Eliot Spitzer Takes On New York’s Nomenklatura

February 11, 2007

null

The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.Is New York’s Eliot Spitzer for real? Is it possible my home state elected a governor who knows what he means and means what he says? Politicians promising reform and boasting about their prowess as culture breakers is nothing new. Spitzer’s predecessor, George Pataki also promised to reform Albany’s corrupt culture and he proceeded to embrace it. Mario Cuomo didn’t embrace Albany’s inside game like Pataki but he didn’t confront it either.

To this point, Spitzer reinforces my belief that the Democratic Party’s best hopes for the future reside in state capitals where governors are tackling vital issues such as healthcare, global warming and public corruption. Brian Schweitzer of Montana for example is a sterling example of this new breed. Smart, innovative, tough and unafraid of picking fights with entrenched power to advance progressive ideals. They present quite a contrast to Washington Democrats who even after defeating Republicans convincingly this past November, govern as if they’re afraid of their own shadow.

In only the second month of the Spitzer Era, his administration is on a collision course with Albany’s nomenklatura. The spectacle is fascinating to watch. For readers not familiar with New York State politics, Washington D.C. is a beacon of rectitude compared to Albany.

New York State Comptroller, Alan Hevesi was forced to resign shortly after being re-elected because of scandal. Hevesi pled guilty to a minor felony charge for using state employees as drivers for his ailing wife. Click here and here to read more about Alan Hevesi and the scandal that forced him from office.

As you can discern from the links I provided, Hevesi’s fall from grace was hardly the worst scandal in the world. We’ve seen far worse in New York. Indeed, I rather admired Hevesi’s career both as Mayor Rudi Guilani’s fiscal watchdog when he was New York City Comptroller and his recent stint in Albany. Hevesi also courageously opposed the death penalty as an Assemblyman from Queens. I supported Hevesi’s failed efforts to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for Governor in 1998 and Mayor of New York City in 2001.

Nevertheless, what Hevesi did was wrong and Spitzer opted to withdraw his endorsement of the Comptroller prior to Election Day. Afterwards, there was speculation Spitzer would not encourage Hevesi’s prosecution. To his credit, Spitzer helped push Hevesi out. Spitzer’s critics believed he should’ve publicly pressured Hevesi to resign before the election.

According to New York State’s constitution, Hevesi’s successor must be approved by the state legislature. Spitzer’s fellow Democrats controls the Assembly and have far superior numbers than the Republican controlled Senate. Hence, Spitzer had to deal with Assembly Majority Leader Sheldon Silver.

Silver is the embodiment of Albany’s establishment and for over a decade has wielded power as one of “three men in a room” governing New York State. The caucus led by Silver has seen governors preaching reform come and go, as they remained entrenched. Their districts are gerrymandered to their favor as special interests curry their favor. This is not a group easily intimidated by a new governor’s high approval ratings, even if he is a member of their own party.

Spitzer and Silver agreed that a new comptroller would be selected from a list of qualified candidates put forward by an independent screening committee. The Assembly favored one of their own, Thomas P. DiNapoli and went along with Spitzer’s plan because they believed he would be among the finalists. He wasn’t and the Assembly opted to renege on the agreement.

DiNapoli, a Democrat is well liked among legislators from both parties because of his work to help bail out financially strapped Nassau County. His efforts garnered appreciation from suburban Republicans as well as Democrats and represent the consensus choice inside Albany’s clubhouse.

Spitzer has responded with characteristic bluntness. While promoting his new budget in Syracuse, he denounced local Assemblyman and fellow Democrat Bill Magnarelli:

“Bill Magnarelli is one of those unfortunate Assembly members who just raises his hand when he’s told to do so, and didn’t even bother to stand up and say, ‘Whose interests am I representing?’”

Governor Spitzer also canceled an introductory lunch with Assembly Democrats next Monday, as well as a $10,000 a plate fundraiser for the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee. Escalating the conflict even further, Spitzer’s aides have let it be known he would criticize the votes of Assembly Democrats in swing districts where Republicans could make inroads.

