And Here Comes Teddy Roosevelt

The following is an excellent excerpt from the book “WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR SOME: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful” by Glenn Greenwald from Chapter 3 on page 146 and I quote: “Unfortunately for [William “Boss”] Tweed, however, some publications were unwilling to look the other way. Beginning in the late 1860s, the New York Times, then a Republican newspaper, began publishing a stream of exposes and editorials highlighting the corruption of Tammany Hall. They were joined by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast, whose popular caricatures in Harper’s Weekly lampooned Tweed as a bloated symbol of greed and corruption. Tweed was reportedly so frightened that Nast could turn public opinion against him that he offered the cartoonist a few thousand dollars to cease his attacks, only to be rebuffed.
Responding to evidence of rampant corruption, the Democratic state assemblyman and committed reformer Samuel Tilden bucked the interests of his fellow party members and pursued the prosecution of Tweed, the impeachment of corrupt judges, and the eventual breakup of his own party’s machinery. Such bold action seems unthinkable today, yet Tilden’s attempts to enforce the rule of law did not render him a pariah doomed to spend the rest of his career advocating from the fringe. Indeed, the outcome was quite the opposite: he became a folk hero. Tilden prevailed in having Tweed and his cronies tried and convicted, rode a wave of popular support into the governorship in 1874, and eventually won the presidential election of 1876 (only to have the presidency stolen from him by Rutherford B. Hayes).
Tweed, on the other hand, was destroyed. As recounted in Albert Bigelow Paine’s 1904 biography Thomas Nast: His Period and His Pictures, at one point Tweed escaped custody and fled to Spain, only to be recognized due to his resemblance to the cartoon depictions of him in Harper’s Weekly and extradited back to America. Redefining poetic justice, Tweed was literally done in by a cartoon and eventually died in prison—powerless, broke, and disgraced.
Besides wielding tremendous political power, Boss Tweed was an immensely wealthy man; one of the largest landowners in New York City, with vast holdings in a wide variety of enterprises. But he was brought down thanks to the efforts of a Republican newspaper, a political cartoonist, and a determined reformer willing to confront the misdeeds of his own political party. One cannot even imagine a modern equivalent of this coalition.
A few decades later, an aggressive new reformer put on Tilden’s mantle: Theodore Roosevelt. After leaving his post as the secretary of the navy to command the “Rough Riders” cavalry regiment during the Spanish-American War, Roosevelt decided to try his hand at electoral politics. He won the governorship of New York in 1898 as a Republican and proceeded to root out corruption in his own party. Roosevelt hated injustice with a passion unrivaled by any of his contemporaries, and he was such a thorn in the side of the New York machine that in 1900, the Republican political boss Thomas Collier Platt maneuvered to place him on the incumbent president William McKinley’s ticket as vice president just to get him out of the way.
Believing that the vice presidency, with its lack of any official function, would neutralize Roosevelt’s aggressive reform agenda, the New York machine encountered some serious bad luck: after only six months in office, Roosevelt ascended to the presidency following McKinley’s assassination. Thus empowered, Roosevelt immediately mounted a vigorous crusade against the nation’s richest and most powerful business elites, leading to his famous nickname of “Trust-Buster.”
The turn of the twentieth century was a big point in the annals of unchecked corporate power: monopolistic corporations were strangling competition, workers were being maimed and killed inside unsafe factories, and dangerously contaminated food products were being distributed to consumers. Roosevelt recognized that business had effectively placed itself above the law, and called for bold action. In his first inaugural address, he demanded rigorous oversight: “Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions and it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.”
Roosevelt backed up his aggressive talk with vigorous activity. Despite being a member of the antiregulation Republican Party, he persuaded Congress (over the objections of the business community) to create the Department of Commerce and Labor, and signed into law the Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug Acts of 1906. Responding to unfair business practices uncovered by the newly formed Bureau of Corporations, Roosevelt’s attorney general initiated forty-four lawsuits, targeting companies such as Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan for their violations of the previously dormant Sherman antitrust act of 1890.
Like the founders, Roosevelt understood that the greatest remedy against corruption is the light of day. In painfully stark contrast to the see-no-evil mentality of today, Roosevelt’s inaugural address outlined the need for public scrutiny of the private sector:
“The first essential in determining how to deal with the great industrial combinations is knowledge of the facts—publicity. In the interest of the public, the government should have the right to inspect and examine the workings of the great corporations engaged in interstate business. Publicity is the only sure remedy which we can now invoke. What further remedies are needed in the way of governmental regulation, or taxation, can only be determined after publicity has been obtained, by process of law, and in the course of administration. The first requisite is knowledge, full and complete—knowledge which maybe made public to the world.”
For Roosevelt, trust-busting was not just about fairness and the spirit of competition; it was equally about justice and the rule of law. In a 1906 speech titled “The Man With the Muck Rake,” he highlighted his disgust with power-abusing elites: “My plea is not for immunity to, but for the most unsparing exposure of, the politician who betrays his trust, of the big business man who makes or spends his fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways. There should be a resolute effort to hunt every such man out of the position he has disgraced.” Starkly reaffirming his commitment to the principles of the rule of law, Roosevelt remarked: “The eighth commandment reads, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ It does not read, ‘Thou shalt not steal from the rich man.’ It does not read, ‘Thou shalt not steal from the poor man.’ It reads simply and plainly, ‘Thou shalt not steal.””
When Roosevelt assumed the presidency, businesses were threatening to destroy the basic principle of equality under the law, just as they have done during the past decade-plus orgy of deregulation. Yet through sheer force of personality and resolute confidence in the justice of his convictions, Roosevelt persuaded the citizenry and his fellow elected officials to regulate and reduce the power of those who held the most influence. In 1903. at the height of a backlash over his efforts to target the nation’s most powerful elites, he delivered his third annual message to Congress, pronouncing: “No man is above the
law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor.”
The radically different ethos of Roosevelt’s time, as compared to our own day, is also reflected in the healthy fear that financial elites had back then of public resentment over their concentrated power. John D. Rockefeller’s penchant for riding down the street and handing out gold coins was motivated not by generosity of spirit but by fear of public backlash against his privileges. Today’s financial elites evince no such concern, and with good reason: they have seen even the most blatantly sleazy and criminal among them escape from scandals with their fortunes and liberty untouched.”

