Winning the Future for August 28, 2006
Meet the Pattersons
I've talked to you before about what motivates me to speak up and speak out about the challenges America faces. At their core, all the issues we face, be it the fight against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam, the need to transform our system of health care, or the need to develop energy independence -- all these issues boil down to Americans trying to pursue happiness in peace.
Last night the Fox News Channel ran the special that I hosted on the unacceptably high cost of a college education. We followed three families through their decision about where to send their kids to college or if to send them at all. One of the families was the Pattersons of Newburgh, N.Y.
The Fox cameras followed the Patterson family for five months while their daughter Jenna made her decision about where to go to college. Jenna is a good student who was accepted by six different colleges. The problem for the Pattersons, like for so many American families, is being able to afford to send her to college.
A 500% Increase in the Cost of Going to College
If you find yourself also worrying about the cost of educating your children and grandchildren, you're not alone. As I reported in the Fox special, the price of a public four-year college education increased by more then 500% from 1981 to 2003. Five hundred percent! All other consumer prices rose by 140% in that same time period.
When I was a college professor 25 years ago, the average cost of attending a private college was about $3,600 a year and the cost of a public university was about $1,600 a year. Today, a year at a public university will cost an American family more than $12,000. And a private school? That will cost on average $29,000 a year, and for some schools, much, much more.
So what does that mean for a family like the Pattersons? It means that Jenna's dad, Joey Patterson, took a second job on weekends and still couldn't save enough to send her to college. And the same is true for most Americans. A family that earns the median income of $44,000 a year has to plan on spending a third of its annual income just to put one kid through school -- and that's before taxes.
Every Taxpayer is Footing the Bill
The price of a college education has gone up faster than inflation-faster even than the cost of health care. But as I reported on the Fox special, if you think this affects only families with children going to college, think again. Taxpayers pour tens of billions of dollars into higher education every year. But are we getting our money's worth?
There's no question that a college education is the dream of most American parents for their children. A Fox News poll recently asked Americans if we think a college education is more or less important to succeeding in life today compared to 25 years ago. Eighty-five percent of us said that it was more important.
But as we discussed in the Fox News special, more and more Americans are questioning the unacceptably high cost of higher education -- regardless of whether they have children attending college. The fact is, we now have a system in which colleges and universities aren't accountable for the high prices they charge, and so they have little incentive to keep costs down.
Holding Colleges and Universities Accountable
Just last month a draft report from the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education called the huge rise in college costs "unacceptably large" and blamed it for "the erosion of public credibility in higher education." So what can we do? All of the solutions for the high cost of a college education boil down to a single change: Holding colleges and universities accountable for their costs.
For starters, the commission reported that every school should measure how well it's teaching its students, either through testing or other means. It also thinks institutions must be more open about how they spend their money. Finally, the commission proposes that federal and state governments should give colleges incentives for finding innovative ways to maintain or even lower costs.
These are sound ideas that would enable students and their families to judge for themselves if the school is a good deal while giving schools a good reason to be more competitively priced.
But as I reported in the Fox News Special last night, I think we should do even more:
One, I think we need less research and more teaching. Too many professors spend too much time outside the classroom doing research and while there is no doubt some are making breakthroughs that profoundly benefit society, much university research is of questionable value.
Two, we should re-examine tenure, which gives some faculty members job security other professions couldn't dream of. That means many schools simply can't fire incompetent or unproductive professors.
Three, we need to push students to finish faster. Too many students take too long to earn their degree. Sometimes it's the school's fault, sometimes it's the student's, but either way, it pushes the cost of college way up -- for students and taxpayers alike.
Four, we need to promote alternatives to four year colleges. Community colleges and online universities cost less because they concentrate almost exclusively on teaching, and don't spend much on research or lavish campuses. Community colleges should be given greater acceptance and greater status. A growing number of for-profit colleges could also provide a better option for some students.
A final point I want to underscore: Simply pouring taxpayer money into the system hasn't made college more affordable for Americans. In fact, the opposite has been true. What we need are more incentives for colleges to keep costs down, and more competition in higher education to give parents, students -- and taxpayers -- more choice and a bigger say.
In other words, it's time to put consumer power in the ivory tower.
In the end, Jenna Patterson made her decision to attend a four-year college -- and her family was forced to go deeper into debt to pay for it. Like most American families when confronted with this choice, the Pattersons chose to invest in their child's education, no matter what it will cost them.
But investing in our children's future shouldn't mean saddling them -- or ourselves -- with mountains of debt. Take it from a former college professor, we can demand more from our colleges and universities -- and more from the government programs that support them -- when it comes to educating our kids at an affordable price.
P.S. - Speaking of outrageously high prices, I have an op-ed next week in Investors Business Daily about the high cost of health care. And just like we need to hold colleges and universities more accountable for how they educate our kids, we need to hold doctors and hospitals more accountable for how well they treat patients. Unfortunately, the largest single source of information on doctors and hospitals-the federal government-won't release data on how well the doctors and hospitals are doing their job. Here's a part of what I wrote:
"Medicare has detailed information on nearly every doctor and hospital in the country. This data can inform the public regarding who are the better performers and who are not without compromising patient privacy. Unfortunately, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department will not release the data, despite the fact that it is paid for by the taxpayers. Americans have a right to know how their doctors and hospitals perform, and the public must continue to demand it."
Two great questions and my answer about this in the "Ask Newt" section below
Each week, this newsletter features questions from its readers. Have a question? Send an email to Newt at email@example.com.
Who is going to decide that the provider of health care achieved good results or provided the correct service?
Ryland Roesch, M.D.
...Are you willing to open another bureaucracy whose size you cannot imagine [to measure results]?
J. K. Oates M. D.
Ocean Springs, MS.
Thank you both for these excellent questions that concern the transformation of our healthcare delivery system.
First a little background. In 2003, I founded the Center for Health Transformation, which is a collaboration of transformational leaders dedicated to the creation of a 21st Century Intelligent Health System in which knowledge saves lives and saves money for all Americans. A 21st Century Intelligent Health System is consumer-centered, market-mediated, innovation rich and outcomes-based and will replace our current failing model. Both of your questions relate to how an intelligent health system would actually measure the quality of the health services delivered by health providers. To put it simply, in a 21st Century Intelligent Health System, if doctors and hospitals meet performance standards and provide better care, then they will be paid more; if they do not measure up, they will be paid less. Think about it, today, poor performance actually rewards doctors because it usually requires more care costing more money. What I want to do is to turn that model on its head. It is far cheaper to offer the incentive of higher pay for better provider care -- which leads providers to implement best practices -- than it is to keep paying providers a flat rate for delivering care that is below widely accepted performance standards.
The Integrated Healthcare Association is a collaboration of industry groups that has worked for the past five years on implementing this kind of model. In this project doctors receive higher payments for investing in health information technology because better technology is essential to better care. The result is a dramatic increase in the use of health IT. Because of this and other incentives, patients are getting more health screenings and receive care based on evidence-based guidelines. While it is still early, the results so far have been very impressive. A good overview is here.
