Posts Tagged ‘Newt Gingrich’

“[E]ven more disturbing than the threats from foreign terrorists is a second threat that is right here at home. It is an ideology so fundamentally at odds with historic American values that it threatens to undo the cultural ethics that have made our country great. I call it ‘secular-socialism.'”
— Newt Gingrich
New Gingrich speaking and pointing

Newt making a point (Photo by Rick Diamond/WireImage)

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a family member who is politically conservative and religiously agnostic. He was complaining about a video clip he had recently watched (from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) in New Orleans) of Newt Gingrich discussing the need for Republicans & conservatives to unite against what he has dubbed the “secular socialist machine”. My relative was annoyed & offended, because he felt that Newt was demonizing secularists, as if they couldn’t be anything but socialists. “Does he really think that only Christians (or religious people or non-secularists) are true Americans? Or that those who don’t believe in a Higher Power can’t be legitimate conservatives? I usually like and respect what Newt has to say, but he’s disappointed me, and I’ll think twice about trusting him now.”

Not having seen the clip, I wasn’t sure what to say. I know Newt is a professed Christian, and as one myself, I understand his concerns about secularist influences. So, I decided to watch the video clip myself and try to understand what Newt was getting at. If you’re interested, here it is:

Newt does mention “secularism” a couple times in the beginning, but doesn’t mention it again until near the end. For the bulk of the spliced-together clip, he defines and elaborates on the corruption, incompetence, and arrogance of Obama’s radical-Left administration and their comrades in Congress. He emphasizes their determination to ram through transformational legislation, often without even reading (let alone fully understanding) what they are voting for, and against the desires of the majority of the American people. By the way, the “machine” consists not just of those in the Executive and Legislative Branches, but also certain Federal judges, many labor union leaders, tenured faculty and news media on the hard left, and other groups who put Obama in office.

The clip ends with Newt saying:

This is a fundamental fight over the core definition of America, and it is going to require us to talk, I think, in a very different language than normal politics. I think it requires us to talk about the American culture, not American politics. Does work ethic matter, or is redistribution the alternative? It’s very central. Are we endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness? Or, does Government define who we are?… And I believe the radicalism of this administration and the incompetence of this administration make it possible to have a decisive choice for every American. And we need to make sure it’s a choice of two positive versions, not Obama versus anti-Obama, but America versus a secular socialist machine.”

I really don’t think Gingrich was implying that only Christians (or non-secularists) are true Americans. Nor do I think he was implying that secularists in general are bad people or… whatever. Even if he believed it, he’s savvy enough not to say it in public… repeatedly.

Perhaps I’m being charitable, but if I were to guess, I’d say Gingrich’s purpose for specifying the secular aspect of “the machine” is twofold. First, it distinguishes a certain brand or branch of socialism from another (i.e., “religious socialism”, as with those that hold to a “liberation theology”). If this is accurate, then I see no problem with calling it as it is. It isn’t meant to unfairly label all secularists as socialists any more than referring to “Islamist” (or “Islamic”) terrorists is meant to unfairly label all Muslims as terrorists. (Of course, that’s what the PC crowd tries to tell us it does.) Or, all terrorists as Muslims, for that matter.

Secondly, I think the “secular” term is a reminder that the “progressives” that are pushing our nation Leftward are the same ones that most often try to remove all religious symbols and expressions from the public arena or to silence “religious” people, while brandishing their “separation of church and state” slogan. Not only is it a gross misrepresentation of what Thomas Jefferson was promoting in his letter to the Danbury Baptists, but it is a slap in the face to — and, in some cases, a denial of — the Judeo-Christian principles upon which this nation was founded, as evident in the writings of our Founders and Framers. (I’m not denying some Enlightenment ideas were involved, but that’s a different discussion.)

[Aside: Of course, there are also “secularists” (i.e., atheists & agnostics) on the political Right who would like to eliminate all religion and symbols thereof from the public square (even from society at large) — e.g., Christopher Hitchens. But, I think more of them are like my relative, who recognize the good that religion can & does have in society — some, at least — and who personally have a more “live and let live” attitude, as long as no one tries to “force” religion on them or punish them for not believing as they do.]