(I QUOTE FROM PAGE 148: “Thus empowered, [Teddy] Roosevelt immediately mounted a vigorous crusade against the nation’s richest and most powerful business elites, leading to his famous nickname of “Trust-Buster.”
The turn of the twentieth century was a high point in the annals of unchecked corporate power: monopolistic corporations were strangling competition, workers were being maimed and killed inside unsafe factories, and dangerously contaminated food products were being distributed to consumers. Roosevelt recognized that business had effectively placed itself above the law, and called for bold action. In his first inaugural address, he demanded rigorous oversight: “Great corporations exist only because they are created and safeguarded by our institutions, and it is therefore our right and our duty to see that they work in harmony with these institutions.”
Roosevelt backed up his aggressive talk with vigorous activity. Despite being a member of the antiregulation Republican Party, he persuaded Congress (over the objections of the business community) to create the Department of Commerce and Labor, and signed into law the Meat Inspection and Pure Food and Drug Acts of 1906. Responding to unfair business practices uncovered by the newly formed Bureau of Corporations, Roosevelt’s attorney general initiated forty-four lawsuits, targeting companies such as Standard Oil and J.P. Morgan for their violations of the previously dormant Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.”
I QUOTE FROM PAGE 150: “In 1903, at the height of a backlash over his efforts to target the nation’s most powerful elites, he delivered his third annual message to Congress, pronouncing: “No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a favor.”
DOES THIS REMIND YOU OF ANYTHING HAPPENING TODAY SUCH AS CORRUPT INVESTMENT BANKERS COMING UP WITH MISSING MONEY AND NOT EVEN BEING FIRED OR CORPORATIONS, AS BIG AS GENERAL ELECTRIC, GETTING MONEY BACK FROM THE GOVERNMENT, EVEN THOUGH THEY DIDN’T PAY ANY INCOME TAX? DOES THIS REMIND YOU OF WHAT WISCONSIN GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER DID WHEN HE TOOK OFFICE IN 2011, HE GOT RID OF THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AND REPLACED IT WITH HIS OWN AGENCY CALLED THE WISCONSIN EOCNOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION (WEDC), WHERE HE SITS AS CHAIRMAN AND SHORTLY AFTER THAT, THEY STARTED COMING UP WITH MISSING MONEY WHICH HE CLAIMED HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT? QUITE A DIFFERENCE IN OLD REPUBLICANS WAYS BECAUSE TEDDY ROOSEVELT CREATED THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND LABOR AND GOVERNOR WALKER, WITH HIS INEFFICIENT AND THE NEW REPUBLICAN WAY OF DOING BUSINESS, COMES UP WITH MISSING MONEY, LOWER WAGES, NO BARGAINING RIGHTS FOR PUBLIC UNIONS, LEADING TO A REAL POLITICAL BATTLE HERE IN WISCONSIN, WHICH CLIMAXED ON MARCH 12, 2011, WHEN OVER 100,000 PEOPLE MARCHED IN PROTEST TO GOVERNOR WALKER’S PROPOSALS AND CHANTING ALL THE WHILE “THIS IS WHAT A DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!” THAT’S WHY TEDDY ROOSEVELT SAID, THAT TO KEEP AN HONEST-RUN GOVERNMENT, YOU HAVE TO HAVE AN HONEST-RUN MEDIA, WHICH IS VERY QUESTIONABLE TODAY BECAUSE THE MEDIA IS SO FAR TO THE RIGHT AND GETTING MORE SO ALL THE TIME BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE THE KOCH BROTHERS, WHO ARE EACH WORTH OVER $44 BILLION, WHO WANT TO OWN A HUGE MEDIA EMPIRE, SUCH AS THE LOS ANGELES TIMES, WHERE THE SUBSCRIBERS ARE REJECTING THE SALE. I WISH PRESIDENT OBAMA HAD AN ATTORNEY GENERAL LIKE TEDDY ROOSEVELT DID, WHEN HE INITIATED 44 LAWSUITS TARGETING SUCH COMPANIES AS STANDARD OIL AND J.P. MORGAN, WHICH STILL HAS PROBLEMS TODAY.

LaVern Isely, Overtaxed Independent Middle Class Taxpayer & Public Citizen & AARP Members

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About tim074

I'm a retired dairy farmer that was a member of the National Farmer's Organization (NFO). Before going farming, I spent 4 years in the United States Air Force where I saved up enough money to get my down payment to go farming. I also enjoy writing and reading biographies and I write about myself as well as articles and excerpts I find interesting. I'm specifically interested in finances, particularly in the banking industry because if it wasn't for help from my local Community Bank, I never could have started farming which I was successful at. So, I'm real interested in the Small Business Administration and I know they are the ones creating jobs. I have been a member of Common Cause and am now a member of Public Citizen as well as AARP. I have, in the past, written over 150 articles on the Obama Blog (my.barackobama.com) and I'd like to tie these two sites together. I'm also on Twitter, MySpace and Facebook and find these outlets terrifically interesting particularly what many of these people did concerning the uprising in the Arab world. I believe this is a smaller world than we think it is and my goal is to try to bring people together to live in peace because management needs labor like labor needs management. Up to now, that hasn't been so easy to find.
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