tv Capital News Today CSPAN November 26, 2010 11:00pm-2:00am EST
royal blood will be moving to the senate after serving in the u.s. house for 14 years. in new hampshire, kelly ayott will proceed -- will replace the republican who is retiring. congress is out this week for it's thanksgiving holiday break. when members return, the house will vote on a temporary delay on the 20% cut the senate continues on expanding food and drug oversight. >> take a look at the new members of congress with a c- span video library. find the complete list under the congress tab.
any appearances on c-span, and it is all free on your computer, any time. it is washington, your way. >> this week marked the 47th anniversary of the assassination of president kennedy. this weekend we will talk with two former secret service agents whose job was to protect the president, on the events of that day, the conspiracy theories about the investigation, and mr. blaine's new book, sunday night on "q&a". nowt idaho's former republican senator and former democratic congressman of kansas discuss how democrats and republicans can work together in congress. this was part of a conference hosted by the bipartisan policy center in new orleans. from tulane university, it is about 45 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody.
welcome back for one of our more interesting session show. we will talk a little bit about a new project at the bipartisan policy center. rather than having an animal lamentation about the frustrations of our system, we thought it was important to talk about the ways we can start to make a meaningful difference. the conference is titled beyond the ballot in making washington work. we have talked about the need for real leadership. we want to talk about a little bit about the structural democracy. there are a lot of ways that you can engage in this conversation. there are many organizations that focused on the metaphysics of campaign finance reform,
mandatory voting and other issues that i think a very fascinating. but we think they're not practically realistic. we try to focus on some very discreet issues. some people may call them small balls, but it is my view that not only do we have opportunities to make real difference, but in the world of gridlock that i think we existence, little things can really matter. not only do they matter in the substance of their own experience, but they give the congress, the country, a sense that we can get things done. it is that building that inertia momentum for building things that we humbly call the cops to project. -- the democracy project.
we have three co-chairs for that project with us today. we have dan goodman and dirk kempthorn. we are happy to have two members with us in the audience today. hopefully, there will be available to talk a little bit after the discussion. walter isaacson directs the discussion. there has been a lot of concern over the last several hours about the filibuster and how that is undermining our democracy. if i read walters resonate, i would be guilty of that same sin. he is currently the president of the aspen institute. he was president and ceo of cnn. he is a best-selling author.
walter, i have the great honor to turn the discussion to you. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> there was a congressional district that included the inner-city, uptown, downtown, and the suburbs. then you have a congressman, somebody who had to be a great congressmen representing a southern district and a co- sponsor of the civil rights bill, and be the type of person who created a center so that the civil rights bill could pass with bipartisan support. after he died, ms. lindy took his seat.
but then there was redistricting and you had very polarized districts and you never get someone who could bring people together. when i was in high school, i had the honor of working as an intern for congressman bogs. i used to be the bartender when they used to go to the other side of the capital. it was called the board of education and. people would go there -- certainly, when i was setting up the bar in the afternoon, you would see gerald ford and some of the democratic leaders
coming together and doing what they needed to do for a civil rights bill or even a transportation bill. they were working together well lubricated by burn and brand water. if the congress and drank more, they might get along more. we will put aside the third issue and focus on the first two. we were arriving back from somewhere and you came up with this whole proposal. how did you come up with that? >> that is kind of you. we were coming back from an event in texas hosted by
president bush's library and president obama was speaking. it was a great day people coming together, putting their differences aside. we talked about why there were not more those days. i was reflecting on our discussion and i was in washington, d.c. more than half my life. i watched it to deteriorate in this hyper-by partisanism. we know democracy is messy. we recognize that it has gotten worse over the past few decades and has become more of a hyper- partisanship. people are more in their extremes in their camps. oftentimes, they didn't even talk to each other. they are in their groups preaching to the -- they do not even talk to each other. they're in their groups preaching to the converted.
from my standpoint, as a citizen and an entrepreneur that brings an end internet technology orientation, i was sitting on the sidelines of bemoaning how worse it was getting. so maybe there was something i could do to change the trajectory. we all recognize that it is very complicated and that there are no easy solutions or a quicksilver bullet. it would take a sustained effort. but trying to focus on things like redistricting to bring a fair process, some states are doing this, but most are not. most of the redistricting is around preserving incumbents and the power of that particular party, which does not create a free exchange that would be healthy for democracy. on the stability side, there is a lot that can be done to build bridges between folks who all have the best of intentions, but often get caught up in the day-to-day flow of things and we
need to look at structural changes in how the process works with the hope of building some braces again. right now, for a large number people in congress, they're not really relationships with a great level of trust. these guys know it firsthand because they have served in a number positions. they have remarked about how bad it has gotten and we need to do something to move this forward. >> you serve in all levels in a way. what do you see being done and where the best places are for bipartisanship. >> bit is the government closes to the people. it is more accessible. when you're dealing with six council members, does not
matter if you're a republican or democrat. you either got the job done i did not. if you did not, they knew what copy shop you're going to and they would talk to you. in a larger universe, it gets more difficult. the relationships that steve referenced, i had the honor of serving on the armed services committee. one day, as a freshman republican senator, because under the impression that you're supposed to go to these hearings, i was the only republican that showed up that day and most of the democrats were that. an american icon was speaking -- john glenn. i listened to him. what i did not realize is that he made the same arguments for the same three years, but he never had the support of his colleagues. then a staffer leave florida
and said, do you know that you have the proxy vote of all the republican senators? i said, you're kidding. i seconded the motion. then a voice was from the new guy of the end of the table. they called the roll. they went down the line and they said no. they said, john glenn. he said yes. then they named the republicans and i voted by proxy. and john glenn 1. [laughter] sam nunn immediately adjourned
the hearing and the role that of those doorways. i headed back to my office. standing at the end of the hallway was john glenn. as i approached, he said, who are you? [laughter] >> and where had you been? >> apparently, i am your new best friend. that is how we established a friendship. then i brought my efforts with my partner being john glenn. >> how did you come to this? what is your take? >> when i was a freshman member of congress from kansas, i was pushing ethanol, alcohol fuel, the bigger issue here in louisiana. president carter had his energy bill and i can i get an amendment to require some
ethanol additive and fuel or whatever it was. i looked at the chairmen and said, "chairman, you really must become interested in alcohol." and he looked at me and said, "son, that has never been a problem." [laughter] i was a congressman and the secretary of agriculture. there are a couple of principles here. one principle is that politics is not beanbag. it is top card and it is fought vigorously and sometimes with a mean spirit and that is nothing new. that has been the case from the beginning of the republic. it is just worse now, i think.
the second side of the picture is that there are issues like the golden rule, treating people with respect and dignity, and those are supposed to be things that emanate from our society, whether it is a politics, in the clergy, or in business. for whatever reason, those two spirits have not learned very well together in recent years. there is a lot of causes to it. but there are no incentives in the system right now. to get people to work together. for the lack of incentives, it makes it so that there is no real push for people to try to find common ground on issues. i think that is the greatest problem. they need to become structurally responsible, especially the congress. congress has the lowest approval rating of any institution in america.
mark twain said that there was only one criminal class in america and that was the congress. he said that 100 years ago. it really has gotten much worse. the problems are extremely serious in our society. there is a huge amount of anxiety out there. people see a lot of role- playing. they do not see a lot of coming together to solve basic problems. bob dole was for my state. he once said that you have two ears and one mouth so that you can listen twice as much as you talk. he did that very nicely. that is not necessarily always the common principle. this organization, this group, they are great folks. we will spend several months to try to listen and figure out what things we can do to make
our system work better. they may not be cosmic things. we will not be able to change the constitution in the next year. but there are smaller things we can do. one thing we can do is try to get people in congress to relate on a social basis. one of the thing the president was encouraged to do was to bring the congress to the white house. mutual respect is one way to get people to trust each other. personal and spousal types of things are really important. if they like each other, they might work with each other on occasion. there are a couple of other things i think we need to do. we need to look at scheduling of congress, the numbers of
committees that congressman work at. the whole issue of the senate and the hold that one senator can stop the entire congress from going forward. we will talk about the film star. -- filibuster. one issue has to do with money in politics. that is a big change from 50 years ago. when i ran in 1976, i defeated a congressmen who spent $100,000. today, that would be a race between two million dollars and $5 million today. it diffuses the system and makes it lot less resilient. these people have a whole litany of other issues that we think and maybe help the system, help the process work better. there will be no miraculous cure for this. but for a time, may be improving human relations and the systems in congress will make a political system work better.
>> why is redistricting at the heart of this? >> i would not say at the heart, but it is a critical issue. over time, the process of shifting districts around and determining how many seats that each state should have and what is the right to allocate them has always been there and will always be there. but in the past few decades, it has been much more of a precise act of the people who are in power, who have the maps and can draw. they really draw those districts in a way that preserve the incumbent and preserve them as safe districts, whether it be on the democratic side or the republican side. that resulted in a less interesting coming together. sometimes you get punished for coming together. you are playing to the extremes. that coupled with the media and cable television and the internet and blogs and so forth, it creates this noisy environment where everybody is focused on the extreme and talking past each other.
it use of the redistricting process, it is complicated. it will vary by states. some states have started to do some interesting things. it will take some time to get a majority of states to do this. there is a majority competitiveness. right now, the incentives are more at the point of the extreme. >> but the incentives of every elected official to create a set district for his or herself, do you think that the anti- incumbency side will say quit treating polarized districts for your base. >> the tea party movement is about a lot of different things. but part of it is to take the government back and kick at the incumbents.
i also think it can resonate as we educate people. as we talk about redistricting and gerrymandering and maps and a policy issue that most people do not understand or do not find important, it is a way to educate people about the importance of the issue and galvanize support to take action and it can be a way to create momentum. >> what principles do you think we should use when we draw congressional districts? >> that thinking need to do one that is equitable, that reflects the community, that is not so geographically constructed that it is really clear that it is only done for votes, but instead where do you see sameness? have we join the committee are divided a community? if you divide the community, you divide the country. you can keep them working together.