Now let me deal with the question of creating another bureaucracy first. Moving to such a system that rewards providers for delivering quality care will no doubt be challenging. It is understandable why providers would be skeptical about another health initiative by the government. It is, after all, the government which has substantially contributed to today's failing health system. However, if it is designed correctly, a pay for performance system would not require more government bureaucracy because all of the reporting would be done electronically. That data could then be used to assess provider performance.
Now let me address the "whose standards" question. Collaborative efforts are already under way to standardize the way results are measured and incorporate them into the business practices of the public and private sector. The Bush Administration deserves credit for doing its part to move these groups in the right direction. For instance, on August 22, President Bush issued an executive order "promoting quality and efficient healthcare in federal government administered or sponsored health care programs." It called on groups like the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance and the Hospital Quality Alliance-collaborative initiatives among health plans, doctors, and hospitals -- to continue their efforts to find the best ways to measure quality. Some examples of what to measure are apparent such as rates of hospital caused infection and need for follow up, etc. But remember, no provider would be measured on any one case, as each case is unique, but rather on their entire case load measured over time.
We already have evidence that performance based incentives work. In Georgia, the Center for Health Transformation is leading the nation's largest Bridges to Excellence diabetes program. The program, like other pay-for-performance initiatives, pays incentives to physicians who practice best standards of diabetes care. The program encourages individuals with diabetes to see these physicians to improve their quality of life and avoid the long-term complications of the disease. In the process, physicians are rewarded for providing high-quality care, individuals with diabetes are healthier, and employers save money. A recent actuarial analysis of the program by Towers Perrin reports an estimated savings of $1,059 per individual if blood pressure, Hemoglobin A1C, and LDL control measures are met.
Since Medicare is the largest health insurer in the country, it has more data on more hospitals and more doctors than any other source in the country. Currently, Medicare does not release this information. I think this must change. I believe the American people have a right to access this data, especially since they pay for it. The performance data Medicare could provide would bring us much closer to a system where patients could make informed decisions about which providers to use. It could be done so that no personal information about Medicare patients is compromised.
Critics opposed to releasing this information are quick to note that without an agreed-upon standard set of metrics for measuring quality of care, the Medicare claims data will be interpreted differently. I agree that this is true, but by releasing the information to the public, there will be an acceleration of the adoption of baseline standards because the benefits of analyzing outcomes will be even more apparent as many different sources will work to provide meaningful evaluations from the Medicare data. Baseline standards would, of course, change over time as we find even better ways, based upon the data, to improve quality performance. Without this data the system will remain lethargic. To learn more about the benefits of a performance-based system read David Merritt's piece called "What we pay for" on the Center for Health Transformation's website.
Monday, September 04, 2006
Winning the Future for August 28, 2006
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:33:00 AM
Winning the Future for August 21, 2006
A Defeat for the Democracies
I spent last week doing something I would much rather have not -- being the bearer of bad news about the United-Nations-brokered cease-fire in the conflict in Lebanon. By Friday night, I found myself actually apologizing to Fox News' Greta Van Susteren for having to be so blunt. But the truth is, as William Bennett pointed out on National Review Online last week, it doesn't help the cause of the democracies to pretend that a defeat is a victory.
And that is precisely what the United Nations cease-fire resolution is: a defeat for Israel, a defeat for the United States and a defeat for all of the democracies.
This ceasefire is not a precursor to peace.
But don't just take my word for it. Within 24 hours of the cease-fire, in a series of carefully orchestrated statements, the dictators of Iran and Syria both claimed credit for defeating not just Israel, but America as well.
Remember, these are the dictators who finance and direct the terrorist group Hezbollah's attacks against Israel. And their statements -- coming within just three hours of each other -- left no room for doubt: The conflict that began with their terrorist attacks on Israel had ended in a way that has boosted the morale of every terrorist watching and emboldened every dictatorship.
'God's Promises Have Come True'
The Syrian dictator Assad spoke first on Tuesday -- within 24 hours of the ceasefire's taking effect in Lebanon. He declared that America's plans for transforming the Middle East have been ruined. And then he spoke these chilling words to the Israelis: "Your weapons are not going to protect you -- not your planes or missiles or even your nuclear bombs ... The future generations in the Arab world will find a way to defeat Israel."
Just a few hours later, before cheering crowds, Iranian dictator Ahmadinejad spoke next. "God's promises have come true," said the man who has vowed to wipe the state of Israel off the map and defeat America. And just so we wouldn't miss it, the Iranian dictator spoke directly to the democracies and declared that we "shouldn't think that, with the cease-fire, everything is finished."
Then the tyrant who is aggressively pursuing a nuclear bomb threatened to "punish" America for supporting Israel and demanded that all nations "bow down to the dignity and to the nobility of our people. And if you don't do that, our people, the nation of Iran, will make you do that."
No Evidence Hezbollah Will Be Disarmed
These are not encouraging words to come from some of the world's most dangerous dictators in the aftermath of a so-called cease-fire in Lebanon. Of course, just because the dictators of Iran and Syria have declared victory in this conflict doesn't make it so. But the facts, regrettably, speak for themselves.
There is no evidence that Hezbollah, the aggressor, is going to be disarmed, despite the hopeful words of the UN resolution. And if Hezbollah is not going to be disarmed, the cease-fire amounts to little but a lie. Because if Hezbollah is not eliminated as a threat to Israel, all the cease-fire will do is put additional UN troops in Lebanon, behind which Hezbollah will recruit, organize and prepare for the next war with Israel. We will have made Israel's job defending itself harder, not easier.
A Revolution in Health Care -- at the Office
All of my activity of late hasn't been focused on the war in the Middle East, of course. I recently published an op-ed with my colleague from the Center for Health Transformation, David Merritt, a bit of which I would like to share with you.
Did you know that more than 40 percent of CEOs cite health-care costs as the greatest threat to their businesses -- more than energy, litigation and pensions combined? The American people have created the greatest economic engine in the history of the world, but the cost of health care threatens to stall it.
Still, there are concrete steps employers can take now to begin not only to reduce their health-care costs, but also to improve the health of their employees. Here is how David and I put it in our op-ed:
"Employers should radically redesign the way they purchase health care. Our current system pays doctors, hospitals and other providers based on the volume of services and procedures performed, not on their outcomes. A new model must compensate providers based on the quality and efficiency of the medical care they deliver.
As with any supplier, employers should hold their health-care suppliers accountable for delivering better health outcomes at lower costs -- and drop them if they do not measure up."
This is just the first step in how employers can lower costs and improve the health of their employees. You can read the whole op-ed here.
Reasons to Hope
Lastly, despite all the unsettling news in the world, there are real reasons to hope this week.
I have long believed, with my friend, Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Andy von Echenbach, the former head of the National Cancer Institute, that eliminating cancer as a cause of death by 2015 is a real and achievable goal. Well, last week, I was happy to see that ending cancer deaths in our lifetime now has bipartisan support.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Benjamin Cardin, who is running to replace retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D.), gathered together cancer survivors and doctors to announce his support for ending the pain and suffering of cancer. "We're going to lick cancer by 2015," Cardin said.
Benjamin Cardin and I don't see eye-to-eye on much, but in achieving this goal, we are in complete agreement.
