Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Van Jones' powerful (political) friends were silent when he needed them (VIDEO)

by Joe Garofoli
San Francisco Chronicle
September 8, 2009

Notice the silence -- at least among current and even some former Democratic public officials -- in Van Jones' final hours? We reached out to former VP Al Gore and Sen. Barbara Boxer (leading climate change and energy battle in Senate) and San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris (major California fundraiser for Obama) over the past few days to get their reaction to the controversy. Silence.

Rep. Barbara Lee? Nothing offered for Van, even though she was "so very pleased" when her "friend" --- and constituent -- in March to the Administration gig.

We knew Van was green. And he was red for a bit. So what color is political uranium?

All of these people knew Van's history -- the left-wing politics, the provocative comments -- but few stood next to him at his bleakest hour. Sources close to Jones told us that this hurt him. Ultimately, he couldn't survive without somebody -- in office -- watching his political back.

Only SF Mayor Gavin Newsom backed Jones, as we told you the other day.

But Medea Benjamin told us that Jones may be more valuable outside the system than inside it. "Now he has all of those contacts on the inside, he can even be more effective working for the environment now." Arianna Huffington said much the same thing Tuesday, going so far to "thank" Fox News commentator Glenn Beck for helping force Jones back into the private sector. Same for Don Hazen at AlterNet. Center for American Progress head -- and Obama confidante -- John Podesta hinted at the same thing.

There's an "I stand with Van" Facebook page . But it all came too late to help. As Sierra Club president Carl Pope said: "Collectively we -- the environmental community, progressives, and the Obama administration -- blew this, and we let our cause, our president, and Van Jones down. This was a lynch mob and, when it started forming a month ago, we didn't take it seriously enough.

One politician continues to invoke Jones' name this week: GOP Guv candidate Steve Poizner. On Tuesday, The Commish turned his minor Van Jones video sensation from last week into a fundraising email pitch: "Take action to oppose this praise of Van Jones and become a "Huge Fan" of Steve Poizner instead. Show your support for Steve and send a message to Meg Whitman."

And while elected officials are backing away from Jones, liberal organizations aren't. Here's a video just released (it's long but probably more than you're heard from Jones directly before) by Brave New Films, the filmmakers who have taken on everything from Fox News to the Iraq War to the increased escalation in Afghanistan. In the video at the top of this page Van Jones speaks in conversation with Pope:

Glenn Beck vs. Van Jones: McCarthyism Enters the 21st Century

Joseph A. Palermo
Author/Associate Professor of History
Posted: September 8, 2009
Huffington Post

When Fox News' Glenn Beck called President Barack Obama a "racist" and claimed that he had "a deep-seated hatred for white people" an African-American netroots group,, organized a successful boycott of Beck's corporate sponsors. It wasn't long until fifty seven of Beck's sponsors jumped ship lest they be associated with Beck's own "deep-seated" white supremacy. Burned, Beck and his right-wing Republican producers sought revenge by using his slice of the echo chamber to go after Van Jones, one of President Obama's most important advisers on green jobs, who could be linked to ColorOfChange. Beck and his buddies viewed Jones as the low hanging fruit of the Obama White House and launched a focused smear campaign against him. During one of his many conspiracy-laden tirades Beck asked: "Will progressive pigs fly right out of Van Jones' butt and pedal bicycles to" replace coal power? It didn't take much time under the glare of Beck's assault for Jones to make the politic move and resign his official post.

The Beck vs. Jones saga illustrates that even with the Republicans out of power their control over a propaganda ministry called Fox News, combined with their domination of the AM radio dial, still allows them to frame the debates within our wider political discourse.

What Glenn Beck, Roger Ailes, and their allies did in drumming Van Jones out of the government was an example of 21st century McCarthyism. They smeared Jones' past political remarks and associations the same way Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn smeared a young Boston lawyer named Fred Fisher for being a member of the National Lawyers Guild, which they called "the legal mouthpiece of the Communist Party." There's no difference. I always said that if Joe McCarthy were alive today he'd have his own show on Fox News. Well, there you have it. Beck's tactics, which are identical to McCarthy's, have entered the bloodstream of our body politic. At some point someone has got to ask the well-timed question that Joseph Welch asked Joe McCarthy: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?" That "sense of decency" to which Mr. Welch referred left our political discourse long ago, somewhere between Lee Atwater and Karl Rove.

What I find interesting about the hyperventilating and shrill denunciations of Jones' mild past remarks coming from Beck and his legions of aggrieved white men is that President George W. Bush had surrounded himself for eight years with a stunning collection of political hacks and charlatans who had said things in the past that would make Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann sound cool and rational. To take just one of many possible examples, Bush chose a guy, not just to be one his advisers, but to sit on the federal bench in Little Rock, Arkansas named James Leon Holmes. Holmes was the former president of Arkansas Right to Life who wrote that "the wife is to subordinate herself to her husband" and "the woman is to place herself under the protection of Christ." An earlier example of what flowed from Holmes' pen said this: "[c]oncern for rape victims is a red herring because conceptions from rape occur with approximately the same frequency as snowfall in Miami." (Miami saw snow once in a hundred years; there were 32,000 women who became pregnant by rape the year Holmes wrote this drivel.) I only bring up this example to show that no right-wing administration has to worry about purges of their people from a powerless but noisy Left, showing once again the bankruptcy of the faux balance the mainstream press insists on imposing on these types of political fights.

If you serve a right-wing Republican president you can write or say anything you want, even be connected to the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (C of CC). But if you serve a liberal Democratic president, like the "pinks" who fell victim to McCarthyism, you can be taken down in a heartbeat.