Archive for the ‘National Press Club’ Category

Newt Gingrich: What’s Wrong With Our Election Process?

October 23, 2007

By Michael Lumley
The Daily Beacon (University of Tennessee)
Monday, October 22, 2007

A few months ago at a National Press Club Lunch in Washington, Newt Gingrich actually said something worth repeating. That happens so rarely now-a-days with prominent political leaders I was actually a little astonished. Essentially, Newt argued that the current electoral process is too long, too expensive and fundamentally insane.

“As the campaigns get longer,” Gingrich said, “you’re asking a person who’s going to be sworn in in January of 2009 to tell you what they’ll do in January of 2007, when they haven’t got a clue — because they don’t know what the world will be like, and you’re suggesting that they won’t learn anything through the two years of campaigning.”

Newt’s completely right of course. In 2000, Americans voted for a “compassionate conservative” who believed in limited government, cutting growth in federal spending and a restrained foreign policy. Instead they got George W. Bush.

How could America have been so deceived?

Our electoral process sucks.

Presidents are elected from a pool of candidates who are selected based on one determining factor — their ability to gather small contributions from large groups of people. How best to do this? Some have found that being mayor of a large city devastated by a major terror attack helps. Others have tried being married to very popular former presidents. Less common is an approach involving vision, principle or leadership.

But it’s not enough to start out with a really terrible pool of candidates. After the system eliminates anyone who is unable to instantly reach two to three million campaign donors, it plunges the candidates into a series of encounters that the political machine calls “debates.”

To call these spectacles debates is a bit like calling “Big Brother 4” prime-time television or calling Britney Spears an artist. I mean, sure, technically they’re debates, but in reality, its only 90 minutes of eight to 10 suits doing their damnedest not to stick their feet in their mouths.

Take this real debate question, posed to Rudy Giuliani: What are the biggest mistakes that you have ever made, and how have they changed you for a better person? You have thirty seconds.

Thirty seconds? To answer the question properly would take 30 seconds of just thinking before speaking. Of course, as all good candidates do, Giuliani simply deflected the question — playing it safe and keeping his foot well away from his mouth.

Every once and a while, however, a candidate actually tries to engage in a meaningful policy discussion instead of parroting off meaningless drivel like “I believe in the American Dream.” When this happens, they are first misunderstood and then demonized.

Take Ron Paul, who tried to explain in one Republican debate that American foreign policy might be contributing to a “blowback” effect — that is, when we kill women and children overseas, it makes their relatives angry at us and more likely to blow up buildings. The solution: Critically examine our policies to ensure that they maximize the benefit to the American people and discontinue policies that do more harm then good to our relations overseas.

But for Rudy Giuliani, Paul’s digression into substantive policy analysis was a golden opportunity. In thirty seconds, Giuliani turned the reasonable position articulated above into a message that Ron Paul blamed America for 9/11, and as mayor of New York during 9/11 (something he just won’t shut up about) he demanded an official apology from the Paul campaign.

What’s even worse is that a lot of people out there — people I thought were smart enough not to fall for this crap — loved Giuliani’s aggressive approach.

And then there’s a whole other host of issues that I don’t even have the words to discuss here. Campaign finance reform is silencing people with little or no name recognition. In the wake of the 2004 election, candidates are no longer allowed to change their minds about anything — lest the opposing factions wave flip-flops in the air at rallies or speeches. (Yes, the flip-flop has now become an appropriate substitute for intelligent and rational debate.) And when the driving issue in a campaign becomes something like “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” or a made-up story about National Guard papers, well, something is definitely wrong.

The bottom line is this: It’s time for Americans to demand real, intelligent and appropriate presidential campaigns. How do we do that? Quit voting for politicians who shovel out meaningless drivel. And for once, just once, let’s start using our brains.

— Michael Lumley is a senior in economics. He can be reached at mlumley@utk.edu.

Excellent Gingrich Speech, National Press Club, Aug. 7, 2007

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Excellent Gingrich Speech, National Press Club, Aug. 7, 2007

August 9, 2007

The speech below is mainly a proposal to reform the way we in the United States discuss major issues and choose our president.   But Mr. Gingrich has thoughtful things to say on a wide variety of our nation’s issues.

Peace and Freedom sincerely thanks Mr. Rick Tyler of Mr. Gingrich’s staff who worked so hard to get us this transcript.  Mr. Gingrich gave this speech from notes (not text) and a transcript had to be made.  Since the text of the speech is so long we added some headers so readers can scan don and find the areas that interest them the most.  The headers are:

Introduction
Mr. Gingrich Begins
Lincoln-Douglas Debates
Current System Not Working
Strategy and Reality Not Connected
Challenges Are Immense
UPS and FedEx Superior to Federal Bureaucracy
The Scale of  Change
Britain’s Phoney War
 