There is great hope in the medical advances being made in the war on cancer. And there is also, I believe, reason for hope in the war in the Middle East. But we must insist upon candor and clarity from our leaders. We owe it to ourselves to have the nerve to look at the situation in the Middle East -- and in the world -- clearly and understand the threats to the democracies for what they are, not sugar-coat them or kid ourselves. Then and only then can we go about the work that America does best: defending ourselves and our allies by defending freedom.
P.S. - Last week, I released a white-paper on my website focusing on how Republicans can win this November. In "Thinking About November," I write:
"Nobody should underestimate the importance of the national conversation in late October and early November in deciding the election outcome. If the national conversation is about past Republican failures of performance (a referendum), then Republicans will lose. If, however, the conversation is a fact-based discussion about reality, the nature of the world, the serious threats we face, and which sets of ideas and solutions will best serve the American people as we move toward the future, and how destructive a choice for the Left would be (a choice), then Republicans can win."
Each week, this newsletter features questions from its readers. Have a question? Send an email to Newt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With all the turmoil in Congress over the past few years, it seems the Republicans are slipping off the conservative platform. I see this as a very good opportunity for a third party to become the heart and soul party for true Americans. What do you say, Newt?
Thank you for the question, Merrill. Having worked to create a Republican majority since 1978, I certainly share your frustration. As you know, in 1994, we won on a "Contract with America." At that time, I would have expected that by now we would have a comfortable majority in the House and the Senate. But the fact is that, today, we are nowhere near it. In fact, we are in danger of losing our majority. After we delivered on implementing the Contract, what we really needed was a second Contract to solidify our majority and to begin building a stable conservative majority for a generation.
Now, as you say, we see that many Republicans in Congress have drifted from their conservative principles that brought us victory a decade ago, but a third party is not the answer.
If you share my goal of a stable conservative governing majority, then we have work to do. Let's get to it.
First, in order to create the stable conservative Republican majority we want, we simply must preserve all the Republican seats this November. Failing to support Republican members in November will get us only further from the goal.
Then we need to train the next generation of conservative leaders into the language of solutions. I am quick to point out that this was one of my failures as Speaker.
Training the next conservative leaders begins with understanding our current political environment. The country is in the midst of a political realignment. But the new alignment might not be toward one party or the other. Instead, voters will ignore partisan politics and look to leaders who will implement real change.
Let me describe for you three boxes. The first box is historic. We are living in historic times. September 11 fits into this box as an historic event that led to our commitment to defeat our enemies who are engaged in a war with us and are using terrorism as their tactic.
The second box is personal. In many ways, the Global War on Terror or what I have described as an emerging third world war affects us personally. You may know someone who is serving in the military and fighting in the war overseas. Other policy zones easily fit into this box such as healthcare, tax policy, education or energy. They all affect us personally.
The third box is politics. Most voters don't want to hear from this box right now. They want real solutions to real problems. They quickly identify politicians who are stuck in this box and dismiss them. Voters want to engage in solutions to winning the war, lowering energy prices, accessing quality healthcare and educating their children.
Republicans in Washington can take advantage of the current realignment by getting out of the political box as quickly as possible and speaking to the first two boxes -- the historic events and the issues that affect voters' lives personally. The Republicans are in trouble because they are currently presiding over and defending the hopelessly outdated government institutions that are failing to deliver.
So the solution is not to create a third party but to instead train a new generation of conservative Republican leaders how to develop, communicate and implement a generation of solutions following this path:
1. Conservative leaders must have a vision.
2. Conservative leaders must have ideas and solutions to achieve that vision.
3. Conservative leaders must be able to communicate both the vision and the ideas and solutions to the country in a way that the country comes to decide that it wants this vision and these ideas and solutions and that it will force Washington to pay attention to them. This is what happened in 1994 and is consistent with Margaret Thatcher's words: "first you win the argument, then you win the vote."
4. Conservative leaders must be able to take this mandate from the people and formulate and implement a practical policy that fulfills the original vision, which is not bound by the artificial limitations of Washington's industrial-age bureaucratic requirements.
5. Conservative leaders must ensure that the policy is implemented correctly. It is not enough to just "get it," we have to get it DONE.
6. Conservative leaders must apply real-time measurable metrics to ensure that the policy is working, and if it is not, make adjustments.
If we do this, we will succeed. If we don't, we will fail. It is just that simple.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:26:00 AM
Winning the Future for August 14, 2006
The Great Iowa State Fair
Last week, while visiting Iowa, I was again reminded why the Iowa State Fair is listed in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. This time, however, I was able to see it through the eyes of my 5-year old grandson who, along with my son-in-law, came with Callista and me to this great fair. We had a great time together. The people of Iowa are very friendly. Most everyone we met greeted us with a warm, "Welcome to Iowa, I'm glad you're here." More than one million people visit the Iowa State Fair each year, and this year is no exception. Iowans are proud of their state and proud of their fair for good reason.
Why Iowa? As you know, Iowa along with New Hampshire are the established proving grounds for presidential candidates. It is also true that I have been in both states several times in the last two years, leading many to speculate that I have my eye on running in 2008. And candidly, I have not ruled out running, but it is not my focus. As I have written to you before, I believe that we face enormous challenges that threaten our American way of life. I believe you would have to go back to 1861 to find another time similar to the scale of challenges we face today. No, we are not on the verge of a Civil War, but we are at a crossroads where we, as the American people, must define who we are and whether or not we are going to do what is necessary to lead the free world over the course of the 21st Century. I am confident that we will do what every generation of Americans has done -- meet the challenges before us. But it will be very hard and will require massive amounts of energy and creativity from this generation of Americans. I'm not trying to create a presidential campaign. I'm trying to create a citizen-centered movement -- a movement much larger than personal ambition, one big enough to "Win the Future."
There are several ways in which I am communicating a vision for winning the future -- and the movement required to achieve it. It started with my book Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America. This HUMAN EVENTS e-newsletter is another effective way. My 90-second radio commentary series, "Winning the Future with Newt Gingrich" (to which I include links in this e-newsletter), which is heard daily on more than 400 radio stations, is still another. You have probably seen me on the Fox News Channel or heard me on talk radio -- conservative and sometimes otherwise. You may have seen my editorial opinion pieces in newspapers around the country, including this one from last Friday that I wrote for the Washington Post. Here, I am responding to former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke's op-ed from the day before in which, in my mind, he argues in favor of a foreign policy strategy that does not understand the urgency of the threat faced by the United States and her allies from the Iranian regime's efforts to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. I also reiterated the point that no amount of diplomacy will work against an enemy determined to kill us, especially one that acquires nuclear weapons.
The fact that we have enemies determined to kill us was made all too vivid on Thursday morning when we learned of a terrorist plot to simultaneously blow up as many as 10 trans-Atlantic flights in an al-Queda-style attack that, if not foiled, could have killed as many people as were lost on Sept. 11, 2001.
Another way to communicate the challenges of winning the future is, you guessed it, to show up in New Hampshire and Iowa. By doing so, I am trying to shape the debate around the ideas and solutions that I think are required to win the future. It is my hope that a forceful and articulate presentation of these ideas and solutions in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere will lead to a substantive dialogue in the years to come about America's future.
