A staunch defender of America explains the folly of projecting weakness abroad at the West Coast Retreat.
Editor’s note: Below are the video and transcript of Congressman Louie Gohmert's speech at the Freedom Center’s West Coast Retreat, held at the Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, California from March 21-23, 2014:
Louie Gohmert: Some of you said, "Tell us something encouraging, okay." Well, I think whether he runs or not, I think we'll have a new speaker next year, so that's, I think, encouraging. For those who have been concerned, and I know my friend, Catherine Engelbrecht, had brought this up, but I was able to get a copy of this letter. I know y'all have been concerned for this organization called the Barack H. Obama Foundation that applied for 501C4 status. They got it immediately and the effective date of the exemption -- this is dated June 26, 2011 -- they were so good and so thorough they gave him an effective date of exemption back to 2008. Isn't that wonderful? I mean, who says our government can't get things done? And it's signed. Well, this name won't mean anything to you, but Lois G. Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations. Who says the government can't get things done? You wanted something positive. The government can get things done. They got Obama the Barack H. Obama Organization cleared just like that and dated it back three years, so that was a good thing.
But, one thing is very clear, the world is more dangerous, and I was in West Africa in a place called Togo with a group called Mercy Ship. It's a hospital ship put into port. They see thousands and thousands of people. I was there for a week and at the end, some of the West Africans wanted to visit with me and the oldest gentleman named Ebenezer spoke for the group at the end of our meeting. He said, "Well, thank you for meeting with us, but before you go back to Washington, we want to tell you what we feel, what our hearts say." He said, "We were so excited when you elected your first black President. We were very excited." But, he said, "Ever since then we have seen America get weaker and weaker, and I don't think you understand. When America is weak many of us suffer around the world; so, please go back and tell your friends in Washington stop getting weaker. We need you to be strong. We know where we go after this life." He was Christian and he said, "But, our lives would be so much better if America is strong. Please quit getting weaker." This is a guy in West Africa. He gets it.
When a country's enemy sees that country's best ally disengaging and pulling away, it's provocative. You know Reagan had said, "Of the four wars fought in my lifetime, no one ever attacked the United States because we were too strong." It's what we need to be, and at a time when the Soviet Union wants to have a resurgence and be the Soviet Union again, this is a time to be strong. They can't compete with us if we have strong leaders. There's no way, not militarily, not economically, and I have a heart for Ukraine. I was an exchange student for a summer and most of that summer was in Ukraine. I used to say the Ukraine until I was there and one of the Ukrainian college students I got to be good friends with, he said, "Do you say I'm going back to the Texas," and I said, "No." He said, "We don't say we're going back to the Ukraine either." I went, "Ah." Okay, so I stood corrected. Now you know it's not the Ukraine. It's Ukraine, and they should be our friend, and during the Bush Administration, to a number of the cabinet officials in the Bush Administration at different times, I would say, "We really ought to get Ukraine into NATO." Got one excuse after another or Germany wouldn't go for it -- this, that or the other. But they're our kind of people y'all. They just are.
Now the eastern portion down in the Crimea it has been so flooded with Russians that they do have an awful lot of folks that lean toward Russia. But, a few years ago I was in Kiev, and my Russian, it's been too long. I know a few expressions. I know what Hilary Clinton basically says in Russian when you translate her into Russian over and over and over is, izvinite pozhaluista. That's, "excuse me please, excuse me please." Let's reset things. That's not the way you deal with folks. You show strength if you made a mistake. You apologize, but you don't weaken yourself because of a mistake. But, in this restaurant, it was not one that a lot of tourist go to, but they did have a singer and someone accompanying, and they were going around to table to table, and there was a table next to me and there was a guy that was a translator with me, and the two of us were sitting there, and he was very boisterous and had gotten drunk, and it was obvious he was Russian. And, so he called him over and he said he wanted Moscow Nights and I know they knew Moscow Nights, but they just out of pride weren't going to sing it. "No we don't know that." "How could you not know it?" I don't know. So, anyway they ended up doing a few songs, and he tipped them and he was, like I say, he was inebriated. But, he starts saying, and I could pick up a lot of it, but the translator was helping me. He was saying, "We never understood why you Ukrainians wanted to pull away from us. We're your brothers. We love you in Ukraine. We love Ukraine. We love you. We love your country. We should be together," and this young man was probably late 20s, 30 and he says, "Ah, have you been to Kiev before," and he said, "Yes about 20 years ago," and he said, "Ah, well how does it look now compared to when you were here before?" He said, "It's amazing. You have these incredible buildings and all these things you built," and this young man screams, "That's why we wanted to be away from Russia. You suppressed us. You kept us down. You took the best we have. We don't want to be part of you!"
