Record and Rhetoric Report: Newt Gingrich

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on December 7, 2011 0 Comments

Newton Leroy Gingrich is a historian and former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is seeking the republican nomination for President.

Portrait of Newt Gingrich
Birth June 17, 1943 (age 68)
Family Married to Jackie Battley (1962–1981),
Marianne Ginther (1981–2000),
Callista Gingrich (2000–present), has two children.
Religion Roman Catholic
Career Highlights

Assistant Professor, West Georgia College (1970-1978)
State Representative, Georgia (1979-1999)
House Minority Whip, Texas (1989-1995)
Speaker of the House, Texas (1995-1999)


Newt Gingrich entered the Presidential race with a announcement in early March of an exploratory committee, followed by a formal announcement on You Tube on May 11th.

Second quarter fundraising for Gingrich raked in $2.1 million, followed by $0.8 million in the third quarter. His 10,400 donors have given an average of $76 each.

Gingrich has earned numerous endorsements from notable figures such as Representative Joe Barton, Governor Nathan Deal, and Dick Morris.

After entering the race, Gingrich suffered serious campaign problems, with staff resigning en masse and significant campaign debt. However, a series of strong debate performances has since propelled him to frontrunner status after fellow candidates Rick Perry and Herman Cain’s fortunes collapsed. In national polls he averages over 25 percent now. He trails the incumbent President in polls by roughly 6 percentage points in the latest RCP average.

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As the name of this series suggests, we will focus on Gingrich’s record and rhetoric. I emphasize- and therefore mention first- the record a candidate has as a politician and private individual because that tells us who a candidate really is. Their rhetoric today is important as well, but it often only tells us what they want us to think they are.

The following chart covers Gingrich’s stands, past and present, on 18  different issues. (The same chart(s) will be used for each full report, so you can compare them. Brief reports will address some of these issues.)

Issue Rhetoric Record
Abortion Pro-life, “End taxpayer subsidies for abortion”, “Protect healthcare workers right to conscience by making sure they are not forced to participate in or refer procedures such as abortion”.

?1995: Support federal funding of abortions for cases of rape, incest, or saving mother’s life.
?1995: “I believe most Americans are pro-choice and anti-abortion.”
?2005: “I think that abortion should not be legal, and I think that how you would implement that I’m not sure.”
?2011: “He backs parental notification before minors can have abortions”
?2011: No taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood

Change &
Climate Change: ‘He doesn’t believe the science is in to prove that man-made global warming is in, nor does he believe that the idea can be ruled out.’ He believes conservatives can and should take leadership on environmental issues, and that their ideas are better.



-Remove bureaucratic and legal obstacles to responsible oil and natural gas development in the United States, offshore and on land.
-End the ban on oil shale development
-Give coastal states federal royalty revenue sharing to give them an incentive to allow offshore development.
-Reduce frivolous lawsuits that hold up energy production
-Finance cleaner energy research and projects with new oil and gas royalties.
-Replace the EPA, which has become a job-killing regulatory engine of higher energy prices, with an Environmental Solutions Agency that would use incentives and work cooperatively with local government and industry

?1989: Co-sponsored the Global Warming Prevention Act of 1989.
?1993: Co-sponsored regulating 15 more contaminants under Clean Water Act
?2006: A sound American energy policy would focus on four areas: basic research to create a new energy system that has few environmental side effects, incentives for conservation, more renewable resources, and environmentally sound development of fossil fuels. The Bush administration has approached energy environmentalism the right way, including using public-private partnerships that balance economic costs and environmental gain. Hydrogen has the potential to provide energy that has no environmental downside. Conservation is the second great opportunity in energy. A tax credit to subsidize energy efficient cars (including a tax credit for turning in old and heavily polluting cars) is another idea we should support. Renewable resources are gradually evolving to meet their potential: from wind generator farms to solar power to biomass conversion. Continued tax credits and other advantages for renewable resources are a must.
?2006: Kyoto is a bad treaty. It is bad for the environment and it is bad for America. It sets standards that will require massive investments by the US but virtually no investments by other countries.
?2007: “I think if you have mandatory carbon caps combined with a trading system, much like we did with sulfur, and if you have a tax-incentive program for investing in the solutions, that there’s a package there that’s very, very good. And frankly, it’s something I would strongly support.”
?2008: “A carbon cap and trade system … would lead to corruption, political favoritism, and would have a huge impact on the economy.”
?2008: Said “our country must take action to address climate change” in an ad with Nancy Pelosi.
?2008: “As a historian, I doubt if we know” whether humans are contributing to global warming. “It is probable that carbon is a risk… we should lower the carbon impact on the planet because the truth is we don’t know for sure”
?2011: Every green tax credit is a loophole.
?2011: Has two questions behind his skepticism on anthropogenic global warming: 1. “To what degree are we certain that we don’t have patterns we don’t understand yet, that may or may not involve human contributions?” and 2. “[A]re we better off to think through how to cope with it than we are to think through how to avoid it?”


