tv Robert F. Kennedy Jr. American Values CSPAN June 17, 2018 8:50am-10:00am EDT
yes, we still can, for the obama administration communications director dan pfeiffer describes how politics, the media and the internet changed during the obama presidency and how democrats should respond to the trump administration. new york times national security correspondent david sanger looks at the rise of cyber weapons in the perfect weapon. in formerly known as food, kristin wallace reports on how industrial farming and mechanicals used processed food are changing our body and happy winston recalls his life in somalia in his path to citizenship in call me american. look for these files in bookstores this week and watch for many authors in the future on tv on c-span2. >>. [inuadible conversation] good evening.
[inuadible conversation] okay, how's that? i use my hands a lot it is a marvelous evening. i want to welcome you to the free library on behalf of the board of directors of which i'm a very enthusiastic member. free library is all about expanding literacy, increasing curiosity and improving learning in the city of philadelphia and all of you are supporters in one way or another we welcome you and invite your support . before we get underway, i have a few housekeeping items i want to remind you of.
firstly, if you have anything in your pockets or your handbook that might be, chirp, whistle or ring, would you kindly silence it for the next hour? also, i want to remind you there will be no flash photography during the interview and the talk. and also, that there will be a book signing after his conversation with tracy and that will be upstairs, but if you miss part of it or all of it, there will be a poast as there are podcasts for all our author events. now it's my great privilege to introduce to you robert f kennedy junior. [applause] as many of you
know, he's a renowned environmental activist and attorney. he is presently the emeritus professor of environmental law at pace university and a paner in the environntal practice of morgan and morgan and in fact, he's facing an impending trial. previously he was senior attorney for the natural resources defense council, for many years and had a powerful steering influence on environmental practice and regulations in our country. he's written a marvelous book which just came out and i want to parse the title because i think it's very, very significant at this particular time. the first part of the title, the lead part if you like is american values and this is, i think extraordinarily timely as some of these
values, many of them are being questioned, challenged so he brings a terrific perspective which is in the subtitle and the subtitle is lessons i learned from my family. he's part of the kennedy dynasty, number three of 11 children and that adds a course and intimate and the connections to all of that dynasty. but a particularly important time, so what we are getting is not only a perspective on something that's critical at this present time but also he is bringing in the combination of a memoir and history so we are going to go back as far as people like john foster dulles during his
conversation with us. so it's a very personal story, a very personal perspective and we are thrilled to have him here. he will be in conversation with tracy matuszak who is a wonderful friend of the free library, a renowned broadcaster, journalist so with this, i welcome and please bring your hands together for a warm philadelphia welcome for robert f kennedy junior. [applause] >> well, we had a full house tonight. thank you for being here and welcome to the kennedy philadelphia, thank you.
i don't know if any of you have had an opportunity to take a look at the book yet but the title is american values: lessons i learned from my family and as i read the book, it struck me as part history book, part autobiography and i wonder why you chose to write this book and why now? >> ishould get better as i speak . but i started out writing this book 10 years ago. i wrote most, at least 70 percent of it in the first year and i put it down as i wrote three other books and then my publisher very mad at me and i wrote it, but the project involves originally harpercollins asked me to do,
her niece talked about wilderness exhibitions. my father taught us to kayak and took us west of the river and the colorado and mountain climbing andot other and he asked for a book on that and the project kind of hit a wall where i was originally writing something of a memoir and i ended up writing a book really as for my children, i had seven kids who are of the 29 grandchildren are the chosen with whom i was raised communally on the case and we
were, we were in a compound where all the kids had houses and each of us moved for dinner and we were all coached. by a former olympic diver named sandy eiler who my grandfather and i who teaches different sports from boxing and sailing and etc. and then during the white house years, it was, i had contact with the summer white house and the helicopters woodland every friday on e football field right next to the ocean and my uncles and president kennedy, my father, patty and
my uncle steve smith who was chief of staff of the white house and my uncle who was running the peace corps along with a lot of different outset, thank you, and then they spend the weekend and the government would essentially be run from my house and there were just a wonderful array of people that i described in the book who would wake up and my grandfather had been, he was a member of those bankers and i explained how that goes. i was a cia planner at first and i served in the mid 60s after president kennedy's assassination, and but he had a movie theater in his house and could get first run films so we really had an
extraordinary weekend. during this and a lot of it, i love the book is about what happened and hickory hill where i lived during the winter time was a satellite white house or many of the civil rights movement, integration. the civil rights against george wallace and the cuban missile crisis. it became a command center so wewere all in the midst of that . and that's kind of the backdrop of one part of this story. that connects the whole story, and length is this tension that existed between my family and the cia that began in the early 1950s and
then with a battle between allen dulles, john kennedy and his mom in 1951 and he gave this extraordinary speech aboutafrica for the after africans . and in the 1950s, it pitted him against the brothers both liberal and conservatives and my uncle or my grandfather joseph sat on a commission in 1950 which recommended abolishing the clandestine services of the cia which had been created without any congressional authorization. >> ..
