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Duncan Hunter Interview 07-16-10, Part 1: Uncle Fester, Mitt Romney, and taming the EPA Monster
July 20, 2010
This interview is part of an ongoing 2010 series of conversations with former Congressman and conservative icon Duncan Lee Hunter. The intent is to keep this rock ribbed conservative’s ideas in the public square which will hopefully influence the direction of the Republican Party, as well as inspire the American people to embrace his Reaganesque views on American life and politics. With any luck, Hunter will seek the presidency again in 2012, but for now he is concentrating on helping the GOP wrestle control of the Congress from the radical Pelosi brigades.
AJM: Hello Congressman, I hear you are keeping very busy these days.
DH: Yeah. I’m spending a lot of my time writing the book. But I’m doing a couple fundraisers this week for congressional candidates. We’re doing what we can to ensure we get those 40 seats we need to put a halt to the Obama agenda. You remember Sydney Hay, she worked on my campaign?
AJM: Yeah, I remember her. But I don’t recall her being very effective. (laughs)
DH: Well, she had a lot of irons in the fire. She’s a wonderful, conservative lady and she’s running to get back one of the Republican seats we lost in 06 and 08. She ran last time against a gal who was fairly liberal, Kirkpatrick, I think. And the democrats spent 4 or 5 million dollars in her inaugural race. They swamped Sydney with money, most of it in negative advertising. They had two seats the Democrats took from us; actually 3 in Arizona that were ostensibly Republican seats. One was Gabriel Gifford’s in Tucson with a 20,000 vote Republican plurality. The Dems took it when Kolbe retired. The other was Rick Renzi’s seat. Rick had some ethical problems and resigned his seat, or didn’t run again. And then they took the JD Hayworth seat in Phoenix.
DH: So they took those seats and we’ve now got a chance of getting those back. So anyway, Sydney’s coming out here. We’ll try to get that seat back in the right column.
DH: No, on the 21st. So I’m trying to get folks lined up. You know it’s hard to get people who are out of your congressional district to donate. But we’re trying to do that.
AJM: Good. Good!
DH: So that’s what I’m doing.
AJM: Well, put me down for $50.
DH: I’ve got you down (laughs). But the big deal is Gunny Pop on the 22nd. And I don’t know if you saw what’s happened with him?
AJM: His wife sends me emails every couple of weeks. They kind of keep me updated on the campaign.
DH: Well, let me tell you what happened. They did an editorial cartoon about him in the Imperial Valley paper.
AJM: Oh yeah, I saw that.
DH: It was deriding his eye patch. It was two little boys standing in front of a poster of Gunny. One says “who does he look like?” And the other is saying “Uncle Fester with patch”, and other derogatory comparisons. So 300 people in the Valley put a full page ad in today saying ‘Imperial Valley Press, if you want to know how he got his eye patch, here’s how’. And it starts out “The President of the United States is proud to award the Silver Star to Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch for valor in action in the battle for Falluja”, etc, etc. THAT’S how he lost his eye. Went in to save a wounded Marine, ended up fighting through the town.
DH: Yeah, he’s a fairly famous guy. Anyway, he’s gotten a lot of play out of that and they had a thing on him on Rush Limbaugh’s show, it was on Fox News, and on TV here in San Diego today or tomorrow.
AJM: Nick got on the Limbaugh show?
DH: Yeah, I mean Limbaugh talked about him.
AJM: Oh great!
DH: He’s got a little traction.
AJM: I think Mark Levin was talking about him too, awhile back.
DH: That’s great.
AJM: You know, everyone who hears about him, immediately likes him.
DH: If we get him enough money to get on television, he wins that race. If we don’t, and people never get to know him, you can’t vote for someone you never heard of. He could be the greatest guy in the world.
AJM: I’ll probably be sending in another donation.
DH: Listen, that’s great. But here’s what we need to do. You’re a technical guy, a good internet search guy. If we could line up - the Marines are very clannish, much more clannish than the Army or the Navy. They are very tight as an organization, almost like the Mormons, they get together on business and everything else. Remember the days when they had the so-called ‘Marine Mafia’ in the Reagan Whitehouse?
DH: Led by Bud McFarland and Ollie North. So, it’s a good thing that they are tight and stay pretty well connected. If we can get the Marines of the United States - the retired Marine community - on board and energized for the Gunny Pop campaign; we win. We can bring in, because of internet fundraising capability, or potential, we can bring in a lot of money for him and win this thing.