Favored the “Cut, Cap, and Balance“, but urged “House Republicans should pass common sense short term debt ceiling bills and put the burden on the Senate Democrats and President Obama to be the people who prefer a default crisis to common sense short term solutions” as time was running out to reach compromise. ?1996: Supported raising the debt ceiling with strings attached
?2011: Important to not default and important to extract substantial changes in return for raising debt ceiling.

“If America is going to remain competitive with China and India in the 21st century, then we must commit to improving education, especially in math and science, and moving from a bureaucrat-dominated status quo to an innovative system that emphasizes accountability, transparency, and parental choice.”

See Gingrich’s website for a list of changes he favors to government education.

?2009: “education is the number one factor in our future prosperity, it’s the number one factor in national security and it’s the number one factor in [our] young people having a decent future. I agree with Al Sharpton, this is the number one civil right of the 21st century.

See more of his record on education here.

Reserve &
Supports the Federal Reserve for “maintaining a sound dollar” but believes it should be audited. See official campaign video. ?2011: See Gingrich comments here. Also see comments in the 21st Century Contract for America.
Federalism &
While he has made references to the tenth amendment and the unconstitutionality of Obamacare, it is unclear how these views are consistent with his record and rhetoric on other issues, which require him to view the federal government possessing very broad, general powers. ?2006: Supreme Court has become permanent Constitutional Convention
?2011: “Since the 1930s the president and Congress have steadily ignored the Tenth Amendment”
Trade &

Free Trade: N/A

Free Association: N/A

?1985: Support “Mutual trade”: neither free trade nor protectionism.
?1990: Voted for the Americans with Disabilities Act
?1993: Voted for NAFTA
?1994: Voted for GTTA
?2006: Those who advocate economic isolationism and protectionism are advocating a policy that could help China and India surpass the US in economic power in our children’s or grandchildren’s lifetime.
?2010: Comments suggest strong support for anti-discrimination legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Gingrich’s website has few references to gun rights, one being a post on his 2011 speech at the NRA, in which he said the right to bear arms comes from God, is not about hunting, it is “a political right designed to safeguard freedom”.

He also has a section in this Answering the Attacks page.

?1994: Voted for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
?1996: Voted for the Lautenberg Gun Ban
?1996: His GOA rating was an A up till 1996, then dropped to a D. His NRA rating has been A or A+ during his Congressional career.
Healthcare Opposes Obamacare, wants to give Americans “the choice of a generous tax credit or the ability to deduct the value of their health insurance up to a certain amount”, and allow purchase of insurance across state lines; he also sees a major healthcare role for government, proposing a “High Risk Pool set up by each state to cover the uninsured who have become too sick to buy health insurance”, “reinforcing laws which prohibit insurers from cancelling or charging discriminatory rate increases to those who become sick while insured”, government investment in ” research for health solutions that are urgent national priorities”, and wants to reform Medicare and Medicaid.