grandfather andt the time before that, imperialism abroad is inconsistent with the democracy. you cannot have those two things. you end up with a national secuty state. my father just, when he pulled ahead in the california primaries and was realizing that there was a good chance going to end up in white house, begin talking to his aides and one of the first things he said when he got in the white house was he was going to remove the clandestine services from the cia and to stop the mischief they were creating around the world. >> i was going to save this question for further in the interview. however, since you brought up the cia, as a read the book there's a secret the relationship between your family and the cia was relationship that was brought you might say.
in fact, you write that your father when jfk was killed immediately suspected cia involvement. i noticed in the book as i read about your fathers assassination the name of his assassin is not mentioned in the book and with all that in mind i wonder, are you satisfied with the official version of those events, or do you think of them differently? >> i don't think, i never believed the official version of my uncles assassination. i don't think most people do. in fact, the united states congress which did two and half year investigation, the warren commission was operating with very, very little knowledge and with an agenda which president johnson did not want to get in a
situation where he suspected that castro have been involved in my uncle's assassination and he did not want to be in position were where had to go r with castro. he wanted a very quick resolution with a a single shor and he made very clear the warren commission had its own investigators. it had, relied on the cia and the fbi which, allen dulles whom my oakland five was ahead of the warren commission and they we now know, earl warren was, allen dulles certainly ran the warren commission and spoonfed information and even the cia felt they live and then information, still trying to get information from them about what happened.
so that was in 63. 64, in the early '70s the church commission and the house select committee on assassinations concluded that there had been a conspiracy, prevent multiple assassins. they had a much broader array of information and they were able ast qio them.the cia and at i don't think anybody who seriously looks at it today, lee harvey oswald was the sole assassination of president kennedy, and my father did not believe that. >> wanted to talk a little bit about the civil rights movement because you mention just a few minutes ago when you talked about james meredith, certainly her father, your uncles each played a role to varying degrees in ultimately bringing about the
civil rights act. i wonder what you think your father would make of the racial division that we see in our nation now, 60 years after all that took place? >> i think my father would be happy that we had a first black president in this country. [applause] i would say my father, i don't really like to say what my father would have believed if he were alive today, and i have to say this, and to think it would be disappointed in the direction this country is going today. this is a book that is not about
president trump, but i think my father and my uncle was a believed that america was an example of a great nation which we should model democracy and that we should spend our time perfecting the union. the way to bring democracy to the rest of the world was not to force it on people. everybody knows the difference between leadership and bowling. -- bowling. the way to promulgate democracy was perfect ourselves at home and me people think this was a system to envy. that's how american operated in the beginning. in 1780 we were the first democracy, only democracy in the world. by 1865 there were six. by the time my father was alive and it was a huge cascade at the
time because the colonial empires were breaking apart. by the time he died there were 160. the american system, by modeling our system, had spread across the globe. one of the confusing things to people is whether our job is to go abroad looking for monsters to slay, and that when we do that we actually strengthen our opponents. my focal believed, he did not believe that communism was monolithic. he thought that castro had an absolute right to experiment and that's what the cuban people wanted. it was up to them to change it. it was not up to the united states. he extended american aid to communist countries, yugoslavia,
to tito and certainly beginning and meaning of the largest companies in latin america. his objection was having a soviet satlite. he didn't want that particularly in the western hemisphere. he believed that peopleuld able to experiment with different kinds of governments and they would collapse from the own efficiencies if they didn't work. if america got involved it would not only fortify those tyrannies, it would radicalize them against us and give them an outside -- the only thing that holds them together is outside force. my grandfather said that for many, many years we needed to stay out of other peoples business and let them settle
down. it's against american values to other countries to try to change their governments. i think today we now have a problem because i think president trump has not only brought this country in disrepute around the globe, he's also brought disrepute and the entire american experience with communism. because if you're in china, i do a lot of business in china. the smartest people in china of the people who are running the country. even the lower officials, the provincial governments, we knew at school, 180 iqs, they are really smart people and they are well informed and to read books and understand problems and are constantly trying to solve them. they solve them in the way -- ey dth't always solve in the way we want but they are deeply profound thoughtful people.