Now, that is around in Ukraine, that feeling, and I can identify with a guy like that, right? That feeling is there and, as you have already heard talked about earlier today, there are some things, and with those who say the first thing this President should have done, I agree. The first thing we should have done is said the missile defense shield is going in. It's going in and we're gonna have defensive weapons, Russia. So, just like when you failed as a Soviet Union, you couldn't keep up with us having defense, to missiles, once again you'll go broke trying to keep up with us now. So, we'll have a defense, you won't. We'll have the offense and the defense. Unfortunately, our President doesn't think that way. But, there was also in Israel, a couple times last year, and the last time was right before Christmas, and there was a meeting. Steve King, Michele Bachmann, Robert Pittenger and me and it was just going to be the four of us and Prime Minister Netanyahu. I pushed back in 2010 to getting invited to speak to a joint session because, again, like I was saying a while ago, it's provocative when Israel's strongest ally distances themselves and in May of 2010 we voted with all of Israel's enemies to require them to disclose all their weapons. Well, I don't care who you are, that's not a good idea, and, in fact, if you go back and read from, what I call the Old Testament, Isaiah confronted Hezekiah about, "What have you done? What did you do?" Well, he knew. God told him. And, he told him, "I showed all of these Babylonians all of our treasures and it's not in the King James, but it's the proper interpretation, and I showed him all our defenses, everything we have in the armory." Well, he said, "Because you've done this stupid thing, you are going to lose the country." And of course, then he begged that it fall under his sons and not him.
But, anyway, the point is you don't show everybody all you got. It's stupid, and you wouldn't have noticed, but within 48 hours the flotilla headed for the Gaza blockade to challenge it because they saw, I think, they saw we had separated from them. That's dangerous. That's why I wanted him to come. The world would see both sides of the aisle applauding the leader of Israel and know, wow he might get snubbed down at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue, but the Congress both sides of the aisle is wildly in favor of Israel. Pelosi wouldn't do it. I begged her to. She wouldn't. I told her it would help her party more than mine, but I didn't care, I wanted to help Israel. And she said that we just didn't have time. It was June, and you know, retrospect, that it's unfair to ask her. She was right. We hadn't congratulated the football, baseball, basketball teams that takes an hour each time. There were a lot of courthouses that had to be named. I got a letter that we had dozens and dozens of Republicans sign, and it's one of the few things that Speaker Boehner did that I urged. We invited him. It was the best speech I've heard since I'd been there, but we have got to show Israel's enemies that we're friends. And, we have got to show the world very quickly. I know some don't think we should be spending the money that we are with Israel. Well, most of that comes back to buy our own weapons, and there we could spend ten times as much as we provide to Israel trying to have an adequate defense to what's happening in the Middle East and we couldn't afford to do what Israel does for us; so, that is an invaluable ally we don't need to lose.
But speaking of invaluable, somebody mentioned earlier about the Internet. This is my personal feeling, and I know there are some brilliant people who know an awful lot here. My personal feeling is that, so far, if that actually happens, that will be the biggest blow to this country's security that has happened on this President's watch, and there have been a lot. I can say it because it's been in the public, but 80 percent of email traffic comes through our country, and you've heard all this stuff about how the NSA had said they've been able to keep us safe by getting every log of every person's phone call. Well, I've been through the classified briefings, and this is my opinion, but I still don't think it has made us any safer. There's nothing that they couldn't have gotten from regular sources, but email is a different matter. When you know where the bad guys are, where the bad stuff is coming from, it gives us a chance to protect ourselves, and you give that away. Look, it's been publicly stated by a lot of people in the military that one of their biggest concerns for some, their biggest concern is a cyber attack, and what it would do to our military. And, we're going to give away the ability to protect ourselves from cyber attack. That is insane. I'm working a couple of different approaches to build so we can stop it, and even try to criminalize conduct that would transfer that out. But, you remember Iran Contra, the Democrats had passed a law that it was illegal to help the Contras. That's why that whole mess came up, and these really were freedom fighters. We have got to do that.
