Sunday, September 06, 2009

I'm mad at Van Jones

Before this week, all I'd ever heard about Van Jones was glowing. He spoke at a UUA General Assembly a few years back and I heard numerous people tell me that it was the best speech they'd ever heard or that he was the smartest person they'd ever heard. I'd missed his speech, and I was sorry.

But today, I'm thinking that it was so dumb of him to take the job of Green Czar, that I'm angry at him. Did he think his past statements and petition signatures (that Bush "let" 9/11 happen so he could go to war, is the most damming) wouldn't catch up with him in this incredibly polarized climate? Had he not noticed how much damage President Obama took on just because he was in the presence of Jeremiah Wright? Hello, Mr. best-speaker-people-have-ever-heard! This is the real world speaking! It matters what petitions you signed and what impolite things you said in the heat of various news storms.

Obama (whose people should have done a better vetting job...that's also true) didn't need this. The nation didn't need this. Mr. Jones... your bad.


kimc said...

Bush and Cheney said far worse things than Van Jones ever said. I am disappointed that he gave in and resigned.
We need to take the media back.

Joel Monka said...

I blame Rahm Emanuel for the terrible vetting job- the dozen or so embarrassing video clips were easy to find on Google and YouTube- and the rest was easy if you had a Lexus Nexus account. How on Earth did they let his appointment go through, with so much on public record?

Christine Robinson said...

Kimc, It would be hard to imagine a more serious...treasonous...act than a president allowing an attack on the US for the cynical purpose of giving him the power to declare war. I'm not remembering an instance where Cheney (before or during his employment by the White House) made such a serious, and totally unsubstantiated accusation of a sitting president as this one. Can you remind me?

WiseLalia said...

I think it is unrealistic for every future member of government--elected or appointed--to censure his/her comments life-long!

However, anything too incendiary ought to have been detected and either caused a reconsideration of the appointment, or some kind of public process to allow rehabilitation.

I also agree with kimc above. Progressives hold back their "punches" while the radical right fights dirty. If we are not going to stoop to their level, what would be a winning strategy?

When you have some good ideas on that, please share them!

Bill Baar said...

Van Jones was supposed to build the National Version of a Chicago's Hispanic Democratic Organization (which was neigher Hispanic or Democratic). Check the Real Barack Obama which has been on top of Van Jones from the beginning (my two cents over at RBO here:

jUUggernaut said...

I recommend the following article:
5 reasons why Van Jones and Progressives are better off with Jones out of the White House.
It is here:

As for the 9/11 stuff - that conspiracy was going strong across the entire political spectrum and had its run among some ministers and there were/are "truthers" in UU church peace groups.

As someone who accepts I. F. Stone's dictum "All governments lie" as the Gospel truth I was initially intrigued by the "let it happen on purpose" variant but soon realized that the socalled evidence or "questions" by the conspiracy junkies were utter garbage. I sifted through thousand of pages over the course of several months- junk!

But in defense of the people who fell for it I must say that the mechanism by which they made you believe there was something super-fishy was very effective: "thruthers" would inundate you with long lists of supposedly unanswered "questions". Even if you took the time to examine some of them, they'd come back and say, okay, maybe not this piece, but there's more! However, it all amounted to "anomaly hunting" and essentially failed to make a case.

jUUggernaut said...

One addendum with some correcting facts about Van Jones. This from a (lenghty) blog article by Tim Wise:
By Tim Wise
The right has shown no shame in their relentless
pursuit of Jones's political scalp. They have
fabricated from whole cloth details of his life,
calling him a convicted felon and instigator of the
1992 Los Angeles riots. This, in spite of the fact that
he has no criminal record whatsoever and wasn't even in
Los Angeles when those riots were happening. His arrest
at that time was part of a sweep of dozens of peaceful
marchers in San Francisco, involved in a protest at the
time of the riots. He was released, charges were
dropped, and he was paid damages by the city. This is
not what happens to criminals, but rather, innocent
people who have done nothing wrong.
They have twisted other aspects of Jones's past,
suggesting his brief stint with a pseudo-Maoist group
makes him a secret communist in the heart of
government, this despite his more recent break with
such groups and philosophies, in favor of a commitment
to eco-friendly, sustainable capitalism. They have
called him a black nationalist, which he admits to
having been for a virtual political minute in his
youth, and have suggested he's a "truther" (one who
believes George W. Bush masterminded the 9/11 attacks
as an "inside job"). As for this last charge, their
evidence consists of Jones's signature on a petition,
which originally called merely for more openness about
the pre-9/11 intelligence available to the former
administration, but which was later altered to reflect
the conspiratorial lunacy of its creators. Jones, and
many others who reject the truthers' nonsense, were
tricked into signing and were appalled by the final
product. But none of this matters to the right. Because
after all, none of it was ever the point.
(...) (...)
Let's be clear, this is about one thing only: namely,
the attempt by the right to exploit white reactionary
fears about black militancy. It is the same tactic they
tried with Rev. Jeremiah Wright in 2008. (...)