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution (painting by Howard Chandler Christy)

It is precisely those principles that inspired the (Protestant) “work ethic” that Gingrich mentions. It was the understanding that basic, human rights can ultimately only be granted by a Higher Power and not by some government that can take them away at the whim of whomever happens to be in power. I would also add that America is much more accepting and tolerant of various religions, worldviews, & ethnicities than any other nation, whether secularist (e.g, N. Korea or Soviet Russia), theocratic (e.g., Iran), or whatever. The ideology that recognizes these things is what America was founded on, it is what makes it unique, and THAT is the America that Gingrich says is at war with the “secular socialist machine”.

I’ll finish up here with an illustrative excerpt from the transcript of the full SRLC speech that did not make it into the above video:

Let me give you an example that I find absolutely amazing, and it explains part of why I have ‘secular’ in the term ‘secular socialist machine.’ Rick Tyler, who runs Renewing American Leadership, at my request left Los Angeles and drove three and a half hours out U.S. 15 and turned south and drove eight and a half miles on a two lane road in the middle of the Mojave Desert. He came across a cross which had been erected in the desert in 1934 by the Veterans of Foreign Wars on behalf of the American dead in World War I. That cross today is surrounded by a plywood box because a government employee decided they were offended that this cross was on Federal land, and the ACLU has filed a lawsuit.

Now, from my personal perspective, a secularist who is terrified of a cross in the middle of the Mojave Desert is a totalitarian. They are so frightened of any choice, of any freedom, of any option that I think they verge on being deranged. [Applause.] And I think a country which was founded on the premise that our rights come from our Creator has some right to decide that our Creator can appear in public life.”

It’s not just any secularism, and not just socialism, per se. The big threat is the combination of the two, which is taking over our nation. “The Left has thoroughly infiltrated nearly every cultural commanding height of our civilization,” he says. “That is, they hold power, influence and control of academia, the elite news media, Hollywood, union leaders, trial lawyers, the courts, the Congress, and the bureaucracy at all levels of government.”

Now, of course, Newt has just released a new book titled To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Machine.  So, I guess we can all read it to find out what exactly he does mean.

Any Right-leaning secularists want to weigh in with their thoughts on Newt’s term-of-choice?

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Stupak and the Blue Dogs caved / drank the Kool-Aid / got bought off — don’t hold your breath for that executive order, Bart — and the Senate’s bill passed the House. Now what?

Painting of the Battle of Waterloo

Famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo, by Robinson (c. 1820)

Some on the Left (and part-time Republicans like David Frum) are saying that the passing of Obamacare signifies a “Waterloo” moment for the Republicans & conservatives. Now, I don’t know much about the Waterloo Campaign, but I understand that Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo marked the end of the war and the end of Napoleon’s rule. So, I guess this is supposed to be it for the Republican Party as we know it — the end of any meaningful resistance to Obamacare and the end of the days of influence/relevance for the GOP and its supposedly heartless, hatemongering, “Right Wing Conspiracy” cheerleaders.

Naturally, I disagree with the sentiment. For one thing, the poll numbers for Obamacare were clearly in our favor — somewhere between 60% & 70% were/are against it. Other surveys indicate that America still leans conservative. We may be down, but we’re not out. If I was a better student of military history, I might be able to come up with a better metaphor. I’m thinking maybe something to do with George Washington and his battered & beleaguered troops in the American Revolution. There were many battles, and they suffered many defeats. Yet, through a combination of “luck”, Providence, perseverance, bravery & skill, and the overconfidence & arrogance of their enemy, the American colonies won their independence against the superior numbers of their elitist, tax-obsessed oppressors. See the parallels?

Of course, this wasn’t just any fight, this “battle for healthcare reform”. It was one where the larger opponent tied the smaller opponent’s hand behind his back, took his gun and left him with a knife. And, as the fight progressed, the larger opponent kept changing the rules. (OK, I could try to carry this analogy out further, but it’s late, so I’ll stop.)

The Obama-Pelosi-Reid machine combined the radicalism of Alinsky, the corruption of Springfield and the machine power politics of Chicago. Sunday was a pressured, bought, intimidated vote worthy of Hugo Chavez but unworthy of the United States of America.

[But,…] This is not the end of the fight; it is the beginning of the fight…. The American people will not allow a corrupt machine to dictate their future. Together we will pledge to repeal this bill and start over. Together we will prove that this will not stand.”

