Robert Kennedy Jr: America needs a revolution

Robert Kennedy Jr: America needs a revolution. RFK Jr. is interviewed by Freddie Sayers.

FS: You’ve been using the word “corporatism” a lot in interviews — what do you mean by it?

RFK: It’s the domination of government, and particularly democratic governments, by corporate power. I’ve spent 40 years litigating against the agencies, the regulatory agencies in the United States, so I can tell you that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is effectively run by the oil industry, the coal industry and the pesticide industry.

When I was on the trial team that brought the Monsanto cases, and we ended up with a $13 billion settlement after winning three trials, we uncovered that the head of the pesticide division at the EPA was secretly working for Monsanto, and was running that agency to promote the mercantile ambitions of that business rather than the public interest. He was killing studies, he was fixing studies, he was ghost-writing studies. And that’s true throughout the agencies.

If you look at the pharmaceutical industry in our country, it runs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA gets 50% of its budget from Big Pharma. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spends half of its budget purchasing vaccines from Big Pharma, and then distributing it. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is just an incubator for new pharmaceutical products. …

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is run by the railroads in our country and by the airlines; the banks have utterly corrupted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); and the media has corrupted the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

FS: Are you alleging actual corruption within all these government agencies, or is it more of a general sense that there’s a revolving door between them and industry?

RFK Jr: It’s both. There’s legalised bribery and illegal bribery. The rules governing conflicts of interest aren’t just ignored — they’re systematically ignored. And the rules started out not strong enough to really protect the public interest. You have both things going on — honest graft and dishonest graft.

FS: This sounds like a traditional Left-of-centre critique, but you’re now being described as Right-wing. Do you think the old distinctions between Left and Right are breaking down?

RFK Jr: I consider myself a traditional Kennedy liberal. I don’t know of any values that my uncle John Kennedy harboured, or my father shared, that I don’t share. They had antipathy and suspicion towards war and the military-industrial complex; they did not want corporations running the American government; they were completely against censorship. They were against the use of fear as a governing tool, and they spoke out about it often. If you go down the list of things that they believed in, I don’t think there’s really any daylight between me and what they believed.

But I do think that there is a growing coalition in this country of populist forces, on the Left and Right, that are convening now and finding common ground. And I think that really is probably the only thing that is going to rescue American democracy. …

RFK and Tucker Carlson for President and VP??

FS: … Tucker Carlson… is thought of as a Right-wing conservative, but seems to agree with you on a lot of things. What is your view of Tucker Carlson?

RFK Jr: There was nobody, during most of his career, who was more critical of Tucker Carlson than I was. But I think Tucker has evolved over the past three years into probably one of the leading populist voices in our country. He’s one of the only people on American television that’s talking about free speech. It’s extraordinary — when I was growing up, the people who were most militant, who were the First Amendment absolutists, were journalists. The average American journalist seems not the least bit concerned by government-orchestrated censorship. It’s very, very strange.

FS: It’s been speculated that you could run on a joint ticket with Tucker Carlson. Is there any scenario in which you would work together?

RFK Jr: I wouldn’t speculate about that. I can’t see Tucker Carlson running as a Democrat and I’m running as a Democrat. …

Dodges the question on racial diversity vs meritocracy:

FS: Let me be specific then. The concept of “equity” is central to President Biden’s ideas about governance — the idea that minority groups, such as racial minorities, should be retrofitted into positions via quota rather than just through a normal meritocratic process. Do you agree with the principle of equity?

RFK Jr: I wouldn’t agree with the policy that you just described. … [Irrelevant blather to show he feels for black people]

FS: The question is whether, as a “Kennedy liberal”, you believe the best way to address those inequalities is to try to improve equality of opportunity rather than selecting candidates by identity criteria. When, for example, the President announced that he was going to find an African-American female to fill the latest Supreme Court vacancy before having started the selection process, did that make you uncomfortable in that it wasn’t an open, meritocratic choice? Or did you feel that that is the right thing to do?

RFK Jr: I’m not going to second guess President Biden on that choice. … [More irrelevant blather that ignores the question while painting himself as virtuous] …

Clueless about nuclear (and solar energy too):

FS: Similarly, to be anti-nuclear, as you’ve been for decades, has historically been an anti-establishment position. But now things have changed, as countries such as Germany have shut down their nuclear power and now find themselves vulnerable and dependent on Russian gas. Have your views evolved on nuclear?