if you're living in china and looking at what's happening in the united states, why would you ever say we want to switch our system for that system? [laughing] it's that kind of buffoonery to reduce the theories of presidents who don't read books. [laughing] why would you, why would any country do that? the only way that the united states is able to spread democracy in the future is at the barrel of a gun here because we are not -- if democracy produces this kind of leadership, why would anybody go for it? i think president trump is purposefully and systematically encouraging tyrannical governments around the world. he is also encouraging it by the example of, you know, what a disaster democracies become.
>> you mentioned cuba and castro. and as i read you are retelling of the events of the bay of pigs, there seems to be a song hinting that, maybe more than that, that you believe jfk was in a sense d.c. into giving the order to go ahead with the bay of pigs. is that a fair statement? >> i don't think there's any question of that. i don't think any even dulles, you know, it's bad for him from the beginning they had to lie to them. the bay of pigs was planned, nixon was in charge of the program and he called his grandchild. he was vice president at the time. they left it for president can to implement. they had trained all these 2000 cuban troops in guatemala and nicaragua, florida and louisiana and they were armed and trained
and were ready to go. kennedy did not want the united states involved and he didn't want to be involved in any way. in fact, he would not allow the u.s. navy to transport them, and ended up landing in cuba on fruit boats, ships that were provided by the united fruit company, which allen dulles and john foster dulles used to run. they were chief counsel of united fruit. united fruit lands at cuba. president kennedy did not want any involvement, but one of the things that he told repeatedly is that he did not want u.s. fingerprints on this. he thought it was bad for the rest of the world if we were
going in for regime change. that's not what america does. we don't do regime change in this country. we let countries beside their own futures and their own destinies. we don't do that for them. that would harvest across the americas also be very damaging around the world. they knew and they told him that as soon as the bay of pigs troop brigade lands is going to be an uprising against castro which my uncle was skeptical of what he believed the intelligence, but they were lying to enter they knew that castro at the time was extremely popular in cuba, that he had an army and intelligence apparatus that was very, very well-trained. and they were landing at the bay of pigs brigade in the place where there is no opportunity to establish. it wasn't like the sierra madre.