Real Change Starts with New Ideas and New Solutions
We need real change to meet the challenges we face as a nation. As I have written before, our government institutions are not keeping pace with the challenges of the information age and are continuing to lose ground everyday. Therefore, we must set about transforming our government institutions from an outdated model of bureaucratic public administration to one of entrepreneurial public management. We must do no less than transform our government bureaucracies consistent with a free people and applicable to our modern world.
Simply put, good public policy solutions must be implemented effectively. These solutions start with good ideas, but whose ideas?
On the way to Iowa last Thursday, I made a stop at an event in Orlando, Fla., and observed the beginning of what I believe is a revolutionary model for the future of successful governance. Marco Rubio will be the next speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He created a model called "100 Ideas for Florida's Future" based upon the premise that the best ideas will not come from the politicians and special interests in Tallahassee but from the people themselves. He began holding "idearaisers" around the state where people would come not with their complaints, but with their ideas. Think of it as a town-hall meeting in reverse, where instead of people asking politicians why this problem or that problem has not been solved, people come and ask, "Have you thought of trying this or that?"
All the ideas were collected at these "idearaisers" along with those collected on the 100ideas.org website, and the best of these ideas were discussed by legislators and experts at the 100 Ideas Policy Summit last Thursday as they began the process of culling the list down to the top 100 that Speaker-elect Rubio will then use as the blueprint for his Speakership. He will ask Florida voters to judge his leadership on his ability to turn them into legislative action. Think of it as a "Contract with Florida Voters" -- after all, it's their best 100 ideas.
Which brings me back to Iowa. When I heard about these "idearaisers" last year, I immediately began to share it with people around the country. My good friend Iowa Rep. Jim Nussle (R.) who is running for governor was the first to pick it up. He calls his, "99 Ideas to Energize Iowa's Future," to represent each of Iowa's 99 counties. After Thursday's 100 Ideas Policy Summit in Florida, my son-in-law, my grandson, and I flew to Sioux City, Iowa, to attend one of Jim Nussle's "idearaisers." The event was webcast live so that all Iowans could listen in. You can listen to it too. I believe that if every Republican candidate would adopt this model, the GOP from city hall to the White House could begin to solidify a governing majority over the next two years that would last for a generation.
In addition to "idearaisers," we should promote bipartisan dialogues about ideas. If we conservatives believe in the power of ideas, then we should be willing to test them on people other than ourselves. Two weeks ago, I wrote about how we must produce more affordable energy in America rather then have to rely on oil-rich dictatorships for our energy needs. I also mentioned that I planned to discuss this with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D.) at the State Fair. Well, we did just that at a Renewable Fuels Dialogue. The governor and I shared with the audience our ideas on how to cut our reliance on foreign oil. I will post a video of the event in the coming days on newt.org.
In Iowa, there is a lot of exciting innovation occurring in biorenewable fuel technologies such as ethanol and biodiesel. While we were there we had the opportunity to ride in a Jeep Liberty that runs on biodiesel fuel made from soybeans. We also visited the Iowa Soybean Association booth where there was a contest to win a two-year lease of a biodiesel Volkswagen Beetle. These carbon-neutral technologies perform as well as, if not better than, petroleum-based fuels. If they were widely available at the gas pump and, in the case of ethanol, if automobile manufacturers used flex-fuel technology on all their gasoline-burning vehicles, we would begin to secure a better, cleaner, safer energy future. We need to accelerate the development of alternative fuels so that money spent at the gas pump would stay right here in America and cut the funds now going to terrorist-supporting regimes.
One other item: While at the State Fair, I met with 16 foreign correspondents who were covering the political significance of the Iowa State Fair. It struck me how strange it must seem to them that the process of electing the President of the most powerful country on earth passes through a state fair in rural America where more than one million people come with their families to eat nearly anything that comes on a stick, compete in numerous agricultural competitions and contests, ride the rides, enjoy the shows and see the "butter cow," but that is how we do it in America, where a free people get to put their candidates to the test face to face.
P.S. - Last week's defeat of Sen. Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut Democratic Primary to appeasement candidate Ned Lamont is a major blow to those Americans who believe that we must stand strong in the face of an emerging Third World War that threatens our safety. The idea that the Democrats in Connecticut would reject a courageous defender of freedom, who not long ago was their nominee for Vice President, does not speak well of the direction the left is taking them.
While I disagree with many of Sen. Lieberman's policy positions, he has been a consistent and tenacious defender of a strong America. Perhaps the bright side may be that Sen. Lieberman's defeat will force us to have a long overdue national discussion about our leadership role in the world and what it will take to keep it.
Strong national security Democrats like FDR, Harry Truman, JFK, and Joseph Lieberman are dwindling, driven out by an appeasement wing of American politics that is gaining momentum. We have been here before. A weak America always leads to further acts of aggression by our enemies. It is a lesson the left may never learn.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:24:00 AM
Winning the Future for July 17, 2006
A Third World War
Like you, I spent the past week viewing the events in the Middle East with growing concern. In the 13 weeks that I have been bringing you my thoughts in Winning the Future, I have shared with you directly many challenges facing us. But no challenge confronting America is greater than the one I am writing about today. And no challenge requires us to be more candid and more direct about what victory will require.
As I talked about yesterday on NBC's "Meet the Press," I am now firmly convinced that the world confronts a situation that is frighteningly similar to a Third World War, one every bit as serious and dangerous as the two great conflicts of the 20th Century.
The recent attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel -- with the active political, financial and military support of Iran and Syria -- are just the latest acts in this war. It is a war that pits civilization and the rule of law against the dictatorships of Iran and Syria and the terrorist groups of Hezbollah and Hamas that they support. It is also a war that pits civilized nations against Islamic terrorist groups around the world, including, most significantly (but not exclusively), the al Qaeda network.
In the United States, we refer to this struggle as the "Global War on Terror". Yet, I believe this label fails to capture the nature and scale of the threat faced by civilization.
The nature of the threat -- with Iran at the epicenter -- is at its core ideological. The threat to the United States is an ideological wing of Islam that is irreconcilable to modern civilization as we know it throughout most of the world. The United States and her allies face a long war with this irreconcilable wing of Islam.
While I have addressed the nature of this threat before, I believe the deadly attacks that have recently been carried out across the globe and the plots of mass murder that have been uncovered recently in our own country and abroad reflect a scale of challenge much larger than we currently recognize. So much so that I think an analogy to the two world wars of the last century more accurately explains where we find ourselves today.
The Iran-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas Terrorist Alliance
It is necessary to connect the dots to understand the scale of the challenge we face. These are not isolated events: Whether operationally connected or not, these attackers and plotters are connected in their ultimate aim to destroy the values of freedom, security and religious liberty that sustain civilization in the modern age.
Here's a list of the attacks, provocative acts and uncovered plots that have occurred in just the past seven weeks:
- An Iran-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance is waging war against Israel in both southern Lebanon and Gaza. Hezbollah has launched more than 1,000 rockets into northern Israel in the past few days alone.
- Seven bombings in Mumbai, India, killed more than 200 people.
- North Korea, which is in public contact with Iran, launched seven missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the West coast of the continental United States, in deliberate contempt of repeated warnings from the American and Japanese governments and the United Nations Security Council.
- Seven Americans were seen on video tape in Miami pledging allegiance to al Qaeda.
