“[Business and finance are] unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred… I should like to have it said of my first Adminstration that in it the forces of selfishness and lust for power met their match; I would like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces met their master.” (Campaign speech, 1936; quoted by Justice Douglas)
– FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT (1882-1945) 32nd President of the Unitese States
he people of Vermont gathered on the waterfront in Burlington, where Bernie Sanders began his political career as mayor, to hear him deliver a speech about why he is running for President of the United States. For presidential historians, the speech most likely reminded them of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Some excerpts from Bernie Sanders’ speech:
“Today with your support, and the support of millions across our country, we begin a political revolution to transform our country economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Today we stand here and say loudly and clearly: Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people and not to a handful of billionaires.”
“Brothers and sisters, now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same-old, same-old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas; now is the time for millions of working families to come together to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of our middle class, and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy – and that once again makes the United States the leader in the world in the fight for economic and social justice, for environmental sanity, and for a world of peace.”
“My fellow Americans, this country faces more serious problems today than at any time since the Great Depression, and, if you include the planetary crisis of climate change, it may well be that the challenges we face now are more dire than at any time in the modern history of our country. And here is my promise to you for this campaign: not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we are going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back.”
“We are going to take this campaign directly to the people in town meetings, door-to-door conversations, on street corners and in social media. This week we’re going to be in New Hampshire, we’re going to be in Iowa, and we’re going to be in Minnesota – and that’s just the start of this national campaign.”
“Let me be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders; it’s not about Hillary Clinton; it is not about Jeb Bush, or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. As someone who has never run a negative political ad in my life, my campaign will not be driven by political gossip or reckless personal attacks. This is what the American people want and deserve. These are serious times – we need serious debates.”
“Politics in a democratic society should not be treated as if it were a baseball game, a game show, or a soap opera, and I hope the media understands that as well. Let me take a minute to touch on some of the issues that I will be focusing on in the coming months, and then give you a brief outline of an agenda for America. An agenda which in fact will deal with the serious problems and lead us to a better future.”
“Today we live in a nation which is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but that reality means very little for most of us because almost all of the wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. In America we have more income and wealth inequality than any other major country on Earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider. The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time; it is the great economic issue of our time; it is the great political issue of our time, and we will address it.”
“Let me be very clear, and let the top 1% understand this. There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1% owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and when 99% of all new income goes to the top 1%. There is something profoundly wrong when in recent years we have seen a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, and we have shamefully the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country.”
“There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth in this country than the bottom 130 million Americans. This grotesque level of inequality is immoral, it is bad economics, it is unsustainable. This type of rigged economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change, and as your president, together, we are going to change it.”
“My fellow Americans, let me be as blunt as I can and tell you what you already know. As a result of the disastrous Supreme Court decision Citizens United, the American political system has been totally corrupted, and the foundations of American democracy are now being undermined. What the Supreme Court said, essentially, was that it was not good enough for the billionaires to own much of the economy – they could now own the United States government as well, and that is precisely what they are trying to do.”
“Now, what I learned in school, an I think what the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country have long-known, that American democracy is not about billionaires being able to buy candidates and buy elections. It is not about the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and other incredibly wealthy individuals spending billions of dollars to elect candidates who will make the rich richer and everyone else poorer. According to media reports, if you can believe it, the Koch brothers in this election cycle are prepared to spend more money than either the democratic or republican parties.”
“That is not democracy – that is oligarchy. In Vermont at our town meetings we know what democracy is about, and that is ‘one person, one vote’, and that is the kind of political system we are going to fight for and are going to achieve.”
… “If we don’t get our act together and have the United States lead the world in combating climate change there will be more drought, more famine, more rising sea level, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances. As human beings who look out over this environment, who appreciate the beauty that we have on this planet, we are not going to allow the fossil fuel industry to destroy this planet.”
“This campaign, starting today, is going to send a message to the billionaire class, and that is: ‘you can’t have it all’. You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in the country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs abroad while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. To the billionaire class, I say that your greed has got to end – you can’t take advantage of all of the benefits of America if you refuse to accept your responsibilities. And that is why we need a tax system which is fair and progressive, which tells the wealthiest individuals and the largest corporations that they are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.”
“When we talk about power, we talk about Wall Street. In my view it is time to break up the largest financial institutions in this country. Wall Street cannot continue to be an island onto itself gambling trillions in risky financial instruments while expecting the public to bail it out. If a bank is too big to fail, that bank is too big to exist..”
“…we must be focused on campaign finance reform and the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn this disastrous Citizens United decision. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: I will not nominate any justice to the Supreme Court who has not made it clear that he or she will move to overturn that disastrous decision which is undermining American democracy.”