Now with regard to Afghanistan, this President is not going to do it, and he did inherit a tough situation, and in fairness he did in Afghanistan. If you remember, in Afghanistan within four months of us figuring out the Taliban in Afghanistan had been behind 9-11, we had less -- around 300 -- but less than 500 Special Ops and intelligence people embedded in Afghanistan. We were giving them air support and we were giving them some weapons, and they defeated the Northern Alliance. These tribes came together and, yes. we had to pay some of the tribal chiefs a couple hundred thousand dollars to get them to subjugate themselves to General Dostum, so there was one Commander. They defeated the Taliban and this is a write up of this last big battle: "the Battle of Maser was the most decisive of the Afghan war, and it's key figure was General Dostum, who's a brilliant military strategist and the most feared of the warlords. Dostum had very medievally sent 1,000 horsemen racing uphill, through the mountains, west of Maser to attack Taliban heavy artillery positions. 'They didn't expect that,' said Dostum. Had I sent men on foot they all would have been killed by the shelling. With horses, we were able to get inside the range of their heavy guns, quickly, and the Taliban ran away." That was the big blow to the Taliban and they were dispersed, disbanded. We had defeated them and then what did we do? We put in tens of thousands of soldiers, military, and became occupiers, not a good idea in that part of the world. And then, to add to the problem -- Condoleezza Rice is a wonderful person. She's brilliant, but I've talked with a couple of people who were part of the inner circle that had this discussion, what do we do now? And, some were saying this is a tribal country. Let them be regional tribal, and they'll take care of themselves.
But the argument that won the day was, "No, it'd be a nightmare dealing with all these different tribal groups, regional groups. Let's create a strong centralized government, and it will be a whole lot easier to deal with." The trouble is, when you have, as they do, as we gave them, a centralized government, where the President appoints the governors, the mayors, the police chiefs. He appoints the higher level school teacher. Has his own slate, a big part of the legislature, controls the purse strings, you have a formula for disaster, for corruption, which is what they have. We now know that a Taliban leader that was released from Guantanamo by this administration for humanitarian purposes is back leading the Taliban, and I can't get into much detail here, but there's enough public source stuff -- we released people. We helped get people back to Libya to help the rebels take out our ally, Khadafy. Not a good guy just like was said this morning about Mubarak, not a good guy Khadafy, but since 2003 when we invaded Iraq, as some of the Israeli leaders have said, we didn't understand because after 2003 Khadafy gave you and us more information about terrorists than anybody else in the world. He was the best friend to eliminating terrorism and we helped take him out; and there will be more coming out in the days ahead about that disaster and what we did and why.
But anyway, in Afghanistan, I've met with Dostum a number of times and I'm all about, I want you to know, I'm all about being truthful, but as one of my teachers told my mother, she said that my little brother, David, was nearly as good a student as Louie, but he's not nearly as mischievous. Dana and I are meeting with, Dana Rohrabacher, and I'm meeting with Dostum, Masoud, the younger brother of the line of Pashtuns that was killed. And anyway, Dostum said, "Do you ride horses?" I said, "Sure, I grew up riding horses." He said, "Then you should ride with me on that attack we had uphill into the teeth of the Taliban." I said, "That sounds fine. I would love to do that," and then one of his assistants told me later, "You know we have wood saddles right?" I went, "No, I didn't know that." But, anyway, I remembered on my camera, I had a picture I had just taken a few weeks before in my hometown of Mount Pleasant, Texas, where Bill Priefert, he makes corrals, gates all kinds of things, went to high school together, great guy, great American success story. You can find Priefert gates and ranching equipment all over the country. Well, Bill bought the biggest draft horses, bigger than the Clydesdale, and I'd taken my niece and nephew to see them there at Mount Pleasant, and they are two of the four largest horses in the world, are a part of that group, and we had pictures with two of the four largest horses. Those two were the largest at one time, but there's one in Wisconsin and Australia a little bigger than that. But, anyway, had pictures taken. I remember that picture was on there. So, I said, "Actually, I have a picture of me and my horses back in Texas on my camera," and I scrolled over and passed it around, and their eyes got big and all those guys just passed it down without saying a word. And, I know afterwards they said, "I've heard thing were big in Texas but my gosh." I don't quite come to the top of the back of that horse.
