This week on Breaking Battlegrounds, we are honored to be joined by Congressman Neal Dunn and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, both Republicans from Florida. Later in the program, sports journalist Ron Futrell calls in with his take on the A’s proposed move to Las Vegas.
Dr. Neal Dunn grew up in an Army family and was stationed at over 20 places before college including in Vietnam during middle school. He was an Eagle Scout and National Merit Scholar before matriculating at Washington and Lee University. After medical school at George Washington, he joined the US Army as a surgeon completing his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) and Surgical Fellowship at Duke University. He continued his surgical career in many stations around the world before settling in Bay County, Florida in 1990. It was during his service at WRAMC in Washington that he met and married his wife Leah, of over 30 years.
Dr. Dunn was a surgeon in Panama City for 25 years and was the founding president of the Advanced Urology Institute, a 45-physician practice with over 400 employees. He also founded the Bay Regional Cancer Center and pursued a special interest in advanced Prostate Cancer. He sat on the Governor’s Prostate Cancer Advisory Council and the Florida Blue Physician Advisory Board. Prior to being elected to Congress, Dr. Dunn served on the Board of Governors of the Florida Medical Association, and as President of his County Medical Society, Chief of Staff of Gulf Coast Hospital, and Director of the Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Joint Venture. He was recognized as a Healthcare Hero by the Florida Department of Health for his chairmanship of Bay Cares, a medical charity headquartered in Panama City that provided about $30 million of completely free medical care annually to the working poor in Bay and 8 surrounding counties.
Dr. Dunn was also the founding Chairman of Summit Bank, a rapidly growing 5-star community bank headquartered in Panama City. He was honored to be named to the Board of Directors of Space Florida which operates the space launch complexes and numerous research, assembly, and support facilities on Cape Canaveral. He also served as a Director of Enterprise Florida, the state’s economic development agency.
Dr. Dunn lives in Panama City, Florida with his wife Leah. In his free time, he enjoys quail hunting and spending time on the water. They are the proud parents of 3 sons (Alexander, Patrick, and David) and 3 grandchildren.
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart is currently fulfilling his 11th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving Florida’s 26th congressional district. Diaz-Balart is a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations, and he is the Chairman of the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Subcommittee, in addition to serving on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) and Defense Subcommittees.
Diaz-Balart passionately serves his constituents, acting tirelessly in defense of individual rights and liberties, promoting economic prosperity, and supporting a robust national defense. He is well-known for his advocacy of human rights and democracy around the world, as well as for his staunch support of our global allies. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002, making him the Dean of the Florida Delegation and Deputy Whip in Congress. Prior to his time in Congress, Diaz-Balart served in the Florida State Legislature in both the House and Senate chambers. He chaired several committees, including the Combined Appropriations/Ways and Means/Finance and Tax Committee.
Diaz-Balart was born on September 25, 1961, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Rafael and Hilda Diaz-Balart and is the youngest of four brothers (Rafael, Lincoln, and Jose). He studied Political Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa. Diaz-Balart currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Tia, and son, Cristian Rafael.
Ron Futrell is a longtime journalist who has worked at a number of local TV/radio stations throughout the western United States. He has covered sports in Las Vegas since 1984.
Ron began his broadcasting career in the early ’80s in Salt Lake City at KSXX radio and KTVX TV. From there, he covered sports and news at KNDO TV in Yakima, WA.
Ron has covered Stanley Cup Finals, Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals and NCAA Championships. He has reported on virtually every major sporting event in Las Vegas over the past three decades, including major boxing and MMA events, NASCAR races, the rise and fall of UNLV basketball, the careers of local athletes like Greg Maddux, Andre Agassi, Randall Cunningham and Mike Tyson, along with many others. Ron is also well known for covering local high school and club sports in Las Vegas.
Ron is perhaps best known in Las Vegas for his work covering UNLV basketball throughout its glory days. As host of the Jerry Tarkanian TV show for 10 years, Ron was able to get the inside story on one of most remarkable teams in college basketball history.
Ron is also a journalism professor at University of Nevada Las Vegas and was the first to teach Sports Broadcasting classes at UNLV.
Ron says some of his greatest moments covering sports have been sitting ringside at the Hagler/Hearns fight in 1985 at Caesars Palace, watching the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels win the basketball National Championship in 1990 and witnessing the tremendous success of the inaugural season of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18.
Sam Stone: [00:00:24] Welcome to another episode of Breaking Battlegrounds with your host, Sam Stone. My co-host Chuck Warren, is out and traveling today. But some big news in the country and we are very excited to have Congressman Neal Dunn of Florida’s second Congressional District. Congressman Dunn grew up in an Army family, was stationed in over 20 different locations, including in Vietnam. During middle school, he was an Eagle Scout National Merit Scholar, then went to Washington and Lee University, went to medical school at George Washington, joined the US Army as a surgeon, completed his residency at Walter Reed Medical Center. Folks, I’m going on and on and on because this is the kind of resume, frankly, we need a lot more of in Congress. People who have real accomplishments. You’re too kind. Well, you know what, Congressman? I mean, how many people in Congress right now have an actual medical background?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:01:20] Well, there are 17 doctors.
Sam Stone: [00:01:23] Honestly. Okay. I’m actually shocked. That’s more than I thought. And there were only.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:01:27] Nine when I got here, but we’re adding so.
Sam Stone: [00:01:30] Good. Well, see, I mean, frankly, I think that’s pretty valuable given how much of the medical industry comes under the purview of Congress these days.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:01:39] It’s very important.
Sam Stone: [00:01:41] So before we get into more of that and and I do want to talk a little bit about your background, but obviously the big conversation that’s lighting up the country right now is the agreement over the debt ceiling. Yes, Speaker McCarthy put together an agreement and despite the best efforts of the national press to pretend that never happened, uh, negotiations did conclude very recently an agreement was signed. Now, you did vote for it. I did. And as Chuck and I have said here many times, we would also and tell folks why.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:02:17] Well, so this, you know, is certainly one of those tough calls that we face in Congress. It’s it’s why the job can be difficult. You know, this this first off, we should say this bill really does cut the spending. So President Biden had come forth with a budget and we went after that budget to say we got a this is way too much. It’s it’s the kind of budget that caused the inflation that we’re suffering with. And so we managed to I say we, you know, and actually the credit should go to Speaker McCarthy and the negotiation team led by Garret Graves and they just did a brilliant job getting the getting that number down by 4.8 trillion with a T trillion dollars over the the ten year window. And so that that’s a big savings. There’s never been a cut on the president’s budget, anything like that big in history.
Sam Stone: [00:03:13] A trillion here, a trillion there. Pretty soon you’re talking real money.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:03:17] Yeah and you know, we used to say a million and a million here. Now it’s trillions. You’re right. It’s it’s it is. It is real money. Now let’s let’s don’t kid ourselves. This is just a first step because the debt is still going to glide somewhat higher over the next ten years. There’s going to be increased. There’s still we’re still going to be borrowing money. We’re still going to be facing, you know, the situation where we’re spending more than we’re bringing in. And we have to go after that, too. But we really got some good wins on this bill. One of the things that should appeal to everybody was we we kept the IRS from getting any more new agents this year or next. And then, of course, we’ll have to fight that in the 20 in the 25 appropriations process again. But bearing in mind we only control one House, the House and.
Sam Stone: [00:04:12] Senate control one House.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:04:13] Yeah, very with a narrow majority. This is really a remarkable bill given the the sort of weak hand that we had to play. And so I was actually, you know, you could always wish for more. My God, yes, you could wish for more. But we did manage to protect the the defense budget entirely. So we plussed it up from the president. And and we get we this is no time to cut on the military. We got too many threats around the world right now. And we also kept the veterans intact. But everybody else took a little bath.
Sam Stone: [00:04:47] Well, as they had to. I mean, the run up in spending in the last few years has been extraordinary. It has. This is the first step in starting to rein that back in it. How important was it not to default? Because I think a lot of people out there were expecting you know, there’s some folks in the Republican Party saying they expected more. They wanted a more, you know, more drastic.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:05:12] It’s really irresponsible to default on on debt. Let let let me see if I can underline that. So the the importance of a strong dollar, the fact that the global economy is dollarized is as important as having a strong military. It’s that important. So a strong US dollar is fundamental to the national security and frankly, to the stability of the world system.