since leaving government, i was laid off as the secretary of the interior. i have been in the boardrooms where we talk about a five-year strategy. if is an invigorating discussion. we talk about what we're trying to accomplish. we talk about what the competition is doing. everyone is united in a discussion. i thought, what would happen in that board room if we simply said, by the way, half of you now have to be of this type and the other half of this persuasion and now you take shots at each other? it would diminish the discourse. it would diminish our effectiveness and the well- being of that corporation. we want that corporation to have a bright future. we want this country to have a bright future so that we can
have those same strategic sessions where we think of the best interests of the united states of america. by son-in-law's leaving next week for iraq. we want to make sure that these people who are elected head of civil discourse without becoming discussing and do what is best for the country. >> i was redistricted twice. self preservation is very important to us in our daily lives, whether it is in our business, our family it, or in politics. this is where the politicians get to pick the voters instead of the voters going to pick a politician. the other thing is that the
voting rights act as required by law, we have to make sure that we do not diminish the role of minorities in congressional districts. that complicates the issue. i agree with what they have talked about in terms of trying to minimize the and we this and the lack of political reality. >> going back to the original question, i think we have been through five presidents since i have been in washington. each has been elected and thinking they will bring everyone together, but they'll actually have trouble implementing it.
my view is they have the best in tensions, but the process bars them from making rope progress. by reducing or are a lot of people with those intentions who, once dropped in to the process, deal with a lot of other challenges and are not able to achieve the objectives they have set out. it is not just about people, but about the process. people do not like to talk about it as much. but i really do think that, if we can fix the underlying process, then we have a lot more opportunity to deal with some of these complicated issues. >> the question is, after a very tough election we just had -- and it was tough. -- can you after that atmosphere, come together?
this past weekend, in "the washington post," they said it was a very tough race. they had a full page spread for this thing. they're talking about the lincoln-douglas election. that was a tough election. but that debate was a crystal visioned by very good people about what they felt than believed. but they did it in a civil fashion. two years later, they ran against each other for the president of the united states. lincoln won, but douglas went to that inauguration and told the newspapers of that, if anybody attack abraham lincoln, they attacked him. there was a time for good, vigorous, tough, rough-and- tumble politics.
but once that is decided, there is only to do with the people want you to do. this is not to say that you put your principals in escrow. absolutely not. you bring them right out there. but the american public hear you. but do it in a fashion that is appropriate for democracy. >> what worries me about our political system is that we are in a time of the toughest economic anxiety. many worry that jobs will not be available and that our economic dominance is questioned right now. that the unemployment rate reflects something more structural. the division and viciousness from the last election, people are genuinely worried about their lot and they are not sure that the political system can
handle it or can cope with this. i think it can, but i do not think it can people do not trust each other. i remember when i was a freshman in congress, hubert humphrey was a senator in 1977 and was dying of prostate cancer. he was the only u.s. senator to address a joint meeting of the house and senate. he can to the floor and said, "i want you to fight every battle like it was the most important battle of your life and do not spare any effort and energy to get what you want across. but after your den, the to your adversary, shake his hand, because he may be your ally in the next battle." that spirit is waning. we have to figure out how to get it back. that is what does produce a shine to do, to find those tools, sensible and realistic tools, where we can get people to shake hands across the aisles. >> to what extent is
gerrymandering causing some of this bitter partisanship, making safe districts where people play to their bases rather than working across the aisle? >> i think it is a contributing factor. i do not think it is the only factor. i believe that excessive money, the saturation of money in politics is also a very significant contributing factor. but i do believe that the nature of the basic leasing will districts where you do not have to talk to a diverse group of people tends to tolerate. -- tends to polarize you. >> not all the gerrymandering, but the humanity of it, there were too close friends when i had the honor of serving in the senate. we had a system that really is, where we stayed in d.c. and we spent one week in our state.
it allowed us to get to know very well. when i come home, linda had been talking to patricia. i knew they knew what they marching orders should be. the families are a part of this, too. candidates run on the issue, but we have to have an institutional structure so they can live with the family as well. >> so you're talking about the calendar will, which is nowadays -- most senators and congressmen go home on thursday afternoon, spend the weekend back home, fly back tuesday, and there is no socializing.
there is no being with people of the opposite party, partly because of jet travel. it makes it easier to fly home. but secondly because the calendar does i give you three weeks on and one week off. >> they do not live in washington any more. they live in their home districts. their families are not in washington. they are ready to get out of town as fast as they can. i think that is why this idea of some time to give people together and socialize and be friends is important. >> so you think a calendar can help that a bit? >> i think so. >> this is exacerbated by this running against washington dynamic. people think that if they spent too much time in washington, they are losing what the community is all about. but if they do not spend enough time in washington, they do not have time to make subcommittees' and raise money. they have to understand the issues, but they have to
understand the other side of the issues. encouraging that and awarding that, as opposed to penalizing that, could help. scheduling the time you're here and the lunch, it seems sort of a soft issue, it is actually pretty important in terms of driving us forward. >> on the mapping think, it is the money chase. it never stops. you were considered a weak political animal if you are not successful at this, this continued frenetic money chase. some districts prohibit their legislators from raising money while the legislature is in session.
one of the things we need to do is also recognize the amount of time that legislators have to raise money. they leave the confines of capitol hill, go across the street -- i did it myself on occasion. they spend hours on raising money. the system encourages that across the board. that is an insidious way to get people away from their jobs, focusing on issues, and building relationships. >> instead of running to the microphone, right there, in the green t-shirt, yes, you. >> [inaudible] >> in light of citizens united, how do you view pacs?
>> this is a great venue here at tulane. i am impressed with the students. [applause] >> bravo. >> i believe in political action committees, personally. he may be working for a particular industry or company and you want to make sure your company will be successful. if you combine your efforts, it is very appropriate. it allows you a force multiplier. and you have to be transparent. >> i recognize that money is a mother's milk of politics. the problem is that it has become a cottage cheese and butter and everything else of politics right now. the problem with the citizens united case, it allows people to raise money without full disclosure of where the money's coming from. you do not know who the donors
are of this process. i believe you cannot have the system without having people contribute to that system. but it has become a malignant system now. it is the be all/and all of our politics. when someone wants to run for congress, they will say, "i want to see your fund-raising capabilities. once we see that, we will see what we can do with you." >> [inaudible] >> what can we do to fix the campaign finance system now? >> i do not think we can change the terms from two years to four
years. that would take a constitutional amendment. i would like to see some form of public finance in the system. but right now, do not see it terribly feasible that congress will pass such a thing. i hope it does not take a massive scandal for people to focus on some of these issues. in the past, historically, that is what has caused the changes in our campaign laws. one positive thing in this last election is that, a lot of the people who ran, a lot of people lost. a lot of people who put in a lot of personal wealth lost. some people have a publics problem. i would like to tell you that there is a way to get campaign laws changed.
but i am not all that optimistic. >> to the woman in the white shirt. i am aiming at students' right now. >> [inaudible] >> how you address a the stigma of going native in washington? and bring back the -- social aspect of bringing families back to washington. >> one way is you ask people like patricia and linda. ask the spouses who have lived that life. ask them so you are not asking for politicians. ask the families. you are right. there is that aspect that looks like you will not move your family to washington.
but the reality is that that is where you will conduct federal legislation. that way you may be able to be a full-time mother, if you're serving in congress, if your family is closer to you. >> the other aspect is that, in a corporate environment, if you hire somebody to days or three days a week and they live somewhere else, they're not really doing what you hire them for. but it does not need to be three days or four days a week. there was a member of congress from hawaii was flying back every weekend. many spend all your time traveling and going to meetings. changing some of the expectation and some of the
culture -- we recognize that these are complicated issues. there are not an easy solutions. we're trying to figure out how to redo our democracy and changed some of these processes. it will not happen overnight. but we cannot to complain about it. we have to take some shots in turn to change the trajectory. it is all about the challenges in doing that. many of the approaches have risk associated to them. we have to figure out some way to move toward a more constructive way. the problem our nation faces in an increasingly competitive world. >> we will have to wrap up in a couple of seconds. >> [inaudible]
how do we get them in charge of the plan to be more fair? >> those are two book ending questions. had you get people in washington and party leaders to work together and on the grass roots, had you get people involved? >> i have an 8-year-old grandson myself. he has the same hairline is you do. [laughter] first of all, individually, everybody wants to do what we're talking about. what are the incentives in the system to get people to work together?
when you hear the new house speaker, john boehner, or you hear the president's talk, i think they're willing to listen to us. but ultimately, the people have to speak as well. we will go around the country a bit and talk to people around the country and see if there are any other ideas out there. most of them will not be ideas that can totally shape the system. if the system does not work and the people two years from now still say that these guys cannot get along together and cannot work anything out, then maybe the cost is in both houses. you could see a third party development in america. >> all right. >> on the exit polls, you saw people were asked to give their approval rating of either party. neither party did well.
we talked about the indicator of the institutions. about 88% of america say that they have confidence in america. 66% said they have confidence in america. 11% said they had confidence in congress. it is the lowest. it is your leader. you need to rebuild the confidence of the people in the organization your leading. we will be meeting with the leaders of both parties. they are good people. we also have the support of congress organizations. >> they are here. >> it is a concerted effort. we have wonderful young people who are interested in this, to be here all day and to ask intelligent questions. it is about democracy.
>> getting people to engage on these issues, hopefully some people in this room, and galvanizing grass-roots work, in terms of the specific redistricting issue, i think i know i had the recently independent process. california did some things. florida passed something last week. it is the beginning of the process. there is always an independent body. as long as that principle is adhered to, there is a variety of different ways to deal with it. but it really does require engaging in these efforts. maybe we should have the date they are effective 10 years from now. everyone is preserving their position in power. 10 years out, even though you
would rather have things done sooner, then they could have more support around these changes because it is out there and they can predict who will be in power at that time. it will take a while to deal with these issues. we're just starting the process today. >> awesome. thank you very much. [applause] >> we will do a quick reset of >> when congress returns come the house votes on a temporary delay in a temporary cut in medicare reimbursements for doctors. the house and senate will take up remaining federal spending this budget year and the senate continues on expanding food and drug administration oversight of food recall.
live senate coverage on c-span, the house on c-span. >> coming up here on c-span, retired lieutenant general ricardo sanchez, the commander of u.s. forces in iraq from 2003 to 2004. that is followed by academy award winning actor jeff bridges, the national spokesman for the no kid hungry campaign. in current and former peace corps directors on the 50th senate version. later, bankruptcy law experts on the legality of the auto industry assistance package. >> 1 rates from the midterm elections remains to be called. york's first district work tim bishop is leading his republican challenger by little more than 200 votes. they will go to court next week over the counter. republicans have already gained more than 60 seats in the u.s. house. and the state level, there are 24 new governor's bid seven of
them are democrats, including peter shumlin from vermont. he has been in the state senate and is a dairy farmer. another new governor, republican dugard.bodyguar he is one of 16 new republican governors. seven democratic governors were elected, along with one independent. 24 new governors in all from the midterm elections. >> this weekend, with polling data from eight arab countries, james zogby questions muslims about stereotypes', 9/11, and the war on terror. part of our extended holiday weekend of nonfiction books and arthur's on c-span2.