RFK Jr: No. I’ve always said I’m all for nuclear if they can make it safe and if they can make it economic. Right now, it is literally the most expensive way to boil a pot of water that has ever been devised. We were told that nuke energy would be too cheap to metre, and actually it’s so expensive that no utility in the world will build a nuclear power plant without vast public subsidies from the taxpayer. In our country, we had to pass the Price-Anderson Act because nuclear is dangerous. It’s too dangerous for humanity — look at Fukushima. There is so much contaminated water that is pouring out and contaminating the entire Pacific Ocean; they’re finding radiation in fishes all over the ocean. And the only solution is for them to pump the water into these huge tanks, and then store it forever. If you look at the pictures of Fukushima now, there are these giant tanks that just go on as far as the eye can see. Look at Chernobyl.

You may say there’s new forms of nuke power that are safer, which I would say is not true. But don’t listen to me — listen to the insurance industry; ask them: “Would you ever insure one of these plants?” and they won’t. Until they can buy an insurance policy, they shouldn’t be saying it’s safe. …

If they had to internalise the cost, nobody would ever build one of these plants. To build a solar plant, a gigawatt of solar now costs about a billion dollars. To build a nuke plant, it’s between 9 and 16 billion for one gigawatt of the same thing…

No idea of the facts in Ukraine:

FS: That takes us to this pressing question: one thing you talk about a lot is that America is in a permanent state of war and you want to put an end to that. With regard to Ukraine, how do you propose to do that?

RFK Jr: Settle it. The Russians have repeatedly offered to settle. If you look at the Minsk accords, which the Russians offered to settle for, they look like a really good deal today. Let’s be honest: it’s a US war against Russia, to essentially sacrifice the flower of Ukrainian youth in an abattoir of death and destruction for the geopolitical ambition of the neocons, oft-stated, of regime change for Vladimir Putin and exhausting the Russian military so that they can’t fight anywhere else in the world. President Biden has said that was his intention — to get rid of Vladimir Putin. His Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, in April 2022, said that our purpose here is to exhaust the Russian army. What does that mean, “exhaust”? It means throwing Ukrainians at them. My son fought over there, side-by-side with the Ukrainians and we’ve sacrificed 300,000 of them. The commander of the special forces unit in the Ukraine, which is probably the most elite fighting force in Europe, has said 80% of his troops are dead or are wounded and they cannot rebuild the unit. Right now, the Russians are killing Ukrainians at a ratio of either 1:5 or 1:8, depending on what data you believe.

If the exchange ratio was 1:5 or higher Ukraine would have surrendered months ago. In fact Russia has been attacking in human waves, in WWI style conditions around Bakhmut, for months — and has achieved a WWI-style outcome of a loss ratio of around 3:1 to 5:1 (in the defender’s favor, obviously). He’s fallen for silly Russian propaganda.

This is better:

RFK Jr: We should have listened to Putin over many years. We made a commitment to Russia, to Gorbachev, that we would not move Nato one inch to the east. Then we went in, and we lied. We went into 13 Nato countries, we put missile systems in with nuclear capacity; we did joint exercises with Ukraine and these others for Nato. What is the purpose of Nato? This is what George Kennan asked; this is what Jack Matlock asked. All of the doyens of US foreign policy were saying: “Russia lost the Cold War. Let’s do to Russia what we did in Europe when we gave them the Marshall Plan. We’re the victors — let’s lift them up. Let’s integrate them into European society.”

The whole purpose of NATO is to protect free Europe from the Russian Army. Not so scary any more.

David Archibald:

It’s hard to warm up to RFK:

From 2014: Activist Robert Kennedy Jr. Denies He Wants to ‘Jail Climate Change Deniers‘:

In his article “Jailing Climate Deniers” over at EcoWatch, prominent environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr., magnanimously allows that individual Americans—even misguided souls who question the scientific consensus on man-made global warming—have a First Amendment right to speak their piece. Corporations and think tanks, however, are another matter. Kennedy argues that such organizations do not enjoy free speech protections and therefore can and should be targeted for death by activist state attorneys general.

He looks like a rational guy. I like to think when he reads the evidence on climate change he would change his mind, like he did on vaccines. But then again, he’s had years to notice that the climate models all run hot and get the all-important trends in the upper troposphere backwards.

Jailing climate change “deniers” (there’s that slur again)? Yes, he is way too authoritarian.

hat-tip Stephen Neil, Peter S.