The tough part, as you know, with connecting people is that most of these lists are kept close to the chest by their owners, right? It’s hard to get a list. If you are trying to get a list of Veterans, it’s always very difficult to get it; a list of Marines, it’s difficult to get it. We need to figure out how to get nationally into some Marine Associations. Get them connected and get them on board with the Popaditch campaign.
AJM: Yeah, I’d think so. That would make sense.
DH: There’s the Marine League.
AJM: Yeah, the Marine League. There are probably dozens of different groups. So what I would do is get the name of the groups, find out the head of the organization – they usually have someone in charge whether it’s a retired officer or it might just be the group’s secretary – and send emails to them and say ‘hey, I’m working on behalf of Nick Popaditch, here’s his story, and here’s what we’re doing. And we’d like to get your support to help spread the word and get your comrade some support and publicity’. I think if you just ask directly for the help, many would be willing to do it.
DH: The way we do this is put together a little email package that has the political cartoon along with the ad that was in response to it….
AJM: The email blast that Gunny sent out, or his wife April sent out form their campaign was pretty good, the one I got. I’m on their email list. It was very good. It described the situation, it showed the cartoon. The way I found it was that someone posted it on FreeRepublic. I saw it and checked my email and I got the same thing. So we can get it to the wider audience of these Marine groups.
DH: Exactly. That full page ad was put out today. Did you see that response ad in Gunny’s package?
AJM: No, it wasn’t in there. I got the email yesterday or the day before.
DH: See, they (Popaditch campaign) weren’t part of that. We did that without consulting the campaign. We just got a bunch of citizens together and within a couple hours they raised $1700 for the full page ad.
AJM: (laughs) This has your fingerprints all over it!
DH: I wrote it, but what I did is basically put the Presidential citation for the Silver Star.
AJM: It speaks for itself.
DH: Yeah. ‘You want to know how this ugly old Marine got ugly and had his eye put out’? Here’s how! We really whacked them good. The editor did do a kind of a mealy mouthed apology in a big spread in the paper.
You know it’s crazy. He (the editor) said “what I was really trying to do was underscore the apathy of young voters”. Well first, the kids that are saying this stuff in the cartoon are on skateboards. How many skateboarders are voting?? But secondly, what is your instrument of education for the young voters in Imperial Valley? It’s the Imperial Valley Press, which is him. So the question is how many articles did you write about Gunny Pop so that these young people would know about him and his story if indeed they wanted to know about him? The answer is NONE!
That’s what’s phony about his ‘well, we want to educate young voters’. All they’ve done is make fun of a guy with an eye patch. They haven’t reported he’s a Silver Star winner.
AJM: That’s the thing, if it wasn’t accompanied by anything that would have been of use to the readers.
DH: There was no educational device. It was basically just a cynical jab at him.
AJM: Well, it worked to get a lot of attention for his paper, apparently.
DH: Machiavelli couldn’t have done better.
DH: When you don’t have anything, make them attack you, right?
AJM: I think that’s it.
DH: Now I’ve got another idea. I know David Keene, the head of the ACU, at least he was the last time I talked to him. And he did an email blast that….
AJM: Oh wait, that’s the idiot that endorsed Romney, isn’t it?
DH: I hope not. He better not have endorsed Romney!
AJM: He did.
DH: Well, I do know this. I’m on their Board. And when I spoke to the ACU during the presidential candidate speeches, the weasels had me come in – I came in from South Carolina to address the audience…
AJM: It was like 8:00 in the morning…
DH: …the next morning, I got a big standing ovation and I walked off and they said “it’s too bad, but everyone has already voted in the straw poll”.
DH: And Romney, to fill their coffers, bussed in about 1500 kids from local schools, paid for by him, as Junior ACL… I mean ACU members. It should have been called the ACLU! (laughs)
DH: The ACU was happy to take their 50 or 100 dollars a piece that Romney paid for, right? He basically bussed in a bunch of votes at $50 a head. About 2000 of them. That’s about $100K for the ACU.
AJM: That’s the same way he competed so well in Iowa too.
DH: Yeah. But anyway, my smiling ACU co-members, they were still less than supportive. They were still obviously attracted by the sound of money. But I always kid Dave Keene about him having been left on more tarmacs by presidential contenders than the 101st Airborne.
DH: Bob Dole basically shoved him out of the plane and went tootling on to the last stretch of his campaign.
But anyway, I think Dave will help us. I’ll see if I can get a hold of him.
But listen, what do you have for me today? Incidentally, the stuff you sent me was good - the thing I got that my wife pulled off from your email - the Obama quotes. Especially the Katie Couric interview where he was tap dancing like a wild thing when she asked “did the Surge work?” But I also need to get them for Biden and Hillary Clinton, if possible.
