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Van Jones: How Our Movement Lost Its Way

Posted on Apr 6, 2012
AP/Carlos Osorio

Organizer, author and former White House official Van Jones.

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This week on Truthdig Radio in association with KPFK: Van Jones wants to put Humpty Dumpty Hope back together again; we consider Condoleezza Rice for VP; Occupy gets glitz; and the latest threats to your Internet freedom.

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Van Jones says the decision to leave the White House was his own.


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Josh and Howie crash a swanky party and ask MoveOn whether it’s co-opted the Occupy movement.

Truthdig columnist Bill Boyarsky dishes on the week in political news, including the suggestion that Condoleezza Rice would make a good choice for Mitt Romney’s VP.

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oddsox's avatar

By oddsox, April 23, 2012 at 7:59 am Link to this comment

The American Dream movement is just this year’s name for last year’s news.

As they used to say in the ‘60s, “What a drag…”

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By LT, April 10, 2012 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

C. Rice for VP of the Repub Party?
She’s pro choice (even if “mildly”). ‘Nuff said. Ain’t gonna happen.
Jones hasn’t been paying attention to the real Republican Party as it exists today.

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By Salome, April 10, 2012 at 5:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama likes to talk about “American values” one of which I thought was innocent until proven guilty in a court of law before a jury.  Maybe Obama studied a different Constitution, one that says it’s okay to send drones to kill people you don’t like, heads of state, and ex-pat Americans.  Not in my name.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, April 9, 2012 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment

I personally went to one of Van Jones “Take Back The Dream” get together here in Metro Detroit; it took about 10 minutes to figure out that it was nothing more than a front for the Democratic party.

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By NABNYC, April 9, 2012 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

I’ve marveled at the ability of Van Jones to not just survive but thrive despite the fact that he never seems to have a real job.  Who’s paying his bills?  The Democratic Party?  Wall Street?  Intelligence agencies?  If you read his biography, he went to Yale law school then moved to San Francisco and started a police-watch group.  When exactly did he pay off his law school loans?  It’s not cheap going to Yale.  And how did he pay the rent, buy groceries while doing his volunteer work in San Francisco?  Maybe fundraising?  Start an NGO, raise funds, then move on?  Then he started another group about racism, then moved on.  Then another group about environmental issues, then moved on.  The guy is 44 years old, but he doesn’t seem to ever have to work for a living, except his brief stint in the white house.  Speaking of which, how does somebody who never had a job land one in the white house?

Sometime last year, Occupy (or an affiliated group) planned a big conference, I think in D.C., on a certain week-end—let’s say September 14-16, hypothetically.  They invited everyone to come, join together, prepare for the next phase of Occupy. 

At the same time, the Democratic party front groups were anxiously trying to take over Occupy and turn it (or its supporters) into democratic election volunteers, direct their energy away from protest and into fundraising for the billion-dollar elections in 2012.  So suddenly there was announced another big get-together, same week-end, also in D.C., with a host of important people and speakers, led by Van Jones, about how to take back our country.  Coincidence or intentional effort to undermine Occupy?

When Van Jones talks about “our” movement I have in mind a picture of a group of people marching in unison, united in their opposition to the current system, then Van Jones runs to the front of the line and says “follow me.”  Gimmeabreak.

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thecrow's avatar

By thecrow, April 9, 2012 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

Jones proved himself a moral coward when he denied his support for a real investigation into 9/11. He deserves no more attention.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, April 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

I caught Van Jones on “Up with Chris Hayes” Saturday. Other than pushing his book like like a $2 whore, Jones said something that open my eyes to the fact that what now “masquerades” as the Left on the TV are something different all together. Jones suggested that Obama’ s new slogan should be “Killed Bin Laden, saved GM”.

Being a Liberal I have a real problem with killing any human being without a trial; obviously Van Jones and his elk does not. I also have a problem with “public” funds being transferred to private corporations.

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kulu's avatar

By kulu, April 8, 2012 at 8:10 am Link to this comment

To any of you who still feel it’s better to vote for Obama and the Democrats because they’re not as bad as the GOP you might like to watch this documentary called Bahrain: Shouting in the Dark.

It’s an eye opener even to me who has been a regular watcher of Democracy Now who have covered the Bahrain uprising pretty well.

It’s about an hour long, very absorbing and saddening. Obama features for only about 30 seconds but that’s enough to damn him in my eyes.

If he represents the least worst option then there is absolutely no hope for humanity…None.

Berniem, I entirely agree with your view of the Democrats although I’m in no position to act on it, being from Australia, itself an unquestioning ally (or puppet) of America.