>> this year's stood in cambio documentary is in full swing. but load your video to c-span before the deadline of january 20 at for your chance to win the right -- grand prize of $5,000. for all the rules and how to upload your video, go online to studentcam.org. >> it is general ricardo's sanchez retired as the highest- ranking hispanic member of the military in 2006. a group called latino leaders network is the host of this event. it is about 40 minutes. she is an author, green in
color. >> we know representative sanchez as an advocate of the latino community and our constituents. he is also a recognized leader on national security, intelligence, and counter terrorism issues. represeative sanchez serve as the vice-chair of the house homeland security committee and also the ranking female member of the armed services committee. who better to introduce general sanchez then the hon. loretta sanchez. please welcome her to the podium. [applause] >> that you. how are you all doing? it is so nice to see a sold out crowd.
thank you to everybody on the committee for this because it just looks so great to stand up here to see all of you today. one of the reasons that i decided to run for congress and i have been in congress for 14 years is i think it is important for us to have leaders in our country. at all leaders, in the public sector, in government, leaders in the military, leaders in civil society, nonprofits, in our corporations, in our business arena, and i am talking about the latino community. it is important to shape policy, to move this country forward in a positive way, and i also believe it is incredibly important for us to have role
models. we talk about role models for our kids, and as a very important. but role models for ourselves, too, even those who have achieved so much. it is always important to see and to learn and to just think, i can do that, he can do that, i can do that, she can do that, i can do that. latinos serve and have served in our u.s. military in every conflict since the revolutionary war. there are currently over 149,000 latinos in active duty today, and there are over 20,000 latinos who are currently deployed to iraq and afghanistan. and since the beginning of
operation enduring freedom and operation iraqi freedom, over 500 latinos, man, and women, have lost their lives. and so is good to honor and recognize brave individuals -- people who go out and make the ultimate sacrifice, some who do not return, others who do. and as the ranking woman on the military committee, 14 years now, i even get coupons chair the terrorism subcommittee -- i have been to afghanistan and to iraq and to some of the other 120 countries where our military service today. and my first visit out to iraq, a commander at the time was a
commander called general ricardo sanchez. you can imagine, if you will, a woman in a man's world. now, i know that people still think about the military is a man's world even though we have so many women serving also, but i was on a delegation, and i worked with eight other guys and myself, and we sat down in sadaam's palace, and our commander was there, he had all of his underlings at around, and it was 15 or 16 of them to talk about what was going on. there was a twitter in the room, as i kept asking the general, all the tough questions. i say that to you because there are some people who do not realize what general sanchez was asked to do.
he was asked to go in to iraq, he was asked to eliminate the threat, he was asked to settle the place, to clean up the place, and he was asked to do it in what some people call it the fog of war, where there is chaos, where there is fire going on, where there are blasts in the middle of the night, where sometimes you do not know who is friendly and who is not, in a country most of us had never been to, in a country that america did not know that much about these people, in a culture for in two hours. -- foreign to us.
we placed general sanchez in the middle of everything. and i want to remind everybody that our defense secretary, donald rumsfeld, at the time, wanted to do this war inexpensively. so the traditional way for a military to go in is with lots of force and overwhelm. but that is not what happened. and so we placed general sanchez in a very difficult place, with not enough staff and not enough soldiers, and asked him to do the job we had typically asked others to do with more money, or staff, and more start. but since he was the highest-
ranking hispanic, that is usually what we anticipate, is it not? go get the job done, but we will give you half the stuff, right? oh, go and get the job, but we do not have a budget for it. all right? get out the latino vote, but we do not have the money, and the newspapers get free press. right? so why would we think it would be different but he did a great job, and i have got to tell you, as does my questions were on him as we finished at 2-to our session, i put my arm around him, he put his arm around mine, and we started speaking in spanish. and the rest of the boys in that crowd did not know what to do. [applause]
lieutenant general sanchez came from a very humble texas childhood, and at the age of 15, he signed up for the army junior reserve officer training corps. and in his book, the one you have, lieutenant general sanchez said i loved the military from the very beginning, and by the time i was a junior in high school, i knew it would be my vehicle out of poverty. general sanchez, you exemplify, you are why so many of our young people go to the military. and you have achieved what so many of us want to see our young people achieve.
you are a role model. lieutenant general santos, that served in vietnam and desert storm, in kosovo, and in iraq, as the ground troops commander, and in 2006, when he left the army, and believe me, i have been to a lot of ceremonies where are made men and women leave the army, and most of them are crying, because it is a family, it is their life. it is a little scary, maybe. when he left, he was our highest-ranking hispanic officer. and, general sanchez, to me you will always be our highest- ranking hispanic officer. ladies and gentlemen, give some wonderful applause to our
general, ricardo sanchez. [applause] >> [speaking spanish] [laughter] congresswoman, thank you very much for those humbling comments. secretaries, undersecretaries, distinguished guests, and especially the young people here, thfuture leaders of our hispanic community, i appreciate your taking your time to be here and to mickey, thank you for this honor. i am deeply humbled. we are to talk about how we
managed to achieve when a leader it getsonored with his award. he talks about how he has done what he has accomplished. i have done absolutely nothing extraordinary in my life. when i have done has been driven by the oath of office that made me a soldier. that oath demands loyalty to our constitution, and has as its foundation a very fundamental commitment to do our duty. as researchers e lee said, duty is to supply must word in our language. do your duty in all things. you cannot do more. he should never do less. i pray that i have lived up to my professional oath.
now i am an old soldier who is blessed with commanding international forces in battle. i have been tolerated for 37 years for by a beautiful wife in texas. i am a father who value is patriotism in his children had and has been blessed with two of my daughters, with the oldest having volunteered to go to iraq as members of the army and air force exchange service, because it was their duty to serve the country, not because they had to go. [applause] and now finally, we have entered the next amazing phase of our lives.
we are grandparents. and do not ask me to showed a picture of my granddaughter, because i have about 320 of them in mine iphone, ok? it will take you about 30 minutes to go to them all. the latest from yesterday. given my beginnings the odds must have certainly been against me, but i did not know what the odds were as i grew up deep in south texas, the poorest county in the nation. back then when i was grown up and pretty much still so today. by any standard, in spite of all my challenges, the lord has blessed me with success, happiness, and french ships that go well beyond anything that i had a right to dream of when i was down. i grew up in a very simple world, where the supposed things in life for oftentimes very hard to come by. a hot bath in the winter, a new pair of shoes during the school year, a secondhand sports coat, and warmth and our home. i learned to appreciate the
simplest things in life at a very early age. joy came from winning at marbles, director restaurant meal, and a new family car, which i would find out later was 10 years old when my father bought it. i was such a lousy cotton picker that i made more money tweeting stores and gardening than i ever made in the cotton fields. i pay was $1.50 of week, working two jobs as a custodian. the most i ever earned in a week picking cotton was 75 cents. i was blessed with a mother who died education even though she struggled to get her high school ged. i remember all of us walking to the high school campus and playing in the school yard while she attended night classes. this was the first example of perseverance that i remember.
my personal first challenge with perseverance came when i was told by my fifth-grade math teacher from of all my peers that i was a dummy and would never do well in math. guess what -- maybe this was the motivation to take back then -- [laughter] but i will tell you very honely that i was quite peeved. but it worked. after that instant i told myself that never again would i be embarrassed by any one in that manner and especially not in math. i took away the lesson that i had to work extra hard to prove myself worthy and probably the most impact full lesson that i learned was that i had to prove wrong those that had low expectations of me. this would prove critical because that was at the stereotypical environment that i would face immediately upon entering the army. no one expected hispanics to
secede. the volume of perseverance and never accepting defeat was reinforced later when i went to see a high school counselor to get help in completing an application for a military academy. instead of helping me -- and i can hear it as clear today as the day she said it -- she said, "what you need to do is you need to go be a welder just like a father," she did not help me. with the help of my junior rotc instructors, i was awarded both army and air force r.o.t.c. scholarships and was nominated to west point and the naval academy. [applause] many took credit for helping. teachers and counselors have a special responsibility to
encourage young people, instill confidence, set expectations and praise them in order for them to succeed. but it is ultimately the parents that must accept the responsibility for their failures, attitudes, successes, and their motivations. our society must recapture the to focus on education that has been slipping away from american society if we are to retain our greatness as a nation. i hope that i have taught my children and i hope to teach my grandchildren, and all that i have blessed to influence that they must dare to dream of greatness, that they must never allow anyone to keep them from realizing their dreams. many will try, all must fail. you can control your destiny, but it requires an unrelenting perseverance and a never-accept- defeat approach to life. during my early days i learned that character, love of family, and love of country were important. my parents knew that doing the right thing all the time was
important. when i made a commitment i was expected to follow through regardless of how difficult it was, facing the consequences of my actions was not the goshen, integrity was absolute. we were expected to tell the truth. somehow my parents always knew when i had gotten in trouble. before they asked us about it. lying make the consequences more severe. the lesson was always to the right thing, even when no one is watching, because someone will be. [laughter] those damn neighbors. this should not the tour us from those constant pursuits of the nearly impossible goal. i have never forgotten that a
man of character is valued. when you can compromise your integrity. if you choose to compromise your integrity then is gone forever. when i was in the throes of dealing with abu ghraib i sought counsel from some of the most senior general officers that are alive today. does that i had worked with, and i was told by a very senior general whose name all of you would add immediately recognize that i was too honest for my own good. unfortunately, i knew of no other way to live my life. the life lessons and values that i learned in south texas were seared into-sold as i went into a world that was foreign, complex, and unforgiving. i had never seen a black person until i was a senior in high school. english was a second language. discrimination was not a part of my life. all of us were hispanics, and the five or six and blows that
were in my senior class spoke spanish perfectly for survival. [laughter] and service the country was as idealistic notion that was an avid do to escape poverty. quickly we learn that american society was still struggling with integration and nondiscrimination. when i did not know is i was entering a profession which had set the standard for equal opportunity and nondiscrimination for over two decades at that time. i would live a sheltered life. in my initial assignment i understood what it was to be a minority, a hispanic, and a not west point graduate when i was told by my commander that my first efficiency report was going to be about 10% lower than the average because of where i had come from. he expected that it would take me about six to eight years,
half of a career, in order for me to catch up with the rest of the junior officers in the units. i did not know any better. i did not know to comply. when i did know was that i had to work relentlessly and a hell of a lot harder if i was that a chance of success in that unit. after being in the unit for eight months i was rewarded with the lousiest job in the unit -- dining facility officer -- because i have volunteered in my quest to improve myself to serve on an inspection team that found gross problems with unit's dining facilities. back then we call them mess halls, and they were truly a mess. what the commander told me -- lieutenant sanchez, he found the problems, now you get a chance to fix them. i did. after almost two years i had to serve as a staff officer and out on assignment to the operations staff i was given a desk in the corner, with duties that consumed up to two hours a week. i was reviewing training
schedules. that was my sole duty. that was if i took my time. i volunteered for everything in sight. after four months i was nominated and elected to be an aide to one of the general offices in the 82nd airborne division. on my exit call my boss told me that he had fought very hard to keep me from being assigned to this section because all of his experience with hispanics up to that point had been bad. the commander had forced him to give me the job. and it all became clear, the stereotypes. was no question if i was to succeed i would have to demonstrate commitment and my duty performance would have to go way beyond what was expected of an average officer.