One can’t help but admire Spitzer’s pugnacious tenacity on behalf of principle. He used the same approach as State Attorney General when he prosecuted corrupt brokerage houses on Wall Street ripping off the middle class. Spitzer’s unwavering pursuit of corruption propelled him to the governor’s mansion. However, being governor is far different then serving as the king of your own fiefdom as New York’s top lawyer.

Governing is about achievement. Achievement requires consensus. New York’s legislature appropriates funds and their cooperation will be required to pass budgets on time and enact Spitzer’s agenda for health care reform, education investment and restructuring New York’s finances.

Also, Spitzer’s budget calls for unpopular cuts with New York’s hospitals and making the tough calls can’t help but diminish his popularity. Albany’s nomenklatura will likely play a game of rope-a-dope and wait for Spitzer’s popularity to dissipate so they can cut deals from strength. Gridlock appears unavoidable unless Spitzer adopts a more conciliatory tone.

Spitzer however appears determined to make an omelet by breaking eggs. Can he pull it off? William Cunningham who served former Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo and most recently Mayor Mike Bloomberg, compared Spitzer’s style with former New York Governor Theodore Roosevelt:

“Roosevelt came in saying he was going to be a reform governor. He immediately got into a fight with Senator Platt, the head of the Republicans, a powerful political boss in the state. History remembers Teddy Roosevelt. You have to be a knucklehead like me to remember Boss Platt.”

Perhaps we New Yorkers have a ringside seat to history. Hopefully, we’ll also have a better state when Spitzer leaves office.


Yawn: Hillary’s Running

January 20, 2007

null The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Hillary Clinton made it official today and joined the fray. Click here to listen to Clinton’s official announcement from her website and here to read the actual text.

Frankly, reading and listening to Hillary’s announcement is like drinking soda without carbonation. It’s focus grouped for the political fifty-yard line. Just like Al Gore in 2000, Hillary will campaign from weakness. Too fearful to offend the “middle class” or appear weak on national security will result in a mealy mouthed posture. Strength stems from authenticity but does Clinton even know who she really is anymore?

Clinton is very closed and insular and listens to a tight circle of advisors like Bush. As we’ve seen, such an insular governing style is dangerous. Her husband was far more open, hungry even for a diversity of information as president. Hopefully, he will serve as an information conduit for her as Eleanor Roosevelt did for FDR. My suspicion however is Hillary would be obsessed with leaks as president and drown inside her bubble. Also, she has the imagination of a grapefruit.

Edwards interests me because on domestic issues he’s offering specifics about valuing “work over wealth” whereas Hillary’s a corporatist. I remain troubled about Edwards’ record on Iraq and therefore I’m not quite sold on him yet. Obama to this point is a platitude machine but his candidacy does intrigue me. How will he handle the fishbowl? Is there more to him than “something new”? I’m curious to find out.

An Al Gore candidacy would intrigue me because he’s grown as a person since 2000. I suspect he would campaign on candor instead of being afraid to lose. I’d sign up for his campaign in a heartbeat. Alas, it doesn’t appear he will run.

I used to believe Hillary was authentic with a core but unlike Gore, the former first lady has regressed. I hoped Hillary would emerge as a Robert Kennedy sort of figure in the senate but she has not put her prestige on the line for the working poor or the cause of peace.

Hillary is so afraid of appearing weak that she appears weak. Her pandering on an amendment for flag burning last year has me wondering what else she would surrender to project an image of values and toughness. We don’t need that sort of weakness undermining the progressive cause. Hillary has proven she can take a punch. She also deserves credit for providing effective constituent service as a senator. As a senator, Hillary has been a workhorse more than a show-horse unlike Obama or Edwards when he served. As a New Yorker I respect that.

But her original support of the Iraq war was a callous and cowardly act of political expediency. Her tepid “if I knew now what I knew then” explanation regarding Iraq is neither believable nor acceptable. War and peace requires a different standard of leadership. Not calculating cynicism resulting in needless bloodshed.