“And that is why I as president will fight to make tuition in public colleges and universities free, as well as substantially lower interest rates on student loans.”
“I am vigorously opposed to an endless, perpetual war in the Middle East.”
“And to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say look at where we are standing today. As some of you will remember, this beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful, people-oriented public space it is today. We took that fight to the courts, to the legislature, and to the people and we won. The lesson to be learned, and it is a profound political lesson, is that when people stand together, when people are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished.”
“We can live in a country where every person has health care as a right, not a privilege. We can live in a country where every parent can have quality and affordable child care and where all of our qualified young people can get a college education regardless of their income. We can live in a country where every senior can live in dignity and security, and not be forced to choose between food and medicine. We can live in a country where every veteran who has put his or her life on the line to defend this nation gets the quality health care and benefits they have earned and deserve. We can live in a country where every person no matter their race, their religion, their disability, or sexual orientation realizes the full promise of equality that is our birthright as Americans.”
“Brothers and sisters, that is the nation we can build together. And I ask you and people throughout this country to join us in this campaign to build a future that works for all of us, and not just the few people on top. Thank you again for coming out on this beautiful day. Thank you.”
What separates Senator Bernie Sanders from Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush is that he is the only one of the three who has used the term “billionaire class”. Ms. Clinton and Mr. Bush can no longer ignore wealth inequality in the United States – the highest level of inequality of any major nation on Earth, and an issue of great concern for tens of millions of Americans. If Ms. Clinton and Mr. Bush – with Senator Bernie Sanders in the race for president in 2016 – choose not to honestly address this central, serious issue, the number of voters who were leaning in their directions and voting for them who change their minds to support/vote for Bernie Sanders may become historic.
“All personal secrets have the effect of sin or guilt.”
– CARL GUSTAV JUNG (1875-1961) Swiss psychologist, psychiatrist
en and women who’ve been kind enough to follow this blog know that alternative news group The Real News Network’s (TRNN) work has become shared here several times. While viewing TRNN recently on their YouTube channel, reading the comments below one of the videos a person made a comment/suggestion to TRNN that Daniel Sheehan would be an excellent guest for interview. Being only vaguely familiar with Daniel Sheehan from years ago, limited to associating his name with the Christic Institute during the Reagan and Bush I administrations, “Daniel Sheehan” was then typed into YouTube’s search engine and my, oh my… one struck internet truthseeker gold.
Whether choosing to read the comments on TRNN’s video was only a fortunate “coincidence” for one who seeks truth or there is some other explanation, after viewing a good portion of Professor Daniel Sheehan’s 2015 lectures at the University of California-Santa Cruz in his course “Trajectory of Justice” it became impossible not to share the resource here. Perhaps the most direct way to describe what Professor Sheehan reveals in “Trajectory of Justice” is to say that the information he conveys might be covered in, at the most, other American university lecture halls in an amount equal to the fingers on one’s hand.
For those unfamiliar with Daniel Sheehan, he is a Harvard Law and Divinity School graduate and was closely involved as a lawyer in the following immense American legal battles:
The Pentagon Papers, which led to shortening of the Vietnam War
The Watergate burglary, which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation
The Karen Silkwood case, where 40 pounds of weapons grade plutonium went missing, Ms. Silkwood died in a suspicious car accident, surviving family members awarded over $10 million in damages, and the movie “Silkwood” was produced based on her story
The Three-Mile Island nuclear accident
The Iran-Contra affair, exposed with a lawsuit by the Christic Institute, where the over twenty men pardoned by President George H.W. Bush should, in the view of Daniel Sheehan, “still be serving time in Leavenworth Prison”
Mr. Sheehan was central force in establishing the Christic Institute in 1986, a non-profit public policy center which dissolved in 1996 and reorganized in 2005 as the Romero Institute – named after assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero. One of the Romero Institute’s most aggressive current projects is advocacy and creation of “Constitution Protection Zones” across the United States, in response to what have become viewed by legal scholars as unconstitutional counter-terrorism sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. The sections describe processes where the United States government can arrest citizens and detain them indefinitely for terrorist-supporting activities without access to constitutional protections clearly spelled out in the constitution.
Some reading this might be aware of the lawsuit filed by Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf and others on those sections of the NDAA and their unconstitutional status, and that the lawsuit was defeated on appeal by the Obama Justice Department after the judge in the appeal ruled plaintiffs Hedges, Chomsky, and others did not have “sufficient legal standing”, and struck down the lawsuit. Besides efforts by the Romero Institute in California, an increasing number of other cities, counties and states across America have created or are considering laws for their localities in opposition to the NDAA.