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kulu's avatar

By kulu, April 8, 2012 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Thanks for the link gerard. Unfortunately though it comes up with the message, ” The account for this survey has expired.”

Obama and the Democrats failed, as you say, from the beginning but have shown no signs since that the are anything but another arm of the corporately controlled governing system.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, April 8, 2012 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

“Right On, Right On!”

Van Jones (like Obama) seems to have “contempt” for the Left. Obama and his group of corporate Goldman Sachs kiss-asses tell us to “stop whining”, while Jones clears Obama of any responsibility for the countless times and issues he has double-crossed us on and tells us “we are to blame because we did not support Obama enough”.

Everyone here knows the very long list of betrayals and outright lies that came from this president and his group of corporate thugs.

Sorry, Mr. Jones,  I don’t think we are the problem; it’s Obama and people like you who “carry water” for him.

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By berniem, April 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm Link to this comment

“Our” movement did not lose its way! It was BETRAYED by a cynical group of corporate functionaries who immediately upon ascension to power chose to “look forward, not back” and proceed in the indentical proto-fascist direction of their predecessors! As one scribe recently put it, in ‘08 we were led to the polls in the spirit of hope and change. Now we’re being threatened with fear of a worse alternative should we not again vote for the “Deceiver-In-Chief”!I will not vote to re-elect obama nor for his reactionary opponent. Should obama lose to romney or whoever I truly believe that this would only serve to hasten the looming revolution, and frankly, I think this may be good in the sense that the publics’ inertia in demanding real and substantive positive change will finally be broken! Oh, and by the way< FREE BRADLEY MANNING & TIM DeCHRISTOPHER!!!!!

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By Maani, April 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm Link to this comment

Sorry, that should be “does not make me trust him at all.”

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By Maani, April 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm Link to this comment

I for one will not forgive Jones for not simply backtracking on his support for 9/11 Truth, but for then dissing the entire movement.  I happen to know the person who held the 9/11 Truth petition that Jones signed.  And that person had a fairly lengthy conversation with Jones in which Jones expressed STRONG support for the movement, even saying that it played a “critical role” in “getting to the truth” and in “government transparency” in general.

That Jones has decided (like Amy Goodman and Arianna Huffington, among others) that 9/11 Truth is “persona non grata” because he is afraid of being “tainted” by it is a betrayal of the highest order, and does not make me truth him at all.

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By gerard, April 7, 2012 at 1:07 pm Link to this comment

Kulu:  Here’s the Occupy site I mentioned:

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By gerard, April 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

Kulu: I believe timing is almost everything in politics, and not Obama supporters but the Democratic Party missed the boat immediately after the election.  I remember Obama right after he was elected saying several times:  “Make me do it!” in speeches to many who had worked in the campaign like MoveOn, and people like MoveOn were just waiting for instructions, suggestions, directions.  Nothing. Ever. Materialized. That was a gap the Party had a duty to fill but apparently they were already bought off. And also at that point in time Washsington itself becamae impermeable to the ordinary citizen. The doors (such as they were) slammed shut. I blame that interlude as the fatal turning point, and from there it has been all downhill, sad to say.
  As to OWS presently—they are doing many local things all over the country but they are too unorthodox and not splashy enough for the stupid media.  I found a site that listed some of them, then lost it in my muddle of stuff.  When I locate it again I’ll post a reference.

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By Backgammon, April 7, 2012 at 5:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Van Jones is a commnist and a threat to our Country.  Says a lot that he was even in the White House.  Van, the Czars, the Mayo lovers, the chavez lovers will all be packing up to leave Washington soon.  Not soon enough, but soon.

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By bigchin, April 7, 2012 at 12:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yeah, right… progressives have failed, not Obama…

Van Jones is full of shit.

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By Bill Perdue, April 6, 2012 at 11:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Van Jones is a reformist and reformists are fools who think they’ll be permitted to reform the .01% out of power. 

Reformists are fools who think that elections matter. They don’t. 

The only thing that produces real change is mass action and the only way to get eradicate the power of the rich is to create a workers government.

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kulu's avatar

By kulu, April 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment

I see Van Jones as nothing but an apologist for Obama.

After Obama’s victory, Jones says, the progressive activists relaxed and failed to put pressure on the man to perform as promised. That’s probably right in part but who can blame them for expecting that he would at least try to live up to his promises and for giving him some time to begin to do so.

And then also it cannot be said that those who battled to achieve a single payer or public option health care bill were not out in force. He ignored them and worked to implement a bill devised by the rapacious health care industry itself.