I don’t underestimate Hillary. She’s disciplined, smart and tough. And I’d love to support a woman for the White House. We could certainly do worse and this country has. But her candidacy for president does not inspire me and I expect to support somebody else.


Where’s the Beef

January 20, 2007

null The topic below was originally posted in my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

It was 1984 and a youthful looking Colorado Senator named Gary Hart was getting traction as the candidate of “new ideas.” Presumptive front-runner, former Vice President Walter Mondale appeared to be a dinosaur as Hart scored an upset in New Hampshire.

The two candidates were about the same age but the combination of Gary Hart’s hair and “new ideas” slogan propelled him to the top tier. Only fifteen at the time, I was astounded how Gary Hart succeeded while offering so little substance.

You may recall a popular television commercial for the fast food chain restaurant, Wendy’s at the time. Gray haired Actress Clara Peller stared at an unimpressive looking hamburger and asked, “Where’s the beef?” Mondale effectively neutralized Hart’s momentum by asking the same question about his rival’s program.

I happen to respect Gary Hart. Our country should have heeded the report about terrorism he co-authored with former Senator Warren Rudman. This country would be far better off if we had. However, in 1984 Gary Hart was a platitude machine hiding behind the slogan of “new ideas.”

This week Barack Obama announced the formation of his exploratory committee to run for president and he noted the public wanted “something new.” Reading that I immediately thought of Gary Hart and Clara Peller. Where’s the beef?

As E.J. Dionne observed in today’s Washington Post, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is running on specifics. Edwards has stated his immediate priorities are not balancing the budget but addressing the nation’s investment deficit. Dionne writes:

“Most Democrats don’t like to talk about it, but somebody’s taxes are going to have to go up. Edwards, at least, is willing to say which taxes he would raise to keep the deficit from going through the roof. He would start by eliminating Bush’s tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners, which he defines roughly as those earning more than $180,000 to $200,000 a year.

He wants to increase the capital gains tax for an interesting reason: In an interview this week, he argued that it’s wrong to tax income from work at a higher rate than income from capital — an extension of his long-standing theme that the country should not value ‘wealth over work.’ He also favors a windfall-profits tax on oil companies.

But since health coverage and ‘transforming the energy economy of this country’ are first on his to-do list, Edwards says he is prepared to disappoint voters who make a balanced budget their top priority.

Edwards deserves points for honesty and for stating the politically difficult truth that both fiscal and social balance demand a comprehensive health-care fix.”

My favored candidate for 2008 was Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold but he’s not running. My next preference is former Vice President Al Gore but it doesn’t appear he has the fire in the belly anymore.

As I’ve written previously, Edwards record about the Iraq War troubles me. I believe he supported the congressional resolution supporting President Bush’s misguided venture in Iraq out of political expediency. I can’t help but wonder if his “apology” for supporting the war is also about political expediency. War requires a higher standard of leadership than he’s provided. Yes, today he’s speaking out but seventy percent of the public is with him now. We needed Edwards to speak out in 2002-2003.

Nevertheless, I appreciate the progressive campaign Edwards is waging on domestic policy and the specifics he’s offering. In 2004, I regarded Edwards as a Ken Doll and his “two Americas” campaign a mere slogan. This time it appears he’s rising above platitudes.

Do platitude machines Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have any beef to offer? A cynic might recall how Walter Mondale was honest and specific. He told a nationally televised audience at the Democratic National Convention:

“President Reagan will raise your taxes. So will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

The deficit was out of control but Reagan promised not to raise taxes, won in a landslide and raised taxes for the middle class anyway, which he called “revenue enhancements.” And he got away with it.

An optimist however might note John Edwards on his worst day is far more charismatic than Walter Mondale ever was on his best day. Perhaps Edwards is just the candidate to sell a specific progressive program and earn a mandate for real change. Without either Feingold or Gore in the race I don’t know which candidate I’m going to volunteer for yet. For damn sure I want more than platitudes such as “something new” offered by Obama. I want to know where the beef is.