The argument against NDAA sections 1021 and 1022 is that they deny citizens rights guaranteed in the Constitution in the 1st and 5th amendments concerning free speech and due process under the law. The wording in those sections are seen by legal experts as vague, and may represent legal risks to journalists and activists who oppose United States foreign policy actions. See video below: “We Are The White Rose”, Daniel Sheehan talking about efforts to transform the city of Santa Cruz, California into a “Constitution Protection Zone”.
The Romero Institute is also investigating a potential pharmaceutical corporate scandal involving psychotropic drug experimentation on Native American foster children in South Dakota, USA – with possible legal consequences along the lines of those portrayed in the feature film “Michael Clayton”.
In his course “Trajectory of Justice”, Professor Daniel Sheehan tells his students that the aim of the course is to make them aware of historic and current realities with the goal of providing the knowledge needed to face major global challenges they will experience in their lifetimes. Mr. Sheehan shares his wealth of personal investigative, legal and philosophical experience of over 40 years while preparing the students – along with every American able to access/view the lectures on the internet – to non-violently, through use of constitutional law: (1) prevent further destruction of the Earth’s environment resulting from greenhouse gas emissions leading to climate change, (2) deal effectively with what he considers a growing and disturbing United States national security state, and (3) work to prevent what Samuel Huntington’s book titled “Clash of Civilizations” – China/eastern and the United States/western – suggested as a possible future military confrontation between the Chinese and Americans.
The approximately 1-hour, 30-minute lectures, of which now seventeen (17) are posted at “Romero Institute” on YouTube, contain a wealth of facts that convey very rarely exposed, important, shocking, and disturbing truths about historic events of major significance, and are very highly recommended for anyone interested in learning the true history and reality of human events.
To give an example of the kind of information Professor Sheehan shares during “Trajectory of Justice”, in one of the lectures he reads quotes from Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) and Woodrow Wilson to reinforce his points.
FDR | 1936:
“The task on your part is simple, and it is two-fold. First, as a simple matter of patriotism it is our obligation to separate false issues from the real issues. And, secondly, that without rancor, with facts to clarify the real problems that are presented to the American people, there will be many false issues that are going to be tendered. Those desperate in their mood, angry in their failure, cunning in their purpose, there is a specific group that will seek in this case to make communism, seek to make communism an issue in the major elections. (Here, Professor Sheehan notes that today we could substitute terrorism for communism in FDR’s time) The principal issue in our elections is not communism, for there is no controversy between our two main political parties on this issue”.
Woodrow Wilson | 1912 – While running for president against William Howard Taft:
“An invisible empire has been set up above all of the forms of our democratic government. Since I have entered politics, I have chiefly had certain men’s views confided to me in private. Some of the brightest men in the United States in the field of commerce, in manufacture, and in public government are afraid of something, of someone. The know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so watchful, so interlocked, and so complete and pervasive, that they had better not speak about this group unless they speak under their breath when they discuss them”.
“Our government has been for a number of years under the control of the heads of a great alliance among the owners of corporations who have very specific interests. Our government has not controlled these interests, it has submitted itself to their control. The laws of our country no longer prevent the strong from crushing the interests of the weak, so the strong dominate both the industry and the economic and political life of our country. The old political formulas no longer fit the present problem; they read now like documents taken out of some forgotten age. We have not adjusted our laws to confront the facts of this new political and economic order”.
“Our middle class is being more and more squeezed out by the processes for personal prosperity. Its members are sharing only a small portion of the prosperity which they originate. But no nation can long afford to have its prosperity originated only by such a small controlling class. Thus, there are cities in which not the interests of the public, but the interests of this specially privileged selfish group of men are being served instead; where private contracts take precedence over public interest. And this is not only in the big cities, but is growingly true all throughout the union. Our people are coming to feel that they no longer have any control over their own affairs”.
“We vote, and we are offered the platforms which they want, and we are all allowed to vote only for the men who stand on these platforms. But in return we get virtually nothing. We now know that the machines of both of our major political parties are subsidized by these same people, and therefore it is useless to turn to either one of them to seek directions”.
FDR | State of the Union 1938:
“The unhappy events that we are now witnessing abroad have re-taught us two simple but very important truths about the liberty of a democratic people. The first is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of a private power to such a point that it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. This, in essence, is fascism – the ownership of our government by a private group of individuals and corporations, or any other private controlling power is what the problem is. The second truth is that our liberty in a democracy is not safe if the economic system that has been adopted by the nation’s business community does not provide adequate employment and distribute goods and services in such a manner as to sustain an acceptable standard of living for all”.
