Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Interview With Senator Sam Brownback

Telephone interview with Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, Republican candidate for president. Recorded Saturday, September 15, 2007 at 5:45 PM eastern time by Tom McLaughlin for Family Security Matters.

Thank you for calling, Senator. I’m recording this if that’s all right with you.

That is fine.

Good. Have a busy day in Iowa?

Yes. Pulling into Newton right now. Got a little event here and two more yet tonight.

You were at an ice cream social and then you have a barbecue, huh?

Yeah. I’m getting the cart ahead of the horse. I should do the barbecue, then have the ice cream social. That’s all right. I like ice cream.

Okay. I think you got the questions I had prepared.

I got some outline of them, yes.

Okay. Number one: Why and when did you decide to run for president?

Made the official decision last August - not this one, but the year before.


Really felt I could and would be able to contribute to the race, and running on rebuilding the family and renewing the culture and reviving the economy, as core issues to focus on so we could grow and prosper and sustain ourselves in this generation-long fight we’re going to be in, and are in, with militant Islamists.

As a middle school history teacher, I can certainly relate to that - reforming the culture. Over my thirty-one year career, I’ve seen it run downhill in increments each year and it’s a sad thing to watch, but ah . . .

My oldest daughter is teaching seventh-grade math in the inner-city in Houston and boy, she’s experiencing some tough settings there.

I would imagine. Oh, yes. Number two: What is our biggest domestic problem?

I think it’s the breakdown of the family.


It’s the biggest domestic problem. It’s thirty-six percent now of the children born out of wedlock, it’s seventy percent in the inner cities. Sixty percent of the children will spend a significant part of their time growing up in a single-parent household. I really think it’s that breakdown of the family structure. Abortion in the country and the breakdown of marriage are the biggest set of problems that we have because it’s where you grow your next generation. I think it’s the biggest one that we have to tackle - the breakdown of the family.

Okay. What would you say is our biggest foreign policy problem?

The battle with militant Islamists. No question about that. China is a major issue and confronting the mercantilism from China, but I think far and away the biggest issue - and will be for a generation - the battle with militant Islamists.

A generation.

A generation. This has been going on for some time. 9-11 was the Pearl Harbor of the fight, but we’re in this for a long time, I believe.

Okay. In our struggle against radical Islam or militant Islam, as you refer to it, how important do you see the propaganda war?

Well, I think it’s very important, but I think the bigger piece for us is clarity of who it is we’re fighting against and why we’re fighting. I think our own moral clarity is the big need, particularly right now.

Our moral clarity?

Well yes, on our own part. I think a lot of people just - okay there’s our war on terrorism - but terrorism is a tactic. Who is it that we’re fighting?


We’re fighting this real, virulent, dedicated force within Islam. It’s not a majority of people who are Muslim, but a dedicated force that seeks to destroy Israel and come after us. It can be homegrown in our own country. It is in Europe, certainly. That’s what I mean by our own clarity - about who it is we’re fighting and why we’re fighting. This is a group that believes in establishing an Islamic caliphate, Islamic dictatorship, that the Koranic rule of law is the set rule of law. There’s no other option. That’s what I mean by clarity of what we’re fighting here.

Um-hmm - and what we have that we need to defend. I mean perhaps what you identified as our biggest domestic problem is identified by our enemy as a major weakness that they feel as though they can target and defeat - defeat us because if it.

Yes, I think that is part of it. But also, we have a view of democracy and freedom that is different from theirs - of a separation - that the government is separate from religion. We don’t remove religion from the public square, but religion does not run the government. They have a different view of that.

We have an immigration problem in this country - certainly an illegal immigration problem but it spills over into legal immigration because [those who come legally must think, why wait when so many just sneak in?] Here there was a several-second malfunction in the recording device. In brackets is the rest of the question I was reading from.