Remembering Barbara Jordan

January 19, 2007

null The topic below was originally posted on my blog, the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday this week had me thinking about other pioneers with grace, wisdom and decency. One figure worth remembering is Barbara Jordan. It happens January 17th was the 11th anniversary of her death at the age of 59. Jordan was a rare figure who combined gravitas with humility. She broke down barriers to walk the corridors of power but never forgot where she came from.

Educated in the public schools of Houston, Jordan graduated from Phillis Wheatley High School in 1952. Upon earning her B.A. in political science and history from Texas Southern University in 1956 she graduated from Boston University Law School in 1959. Think about that for moment – a black woman from Texas earned a law degree in 1959.

Jordan was admitted to the Massachusetts and Texas bars and began practicing law in Houston in 1960. Her first attempts at elected office were not successful as a candidate for state representative in 1962 and 1964. Thankfully, Jordan didn’t give up and in 1966 she became the first African American state senator from Texas since 1883. She served in that body until 1972.
Jordan joined the 93rd Congress defeating Republican Paul Merritt to represent Texas’ Eighteenth District in the House of Representatives. She served in the House until 1979. Jordan’s expertise and passion for constitutional law placed her on the House Judiciary Committee as congress considered the merits of impeaching President Richard Nixon. Below is the text of her powerful speech delivered on July 25,1974. Jordan’s words are especially poignant when considering the crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration.

“Mr. Chairman:

I join in thanking you for giving the junior members of this committee the glorious opportunity of sharing the pain of this inquiry. Mr. Chairman, you are a strong man and it has not been easy but we have tried as best we can to give you as much assistance as possible.

Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, ‘We, the people.’ It is a very eloquent beginning. But when the document was completed on the seventeenth of September 1787 I was not included in that ‘We, the people.’ I felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake. But through the process of amendment, interpretation and court decision I have finally been included in ‘We, the people.’

Today, I am an inquisitor; I believe hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.

…The subject of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men. That is what we are talking about. In other words, the jurisdiction comes from the abuse or violation of some public trust. It is wrong, I suggest, it is a misreading of the Constitution, for any member here to assert that for a member to vote for an article of impeachment means that that member must be convinced that the President should be removed from office.

The Constitution doesn’t say that. The powers relating to impeachment are an essential check in the hands of this body, the legislature, against and upon the encroachment of the Executive. In establishing the division between the two branches of the legislature, the House and the Senate, assigning to the one the right to accuse and to the other the right to judge, the framers of this Constitution were very astute. They did not make the accusers and the judges the same person.

We know the nature of impeachment. We have been talking about it awhile now. It is chiefly designed for the President and his high ministers to somehow be called into account. It is designed to “bridle” the Executive if he engages in excesses. It is designed as a method of national inquest into the conduct of public men. The framers confined in the Congress the power, if need be, to remove the President in order to strike a delicate balance between a President swollen with power and grown tyrannical and preservation of the independence of the Executive. The nature of impeachment is a narrowly channeled exception to the separation of powers maxim; the federal convention of 1787 said that. It limited impeachment to high crimes and misdemeanors and discounted and opposed the term, ‘maladministration.’ ‘It is to be used only for great misdemeanors,’ so it was said in the North Carolina ratification convention. And in the Virginia ratification convention: ‘We need one branch to check the others.’

The North Carolina ratification convention: ‘No one need to be afraid that officers who commit oppression will pass with immunity.”

‘Prosecutions of impeachments will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community,’ said Hamilton in the Federalist Papers, number 65. ‘And to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused.’ I do not mean political parties in that sense. The drawing of political lines goes to the motivation behind impeachment; but impeachment must proceed within the confines of the constitutional term, ‘high crime and misdemeanors.’

Of the impeachment process, it was Woodrow Wilson who said that ‘nothing short of the grossest offenses against the plain law of the land will suffice to give them speed and effectiveness. Indignation so great as to overgrow party interest may secure a conviction; but nothing else can.’