Sam Stone: [00:05:39] And so and and from what I understand and different economists have slightly different takes. But if the US were to lose our status, which is is clearly there are countries trying to take it away as the as the world reserve currency that would be something like an instant 15% tax increase on every single American.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:05:58] That’s right. And you would be far less safe as well.
Sam Stone: [00:06:03] Absolutely. And you have an interesting background. We got into it a little bit earlier. You know, obviously amazing background with the military surgical fellowship at Duke University. Um, but you also have a background in banking and in finance.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:06:21] Yeah, I do. So, you know, what happened is I got out of the military. I’d always been getting a paycheck all my life, and I’m in private practice, and all of a sudden I’m running a private practice. And I didn’t really know how to run a business at all. So I approached it like a, you know, another school course. Okay, we got to study this thing and figure out how how businesses work and and how to report and how to account for the money. And I had a great deal of help, frankly, in my I moved into a town I live in Panama City, Florida. And my patience, I’m in a surgical specialty that tends to have these older guys as patients. And so they were a lot of businessmen and they mentored me all the way through this. And among my mentors was a banker. And he he graciously spent some years teaching me about banking. And and eventually I got the bug bit and we started a bank of our own. So and it did very well. I was very pleased with it. We kept it for about a dozen years.
Sam Stone: [00:07:21] Well, and that’s an amazing story too, because, you know, not only do you have the experience in the medical industry, but also the financial industry. So when you go to Congress, you’re coming in with a great deal to contribute right off the top based on those experiences, right?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:07:39] Yes. And I think, by the way, the business and the banking experience was very helpful. When we come up here and we start throwing around numbers like trillions of dollars, you know, that’s a scary number to throw at a banker. You know, people start talking about defaulting on that and you go, boy. Put the gun down and back away. This is dangerous stuff you’re talking about.
Sam Stone: [00:08:01] Oh, absolutely. Now I’m laughing and joking about this a little bit, but this is really deadly serious stuff. It is.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:08:10] It’s deadly serious.
Sam Stone: [00:08:11] And the the consequences of the default would have been so dramatic that I want to say thank you to you and your colleagues who had the courage to see this process through.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:08:23] Well, thank you. And I’ll tell you what, I hope that we get back together in a year and we find out that we’ve also fought the fought the the people want to spend all this money to have standstill yet again on the appropriations next year, too.
Sam Stone: [00:08:36] So that’s actually one of the things I was about to get to. And I’m glad you went there first, is this isn’t the hill to die on. The the full faith and credit of the United States is not the hill to go out there and die on and say we’re going to hold our ground no matter what.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:08:51] Yeah, this is not the place to throw a hissy fit. I mean, we we absolutely have to, you know, meet our debt. This is why the world depends on the United States. If we default on our debt, you know, all of a sudden we become a lot less important to everybody.
Sam Stone: [00:09:09] Yeah, absolutely. But there is a place to do that, to have that fight. Right. And that’s absolutely in the future here in the next couple of years with the various budget processes.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:09:21] There’s a lot of places to have that fight. One of them would be in November at the ballot box. But, you know, if you really feel strongly about the debt, then don’t elect a bunch of people and don’t nominate a bunch of people who can’t get elected to office that are that are going to be irresponsible with with the dollar. You know, this stuff really matters to our children and our grandchildren. I have grandchildren, so I tend to have a longer horizon. But, you know, it’s important that we don’t we don’t hurt them.
Sam Stone: [00:09:55] Yeah, you can. You can make mistakes. Now that will take away so much of the opportunities in their future. That’s right.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:10:03] And there’s another side to this. And I get this, too, when people say that, you know, well, we’re we’re swimming in debt. We are right now. The every man, woman and child in America has about $4 million in federal debt. $4 million.
Sam Stone: [00:10:18] I don’t have $4 million to give you, Congressman.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:10:21] Well, I was going to ask you for that later in the show.
Sam Stone: [00:10:25] Well, I don’t know. Maybe the ratings from this show will go through the roof. And, you know, next year you’ll be able to collect. I don’t know. But, you know, but in the meantime, one of the you made a great point there. I thought about not nominating people who can’t get elected. Um, I always love the Reagan maxim. I want to nominate the most conservative person I can get elected. Right.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:10:51] That was, you know, that was really pretty simple truth that he that he used to say he had a lot of quick little aphorisms like that that really cut right down to the bottom line.
Sam Stone: [00:11:01] He he was so good at that and so good at narrowing things down for the public in a way that they could understand and taking complex issues and making them accessible. Uh, I think great.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:11:15] Communicator.
Sam Stone: [00:11:16] Yeah, we miss that too often. Um, so we only have about two minutes left in this segment. We’re going to be coming back here with more from Congressman Neal Dunn of Florida’s second Congressional District shortly. Um, we want to talk a little bit, too, about your Bacares medical charity there in Panama City, because I think I think a lot of times people don’t, um, people think of Congress, members of Congress, only in that one role.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:11:46] Yeah, I think you’re right. They do think he’s a congressman. What did he do in real life? Yeah.
Sam Stone: [00:11:51] Yeah. I think too often that’s the case. And you’ve done a ton in real life. So I want to touch a little bit more about that. Also, when we come back here and we’re going to have a little bit of discussion on what what we’re going to be doing, what you’re going to be doing in Congress going forward the next few months. I want to, you know, what should the American people be watching out for? Okay. So when breaking battlegrounds comes back in just a moment, we’ll hit on more of that. Folks, thank you for tuning in. Be sure to download our podcast, go to breaking battlegrounds dot vote. You can get all of our past episodes. There we are on Substack, Spotify, Apple Podcasts. Anywhere you get your podcasts, breaking battlegrounds is there. We will be back with more from Congressman Dunn in just a moment. All right. Welcome back to Breaking Battlegrounds with your host, Sam Stone. Chuck Warren out of studio today. On the line with us, Congressman Neal Dunn of Florida’s second Congressional District. We’ve been talking about the debt ceiling. We’ve been talking about some of his background, which is just amazing. But right now, we want to talk about what is coming up in Congress. What are the next issues that are going to be on your plate there?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:13:33] Well, so we do tend to give everybody sort of subspecialized. And I sit on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which is also home to the big health care committee. So we do health care policy, but we also do energy and and all the foreign and domestic trade policy. So I don’t have to tell you that energy’s been a big, big subject lately. We want to reestablish energy independence. We know how to do this. We did it very nicely in the last administration, and we did in that same debt ceiling bill. We included a whole bunch of streamlining for energy projects, in fact, for all large building projects. So we took that environmental permitting process and capped it at two years and actually made the the regulatory agencies liable to be sued if they don’t make those environmental statements and rulings within two years. And I offer as an example, the Atlanta airport where they just added a runway after nine years working on it. And the first seven of those nine years were just permitting, didn’t move a shovel full of earth, and then they built it in two years. So we need to get that permitting process down a lot. It takes about 20 years to permit a mine for anything you want to mine in this country. And that’s that’s just an impossible obstacle to overcome in any kind of affordable way. Yeah.
Sam Stone: [00:15:02] Well, we our broadcast studio is I think most people know is in Arizona. There has been a project here called the Rosemont Mine. I think the names have changed on it a few dozen times now. I know personally because I’ve been dealing with it, that process has gone on close to 20 years now. It could be one of the largest copper mines in the world. Copper is desperately needed for all of these electric vehicles, for the phones, for the computers and and the opposition to it. This this baffles me, Congressman, the opposition to it, we’re told by the environmental movement and I agree with them in this, that we have one planet, that this.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:15:39] Is one same people who want everything to go electric will prevent you from mining or refining any of the things you need to make electricity and batteries and all this stuff. It’s really it’s it’s almost childishly foolish.
Sam Stone: [00:15:53] Well, I think it’s worse than that, Congressman, because not only do they do all that here, but then they turn a blind eye to China to all these.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:16:01] Glad you said that, because all the.
Sam Stone: [00:16:02] Countries around the world that do this with the worst environmental controls imaginable.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:16:07] Unbelievably bad. You’re right. They have no environmental controls, whatever. China is another subject we’re going to be spending a lot of time on. I sit on the China Select Committee. And so this is a select committee that looking at China as a as an adversary in terms of competing in everything, including militarily speaking. And we’re peeling back the layers of of of how deep China is embedded into our economy and our lives. And let me tell you, it’s awful. It’s just awful. They have they have really stolen a lot of marches on us. They’re making headway in South America. They’re making headway across the Pacific, in Asia, in Africa. And and everybody is is very dependent on their production.