- A plot to bomb New York City subways and tunnels was discovered.
- Eighteen Canadians, plotting terror, were arrested with twice the explosive force used in the Oklahoma City bombing and a plan to blow up the Canadian parliament.
- The British government reported that it has uncovered more than 20 "major conspiracies" by Islamic terrorists, and as many as 1,200 potential terrorists now live in the United Kingdom.
This is only a recent list. It is in addition to the deadly bombings we witness on an almost daily basis in Baghdad, and previous attacks in New York, Washington, London, Madrid, Bali, Beslan, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Sharm-el-Sheikh, New Delhi, Amman and many other cities.
Are We For Civilization or Appeasement?
Some actions are clarifying because they force people -- and nations -- to choose sides. The increasing number of attacks, provocations, and plots of this Third World War similarly force us to make a decision. We must have a national debate -- indeed, a worldwide debate -- between those of us who believe we're in a war to defend civilization (and therefore must defeat terrorists and their state sponsors) and those who are made uncomfortable by the price of defeating terrorists and their state sponsors.
This is a fundamental choice upon which will hinge our future liberties and possibly our very lives. New York Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin described the war like this:
"While it is often a war of loose or no affiliation, and sometimes just amateur copycats, the similar goals of destruction add up to a threat against modern society. ... Islamic fascists are the driving force, but anti-American hatred is a global membership card for any and all who have a grievance and a gun."
So which are we for? Defending civilization and America? Or making excuses for those who threaten us and burying our heads in the sand?
What Can We Do?
I think the answer is clear. The duty of civilized, law-abiding nations is to win this war. Anything less than victory sends the message that our terrorist enemies and their state sponsors have the time to develop the strength to do us incalculable harm. Anything less than victory threatens the very survival of the rule of law and freedom as we have known it.
Winning four arguments are essential to winning this Third World War. I urge each of you to take the time to make these points to your friends and neighbors who may not yet recognize the nature and scale of this war, or who are tempted by the dangerous allure of appeasement.
1. It's Us Versus Them: The American people and free people everywhere must come to recognize that we are in a world war that pits civilization against terrorists and their state sponsors who wish to impose a new dark age -- with them in charge. Everything our leaders do must be judged by whether it helps or hurts us in defeating terrorists and their state sponsors.
2. Connect the Dots, Then Connect Them Again: We must consistently emphasize that the deadly attacks and threats of destruction we see worldwide are connected.
The bombings in India relate to attacks on Israel. Iran's erecting a statue of the favorite hero (Simon Bolivar) of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez -- in a gesture of alliance -- is linked to the Chavez-Castro efforts to weaken America. Suicide bombings in Iraq are linked to efforts to kill thousands of innocent civilians in Canada and New York City.
And on and on it goes.
3. Stand and Deliver: We must take every possible opportunity to engage in arguments and efforts that educate people about the nature of the war and the enormous challenge it will be to defeat terrorists and their state sponsors who are committed to our destruction.
4. Be Honest About the Challenges Ahead: Many things in this Third World War will be very hard. When there have been more than 800 suicide bombers in Iraq alone and several thousand over the last decade worldwide, there is a serious crisis of civilization. We must convince the American people and our allies across the world that fighting this fight is hard but necessary and unavoidable. Losing to the murderous terrorists and their state sponsors who threaten us would be far harder.
In his magnificent book about Abraham Lincoln, The Eloquent President, Ronald White writes that Lincoln proved that "words are actions" -- that people cannot be led until they are first persuaded. Lincoln is an example for our leaders, and for all of us who care about the survival of American civilization. Like him, we must be clear in our thoughts, candid in our words, and rock solid in our resolve. It is up to us first to prove that in this Third World War "words are actions." And then it is up to us to win.
P.S. - In previous issues, I have described the situation with the the Mt. Soledad Cross near San Diego and how a federal court has ordered that the cross be taken down. Two weeks ago, on Independence Day, I wrote about Michael Martino who was killed in action last November in Iraq when his Cobra helicopter was shot down by the enemy. Members of Captain Michael Martino's Camp Pendleton unit dedicated a plaque in his honor at the Mt. Soledad Memorial and how on that day of dedication, more than 300 Marines stood in line for more than three hours to pay their respects to Michael Martino's parents.
Earlier this week his parents sent me an email. With their permission, I wanted to share with you what they wrote.
"Please pass our sincere thanks to Speaker Gingrich for pointing out the underlying issues of freedom that our son, Captain Michael D. Martino, died to preserve. Our son believed deeply that our country was not only under attack from Islamic forces that were determined to destroy us, but also from within, by those that would strip away all vestiges of religion from our landscape. The cross at Mount Soledad is just the latest battle in the war to strip the majority of Americans of their right to religious _expression. The dedication of a plaque to our son at Mount Soledad was meant as a tribute to his service in defense of freedom made by his fellow Marines. I cannot put into words the emotion we felt at that dedication ceremony. To know our son would be honored under that cross overlooking the beautiful countryside that he dedicated his life to preserve was comforting to our family.
"We were shocked and dismayed to find out later that day that a court had ruled to remove that cross. It became apparent to us that this was not only a dishonor to our son, but to all those other service men and women who are honored there. Our son can no longer fight to preserve our freedoms, but I know he would support us fighting for this issue. It became up to us to take up the cause of our freedom anyway we can. I urge all Americans to do the same.
"Again thank you for your support by informing your readers about the Mount Soledad issue."
Robert A. Martino & Sybil E. Martino
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:19:00 AM
Winning the Future for August 7, 2006
A Decisive Week for the Future of Freedom
Most weeks, I begin my message to you in Winning the Future by talking about the week that was. But this week, I want to begin by talking about the week that is to come, because it promises to be a decisive one for American national security. Two events will transpire this week that will go a long way toward determining whether we intend to move forward to decisively defeat the forces of radical Islam, or whether we will retreat from defending our nation and attempt to appease those threatening forces.
The first event is the primary election this Tuesday in Connecticut. Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman, a strong supporter of America's war against the Irreconcilable Wing of Islam, is facing a serious challenge from Ned Lamont, a leading representative of the appeasement wing of American politics.
The second event to watch is the possible passage of a resolution in the United Nations Security Council that forces a cease-fire on Israel.
As unrelated as these events may seem on the surface, they both contain warning signs that American determination to defeat terrorists could be flagging and American leadership might be in danger of retreating.
An Impending Victory for the Appeasement Wing of American Politics?
I will be blunt. In Connecticut, if Ned Lamont defeats Sen. Lieberman on Tuesday, it will be a major blow to those of us who believe that America must stand strong in the face of an emerging Third World War.
The defeat of this long-serving senator, who just four months ago seemed invulnerable, will be a signal that the appeasement wing of one of America's two main political parties is gaining momentum.
As of this weekend, public polling showed Sen. Lieberman trailing Lamont by about 10 points. So you can be sure that if Lamont wins, a shock wave will run through the Democratic Party and the news media. Brace yourself. This may very well be the week of Ned Lamont and appeasement politics.