Senator Brownback’s answer was pretty much what is posted on his web site and I quote: “Securing our borders must be our top priority as a nation. Our Southern border is porous and must be secured. Secure borders make Americans safer.” Senator Brownback has voted to:
* Double the number of border patrol agents over the next five years;
* Increase detention space in order to end “catch-and-release”;
* Build 700 miles of border fencing and 350 miles of vehicle barriers along the Southern border;
* Fund 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 461 miles of vehicle barriers along the nation's southwest border;
* Deploy cutting-edge technology including cameras, sensors, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to patrol the border for illegal border crossers ; and
* Implement a tough, smart border security strategy in order to gain operational control of the border.
He said something else though that I hadn’t heard before. He would ask the Social Security Administration to monitor use of false Social Security numbers and use them to pursue employers whose workers claim them. He would fine employers and deport the illegals thus identified.

I then read my next question from my list: “How do you understand the first part of our 14th Amendment: ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside.’ Would you challenge that justification for so-called anchor babies?”

At this point the recorder picked up the rest of the interview. Senator Brownback said: “The legal expertise that I’ve heard from believes that that is the law the way it is in the Constitution and it would take a Constitutional amendment to remove the ‘anchor baby’ issue. Most legal scholars that I have heard from believe it would take a Constitutional amendment to change that.”

All right. Would you require states or cities who consider themselves sanctuary states or sanctuary cities to restrict federally-subsidized social services to citizens only?

Well I think the better answer here is that we just enforce the law, and enforce it in those cities as well. If they are keeping people that are here illegally, that those people be deported. That’s the way to deal with that. It’s not to go at some sort of lengthy government program. Right now we have the laws and the cities cannot prevent the enforcement of that, and should not. That’s like the city saying, well we just don’t like this law so we’re not going to abide by it. We don’t allow that to take place in anything else and we shouldn’t on immigration either.

So you think it would take care of itself with aggressive enforcement of present laws.

I think we should aggressively enforce the present laws. This is the law. That’s how we’ve enforced it other times. Enforce the law.

Okay. What would victory in Iraq look like?

I think it would look like political stability on the ground to where there is not a civil war going on. I believe in a soft partition. I think we should, ah, the Kurds have their own state already. I think we should allow the Sunnis to have their own state and a weak federal government with most of your power concentrated out in the states. I think that’s a political solution that we can get stability around. It’s going to be very difficult, I think, to get a politically stable environment in the present governmental structure. We’re almost assured of a weak Shia government in Iraq with the current structure and I think you should devolve authority - the Kurds are running their region quite effectively. Anbar has become much more stable under the Sunnis. I think you should let them run their state in the Sunni region and then the Shia south is going to be, I think, more problematic . . .


. . . with Baghdad being a federal city.

Um-hmm. How about oil revenues? The Sunnis don’t have a lot of oil.

Shared equally per capita.

Okay. How would you propose that we get there?

I think we should do a political surge, now. Aggressive push. The president assigning a high-level envoy - if it’s a Jim Baker or parking Condoleeza Rice over in the region to cut the deal to get this done. We’ve done a political surge. The military’s done a great job. We need a political surge.

Hmm. Okay. How important do you think democracy is in the long-term solution, regional solution, for the Middle East.

I think democracy is central and it’s important, but I don’t we should let the perfect be the enemy of the good or better. These countries, particularly in the Middle East, have a long way to go. Their underlying philosophy, faith philosophy, is that there is not separation of the government from the religion. This is a tough concept of having a government that is separate from the faith.

The Turkish model.

So you end up, really, with the Turkish model where the securer of the democracy is the military.


And I think it’s going to be a long, tough process.

A generation.

I think it could take quite some time.

That’s what I tell my students. Iran looms large in the region. How would you deal with Iran?

I think you have to be aggressive in a confrontation - very aggressive economic sanctions. I think we need to do a lot more, interior, in Iran on developing civil society, supporting labor union movement - getting some of the pieces of a free society - supporting them inside Iran. I think we have to do a lot more communicating to Iranians about what their government is denying them. The freedom is denied them to vote for the candidate of their choice. The candidates are all picked by the ruling mullahs, a committee that they put forward. The denial of women’s rights. I think we need to communicate a lot more of what Iranian society is being denied by their government. I think we have to build a very strong, international coalition against the Iranians. And I think we have to keep the military option as a possibility. This is a regime that is fighting us in the field, on the ground in Iraq, developing nuclear technology. I think we have to keep that military option on the table.