i was doubly disadvantaged. i was a hispanic, and from the rotc commission. this barely changed during the course of my career. by the way, that loss and i are good friends to this day. i admired him in retrospect because he had the courage to sit in front of me and tell me that he had fought real hard to keep me from joining his team, but then after four and a half months he had and the one that personally recommended the to go pd 8 the camp to the number 2 general officer in the division. these experiences were never far away as i maneuvered into being a professional warrior per it without being able to share successes with a fellow hispanic officer, that created significant problems for me, and i never had a hispanic role model. in my initial assignment i
served with a poor region officer, but did not have a hispanic officer in the same unit again until about 15 years later. i did not serve with a hispanic of higher rank until i was a colonel in 1993, 20 years after i had joined the army. along the way the need for rapid adaptation, flexibility, introspection, emersion into the culture system of the military was indispensable to my success. what i struggled with was the different approaches that my heritage and cultural values drove me to and what was necessary for success. at times they were competing demands. one cannot deny that there was a before mentors and role models that are willing to assist their minority suborns
in understanding and helping them to work to the challenges of the profession. without hispanics -- they had discarded their by cs existed in american society. i've met some along the way who understood that i needed professional guidance, and they also understood that my perspective might be slightly different. they under wrote my mistakes. having served with great warriors, i learned that the most desirable straight in a warrior was courage. he might ask, so what is new for a warrior? i am not talking about physical courage. i learned during my time in a uniform that and battled a soldier does his duty and his reaction to adversity is instinctive, sometimes resulting in amazing feats of physical courage and sometimes resulting in card test. however, the greatest challenge for us is displaying moral courage, and this is applied across every profession.
moral courage is that indispensable characteristic of a warner in quest of a war era that amounts selfless when faced with a need to consciously decide whether he will stand up for what is right, knowing all along that all of the possible personal consequences are unfavorable. will you be willing to weather the storm that will inevitably follow? moral courage is an uncommon trade, of virtue, during the greatest challenge for most of us. many encourage me to speak out during the fall of 2007 against a strategy that got all right, -- strategy that had gone awry, but no one was willing to stand up and be counted in the maelstrom that followed. lee that true patriotism requires a man to act exactly contrary to that which he had
another. the motive which compels them, the desire to do right, is precisely the same. early on i learned that a warrior must always control high ground. this is a life lesson for all in that it applies to all the we -- that we do. as we face challenges, we must never leave the moral high ground. you must have the commitment and knowing that you will prevail. moments and some very tough seas that must be navigated, and as martin luther kean jr. said it will not be long because no light can live together. if you stay on that ground while controversy surrounds you, there will be many with opinions who will express them freely, especially the media, but few will be informed at less one of
know the truth. you must have the patience and willingness to stay out of the fray because you cannot win. as a young captain one of my bosses told me never wrestle with a pig, because you will both get dirty and the pig will love it. when you are engaged in controversy you are like a wounded zebra on the serengeti. the herd is mildly interested in your survival. if you survive, they will bring you back into the herd. this was a description given to me by one of those generals that i sought counsel from. this is an accurate metaphorical comparison, but it must not deter you if you find yourself in those situations. without question, the greatest challenge for a military leader
in high command this and -- lies in the politics of war. this not surprising and should be assured, since war is an extension of politics. the american way of war is fractured because modern war demands the synchronization of all elements of national power, and we as a nation have not quite figured out how to do that effectively. the challenges of injured- agency -- interagency operations often time overwhelm and undermine our war effort in total. as a nation, for this day, we continue to struggle. primarily because we have no mechanism to ensure unity of effort. the partisanship that has fractured our political process these is a contributor to these challenges. i have come away from my professional experiences with and on about the spirit of faith -- and undaunted spirit of faith that is unshakeable and a love of country that is stilli
have been asked by some of my foreign military friends, how can you be so well today, given what you, what your country did you? my answer is simple. i was blessed with seeing firsthand that american democracy has devolved into something that is not understood around the world. americans cannot appreciate our democracy unless he has seen other countries struggle with these issues. we have made great strides in advancing toward the ideal human condition that our forefathers envisioned when they enshrined the bill of rights as the first 10 amendments to our constitution. where truly without a question -- we are truly without a question the greatest democracy on earth. we do not understand what other what we have in america because it is tough to accept. while serving as commander of u.s. forces in kosovo, i encountered a leader who repeatedly asked me at a social function, what are you?
who are you? i cannot understand his question. i told him i was an american soldier and i was the commander of the forces. he insisted say no, but said, what are you? he said you are not an american. question. i told him that i was a mexican-american. i told him a little doubt about -- a little bit about my grandparents and my great grandparents and how they had come to united states. his response was, how can this be? how is it that a minority is commanded all of u.s. forces -- commanding all of u.s. forces here in my country? he could not comprehend what it was that equal opportunity. years later, as recently as a couple of years ago in a conversation with a western european leader, military leader, which started talking -- we started talking about the
opportunity for high command and strategic leadership within there are forces, and he stated flat out, he said he -- he said you would never have become a general officer in our country. your background and ethnicity would have automatically disqualified you. he might have become a lieutenant colonel or a crow. the country gave me great opportunities, but in the end i was asked to retire. we must be proud of being americans. we can never forget the tremendous benefits and rights that we possess, and the west responsibility to serve our country. our opportunities as hispanics within the military are unlimited. there's no other segment of society that has embraced equal opportunity and nondiscrimination to the same extent as the american military. this is what i meant earlier when i said i have lived a sheltered life. this is not to say that there are problems, because we still have glass ceilings. we still are not represented at
the strategic level of leadership at the same rate we're represented across society and in the military over the last 40 years, we have never had more than five to seven hispanic officers in the american time -- in the american army. in the last 75 years, we have had only three active duty three-stars. only one four-star. what is the problem? where just as capable, just as -- we are just as capable, just as competent, just as well educated as any other segment of thisfurthermore, when we finally hang up our universe -- uniforms, we turn to a society with multiple disadvantage is. not only do week returned to -- we've return -- we return to
being a minority, but we carry the burden that america has lost touch with its armed forces. sometimes we return to the problems we left behind when we joined our army. corporate america values that characteristic that have always be accredited to a warrior, but what they did not understand is the tremendous broad range of experiences and responsibilities that these warriors bring back to american society. the economic opportunity for a returning warrior is scarce, and america must rededicate itself to correct this injustice. now, in summary -- [applause] in summary, never forget what -- where you came from. it will give you humility and humility provides a window to the heart and soul of many who would otherwise shun you. many choose to acquaint themselves at the expense -- choose to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others, but that is not necessary to
succeed. there is absolutely nothing wrong with being idealistic and focused, and in fact if you are a minority, these traits are absolutely be essential if you -- absolutely essential if you are on to have a chance for -- going to have a chance for success, but you must temper these cash receipts -- these characteristics with moral courage and absolute integrity. throughout all my professional career i have learned in battle the same is true in our daily lives. all the challenges that the lord has allowed me to face have been a blessing, and he has taken me to the heights of lori and the -- heights of glory and the depth of despair. i will away proud of having served my country, and i thank him every day. where not guaranteed an easy -- we are not guaranteed an easy life, and in fact what is sacrifices, desperation, sadness, disappointment, and is
most important is that during the tops of times when never left the moral high ground, and we display the courage to walk by faith and not by sight. may god bless you, and thank you for your time. [applause] >> general santos, i am proud to present you with our eagle the leadership award with for your contribution to the latino community and your country. thank you. -- general sanchez.
>> coming up on c-span, academy award winning actor jeff bridges, the national spokesman for the no kids hungry campaign and then former peace corps directors. that is followed by a discussion about the legality of the governments of industry assistance package with law experts. later, in interview with naturalist jane goodall after her 50 years this edition with national geographic. >> this week marks the 47th anniversary of the assassination of president kennedy. we will speak with two former
secret service agents whose job was to protect the president on that day, the conspiracy theories about the assassination and the new book. >> the c-span networks provide coverage of politics, public affairs, nonfiction books and american history. it is all available for you on television, radio, online and on social media networking sites provide our content any time through the c-span video library. we bring our resources to your community. is washington, your way. the c-span networks, now available in more than 100 million homes, created by cable, provided as a public service. and now, jeff bridges on childhood hunger and his efforts to -- the problem in america by 2015. he is the national spokesman for share our strength, no kid hungry campaign.
we will also hear from maryland governor martin o'malley and bill shore, the founder and executive director of the share our strength foundation. this lasts for about an hour. >> good afternoon and welcome to the national press club. i'm a reporter for bloomberg news and this year pause president of the national press club. >> for more information about our press club and to -- to donate to our programs, visit our website. i understand that the widow of mr. free time is here today, and we welcome her to today's event. i would like to welcome our
speaker and attendees at today's journalist. i would also like to welcome our c-span and public radio audiences. after the speech concludes, i will ask as many audience questions as time permits. i would now like to introduce to you our head table guests. from your right, eleanor clift, columnist for "newsweek" magazine. rick dunham, the president of the air free time national journal's and library, past president of the national press club. linda kramer jennings. kelly wright, anchor and reporter with fox news channel. donilon want, reporter with usa today and the immediate past president of the national press club. billy shore, founder and executive director of share our strength and a guest of the speaker. andrew schneider, associate chair for killing her. skipping over our speaker for
the moment, we have melissa sharpen know, a producer with news took media. clark bunting, president of the discovery channel. governor martin o'malley of maryland, a guest of the speaker. [applause] you can tell there were some elections last week. justin duckham. finally, paul mccullough, executive producer with -- thank you. [applause] our audience may recognize today's guest as he is essentially no -- as he is a set -- as he is it affectionately known -- they call him the dude. he was in the 1998 cult film "the big lebowski."