Sam Stone: [00:16:51] Well, one of the one of our very recent guests was former Afghan Special Forces General Sami Sadat, who detailed how much China has moved into Afghanistan, taking over the mining and the industry there. As soon as we stepped out that there.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:17:08] It turns out that Afghanistan has a lot of rich mining of minerals in it and the Chinese aren’t hesitant to go after it. They’re also running Bagram Air Base, the one we we abandoned there the one night. No.
Sam Stone: [00:17:21] It’s it’s every time I hear you more about what we did in Afghanistan on our way out the door, the more embarrassing that whole episode becomes. I mean, we really put ourselves in a difficult position internationally with that move.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:17:35] I can’t say enough bad about that. I was on active duty when the Saigon fell. And and I have to tell you, I thought that was the most humiliating moment of my life for the military, for our country. And I didn’t think it would ever happen again in Afghanistan actually was worse. I couldn’t believe I was stunned. And of course, the really bad news here is Russia saw that, Putin saw that. And he said, oh, I know what they’ll do if I invade Ukraine. Nothing. And so he was. Began massing troops on the border of Ukraine while we were still evacuating people out of that humiliating mess. And of course, China’s looked at it and saw the same thing. He said, Ah, Taiwan is next. Honestly, I think if Putin had managed to roll up Ukraine the way he thought he was going to, JI would have been in Taiwan the next week. So you put it that way. You realize the Ukrainians are not just defending Eastern Europe, they’re defending Taiwan, the whole Indo pack.
Sam Stone: [00:18:37] Well, and and the rest of their region. Right. All those Baltic states are are at enormous risk. And Russia has said Putin has said they want to recreate the Iron Curtain. They want to rebuild the Soviet empire.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:18:51] They absolutely do. And you know this people think this is just like a one off aggression. This is the ninth invasion. Putin has stated started ninth. So this is just one in a long string. You know, you’re going to fight this war in Ukraine or you’re going to fight with Americans in Poland.
Sam Stone: [00:19:08] Mhm. Yeah. And Poland certainly all, you know, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, all of those is.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:19:16] Probably even before Poland.
Sam Stone: [00:19:17] Yeah. And those states are, are fantastic growing economies that are contributing to the world and Yeah. And hugely democratic, hugely capitalist and.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:19:28] They’re Article five nations in NATO which means we’re we are tied to them.
Sam Stone: [00:19:32] Absolutely. We have just about two minutes before we have to go here. But I did want to touch on something else you’ve done, which is Bacares, a medical charity headquartered in Panama City. Um, tell us what what you’ve done there, because that’s a really amazing story.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:19:48] You know, I was really gratified to do that. So Florida has a system where we call it’s the we Care system where if doctors or hospitals, clinics, labs, whatever, will donate free medical care, they get sovereign immunity from the state. So they can’t be sued. No liability. And and so we find that medical personnel are very much more willing to to deliver care for free if it’s accompanied by sovereign immunity. And so I was able to recruit in my relatively small area. We had nine counties we were serving. But so it was probably a total population of 400,000, not not a giant city. We were able to get $30 million a year in free, utterly free medical care, just people willing to donate, doctors, you know, hospitals and and clinics of all types, diagnostic centers, pharmacies, $30 million a year in that little town.
Sam Stone: [00:20:47] That’s a huge amount of quality medical care that your residents are getting for free, because.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:20:52] I ran it for a number of years, but I had to give it up when I came to Congress. And it’s still in good hands back in Panama City. So if anybody in Panama City or anywhere around Panama City is watching this, you can you can donate your services to Bacares.
Sam Stone: [00:21:06] Fantastic. Congressman, before we wrap up here, how do folks follow you and your work and stay in touch with everything you’re doing?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:21:12] Thank you so much for letting me share that. So on Twitter, it’s at Dr. Neal Dunn Fl2 and I spell Neal n e a l. Dr. Neal Dunn, Florida two. And on Facebook, it’s Congressman Neal Dunn, MD.
Sam Stone: [00:21:28] Perfect. Thank you so much, Congressman. We really appreciate having you on the program. We’ll look forward to having you back on again in the future.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [00:21:35] Thanks so much. I hope we have as much good news. Next time.
Sam Stone: [00:21:38] Cross your fingers, folks. Are you concerned with stock market volatility, especially with Joe Biden in office? If you are, go to investyrefy.com, you can earn up to a 10.25% fixed rate of return that’s investyrefy.com or call them at 888Y, refi 24 and tell them Chuck and Sam sent you. Welcome back to Breaking battlegrounds with your host, Chuck Warren. I’m Sam Stone. Chuck Next up on the line with us right now, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart fulfilling his 11th term in the US House of Representatives, serving Florida’s 26th Congressional District. He is a member a senior member of the House Committee on Appropriations, chairman of the State Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee, and also serves on some other key committees Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Defense. So, Congressman, you are you are covering the spectrum on policy there in Washington right now. That’s actually pretty darn impressive.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:22:46] Look, I’m a blessed person to be able to be in a situation, in a position to be able to fight for things that I think are important for our country. And obviously, whether it’s defense, whether it’s foreign policy, whether it’s infrastructure, those are issues that I spend a lot of my time on. But as well as, you know, I, I was the main sponsor of the of the, you know, border security bill. So there are a lot of things that I’ve been able to because of first, the folks who sent me to D.C. and then the confidence in my colleagues I’ve been able to to get involved in a lot of different issues. You’re absolutely right.
Chuck Warren: [00:23:21] So you are a sponsor of H.R. two. Yes, And it has. So we tell us a little bit about the the details regarding border security on that and then take some time and tell us how does this help people bring in with work visas? One thing I think people misrepresent Republicans about is we still allow about 1.2 million people to come into the country legally every year. I mean, that’s not a minor number.
Sam Stone: [00:23:47] Right. And I’ve never met a Republican who wasn’t willing to have a conversation about legal immigration.
Chuck Warren: [00:23:52] And I’ve never met a Republican who says cut that number. Right. So first of all, tell us about the border security details of H.R., H.R. two, please, and then let’s discuss the other items.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:24:02] Yeah, look, HR.2 first, you know, we before the elections, Kevin McCarthy, again, he wasn’t speaker. He put together the Republicans and said, let’s come up with a commitment to America. What is our agenda going to be? One of those was securing the border. And, you know, I was fortunate to be one of the people that helped draft that component of it. We won by a very slim margin, but we won the majority in the House, only in the House, unfortunately. And then we wanted to make sure that we deliver on the commitment, on the promise that we made to the American people. So H.R.1 dealt with energy energy independence. H.R.2 is border security. So there were a lot of Republican bills filed out there to deal with the bleeding that we are experiencing on the southern border. And I say bleeding. This administration has literally given the control, has totally just who decides now who comes across the southern border to the United States are the drug cartels and not to mention the fence and all that’s coming across the southern border, the terrorists that we know are coming across the southern border. And then, by the way, a lot of victims that are being used by the cartels and are being brought across.
Sam Stone: [00:25:07] Can I stop and ask for for some clarification? I’m certainly not asking you to throw your colleagues under the bus, but do a lot of the Democrats who have kind of resisted this border security, do they understand how much the control has been ceded to the cartels? And and what you just said that you do not cross that border without the permission of the cartels at this point?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:25:28] Well, but I’ll answer your question. But to your point, if anybody thinks that an individual can come from a country and, you know, somehow get us to the southern border and walk across, that’s not possible. The cartels will kill you. The this is a monopoly controlled by these narco terrorist cartels. Different cartels have different part of the southern border. That’s who determines who comes across 100%. And so and do my Democratic colleagues understand that? Some do You know, you have folks like Henry Cuellar who who has been one of the most outspoken people in telling the administration this has to stop. We have a problem here. But it seems that many are just okay with that or and the administration seems to be okay with that. The secretary of Homeland security continues to say that the southern border is secure, which is insanity, because he wants us to believe him and not our very own eyes.