[Tim Wise is the author of four books on race. His
latest is Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and
White Denial in the Age of Obama (City Lights: 2009).]

Bill Baar said...

Van Jones words after 911, that America deserved the attack, are pretty hard to overlook.

There is no way Obama could have kept him on after that, and it's hard to figure out what was going on in Valarie's mind to bring him on in the first place.

jUUggernaut said...

Bill, the only quote I could find about "deserving" was one dug out by the right wing blog Newsbuster lifted from Indymedia (SF Bay) news items of Sept 13 2001. The verb deserving was the blogger's interpretation. The original piece
( )
reported about an Oakland rally "to mourn, provide support for each other, and speak out against violent United States policies at home and abroad, which they say are the underlying reasons for unprecedented terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC."
In it Van Jones is quoted thus: ""The bombs the government drops in Iraq are the bombs that blew up in New York City," said Van Jones, director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, who also warned against forthcoming violence by the Bush Administration. "The US cannot bomb its way out of this one. Safety at home requires justice abroad.""

I was at a Quaker meeting in Cambridge, MA the night after the attack and what Jones said were sentiments commonly expressed. Someone also pointed out that the Pentagon was a clearly a military target.

Anyone in the peace movement (but few others!) knew about the almost daily US bombings in the "no-fly zone", and can quote Madeline Albright's shrugging off that the sanctions regime killed upwards of 500.000 Iraqi children as "we think the price is worth it"

Bill Baar said...

Yes UU, I'm well aware those sentiments were commonly heard.

I also felt it was the Iraqi people who bore the brunt of the sanctions, and bore the brunt of our failure to deal with Saddam Hussein back at the end of the first Gulf War. I felt America shamed itself by abandoning the Shia communities in 1991.

I believe Van Jones right here: The US cannot bomb its way out of this one. Safety at home requires justice abroad.

Safety at home means justice aboard and America couldn't bomb its way out of this one. A war against fanatical Islam means changing regimes and reconstructing new democratic governments.

Today's progressives don't become tomorrow neo-cons without reason. They both agree on that fundamental principle... Safety at home requires justice abroad and we dishonor ourselves --besides risking our security-- by abandoning that commitment.

kimc said...

jUUggernaut -- I haven't researched it extensively, as you said you have. Why were the planes protecting the airspace above New York told to "stand down" on 9/11? Why was the steel infrastructure of the building and debris from the World Trade Center hauled away and not allowed to be inspected to see why it collapsed? What happened to the Air Traffic controllers' tapes for the two hours while the incident was happening? What was that evacuation of the World Trade towers two days before 9/11? I haven't heard good answers to these, but if you have, I'd be glad to hear them.

jUUggernaut said...

No offense, but your post is typical of how the 9/11 conspiracy ideas propagated. Suspicious looking questions were piled on top of each other that seemed to suggest something was wrong.
But on close inspection they either fall apart or don't fit into any workable or plausible plot.

Case in point:
1) There was no stand down:

2) Steel debris was inspected before being shipped off;

3) The air traffic controller tapes were published in the 9/11 report and are online.

Very detailed analysis of one of the main 9/11 conspiracy authors has been amassed by Ryan Mackey:,

With a scientific approach he politely but thoroughly takes apart David Ray Griffin's arguments, and shows that this theologian (!!) lacks basic technical expertise but makes up for it by manipulations that would have got him kicked out of any undergraduate journalism program as completely untrustworthy. Just read how Griffin handles the eyewitness reports (a non technical chapter requiring no technical expertise) and you will agree.

Unfortunately the web is chock full of conspiracy material re 9/11 and it takes some effort to find substantive material, and a willingness to discard stuff. This page is a great starter for skeptics:

What is needed in general is an overarching theory that shows motives, feasibility, and that can handle the evidence. "Truthers" have nothing of the kind.

My wife (a chemistry prof) searched the comprehensive global database "Web of Science" for any peer reviewed engineering studies that would go in the direction of the "truther's" claims but none exist. When she told this to a "truther" in our congregation the woman replied there must be conspiracy on "the editorial boards" of science journals. Oh my...

Finally, no one has explained why a Cheney/Bush cabal could not have opted for a much easier to control "false flag operation" that would have given them the same 'license' to wage war and introduce fascist control mechanism in the US. Why not implicate Saddam Hussein directly? Why attack two towers? Why the Pentagon? Why not use their supposed 'foreknowledge' to demonstrate perfect control and crisis management in the aftermath instead of incompetence and cowardice?
It makes no sense. For a hilarious dramatization of this madness read Matt Taibbi's fictional transcripts:

Having wasted enough time on this I will refrain from further comments on this closed matter.

Christine Robinson said...

Thanks, Juugernaut, for this extensive comment. Lots of research...