it was a a place, it was a swap where you could not hide. there was no place to hide. but they believed was that as soon as the bay of pigs in trouble got in trouble in my uncle would check out, would want to avoid denunciation and would send in the u.s. navy, the and six, but, in fact, when you walked out at the first meeting he said i want to take the cia, i want to shatter it to 1000 pieces and scatter it to the wind. and he said, allen dulles, i would call him -- call in the essex. i would check it out and call in the essex and they did know who they were dealing with. i don't think historically there's any question that president kennedy was very
reluctant, the one of the things the cia, if you don't do it, don't send it over there, we don't know what we would do with these cubans because they are violent. we will have to bring them back here and they're going to cause a lot of problems. not only are you going to look like your soft on communism, but these people are very, very dangerous people. those were the kind of arguments they were using at the time. >> that's an eye-opener, isn't it? want to talk about your father and one of the themes that runs through your book, one of the values is that the servers, starting with your grandfather and on through the family. i was watching the other night netflix documentary bobby kennedy for president. [applause] and one of the stories i was not aware of was his trip to mississippi. marian wright edelman challenge
him to see poverty and the united states firsthand, and he made the trip into and two othr places as well to see staggering poverty. the story is told that he came home from that trip and challenged all of you as a result of that. do remember that and do you remember what he said to you all about that? >> he had seen, he was shocked that there were people who were literally starving and a country, the kid with reddish hair, malnutrition and rickets and swollen bellies like you would see in africa. and it was the mississippi delta. and fading eyes. he came home from that night. he said a home where there were
two families making home smaller than a dining room, and there was only one meal a day of rice and the children went to bed hungry. he said when we grew older that he wanted to make sure that we spent our lives making sure that didn't happen in america. >> the person who told the story in the document he said you've got to do something about this. in addition to that there's such a fascination with your family. 50, 55, 60 years after all of these events took place, of course the movie chappaquiddick is in theaters right now. have you seen the movie? have you heard about the movie? what are your thoughts about it? >> i wouldn't watch that movie. not because it's about a very difficult time, that was a very free, probably the lowest point in my families history, and
challenged i think a lot of the ways that we saw each other and caused a lot of dissension in my family last a long time. i wouldn't go to see dramatizations in general about my family because company, i will watch a documentary, particularly if it would tell me something new, but the dramatizations are always, they are movies and they are not historically correct, and the characters are one-dimensional. it's just the nature of filmmaking. i've almost never seen anybody actually capture the depth in the three-dimensional lists of people in my family i knew. it's always kind of a caricature and it's kind of irritating.
the ones that are complementary and the ones, they did one of jackie last year, i can only take about ten seconds before i turn it off. >> there was another one on cnn that you were featured in on civil rights. what did you think about that when? >> i don't think anybody in my family particularly like that. i only watched the first episode and saw how it was unfair. one of the things cemented, i thought it was not, you know, disaster and i think they were trying but they were doing something that again is irritating, which is constantly putting thoughts into peoples heads. i remember in the first one is
that my uncle joe kennedy joined the service because he was jealous of his brother, of jack, who was a war hero. in reality my uncle joe, he went on a suicide mission because he was so intent on rivaling his brother. there's no evidence from any of that. in fact, joe joined the service two years before pt 109 went down. they said my grandfather gave a lobotomy to my aunt rosemary because he was embarrassed by her. my grandfather, my grandmother were so proud of rosemary and they did something at the time was almost unheard of which was to. in fact, they not only included her in every event, but they
presented her to the queen at buckingham palace. she had a profound intellectual disability, but that was not something that degraded her value or diminish her value as a human being. they consistently found, make interpretations, kind of put the worst motives of every event, and i've seen that before and i've heard it. i guess i regret participating in it, you never know, who knows. >> as i watched the netflix documentary, i was so struck by your fathers travels. the mini me people that he encountered and how we just went out and met people all over the country and all over the world and were so much that of and from that about him that i didn't know. i was struck by what we lost,
and in wonder as you think about it, had he lived and got on almost certainly to be president of the united states, how do you think he might have changed the course of this nation? >> i think my fathers death was one of the traumas along with president kennedys and the vietnam war and 9/11 ultimately that is put each one of those traumas pushed his country further and further along a path of becoming a national security state and more of an oligarchy, more of a plutocracy instead of democracy. my uncle, president kennedy, three months before his dad side and national security order 237 ordering the removal of all troops, all american troops from
vietnam by the end of 1965, and the thing that prompted him is he's learned on that morning that there had been 75 americans killed. that's despite all the tremendous pressure from the entire national security establishment. he said advisors to vietnam in the end, 16,000, which is fewer people he sent to oldness. his advisers were saying they needed 250,000, up to 500,000, and they needed to be combat troops capable of independent action, and he refused. he learned that 75 americans have been killed and he was horrified. he said were getting out. he set a national security order 237, all troops to become from
vietnam by the end of 1975. two weeks after that he said i'm not going to be president and revoked that national security order. my uncle would it ended vietnam, if he had one we were gone out and with god in a different direction. but that was to ensure that the military got more and more powerful and tt we became -- more and more towards militarism has now become the hallmark of all of the american tragedies. those traumas, you know, they were, and i would include 9/11, each one of those pushes us further and further down that road. you were talking about my fathers travels.