?1993: “I am for people, individuals, exactly like automobile insurance, individuals, having health insurance and being required to have health insurance, and I am prepared to vote for a voucher system, which will give individuals on a sliding scale a government subsidy so to insure that every as individuals have health insurance.”
?1994: Statements suggest opposition to healthcare mandates
?2003: Supported the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, creating the Medicare Part D federal prescription drugs benefit program.
?2003: While commenting on healthcare reform, says he is a Theodore Roosevelt Republican, “Government can lead, and that regulatory leading is okay… I like to have the private sector deliver within a framework set by the government…” Offered broad support for general government regulation of the economy.
?2005: Says “The right [wing] has to decide that some aspects of the working poor has to involve transfer of finances, that to ask people in the lowest paying jobs to bear the full burden of health insurance is just irrational”. Also says “I am very opposed to a single payer system, but I’m actually in favor of a 300 million payer system… unless you have 100% coverage, you can’t have the right preventive care and you can’t have a rational system”.
?2010: Suggested 10 reform ideas with John C. Goodman.
?2011: “Through his organization, American Solutions, Gingrich already got 100,000 people sign the pledge to push their senators to repeal ObamaCare.”
?2011: Reaffirmed support for Medicare Part D
?2011: Responds to his past position on mandates, explaining why he has come to the “conclusion that a mandate to purchase health insurance was unconstitutional, unworkable and counterproductive to lowering the cost of healthcare.”
?2011: Says about 300 out of 2700 pages of Obamacare are “pretty good”.


Has an extensive 11 point plan to deal with illegal immigration, which can be read here.

He also notes three guiding principles: 1. No “comprehensive” plan can work; 2. Under no circumstance can a path to citizenship be created which would allow those who have broken the law to receive precedence over those who patiently waited; 3. We must reconcile the goal of legality with the reality that there are millions of immigrants currently here outside the law, some with a long set of family and community ties.

He pledges to control the southern border by January 1, 2014.

?2006: “No serious nation in the age of terror can afford to have wide-open borders with millions of illegal aliens crossing at will. But along with making it much harder to sneak in, we need to make it easier for guest workers to enter the country legally and to work here as long as they obey the law.”
?2007: “The American people want reform that establishes English as the official language of government, reform that controls the borders, reform that doesn’t reward illegality, reform that enforces penalties on employers. “
?2007: Strongly Opposed Immigration Reform Act of 2007
?2010: “We are not going to deport 11 million people… There has to be some zone between deportation and amnesty.”
?2011: “We should make English the official language of government. We should insist that first-generation immigrants who come here learn American history in order to become citizens. And then find a way to deal with folks who are already here, some of whom, frankly, have been here 25 years, are married with kids, live in our local neighborhood, go to our church. It’s got to be done in a much more humane way than thinking that to automatically deport millions of people “
?2011: Employers should use e-verify for all hires
Jobs Gingrich wants to repeal, reduce, and reform some taxes; repeal “obstacles to job creation imposed by destructive and ineffective regulations” such as Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley; and “Balance the budget by growing the economy, controlling spending, implementing money saving reforms, and replacing destructive policies and regulatory agencies with new approaches.” ?1994: Supported the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act as part of the Contract with America.
?2008: Would have supported TARP, reluctantly. See also this interview for him elaborating further on the developing bailout bill. More info here.
?2009: Held his own“Real Jobs Summits” to rival Obama’s Jobs Summit.
?2011: “The American people create jobs not government”

“I believe that marriage is between a man and woman. It has been for all of recorded history and I think this is a temporary aberration that will dissipate. I think that it just fundamentally goes against everything we know”

?2011: Gingrich thinks marriage is between a man and a woman,  and thinks the nation should be defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act.


“Keeping Americans safe is the most important duty of government.”

Here are the 7 “Sound policies to keep Americans safe” he lists (condensed):