A credible one.


What do you think of the old quote: “That government governs best which governs least.”

I like it. I think it goes to the basic notion of what the founders created - maximum personal liberty, limited government, but all that generally requires maximum personal responsibility. It brings you back to family and the development of character and virtues by the family. It brings you back to free faith institutions that push personal governance. I like that philosophy.

Would you try to shrink government?


How would you do that?

A couple of ways that I put forward. The one, I think, that we really, really need to do soon is take the BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) process and apply that to the rest of government. You would have an annual commission report that’s a required vote of Congress on whether or not a group of programs should be eliminated. With BRAC the military looked at which two hundred bases should be closed. It’s required to vote on by Congress - deal or no deal - close all two hundred - keep all two hundred - no amendment - limited time for debate. We need a culling process in the government. What we’re doing in Appropriations (his committee) does not work. That’s one that I would do. I think Republicans and Democrats alike should support it. Many want to free up money to do higher-value things but we can’t get rid of programs that are not working.


The second one is personal Social Security accounts, as an option. It’s not forcing anybody to do that. If you talk about shrinking the percentage that the government is of the economy, that’s probably the biggest step that you could do that would be cheered for across the country, particularly by young people, but would not threaten the solvency of the system for people what want to stay in the system.

So when you suggest the BRAC process for government, would that be all departments?


Hmm. Interesting.

Yeah, we have a bill in that’s - I don’t know how many co-sponsors we have on it - but this is the only thing that we’ve shown can work to cull antiquated, wasteful government programs. Otherwise, the system’s just built to spend.

So everybody has to vote up or down, and therefore go on record, and have to be accountable for their vote. There wouldn’t be any more hiding.


Hmm. Interesting process.

It worked for BRAC. We’ve never been - prior to BRAC we could never close a military base. All the horse trading would go on, but after BRAC we’ve closed a number of them.

A lot of them up here in my region of the country.

Yeah. A lot of people don’t like the process, but the military likes it from the standpoint that it puts more money in their high-priority areas.

Hmm. Yeah, and they would know best.


How do you interpret the Second Amendment?

Personal right that should be broadly interpreted, umm, as a personal right to bear arms.

So it isn’t for a National Guard. It’s not for hunting. It’s for people to bear arms personally.


Okay. Pretty straightforward.

Well I’ve had a lot of votes for the last - I’ve been in Congress since 1995 and I’ve voted in favor of the Second Amendment. It baffles me how you can interpret pieces of the Constitution broadly and others narrowly.


I mean either you interpret all of it broadly or all of it narrowly, and the Second Amendment is equal to all other amendments. They’re pieces of the Constitution. I think it deserves a very strong interpretation as a personal right.

How would you handle efforts to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine?

Ah. I think that’s a bad idea. Because it’s going to limit radio that they can listen to and it’s against how the marketplace works. I think it’s against some basic rights. I’m opposed to the Fairness Doctrine. I don’t see much of anything fair about it.

Okay (laughing). Assuming that Democrats like Chuck Shumer who gained power in the US Senate maintain it after the 2008 elections and you find yourself president under those circumstances, you’ve indicated that you intend to appoint judges who would overturn Roe V Wade. What strategy would you use to try and get those judges confirmed in a Senate Judiciary Committee with Chuck Shumer as the chair?

Appoint high-quality individuals like a John Roberts or a Sam Alito that are strict-constructionist of the constitution. I think that’s the combination of how you would get them on through. High quality, but philosophically are strict-constructionist.

Hmm. Not worried about “Borking”?

Well, I think they’re going to try to do that. They tried to do that on Roberts and Alito. The quality of their ability and character what such that, at the end of the day when they went through the grinder of the Judiciary Committee, they shined.

Yeah, they did. I was proud.

I was too and I was there and predicting big, nasty fights and we had them, but at the end of the day the people just had to vote for them. There was no reason they really couldn’t vote for them.