he was named oscar winner this year. at the academy awards -- [applause] bridges received the best actor award for his portrayal of alcoholic country singer blake in the film "crazy heart." his latest role is national spokesman for share our cement dust share our strength, no kid hungry -- share our strength, no kid hungry campaign. the initiative is to stamp out under in children by 2015. this week he met with two top advisers of president obama, secretary tom vilsack and education secretary arne duncan, to spotlight a hidden epidemic. the children every day that do not have regular access to food. bridges in 1983 founded the end hunger network, a nonprofit
organization dedicated to feeding children worldwide. he has juggled this with his acting career. he has appeared in films like sea biscuit, the fabulous baker boris, -- bigger boys, and fearless. "thunderbolt and lightfoot," "star man," and the pratt -- and the contender where he prayed they'd -- played the president of the united states. he is the author of these remarks -- he did not know his legendary star tell me what that film meant when this is over. thank you. he is also a musician. he plays guitar and sang on the crazy part soundtrack. please welcome the oscar-winning actor, the duke himself, mr. jeff bridges. ['s -- the dude himself, mr. jeff bridges. [applause]
>> thank you. thank you all so much. volkswagen. i say that becau melissa challenged me. she has promised me she will buy me a cup of coffee if i work it into my speech, so i figured i would get it out of the way. well, i want to say thank you first of all to all the people here in this room and who are not in this room who have maybe no kid hungry campaign a reality. i want to thank con agra foods foundation, the food network our friends in the culinary industry, bob lanier of the
nba, and also to all the nba players involved, and the teachers. i especially want to a knowledge governor martin o'malley from maryland. [applause] the governor is the first to make his state a no kid hungry state, and he is an inspiration to all of us. hopefully all the rest of the governors. i would also like to a knowledge tony hall, a personal hunter hero of mine. thank you. it is an honor to be here today -- i am here to kick off the no kid hungry campaign. i'm the national spokesperson, and i thought i would begin by letting you know a little bit of my background regarding the
hunker issue. -- the honker -- the hunger issue. back in 1983 i helped out of organization called the end hunger network. we are all about creating programs and events that make priority, events like live aid. we were responsible for making all the facts and figures that were announced between the musical acts. we created the end under -- in ger er -- end hunk presidential awards, ceremonies that were held in the white house honoring under heroes. we created prime time to end hunger, and this was the first
time all three major television television shows. we created the u.s. and under hunter mayor awards sunday night at originally part of this week in america, all about what it is like living in our country and being a member of the working poor and not being able to afford putting food on the table and putting a roof over you in -- your kids' heads, and health issues and so forth. one of the reasons i'm pritchett truly proud of this is that my brother started in it, and he was nominated for a screen actors guild award. the film was also nominated for three emmys. we created a fast-forward to end hunger, raising $3 million for local food banks. most recently, we have gone into partnership with a wonderful organization that has been dealing with ending hunger
for as long as the network has, and that share our strength, a -- that is share our strength, and a wonderful organization. they have come up with a campaign to end childhood hunger in our country by 2015. and i am just so thrilled to be the national spokesperson for this campaign. according to the united states department of agriculture, currently we have 17 million of our children living in food- insecure homes, households where they are not certain if they are going to be able to get enough nutritious food to eat a healthy, active life. -- to lead a healthy and active life. that is one in four of our kids. we currently have 44 million
who those kids. poverty is a very complex issue, but feeding a child is not. there is some good news in all these statistics. the good news is that there are programs in place that we know work. and these are federally funded programs, step programs, formerly foods -- formerly food stamps. the school meal programs -- breakfast after-school and summer programs. so the problem is not having the right programs in place, the problem is that they are not reaching enough kids. there are 19 million kids eligible for school breakfasts. only half of those get the breakfast.
they're looking for school to be their main source of nutrition. only 15% of the kids who are eligible for that program are participating in it. we have got to turn that around. that is the key to ending hunger in our country. making sure that families know how to access these programs, enough food to try. -- to thrive. our kids, they do not have big direct political representation. no child really chooses to be hungry, and no one gains when a child is hungry.
when a child does not get enough nutritious food, they fall behind physically, academically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally. and of course, right along with them, their families suffer, their community suffers, and their country suffers. adults who experience hunger in their childhood -- they do not have the same educational and technical skills. so we create a work force that is not strong. so ending childhood hunger -- you know, it definitely ends the need list suffering of our -- the needless suffering of our children, but it significantly to solve america's problems, problems like health care, education, the work force, competitiveness in the --
let me back up. in the movies, they would say take two. what i am trying to say is that it is not only about ending this terrible suffering going on with our kids, but ending hunger is important for our nation. i just found out that there was a report from the pentagon that only 25% of our citizens between the ages of 19 and 14 are fit to -- 19 and 40 are fit to serve in the military. very patriotic to end childhood hunger, don't you think? with the recent election, we have found out that there are many issues that our country is in disagreement about. ending childhood hunger is not one of those. there is a lot of common ground
here. everyone wants to have our kids have a healthy start, so no kid hungry -- we are not proposing new programs, but we are proposing more effective use of the ones that are already in place. now, these programs that are available -- there are barriers to them. blockages that we have to look at. things like transportation, for instance. that might be a case of a child taking the bus to school that might not get them there in time to take advantage of the meals that are available to him. or several meal programs, you may not have transportation to that particular location that the meals are being held. shame, embarrassment. there is a huge factor in all
this for a kid to be pointed at, "yeah, that is johnny, he is a poor kid who cannot afford food. he has to eat the meal that the school provides." the parental side of that, being a parent and being ashamed and feeling i cannot provide for my child is -- it freezes your action. thinking i might not be eligible because i am working or the red tape -- there is too much red tape to figure out what to do here. so these are things that we have to look at, and these are the reasons that childhood
hunger exists in our country. so this attention and needs to be paid to these programs -- who is going to find that attention? who is going to give that attention? we can do that. come on, we are the guys. this is our country. we are the ones who are going to do it. [applause] i am asked sometimes, why are you doing what you're doing? why are you interested in that? it seems like kind of an oddit seems like the most natural thing in the world, really. i am so fortunate i was born in
a very lucky bed. my folks, talking about my dad, my mom, who were wonderful parents that i had. they were fortunate enough to be able to provide for their kids, as i am lucky enough to provide for my three daughters. i can imagine what it must be like the feeling of failure and depression that that just freezes you, you're not being able to afford to put food in front of your kids to eat. my profession involves getting into other people's shoes and seeing what that experience is like and trying to imagine what it must be like. but then to imagine what it must be like not being able to provide for your kids -- that is available to all of us.
we can all look inside and feel that. i think another reason that i'm doing what i'm doing is that i have hunter. a different kind of hunger, the hunger to create the kind of world that i want to live in. and i want my children to be raised in, to live, to bring up their kids and their grandkids. and this hundred to participate, we are all in this together. and i find that when i do participate, i feel connected, and that connection feels really good, and it feeds this hungry feeling i have. so that this kind of some of the reasons why i'm here.
i would like to encourage all of you and anyone who is out there listening to us talk here today to go to know kid hungry.org -- to nokidhungry.org, and take the new kid hungry pledge -- the no kid hungry pledge. i'm adding my voice to the national movement of people committed to ending childhood hung in our country. coming off i would like to encourage congress to do is a very important bill in the next couple of weeks that is coming up, the child nutrition bill. this is so important that we pass this bill to end childhood
hunger in our country. i want to invite the viewer is out there in tv land to call their congressman and encourage them to pass this bill. it is most, most important. [applause] before we get into the questions, there was a quote that i came across that wanted to share with you guys from the founder of the bank and the nobel prize winner. this is what he had to say. "the society that does not pay attention to its children is down to be on a rapid down slide. it can only make a dream come true through its children. thank you guys. [applause] >> thank you so much for your
time today. we have many questions from the audience. please keep them coming, as well as you can send them on the internet and we will get them from the audience. the first question is, "do you recall the first time the issue of how to the hunger -- of childhood hunger caught your attention? >> back in the early 1980's, i was made aware of the enormity of the problem of world hunger. the fact that number one we had enough food to end world hunger, we had enough money, and many countries had ended it. we knew the solution. the missing ingredient was creating the political will. of course, governments are made up of individuals, so i looked inside myself and said what am i willing to do to create that political will, not just to make a quick contribution to some organization that kind of
scratches my guilt itch, but something that works with my life, something that i can continue to do until the problem is ended. and so i said, well, i am an entertainer, involved in the media. doing things like we are doing right now, maybe that could help. so i created, along with jerry, who is also here today, the end hunger network. we work toward ending hunger
doing the stuff we're doing right now, putting out the message. about 20 years ago, we shifted our focus from world hunger to hunger right here in our country, because some of the safety nets i mentioned -- they were not being fully funded and there were holes in the safety net. so we thought it was important that we shift our focus to hunger here in america, and that is what we are up to now. >> several questions along the lines of this one. "what do you suggest the average american can do to reach the 2015 goal?" >> i would advise kind of the path that i took, and i think it is a good one, to look into your life and figure out what you might do. if you are a teacher, for instance, my gosh, the no kid hungry campaign is something that is falling right in line with what you can do. if you're students do not have enough calories to make as brain cells fire, they are not going to be able to learn. so feeding kids is also an educational issue.