people like to hear, my father brought, my uncle, one of the things that really turned the cia against my uncle was he gave a speech in 1956 about africa should be ruled by the africans, and the liberal establishment led by adlai stevenson opposed him and condemned him. and the republicans, nelson rockefeller, barry goldwater, richard nixon also condemned him because at that time europe is a bulwark against communist expansion in we needed to support our nato allies who are trying to hold on to their colonial empires abroad. when i travel in africa and
south america and other countries, people said the united states -- [inaudible] i met literally thousands of people in those countries during my lifetime whose name is kennedy because he made that speech and because of the peace corps, because of the flu for children program. if you measure, it's difficult measuring the success of the presidency, but people do by polling or by historians, probably one of the ways to measure it is if you measure it based upon the popularity of the president abroad, there's probably no more successful presidency in american history and john kennedys. virtually every capital in latin america and africa and most of the capitals in asia, there's a boulevard name for my uncle. there's schools and monuments,
parks. that's not true of other presidents. kennedy used to say there are children in africa whose name is lincoln, jefferson and washington, but tre none of th ned marx and stalin and his her out of it. he was very, very proud of all the kids named after him, and his patient can still be found in its in africa and latin america and reservations here. he was a bed of the african subcommittee in the united states senate, and very -- my father brought home a video of africa, a seven-millimeter film when i was probably seven years old called africa speaks. he showed it and i became obsessed with africa at the age,
and i would wait for the national geographic and life magazine to run so i could read about africa. i read the white nile and the blue nile. in 1969 we got a visit, 1960, we got a visit from an african leader at our home, to me the most exciting day of my life. meet this guy and he was one of the leaders in kenya. he was a labour leader and at one year of oxford, wrote a dissertation about democracy africa's here's where gandhi and thomas jefferson. he was from the smallest tribe in kenya, a fishing tribe. they are known as very smart in peacemakers. he was partners with someone i met when i was a little boy when
i went to africa. the mao mao, they said in 1959 9 they said we will give you five years and we believe and then you have to run your own government. he looked around and said, in higher countries there's not one black african. how are we going to run this country? so he wrote letters to all the colleges in the united states asking them to provide scholarships for kenyan kids, and he was like the smartest kids in kenya, 200 colleges gave full scholarships including harvard. but he relies, this is in the summer 1960, they're going to start in september, and he realize it didn't have money to bring them over here. he needed $100,000. he flew over on a very urgent mission and he visited the state department but it was in middle
of a campaign between nixon and my uncle. nixon thought the black vote was a bit up for grabs between democrats and republicans. nixon thought it would injure him in the south if he was bringing 200 200 black kids, pe to america. and so he stopped the state department from funding the project. he met with martin luther king who said you should go to john kennedy because he loves africa, and he introduced him to harry belafonte who was a very close to my family and was funding that time the civil rights movement. and harry belafonte brought him up to the cape that summer. i get to meet him. my uncle fell in love with him. he was this incredibly dynamic,
charming, charismatic man, and they kennedy foundation could not helping because they kennedy foundation was restricted to giving money for intellectual difficulties. my uncle gave his own money, $200,000 to bring his kids over. he told her not to tell anybody about it because he knew it was against the election. nixon found out about it and branded the project and made a big press conference, et cetera, about it. so in 1963 i went to africa wit my uncle. i finally got to go. my uncle -- we went to kenya. in 1968 when my father was killed on june 6, all of the
elder kids in the family were dispersed so that my mother would be able to spend time with the younger children and kind of get their life organized. so my brother joe was sent to be a guide, and mountaineer with jim whitaker who is close to my family. my sister kathleen was sent to work with the eskimos in alaska. my brother david went to work for doctor shabbos in california, and i got to go to africa for the summer. i spent until august in africa, the following august, or in september, he was assassinated. he was how he would've been the
successor. kenya was turned into a kind of a dictatorship. in 2004 i was living with larry david on martha's vineyard with the 2 million who i had lived with him for two years out there. that was when he was writing seinfeld. he eventually would introduce me to my wife who plays his wife, but he did know cheryl then, neither did i. when we were on martha's vineyard and i was asked to come to boston with the democratic convention to give the keynote speech on environment.