Our Phony War: The Scale of the Challenge
Conversations About Our Future: Better Debates
Questions and Answers
—Proposal Favors Good Debaters
—How to Handle 3rd Party Candidates
—How to Engage The Public
—Revising Primary Debates
—Reforming The Overall Primary Process
—Campaign Financing
—Fred Thompson
—Gingrich’s Own Plan to Run
—2008 a Democratic Year
—Are The Candidates Up To The Task
—Near Future of the War On Terror

We had a lot of formatting trouble with this document and we are sorry for its porr appearance.  We think you’ll find that the content is excellent.All the best to everyone,
John E. Carey
******************* IntroductionMR. ZREMSKI: (Sounds gavel.) Good afternoon, and welcome to the National Press Club. My name is Jerry Zremski, and I’m the Washington bureau chief for the Buffalo News and president of the Press Club.I’d like to welcome our club members and their guests who are with this today, as well as those of you who are watching on C-SPAN. We’re looking forward to today’s speech, and afterwards, I’ll ask as many questions as time permits.Please hold your applause during the speech so that we have as much time for questions as possible.

Link to the entire speech text at: http://extendedremarks.blogspot.com/2007/08/speech-below-is-mainly-proposal-to.html
 

Daguerreotype of Lincoln c. 1846

Daguerreotype of Lincoln c. 1846

What in the world could the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 POSSIBLY teach us today?  Newt knows.  This is why everyone needs to understand history….

Can America Rise to The Challenge?

August 7, 2007

I listened to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich give a speech today at the national Press Club.  It was the first “no B.S.” and “no political correctness” speech I’ve heard given to an American audience in years.  Below is a piece of that speech and we are striving to get the entire text.

John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
August 7, 2007 

Defeating America’s Enemies

“It is the eternal struggle between two principles,
right and wrong, throughout the world.”

President Abraham Lincoln
Debate at Alton, Illinois, October 15, 1858

Imagine the morning after an attack even more devastating than 9/11. It could happen. The threats are real and could literally destroy our country.

There are weapons of mass destruction, weapons of mass murder, and weapons of mass disruption—nuclear is first, biological and chemical is second, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is third. All are real, and we are lulled into complacency by the fact that none is currently being used. But if any of them were used, the effect could be catastrophic.

Despite spending billions of dollars on our national security, we are still unprepared. Our intelligence capabilities are—at most—one-third the size we need. Consider that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has hundreds of thousands of hours of terrorist intercepts that have not been heard, much less analyzed, because there are not enough translators. Our intelligence community has been studying North Korea for nearly fifty years, yet we know almost nothing about the country.

America’s lack of preparation, however, should not discourage us or even surprise us. Americans have had to rethink and reorganize for every major national security challenge in our history. We must recognize that we have three objectives to achieve.  


OpponentsFirst, we have two immediate opponents, the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam and the rogue dictatorships that empower the radical Islamists. The Irreconcilable Wing of Islam believes in a strikingly different world then the one we believe.  It is an uncivilized and barbaric world. This wing of Islam, and its adherents and recruits, are irreconcilable because they cannot peacefully coexist with the civilized world. Their views on the role of women, on the application of medieval religious law (the Sha’ria) and religious intolerance (prosecuting Christians) make them irreconcilable with civilization in the modern age.
This ideological wing of Islam is irreconcilable because it does not accept freedom of conscience. It does not accept freedom of speech. It does not accept that women are equal in dignity and equal under the law, but instead accords them an inferior status in the life of society. It does not accept the existence of the United States, with the adherents of the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam constantly fomenting a cheering chorus calling the United States the “Great Satan” and calling for its destruction.  Their constantly declared goal is to either destroy or dominate the United States.

It does not accept Israel as a legal state.

It does not accept the inherent dignity of every human life.  Instead, it supports the taking of innocent lives — in the name of its ideology — of anyone or any group that disagrees with its world view. 

Because this war is at its core an ideological war, it is most accurate to think of and identify this war against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam as the “Long War”. 

It is stunningly hard to win a war of ideology where the enemy is religiously motivated to kill us. 

To put this into perspective, if the people of the United States were to suddenly decide that a particular concept was inherently wrong in our educational system, it could easily take 20 to 30 years to change that concept, rewrite all the text books, and retrain all the educators.  That example is one completely within our culture.  If one includes intercultural communication difficulties, the problem grows exponentially harder.  If we use every tool at the disposal of the American people in support of a coherent theory of victory, the Long War might only last 50 – 70 years.  Yet, it will probably last much longer. 

The sobering reality is that terrorist leaders are determined to kill Americans and destroy our government and culture.

Consider the religious fatwa titled “A Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Infidels” that Osama bin Laden secured from Shaykh Nasir bin Hamd al-Fahd, a young and prominent Saudi cleric justifying the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against Americans, in May 2003:

Anyone who considers America’s aggressions against Muslims and their lands during the past decades will conclude that striking her is permissible on the basis of the rule of treating one as one has been treated. No other argument need be mentioned. Some brothers have totaled the number of Muslims killed directly or indirectly by their weapons and come up with a figure of nearly ten million….If a bomb that killed ten million of them and burned as much of their land as they have burned Muslim land was dropped on them, it would be permissible, with no need to mention any other argument. We might need other arguments if we wanted to annihilate more than this number of them.