so you just kind of look inside, whatever you can do is something you can do. i love the title of the organization that we are in cahoots with, share our strength. we all have strengths. well, sure that. >> what can president obama due to reach the goal of childhood hunger? >> he has done a wonderful thing already. he has declared that we can end childhood hunger by 2015. that is like kennedy saying we are going to put a man on the moon in 10 years. that creates a whole new context for the problem. the guys that are doing about the right kind of fuel in the shape of the rocket -- now, come on, we can put aside this agreement and figure out how to do this. this is something we can all do together. i think what president obama has done is a wonderful thing, and now it is up to us to
support that. >> earlier you mentioned the pentagon study about the lack of physical fitness among 14 to 19-year-old. that study was not just about hunter but about childhood obesity. there is an issue about hundred and child who b.c. in the u.s. how do you square of those about childhood obesity in the u.s. how you square those happening together? >> obesity and hunger are kind of two sides of the same coin. you know, it is interesting. i went to a terrific school here in d.c., the l.c. stokes charter school that is taking all of the federal money given to schools to provide food to their kids. normally the food that is
provided is not very nutritious -- pizza and pizza pockets and these kinds of things. and this particular school, the l.c. stokes school -- they took that money and they hired a chef who goes out and shops, and it turns out it costs less for her to shop that way they use this food that the government has, you know, some kind of connection with that you get these fast food stuff. so at this school she encourages the kids to build a beautiful vegetable rden, and they use that garden for the salad bar. we are talking about obesity. it occurred to me, you know, if you're a kid and you're having pizza pockets, kind of trashy food, your palate is going to dig that stuff. that is what you're going to be
in the habit of eating. if you're an adult, you'll say i won a p to pocket. -- i wanted pizza pocket. -- i want a pizza pocket. that is my thoughts on that. >> the record federal budget deficits. costs in government. sometimes it can be -- when you are talking about pizza pockets, which tends to be less expensive than other issues, it would seem that the trend from the overall government perspective would be more pizza pockets, few were -- fewer salads, rather than the other way around. so from a policy standpoint, how do you convince people? they see deficits and revenues, that they can actually support this and this should be a government priority? >> for one thing, it does not
cost any more. this school, with the same money the government is providing, they are buying more nutritious food for their students. -for a cheaper prize. -- for a cheaper price. because, you know, and the kids -- they shop specifically for what their kids are needing. when you think about it, you have to think long term on this deal. it is not only a hundred issue, -- and a hunger issue, it is an educational issue, an economic issue, and a military issue. we are talking defense. it weakens us in so many other areas, we have to address it. not only for the suffering kids,
but also for our nation's security. >> this is a question from the internet. "where are this country prosperities when funds for food stamps are cut to hire back laid-off teachers? why must children's nutritional and educational needs have to compete for government funds?" >> that is a good question. billy? let me introduce billy shore, the founder of share our>> thank you. [applause] >> first i would like to have the opportunity to thank jeff for your incredible leap -- during credible leadership. this has meant the world to us and you're making a huge impact. we just had the opportunity to meet with the secretary of one of the things report talked about as although some cuts had been made in programs for kids
to fund teachers, there have congressional leadership has said that if we pass the nutrition act, if that becomes law, they will make sure that these other offsetting cuts, which would detract from food stamps and other benefits, that those will be restored. we have tried to create a point with no kid hungry, a program that does not take from one to give to another, that -- jeff has used the figure accurately over the last day or so, there is $1 billion available to state governments to get kids more enrolled in these programs, something that martin o'malley has made happen in maryland, something that other states are now looking to do. side playing off of the other. [applause] >> actually, while we are being -- bringing the band onstage, governor o'malley can please come on down.
we have a question for you, governor. you were one of the first states to embrace this. how are you going to make this campaign worked in maryland? >> sure. we first partnered with share strength, but the truth of the matter is that because of the existing problems out there, this is more than just political organizing, and addressing those -- what do you call them, gaps? areas of underachievement where you know where the kids are most vulnerable. it also happens to be the places where you have the greatest opportunity to do the greatest amount of good if you would only focus your efforts. so increasing enrollment, you cannot do this sort of thing where you wake up in 2015 and say to yourself this is the year we are going to eradicate childhood hunger. you have to do it not even annually.
the government usually only measures the input. you have to measure the output with the additional kids enrolled in these programs every two weeks. if you do that, it might only be a couple of hundred every couple of weeks, but over a period of time, you look back over your you're making the grass move in the right direction. over a period of five years, you can say we signed up five times as many kids for school breakfast as we signed up three years ago. it is something that people work against deadlines. people worked against deadlines, they like measurable results. if you measured it openly and transparently and do it against the deadlines and people are accustomed to working against in their own businesses, you can make a lot of progress.
>> ladies and gentlemen, billy shore and governor o'malley. switching over to a different topic, we have several audience topic -- audience questions about your film career. transitioning into that, there are many celebrities with many causes promoting many were the causes for many were the reasons. there's a certain amount of attention you can give for these issues. how do you set yourself apart from other celebrities with your cause? do you think people are getting celebrity fatigue, as yet another hollywood actor saying what to do for the world? >> i do not know about that. i'm just a guy out there trying to make the world -- like the man said, "i have a dream." well, me, too. i got to feeling like the other guy said, i am not the only one, you know. i think we can all use our imagination and imagine how it could be better. i do not know about that thing
that celebrities are not supposed to say stuff or something. i'm not sure. i do not have a sound bite for that one. i do not know. >> that you talked during your speech about getting into the shoes of your characters. what was the character's shoes that was most difficult for you to put on. >> well, it is funny. two come to mind. one was -- anybody seen "the vanishing"? i played a terrible person. i buried people alive. that was kind of challenging. [laughter] the opposite of that was "crazy heart," extremely difficult because music is so dear to me
and i was getting a chance to work with my dear friend t bone burnett and john goodwin. man, i was anxious. i did not want to drop that ball. this is going to be such a great opportunity. that created a different kind of difficulty for me. >> what kind of research did you do for opel quote crazy heart"? what sort of like for you living for the preparation of that road? >> well, the boozing. us actors have something called cents memory that i use. -- called sense memory that i use. what we did was, when i first got the script, i turned it down because there was no music
attached to it, no songs. i thought if this movie does not have good music is not going to be any good. then one at -- then when i found out that my good friend t. bone burnett was going to be involved in the music, that was good. but we did not have many songs. so the preparation as far as being a musician and so forth was writing those songs and working with a wonderful band that t-bone put together. getting the guitar and being the guy as soon as i could. >> you are a prolific actor, and there always seems to be other projects coming up, and one of those is a remake of a famous film. how does one prepare to be in a remake of a film such as "true grit," with so many know as an iconic performance?
>> when i got the call from the coen brothers to do true grit, and the coen brothers are -- c'mon, "lebowski," and i said why are you guys doing that? and they said we are not really referencing the film, we are referencing the charles portis book. and i read the book and i said that now i see why. it is a wonderful book. >> if there were any film that could be remade, what would you want to act in and what role would you play? >> that is interesting. what pops into my mind is "sea hunt."
and the role i would play with the producer. i do not think i would step in to those particular flippers. but, you know, my father did such a remarkable job. [applause] scientists and oceanographers come up and say, "your dad is the reason i am doing this." i got involved recently with a wonderful organization called the pollution coalition, that is trying to get rid of single- use plastic bottles. they say they are biodegradable, but really happens is they just break down into very small little particles, that microscopic organisms in the ocean eat, and the fish eat those and the birds eat those, and it pollutes the whole planet.
we have these five big world pools that are just packed with plastic. i do not have the facts in my mind right now, but it's billions, i want to say -- millions, millions, i get that confused some time. but this is a job for mike nelsonyou know? it is a big concern for me, and i'm working on saving our oceans as well. that is something that popped into my mind. >> how about roles that you would like to play and films that you would like to -- >> ok. how long do i have to think about that? i'm not one of those guys who says i have got to play lincoln or something like that.
i sort of take it as it comes. every once in a while i will produce a film like "hidden in america," that beau was in and i produced, and that was very gratifying. "american heart" is something i really went out in an aggressive way to get a movie realized. but i mainly just kind of feel the stuff that comes in, a lot of wonderful stuff that comes in. >> a couple of people have questions about your marriage. they are good questions. they both say you have one of hollywood's most admired marriages. any tips you can share? and our susan and your children involved in the fight against childhood hunger? >> was the first question again?
>> jeff bridges, tips on a healthy marriage. >> with me and my wife, it was love at first sight. i have a picture. i can tell a long story, i have a bit of time. i have a picture in my pocket from way back let me start the tail in a different way. i am in montana, we are shooting "rancho deluxe," and i see this gorgeous girl who was working there at this dude ranch making beds, serving food and stuff. she is gorgeous but she has a broken nose and two black eyes. but i cannot take my eyes off her. i keep flipping over the paper of the magazine, and she bust me every time.
i finally get up the courage to ask her out, and i sd would you like to go with me? and she says, no. and i said, really? and she says, no, it is a small town and maybe i will see you around. 15 years later, we are married and we have a couple of kids. i go through the mail and i open up the makeup man from a particular show, and he says that he was going to my files and he says i came across a photograph of you asking a local girl out. i thought you might like it. it is a picture, two photographs a two shot and single shot of my wife. capture a shot of the first words you ever uttered to your wife, asking why you ever go out? no. that is one secret. i have that in my pocket
whenever i think, was she the right girl? c'mon, who are you flying? -- who are you fooling? practice -- that is how you create a good marriage. you practice. you pay attention. this stuff about ending childhood hunger is all the same stuff. you pay attention to what is going on and you participate. we have been married 33 years now. it comes up. [applause] we have this little technique that we do sometimes when it gets kind of rough. we sit opposite each other, look at each other, and one person's task is to express, say what they are feeling.
the other person is to receive, listen, do not be thinking when she stops talking i am going to say this. just listen, get her side, and then when she kind of runs out, now i go. and we go back and forth like that. it might not solve the problem in that instance, but something has shifted out of that. that seems to be a good technique that helps our marriage. >> what is the greatest challenge you have had to face as a "salesperson"? -- as a "famous person"? there are the quotes. [laughter]
>> it is a moving question. i'm trying not to break down because it is right here. give me a second and maybe i can get something else out. [applause] you guys know what i'm talking about. this is the most important thing right now. the movie, the reality of ending childhood hunger in our country is the most significant thing i have ever done. [applause] >> following on that, do you
have any film projects planned or documentary projects that may be spotlighting the hunger issue? >> yeah, visiting the l.c. stokes school, i thought maybe let's share a documentary about the school. we are looking toward may be a documentary of that school and other schools doing this, and try to, you know, share our knowledge. one of the things that the governor here -- in stepping up and being the first, and now we're talking about california where i am from. i hope that governor o'malley will help jerry brown get with the program, to come and make california a no kid hungry state.