Newt Gingrich

General Washington pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. So, what can we do? A number of things are already underway or in the works:

1) Republican Senators are doing all they can (within the rules) to fight the “reconciliation” maneuver being used to pass the House-required “fixes” to the bill. (For example, there is still the issue of whether “reconciliation” rules can be bent far enough to pass non-budgetary proposals.) From what I can tell, the “fixes” have to be passed as is, as a package. So, if any changes are made to the “fixes”, it will have to go back to the House for a vote. (Or, whatever Pelosi & Co. can cook up to get around a vote, if they don’t think it will go their way.)

2) Republicans in both houses are releasing “repeal” bills. It’s a longshot, and it won’t happen anytime soon — not with our current, Democrat-dominated legislature, of course. And it probably won’t have a chance until at least 2012. But, the reasoning is that a) talk in Congress, the media, & the public will keep the idea alive and “get lawmakers on the record” before upcoming elections; and, b) the bills will be in place for if/when Republicans regain the majority (see below). Some Republicans in Congress see such efforts as a distraction and an unrealistic goal. But, as Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said, “Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go after it.”

3) Over 3 dozen state governors and their attorneys general are suing Congress — 14 have already filed — for passing an unconstitutional law. Of the two main issues that come up, the first is the mandated health insurance. The argument (with which I agree) is that the Constitution gives no authority to the federal government to force any citizen to purchase any good or service, let alone from any particular merchant/source(s). The other concern is the unsubsidized billions of $ the states will have to come up with to support the millions of additional people being put into the Medicaid program. Most states are already casting about for ways to meet their budget; they can’t afford to have this thrown on top, too.

Gov. Butch Otter of Idaho

Gov. "Butch" Otter of Idaho (AP)

4) Meanwhile, a few states (beginning with Idaho and Virginia) are passing legislation to exempt their citizens from parts of Obamacare like “being forced to purchase government-approved health insurance.” As with the above lawsuits, the matter of federalism is also at issue. By instituting these federal laws, is the federal government infringing on the states’ sovereign rights?

5) It doesn’t really matter now, but had the “deem and pass” strategy been utilized by Speaker Pelosi to force Obamacare through without a House vote, Mark Levin — popular conservative talk-show host and constitutional law scholar — had already drafted a lawsuit to be immediately filed against President Obama, Att. Gen. Eric Holder, Sec. of Treas. Timothy Geithner, & Sec. of HHS Karen Sebelius for allowing such an “unconstitutional contrivance” to be used. (Not sure why Pelosi and Reid weren’t included.) Sort of a moot point now, but I am glad someone was prepared to challenge that ridiculous maneuver in court. There may still be opportunity for a similar challenge….

6) Stay Active! We need to continue to write; call; sign petitions; attend rallies; volunteer & donate to conservative candidates, PACs, Tea Parties, and other groups; etc. Let the current administration and its cohorts know that we will not stand idly by as they transform us into the European Union West. The rhetoric from the Right must be challenging and forceful, yet respectful (of persons & offices, not ideas). Marxist thought may be tolerated in America — people are free to read, say, and believe what they want — but it is, arguably by definition, NOT American and should have no part in our government.

7) Take back Congress and Take back America! In November 2010, we can begin voting out/against any candidates who aren’t & weren’t fully against Obamacare. We cannot let a few months’ time wash from our memories the stain that they left on the Constitution and our freedoms. We must vote solidly conservative leaders into office, so that they can begin repealing Obamacare, either in pieces or as a whole, if possible. We must replace it with REAL healthcare reform — common-sense, patient-centered, market-driven, and not under Big Brother’s control.

Let’s make Washington proud. George Washington, that is — as well as the rest of America’s Founding Fathers and the Framers of the U.S. Constitution. Let’s get America back on track! Can we do this? With the right people, the right strategy & tactics, with focus and perseverance, and with blessings & guidance from God above… “Yes, We Can!”

In my original post titled “So, Republicans Don’t Have Any Better Ideas, Huh?“, I explained some of the healthcare reform ideas proposed by Congressmen Paul Ryan, R-WI, and Tom Price, R-GA. I also mentioned the “GOP Solutions for America” document given the President by John Boehner, R-OH. One of my readers reminded me that Sen. Judd Gregg, R-NH, had also presented a number of ideas on healthcare reform. Gregg isn’t always the most consistent conservative, but I decided it only fair to give his set of proposals, known as “Coverage, Prevention and Reform” (CPR), a look, too.