Chuck Warren: [00:26:21] So we have about 90s to a break. Congressman, why do you think they feel that way? That it’s just okay? I mean, there has to be a reason you’ve talked to them enough. Is there have you ever heard a good justification or reasoning why they think this is just okay?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:26:34] No, I haven’t I haven’t heard any good explanation from the administration or anybody else as to why this is okay. Why handing over to the cartels the southern border is okay. Why 300 Americans dying every single day? Because of of of of of a product that’s coming across the southern border is okay. While you know why hundreds of 900 migrants dying just last year is humane, there is no good explanation. That’s why I’m so proud of H.R. 2. And the colleagues, the Republican colleagues have put this together.
Sam Stone: [00:27:03] Fantastic. Congressman, when we. Come back. We’re going to have more from Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida. Congressman, before we we go there, I want to give folks your Twitter handle because I think it’s very important they stay up with the work you’re doing. Folks, you can follow him at at Mario DB on Twitter there. Great opportunity to stay in touch with his work. Breaking battlegrounds is going to be coming back with more from the congressman in just a moment. We want to get into some of the specific provisions that are in this bill, but also we want to touch on some of the other work you’re doing, including the Parents Bill of Rights and the recent trip you made to the Dominican Republic. All that and more when breaking battlegrounds comes back. Welcome back to Breaking battlegrounds with your host, Chuck Moran. I’m Sam Stone. Folks, are you concerned with stock market volatility, especially with Joe Biden in office? What if you can invest in a portfolio with a high fixed rate of return that’s not correlated to the stock market? You can make up to 10.25% fixed rate of return. And when you invest with a refi, you’re actually helping people get their private student loans paid off sooner, helping them restore their credit. And you make a fantastic return on your money. This is the this is the definition of capitalism, folks. This is people helping people. So give them a call today at eight, eight, eight, 8524 or go online at investing. Com that’s invest the letter Y then Syfy.com and let them know Chuck and Sam sent you. Okay. Coming back with more from Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. When we went to break, we were talking about the immigration bill, H.R. two. Congressman, what are some of the specific provisions in there, both relating to border security and to legal immigration that people should be aware of?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:29:05] Well, look, first, it secures the border. It finishes the construction of the wall. It provides more personnel and increases the salary of those heroes who are struggling to protect our border. So, again, a lot of common sense border security, things like that. But to your point, one of the things that should also be upsetting and, you know, you wonder why to your question before we we broke. Right. What are the Democrats say about this? Nothing good. But but if the others who are suffering, it’s not only our national security interests, it’s not only the rule of law, it’s also those who are actually who potentially have legitimate asylum claims because they can’t get their legitimate claims heard. So among the things that this bill also does is it it frankly modernizes it streamlines the actual real process for those who have legitimate asylum claims so that they can have their claims actually adjudicated. And it also even has a particular area there for folks who come, for example, from this hemisphere, from Venezuela or Cuba or Nicaragua that you would think have the likeliest chance of having legitimate claims. Well, they can’t get their claims heard because of the disaster created by the Biden administration. So this deals with that as well. It’s not only border security that’s the main issue. It’s the secure the border, but it also makes the legal system a little bit better. Does it solve every problem? No, it secures the border. It stops this horrific situation that is inhumane, that is a threat to our national security and also provides some avenues for those who have legitimate claims, for example, legitimate asylum claims.
Chuck Warren: [00:30:41] Where the congressman, Mario Diaz-Balart, if you’re in the Miami area, you can catch this interview on Newsradio 6:10 a.m. So you live in Miami Dade and it’s it’s a it’s a county, Sam, and I’ve been to many times it’s full of immigrants. What do they think your Venezuelan Colombians, your Cubans, what do they think about the border crisis? What are your constituents tell you about this?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:31:04] You know, they understand that one of the reasons that one of the reasons that immigrants have always come to this country, I don’t care if you get you came here, you know, five generations ago or if you’re coming now, it’s because of the rule of law. The rule of law is what makes everything else possible and that you have to adhere to the rule of law. And so immigrants who are in this country and I represent a heck of a lot of of of, you know, Americans who are, again, first generations or or foreign born Americans. They understand that you have to adhere to the rule of law. That is the reason that everybody wants to come to the United States. That’s the reason this is the country of opportunity. It’s the rule of law. It’s the free market system. But you can’t have a free market system or you can’t have anything. You can’t have security without adhering to the rule of law. And that’s why, again, this bill is very strong on that adhering bringing back the rule of law to the southern border and to those communities in the southern border that are struggling because of the policies of the Biden administration.
Sam Stone: [00:32:10] Congressman, here in Arizona, I’ve found in talking to first generation immigrants and a lot of people in that, you know, obviously predominantly Mexican American community here, they have a much better understanding than a lot of folks out there of how the cartels, you know, really abuse the people that are coming across the predations that they inflict upon them. Do you do you get that? And, you know, I my experience in Florida is you get that plus people who have maybe a little bit better understanding of communism than we often do here. Does the Republican Party need to do a better job of emphasizing those voices?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:32:46] I mean, I think we can always do better. I know that in Florida, by the way, and, you know, look at look at the election and the re-election of Governor Ron DeSantis. Right. Remember, Ron DeSantis got a group of immigrants who got here across the southern border and he sent them to a sanctuary community. That publicly expressed that they are a sanctuary place and that they have they want, you know, folks, even if they’re here unlawfully, to to go to Martha’s Vineyard. So this governor sent people over there not to be punitive, but to actually say, look, if you’ve got opportunities for them, you want them there. Here we go. And then what happened that immediately. Martha’s Vineyard, by the way, put them on buses and they put them in a military base. So the sanctuary committee there in New York is another sanctuary, right, city. They’re sanctuary cities until anybody shows up and then they immediately want them out of there.
Sam Stone: [00:33:40] They’re fine. Sticking them on border towns in Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, all the way into Florida. They just don’t want them in their community no matter what they say. Talk is.
Chuck Warren: [00:33:50] Cheap.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:33:51] Yeah, look, it’s. It’s like socialist. Socialist or socialist for everybody else, not for me. Right. And and, you know, you want everybody to drive bicycles, but want to be able to have my car. Right. That’s socialism 101.
Sam Stone: [00:34:02] They. They all envision themselves like the Soviet leadership driving down their exclusive lane on the middle of Nevsky Prospekt.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:34:10] Correct. That’s exactly right. Socialism. Socialism is really good for everybody else, but not for them. Right. And and, you know, government control is they want to be able to impose their views on everybody else but don’t not on them. Right. And and which is why, again, look, this country is based on individual freedom, on the rule of law, on opportunity. And the reason this country has been and continues to be the wealthiest, the most generous, the greatest country in the history of humanity is because of individual freedom and opportunity and the rule of law. And, you know, you mentioned folks who have come here by choice. They get that. They understand that. And one sympathizes with these victims, by the way, that the cartels are using and abusing. But the reality is that you have to adhere to the law and the rule of law. Otherwise, nothing else is.
Chuck Warren: [00:35:00] Possible with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. He’s in Miami Dade County. You can catch him on Twitter at Mario DB. All right. We’re going to give you the softball question. You’re introducing a new bill here in two weeks. Tell our audience a little bit about it.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:35:14] Yeah, well, I chair the subcommittee. I’m my privilege that my colleagues have put me to chair the subcommittee, that the House subcommittee of Appropriations Subcommittee that funds everything have to do with foreign policy. That includes, by the way, funding for the UN. That includes funding for our allies like Israel, that includes funding for the State Department and so much more. And so a couple of things. Number one is we’re going to be spending a heck of a lot less money than the Democrats have been spending because they’ve been wasting money and we’re going to be responsible. So we’re going to be spending a hell of a lot less money, number one. Number two is, to me, it’s very simple. If you’re an ally of the United States and if you’re helping our national security interests, I think this bill will recognize that in a positive way. But if you’re in cahoots with our enemies, if you are targeting our allies, this bill is also going to recognize that in a way that they’re not going to like. Foreign policy has to be dictated on one thing and one thing alone. The national security interests of the United States.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:36:09] After that, you have a lot of things that are important, human rights, etcetera. But it’s all based on one thing the national security interest of the United States. So we’re going back to some pretty basic things that the Democrats have totally forgotten about. Democrats love to, you know, fund things that have nothing to do with our national security interests. We’re cutting all that. They like to fund folks and entities that are frankly not helping us are not on our side. I’m not willing to look the other way. I’m not willing to look the other way. If you have international organizations that are targeting Israel or that are targeting the United States, I’m not willing to look the other way. It’s going to be a there’s going to be all sorts of criticism when I drop that bill, when I file that bill. But I will tell you, I’m very proud because we’re going back to basics. If you’re pro-American, then we’re going to be trying to help you. And if you’re in cahoots with our adversaries, you’re going to suffer the consequences in my bill.