  1. Understand our enemies and tell the truth about them.
  2. Think big… Only a grand strategy for marginalizing, isolating, and defeating radical Islamists across the world will lead to victory.
  3. Know our values… We are, as Ronald Reagan said, the world’s “abiding alternative to tyranny.”
  4. Military force must be used judiciously and with clear, obtainable objectives understood by Congress.
  5. Implement an American Energy Plan to reduce the world’s dependence on oil from dangerous and unstable countries
  6. Secure the border
  7. Incentivize math and science education in America to ensure the men and women of our Armed Forces always have the most advanced and powerful weapons in the world at their disposal.
?1990: Becomes member of Council on Foreign Relations
?1994: Contract with America: Increase defense spending
?2006: “Either before we lose a city or, if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people… [this would trigger] a serious debate about the First Amendment.”
?2011: An “aggressive model” is needed to oust Castro by 2014.
?2011: Opposed Libyan intervention until President Obama declared Gaddaffi has to go, because it put US prestige on the line.
?2011: “…very sharp division. Criminal law, the government should be frankly on defense and you’re innocent until proven guilty. National security, the government should have many more tools in order to save our lives.”
?2011: Do whatever it takes to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon
?2011: Opposes the cuts to the growth of the military budget that came with the automatic spending cuts after the failure of the super committee.
?2011: We are loosing the War on Terror

Supports federal drug prohibition, says make it more expensive to be a drug user, legalization would send the wrong message to children.

See this interview for his most recent and extensive comments on the drug war.

?1982: Wrote a letter in support of medical marijuana
?1991: Introduced pro-medical marijuana legislation
?1995: “If you import a commercial quantity of illegal drugs… it is because you have made the personal decision that you are prepared to get rich by destroying our children. I have made the decision that I love our children enough that we will kill you if you do this.”
?1996: Introduced the Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996
?2009: The United States needs to get the “stomach” for a Singapore-style drug policy.

Gingrich wants to reform social security, “Allow younger workers to establish optional retirement accounts in place of social security” The plan “would allow Americans to invest the money they currently contribute to social security in a 401(k) style system that he said will profit far beyond the current program.

“You can put them in very conservative bonds only, you can put them in much more aggressive and have stock only, some mix of stocks and bonds, it will be your choice.”

To avoid a disastrous fluctuation in the market wiping out accounts, under the plan those who opt into the system would be guaranteed the minimum Social Security payment. The current system requires employers to match employee contributions, and while individuals would be free to choose where their money goes, companies would still be required to pay their half to the federal government.”

See also his white paper on the subject.

Newt’s comments on FDR, particularly “the truth is we would have voted for much of [New Deal]”, suggest he would have voted to create Social Security if given the chance.

?1994: From the Contract with America: The Senior Citizens Fairness Act:
Raise the Social Security earnings limit, which currently forces seniors out of the workforce; repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security; and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years.
?2011: Would not necessarily rais the retirement age. On fixing Social Security, he says: “President Obama twice said recently he couldn’t guarantee delivering the checks to Social Security recipients. Now, why should young people who are 16 to 25 years old have politicians have the power for the rest of their life to threaten to take away their Social Security? Now, I just want to make two simple points about Social Security and how you save it. The first is, you get back to a full employment economy. The second is, everybody who is older and wants to be totally protected, fine, no change. But if you’re younger and you would like a personal account, you would control instead of the politicians. And you know you’ll have more money at the end of your lifetime if you control it than the politicians. Why shouldn’t you have the right?
?2011: It is a fraud and a lie the way that Congress deals with social security. The American people have put money into a trust fund. But every politician wants to find a gimmick to balance the budget off the backs of working Americans. If you take it off budget, you could solve social security. Since Johnson, we have been hiding the real size of our budget deficit by obscuring it with social security. We need to be honest and separate these two things and deal with them.
?2011: Comments suggest he thinks the Social Security Trust Fund is sound.

“Stop the 2013 tax increases to promote stability in the economy. Job creation improved after Congress extended tax relief for two years in December. We should make the rates permanent.”

“Make the United States the most desirable location for new business investment through a bold series of tax cuts, including: Eliminating the capital gains tax to make American entrepreneurs more competitive against those in other countries; Dramatically reducing the corporate income tax (among highest in the world) to 12.5%; Allowing for 100% expensing of new equipment to spur innovation and American manufacturing; Ending the death tax permanently.”

“Move toward an optional flat tax of 15% that would allow Americans the freedom to choose to file their taxes on a postcard, saving hundreds of billions in unnecessary costs each year. This optional flat tax system will preserve deductions on charitable giving and home ownership, and create a new personal deduction of $12,000 for every American. This deduction is well above the current poverty level, ensuring that this new system does not unfairly target the poor.”