larry and i flew up there and we got four passes. we had a really great time and then i gave my speech and after i spoke, a young first-term senator from illinois who no one had ever heard of -- [laughing] who would only been in office for little over a year, barack obama gave this extraordinary convention speech that would propel him four years later to the democratic nomination. it was the first anyone had ever heard of in. we got to spend time in the green room with barack, and he said, he told us -- we rode down within. he went to a black community on the vineyard. he was going down there to do a fundraiser, and we ate dinner with him that night, and while we were at dinner i was asking
about himself, and he told me that his father was kenyan, and i said oh, what tribe was he from? he said he was luau. and i said wow,e y ever heard of time laborious? he said to me, his father was the -- [inaudible] >> we just need to let that sink in for a moment. well, on that jaw-dropping note, i have many, many more questions for you but i don't want to be selfish. we had some staff members with microphones i'm sureou've got a question for mr. kennedy. raise your hand and will get a microphone to you. yes, sir, right here. >> thank you for coming to philadelphia. would you discuss the catalyst
that changed your father from working center joseph mccarthy to the menu was running for president in 1968? >> i mean, that's an interesting question. i talk about that in the book a lot. because mccarthy was a catholic. he was one of the most powerful catholics in washington at the time an extraordinarily popular with catholics. in fact, one of the reasons, and he became friends with my grandfather long before he was doing that house un-american activities before he really went crazy. he was a very, close to catholics, braced on an anti-communist. which my family was, too.
and which basically all catholics were. catholics at the time saw communism as antithesis of all their beliefs. mccarthy could, when my uncle rant against lodge in 56, -- ran -- he was running against a very popular incumbent senator and was given almost a chance to win. if mccarthy had, to the sticky would've lost. because of his friendship with my grandfather, he did not come into the state. mccarthy came to the cape to visit my uncle and aunt. he was extremely charming. he had been a war hero. he was a boxer at marquette, very tough, and he was reckless in the way that he played
football. they played catch with him, and he denied to swim. they had this thing where they put a rope on the cell phone anybody jumps in the water. he jumped in an almost drowned but they liked him a lot. and then when he started his committee, my father just got out of law school, and my grandfather said why don't you get a job? so he went to interview for him but as chief counsel, mccarthy gave the job to roy cohn. and my father, he hired my father and my father hated roy cohn from the beginning. my father worked on an investigation which really was i
think the beginning of, he became probably the most important investigator in this country. he was like mueller is today. his investigations involve and for thorough intelligent, and he was over prepared for them, and he did an investigation of u.s. corporations that were violating the trading with the enemy act during the korean war, and who were trading with red china and selling arms and supplies to our enemy. ultimately, his investigation result in a secret commission of convictions. he stayed away from the stuff mccarthy was dealing with. at that time mccarthy was talking at the communism but he wasn't doing that kind of stuff that he ended up doing, ruining peoples lives and no evidence.