Hmm. Well I hope it works. I certainly do. You’re a very strong pro-life candidate. Perhaps the strongest.

Thank you very much. Good to talk to you. God bless you. All the best.

Thank you very much Senator.


Shark Girl said...

He's joking about this, right?

"You would have an annual commission report that’s a required vote of Congress on whether or not a group of programs should be eliminated."

Does he realize corporations are stearing the decisions? All it takes is a campaign contribution, or some other "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" deal and the vote will swing in the favor of the corporations.

Even BRAC swings in favor of contractors.

Our base (Robins AFB) in Georgia is being influenced by corporations. One such corporation acts a representative of the government with no accountability.

His idea about shrinking the government looks good on paper, but it's only going to work if there is transparency in who is influencing who for their vote, and why.

I recently blogged about this situation and this is why his BRAC idea across the government will not work. The corporations will influence Congress to vote and it certainly isn't going to matter what's best for America. It's going to go towards what's best for corporations.

Should Corporations Be Allowed to Represent the Government?"

Tom McLaughlin said...

Is the US government still subsidizing farmers who raise whatever kind of goats they are that produce mohair? It wasn't too long ago that our taxpayer money was going there. I suspect it still is. What would it take to kill programs like these? BRAC closed some unneeded military bases. If a similar process were used to eliminate mohair subsidies, I say great.

Will some senators and congressmen sell their votes? Of course. They'll also have to defend that vote when facing reelection. That's all we can hope for. If nobody in that congressman's district wants to run against him and force him to defend the indefensible voting record, then that district deserves him.

The BRAC process isn't perfect, but what would you propose instead?

Garnet said...

"Hm" says Garnet, perusing the paper, "Never heard of him, that Brownback guy."

*reads article*

"Does he ever..." Garnet muses, mentally ticking off a half dozen reasons why Senator Brownback is an extremely unlikely victor, "Wake up and, in the cold light of day, think, 'I really don't have a snowball's chance in hell of becoming pres in 2008.'"

Anonymous said...

I do some work with the NAB, and Sen. Brownback hits the nail on the head concerning the so-called Fairness Doctrine, which is nothing more than an attempt to legislate results that the free market failed to produce.

Tom McLaughlin said...

When considering which candidate I'd vote for in a primary, I look over what my choices are. Then I think about a candidate's stand on the issues. Then I think about what kind of guy he is. Does he have courage? Can he point in a direction and motivate people to follow him? Does he have integrity? What gut feeling do I get when I watch him and listen to him? Then I make up my mind.

I choose not to consider how others make up their minds, but only hope other voters will follow a process similar to mine, and don't limit their choices to those whom the mainstream media lavish attention on. I believe the MSM usually chooses to ignore the best candidates. My choice is one of the three I interviewed on this blog, not one of the "leading" candidates who score high in the endless opinion polls.

What process do you use Garnet?


Brownback is right on the "Fairness Doctrine." As he says: There isn't much fair about it. Thanks for the comment.

Anonymous said...

I find it extremely interesting that your tape recorder 'happened' to malfunction during your immigration question, causing you to require paraphrasing...

Tom McLaughlin said...

Yes, it was interesting. There was a woman named Rosemary Woods helping me record the conversation. Just as I was asking the senator about immigration, Rosemary must have leaned over and her elbow hit a button on the machine. By the time we realized what had happened, that whole exchange had been lost.

Garnet said...

Garnet here. So...

"What process do you use Garnet?"

Well... even in the most optimistic sense I, personally, do not have much of a say in who wins a primary. Even if I am a registered member of a party, by the time the primary is held in Maine it'll be more or less a done deal.

That's why all the states jockey for the earliest primary (even risking, as Michigan did, being ostracised by their party leadership and various candidates) because after the first or second caucus/primary it's all over.

Brownback's not doing too good with the MSM. After last night's debate (10/9) I only heard sound bites from Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, and R. Guilani. It was as if the other candidates did not exist.

So... good-bye Candidate Brownback.

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