Kennedy Visits L.A.; Speaks at NeoCon Xpress

The headline got your attention, didn’t it? RFK Jr. at a NeoCon Convention? WHAT???

We know what you’re probably thinking: what on earth is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. doing at a NeoCon gathering? In Los Angeles, of all places? Who invited him, of all people? Were the Republicans smoking crack? How did he manage to even get in the building without being arrested and carted away by Bush’s secret police? Is the world coming to an end?

Okay, okay, we won’t keep you in suspense any longer. While it is true that RFK Jr. attended the curiously-named NeoCon Xpress Convention in L.A. this past Thursday, we’re not talking about that kind of Neocon. It’s an interior design fair, silly, not a Neo-Conservative Extravaganza.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

When Kennedy took the podium at the commercial interior product tradeshow, his talk on environmental policy was quite literally in tune with the floor beneath his feet. Architecture and design firm WWCOT had created a green set for the event made of recycled materials.

The “Sustainability Stage” was made of materials including carpet tile remnants (stacked to create the stage platform and back wall); mailing tubes (used for the ‘curtains’);  and recycled color, black and white, and sepia-tone architectural plans from WWCOT (the backdrop collage).

Bobby was there bright and early for the 8:30 a.m. breakfast event inside the Los Angeles Convention Center. He looked tanned and relaxed, freshly arrived back on the mainland after a month-long vacation in the Pacific islands. But as soon as he rose to speak, it was clear that RFK Jr. was ready to get right down to business.

In his address, A Contract with our Future, Kennedy explored the role that natural surroundings serve in the arenas of work, health, and the American identity. He believes that good environmental policy is good business policy, good economic policy, and good policy for posterity.


To say that Kennedy’s talk was politically charged is putting it mildly. He railed against the current Bush administration’s “deliberate and efficient efforts to eviscerate 30 years” of environmental policy. He noted that the NRDC website lists some “400 major environmental rollbacks” that have taken place in President Bush’s six years in office.

“You can’t speak honestly about the environment without speaking critically of the current administration,” he said. “They’ve put polluters in charge of the agencies that protect the environment.” (An article by Kennedy in the May 2007 issue of Vanity Fair goes deeper into the involvement of energy-industry executives put in charge of environmental agencies. Visit the Where He Stands page to read Texas Chainsaw Management by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)

His L.A. speech was no doubt a blistering attack on the Bush administration, big business, and their Republican allies, but he said he would have done the same thing if a Democratic president were in charge.

“There’s no such thing as Republican children and Democratic children,” he said. “The worst thing we could do for the environment is allow it to become the province of a particular party.”



Kennedy went on to talk about specific issues, including the effects — economic, environmental, and politically — of the U.S. coal industry, the alarming asthma rate among children, and the (largely unreported, he said) connection between high mercury levels and rising incidence of autism and other brain-related illnesses in kids.

He also took the mainstream media to task for paying lip service to environmental issues and refusing to do real investigative reporting that would reveal the deep, powerful connections between polluting companies and government policy makers.

Scoffing at the term “liberal media,” he said the “devolution” of the press resulted from the Reagan administration’s abolition in 1988 of the Fairness Doctrine (which regulated TV and radio programming, mandating fair news reporting and limiting consolidation). Since then, he said, corporate consolidation of media outlets has made it so that “five corporations control almost all the news. That means just five guys are deciding what I’m hearing as news.”

“Because [conservative-led media conglomerates] have no obligation to serve the public interest … Americans are the best entertained and the least informed people on the face of the earth,” Kennedy said. And when hard-hitting news does come to light, he added, “even Republicans say ‘How come I didn’t know about this?'”

Kennedy quipped that he’d come to the conclusion that “80 percent of Republicans are Democrats who just don’t know what’s going on.”


Toward the end of his speech, Kennedy talked about the connection between the environment and the economy. He said the notion that the U.S. operates in a free-market, capitalist economy is false because of the benefits that big businesses receive from the government. “You show me a polluter,” he said, “and I’ll show you a fat cat. I’ll show you a subsidy.”

Polluters and their political allies need to “stop treating the planet as if it were a business in liquidation,” he continued. “Environmental injury is deficit spending.” There has been a “liquidation of ours and our kids’ capital for cash.”

“We can’t sell the farm to pay for groceries, we can’t drain the pond to get to the fish, and we can’t [blow the top off] the mountain to get to coal.”

RFK Jr. met with attendees and signed copies of his book, Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals are Plundering the Country and Hijacking our Democracy, following the speech.

The NeoCon Xpress World’s Trade Fair is produced by Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, a company run by the Kennedy family ever since RFK Jr.’s grandfather Joseph P. Kennedy, purchased it back in 1945. Bobby’s brother Christopher Kennedy currently serves as president of the Merchandise Mart.


Copyright 2007 by All Rights Reserved.




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Filed under climate change, election 2008, environment, global warming, media, politics, RFK Jr., robert kennedy jr., Uncategorized

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