Listen, Caroline Glick, dear friend, is over here -- there is no two-state solution, and as my friend, Joel Rosenberg points out, it's in the book of Joel that those countries that have divided Israel are going to be judged, and it's not going to be good. We don't need to be forcing them to give away Samaria and Judea. I mean King David ruled in Hebron for seven years before he moved the capital up to the City of David, up to Jerusalem. How is that not theirs? We need to be their best friend because they want to be our best friend, and they appreciate life the way we do and like no other countries there. Now, I had a bunch of AIPAC folks come see me and try to convince me that I was wrong about Morsi, that he could be worked with, that he's trying to clean out the Sinai, and I said, "Let me tell you, when somebody says you're descendent from apes and pigs, he's probably not your friend." He's not. Well, now we know for sure the Sinai, some of the military leaders in Egypt said, "We believe there are more weapons per person in the Sinai than anywhere else in the world and we're doing all we can, but it would help if we had the things that were promised to Morsi, the tanks, the planes, the Apaches." We ought to be doing that.
And on Ukraine, like I said, we should have immediately, it's still not too late, let's put the missile defense shield in place. You want to play tough? All right, but you can't wait 'till there's a Cuban Missile Crisis to be tough. You know, I was just a little bitty kid but I know it was the Eisenhower administration that started the Bay of Pigs invasion, that planned that, but Kennedy is the one that got scared within the three days of the invasion, and the promised air support that he had promised was pulled back and these people were slaughtered, and it probably wouldn't have been successful but, as Kennedy admitted later, I wish we'd had a full-out invasion rather than the fiasco we had. But then it was in June of 1961 they had the meeting – Khrushchev and Kennedy – and Kennedy says, "He got the best of me." He intimidated him. Some attribute it to back pain medicine and a cocktail of medications he was taking. Whatever it was, he was intimidated. He didn't respond well, and Khrushchev at different times said, "He is weak. He is immature. He is feckless," – I like that word – and then in the end of July Kennedy gives a great speech. You all know of presidents giving good speeches, right? He give a great speech about how even if we have to use force we will not let the Soviet Union get between us and the people we're helping in Germany – not West Berlin, not West Germany – they can't get between us, and it was within about three weeks they started the Berlin wall, and what did he do? Nothing. Most people give Kennedy a passing grade, a good grade on the Cuban Missile Crisis handling, but what they don't realize, if he had had strength, if he had showed strength before, there would never have been a Cuban Missile Crisis.
And we're in that situation now where if we don't have a president – even if he has to be bolstered by Congress pushing a backbone strong enough, giving him the calcium supplements – then we're gonna approach that type of crisis as well. So in Pakistan, after we had been on a trip over there – Steve King, Dana Rohrabacher – done an op-ed I wrote and Dana signed on with me and I had one line in there because we'd met with the Baluch people. If you know the area, you know, the Baluchistan, where the Baluch people are indigenous. It's the southern part of Pakistan, and it comes in to the southeastern part of Iran. In fact, the most productive Iranian oil wells mainly are right there, the Strait of Hormuz right there, that's Baluch territory. In Pakistan most all of their minerals come from the Baluch area. So how do they treat the Baluch in Pakistan? They terrorize them. They kill them. They torture 'em. They keep them subjugated all the time, and so you wanna fix things. I put the one line in there. I said maybe it's time to start talking about an independent Baluchistan, and within a week the Pakistani Daily News – the biggest paper there – did an editorial. They said this crazy congressman from Texas is now talking about an independent Baluchistan, and if you talk to people that know Afghanistan they say the Taliban's mainly getting supplied through southern Pakistan, the Baluch area. So this editorial said maybe it's time before this takes any bigger hold – it's bound to be the buzz or one congressman wouldn't bring it up – so maybe it's time to start talking about making peace with the Baluch and helping them rather than helping the Taliban and worrying about what's happening in Afghanistan. Folks, there are ways that you can win diplomacy without sending troops in, and if we help the enemy of our enemy, you will be amazed just like in Afghanistan, and I bet everybody here at one time or another in the early days of the Iraq war said, "I wish we were doing this war like we did the Afghanistan war. It was so quick and we won." That's the way it can be done.