my father, because of his relationship with cohn after six months, his investigation was completed. he left the committee. he came back on minority side of the committee as chief counsel to senator mclellan, and in that position he ended up writing the sense of agreement that eventually censored mccarthy and brought mccarthy down. he was one of the leader of that effort. mccarthy and he felt sorry for him, he felt that mccarthy was a demagogue. he was a heavy drinking kind of big, friendly, nice guy like tony soprano. [laughing] if you saw him. he didn't have proper boundaries
and cohn who is a very evil man was able to play on his worst side. my father always had affection for mccarthy and saw that he was, you know, , that he had a good side that had just been lost. mccarthy died and at all, at te time everybody who was liberal in this country, was condemning him, my father went to steal just because he thought it was in the right thing to do. just memory of that old friendship. my father when he was asked about mccarthy, he would always just say simply, he wouldn't give long explanations, he would always just say i made a mistake. his mistake in truth was not ever in getting involved with
chasing nonexistent communists in the state department and in hollywood, et cetera. he was never part of any of that. in fact, he was long gone before mccarthy started doing that. this was just getting involved and misjudging mccarthys character in getting involved with the metal at the beginning. that's the best answer i can give you. >> more questions. yes, sir. >> can you speak to the roots of your environmental philosophy and activism from your family perspective? >> the question was, environmental activism. i started, first of all i was, i always was interested in the outdoors from when i was very, very little, from when i was born my mother says i would look at bugs when i was in the crib.
[laughing] i was always involved in wildlife and i started raising homing pigeons when i was seven years old, very seriously. i was actually sending home burned down to philadelphia to fly back to virginia on the train. that's how we would raise event. i got involved training hawks when i was nine years old. i have been a falconer ever since. i breed hawks. for many years i have run a rehabilitation facility at my home for wild -- i've always train hawks and i wrote the exam that people take to become a falconer. the law regulates it. i've always been involved in
that. i got involved also, love the water when i john and i made a trip to, i wrote my welcome letter when he was in the white house complaining about pollution and then asking if i could see him, and that i went in with -- there's a story about that in the book. [laughing] but i went to work for a group of commercial fishermen in 1984. and suing the polluters on the hudson, and that has expanded. when the patrol boat we launched on the hudson, and now we successfully brought over 500 lawsuits, forced looters to spend $5.5 billion and today the hudson is the richest water with in the northern atlantic. it produces more fish per pounds
per acre than any other waterways atlantic ocean. the miraculous resurrection of the hudson inspired the creation of now we have 350 river keepers including here on the delaware river. each one has a patrol boat. each one has a full-time paid water keeper, and we sue polluters. we do a law enforcement and we're doing it now. we are in 42 countries with the fastest water protection group. that's kind of the brief -- [applause] >> other questions to mr. kennedy? can we get a microphone to the lady here in about row three? >> i am of an age where my values and beliefs and character were i think the most part shaped by watching your family and your father in particular. and especially about the
nobility of service, and my question to you is, who gives you hope and inspiration now? [laughing] >> the pope. [applause] >> i mean, there's a lot of, listen, i'm very excited about the number of women who are running for -- [applause] it's really unprecedented. you know, i think there's a tremendous amount of people who still hold onto that idealistic view of america. you know, even when you start talking to republicans, i did an
environmental, i've been talking and lecturing about the violent for years. i do about 60 paid speeches to big audiences, a couple thousand people. most of the speeches i was giddy for some odd reason were in red states. they were mainly because my family was like a novelty are just like a scary thing or whatever, i don't know why, but they really -- [laughing] i would end up a lot in taxes, kansas, and i would be talking about the environment, ways that i think everybody can understand. i got standing ovations at virtually every speech i gave on the environment.
it really struck me as odd because, i mean, i started thinking that 80% of republicans are just democrats who don't know what's going on. [applause] you know, i think people really are paying attention. i was in alabama a few weeks ago and i was in birmingham. the a.m. dial is all right wing talk, right? is completely, there's nothing progressive or liberal. but in alabama the fm dial is also 100% right wing talk. there's five stations and all of them are extremely really like poisonous, racial stuff. stuff you would not believe was happening in america.