The National Debate That Is Coming
What's more, if Lamont wins by a big margin, look for Lieberman to drop out of the race. If Sen. Lieberman loses narrowly, he can run as an Independent in the general election this fall. But if he is crushed in his own party's primary, an independent bid in the general election begins to look like a spoiler -- that is, unless Sen. Lieberman starts to fight back on the issue that Lamont has made the centerpiece of his challenge: how to best defend the United States in the fight against radical Islam.
A Lieberman defeat is likely to push us as a nation to a long overdue decision point. It may open up the most important national-security debate since the years following World War II, when Democrats such as Harry Truman and Republicans such as Michigan Sen. Arthur Vandenberg joined together in a bipartisan consensus about resisting the expansion of Soviet tyranny. Now, as then, the question before the nation is simple, but one of life and death: Do we seek victory against the forces arraying against us? Or are we willing to accept a negotiated defeat -- in the naïve belief that appeasement now will spare us from more horrific threats later?
The Resolution in the United Nations
The second decisive event to keep your eye on this week is the outcome of a proposed United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for a cease-fire in Lebanon.
As I write this message to you there is every indication that the U.S. State Department has gotten together with the French to produce a resolution that could well be seen as a victory for the alliance of Islamic terrorists and dictatorships.
The draft resolution calls on both parties in the conflict to agree to an immediate cease-fire. That may sound like a good thing, but in reality, it treats Israel as the moral equivalent of the terrorist group Hezbollah. Hezbollah, remember, is the aggressor in this conflict.
And even this draft agreement might be weakened further by other members of the Security Council.
The pattern of negotiation has gone from proposing a strong NATO-led force that could disarm Hezbollah to a weak UN force that will have no effect on Hezbollah. This will only be a larger force for failure than the 2,000-man UN force that has done nothing for the last six years while Hezbollah has armed itself.
We Must Avoid Another Munich
Contrary to their assurances, it is clear that the Lebanese are more afraid of Syria and Iran then they are of the United States and France.
It is clear that Hezbollah has no intention of disarming.
It is clear that Syria and Iran have no intention of withdrawing their support from Hezbollah.
Acquiescing to these facts through diplomacy at the United Nations would be a defeat of the first order for the United States and for Israel. The forces of terrorism and dictatorship will only become stronger. Meanwhile, the forces of democracy, the rule of law, freedom and security will become weaker.
The belief that this kind of United Nations Security Council resolution will stop the Hezbollah-Syria-Iran alliance's war against Israel is misguided and destructive. Its adoption would have to be seen as a failure of nerve and one that would undercut the efforts of the democracies to defend themselves. Recall that at the Munich conference with Nazi Germany in 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain allowed empty diplomacy to lull him into a false sense of security about the nature of Hitler. The result was a Second World War. Today, rationalizations like these are lulling us into a similar self-deception about the nature of the threat that all freedom-loving nations face today, with Israeli democracy itself on the front lines.
We Have Other Options
There are alternatives. We can allow Israel to do what it set out to do: defend itself and destroy Hezbollah as a threat to its security. We can push for a resolution at the UN that focuses on the roles of Syria and Iran in creating this conflict and insists on the implementation of the earlier UN resolution for disarming Hezbollah.
So call, write or email your elected representatives and tell them to insist that our State Department reject appeasement. The coming week will be a decisive one for the future of freedom as we know it. None of us can afford to sit on the sidelines. Let's get to work.
P.S. - In case you missed it, last week I called on the United Nations to force Syria and Iran to pay reparations to Lebanon and Israel for the damage caused by the conflict there. After all, the damage to Israeli and Lebanese lives and property would not have occurred without active Syrian and Iranian assistance to Hezbollah. What's more, by sponsoring Hezbollah's attacks, Syria and Iran are in direct violation of several UN resolutions and international treaties. Their liability is clear.
Here is a little of what I said on Fox News's "Hannity and Colmes:"
"Why isn't the world demanding that Iran and Syria pay for all the damages? Why isn't the world insisting that Iran and Syria compensate all the dispossessed people? None of this would have happened if Iran and Syria were not in a terrorist alliance with Hezbollah."
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:17:00 AM
The Meaning of Robert's Fifth Birthday
This week I had one of those moments that puts everything in perspective and reminds you what's really important in life. I had the pleasure of attending my grandson Robert's fifth birthday party. We had a pool party with all of his friends, and I gave him a birthday card with a dinosaur on it, because Robert and I share the same passion for dinosaurs.
We had fun, and of course, we had to assure Robert's sister, Maggie, that we would have an equal amount of fun when she turns seven in October.
But as a grandfather, Robert's birthday party reminded me of how precious life is and how real some of the things we're watching on the television are.
In addition to attending my grandson's party in Atlanta, last week I traveled to Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and California. And as I met with people around the country, it is clear that there is a hunger for clarity. People are watching television, and they are really bothered. They are bothered by what they are seeing in Iraq and in Southern Lebanon.
Paying for Iranian Aggression -- at the Pump
Here is something else that is bothering Americans I spoke to: high gas prices and the notion that our enemies are profiting from the higher prices we pay at the pump.
Think about it. On July 11, the price of a barrel of crude oil was $74.16. That was the day before Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, which sparked the latest fighting in Lebanon.
Three days later, after the fighting began, the price of a barrel of oil was $77.03. That's a $2.87 increase.
Now, Iran exports 2.7 million barrels of oil a day. That means if the price of oil stays the same, that $2.87 increase will amount to almost $3 billion more a year for the Iranian dictatorship.
That's $3 billion more to spend on rockets for Hezbollah, militias in Iraq and on their nuclear program. Which, by the way, nobody is paying attention to now because of the fighting in Lebanon that Iran almost certainly instigated.
So the dictator of Iran is getting the best of both worlds: He gets to attack Israel by funding Hezbollah, and he gets to make all his money back -- and then some -- from our pocketbooks.
Energy Independence: Time to Cut off the Dictators
We can do better than this. It's a dangerous world, but I am absolutely convinced that even though we have challenges we also have enormous opportunities.
I've been talking to scientists about the opportunities for expanding alternative energy supplies here at home so that we can produce more affordable energy in America rather then have to rely on Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for our energy needs.
What I have been learning is extremely encouraging. I mentioned last week that I was sending my research director, Vince Haley, on a week-long trip to Iowa and Minnesota to visit with some of the leading pioneers in this new energy economy -- think of it as the emerging Silicon Valley for energy. Well, this week he is back with his report.
Vince received briefings from both Robert Brown, director of Iowa State University's Bioeconomy Initiative and Richard Hemmingsen, director of the University of Minnesota's Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, two of the leading academic centers at the forefront of research and development for the new energy economy. He also visited a soy diesel plant, a wind farm, a hydrogen engine manufacturer, a biomass energy conversion facility, and a manufacturer of biomass furnaces.
Vince's bottom-line impression from his trip is that there is an enormous amount of entrepreneurial creativity taking place in the Midwest, and it holds forth the tantalizing potential of dramatically transforming our energy economy. While current bio-renewable programs will not replace our use of oil in the near future, they clearly offer the promise of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, improving our environmental quality, and transforming the rural economy into a much more prosperous zone of American economic activity.
These are some of the themes I will be covering with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack at a Renewable Fuels Dialogue on August 12 at the Iowa State Fair. I'm looking forward to this event, because I believe there is a remarkable amount of common ground between the political parties on energy issues and I believe that by having a frank, open dialogue on energy with Gov. Vilsack, a Democrat, we can demonstrate to all watching that by working together we can achieve a safer, cleaner, and more affordable energy future for all Americans.
