Who Really Toppled Van Jones?

oil_rigThe dominant media narrative seems to be that Glenn Beck got retribution against Color of Change cofounder Van Jones after that organization led a successful campaign to drive advertisers away from the conservative talking head’s Fox News show.

The real backstory is quite different, and even more interesting.

The elements of the case against Jones — pushed by Beck — are largely true. Apparently Jones did refer to Republicans as “assholes,” an offense against public decency also committed by none other than George Bush in the 2000 campaign when he accidentally got caught — by an open microphone —  referring to New York Times reporter Adam Clymer as a “major league asshole.” Bush refused to apologize for that gaffe.

In Jones’ case

… the comment — recorded last February before Jones joined the White House Council on Environmental Quality — was in response to an audience member who lamented that Democrats were less effective than Republicans in using their majority to pass energy legislation.

Jones’ reply: “Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.”

He added, “Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.”

Beck also referred to Jones as a “black nationalist who is also an avowed communist.” This was also apparently true. Some years after his flirtation with communism and other forms of radicalism in his late twenties, Jones had an epiphany of sorts, after realizing that “our little movement … was much more destructive internally than anyone was talking about, and much less impactful externally than anyone was willing to admit.”

Jones’ fixation on solidarity dates from this experience. He took an objective look at the movement’s effectiveness and decided that the changes he was seeking were actually getting farther away. Not only did the left need to be more unified, he decided, it might also benefit from a fundamental shift in tactics. “I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists — shudder, shudder — who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy, and were having bigger impacts than me and a lot of my friends with our protest signs,” he said.

First, he discarded the hostility and antagonism with which he had previously greeted the world, which he said was part of the ego-driven romance of being seen as a revolutionary. “Before, we would fight anybody, any time,” he said. “No concession was good enough; we never said ‘Thank you.’ Now, I put the issues and constituencies first. I’ll work with anybody, I’ll fight anybody if it will push our issues forward. … I’m willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.”

Jones apparently realized that he was more likely to succeed by giving up radicalism and working within the system. He was “born again,” you might say.

The final damning piece of the recent brief against Jones is his signature on a petition calling for a full investigation of 9/11, a petition signed by many of the 9/11 widows and families, along with a lot of other distinguished Americans.

Whether all of this adds up to a compelling case against Jones’ fitness for his job in the Obama administration is a question about which people of good will may differ.

But even more interesting — and probably more important — is this question: Who really set in motion the case against Jones? And why? And what are they planning to do next?

The definitive account of the true backstory must surely be this:

Big Business’s Hidden Hand in the Smear Job on Van Jones
By Adele M. Stan, AlterNet. Posted September 8, 2009.

When word of Jones’ resignation from his White House post hit the airwaves, Americans for Prosperity’s Phil Kerpen, the group’s policy director, wasted no time in taking personal credit. In his column on FoxNews.comKerpen wrote, “The Van Jones affair … is one of the most significant things I’ve ever had the honor of being involved in.”

Progressives first became familiar with Americans for Prosperity because of its role, along with Beck’s 9-12 Project, in organizing the disruption of town hall meetings across the country at which members of Congress were scheduled to discuss pending health care reform legislation with their constituents.

Many assumed the AFP astroturfers, who are not required to disclose their funding sources, were aligned specifically with health care interests — and indeed they may be aligned with some. Look a little closer, though, and you’ll find at the top of their agenda the derailment of energy reform, especially the cap-and-trade formula for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

Naming defeat of clean-energy legislation his “No. 1 legislative priority,” Kerpen, in his Fox column, details his role in demonizing Jones in the right-wing echo chamber from which Jones, as an Obama aide, could not escape.

By his own account, Kerpen’s quest to fell Jones began on July 9 — weeks before Color of Change began to organize against Beck — when he was asked to appear on Fox & Friends to explain “what green jobs are”; and to discuss Obama’s green-jobs “czar,” Jones.

Get that? The successful campaign to derail Jones — if Kerpen is truthful — was launched prior to Beck’s comment on “Fox  Friends” on July 28th that provoked the advertiser boycott against him!

Why would Americans for Prosperity have it in for Jones? Sourcewatch Encyclopedia has a lot of in-depth information on that organization’s interests and activities:

The AFP is the third largest recipient of funding from the Koch Family Foundations, behind the Cato Institute and the George Mason University Foundation. Before 2003, when the AFP was still named the Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation, it received $18,460,912 in funding. 84% of that funding came from the Koch Family Foundations ($12,906,712) and the Scaife Family Foundations ($2,510,000). Koch Family Foundations is funded by Koch Industries. According to Forbes, Koch Industries is the second largest privately-held company, and the largest privately owned energy company, in the United States. Koch industries has made its money in the oil business, primarily oil refining. Presently, it holds stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, forest products, and chemical technology. Americans for Prosperity is also connected to oil giant ExxonMobil. According to ExxonSecrets, between the years 1998-2001, Citizens for A Sound Economy and Citizens for a Sound Economy Foundation received $380,250 from ExxonMobil.