there is one, of course, public radio is neutral. it's truth, right? but it's not deliberately progressive or liberal. there are stations that do that, deliberate liberal stuff. npr in alabama, it only plays classical music. people are getting that and there literally getting this barrage of this right-wing insanity all the time, this hate, take it without -- demagoguery. i think there's a lot of decent people and those red states take over the media with clear
channel and summaries of the big outfits which really wounded something basic to the american psyche. we have to figure out way to reclaim it. >> we haveime for one last question. so who has a really good final question? yes, sir, in the blue shirt. >> first of all, , i'm looking forward to reading your book. i've read several books on your family. my question regards the relationship between your dad and lbj. in any site you may have their private conversations they may have. i know there was no love lost between them. >> no, it was a complicated relationship, and a lot of people say my father didn't want lbj on the ticket and that
that's where, and that he try d to talk lbj out of it. really that was a misunderstanding at that time. it was much more complex than that. my uncle said we're going to do lbj, and my father was on board with that. they were approached at the time by the unions who said if you bring lbj on the afl-cio, and the uaw, walter reuter said to my father, uncle, if you choose lbj we're going to turn against the ticket. my uncle said, my uncle said to my father, go down and tell lbj that this is what we're getting so he knows what you're getting into. when my father had that conversation with him, felt that
my father started talking out of a job, which he wasn't. he was just saying here's what's going to happen. these guys are, johnson was regarded as a right-wing senator at that time. he was not the johnson that we remember today. the unions hated him and he was from a nonunion state and voted nonunion. unions with the backbones of the democratic party then, and they hated him. my father was conveying a political reality them, but i think lyndon was, you know, felt that it was personal. when my uncle was killed, there was a lot of tension after, immunity following his death which happened in texas on a
trip that was sort of lindens trip. and the way that the transition was handled at the time my father was extremely wounded and damaged at that time and i think more tensions arose. but having said that, johnson did some really nice things for my father. he knew my father was really struggling, and he started sending him on trips and he went to indonesia and my mother ended up solving a problem that would've probably otherwise evolved into a war. those trips were important for kind of bringing my father back and allowing him to sort of reengage. when i was little at that time,
1964, i went through a window. i jumped off the room and went to the window and end up cutting off a couple of my toes which they sewed back on. [laughing] johnson wrote me a long, long letter, a very sweet letter. vietnam and the alliance for progress really drove a stake through the heart of that relationship. my father was really, was thinking of becoming vice president, you know. he would have run for vice president if johnson had asked him. the alliance for progress, johnson, my uncle was trying to change the u.s. relationship with latin america as supporting the military dictatorships,
supporting left wing democracies with new social reform, and johnson reversed that, brought in a terrible guy called thomas mann was a cia man, and my father considered that an act of war against the kennedy legacy. and then vietnam really destroyed the relationship, and my father was talkingo johnson about vietnam, about -- within a few months of my uncles of death in 64. by 65 he was openly, you know, after the tonkin gulf resolution when we actually became, it became our war and we started carpet bombing, my father was utterly repulsed by that and felt that was something that the nazis would do, to bomb civilian
populations and to bomb the dams and dikes, and it was antithetical to everything. he began thinking of confronting johnson more and more, and the story, i o of the high points of the book. i was kind of peripherally involved. -- [inaudible] attacked my mother that morning when he is going to make his speech in the senate, my mother went into premature labor. a lot of things happened that day. you'll have to get the book. [laughing] [applause] >> the book is called "american values." you can see why it is such a fascinating read.
please join in thinking robert f. kennedy, jr. thank you all for coming. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv is on twitter and facebook, and we want to hear from you. >> you can differ with people politically. we all do that. democrats, i would accept the view we are left of center party elites. they are right of center moving right rapidly. maybe we are moving left. but politics were supposed to be
about re-finding a way to overcome some of those differences through extended discussion and the real legislative process, through principled compromise. it wasn't supposed to be about one party winning on their own. the times as you know, the times in history when one party is been able to do this on your own were very few. maybe 1933 and 34, fdr dealing with the depression. lbj, 64, 65. even lbj reached out to republicans, and fdr had republican support the first two years. when mitch mcconnell, and will probably come back to a couple of times, when senator mcconnell started doing healthcare and trying to get 50 of his 92 votes from his caucus, my reaction was, well, that