Sam Stone: [00:37:00] I love that, Congressman Chuck, because frankly, what other country on earth does their government not work to protect their own people? We there’s there’s this push on the left that seems like our job in our government is to protect everybody but Americans.
Chuck Warren: [00:37:13] So you are the dean of the Florida delegation. You’ve been around the block a couple times now.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:37:18] You’re calling me old. Yeah.
Chuck Warren: [00:37:19] I’m calling it. I’m old, Sam. We’re all his old people are old guys. Rule. Okay. My question is, what keeps you up at night? I mean, what is the one thing that you know, because you see very sensitive documents that we don’t have access to. What keeps you up that you fret about? I mean, obviously, you know, a lot of things seem to work themselves out. I always feel America will end up doing the right thing long term. But what keeps you up at night? Like, holy moly, this is bad.
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:37:46] Yeah. You know, I don’t know if I’ve been asked that question, but I think I can answer it relatively simply. Number one is obviously our fiscal situation, our debt, and that we waste so much money on things that we shouldn’t be doing. And then and then the other thing that keeps me. Is China, which is the existential threat, and they’re both tied together. We waste money on things that frankly do nothing or actually do us harm. And then we don’t spend enough resources, enough money on, frankly, confronting the existential threat today, tomorrow, and for the decades in the future. And that’s China. We have to have the strongest defense. We’re not doing enough there. And we have to have a strong economy, which means we have to stop misspending money.
Sam Stone: [00:38:30] That is one thing. Chuck, I was a little dismayed about in this budget that is being discussed in the debt ceiling deal is a reduction again in the number of naval vessels that are under the US flag. I mean, we.
Chuck Warren: [00:38:42] Should be at 350. That’s that’s what our strategy is, 350 ships and we’re at what, 280?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:38:47] Yeah. And China is building them. You know, like by the time we finish this podcast, they probably have built already another ship, right? So China is is a real danger. Look, we we have to confront we have this issue of our debt and that’s because we are mis spending so much money and we need to be much better stewards of the people’s money. And obviously, the Democrats have been on the spending spree. But it’s not only the Democrats in the past. Let’s be very clear. We have to do a better job. But on the other hand, we cannot deal with defense as a number. Ronald Reagan used it, to paraphrase him, used to say defense is not a budgetary issue. We have to avoid war at all costs. The way to do that is to have the toughest, the strongest military in the entire planet. China is a real threat. So we can we spend more on defense while still dealing with our debt. Yes, we can, because defense is still something that we have to do. We have to, by the way, reform the programs that are causing the debt. A lot of that. For example, Social Security and Medicare, we have to defend and protect those, but we also have to reform them, reform them to make sure that we have those for future generations so we can do both things, spend more and spend more wisely on defense to confront China while we deal with the other big threat, which is our escalating national debt.
Chuck Warren: [00:40:07] Congressman, do you feel there’s a danger within the Republican Party of this strident, isolationist wing that they just seem to want to ignore the world and don’t realize when we ignore it, the world is in trouble, which means we’re in trouble?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:40:21] Well, look, you know, I don’t want to be critical of I try to adhere to the again, once again talking about Ronald Reagan. Right. He talked about the 11th commandment. Right. Which is not to ever say negative things about other Republicans. And so I won’t do that. And I wish all Republicans had that same attitude because there’s a lot of things that we need to talk about that the Democrats are doing wrong and they’re helping to destroy this country. Right. So but but I will tell you that we have to treat defense not as a number. We have to look at defenses. What do we need to confront China? Whatever it costs, then we have to deal with everything else. Because if we do not get defense right, nothing else will matter. And the way to avoid war is to which is really obviously the number one goal. Number one goal is to have the toughest, the strongest, the most agile, the most lethal defense in the planet so that China and others do not dare confront the United States. Are we there now? No, we are not. We can do better, but we also have to deal with the debt. Those are not mutually exclusive if we’re smart about how we spend our money.
Sam Stone: [00:41:25] Yeah, absolutely. Great point. Before we go, Congressman, we have just about one minute left here on the program, and we thank you very much for joining us. We look forward to having you on again. Folks, if you want to follow him on Twitter, it’s at Mario. Db Fantastic opportunity to stay up with one of the folks who’s helping lead our foreign policy engagement in a really smart and intelligent way. So, Congressman, thank you so much for joining us here. I’m going to throw kind of a softball at you. How much do we need to focus on stripping back the the barriers that are preventing us from building things the way we did 50 years ago in this country?
Mario Diaz-Balart: [00:42:06] Oh, it’s nuts. It’s nuts. And most of that is government regulation. You know, we went from being energy independent, which was a dream. We actually became energy independent just two years ago to now, in essence, depending mostly on Chinese goods, Chinese solar panels. It’s insanity. These are government created problems if you just unleash the American people. It’s amazing what they have done and what they will continue to do. A lot of times the problem well, the problem is the federal government.
Sam Stone: [00:42:36] That’s the last word right there. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, thank you so much for joining us. Folks. Be sure to tune in again next week and download our podcast segment. We have a very full podcast segment for you this week, breaking battlegrounds back on the air one week from today. All right, Welcome to the podcast. Only segment of breaking battlegrounds. Packed show today. But one thing Chuck and I always love is sports. And there’s a lot going on in one particular town in this country. Las Vegas, been in the news for a lot of sporting reasons.
Chuck Warren: [00:43:13] Viva! Viva Las Vegas!
Sam Stone: [00:43:14] Viva! Viva! Viva! Everything. Las Vegas. Viva is.
Chuck Warren: [00:43:18] Right. Viva as Ron Years ago.
Sam Stone: [00:43:20] But we didn’t actually introduce him, so we got to introduce Ron Futrell, a longtime journalist. He’s worked in a number of local TV and radio stations throughout the western United States, and he’s covered sports in Las Vegas since 1984. Began his broadcasting career in the 80s in Salt Lake City. And from there, he’s covered sports and news pretty much all across the western United States. Ron, welcome to the program.
Ron Futrell: [00:43:44] It’s a long time. I’ve been here almost 40 years.
Chuck Warren: [00:43:46] Yeah, It doesn’t show, though. It doesn’t show. That’s amazing.
Sam Stone: [00:43:50] We don’t actually admit to those things on this podcast. Ron, it was yesterday. You arrived yesterday?
Ron Futrell: [00:43:56] Yeah, yesterday. I will say this and this sort of remarkable. The first the first event I covered in Las Vegas was April 5th, 1984, at the Thomas and Mack Center. The Utah Jazz were playing a split schedule then because not a whole lot of fans were going to the Salt Palace. And Sam Battistone, the owner, wanted to see if Vegas could be a market for them. And he was thinking about moving the team here. And it just so happened that the night that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set the all time NBA scoring record should have been in Salt Lake at the Salt Palace, But it was in Las Vegas at the new Thomas and Mack Center. And I was three days on the job and I’m covering that. And, of course, it’s been significant lately because Lobos broke that record. That’s a record that stood for almost 40 years. And and so that and I think what it did also is.
Sam Stone: [00:44:49] Wait a minute.
Ron Futrell: [00:44:51] If we don’t start showing up to games. They were getting 8000 a game there in Salt Lake at the time and fans reacted showed up and and the rest is history. Now the Utah Jazz have a permanent home there in Salt Lake and.
Chuck Warren: [00:45:04] And beloved up there a matter of fact I think the Utah Jazz is a good Segway. So the Utah Jazz are a unifying force in Utah. No one would disagree. Democrat, Republican, non LDS, LDS. You and I talked a decade ago when we were working on a project together and we were talking about what a difference a professional sports team would mean to Las Vegas and Nevada. It would be a unifying force. Have you has that come to fruition now that you have this great hockey team? You have the Raiders and you have the A’s possibly coming, which we’ll talk about here in a minute. How do you see that in the community?