“We have long known that heedless self-interest is bad morals: now we know that it is bad economics as well”.
FDR | From book written 1934:
“More striking still, if this process of the concentration of wealth and power goes on at its present rate, by the end of this century we shall have all American industry and finance controlled by less than a dozen major corporations, which will be owned and run by less than a hundred men. Putting it plainly, we are on the course and are still continuing to steer the course toward economic and political oligarchy, if we are not there already”.
FDR | Private letter to Mr. House:
“The actual truth of this matter, as you and I know, is that a specific financial element in the larger cities has owned our United States since the days of Andrew Jackson. Our country is now going through a repetition of Andrew Jackson’s fight with the central bank, only now it is on a far bigger and broader scale”.
FDR | 1936:
“We have had to struggle with the old enemies of peace: the owners of business and financial monopolies, financial speculators and the men who are in charge of the reckless banking practices and those who engage in war profiteering. They have begun to consider our government to be a mere appendage of their own business affairs. We must realize that our government, being run in the interests of the organized wealthy is just as dangerous as our government being run by organized crime. Never before in all of our history have their forces been so united as they stand today. There is among us today just such a concentration of private and corporate power without equal in our history, and it is growing ever stronger… And I welcome their hatred of me”.
(In 1934 that group attempted a coup d’état against FDR)
“This concentration of corporate power and wealth is seriously impairing the effectiveness of our economic system of free enterprise, so as to be able to provide adequate employment opportunities for labor and small businesses. It is in short impairing our economy from being able to assure a more equitable distribution of the income and earnings of our people, among the people of our nation”.
FDR | 1936 Democratic Convention:
“It was entirely natural and to be expected that the privileged princes of this new economic dynasty, thirsting for their power and profit, would reach out to seek control over our government itself. They have created a new despotism and have wrapped it in the robes of legal sanctions. In their service, these new mercenaries have sought to regiment our people, our labors and our property. And, as a result, the average man once more confronts the same adversary that was confronted by the minute men. The hours that any men and women work, the wages that they receive, the conditions in which they must be compelled to work, have all passed out from under the control of the people and are now being imposed by this new financial and industrial dictatorship”.
“The private savings of the average family, the small amount of capital generated by the small business person, the investments set aside by men and women for their old age, other people’s money, has now been transformed into the tools by which the membership of this new economic royalty have now dug themselves in. Those who till the soil are no longer the ones who reap the rewards which are their right; the small measure of their gains are now decreed by men in distant cities. Throughout our nation, the opportunity of the small businessman is limited by a growing set of corporate monopolies. Individual initiative is being crushed in the cogs of the great corporate machine. The field, once open and free for small business, has grown more and more restricted”.
“Private enterprise has now become privileged enterprise, no longer free enterprise. For most of us now, the political equality that we once believed we finally secured by the passage of our constitution has become meaningless in the face of this new economic inequality – a very small group of extremely wealthy and powerful men have now concentrated into their hands almost the complete control over other people’s money and property, other people’s labor, other people’s lives. For too many of us our lives are no longer truly free, and our liberty is no longer real. For we are no longer able to truly pursue our own happiness”.
“In the face of economic tyranny such as this our American people can appeal to only the organized power of their government, which we have created to protect us. The great economic collapse of 1929 showed up this economic despotism for what it really is. The election of 1932 was the people’s mandate to end this economic despotism. Pursuant to this mandate we are now bringing this to an end. The economic royalists complain that we are seeking to overthrow sacred American institutions. What they are really complaining about is that we are seeking to break up their economic and political power over our nation”.
“Our allegiance to the very institutions of our American constitution requires that we overthrow this kind of financial power. It is in vain that they seek to hide behind our American flag and our constitution. In their blindness they forget what our flag and our constitution actually stand for. Now, as always, they stand for democracy – not tyranny, freedom – not subjugation, and against any form of dictatorship, whether it be the mob rule or the dictatorship of the over-privileged few. We as presidents may err and do make mistakes, but as the poet Dante says: ‘Divine justice weighs the sins of the cold-blooded and those of the warm-hearted on a different set of scales’. Better the occasional fault of a government that lives and abides in a spirit of charity than the consistent and intentional omissions of a government frozen in the ice of the indifference of the rich and powerful”.
“The history of the past half century (1880-1932) in our country has in large measure been the history of a comparatively small number of financial titans whose methods of accumulating wealth and power were scrutinized with too little care, and who therefore became honored only in proportion th the degree to which their efforts produced financial results irrespective of the means which they employed”.