(Also, I hope all those in the area will join me for a breakfast meet-and-greet in Des Moines on Saturday, August 12, before the energy dialogue. For RSVP details, click here.)
Is Hezbollah Winning the Information War?
We also have another opportunity -- one we are currently squandering -- to go on the offensive against our enemies in the irreconcilable wing of Islam in the war for public opinion.
In the conflict between Israel and the terrorist group Hezbollah, we are witnessing an effective information offensive by Hezbollah and its allies that has us losing the war for the hearts and minds of the world.
Hezbollah refuses to follow the international rules of war. It consistently targets civilians in Israel and promotes civilian deaths in Lebanon by hiding amongst the Lebanese population. By design, Hezbollah is indistinguishable from the Lebanese civilian population because they dress like civilians -- and not like soldiers, as required by international law. And yet Hezbollah and its allies in the media and elsewhere have successfully portrayed any and all civilian casualties in this conflict as entirely Israel's fault.
Yesterday's accidental killing of innocent civilians in the Lebanese town of Qana is a case in point. Israel had information indicating that Hezbollah was using this area as a base of operations to fire rockets into Israel. And the Israel Defense Forces repeatedly leafleted this area urging civilians to leave. The civilian deaths there are a great tragedy -- one for which Israel has expressed its regret -- but they are a tragedy of Hezbollah's making, not Israel's. It would serve no strategic purpose for Israel to target civilians, but in the cruel and callous calculus of Hezbollah, these civilian deaths -- for which Hezbollah is responsible -- actually do serve Hezbollah's strategic purposes by encouraging the world to urge Israel to use more "restraint" while Hezbollah continues its missile attacks specifically targeted against Israeli civilians.
So my question is this: Where is the American strategic information campaign that educates our country and the world about Hezbollah's illegal tactics? Why haven't we and the Europeans proposed a resolution in the United Nations calling on Hezbollah to move out of civilian populated areas and demanding that they wear military uniforms to identify themselves as combatants and distinguish themselves from innocent civilians? We should use every opportunity to highlight Hezbollah's appalling encouragement of Lebanese civilian deaths in order to win the war for world opinion. Our mantra should be "disarm Hezbollah, evict the Syrians and Iranians, and return Lebanon to the Lebanese government's control."
Send Me Your Questions
A lot of folks have talked to me about comments that I've made about our being in the early stages of a Third World War. On my website -- Newt.org -- we're going to post a series of questions and answers regarding this conflict. If you have questions about it, I hope you'll send them to me at email@example.com because this is a very important conversation. Only if we look at the entire reality -- from North Korea to Iran and Iraq to what's happening here at home -- will we understand how big and how complicated these challenges are.
Which brings me back to the moment I had at my grandson Robert's birthday party.
It was a very strange and bittersweet moment. On one hand, I was enjoying watching the children splashing in the pool on a sunny day -- Atlanta at its best. And on the other, I was thinking about children in other places -- places we're watching on television -- who are living under the constant threat of violence and death.
To me, it is the security of these common people that the conflict we are witnessing in the world today is all about. It's about real people who want to live lives of happiness in peace. Real people who want to get married and have children and who want to live out their retirement years in safety and prosperity. It's about a world in which, sadly, some people are prepared to kill the innocent and commit the most horrendous of deeds in order to impose their dark vision on the rest of us.
So I'll leave you this week with this request: Think about your children and grandchildren and all of your loved ones. Think about your neighborhood and ask yourself: Aren't our children and grandchildren worth protecting? Aren't our neighborhoods worth protecting? And isn't it important that we do all that we can to defend our way of life, not only for ourselves, but for all those whom we love?
I'm confident I know what your answer will be.
P.S. - If you haven't yet had the chance, go to my website and read a remarkable essay by Israeli Rabbi Daniel Gordis about the war between his country and the Hezbollah-Hamas-Iran-Syria terrorist alliance. Here is just a taste:
"This is a different kind of war, and an old kind of war. In the last war, when they blew up buses and restaurants and sidewalks and cafes, Israelis were enraged, apoplectic with anger. This time, it's different. Rage has given way to sadness. Disbelief has given way to recognition. Because we've been here before. Because we'd once believed we wouldn't be back here again. And because we know why this war is happening."
You can read the entire essay here.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:14:00 AM
Winning the Future for July 24, 2006
Winning the Argument About the Third World War
One week ago, on NBC's "Meet the Press," I described the scale of terrorist attacks and plots, world conflicts, and the hostile declarations by rogue states and their pursuit of nuclear weapons as an emerging Third World War. In the intervening week I have taken advantage of a number of opportunities to set out in detail why I believe it is so important that America confront this reality.
One skeptic I encountered -- at least initially -- was Matt Lauer, co-host of NBC's "Today Show."
Lauer began our interview with a quote from an academic who claims that America has no option other than to force Israel into an immediate cease-fire with the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas terrorist alliance that is attacking it on two fronts.
I responded by saying why I believe this is exactly the wrong option. The fact is that the members of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance have no interest in negotiation. The Iranian dictator has announced his intention to defeat America and wipe Israel off the map. Hezbollah and Hamas are similarly dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared on April 9, 2000, "The Jews invented the legend of the Nazi atrocities," and further argued, "Anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets, and what acts of madness and slaughter the Jews carried out throughout history ... Anyone who reads these texts cannot think of co-existence with them, of peace with them, or about accepting their presence, not only in Palestine of 1948 but even in a small village in Palestine, because they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment."
And then I used an analogy to dealing with such people that seemed to hit home. I said to Matt: "When we were faced with this in World War II, Matt, we didn't say, 'Let's negotiate with Adolph Hitler. I'm sure we can find reasonable grounds for only having half of a Holocaust.'
"We said Hitler's regime was evil, that we had to have total victory, and we were very clear about that."
A Map That Is Worth a Thousand Words
Did I convince Matt Lauer that we are in the early stages of a new world war? I'm not sure, but what happened next surely convinced many Americans that all civilized countries face a global threat. "Today Show" viewers saw on the screen a remarkable map showing the arc of terrorist attacks worldwide from irreconcilable and violent Islamic terror groups. The map also showed those rogue regimes that are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction with which to threaten the United States. Click here for a similar map.
It begins in North Korea on our Independence Day, when an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the Western Coast of the United States was fired -- with Iranian observers present for the launch. It moves on through Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand, where there have been several terrorist operations, to India, where seven bombs exploded two weeks ago.
The pattern of global Islamic terrorist threats and attacks picks up again in the war in Afghanistan and into the Middle East, where the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is not only waging war against Israel but also operating in Iraq, killing our troops as well as innocent Iraqi civilians, in an attempt to destroy any chance that a free Iraqi government will succeed.
The arc continues through Britain, where two more Islamic organizations were banned as terrorist groups just last week. Then it crosses the Atlantic to Canada, where, according to a remarkable article in Investor's Business Daily (IBD), the Canadian Council on American Islamic Relations is urging Muslims not to cooperate in terrorism investigations.