Ron Futrell: [00:45:35] Yes, it certainly has with the Knights. I mean, you had it years ago. I covered Unlv basketball in the glory days, and it’s been now 33 years since they won the national championship against Duke. A lot of people remember that Unlv, Duke Matchups and the 1990 national championship team that won it all. And I was at both of those Final Fours and covered them extensively. But but that that did unite Las Vegas, certainly that everybody in town were rebel fans and out of town. Either you hated or you loved the rebels, but they always elicited a response, which I think the NCAA loved. And it’s the Golden Knights did that, especially the first year. Now we’re talking six years ago when they went to the when they went to the the Stanley Cup final lost to Washington at that time. But it was the same feeling here in town. I’ve always been jealous going to San Diego to Petco Park and seeing the Padres and the Gaslamp district, and I see a bunch of locals there hanging out and it seems like everybody knows everybody else and it’s family and friends getting together and and hanging out and having a good time. And I’ve been jealous that Vegas didn’t have that. Well, we do now with the Knights. We do with the aviators, which is a ballpark minor league team for the A’s up in Summerland. And you can go there and you can hang out, have a it’s a beautiful ballpark. I would suggest you go check it out at some point, but you now have that. As for the Raiders, I don’t know. I mean, I’ll say I’ll say you can get the same thing. But there’s the NFL is much more tribal in in that you’re a Raiders fan or you’re not or you hate the Raiders or you don’t you know so so it doesn’t do that in the same in the same sense because of the nature of the Raiders and the nature nature of the NFL.
Sam Stone: [00:47:25] Do you think, Ron, I kind of got to two questions, maybe related sort of. One is I think the Knights really, really benefited from that early run of success that establishes them in the community, you know, rather than, for instance, an expansion team having a very long build up period. They’re losing a ton of games for a decade, but two with the Raiders. I really thought and I think this of the A’s too, they should not keep their name. They should have adopted a Vegas specific name for that team and rebranded it.
Ron Futrell: [00:47:58] The okay know that. Well, they have tried to rebrand it in one sense. The NFL didn’t want the Raiders to have that. You know, the areas with all with all the crazy black hole the black hole area. Right. They just they sort of disbanded that in the sense now the club still exists, but they put all those people in, spread them out all over the stadium so they didn’t have a specific black hole area. And I think the NFL I know the NFL did not like the Raiders bad boy image and branding and that they wanted to try to do away with that coming to Vegas. And I think it was best to do that, quite frankly. You know, they still kept part of it. You can’t totally get rid of the ice cube feel of Southern California at that time when the Raiders adopted that that that feel. But it’s yeah the image I don’t know about changing the name I mean the Raiders brand is still it I mean it’s still the brand I don’t I don’t think the athletics changed their name if they come here. No because they’ve they’ve moved four times. This would be their fourth move and they’ve kept that for over 100, 120 years. They’ve had that.
Sam Stone: [00:49:09] I agree. But I also don’t feel like they’ve ever been fully embraced in their community the way some of the other teams, like the Giants, are clearly a much more embraced team in that community than than the A’s were in theirs.
Ron Futrell: [00:49:22] I think if they start winning, they will. I think that does make a difference. And that’s what happened with the Knights. Now, the Knights success in that first season was phenomenal, was unprecedented For an expansion team to go to the final in that first year was nuts and it also what it did now it yeah it it bound the community to the team, but it also spoiled a lot of people in the community and that, oh no, they thought that this just is the way it happened. And I’m sitting there, I grew up in LA, so I’m a Kings fan from way back in 1967, and it was until 2012 when the Kings won their first cup and then won again in 2014. Then they missed the playoffs for five years in a row and ask a Blackhawks fan or a Detroit Red Wings fan about how easy it is to to make the playoffs and succeed. It ain’t easy in the NHL and I think the fans here absolutely are spoiled. I guess it’s a good thing. The alternative is have a miserable team, but they got to put that in perspective and go, You know what? It doesn’t it doesn’t just happen automatically.
Chuck Warren: [00:50:29] No, it doesn’t happen automatically. But so I have a friend who knows the ownership of of the Knights, Golden Knights. And they were telling him before they played their first game that they said, look, we got 2 or 3 years to become part of the consciousness of Vegas or we’re going to get killed when another team like the Raiders comes in. I mean, they just knew they had to start out sprinting. So Las Vegas and Nevada have been lucky with their success, but but that has to be a good ownership group, right? What have they done different? I mean, they just they seem to really be in the psyche of Las Vegas residents. Every time you go down there, I hear someone talk about the Golden Knights.
Ron Futrell: [00:51:04] No, they are on the pulse of the community. And that’s nice. And it started out with and you can’t separate what happened. They call it the 1st October shooting, the shooting at Mandalay Bay right into the into the country concert That happened on 1st October 2017. There was a I was at an exhibition game that night on the Strip when that took place. The game had ended by then, but we were all down there and covering it. The team was down there and there were a lot of a lot of players are talking about going to the concert. It was a pretty big deal, the Route 91 festival, and decided fortunately against it, but 58 now I believe there’s another one at 59 people were killed in that shooting when a mad man from the Mandalay Bay shot down on that. Concert goers still, still. We haven’t gotten an explanation for that. And that’s still it’s still weird to me. And now it’s six years later. But that event, the way the Knights handled that, the grief, they began their season. Okay. Like I said, an exhibition game was happening that night. Their regular season was was seven days later after that. And they held the memorial and they did. Derek England gave a rousing who was a local who had played here for the Wranglers in the East Coast Hockey League. So he knew Las Vegas. So he gave this speech before the game. And, you know, it just it it helped. If that tragedy helped bring the community together. In that sense, the Knights helped the community deal with that tragedy. And I think that that’s something that will not be forgotten and shouldn’t be. Right.
Sam Stone: [00:52:46] Yeah. So, Ron, in terms of the A’s coming in here now, what is that going to happen? I think it appears to be a foregone conclusion to most people. Is it seen that way in the Las Vegas area?
Ron Futrell: [00:53:01] It does seem that way. It’s getting pretty political. Monday, Monday night, I had a crazy Monday night, so I’m watching sitting there at home with my laptop and I’m watching five hours of the Nevada legislature debate. Senate Bill 599, which is the bill that would create a special use district on the strip, not increased taxes overall to the community, but just this one special area that if you go into it, you’re going to pay a higher tax rate to be a.
Sam Stone: [00:53:28] Lot of a lot of downtowns have that type of business district overlay that that has higher taxes on that area. Yeah.
Ron Futrell: [00:53:35] And it’s not it’s not unusual. Not uncommon. So anyway, I’m watching the Knights against Dallas at 5:00 and this session started at 4:00 and went for five hours. So I’m trying to do double duty there. At the same time, sitting in the living room. It was amazing that here’s a political part of it. First of all, what a lot of people don’t know, John Fisher is a pretty conservative dude and lives in the Bay Area. So there you go for he’s a unicorn up there, very rich. He’s the owner of the A’s worth $2.2 billion, give or take, depending on where the market is on any given day. And he his father started the Gap clothing store. So that’s where he made his money.
Sam Stone: [00:54:16] Okay. Okay.
Ron Futrell: [00:54:17] So he buys the Oakland A’s in 2016. And, you know, when people where I’m going with this is when people gave their they had public comment. And the public comment against Fisher was largely, well, first of all, Battle born Progress, a big leftist group in Nevada, was the first to go up there and say and oppose it and say, we don’t want a billionaire. And they everybody used the word billionaire as a pejorative. And that’s, to me, a little frightening. Well, yeah.
Chuck Warren: [00:54:49] I mean, who else owns these teams, right? They continue. Yes.
Ron Futrell: [00:54:52] A billionaire. We don’t want to give a billionaire our tax dollars. Well, then. And my answer is always then, then don’t go to the games. Don’t go to that area where the Tropicana Hotel currently is, where the stadium is planned on being built. I look at it from the other point of view is that here’s a guy that’s worth 2.2 bees and wants to put 1.1 into a property on the Las Vegas strip, and it’s not going to raise taxes in the general public. Joe Lombardo, who is the current governor of Nevada, Republican, has said he wouldn’t do it if it raised taxes on the public well, which this is not.
Sam Stone: [00:55:28] And one of the things I think I really love the idea of having this stadium right there on the Strip, because I think one of the things that Vegas struggles with the most is finding things for people to do who don’t want to be spending all their time in the casinos. Right? Like it’s, you know, other than you can go play golf during the day, there’s some things, but you need more entertainment that’s not inside a casino.