Common sense would be revolted if we engaged upon this process for petty reasons. Congress has a lot to do: Appropriations, tax reform, health insurance, campaign finance reform, housing, environmental protection, energy sufficiency, mass transportation. Pettiness cannot be allowed to stand in the face of such overwhelming problems. So today we are not being petty. We are trying to be big, because the task we have before us is a big one.

This morning, in a discussion of the evidence, we were told that the evidence which purports to support the allegations of misuse of the CIA by the President is thin. We are told that that evidence is insufficient. What that recital of the evidence this morning did not include is what the President did know on June 23, 1972. The President did know that it was Republican money, that it was money from the Committee for the Re-election of the President, which was found in the possession of one of the burglars arrested on June 17.

What the President did know on June 23 was the prior activities of E. Howard Hunt, which included his participation in the break-in of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, which included Howard Hunt’s participation in the Dita Beard ITT affair, which included Howard Hunt’s fabrication of cables designed to discredit the Kennedy Administration.

We were further cautioned today that perhaps these proceedings ought to be delayed because certainly there would be new evidence forthcoming from the President of the United States. There has not even been an obfuscated indication that this committee would receive any additional materials from the President. The committee subpoena is outstanding and if the President wants to supply that material, the committee sits here. The fact is that on yesterday, the American people waited with great anxiety for eight hours, not knowing whether their President would obey an order of the Supreme Court of the United States.

At this point, I would like to juxtapose a few of the impeachment criteria with some of the President’s actions.

Impeachment criteria: James Madison, from the Virginia ratification convention. ‘If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there is grounds to believe that he will shelter him, he may be impeached.’

We have heard time and time again that the evidence reflects payment to the defendants of money. The President had knowledge that these funds were being paid and that these were funds collected for the 1972 presidential campaign. We know that the President met with Mr. Henry Petersen twenty-seven times to discuss matters related to Watergate, and immediately thereafter met with the very persons who were implicated in the information Mr. Petersen was receiving and transmitting to the President. The words are, ‘If the President be connected in any suspicious manner with any person and there be grounds to believe that he will shelter that person, he may be impeached.’

Justice Story: ‘Impeachment is intended for occasional and extraordinary cases where a superior power acting for the whole people is put into operation to protect their rights and rescue their liberties from violations.’

We know about the Houston plan. We know about the break-in of the psychiatrist’s office. We know that there was absolute, complete direction in August 1971 when the President instructed Ehrilichman to ‘do whatever is necessary.’ This instruction led to a surreptitious entry into Dr. Fielding’s office. ‘Protect their rights.’ ‘Rescue their liberties from violation.’

The South Carolina ratification convention impeachment criteria: Those are impeachable ‘who behave amiss or betray their public trust.’

Beginning shortly after the Watergate break-in and continuing to the present time, the President has engaged in a series of public statements and actions designed to thwart the lawful investigation by government prosecutors. Moreover, the President has made public announcements and assertions bearing on the Watergate case which the evidence will show he knew to be false. These assertions, false assertions; impeachable, those who misbehave. Those who ‘behave amiss or betray their public trust.’

James Madison, again at the constitutional convention: ‘A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.’

The Constitution charges the President with the task of taking care that the laws be faithfully executed, and yet the President has counseled his aides to commit perjury, willfully disregarded the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, concealedsurreptitious entry, attempted to compromise a federal judge while publicly displaying his cooperation with the process of criminal justice. ‘A President is impeachable if he attempts to subvert the Constitution.’

If the impeachment provision in the Constitution of the United States will not reach the offenses charged here, then perhaps that eighteenth century Constitution should be abandoned to a twentieth century paper shredder.

Has the President committed offenses and planned and directed and acquiesced in a course of conduct which the Constitution will not tolerate? This is the question. We know that. We know the question.

We should now forthwith proceed to answer the question.

It is reason, and not passion, which must guide our deliberations, guide our debate, and guide our decision.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.”