AJM: There is some Hillary stuff in there. I’m not sure what’s in there on Biden. I’ll see if I can find some more stuff on Joe. Because he was dead set against it.
DH: That’s right. It was Resolution No. 2 of 2007 in the Senate to stop the surge. It was written by Joe Biden.
DH: I’m going to publish that in my book, I’m going to put in that vote. I’m going to put in the vote from the Senate and the House. They were both near unanimous democrat attempts to get out of Dodge. They like to think people are going to forget those things. On the contrary, I think that was an important, landmark vote because it obviously worked. It helped us win the war. And they were against it!! Very similar to the hand wringing defeatists during Vietnam.
Biden was the successor to J. William Fulbright, the leftwing chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee who passed the cowardly law that American Armed Forces may not fight in, near or over Vietnam.
AJM: Yeah, and I believe Fulbright was also Slick Willie’s, I mean Bill Clinton’s mentor.
DH: Yeah, I think you’re right.
AJM: It’s a small world after all.
DH: Anyway, what do you got there?
AJM: Let’s see. The EPA? What do we do about these people? I remember when I was researching your record, I think it was the mid to late 90s, where you called out for a reduction in the EPA funding and scope of at least 50%, or more. They actually had you in the papers pushing that angle, trying to paint you as an extremist, I’m sure. But now in this day and age, no one has cut their wings back and they are trampling all over Texas, they decided to treat carbon dioxide as a pollutant, all kind of crazy stuff. What do we do with the EPA?
DH: The problem with the bureaucrats that run the EPA and the liberals, who generate the social policies that they follow, is that there is no strategic wisdom. Therefore, the net effect of the EPA’s actions which have contributed to the economic paralysis of the United States, has been to push the industrial base into China, India and about a half dozen other 3rd world nations.
You have in the EPA a microcosm of the Kyoto Protocol dynamics, in which the world pressed the United States to constrain itself with respect to industrial expansion and emissions, but exempted two ‘small countries’, namely India and Red China. At a time when the jobless rate is at an all time high, with respect to the last quarter century, the idea that we are going to further kill jobs by mandating increasing environmental strictures, while our manufacturing and production lines continue to move offshore, amounts to economic suicide!
And one reason the economy, the jobs situation, is not recovering, is because the United States, by policy moves, has pushed one of the most important sectors of the economy - ie manufacturing - into foreign nations. And the reason the classic chain of recovery – in which consumer confidence generates increased sales, generating increased hiring in factories, which revives the expansion and services and upgrades to those factories creating even more ancillary jobs - doesn’t work, is because an American today can spend thousands of dollars on consumer items and the economic pull of those purchases felt in Beijing. Not in Los Angeles, not in San Diego, not in Des Moines, not in New York. Not in Florida, or Mississippi, or any other American location. But it’s felt offshore. So the dynamic is not working. It’s not working partly because our environmental strictures have created an imbalance in the world manufacturing base in which foreign countries now appear to be increasingly attractive when compared to American locations. So almost all the expansion in manufacturing is taking place offshore. China, for example, recently completed a quarter of record exports and 15 % growth while we are basically in the throes of the Obama recession.
A great many of the industries that were heretofore located in the United States are transplanting to these other locations.
AJM: You’re right. I think that entire sequence of events has occurred. So what’s the solution with regards to the EPA?
DH: The solution here has to begin with politics. Republicans HAVE TO take the House back. Because the Democrats are chemically incapable of saying no to any environmental restrictions, no matter how impractical, or how expensive, or how job-killing it is. It is simply not possible for them to vote in any way to restrain the EPA.
Incidentally, I remember a great illustration of that. That was when a colleague of mine was trying to straighten out a deadly stretch of road where 6 or 8 people were killed each year on this highway in his congressional district. And he couldn’t straighten it out because it would require a bridge that went over a ravine in which endangered birds sometimes nested. And he finally offered an amendment that said, in effect, ‘in this vote we shall find that Human lives are more valuable than the lives of animals’. So I went up to the Republican who was managing the bill for the GOP side and said “I think we’re going to win this one”. He said, “you wanna bet?” He said it doesn’t make any difference, this amendment will be voted down. And it was.
The point is that the democrats are in lock step with environmental interests which fund them heavily.
