Entries tagged with “Van Jones”.

And so ends the very short chapter of Van Jones in the White House

(editors note: this was written very quickly, in the heat of the moment on hearing what I consider very very bad news.  Now, not so angry, I really only feel sad.  Still, read on!)

Van Jones resigned today from his position of Green Jobs Czar at the White House.  He had been there a little over six months before a mob of crazed republican attackers focused on him.  It only took folks calling him names: a communist that once called the Republicans a bad word, and poof: he gets run out of town on a rail.

“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones wrote. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”

Jones said that he had ”been inundated with calls – from across the political spectrum – urging me to “stay and fight. But I came here to fight for others, not for myself.  I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past.  We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.”

This man has as much power as you give him

This man has as much power as you give him

I would love to say a few words here that would make me unfit to be a Czar, (for those of you who don’t know, one of the reasons Van is unfit to serve is because he called republicans assholes in a speech) but that seems like playing at their game.  Instead, I’d like to say a few other things.

Van Jones was, and still is, a hero of mine.  As many of you who read this space know, I think the world of his ideas.  I love his inclusive, hands on, leave-no-person-behind vision for the future of America.  His book spoke to me of economic justice without having anyone suffer, and of a freedom from the worry of Global Warming.  Having read his book, listened to his speeches, and received his emails for years, I can say he is in no way a communist, or a socialist.  At all.  In fact, I often felt he went too far toward the free market — perhaps to make his ideas palatable to an America that turns green in fear at either of those words being turned against them.  50 years later, this McCarthyism hackjobbary has got to end.

The Party that just crucified Van Jones for saying the word asshole and for associating with a know “Truther” in the 9/11 crazytimes movement is the same party that had the second most powerful member tell someone to “Go F*&% Yourself” on the floor of the Senate.  This is the same party where many MANY elected officials still to this day are considering lawsuits against Obama for not being born in this country.  Glenn Beck, who led the charge against Jones, alternates his time between grimly prognosticating about and encouraging armed rebellion, and calling Obama a racist.

Why was Jones, a generally well liked dude, even on Glenn Beck’s radar?  Because Jones was associated with a group called ColorofChange.  ColorofChange called Beck on calling the president a racist, and Beck — in full personal vendetta style — took Van Jones down and forced his resignation.  What alternative universe do we live in where he has so much power?

The hypocrisy runs so thick, and so complete, that I am forced to wonder at the delusion to make it through a day believing what Beck professes to believe.  The Green Collar Economy was condemned as a socialist plot before anyone even bothered to figure out what it was, and what it meant.  Instead of taking the time to figure out why it might be a win-win to go green, people would rather throw stones at every new idea then allow someone who is not their own to gain any semblance of power.

But the Obama White House sure stuck to their guns!  I’m so proud of the way they defended their man, of the way they went to bat for a supporter and loyal ideas man.  I love how they called out this rank hypocrisy for what it was, and at least fired a warning shot that the people in the White House can not be controlled by a hate spewing insano pundit.

Oh, wait.  They did none of those things.  They made a craven political calculus, and sold Jones out faster then you can say “Communist Sympathizer”.  We’ve seen the wackjobs on the right get more and more wack-jobby of late, calling Obama a brain washer for the age old  tradition of talking to kids on the first day of school, and painting every single human left of William F. Buckley as some sort of deranged socialist.  I just wonder: why does this stuff stick?  Why don’t people stand up against this sort of thing?  It’s completely absurd that Jones was forced to resign, but it’s even MORE absurd that anyone has the ability to “force” anything!

America seems to really like the idea of Death before Dishonor.  They love people who don’t change course, even when the course is fundamentally wrong.  I don’t need my leaders to be stupid and unable to compromise, but this makes them look like the spineless cowards that the Republicans have always said they were.

The most frustrating part of the process is that Van’s ideas are now being repudiated because he once knew a communist and once said a bad word.  All of his amazing thinking, all of his plans and his charisma and his strength are now worse then useless.  The entire (extremely capitalist) green collar movement has been tarred and feathered on the national stage.  It’s amazing that all my hope for real fundamental change in this country was crushed after six months, and its even MORE amazing that it was done by the party that was so completely repudiated at the polls.

The entire movement took a step back today, not because the things that Van suggested didn’t work, but because some holier then thou fucks decided to crush him and the rest of us let them.

The only reason that I can’t quit this whole process is that doing so would mean that these people were allowed to be right.  Well, it won’t happen.  I’m going to work longer, work harder, then ever before.  I am going to make sure that everyone – EVERYone – who called for Van’s head does not get any more chance to hold elected office.

My question is this: Does Glenn Beck speak for you?  If so, why?  What vision does he put forward that you find attractive?  What version of America does Beck and the folks that give him a platform to spew his nonsense actually espouse?

If not, why are you letting him change who the President of the United States chooses to advise him?

obamachiapet1__optSounds like someone has been suckling at the sweet teat of Van Jones’ vision for the next wave of environmentalism, one which embraces and transformes the economy rather than raging against it. The quote here isn’t anything new, but I hope it proves emblematic of an approach that is becoming more and more mainstream, more and more well-recognized as basic economic good sense rather than a wingnut effort.

(P.S. The link above takes you to a really solid source for international news related to renewable energy and the economy. They’re based in England and keep their fingers on the pulses of both the innovator and the investor communities.)

A few words, Mr. President?

“Now, the choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy. The choice we face is between prosperity and decline. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy. We can allow climate change to wreak unnatural havoc across the landscape, or we can create jobs working to prevent its worst effects. We can hand over the jobs of the 21st century to our competitors, or we can confront what countries in Europe and Asia have already recognized as both a challenge and an opportunity: The nation that leads the world in creating new energy sources will be the nation that leads the 21st-century global economy.”