There's so many other things I could cover and maybe talk too long, but there are things we can do in the House. We need to decentralize power of the Speaker. We need to restructure committees, add a public assistance committee so all welfare that takes Robert Rector at Heritage two years to find, put it in one committee. We can see it. We can debate it. We can cut the 87 agencies that are charged with getting' people appointments, get down to one. We can do that but not until we have that all in one committee. We need to make clear. We gotta have a leader strong enough to tell the Senate we're not going to have another continuing resolution. You better do your budget. You better do your appropriations 'cause we will not pass a CR, and the shutdown will be your fault. Do your business and we'll get this done. We can do that if they know we're serious.
We gotta end the automatic increase every year that the liberal Democrats started back in the liberal days after Watergate. We've got to do what Ronald Reagan promised he would do and he did. He got rid of two-thirds of all federal regulations. We can do that too. We need to force the sale of all federal land that isn't legitimate national parks, that isn't legitimate federal land, and then sell the rest and, as Art Laffer says, pay down our debt. We gotta get rid of the CBO as being the official scorer. I've been pushing this for a few years. Art Laffer has loved the idea. He called and he met with me and Paul Ryan, Steve Moore, and a few others to talk about the idea. Make it competitive. That's what conservatives believe in. And after a few years you've got some fantastic scoring on who knows what they're doing in scoring, and you don't screw over conservatives every time we score a conservative bill and help the liberals. That is a game system we can win. So we need to throw that out, but Art called, He said, "Louie, great news!" He said, "I have gotten private funding to set up an entity that will compete with CBO for scoring, and I couldn't wait to call you and let you know since it was your idea." Let's wait and see what happens there. But anyway, then finally throw out the current tax coded. Let's debate. I like flat tax. Some like fair tax. Let's have the debate. Whichever wins the debate, let's do it. We can do it.
Finally quote: Samuel Adams said, "If you love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating cause for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains press lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were ever our countryman." I'm talking to a bunch of fellow countrymen, not because of where you came from, but because you love liberty. Thank God for it, and thank God for you. God bless you all.
Audience Member: What do we do to make you the next the next Speaker of the House?
Louie Gohmert: Well, you can't stand up and be as blunt as I have as often as I have. That's something that would have to be a push from the outside. I don't think I could push it from the inside sufficiently, but it's like Frank Lucas, chairman of agriculture, said – he's kidded me about being so blunt in conference – and he said, "You know, I'm trying to get our leadership" – this one time he's – "We're trying to get the leadership to recreate the old Merchant Marine Committee," and I said, "Really?" He said, "Yeah, we don't have one but I just figure it's the only thing you'll ever have a chance to chair." But then he came to me last year after Christmas and he said, "My family and I all went to San Antonio for Christmas. We love it. We love the river walk, the restaurants. We got a really good personal tour of the Alamo." And then he got real serious and he said, "I understand you a lot better now." Well, yeah, I would go down with the Alamo. You bet ya. So, I don't know, we'll have to wait and see how things go, but I know the Speaker is saying he's definitely running again, he'd never be more popular, but I think you'll see a new speaker next year, and we want to make sure it's somebody that will stand up and do the right thing. So thank you.
Audience Member: Hi, Louie. I want to make sure that I understand about the AIPAC lobbying. Were they AIPAC people and what exactly did they lobby you for because I'm in AIPAC and it didn't sound good to me.
Louie Gohmert: They said, "Look, we know you're not thrilled." Yeah, it was the official AIPAC delegation, and seriously, some of the people in that group are my good friends, but they were there as part of the AIPAC delegation, and they knew how outspoken I had been about Morsi and they genuinely got their talking points from AIPAC. They genuinely believed that Morsi was somebody we could work from. They were very sincere in believing that he was gonna try to clean out the Sinai, and I just wasn't buying any of it because I know the guy, and I thank God for AIPAC. We need more people that are supportive of Israel, and AIPAC is. They just have some people at the top that happen to be more gullible when it comes to what democratic leaders say than some of the rest of us are. Caroline, where are you, Caroline Glick? Wouldn't you agree with that assessment?
Caroline Glick: In an understated sort of way.
Louie Gohmert: In an understated sort of way. All right. Thank you, Caroline. All right. One more, okay. You got a mic back here? Oh, okay. All right. Good. Thank you all very much.
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