Intrepid Liberal Journal Two › Create New Post — WordPress

January 18, 2007

null The topic below was originally posted in my blog the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

With Democrats eager to use their new majority for oversight can the Bush Administration safeguard the criminal enterprise known as the Republican Party? Well it turns out a little known provision in the USA Patriot Act reauthorization last year empowers Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to appoint replacements without Senate confirmation. Yesterday, California Senator Diane Feinstein complained,

“The Bush administration is pushing out U.S. attorneys from across the country under the cloak of secrecy and then appointing indefinite replacements.”

Eleven U.S. Attorneys have resigned in the past year. Among those departing is Carol Lam, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. California’s Southern District covers San Diego and Imperial counties. Lam was appointed in 2002 and leaving office on February 15th. Her priorities the past four years were prosecuting political corruption and health care fraud. It was Lam’s office that managed the government’s case against Republican Congressman Randall “Duke” Cunningham who pleaded guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes.

Attorney General Gonzales denies politics has played any role with the turnover at the Justice Department and insisted the Bush Administration,

“in no way politicize these decisions.”

Simply put, I don’t believe him. I’m also irked at Democrats. I realize preventing the reauthorization of the Patriot Act last year was difficult but why couldn’t Democrats at least raise some hell about this provision?


Eliot Spitzer and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

January 17, 2007

null The topic below was originally posted in my blog the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

George Pataki’s era of inertia and stagnation has been jettisoned. As the New York Times reports, state lawmakers are laying the groundwork for the “most ambitious government-financed stem cell project on the East Coast.”

When President Bush severely limited funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001, it was up to state governments to fill the void. New Jersey immediately seized the initiative and pledged millions for stem cell research. Under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California implemented a $3 billion bond initiative, and other states followed with ballot initiatives or legislation to give scientists grants or to build research centers.

My home state of New York remained a wallflower in the stem cell research dance. Remarkable, as New York is the proud home of elite research universities, medical centers and biotechnology companies. Furthermore, embryonic stem cell research can be a huge tax windfall for New York and stimulate job growth. Under Pataki’s lethargic leadership, legislative efforts to direct state funding for embryonic stem cell research was at a functional impasse.

Spitzer has proposed passage of a $2 billion 10-year bond initiative for research and development. Half of the money is to be allocated for stem cell research. To entice upstate Republicans, the economic growth component of the project is being heavily promoted. Upstate New York’s economy even struggled during the economic boom of the nineties so this project is likely to even attract support from conservative representatives.

Embryonic stem cell research is one example of Albany’s new breeze. Progressives are understandably focused on Washington Democrats because of their new majority and the Bush era of corruption and war mongering. However, I’m more excited by what’s happening under the leadership of Democratic governors such as Montana’s Brian Schweitzer. As a New Yorker I’m encouraged by Eliot Spitzer’s start. His policy initiatives are ambitious and sensible. Spitzer’s proposals on embronic stem cell research, illustrate the reality based community has a dynamic advocate inside the governor’s mansion. It’s been a long time.


Martin Luther King, Jr.: An American Hero

January 15, 2007

null The topic below was originally posted in my blog the Intrepid Liberal Journal.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a unique soul who pursued justice absent of vengeance. As we honor his birthday let’s reflect and absorb the wisdom of his poignant words:

Strength to Love, 1963
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

Strength to Love, 1963
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Strength to Love, 1963
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Speech at Civil Rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963
“Now, I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: – ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ “

Speech at Civil Rights March on Washington, August 28, 1963
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.”

Speech in Detroit, June 23, 1963
“I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.”

Accepting Nobel Peace Prize, Dec. 10, 1964
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

December 11, 1964
“Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

BEYOND VIETNAM, April 4, 1967, Riverside Church, NYC
“Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8,000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”

A CHRISTMAS SERMON” December24, 1967
And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.

CONSCIENCE AND THE VIETNAM WAR” in The Trumpet of Conscience (1968)
“We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and for justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”

Speech in Memphis, April 3, 1968, the day before King was assassinated
“And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.”


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.