First off, consider this an official challenge to my collegues to come up with a longer post title.

Second, is it just me, or are people spending WAY too much time talking about Michelle Obama’s arms?


Third, let’s look at what this is actually about: Michelle making it a priority of her agenda to change the way we think about health food. Not a scolding, top-down imperative from the health saints to the McIgnoramuses but rather an embrace of communities’ efforts to produce food or collaborate with producers of food that has the three magic characteristics: nutrition, freshness, locality. I know there are plenty of goofballs ready to leap on Ms. Obama for her supposed elitism, but on this front it’s anything but. Why exactly should healthy food be considered a “luxury,” some plaything of the upper classes? If the answer is “its cost,” then isn’t there something dramatically wrong with the stocks and flows of food production in the country? 

If the answer is “arugula is a pinko anti-american homosexual aphrodesiac,” then I really can’t help you.


You know what’s scary/exciting?  The world is suddenly listening to me.

Ok, no.  They aren’t.  In fact, they are still ignoring LtAG on apace.  But doesn’t it feel, regular reader, that I wrote the following press release?  (excerpted at length cause it’s so damn exciting):

From: Van Jones

Re: Generally being awesome:

Great news! I’m going to the White House! And Green For All has an amazing new leader!

Special Advisor For Green Jobs: Me

I will be at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. My job will be to help shape the administration’s energy and climate policy, so that climate solutions produce jobs and justice for all Americans.

I am going to be the Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Dispelling Some Rumors

If you’ve had your ear to the blogosphere in the past few days, you may have heard some rumors. The most prevalent call me the new “Green Jobs Czar.”

But I am not going to be any kind of  “Czar.”  If anyone were to be the “Green Jobs Czar” (a position that does not exist), it would and should be Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. She was an original sponsor of the Green Jobs Act of 2007. Obama appointed her as the first Latina – and first green leader – to head the Department of Labor. Can anyone say “Green Jobs Czarina”?

Also, rumors that I will be handing out big piles of Recovery Act cash are utterly false. Unfortunately. :)

Yup. That’s right. Main man Van is going to hang out with Main man Obama.  With all this going my way, now the exciting part happens: we get to see if all this talking was actually right.  If there were to be one hand picked person who I would say “got” the “correct” version of environmentalism, this is my dude.  Awful hard to stay cynical… fighting to retain… righteous anger…

And just think!  Now, when all this turns out to be wrong wrong wrong, and we end up a socialist state taking handouts from the Japanese and Germans, you all will know that it was my bad.

Also exciting: Green For All, the progressive and environmentally justice minded organization that Van was the head of until today, is still going strong.  I don’t yet know the name Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, but I hope I type it as often and as orgasmicly as I’ve come to type Van Jones.

It’s very difficult to get people to all march together and chant “be reasonable”
– Jon Stewart

It’s all quite simple, really.  Everyone needs to take a deep breath, and chill out.  Sure, the economy is crashing, but for some reason, this one has not created the end of times for the environmental movement like we had thought it would!  Maybe it’s because the dual focus of Green Collar Jobs provides both an economic and an ecological solution?  The following is cross-posted with PhilanthroMedia.org

Van Jones’ new book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, is an elegant critique of the current divide in the environmental movement that still offers a hopeful look forward in difficult economic and ecological times.

Jones, growing out of a background of social justice work and community organizing in Oakland, has clearly studied the environmental movement and its history. He spends the early portion of the book pointing out the same problems that I’ve always had with environmentalism: that it is rooted in a language of crisis that offers very little in terms of solution, and quite a lot in terms of the-sky-is-falling-and-it’s-your-fault guilt.

But this critique of environmentalism (which draws on the ideas expressed in books like Break Through) isn’t what makes the book so refreshing. The most interesting (and most important) point that Van Jones makes is about the significance of coming to terms with an “eco-apartheid” that has ingrained itself in the environmental movement. He sees a world divided into ecological “haves” (those with the money to invest in green goods and worry about the health of the planet) and the “have-nots” (those with more pressing concerns, like feeding their family and paying off credit card bills). With that distinction in mind, Jones sketches the reasons that average blue collar and working class Americans have felt passed over by the environmental movement. Jones also notes that minority groups, those who traditionally have not benefited from the old “dirty” economy, are still not drawn in by the promise of a cleaner solution. And the problem seems to be one of motivation; After all, how important is a Polar Bear when faced with the lack of access to basic services?

His argument is clear: if we can bring both sides of the activist world to the same table, our situation is not yet hopeless. It’s a monumental task, fighting both global warming and social injustice at the same time, but Jones draws a compelling case for why the two must fit together like interlocking gears.

I often found Van Jones’ rhetorical flourishes a little much, but I realize he isn’t writing for me. But I’m an eco-nerd, and firmly in the ranks of the converted. Drawing on his background as a leader of rallies and a coiner of slogans, Jones writes to convince people on either end of the Social Justice Vs. Environment debate, and his words try to draw everyone to the middle. Much like Jon Stewart quoted above, Van Jones sees a pretty simple path to salvation : let’s just be reasonable and take the edge off our rhetoric for a moment. It’s amazing to think of the common ground that everyone can gain when a Green Collar economy is providing good wages for Environmental work.

This is not to suggest that Jones can’t bring the fire when he wants. He is unequivocal with the central message of the book: everyone must be lifted by the raising green tide, and not only because it is the right thing to do. It will be impossible to solve the current ecological crisis without getting everyone on board for the solution, and that will never happen unless everyone is given equal access to the fruits of the green-collar economy.

Tomorrow — Part Two: Let’s talk solutions. Van Jones himself gives us a preview, (updated for current events.)