And finally, the global threat comes to the United States, where, according to the article in IBD, the Department of Homeland Security is investigating a pipebomb found in Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans as part of a plot to shut down commerce on a critical waterway. Experts also say that the recent plot to blow up New York City tunnels had a "good chance of success."
'We Can Drown These Guys'
In the meantime, I will continue my efforts to define the nature and scale of the conflict that we confront -- widespread terrorist attacks, uncovered plots of violence, credible threats by rogue states and terrorist groups to develop or acquire nuclear weapons in order to defeat us and our allies. And you should know that I do so fully aware that many Americans are understandably less-than-ready to believe that we face such fundamental threats to our nation and our freedom. The whole situation seems so depressing, they tell me. And they ask: Is there any hope?
And my answer, which is firmly grounded in our nation's history and in my own unshakable belief in America's greatness, is yes, there is hope -- great hope. As Americans, we have been in this spot before. The beginning of World War II was tough. The beginning of the Civil War was tough. But there is no doubt that Americans, once we come to understand the nature and scale of the challenge we face, can and will mobilize the will, the creativity and the energy necessary for victory. As I told Bill O'Reilly last week on Fox News, "We can drown these guys." And we will.
P.S. - In case you missed it, Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich had a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post last week announcing his change of heart with regard to our ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton. Sen. Voinovich, you will recall, opposed Bolton's nomination in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year and Ambassador Bolton was given only an interim appointment by President Bush.
That appointment expires this fall, and Sen. Voinovich has announced that he now supports Ambassador Bolton. He wrote:
"Recently, despite our nation's best efforts, the world -- and particularly the Middle East -- has become a more dangerous and volatile place ... Should the President send [Bolton's] re-nomination to the Senate, I will vote to confirm him, and I call on my Democratic colleagues to keep in mind the current situation in the Middle East and the rest of the world should the Senate have an opportunity to vote. I do not believe the United States, at this dangerous time, can afford to have a UN ambassador who does not have Congress's full support."
I urge the Senate to confirm Ambassador Bolton's re-nomination before adjourning this fall.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 07:09:00 AM
Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Killed
By BRIAN CASSEY, Associated Press Writer
3 hours ago
CAIRNS, Australia - Steve Irwin, the hugely popular Australian television personality and environmentalist known as the "Crocodile Hunter," was killed Monday by a stingray while filming an underwater documentary on the Great Barrier Reef. He was 44.
Irwin was killed by a stingray barb to the heart on Batt Reef, off the remote resort town of Port Douglas in northeastern Queensland state, his wildlife park Australia Zoo said in a statement.
Crew members aboard Irwin's boat, Croc One, called emergency services in the nearest city, Cairns, and administered CPR as they rushed the boat to nearby Low Isle to meet a rescue helicopter. Medical staff pronounced Irwin dead a short time later, the statement said.
Irwin was famous for his enthusiasm for wildlife and his catchword "Crikey!" in his television program "Crocodile Hunter," which was first broadcast in Australia in 1992 and has aired around the world on the Discovery channel.
He rode his image into a feature film, and developed the Australia Zoo as a tourist attraction.
"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet," John Stainton, Irwin's friend and producer, said in the statement. "He died doing what he loves best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. Crocs Rule!"
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, who used a photograph of his family at Australia Zoo for his official Christmas card last year, hailed Irwin for his work in promoting Australia through projects such as "G'Day LA," an Australian tourism and trade promotion week in Los Angeles in January.
"The minister knew him, was fond of him and was very, very appreciative of all the work he'd done to promote Australia overseas," Downer's spokesman Tony Parkinson said.
Irwin's dedication to conservationist causes led him to become a vocal critic of wildlife hunts in Australia. The federal government recently dropped plans to allow crocodile safaris for wealthy tourists in the Northern Territory following his vehement objections.
Irwin told the Australian television program "A Current Affair" that "killing one of our beautiful animals in the name of trophy hunting will have a very negative impact on tourism, which scares the living daylights out of me."
However, Irwin had also received negative publicity in recent years. In January 2004, he stunned onlookers at the Australia Zoo reptile park by carrying his month-old son into a crocodile pen during a wildlife show. He tucked the infant under one arm while tossing the 13-foot reptile a piece of meat with the other.
Authorities declined to charge Irwin for violating safety regulations.
Later that year, he was accused of getting too close to penguins, a seal and humpback whales in Antarctica while making a documentary. Irwin denied any wrongdoing, and an Australian Environment Department investigation recommended no action be taken.
He is survived by his American wife Terri, from Eugene, Ore., and their daughter Bindi Sue, 8, and son Bob, who will turn 3 in December.
The couple met when she went on vacation in Australia in 1991 and visited Irwin's Australia Zoo; they were married six months later. Sometimes referred to as the Crocodile Huntress, she costarred on her husband's television show and in the 2002 movie, "The Crocodile Hunters: Collision Course."
Stingrays have flat bodies and tails with serrated spines, which contain venom and can cause cuts and puncture wounds. The creatures are not aggressive and injury usually occurs when a swimmer or diver accidentally steps on one.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 06:26:00 AM
Donald to Carolyn: You're Fired!
Thu Aug 31, 8:00 AM
Carolyn Kepcher's business how-to book covered how to handle a difficult boss. Now it's time for a rewrite.
Donald Trump has turned on one of his own, giving the axe to his longtime boardroom sidekick and Apprentice costar amid a newspaper report that TV fame had gone to her head.
"Mr. Trump wishes Carolyn the best," the real estate mogul's rep, Jim Dowd, told E! News, confirming the firing.
Kepcher had run two of Trump's golf courses and was a longtime fixture at the Trump Organization; more prominently, she had served as Trump's right-hand woman since NBC launched The Apprentice in 2004.
According to the New York Post, Kepcher was given the boot after Trump became frustrated at her outside projects.
"She became a prima donna," an unnamed "insider," presumably really close to the Donald, told the newspaper. "She was giving speeches for $25,000 and doing endorsements."
The 36-year-old mother of two, who oversaw the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff, New York, as well as a course in New Jersey, parlayed her Apprentice fame into a book deal. Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice's Straight Shooter became a bestseller and led to the boardroom maven landing an agent at ICM and fielding offers for TV and book deals, along with speaking engagements and endorsements.
Her termination will have no affect on the production of The Apprentice. She was not involved in the upcoming sixth season, which was set in Los Angeles and has finished shooting.
Proving nepotism is alive and kicking, Trump earlier tapped daughter Ivanka to take over as the reality show's requisite female sidekick, with Donald Trump Jr. chosen to fill-in the other longtime Apprentice lackey, George Ross.
The 78-year-old Ross, a corporate counsel for the Trump Organization, will sit out multiple episodes this season to make way for the younger Donald. Unlike Kepcher, however, a Trump Organization executive told CNN that Ross is "very much a part of the company" and is not being pushed out.
Instead, the new season's location shift has been cited as the reason for Ross' diminished appearances. Because Ross is based on the East Coast, he and show producers decided it was not optimal for him to relocate cross-country simply for the show.
The Apprentice's sixth season is set to air in January.
? 2006 E! Entertainment Television, Inc. All rights reserved.,
Posted by William N. Phillips, Jr. at 9/04/2006 06:24:00 AM