Sen. Judd Gregg

Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire

Like his GOP colleagues, Sen. Gregg would like to start from scratch on crafting reform legislation. “There are a whole series of things that would improve the health care delivery system that both sides can agree on,” he said this week. “When the president said he was looking for ideas, I sent him some. I think all those ideas could be agreed on in a bipartisan way.” As per Holly Ramer, reporting for the Associated Press:

“Gregg’s plan… parallels some of the key ideas in the Democratic plans, but it is more aggressive in trying to control costs and less ambitious in extending the federal government’s role as an insurance regulator.

Similar to that the Democrats, Gregg’s plan would require everyone over 18 to carry at least basic coverage. And he would provide federal subsidies for households making up to three times the federal poverty level, or about $66,000 for a family of four.

The plan would be financed by taxing employer-sponsored coverage above certain limits. That’s a nonstarter for many Democrats, but economists say adopting such a policy would begin to push down health care spending, allowing for expanded coverage without busting the budget.

Gregg would also encourage employers to offer discounted premiums for workers who take steps to live healthy lives, and his plan shifts payments for hospitals and doctors to reward quality care rather than sheer volume of procedures and visits.

Though he would like to apply a projected $500 billion in 10-year Medicare savings to a Medicare solvency fund, Gregg said he would be willing to split the difference with Democrats, using $250 billion to shore up Medicare and using the rest to fund expanded health coverage.”

I’m not crazy about a couple things there (e.g., federally mandated insurance coverage), but overall I think Gregg has presented some interesting ideas. As yet, Sen. Gregg has not been invited to this week’s health care summit, but it’s possible that Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, may ask Gregg to be part of the GOP delegation.

Newt Gingrich

Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich

On another front, former Speaker Newt Gingrich has joined with Dr. John Goodman, President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), to answer President Obama’s challenge for “better ideas”. In a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal, they presented their “Ten GOP Health Ideas for Obama” as the foundation for a patient-centered system. Here’s the (somewhat) condensed version:

1) Make insurance affordable. “…tax relief for health insurance should be a fixed-dollar amount, independent of the amount of insurance purchased…. choice of a generous tax credit or the ability to deduct the value of their health insurance up to a certain amount.”

2) Make health insurance portable. “The first step toward genuine portability—and the best way of solving the problems of pre-existing conditions—is to change federal policy.”

3) Meet the needs of the chronically ill. Educate & supply family caregivers. Facilitate more Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), as well as self-management of custodial services and medical care for the homebound disabled. Encourage providers to offer specialized plans for those with chronic diseases.

4) Allow doctors and patients to control costs. Doctors are typically not paid for well-care advice or consultations not given in person. They get paid for treating the sick, not preventative care. “[D]octors should have the freedom to repackage and reprice their services. And payment should take into account the quality of the care that is delivered.” (See my post “Convenient AND Affordable Healthcare?” about ‘concierge medicine’.)

5) Don’t cut Medicare. Obamacare would cut Medicare funding by roughly $500 billion. Sure, Medicare desperately needs fixing, but “cutting Medicare in order to create new unfunded liabilities for young people” won’t do it.

6) Protect early retirees. Need to a) allow employers to obtain individually owned insurance for their retirees at group rates; b) allow them to deposit some or all of the premium amount for post-retirement insurance into a retiree’s HSA; and c) give employers and younger employees the ability to save tax-free for retirement healthcare.

7) Inform consumers. The public should have access to (genericized) Medicare and government data about costs and quality of care before making their own healthcare decisions.

8) Eliminate junk lawsuits. The time for studies and tests is over. The federal government should follow the lead of states like Texas, which have already implemented effective civil justice reforms (e.g., caps on non-economic damages, loser pays laws, alternative dispute resolution, etc.).

9) Stop health-care fraud. Fight the $120 billion in annual healthcare fraud with “responsible approaches such as enhanced coordination of benefits, third-party liability verification, and electronic payment.”

10) Make medical breakthroughs accessible to patients. Cut bureaucratic red tape in FDA’s review process and implement quality-monitoring technology in the marketplace.

Sounds pretty darn sensible to me!

Yet, despite various Republican/conservative groups & individuals presenting their alternatives, the President still makes statements like, “The Republicans say that they’ve got a better way of doing it. So, I want them to put it on the table,” as he did at a recent campaign event for Sen. Reid. Either he has the memory-span of a goldfish, or he is intentionally misleading the public (via the MSM) to perpetuate the “no ideas” myth, or he will only consider such ideas “serious” if they are presented in 1000+ pages of detail. Somehow, I don’t think even that would be sufficient to get him to change his Big Government / big spending / nanny-state mindset.