FDR | 1941 – 8th State of the Union:
“We must especially beware of that same small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of our American eagle in order to feather their own private financial nests. To us there has come this time, in the midst of swift-moving happenings, to pause for a moment and to take stock. To recall what our unique place in history has been and to rediscover who we are, and what we can still become. For if we do not do this we risk all of the attendant perils of our inaction. The hopes of this republic cannot tolerate either undeserved poverty or unrestrained self-serving wealth”.
FDR | 1933 – First inaugural speech:
“The money changers must be driven from their high seats in the temple of our western civilization so we can restore this temple to the ancient truths. The measure of this restoration is to be found in the extent which we identify and apply the social values of our civilization that are more noble than the mere personal pursuit of private monetary profit. It seems to me to be plain that no business corporation which depends for its existence on paying less than a true living wage to its workers has any right to be allowed to continue to exist in this country. And by a living wage I mean more than a bare subsistence level. I mean a wage that allows one a decent form of living”.
“The measure of our economic progress is not to be measured by adding more and more to the abundance of those who already have so much, it is to be measured instead by whether we provide enough to those who have too little”.
FDR | 1935 – State of the Union:
“We find today our population suffering from old inequalities that have been little changed by mere sporadic efforts and remedies. In spite of all of our talk and all of our efforts, we have not yet weeded out those overprivileged, and we have not effectively lifted up all of our underprivileged. Each of these manifestations of injustice retard our collective national happiness. No wise man has any intention of destroying the human profit motive, but by profit motive we mean the right to work, the right to earn a decent livelihood for ourselves and our families. We have however a clear mandate from the people that America must forswear the acquisition of great wealth, which through excessive profit creates undo private power over our public affairs as well”.
“In building toward this end, we must not destroy healthy personal ambition, nor do we seek all of our wealth into equal shares for all. We will continue to recognize the ability of some to earn more than others. However, we must not acknowledge that the simple ambition on the part of an individual to obtain for himself and his family a proper degree of security, a reasonable degree of leisure, and a decent living throughout his life to be the same as, or to be supplanted by, the raw appetite to acquire great personal wealth and therefore great personal power”.
FDR | 1938:
“Do not let any calamity howling corporate executive who earns an income of $1,000 per day, who has been turning his employees over to the government relief roles in order to preserve his corporation’s undistributed cash reserves, tell you – using his stockholders’ money to tell you his personal opinion, that a wage of $11 per week is going to have a disastrous effect upon American industry. We in America believe in individual initiative and private enterprise as well as the private profit motive, but we realize that we must continually seek to improve our business practices to ensure the establishment and continuance of reasonable levels of private profit only”.
FDR | 1932 – Commencement address:
“There is a mysterious cycle in human affairs. To some generations much is given and therefore much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny. In this world there are some people who have in times past have lived and fought for freedom but have grown weary and too complacent to carry on the fight. So they have traded in their heritage of freedom for the mere illusion of making a good living. They have thereby yielded up our democracy. I sincerely believe in my heart that only by the success of our generation can we once again stir these ancient hopes”.
“Once they realize that we are waging a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization, they will recognize that this is the war for democracy itself. For we are to preserve a great and precious form of government for ourselves and the world – and physical force by the powerful and wealthy can never permanently withstand the impact of this spiritual force. We have faith that future generations will be taught that here in the middle of our 20th century there came a time when people of good will found a way to unite and to fight to destroy the forces of intolerance, ignorance, slavery and war”.
“What we need now is enthusiasm, imagination, and the will to face facts – even if these facts are unpleasant, and we must face them bravely. We need to correct, even if by drastic means if that becomes necessary, the faults of our present economic system from which we all now suffer. We need the courage of the young; your task is not the task of learning how to make it in the world as it is now, but instead your task is the remaking of this world which you now find before you. May each of you be granted the courage, the faith and the vision to give the very best that is in you to this remaking of our world”.
“The only secure bulwark for continuing liberty is a government that protects the interests of our people, and a people who are strong enough and well enough informed to be able to maintain their sovereign control over our government”.
For more information on current projects and/or to research Christic/Romero Institute archives, please visit: RomeroInstitute.org
Palestinians are at the heart of the conflict in the M.E Palestinians uprooted by force of arms.. Yet faced immense difficulties have survived, kept alive their history and culture, passed keys of family homes in occupied Palestine from one generation to the next.
This blog is devoted to legal, historical and human rights matters, in which issues of general concern are addressed freely and spontaneously. It is intended to further an informal exchange of views in the democratic spirit of freedom of opinion and respect for the opinions of others, in an effort to understand rather than condemn, to propose constructive solutions rather than grandstand. The perspective is both from inside and outside the box and the added value lies more in the questions than in the answers.