The Van Jones Affair  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The SMH has a rather bizarre rant from Paul Sheehan looking at the demise of Obama administration environment figure Van Jones, after a campaign against him led by far-right demagogue Glenn Beck - Obama adviser victim of own past. Its rather unusual to see a Fairfax columnist praising News Corp (especially in its most unpleasant incarnation, Fox News) over the mainstream quality media - maybe he's angling for a job at the increasingly irrelevant Australian...

Prior to Jones's resignation, despite revelation after revelation which made his position untenable, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the major networks, NBC, CBS and ABC, carried not a word. They preferred to be beaten on a big story than to even acknowledge it.

While the Fox News Channel, which drove the Van Jones story, has been one of the biggest media success stories of the past decade, becoming highly profitable and highly influential, during the same decade The New York Times Company has plunged in market value. It is one of numerous once-powerful media companies which would rather die than change an ideological agenda hidden under a false mask of objectivity.

Regardless of whether or not Jones was once a Marxist, his modern day persona seems pretty much vanilla-liberal, so its a shame Obama didn't have the courage to tell Beck and co to get lost and stand by his appointee - see the video below (from Big Think - I'm sure he did a TED Talk one but I can't find it today) on "Profiting from the green economy" for a taste of this supposed radical revolutionary in action...

Dave Roberts at Grist has Thoughts on Van Jones’ resignation.
Much of the blame for this incident lies squarely on the White House. The information used against Jones was freely available on the web. All it took was a search. I thought by hiring Jones they intended to take a chance on a real left progressive, but now it appears they were simply caught flat-footed. ...

For the record, Jones isn’t a truther. Five years ago, at the end of a busy paternity leave, he was asked to support the calls of 9/11 families for further investigation of the attacks (reflecting the concerns of millions of Americans). He agreed and his name ended up on a petition that contained language he didn’t support. Three others who signed the petition have also come forward to say they were deceived about its final contents. But the truth of it hardly matters at this point. Jones has always spoken freely, not in the clipped, narrow confines permitted of those who aspire to public office. He talks real talk, in colorful, provocative language. There’s plenty in his copious past writing and speaking that can be demagogued. This isn’t a civic discussion among people who care who Van Jones really is or what he really believes, after all. It’s a head hunt.

As Dave notes above, one of Beck's charges against Jones was that he once signed a petition circulated by the 9/11 Truth guys, thus making him a paranoid conspiracy theorist. While a fairly hefty segment of the 9/11 conspiracy spectrum tends to see conspiracies involving communists, jews, freemasons or some combination thereof pretty much everywhere (and has a reasonably large overlap with Beck's core audience, you'd imagine), there are (or at least were) some left leaning observers who also took a fairly conspiratorial view of the event, but with a different set of bogeyman to blame (see Jeff Well's "Coincidence Theorists Guide To 9/11" for a good example). Plenty of people who signed the truther petition still stand by it, though I imagine most of them wouldn't sit comfortably with the truthers themselves - Salon has a report Would you still sign the 9/11 Truth petition?.
Thanks in large part to his association with the 9/11 Truth movement, Van Jones is no longer a member of the Obama White House. Jones resigned last week amid a swirl of controversy -- prodded on largely by Fox News' Glenn Beck -- that included the former "green jobs" advisor's signing of a petition put out by the 9/11 Truth movement urging a further investigation into the World Trade Center attacks. Most controversially, the petition wondered darkly that "unanswered questions ... suggest that people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war," before drifting into a list of wild and dubious speculation. (You can read the petition right here.)

Initially, Jones said that he hadn't fully reviewed the statement before he signed. But that didn't stop the onslaught of bad publicity that ultimately led to his exit.

The statement was released in October 2004 and has been signed by nearly 200 people, including many relatives of those who lost someone in the attacks. It called for an investigation into 9/11 but also directly questioned the government's conclusions about the plane crashes. ...

Gray Brechin, historical geographer and visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Department of Geography: Until recently, I thought that I (like Van Jones) live in a country with a First Amendment that permits freedom of speech, thought and petition without fear of reprisal. I had that pleasant illusion despite growing up in the dark shadow of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of red scares, blacklists and witch hunts, of the John Birch Society (and worse), which the Old Guard of the Republican Party then considered zanies. The ideological descendants of those wackos have since taken over that party. I suspect that you did not grow up at that time.

Since when did Salon permit Glenn Beck and the almost equally loony WSJ editorial page to set the terms of discussion, calling those who want answers to so much that remains unexplained about 9/11 "truthers" and thus giving them equivalence with "birthers," "deathers" and "tea baggers"? Since when was Van Jones a "czar" rather than an advisor? Since when was he not entitled to his opinions, past or present? Was it when he was born black and inexcusably smart? Jones is the kind of visionary with whom Franklin Roosevelt surrounded himself but of which the Obama administration is almost entirely bereft, and now that administration has shamefully thrown him to the sharks.

Have you contacted the widows and other family members who lost loved ones on that terrible day and asked them if they recant wondering why, for example, New York City and the Pentagon -- the fucking Pentagon! -- were defenseless on that morning more than a month after the would-be president was informed that Osama bin Laden was determined to attack the United States? Have you asked them if they are as disloyal, or as nuts, as Van Jones for signing that petition? Have you an answer for that and other questions on that petition, which were never discussed by the mainstream media when it piled on Jones at Beck's behest?

Van Jones was not only flayed for once signing a petition but for jokingly calling Republicans "assholes." Why is that "extreme" speech when Glenn Beck freely advocates violent overthrow of the U.S. government, gives an exegesis of the Communist/Fascist messages that "progressive" John D. Rockefeller Jr. insidiously inserted in the art of Rockefeller Center, and fantasizes killing Michael Moore and the speaker of the House on air to millions? When will the men with butterfly nets take this man away so that he does not hurt others or himself, rather than journalists allow him to take them down into his rat-infested sewer with him?

I keep hoping that, like Joe McCarthy, Mr. Beck (and O'Reilly, Coulter, Malkin, "Savage," etc.) will go too far, but -- with the wreck of public education and its replacement by entertainment -- Americans have so lost any moral compass that "too far" no longer exists as long as one is to the right of Dick Cheney.

Fred Burks, former interpreter for Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney and Al Gore: I definitely support the 9/11 statement and am deeply disappointed that Van Jones recanted. I'm almost certain he agreed with it when he signed it. ...

Richard Heinberg, author: No, I don't regret signing the petition. The petition, as I signed it, was essentially recommending that an independent investigation take place. I felt at the time, and still feel, that with events of such monumental importance as this, the more light that can be shed the better. I do not believe that the official 9/11 Commission Report addressed many of the most important questions about the events. Nevertheless, I have no ongoing association with the 9/11 Truthers. ...


betty   says 5:02 AM

Wonderfully informative site-thank you-Betty

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