to which I remained stubbornly deaf until finally, nearing
age 40, I suspended disbelief and allowed that it might be so. Since
then everything has been different in my life. The information, worded
in various ways according to who was telling me, would in my own words
go something like this:
Jesus Christ is a real person, alive now, and you matter to him. He
is intensely interested in you. He is listening and watching, waiting
for you, wanting to be in touch with you. He wants to carry your burden,
if you are willing. He has things to teach you, treasures with your
name on them. He has important work for you to do in helping him help
others. He wants to be the closest friend you’ve ever had, the best
thing that ever happened to you. You only need to invite him in. He’s
If you don’t believe it, I understand, no problem. The matter needn’t
come between us. For a long time I didn’t believe it either. I’m just
glad people kept trying to tell me, so now I do the same.
THANKS FOR READING THIS FAR.
PLEASE LET ME HEAR FROM YOU.