Ron Futrell: [00:55:52] Oh, no. And that’s it’s another thing that would help unite, unite the community. One thing John Fisher said that was interesting, he’s up in Carson City. He and Dave Kaval, the team president, are up there right now lobbying, lobbying some of the legislators to try to get this thing passed. There’s no word on when they’re going to vote on it, but the session does end June 5th. So they got until Monday at midnight to be able to make something happen or they’d have to do a special session. Back to your point there, Sam, is that he said he said that he’s considering Fisher did some 4 p.m. starts in Las Vegas for games for that very reason. And also the casinos would love that because they don’t like losing people at night. Right? They don’t mind people going golfing during the day. Right. But they don’t like pulling people out of casinos at night because that’s their heavy gambling time. And you’ve got the MGM is the big winner in this one. Certainly if it happens because you’ve got seven MGM casinos within walking distance, parking distance of the stadium, that’s going to take advantage of that. Allegiant Stadium is the same thing. It’s right there in that same area off the strip, but close to it where you’ve got these those MGM properties can all take advantage of being there.
Chuck Warren: [00:57:09] That’s fantastic. With Ron Futrell, he is a sports journalist out of Vegas, been there for decades. Ron, by the way, does Billy Beane still own part of the A’s?
Ron Futrell: [00:57:22] Yes.
Chuck Warren: [00:57:22] Oh, yeah. So he still does. He still.
Ron Futrell: [00:57:24] Is. I interviewed him probably a season ago. Probably last season. He was here in Vegas because the triple-A affiliate. Right. For the A’s is in Las Vegas. They play in Summerlin.
Chuck Warren: [00:57:35] So as we wrap up here, this this portion of our show, I want to ask you this question. You’ve interviewed a lot of athletes from Andre Agassi and Mike Tyson to Greg Maddux, who has been your favorite and why? I mean, what’s been the most interesting interview?
Ron Futrell: [00:57:50] I’m going to go back to Marvin Hagler. I’m going to go way back.
Sam Stone: [00:57:54] You are going way back.
Ron Futrell: [00:57:56] That’s he was my favorite boxer. He was left handed. So am I. So I had an affinity there. Mike Tyson covering his career from start to finish was was crazy. He once got mad at me during an interview. Called me a smart aleck.
Sam Stone: [00:58:11] Which. Which at that time in particular, you did not want to get on Mike Tyson’s bad side in any situation at all.
Ron Futrell: [00:58:17] We’re good friends. We were good friends then. I thought, we are now. We’ve touched base quite a few times and and I’ve done an interview with him. He’s won a little while ago with him about his pot farms in California. Wow. And it certainly has mellowed him out quite a bit. But it was crazy. It was never it was never a dull moment when Tyson and you always had a mega fight and you always had, you know, just fantastic events. And it was fun to sort of be there when he first came to Vegas and covered his career here from start to finish, because it was legendary. But, you know, it was also covering those those four guys in the middleweight and lightweight division that Hagler-hearns Leonard Duran, the big events. I fell in love with Vegas when I got here and started covering those big events. Well, and even though.
Sam Stone: [00:59:06] Yeah, for people who are younger, they they probably don’t realize that in the 80s and through the early 90s, boxing and Vegas were synonymous around the world and boxing was just massive. It was around the.
Chuck Warren: [00:59:19] World back in that time. People’s calendars were circled for those fights. I mean, things were shut down to watch those boxes. People got the pay per view and everything. Yeah.
Ron Futrell: [00:59:28] Yeah, that was before the Fertittas bought the UFC and changed it and turned it into what it is today is a monster. They then sold it for 4 billion, $4 billion and the owners of station casinos here in Vegas.
Sam Stone: [00:59:43] Well, let me.
Chuck Warren: [00:59:43] Let me ask you that question, though, real quick. So you have the UFC now and you have boxing. What were the ratings for those big boxing matches then versus the UFC now?
Ron Futrell: [00:59:53] Oh, the boxing was much Boxing was much bigger, Yeah.
Chuck Warren: [00:59:56] I mean, how many millions, how many millions.
Sam Stone: [00:59:58] Is this comparison?
Ron Futrell: [00:59:59] I don’t know the numbers. I mean, you’d have to then you’d have to put how many people were.
Sam Stone: [01:00:04] I remember like offhand, someone saying like a third of the country tuned in to one of Tyson’s fights at one point.
Ron Futrell: [01:00:12] Oh, it would not be surprising, even though they only lasted a minute or two. Yeah.
Sam Stone: [01:00:17] In most.
Ron Futrell: [01:00:17] Cases. In most cases, they were pretty short. I remember going to the gigabyte fight. It was in June.
Sam Stone: [01:00:24] The Holyfield.
Ron Futrell: [01:00:25] Yeah, Holyfield the second, their second fight. And that was when he bit his bit, his ear twice in that fight and the second time took a chunk out of it. And it was the only pay per view I’ve ever bought in my life. And I was at the fight. And the reason was my wife wanted, you know, my wife who doesn’t care much about sports. She wanted to see it and she had some friends over to the house. And so she she bought the pay per view and it only lasted less than three rounds before Mills Lane stopped it because of the second ear bite anyway. And the Holyfield won. But it was it was interesting because my wife was complaining and other people were going, wait a second, it’s. And there was even a lawsuit against Tyson at the time because the fight was so short. Right. I said, wait a second. This is one of the greatest sporting events of all time. I watched the tape of it. I taped it at home on an old VHS and I watched it ten times later. I said, Did we get our money’s worth? You bet We got our money’s worth. That’s 50 bucks. Very well spent, even at $97. I haven’t bought a pay per view since. And I. And I, that was the only one I’ve ever bought. Was that one. And it was.
Sam Stone: [01:01:30] Well worth it.
Chuck Warren: [01:01:32] Well, just as a comparison, I looked up the the highest UFC rating with a combined audience was 1.8 million. Okay. Floyd Mayweather in 2017 had 4.3 million pay per view purchases.
Sam Stone: [01:01:48] That was.
Ron Futrell: [01:01:49] Floyd against.
Chuck Warren: [01:01:50] Against Connor. Against Conor.
Sam Stone: [01:01:51] Mcgregor. Conor McGregor. Yeah. Yeah.
Chuck Warren: [01:01:53] I mean. I mean, just think about it.
Sam Stone: [01:01:55] Well, worldwide, the audience for boxing is still there, still there to at least some degree. But, but it’s nowhere near what it was. I mean, it was enormous.
Ron Futrell: [01:02:03] Well, I miss it. I miss boxing. I do. I say that. And okay, we got Tyson Fury back and he’s sort of fun and interesting to listen to the Gypsy.
Sam Stone: [01:02:14] I just found it. I find it far more interesting to watch than MMA fight.
Chuck Warren: [01:02:18] Well, it’s compelling and there’s always a good story behind it.
Ron Futrell: [01:02:21] Yeah, I’ll put it this way. My kids, my sons, because they’ve grown up here in Las Vegas and they took him to the UFC fights early on. They love the UFC because of because they were raised here on it. And it’s a local sport with gets a lot of attention here where I’m the old guy and I’m going box give me boxing any day, a good boxing match. Nothing beats it and it’s they’re few and far between when they when they happen but they do happen. I mean I can still remember hagler-hearns like it was.
Sam Stone: [01:02:51] They happen, they.
Sam Stone: [01:02:52] Happen in there. Fantastic when they do. Ron, I apologize. We’re running out of time on the podcast here. We really appreciate having you on and look forward to bringing you back to talk a little more sports in the near future.
Ron Futrell: [01:03:03] Anytime we got some hockey in town this weekend should be fun.
Chuck Warren: [01:03:06] Thanks, Ron. Appreciate it, buddy. Have a good weekend.
Sam Stone: [01:03:08] Thanks to you.
Chuck Warren: [01:03:10] Well, Sam, thank you. And you had a great interview this week.
Sam Stone: [01:03:13] Yeah, we had we had a great interview here in the first half of the program. And folks, we decided to continue it because in talking to congressman, done something actually came up at the after the program when we were talking off air that I wanted to put on air. So we we kept going. We did a little more for the podcast. Please stay tuned for that because it’s really interesting. He’s got he had some information, Chuck, about China and what they’re doing in the Indo-Pacific that I was totally aware of, unaware of. And you and I are follow this kind of stuff as closely as almost anybody does. You rarely get that kind of new brand new information about something of critical strategic importance happening in the world right now. But you’re going to hear it if you stay tuned right at this moment on breaking battlegrounds. And then, folks, obviously, we’re back on the air next week. So please join us for that. And as always, be sure to download and share this podcast with your friends. Keep us on the air. Keep us coming into your inbox.
