I returned last night from a one day trip to Bethlehem,
PA. to speak at annual dinner of LEPOCO which was celebrating its 42nd year of
peace work in the former steel town.
Upon arriving at the airport I was taken for a quick drive by the old steel
works which has long been closed and is rusting and crumbling like other ancient
ruins of industry across the nation. I was told that in the place of the
steel mills will soon be a grand casino, which is fitting I guess. Instead of
real jobs with steady incomes, workers can go play the slot machines and hope
that luck will being them a quick financial reward. But like most capitalist
endeavors, the game is rigged on the side of the house and more financial ruin
and poverty for the "player" are the sure result.
My talk to LEPOCO was well received by the 150 there, except for a few who were
not happy with my answer to a question about Obama. Just as I had expected, the
key questions from the audience were about which of the candidates I would
support. I was told Mr. Obama would be in town on Monday and they expect over
2,000 people to greet his call for "change" in America.
I did not bring up Obama or Hillary in the main body of my talk. I did several
times of course tell stories about the complicity of both war parties in
supporting the development of Star Wars, the occupation of Iraq, and the like.
But I knew that it was best to leave their names out of my speech and let the
question period surface these issues of "who is the best candidate."
Once asked by someone in the audience about Mr. Change, I did ask the crowd if
they were sure they wanted me to actually answer the question. "Are you sure you
want to hear what I have to say," I asked. YES they howled. "Ok, but you don't
want to get me started!"
I read excerpts from Amy Goodman's
Democracy Now interview with journalist Allan Nairn in January, 2008 where
they discussed Mr. Obama's top military advisers. One of them Nairn said was
"General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre
in East Timor in ’91 that you and I survived, he was—I happened to see on
Indonesian TV shortly after that—there was General McPeak overseeing the
delivery to Indonesia of U.S. fighter planes."
I told the LEPOCO audience that I knew of this Gen. McPeak too, as I held up my
copy of the Space Command's Vision for 2020 which I had earlier
referred to in great detail. This Gen. McPeak I told them had once been the
commander of the U.S. Space Command........
The last question of the night came from one of the leaders of the group. She
asked me who I would vote for. I said I would only answer the question if they
understood that I was not telling them who to vote for. I said that voting was a
scared and private act but that I would share with them who I was going to
I said I was going to vote for the black [pause] woman [pause] and then went on
to talk about this person for quite some time without naming her. As I did this
I noticed a woman in the back of the hall holding up her green dinner place mat
like a sign over her head. Eventually I mentioned
Cynthia McKinney's name.
The bulk of my talk though was about conversion of the military industrial
complex and the dire need to transform our declining gas guzzling nation to a
solar-wind-rail society which would create jobs and would help reduce the causes
of climate change. I stated that the cost of the Iraq occupation in 2007, if the
money had been invested back here in the U.S. in sustainable technology
development, would have created one million good jobs. I suggested that instead
of just standing on the street with our signs that say PEACE on them, that we
need to adapt our message to articulate this linkage between growing militarism,
economic decline, and offer a positive vision for real job creation at a time
when people in places like Bethlehem, PA. are worried about how they will feed
their families in the near future.
Today we are preparing to head west to Colorado Springs and then Omaha for two
weeks worth of protesting and conference organizing. Check
my blog in coming days for
more details about that.