?1998: Opposing taxes is a key conservative value
?1999: During his time as Speaker, annual federal revenue started at $1 trillion and ended at $1.5 trillion.
?2007: Create tax incentives that encourage R&D
?2007: “Cut taxes to increase economic growth and therefore increase revenues. It may seem counterintuitive–and it certainly is to elite editorial writers–but cutting taxes to increase economic growth is the best long-term strategy for balancing the budget. Tax hikes retard economic growth and depress revenues. “
?2008: “I think we need to get independent from this leader fascination with the presidency. I voted against two Reagan tax increases. I voted against George H. W. Bush’s 1990 tax increase.”
?2009: Why don’t we match the Chinese and have zero capital gains tax?
?2010: Adopt a simple and fair single-rate tax system by scrapping the internal revenue code and replacing it with one that is no longer than 4,543 words–the length of the original Constitution.
UN &
N/A ?1994: Voted for 1.2 billion for United Nations “peacekeeping missions”
?1995: “I am for the United Nations.”
?1996: Conceived a CIA mission to topple the Iranian leadership.
?2005: Co-Chaired Task Force on the United Nations
?2011: Says he “has spoken out about the threat to the second amendment from the United Nations and other global governance organizations”
?2011: Suspend UN funding if they grant Palestinian statehood.
Unions Replace the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) which is harassing job creators. When businesses are targeted unfairly by government for creating jobs in different states, businesses simply won’t create jobs in any states. We need to stop this unaccountable, activist bureaucratic agency from harassing job-creating companies. The NLRB is currently harassing Boeing, our country’s biggest exporter, because it decided to build a new factory and create hundreds of new jobs in the right-to-work state of South Carolina instead of the forced-unionization state of Washington. We need a new common sense organization for labor-management relations to replace the NLRB. ?2007: Union leaders prefer protection over competition
?2007: Opposed the “Employee Free Choice Act”, saying it “should have been called “the American Worker Coercion Act.” It literally strips American workers of the right to a secret ballot in deciding whether or not to unionize their company.”
?2011: “…defund the National Labor Relations Board which has gone into South Carolina to punish Boeing…” Supports right to work but wants to keep it a state issue.


Agency Focus

A look at what the candidate says about this semi-random group of government agencies, departments, and bureaucracies.

Rhetoric Record
EPA & Department of Energy Replace the Environmental Protection Agency, which has become a job-killing regulatory engine of higher energy prices, with an Environmental Solutions Agency that would use incentives and work cooperatively with local government and industry to achieve better environmental outcomes while considering the impact of federal environmental policies on job creation and the cost of energy. N/A
TSA N/A ?2010: TSA Groping Kids Is Not What Our Founding Fathers Envisioned, don’t exempt Government officials, willing to go through full body scanner and “anything else you need to”.
?2011: “”What we’ve done now is embedded a federal bureaucracy to stand around airports… It’s a stunningly inefficient system that needs to be rethought from the ground up.” Gingrich said most passengers would welcome a faster way to get through security and would be willing to provide biometric indicators to pave the way. “Frequent flyers should have the ability to go through security very fast,” Gingrich said. Most would say, “‘I’m willing to give you my retinal scan if I can get through security in two minutes,'” he added. “
Department of Homeland Security N/A ?2001: Interview suggests support for creation of a homeland security agency.
?2011: “I helped develop the model for homeland security. It hasn’t been executed well. The fact is, we have enemies who want to use weapons against us that will lead to disasters on an enormous scale. And the original goal was to that DHS could help us withstand up to three nuclear events in one morning. There are people out there who want to kill us. And if they have an ability to sneak in weapons of mass destruction, they’re going to use them. We need to overhaul and reform the department, but we need some capacity to respond to massive events. “
NASA Is a fan of space travel but not so much of NASA, preferring more commercial space activity in partnership with the government. ?2006: I am for a dramatic increase in our efforts to reach out into space, but I am for doing virtually all of it outside of NASA through prizes and tax incentives. NASA is an aging, unimaginative, bureaucracy committed to over-engineering and risk-avoidance
?2010: Praised the Obama Administration’s move towards commercial space travel.
?2011: Prefers space prizes over NASA projects to continue exploration
?2011: “Well, sadly — and I say this sadly because I’m a big fan of going into space, and I actually worked to get the shuttle program to survive at one point — NASA has become an absolute case study in why bureaucracy can’t innovate. If you take all the money we spent at NASA since we landed on the moon, and you apply that money for incentives for the private sector, we would today probably have a permanent station on the moon, three or four permanent stations in space, a new generation of lift vehicles, and instead, what we’ve had is bureaucracy after bureaucracy after bureaucracy, and failure after failure. I think it’s a tragedy because younger Americans ought to have the excitement of thinking that they, too, could be part of reaching out to a new frontier… you can get into space faster, better, more effectively, more creatively if you decentralized it, got out of Washington, and cut out the bureaucracy. It’s not about getting rid of the space program, it’s about getting to a real space program that works.”
Department of Education Shrink the federal Department of Education and return power to states and communities. The Department’s only role will be to collect research and data, and help find new and innovative approaches to then be adopted voluntarily at the local level. ?1979: Voted to create the Department.
?1995: Abolish this Department
?2011: Dramatically Shrink this department