Other al Qaeda leaders are equally explicit about killing many Americans. This statement is from Ayman Al-Zawahir: “We have not reached parity with them. We have the right to kill four million Americans—two million of them children—and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans’] chemical and biological weapons.”

In the 9/11 Commission Report, the commissioners concluded: “Bin Laden and Islamist terrorists mean exactly what they say: To them America is the font of all evil, the “head of the snake, and it must be converted or destroyed.”

Americans cannot negotiate with al Qaeda. We have no common ground with terrorists. Al Qaeda and its affiliates can only be destroyed. We are in a war of survival—and we could lose that war. Our vulnerability is neither exaggerated nor a paranoid fantasy.

If these terrorists acquired nuclear weapons, they would use them against our cities. If they acquired biological weapons, they could kill millions. And if the terrorists had chemical weapons, they could kill thousands.

There are conventional threats too. Terrorists could launch a campaign of bombings and sniper attacks in the United States. The next time you watch a bombing in Israel, an attack in Russia, or violence in Iraq, know that it could happen here.

Thomas H. Kean, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission, said shortly after releasing the report: “Time is not on our side.” Every day, terrorists try to acquire weapons of mass destruction and weapons of mass murder. Iran and North Korea continue to develop their nuclear and other weapons programs. There is constant danger of a coup by radical Islamists in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

And the greatest danger for us in meeting this threat is the weakness of our intelligence services. We do not have any significant intelligence on the enemy’s plans, networks, and troop strength.

Second, we must contain powers that could threaten us, including China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan—all of which have weapons of mass destruction.

The greatest threat of rogue dictatorships, like Iran or North Korea, is that they will sell weapons of mass destruction. While North Korea—with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons—is a big threat to South Korea and Japan, it is a very distant threat to the United States. But an Iran or a North Korea willing to sell nuclear and biological weapons to terrorists is very dangerous to America.

Before we toppled Saddam Hussein, Iraq presented a similar threat. We had every reason to believe Saddam Hussein would give or sell weapons of mass murder to a variety of terrorist groups. As has been well documented, Saddam Hussein was closely tied to terrorists and had an interest in aiding them to attack the United States.

Another danger is that Pakistan might suffer an Islamist military coup and that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could be given to—or taken by—terrorists. The new Pakistani dictatorship could even announce that a weapon had been “stolen” and argue that it ­wasn’t to blame if a bomb went off in the United States, Israel, India, or Europe.

But the most dangerous country of all is Iran. Iran is the world’s most aggressive terrorist sponsor.

Not since the failure of the League of Nations in the 1930s to confront the aggression of the dictatorships in Japan, Italy, and Germany have we seen such a willful challenge to the security of the world by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

There are lessons to be learned from the 1930s and those lessons apply directly to the current government of Iran.

Indeed, the new Iranian President does not even require us to read a book like Mein Kampf to understand how serious he is. He enthusiastically makes speeches proclaiming to the world his commitment to the genocidal annihilation  of another country.

The combination of two elements – the virulence of the ideology of Iran’s current regime and advanced military capabilities it is working energetically to acquire – when added to Iran’s inherent endowment – its strategic location, natural resources, population, and proximity to the vital resources of other nations in the region and the seaways through which these sources reach the rest of the world – poses a threat of such scope and magnitude which leave the United States with no choice but to take the Iranian threat with the utmost seriousness.  We must prepare and take actions of the same intensity and seriousness as the threat. 

Allies

Third, we must create a broad alliance of countries willing to defend peace and freedom.

Because we are involved in a civil war within Islam, we must work to turn the Islamic world against the Irreconcilables. Just as the Cold War was fought in part as a propaganda war pitting the appeal of democracy against communism, so too we need the Peace Corps and other government agencies to sponsor pro-Western secular schools and charities throughout the Islamic world. Most important, we need big broadcast networks that communicate to the Islamic world Western ideas about the rule of law, private property, and freedom. We need to broadcast our civic culture so that the Arab world gets a different view of the West than what it gets from Al Jazeera and Michael Moore.

Simultaneously leading the world, defeating the Irreconcilable Islamists, forcing rogue dictatorships into acceptable behavior (or replacing them), building up our intelligence and military capabilities to cope with China and Russia and other threats, making the necessary transformations in our foreign policy bureaucracy, and securing our homeland will be an enormous undertaking.

President Bush told us the truth: It will be a hard campaign, a long war, and we will suffer setbacks on occasion. “This war will not be like the war against Iraq a decade ago, with a decisive liberation of territory and a swift conclusion….Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.”

Transformational wars always take time, and always mean overcoming setbacks: It took George Washington from 1776 to 1783 to win the Revolutionary War. It took Abraham Lincoln four years (1861 to 1864) to finally hit on a winning strategy to win the Civil War in 1865. And the Cold War lasted more than forty years until the Soviet Empire collapsed.

We have risen to the challenge before and we can do so again. As Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, so too can we win this war.