>> you are going into the recording studio after you leave washington. what are your plans for the new album? >> i get to work with my buddy t-bone. i get to go to texas tomorrow where he will receive the stephen bruten award, our friend who died shortly after "crazy heart" was completed, and will be playing there. then we are going to zip back to l.a. for maybe six days, and we will go to a recording studio with this incredible ban that he has put together. as far at -- with this incredible band that he has put together. as far as the songs go, t-bone went through a bunch of my songs the other day, and a bunch of john's songs, my oldest friend that goes back with me to the fourth grade. we have been painting together and doing all sorts of creative
things together. maybe some greg brown tunes. anybody know who greg brown is? yeah, man. check him out, he is good. >> one question that you're much less likely to be asked once you leave washington, d.c., but it is pretty common to be asked when you are here. you have been actor, politically active. would you advise your children or grandchildren to go into movies or politics? [laughter] >> a couple of things come to mind with that. you asked before where my kids involved with this issue. all of them are and they all participate in different ways. my eldest daughter, isabel, she joined the not too long ago on the first socially engaged buddhist symposium that my friend bernie glassman gave in massachusetts, and it was a
wonderful gathering. and isabel is close at my side to me, many projects getting to hunger. >> tomorrow is veterans day. this questioner from the audience would like to hear about your experience in the coast guard. >> it was the coast guard reserve, seven years, and i kind of -- i was very proud to serve my country in that way. my brother was also in the coast guard, and i remember doing i would go out and do these sorts of things for weeks at a time, and in a way kind of reminded me of a movie.
i would be dressed up to play a character -- i am an actor, been raised as an actor, so most of it seemed like movies to me. >> a question once again about film remakes. if "big lebowski" gets remade, what young actor would you like to see in your role? >> they will make it so many years down the role, but there will be new guys. what actors could play lebowski? who is that guy in the movie with robert downey jr., a greek? gelifanopolous? [laughter] >> who is a young actor that
people should be paying attention to, watching more closely? >> good question. no one is coming to my mind. well, i know a perfect one. jordan bridges, my nephew. yeah, jordan. >> also, how did your father influence your acting? >> good one. well, unlike a lot of people who are actors, he really encouraged all of his kids to go into show business. he just loved it. my first movie was when i was 6 months old. his good friend john cromwell
was making a movie, and he was visiting the set with my mom and they needed a baby in the scene. my mother said, here, take my baby. i was a rather happy baby, and in the scene i was supposed to cry. so my mother said, just pinch him. [laughter] so they pinched me, and now we cut maybe 30 years later and i am making a remake of a movie that jane may. her movie was called "out of the past." my movie was "against all odds." and jane is playing the mother to her original character's part. i have a scene with her, and i said i am having a little problem in voting here, would you just give me a pinch?
[laughter] anyway, my dad was very enthusiastic and wanted all his kids to go into acting. i can remember him sitting on his bed, teaching me all the basics, seeming like is happening for the first time, do not just wait for my mouth to stop and then you say your line, you have to hear what i am saying and then respond. come back and i want you to do is completely different, things like that. he told me all the basics, but the most important lesson -- and this is really evident when i got to work as an adult in two movies in "tucker" and "blown away." whenever he came on the set, the joy that he was experiencing was contagious. he loved what he was doing so much, and i think that kind of
this what i learned, his whole approach not only to his work but just his life was it -- he was a very joyous guy. >> a few minutes ago you were talking about the most difficult parts of dealing with fame. how do you encourage other people who are well-known actors, celebrities are such, who may not be involved in hunger or other causes, how and why they should get involved to use their platforms as well? how do you encourage other people at an event who may have some power to draw upon, how do you encourage them to get involved in hunger or whatever you choose? >> just do it. you make that declaration to yourself, and things will pop up and people will support that.
>> we are running low on time, but there are a few important matters to take care of. we appreciate that. we would like to remind our members and guests of future speakers here. on november 29, we will have steven chu, the secretary of the u.s. department of energy. and we'll have the chairman and ceo of the coca-cola co. speaking here at a national press club luncheon. the second important item of business, the presentation of the coveted national press club mug. [applause] >> wow, isn't that good? notovernor o'malley does even have one of those. [laughter] we will get that taken care of. we do have a final question here.
dealing with -- a lot of the words have been spoken here, and you were quoting something the speakers in your own address, and many famous names have come up in this address as well. people have words to live by, to abide by. i'm just wondering, what are the words that the dude abides by? >> connection, joy. those of the words that pop up in my mind. participation, you know. enjoy the fact that we are live right now and can participate in this world and make it a beautiful place. >> thank you, jeff bridges. [applause]
[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] we would also like to thank you for coming today. we thank the national press club staff for putting together a wonderful meal today. [applause] as well as our organizer, mullin the coat, the library's staff that does the research, and edith for all of the support they're doing for journalism and the support that you, the audience, have for supporting the national press club today. for more on how to acquire a copy of today's program or to join the national press club, please visit our website. thank you again to our speaker and guests.
spokesman for no kid hungry campaign. 16 republicans, seven democrats, and one independent. but one of the new democrats -- one of the new republicans it is nikki ha;ey. pennsylvania also has a new governor. he is a state attorney general. he is retired from the army national guard. >> this weekend on "book tv," james zogby questions muslims about stereotypes, and the war. that is part of our extended holiday weekend of nonfiction
books and authors on c-span2. >> every weekend on c-span3, experience american history tv. saturday, 48 hours of people and events telling the american story. and i would guess accounts of events that shaped our nations -- and eyewitness accounts of events that shaped our nation. american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c- span3. >> the peace corps is celebrating its 50th anniversary. eric williams, the agency's current director, joined others to talk about what they have learned from running the peace corps. from harvard university, this is about one hour, 15 minutes. >> a story of a long-awaited return to a place where generations of had a history of making a difference.
president kennedy challenge to america's young people to help people in need, promote good will over the world. that challenge became the peace corps. tonight our story comes from sierra leone, where a brutal civil war forced the peace corps to pull out over a decade ago. tonight, ron allen has the story of the first u.s. volunteers to venture back in. has the story of the first u.s. volunteers to venture >> jessica now does without so many things she took for granted in new hampshire. she draws on well water for a mornings in a bucket shower. breakfast is a fried chicken. away fromrd being home. waking up and thinking, i want starbucks. >> she is among 37 u.s. peace corps volunteers in sierra leone.
a desperately poor nation, devastated by civil war, that so dangerous even the peace corps pulled out. 15 years later, the first american trainees are back, learning a local language, preparing to be teachers in schools so ravaged students often do not even have books or pencils. scotts order was a firefighter in northern california. >> when things are hard, they are good, and that is what the peace corps is about. >> the most important step is learning to live like the people they are here to serve. >> i wanted to be in a situation where i could when my skills to people who need it. there is no better place than here. >> he has his positions in missing quote -- his possessions in a single room. no running water, just a few comforts of home. >> this is a basic. bare minimum. >> they first came together in washington this smer.
mcchrystal a program as a civilian embassadors launched bike -- recruits to a program as civilian embassadors launched by president kennedy. leaders here hope the arrival of the americans send a clear signal to the rest of the world that this country is peaceful, save, and moving forward. over the years, volunteers have left a lasting impression. he is an accounting here with fond memories of an american teacher from 40 years ago. what would you say to him? >> thank you. >> it is the warm welcome that they believe will help them through the tough days ahead, including the drudgery of laundry. show me your knuckles. >> my war wounds. >> we are not going to turn the country around, develop it, but if we can teach kids. >> you are a little part. >> they are carrying on what has
been a tradition and adventure for a young americans lending a hand in far flung corners of the world. >> and because they are carrying on a great tradition, in almost 50 years since the peace corps started, more than 200k00,000 americans have served in 139 countries. you can see a gallery of the photographs and submit your around at nbc.com. that is our broadcast for this wednesday night. thank you for being here with us. i am brian williams. we hope to see you back here tomorrow evening. good night. [applause]
>> good evening and thank you for coming. i am mary jo bane, the academic dean at the kennedy school, and i am delighted to welcome you to tonight's event. the john f. kennedy for at the kennedy school is celebrating a number of evens in honor of the 50th anniversary of john f. kennedy's presidency, and tonight is one of those events. we are celebrating the fact that 50 years ago this week president kennedy announced the formation of the peace corps. we have with us tonight the current director of the peace corps and three past directors of the peace corps. they cover four administrations
and about 20 years of the peace corps's history. the hon. elaine chao was director of the peace corps from 1991 to 1992, during the first bush administration. she went on to become the secretary of labor in the second bush and administration, and she was the longest serving secretary of labor since '05, and the first asian american woman in the cabinet. she is a distinguished fellow at the heritage foundation. mark gearen was director of the peace corps between 1995 and 1999. before that, he was a director of communications for the clinton white house. since 1999, he has been the president of hobart and william
smith college. gaddi vasquez was director of the peace corps between 2002 and 2006, during the second bush administration. before that, he worked at the securities and exchange commission and worked in politics in california. he is currently vice president for public affairs at southern california edison. aaron williams is the current director of the peace corps. he came to the peace corps directorship from all long career and development with us aid. he was a peace corps volunteer in theominican republic back in the late 1960's. director williams asked that we begin our evening tonight by observing a moment of silence in honor and respect for a peace
corps volunteer who passed away while serving in niger and a few days ago. her name was stephanie camp, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. thank you for that. and now we will start the evening by thinking back 50 years ago this week, when president kennedy was at the university of michigan and, late at night, doing what you will see. >> how many of you are willing to spend your days -- as technicians or engineers? how many of you are willing to work in the foreign service? on your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one or two years in the service, but on
your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, i think will depend the answer for another our free society can succeed. i think it can. and i think americans are willing to contribute. [inaudible] >> so, i was a peace corps volunteer in liberia between 1963 and 1965. i was in liberia when president kennedy was assassinated. and as i look back on that experience in my own life, i can say that without question it changed my life. it expanded the world for me. it introduced me to public service. it set me on the path to the career i have had up until this time. those of us who were in live. at that time were mostly teaching, teaching in elementary
and secondary schools -- those of us who were in liberia at the time. as i look back on that, i think that we did no harm. i think we talked a lot of children. i think we were pretty good ambassadors for the united states of america -- we talked a lot of children. we probably helped keep the president in office for an additional couple of years -- we taught a lot of children. that may not have been a good thing. we went in with the idealism to change the world and came out with a better sense of what it was. so that is one volunteers reflection back. you guys have been more recent and have had much broader experience, so i am hoping you would start us off by each taking a few minutes to speak briefly about the role of the peace corps in the lives of
volunteers, in the lives of the nation, and in the lives of the world. >> i was not a volunteer. in fact my successor in 1993 was the first peace corps director who was a returned peace corps volunteer, and that was a big deal with the agency, because the returned peace corps volunteers wanted of returned peace corps volunteer to be a director. i think my experience was, as a director, was a very enlightening one for me as well. i learned so much about the world, even though i myself have had a very diverse background. just to sidetrack a little bit, one of the reasons i never became a volunteer was because i
was an immigrant to this country. my formative years were spent in trying to survive in this country. so i did not really understand that there were all these other opportunities, institutions that were available. and also, i was the oldest of six children. as a new immigrant family, it was my responsibility to help my parents support my younger sisters. but my experience coming as an immigrant was helpful in my experience as a peace corps director when we tried to recruit, because we have underrepresentation in certain racial and ethnic groups, and we tried to find why that was happening. a lot of times there were a lot of new immigrants -- the ability to forgo income for two years was simply a luxury that not
many could afford. so that was helpful, in terms of testing our message to attract a more diverse work force. there are some wonderful people here. i do not want to take too much time. one of my most vivid memories when i travelled abroad is how much i learned from the volunteers and how enthusiastic they were, and how each one of them, regardless if they had good or bad experience, have all said that the two year or more experienced was a seminal part of their lives. their whole perception of the world changed. sometimes a volunteers were disappointed that they could not do more to contribute to improving a country. what i tell them is, you as a single volunteer may not see the fruits of your labor, but i get
the chance to travel throughout the world and to see the collective work of volunteers, almost a generation after generation, spread across the world, and the picture that i seek is a powerful picture of young young americans who are willing to devote their lives to a country they have never been to, to a place they have never seen, to people they have never known, and try to help, and that is a powerful statement. >> thank you very much for having us. like ever went up here, i think we have all been thinking this week about the 50 years of the peace corps and what that would mean. to your question, i have thought of the domestic dividends. i think elaine reflected well about the difference for an individual peace corps volunteer, for the difference they make in communities around
the world. i think one thing to put into the mix of our conversation is the domestic dividend, and what it means for our country, as brian williams reported. there now are 200,000 americans to have had this experience. when i was director, there were six members of congress who had been peace corps volunteers -- three republicans, three democrats. perfect. you see it everywhere. people have gone on to lives of consequence in business and law and medicine, all whole range of fields. it is with excitement that we gather here for the 50th. one thing to kick off, i think it may be time for those of us who care about the peace corps and certainly when you think about -- president kennedy did the bold idea, but really
executed by sargent shriver, to cast an unflinching eye at the peace corps today. we should scale up with more volunteers and more funding, as director williams is trying to do. more americans want to do it then is allowed for. we should look at the length of service. is it one size fits all? with more americans coming to the peace corps with different experiences. should we look at the use of technology? sargent shriver and went up to me with the first peace corps volunteers, they were sending cards back home and -- postcards back home and getting answers every six months. the world has changed. more partnerships. we've created ngo's and groups around the world. how do we expand international volunteer service?
