FEBRUARY 17, 1961
SARASOTA, Fla.—The attitude of the Soviet Union toward United Nations Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold seems to me an extraordinary position for the Soviets to take. What good do they hope to achieve by refusing to recognize Mr. Hammarskjold? It is his duty to carry out the decisions made in the U.N. Just because the Soviets have opposed some of these decisions is no reason, it seems to me, for blaming him. He has merely reflected the majority action in the U.N. itself.
The Soviet demand that all foreign troops be withdrawn from the Congo—if they mean by that U.N. troops—would mean chaos at the present time and would allow no chance of setting up stability in government there. If the Soviet object is to keep the Belgians from returning to power in the Congo, then the Soviets should be upholding the U.N. and not trying to weaken it.
This whole action on the part of the Soviet Union is incomprehensible, though I can well understand that they themselves believed that Lumumba was elected democratically and that they were right in upholding his power. But the situation is beyond that at present and one must try to look at the situation as it is today.
Now, let us turn to matters at home, which are important because of the influence they have on our whole position in the world, for we are seeing more and more how closely tied the world is today.
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Our difficult economic position at home will without question give aid and comfort to the Communist world and make the Communists bolder in any action they want to take against us. Therefore, it is important that we set our own house in order as soon as possible.
We cannot allow the present recession to continue. The members of Congress who think only along partisan lines and who still believe in the old idea that somehow, given time, economic conditions will right themselves should give this problem serious thought. If they tend toward letting it solve itself the people are going to be aroused as they were in 1932. I think that is what President Kennedy is going to have to face up to if Congress will not listen when he tells them how serious our economic situation is today and when he asks for their support in measures that need to be taken.
If this Congressional support is not forthcoming, then without question the President will have to appeal to the people, and we know for a fact that great numbers of people are beginning to feel the results of long unemployment. They will cetainly want to support the President. The country will recognize that the present emergency can only be met by facing the reailties of the situation today and that the apathy of Congress can no longer be tolerated.
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Now to move from the national level to the state level, let me point out that the Republican-dominated New York State legislature has introduced a bill setting this year's primary election on September 7, the Thursday after Labor Day. The Reform Democrats of New York City are asking that primary day be set in June. The reason for this is that there will be time before June to do what work is needed to inform the people so that they will go out and vote in the primary.
If the primary is finally voted for September 7, the voting is likely to be very light, for many people will still be away on their summer holiday and others who will have returned will be busy getting the children back to school and themselves back on their fall schedules. The primary, which means so much in New York City and throughout the state will get scant attention.
It may help the Republicans—that I don't know—to have a primary on the September date, but it certainly will not help to bring a greater number of people to the polls, Democratic and Republican, and to have them better informed to vote in the primary.
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It was encouraging to read that Secretary of the Interior Stewart L. Udall called a moratorium on the sale of public lands and is looking for better legislation so that this land can be used more effectively and for better purposes.
It is also encouraging to have his statement on a new public power policy. He said, "The Eisenhower Administration regarded public power as something of a necessary evil. We regard it as a necessary good. We are not, as they did, going to go out searching for ways to let private industry have access to hydroelectric sites and falling water at dams built with Federal funds."
This is a return to the policy that believed public power could be of value as a yardstick and could help keep the price of electricity down in areas where a yardstick was needed to do so.
It does not mean that business will be lessened or really that the power companies will make less money, for it has been proved that cheaper power means greater consumption and a greater attraction to new business. This is important, for it would help in areas that need rehabilitation at the present time.