Chuck Warren: [01:04:11] Have a great weekend.
Sam Stone: [01:04:27] All right, folks, welcome back to the podcast. Only portion of breaking battlegrounds. When we went off the air earlier with Congressman Don, he mentioned that he is on a committee I didn’t even realize he was on and that there are some things going on with China right now that folks, I think I’m a pretty informed person. I read a ton. I pay attention to news from around the globe. I did not realize this was happening. So we’re back with Congressman Dunn for this podcast segment. Uh, Congressman, first, what what is the committee you’re on? And then tell folks what you were just telling me about the Indo-Pacific.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:05:03] So the committee is the Select China Committee, and it’s so it’s really is a newly formed committee, specifically bipartisan of to look into China. By the way, this is also a committee where we find the Democrats and the Republicans are marching in lockstep. So this is a committee that typically has 100% consensus on what we think the problems are and where we need to go with those. And we are all working to uncover the problems and share them with each other in real time. My most recent project is indeed working on the island nations in the Indo-Pacific because those form the stepping stones, the corridor, if you will, to the to the far western Pacific of China’s border Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, and of course, all of Southeast Asia. And that’s their also the corridor to Australia and New Zealand. So if that.
Sam Stone: [01:06:02] If that corridor is weaponized against us.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:06:06] Yeah.
Sam Stone: [01:06:07] That’s that is an enormous risk.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:06:09] It’s largely weaponized already, although there are some corridors through there which are closing rapidly. So the Marshall Islands, the Federated Compact states, the freely associated compact states that they they gave up all of their defense to us and they freely associate with America, by the way, also serve in our military at a higher rate per capita than any other population in America. They have fully 1% of everybody on the island enlist in the military. So these are really good people. They really love America, but their governments have been corrupted by the Chinese. The money they’re going in, they’re buying real estate, they’re buying politicians. They’re buying newspapers and news outlets out there. And and they have largely replaced us in the economy of these island nations. And so this is a really dangerous thing. We all remember Douglas MacArthur’s island hopping campaign that he wasn’t doing that because he was touring the South Pacific. That was the only way to get to Japan. And it’s also the only way to get to China. You know, we can’t fight an air war from Hawaii to China. That’s just way too far away.
Sam Stone: [01:07:23] Yeah, If you if you can’t climb that ladder, there’s no getting out of fire on the roof of that house, right?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:07:28] That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. You need to have you need to have friends across the Pacific. And they are isolated. They have built China has almost completed what we like to call the greater wall of China because it’s even bigger now. This stretches across the entire central and South Pacific. This is an area that’s 2 or 3 times the size of the United States.
Sam Stone: [01:07:52] Well, and it’s not just the military issues, but then there’s the trade issues, right, that that come with all of this.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:07:59] Well, that’s what they care about. They love their economies. And and we have ignored them and frankly, let their economies sort of slide towards welfare states. And we need we need to be better allies, honestly, to the Pacific Island nations. They love Americans, but they’re not really seeing a lot of Americans. What they’re seeing is a lot of Chinese. Yeah.
Sam Stone: [01:08:19] A few months back we had the member from Guam on the program with us and he was talking a little bit about it. You know, I knew nothing about their economy or tourism and the opportunities for folks to go over there, be able to enjoy visiting and, you know, working with them and their in doing business with them. But that’s an enormous opportunity we’re missing. It is.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:08:41] By the way. It’s a beautiful place to visit. I was stationed in the Pacific Theater when I was in the Army, and my work took me throughout the Pacific Rim and I had a chance to visit a lot of these nations in my work. So we’re talking about visiting them in the in as a matter of fact, medical evacuations and things like that. But but they were remarkable.
Sam Stone: [01:09:05] I imagine they were eager to see you at that time.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:09:10] Didn’t have much touring, but I will say nothing but good about the people out there. They’re wonderful to work with and true friends of America if we just give them a chance.
Sam Stone: [01:09:20] I think I think this is a really critical discussion that isn’t coming up enough in public that we’re not talking about all of our various allies in that region.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:09:30] This is my new my new homework project.
Sam Stone: [01:09:33] Well, I’m glad you brought it to us because like I said earlier, I had no idea this was going on. And I do consider myself pretty well informed.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:09:43] Yeah, it’s amazing. We are America walks around with a blind spot on the Pacific. We think it ends in a Y and starts again in Taiwan. It’s it’s. It’s a little.
Sam Stone: [01:09:53] A little.
Sam Stone: [01:09:54] If there’s no surfboards or semiconductors, who cares, right.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:09:58] Yeah, that’s right. So all they have really is fish. Right. And but you know, but they’re they’re very geo geopolitically geostrategically, very, very, very important locations. And if you have to remember, each nation has its own exclusive economic zone. And if China controls that government, they control the exclusive economic zone, too, and they interlock all the way across the Pacific.
Sam Stone: [01:10:24] Well, and one of the one of the issues there, correct me if I’m wrong, I’m kind of just connecting dots on my own here. But one of the issues there is that China, when they get into various territorial waters, has a tendency to heavily overfish those waters.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:10:38] Oh, yeah, absolutely. They they they have no regard whatsoever for fishing laws.
Sam Stone: [01:10:43] And so so that being such a big part of the economy and the diet of all these these countries, if China gets in there and does that, the the chance that they all end up totally dependent on China goes up dramatically. Right?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:10:56] Absolutely. And, you know, not only does it hurt them in terms of what they eat, it hurts their economy, their ability to export and frankly, ruins the environment as well. We saw what the Chinese did around the Spratly Islands. They chased out the Philippines, which really owned those islands, and then they built them into, you know, fortresses. They’re all armed with anti-ship missiles, surface to air missiles. They’ve literally fortified parts of the Philippines. This is China against us.
Sam Stone: [01:11:28] Now, I’ve heard very recently there’s a new deal that’s been put together with the Philippines that there’s some pushback coming there. We’re kind of strengthening our ties with them. Can you tell us what’s going on with that?
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:11:39] Yeah. So they they changed governments. And the ironically, the new president is the son of Ferdinand Marcos, who we all have mixed memories about.
Sam Stone: [01:11:51] But I just remember the photos of Imelda shoe collection.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:11:56] But he’s pro-American. He is. And he’s anti-China. He knows the Chinese are taking over his, you know, pieces of his country piece by piece. And he knows that there are malign interests. You know, the Chinese don’t come anywhere and make it better. No, they may come and bring some money for the politicians, but they don’t make the country better.
Sam Stone: [01:12:14] Well, and realistically, with their Belt and Road program, they’re creating serf nations using that program.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:12:22] It’s it’s old fashioned colonialism and imperialism.
Sam Stone: [01:12:26] But it’s just being done with dollars instead of sailing ships, essentially.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:12:30] Yeah, that’s right. So you could fight a war you don’t always have to be shooting to have a war. You know, you can have an economic war, too.
Sam Stone: [01:12:37] Yeah. And clearly we are there. Congressman, I want to thank you so much for your time this morning. I really appreciate you sticking around for this this segment. I know it was instructive for me. And so I hope our viewers will appreciate it also.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:12:51] Well, stay tuned. I’m going to be digging into this a little more in the near future, and I hope to have a lot more to say. And I’ll be working with your friend from Guam and also the representative from American Samoa.
Sam Stone: [01:13:02] Fantastic. And and please stay in touch with us as you go forward on that. We would love to to bring you on regularly to be able to get updates and and learn more about it, because this is exactly why Chuck and I do this program is for moments like this when we can learn something or our listeners and viewers can learn something too. Thank you so much. Really, really appreciate today’s discussion.
Congressmen Neal Dunn: [01:13:25] I promise to do it. Thanks so much, Sam.
Sam Stone: [01:13:28] Fantastic folks. Breaking battlegrounds will be back on the air again next week. Be sure to tune and download all of our podcasts. You can find them wherever podcasts are found or go to breaking battlegrounds. Upvote All the past episodes are up there. And again, thank you to Congressman Dunn. We very much appreciate his time today. And we. Breaking battlegrounds back next week.