as we celebrate the 50th, i think shriver and kennedy would be urging us to think in different ways for how we honor the legacy of those 200,000 volunteers. for the past, for future volunteers, a ticket to the next 50 years. for my part, it was a privilege of a lifetime to be the director of the peace corps. i think we would all agree with that. it is something that -- i am excited to be able to reflect with you on this conversation. >> i will build on what mark said with regard to serving as director of the peace corps was an opportunity of a lifetime. it was transforming for me because it gave me the opportunity to lead and manage an organization of volunteers and professional staff who embraced fully the bold idea tha
t president kennedy articulated. subsequent to my duties as director of the peace corps, i served as ambassador to the united nations organizations and roll up from 2006 to 2009, where we dealt principally with food and agricultural policy during the global food crisis. and as i traveled the world dealing with these new issues, it was always a bit astounding to me that wherever i traveled, the fact that i did then the director of the peace corps, even in countries where the peace corps did not have the existing programs, have left such a meaningful and powerful legacy, not only in capital cities and amongst the ranks of leaders of government, but amongst community leaders and people at the grassroots, people who still remember the impact of
americans serving in these communities. i will never forget my first trip overseas was to afghanistan shortly after the bombing had ceased, and we were meeting with the administer of women's affairs in kabul, which you can imagine is a formidable task. the minister spoke a great englis and i said to her, you speak great english. where did you get your training? she said to me, i was taught english by peace corps volunteers. those other kinds of special moments that, when you have these encounters, you realize the powerful legacy of the dividend that has been talked about internationally, where presidents and prime ministers were touched by americans in these rural villages anda have left that legacy. as an ambassador, i had the opportunity to interact with
chiefs of mission. i just met with a gathering of former u.s. ambassadors in texas. many of them said, i was a peace corps volunteer. one many leaders around the world are making an impact and making a distance. all of the first director of the peace corps post-9/11. my wife looked at me and said, "are you sure you want to take this job? this is going to be a tall order." she wondered if americans might turn away from the idea of going overseas in the aftermath of 9/11. a few communications and press media folks conducted interviews with me as the first
director after 9/11. they said surely you must be concerned that americans may not want to go overseas as peace corps volunteers. ladies and gentleman, i am pleased to tell you that the numbers of applicants skyrocketed to historic levels. the interest in the peace corps escalated in a dramatic fashion. and i think it speaks volumes about the american spirit and the willingness that we are not content to just be spectators. in effect, we want to be participants and shape our world and our nation, the future of this world. but also the fact that americans young and old are seeking the opportunity to advance the idea that president kennedy articulate it. and 50 years later, it remains a bold and strong ideal. i have always believed that one of the tests of a great idea is its sustainability. and if the journey of 50 years is a test, we are in a great place for the peace corps to do even greater things in the years
and generations to come. thank you. >> what a wonderful introduction from a director. i find it is a privilege to say that i have worked for the peace corps, acting having -- after having served as a volunteer in the peace corps. i never imagined i would be someone with the opportunity to do this. i have been a beneficiary of able to establish volunteers throughout this tenure. i have been in 18 countries. let me share what i consider to be one of the great, great success stories of the peace corps. when i go to the country, typically a will meet with the ambassador in the country. often, the embassador or some of the staff are former peace corps volunteers. i will see the government officials, the minister of
health, the minister of education. in their early years, they had a positive experience as a peace corps volunteer. i want to talk about what i just saw last week in our very first peace corps country. i had business with our volunteers in education and health and information technology and small business to the element, etc. i will run into the heads of various international ngos doing great work in the field. they also are peace corps alumnus. we have this great net -- this great nexus 50 years later, which is a testimony to president kennedy, and the people who find the best way to find places for these volunteers to serve. i was in gonna last week. , was our first country -- ghana was our first country.
10 months after kennedy spoke, the first group went to ghana. by any stretch of the imagination of government, that is miraculous. [laughter] we have all had experiences with initiatives that did not launch that fast. we have had 50 years of uninterrupted service in ghana. i had a chance to meet with the leadership in government, the private sector, the nonprofits, and society. every man and woman told me they had had a very positive, seminal experience, a life changing experience, with a peace corps volunteer. this is an incredible testimony for what the peace corps has done and the service america has provided in a country like ghana. everywhere you go, you see remarkable americans dedicated to service, who are patient, who are innovative, who are making a
difference at the grass-roots level. they are working in the community, side by side. the peace corps volunteer might be the only american these communities will ever have the opportunity to get to know face to face, the true face of america. it is americans working in these places. the volunteers go there. we need to grow because more americans want to serve. as we grow the peace corps, we want to make sure we invest in training, staff, and support for volunteers. we are doing that. fortunately, the peace corps has always enjoyed bipartisan support. we continue to enjoy that support marvelously. i think that one of the things we need to do to build on the legacy of john f. kennedy and the marvelous dynamic leadership of the shriver is that we need to look for ways to expand the peace corps.
this year, we moved into indonesia, sierra leone, and columbia -- colombia, three countries that were part of the kennedy-shriver legacy. will continue to expand. the peace corps on the 50th anniversary gives us a tremendous mandate from the american people. i always told my staff and the people i talked to about the 50th anniversary. it is not so much an opportunity for us to pat ourselves on the back and say look how much we gave and how much we received. it is too late to let america celebrate the singular opportunity, this wonderful idea that president kennedy launched 50 years ago, october 15. look at what it has wrought. it is a truly major performance that has affected many. >> i want to ask a couple of questions about the effect of
the peace corps, and then i want to pick up on mark's question about the future. let me ask you this question. many of you have spoken, as i did, about the effect of the peace corps on the peace corps volunteers, and on training a country -- trimming a cadre of people who make contributions in other ways. let me ask you to speak more specifically. i would like to start with you, director williams. you came out of the aid community and came to the peace corps from working with usaid. what has the peace corps contributed, positively and negatively, to the development effort in africa, in some of the less developed countries of the world? then i hope others will come in on that question. >> i think the most important thing the peace corps has contributed to the development process, and one thing that is important to the development process -- it is a generation
presses. the revolution took place in 1960. we need to reinvest in security worldwide. that is current in terms of development. the peace corps has always worked at the grass-roots level, the community level, in terms of developing capacity, inspiring young people to get an education, to take on leadership responsibility. i think that is the important factor in what the peace corps provides in terms of recipient countries, in terms of how americans can interact on a global basis. that is a bottom-line accomplishment, one of the greatest investments we can hope to achieve. it is developing capacity at the local level. for example, whether we are working in health or education, we are trainer's of people. we are the ones who are trying to make sure we extend the hands of the community working on their priorities, because we have to be invited into a country, and we work our national priorities. to me, that is the most
important thing we do. >> the important thing is that the peace corps has to remain relevant. part of that, as the director has alluded to, is that you have to have a willingness to adapt development programs that help the peace corps in a host country. you have to be invited. during my tenure as, there was a program in mexico, which was a first in the history of the peace corps. it required delicate negotiations so the program was acceptable to the host government. it had to be relevant and a little bit out of the box to what the peace corps have traditionally done calling in to countries. this is what the government of mexico and representatives of the government were looking for. you have to be constantly assessing and raquel betting the programs throughout the peaceful world and to assure they are relevant, pertinent, and that it is not only yielding a positive for those countries. frankly, the volunteers in their service have to walk away with a
sense of fulfillment, a sense of accomplishment, which in turn creates another recruiter for the peace corps once you come back to the united states and begin to readjust to home life. so i think those are critically important. i think the training component is very, very important, the component of trading in a country to peace corps volunteers. it is very relevant. volunteers want to feel they are well suited, well-trained, well- equipped to do their jobs, so there is a feeling of fulfillment and sustainability when difficult times come. i think any volunteer would tell you this challenges come earlier than later sometimes. that is very important. i think the relevance. i think in terms of what is negative, i will not name names, but i will simply say that some of the most agonizing episodes of our time, and i am not sure it is negative, but it can be viewed as negative, is when y