The Plan

21st Century Contract with America

Gingrich’s plan, reminiscent of the 1994 Contract with America, has four parts:

  1. “A set of legislative proposals to shift America back to job creation, prosperity, freedom, and safety.”
  2. “A “Day One Plan” of Executive Orders to be signed on inauguration day to immediately transform the way the executive branch works.”
  3. “A training program for the transition teams and the appointees who will lead the shift back to Constitutional, limited government (coming soon);”
  4. “A system of citizen involvement to help us sustain grassroots support for change and help implement the change through 2021 (coming soon).”

The plan includes everything from the standard repeal Obamacare line, to tax reform (15% optional flat tax with a few deductions), to controlling the border (by 2014), to the tenth amendment (which he seems to view as a Constitutional preference for states/the people to have “power and responsibility”).

Notably absent in this plan is suggested spending cuts; Gingrich seems to prefer economic growth and tax reform to reach a balanced budget, which is another goal of the plan. He also advocates repeal of Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.


Notable Endorsements Made by Gingrich
1968 Republican Presidential Primary Nelson Rockefeller
2008 Republican Presidential Primary Mike Huckabee
2008 Presidential Election John McCain
2009 New York Congressional District 23 Election Dede Scozzafava
2009 New York Congressional District 23 Election Doug Hoffman


Five General Questions:

Will government growth continue under President Gingrich?

Yes. Gingrich has described himself many times “in the Alexander Hamilton-Teddy Roosevelt tradition of conservatism”, a.k.a. “big government” conservatism. In light of his record (During 4 year tenure as Speaker, federal spending was up 13%, revenues up 54%) and philosophy, it is hard to imagine overall government growth discontinuing under his Administration.

Will we have more freedom* or less after four years of President Gingrich?

Less freedom. Government growth will not cease, let alone reverse. Though Gingrich favors the repeal of some regulations, such as Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley, he also favors strengthening others, such as the Patriot Act. On spending, he offers virtually no cuts.

Why should we believe this candidate’s campaign promises?

Gingrich has not campaigned for an office since 1998. After hours of research on Gingrich, I come away with the impression that he is average on carrying out his campaign promises, but am less certain on this particular conclusion.

Does this candidate take positions independent of one or both parties, and why?

Yes. Gingrich is known as a man of ideas, and doesn’t hesitate to think outside the box, and does not hesitate to disagree with the republican party, or the conservative/libertarian base at times.

Does the candidate believe government is a necessary evil?

No. Thomas Paine said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil” and George Washington, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master“.


Record and Rhetoric Series (More coming soon!)

Full Reports: RomneyPerry -  Paul -  Gingrich
Brief Reports: Santorum


Note: This post may be updated as I continue the series. Please suggest improvements or correct any possible errors or missing information in the comment section.


*Freedom means different things to different people; here freedom is defined as fewer laws, fewer taxes, and/or less government spending.

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"There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root." -Henry David Thoreau

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