Let’s restate the question: Why would energy business interests have it in for Jones? Adele Stan puts it this way:

Jones’ approach includes the greening of American cities, the development of green jobs for inner-city citizens — and especially for repatriating ex-convicts into civil society — as well as wonky remedies like cap-and-trade.

It’s a fully integrated vision. As Jones told me in an interview last year, “If you … have to break up with oil and coal, you may as well break up with poverty and a bunch of other stuff.”

So what’s next? Here’s how Kerpen himself explains it:

Now that Jones has resigned, we need to follow through with two critical policy victories. First, stop cap-and-trade, which could send these green groups trillions, and second repeal the unspent portion of the stimulus bill, which stands to give them billions. The Van Jones affair is, as President Obama likes to say, a “teachable moment,” and we need to put not just him but the whole corrupt “green jobs” concept outside the bounds of the political mainstream.

Stay tuned for the next battle.

The war never ends.

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5 Responses to “Who Really Toppled Van Jones?”
  1. depelton says:

    I should have mentioned in the article that Jones was undoubtedly targeted precisely because he is effective and influential in advancing the green jobs agenda, and not because of anyone’s idea of moral or ethical transgressions.

    In other words, he was a threat to some specific business interests, and probably still is.

  2. mcthorogood says:

    I think you hit nail on the head.

  3. Don Pelton says:

    Salon today has an article reporting on their interviews with a number prominent signers of the 9/11 petition, in which Salon asks, “Would you still sign the 9/11 Truth petition?”

    Mark Crispin Miller, professor of media studies at New York University: Yes, if I had it to do over again, I would sign that statement readily, since the questions that it raises are not just legitimate but terribly important — and they have not been answered credibly.

    The fact that such a statement should be controversial at all has less to do with what it says than with the great taboo that still inhibits rational discussion of the evidence.

    First of all, the statement asks for a new inquiry into 9/11. That is hardly an insane demand, considering the many obstacles and limitations that prevented the 9/11 Commission from doing a proper job. That body was deliberately enfeebled by Bush/Cheney: grossly underfunded ($3 million — while, for example, the budget for the study of the Challenger disaster was $50 million, and Whitewater cost over $40 million); granted no subpoena power; forced to rush the process; denied all sorts of vital information; and otherwise slowed down, fouled up, kept in the dark. (I write at length about Bush/Cheney’s varied efforts to prevent, then hobble, the Commission in my book “Cruel and Unusual,” pp. 33ff.)

    Witnesses employed by the USG were daunted openly by departmental colleagues who sat in on the hearings, ostentatiously, as “minders.” (“The Commission feels unanimously,” said Chairman Thomas Kean, “that it’s some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work with or works with your agency.”) And Bush/Cheney themselves refused to testify except in tandem, with a strict limit on their time, and their testimony given off the record and not under oath.

    So how could anyone regard that body’s findings as definitive — even if those findings were not rife with logical and physical impossibilities, as well as glaring omissions? (Such problems have been very thoroughly and soberly discussed by David Ray Griffin, in his three books on the subject, one of them, on the inexplicable collapse of Building 7, just now coming out.) A new investigation is not just a good idea, but, I’d say, a major civic obligation, what with the scale of that horrendous tragedy, and its disastrous national and global consequences.

    In calling for a new inquiry, the statement also proposes that the Bush administration had foreknowledge of the attack. Now, if I had been the one to draft the statement, I would probably have worded that bit less assertively, in order not to draw the sort of propaganda fire that’s been directed at the statement since it first appeared. Having said that, however, I must also note that there should really be no controversy over that suggestion, either; since it’s well established that the Bush White House was pointedly forewarned of some such looming terrorist attack — by, among others, the CIA, Mossad and the intelligence agencies of France and Britain, among others — and yet did absolutely nothing to prevent its happening.

    In any case, I find it more than troubling that the mere fact of Van Jones’ having signed that statement ought to be deemed a priori evidence of his “extremist” views. (Although I’m sorry that he felt obliged to back away, I can’t really blame him for it, what with the shit storm that was drenching him.) I think the press should be examining the evidence itself, instead of squaring off against the so-called truthers — a move that only bolsters the taboo against all rational discussion of this all-important issue.”

    From http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/11/truth_petition/

  4. Lex Lauher says:

    Also, I would like to add my gratitude for your dedication to the story. Thanks.

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