Another example of that is Richard Pombo, was at one point the chairman of the Interior Committee in the House during the Republican majority years. One of the courageous actions that Pombo took, in coordination with my committee, the Armed Services Committee, was to allow American Armed Forces to train on the military bases without being further constrained by having their training areas closed through the EPA edicts and environmental lawsuits. At one time, Camp Pendleton, which was producing our Marine training which flows our forces into Afghanistan and Iraq, was in danger of having over 50% of its land area taken out of the training complex. Over 50%! During a war! And so Richard Pombo passed the initial legislation through his interior Committee, the natural resources committee, which allowed the military to continue to train, not only a Camp Pendleton, but at other bases around the country which were being closed down, for practical purposes. The punishment for Pombo was to have millions of dollars directed against his re-election campaign by extremist environmental organizations. He was defeated. When he tried to comeback this year, he was defeated in the Republican primary. And I am informed, though I haven’t seen the FEC docuiments themselves yet, that there was a massive amount of funding that went into the GOP primary against Pombo, to punish him for keeping our military bases open, shielding them from environmental lawsuits and regulations, during a time of war.
So once again, you’re not going arrive at a happy state where Democrats listen to reason with respect to the EPA and other environmental agencies. It is not chemically possible for them to be rational in this area.
So if we want to have a chance of an economic recovery in this country, you are going to have to have a Republican majority, which does practical things., and balances the rights of another endangered species – that is the working American – with the ‘rights’ of critters.
AJM: Very good. Personally, I think they are reaching their hand in to so many things that I think your call for a 50% reduction in the EPA was probably too low. Maybe 70%. In other words, don’t we need to re-align their scope of work, their scope of responsibilities, so they can’t be bureaucratically coming up with these dictates which are often well beyond what Congress even passes?
DH: Absolutely. 70% might even be too little. You know what happened when the Endangered Species Act passed? It passed with people agreeing to the idea that we had to save eagles, the national symbol of our country. When you had major species being threatened you should protect them. And I as a practical conservationist generally agree with that. I think almost all American do.
But today, a lawyer can hang out his shingle, with this claim: A good environmental lawyer can stop human activity in almost any part of the United States if he has enough money to pursue lawsuits. A lawyer can say “I will find something, some animal, some species, no matter how small, that will stop this terrible human activity”. Have gun, will travel.
And I think one example of that is the sand dunes in Imperial Valley where a lot of blue collar folks go out to an area where the wind shifts the sand and wipes out your foot tracks or your wheel tracks in a matter of minutes when there’s a storm. This is where blue collar Americans go out to have a good time. They drive their 4 wheel drives and their sand buggies. They camp at the same places where their families have camped for 30 or 40 years. It’s a neat vacation spot for folks from Los Angeles and San Diego who can’t afford to go fly fishing in New Zealand for a vacation.
DH: The enviros went out there and they couldn’t find anything in the desert because it’s a very bleak desert. They finally found a weed called the milk fetch.
AJM: You’re kidding me!
DH: They sued to cut down and stop the offroading in the sand dunes of Imperial Valley. This remote area where nobody was hurting anything. And they succeeded. For years, they kept a large part of that closed to Southern California families.
AJM: I remember reading about you trying to get that area re-opened.
DH: Well, we managed to keep it from being designated a ‘wilderness’, where no vehicle could have gone into it. And we actually had a biologist at one point, who went out and found millions of milk fetch seeds in areas where there had been lots of off road traffic. In other words, the off road traffic helped to plant the seeds.
DH: It was actually beneficial to that plant!
But my point is that it took a lot of work from these radical environmentalists. They had to go looking for a very out of the way plant, very hard to find, some small, tiny specie that had no value to anyone, and was not appreciated by anyone, but was just “there”. Every square inch of this earth, or every square foot of this earth has some living organism on it. And a good environmental lawyer, an effective – I shouldn’t use the the term ‘good’ – an effective environmental lawyer or bureaucrat, can at least for a period of time close down any human activity on any part of the United States, if he has enough money and a sympathetic judge.
That is NOT what was intended when we passed the endangered species act, where congressmen where making speeches in front of piles of bald eagles that had been illegally killed. That’s not what was intended, to close down all of our jobs, and to close down areas that for practical purposes had next to no wildlife.
AJM: I think that is government in a nutshell. You give a bureaucracy a task, or you create a bureaucracy to do a specific task, but for some reason, they have free reign to do scope creep on you, and pretty soon they’re telling you can’t kill the pests in your garden!
DH: And that dovetails with the fact that a governmental bureaucracy’s tendency is to replace its primary mission with another mission – self perpetuation. And, that my friend, is the EPA.
(PART II Coming soon)