More recently the activists were out in force to prevent the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. What did Obama do? He cynically postponed his decision until after the election. Of course the activists relaxed and stopped protesting and being arrested. ( After all being arrested and possibly charged and fined is not a pleasurable experience.) Then, out of the blue he announces that the southern portion of the pipeline can go ahead and in fact be fast tracked. It’s sickening. No environmentalist should ever forgive him or vote for him after this.

Jones excuses Obama by putting the onus on the progressive activists to maintain the pressure. Keeping up constant pressure in the face of an unresponsive government is extremely hard as very few earn a living from it and must fit it in with all their other commitments.

I’m sorry the best pressure that can be put on Obama is simply not to vote for him.

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By gerard, April 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

As to Van Jones co-opting Occupy Wall Street, etc.:
  Van Jones has influence in large peace-making and socially progressive movements already quite organized, with set goals and methods of operation. Occupy, on the contrary, shuns traditional organization (which often works from the top leadership down) and prefers to work from the bottom up, with decisions coming from the General Assembly.
Jones’ organizations also state specific goals, but Occupy has adopted a variety of goals, while stating only its general philosophy in a widely-agreed-upon Statement of Purpose. The Democratic Party is also a danger to Occupy for some of the same reasons, and might be eager to co-opt Occupy in order to get votes for the election.
  It is often easy for a large established organization to “take over” a newer, less firmly established one. Occupy wants to avoid that.

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By jimmmmmy, April 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm Link to this comment

Ms Rice is considered a three fer in political jargon . I thought Harry Belifonti described her and Colin Powell perfectly when he called them “house negros” when they worked for Bush.

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By gerard, April 6, 2012 at 6:21 pm Link to this comment

Surfboy: In my first comment I made a spelling mistake.  I wrote “coopation”.  There is no such word. What I ment was cooptation, the act of coopting. Even so, it’s easy to misunderstand, though I tried to correct it in the next comment.
Because it is easily confused, it is often written as
co-optation, or to co-opt (meaning one organization or force taking over (stealing, in a way, or perverting) another organization or idea. A clear example is the Bush administration taking over the fear of AlQuaeda and perverting it into a general fear of Muslim radicals everywhere, under the bed, everywhere, in order to promote wars against terror-ists and instituting a vast organization to put the entire American nation under suspicion in order to justify intrusive “surveillance.” Sorroy for the confusion I caused.

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vector56's avatar

By vector56, April 6, 2012 at 5:25 pm Link to this comment

I too considered Van Jones to be a thinking man’s Obama, until he was asked questions about Obama’s foreign and domestic policies. Like most if not all of the MSNBC fake-liberals Jones seems to spend most of his time putting down the Republicans and making excuses for Obama.

Me personally, I did not, nor have I ever voted Republican; so, why should I give “a rat’s rear end” what the GOP corporate groupies say from (gaffes) one news cycle to the next; or worry too much about their wacky Heritage Foundation proposals? They are the Enemy, plain and simple!

Now, when the guy I voted for (Obama) starts pushing “Heritage Foundation” proposals:

Cap & Trade
Individual Health “Insurance” mandates
Pay Roll Tax Holiday

I start to worry! Van Jone and MSNBC, Current TV,  and what now passes for “Progressive” Talk Radio these days are nothing more than “front” men/women for the Corporate Democratic Party Machine.

“Movemen"t, my well fed ass! The “movement Jones speaks of was nothing more than a “facade” to begin with! Back when Obama first ran for president David Axelrod “let the cat out of the bag” when he declared, ” the key to our success was to make a political campaign LOOK like a movement”. 

If you guys are looking for a Black “face” who is out there “speaking truth to power” checkout Cornel West (or a “White face” like Mike Malloy); Van Jones is just another “Obamabot.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, April 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Van Jones comes off as a level headed person and I think I could vote for his platform.

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By Proctor S. Burress, Jr, April 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You are kidding! CR is the female, African American
equivalent of Mitt Romney. No thanks. Too stiff and way
too wooden.

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By gerard, April 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment

Correction: Co-optation is a danger, but etc….

  Sorry for the misspelling.

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By gerard, April 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment

Why not talk about (and put attention on) how the two “movements”—to the extent that they are separate—are cooperating together to interest vastly more “ordinary” people in participatory politics?  Why not acknowledge the exciting increase in the power of the people to bring about change non-violently?  Coopation is a danger when it weakens one aspect or another.  It can also be cooperation, which strenthens all elements. We need to stress both unity and diversity, not the either/or self-defeating political divisiveness and rancour.

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By Evana Garcia, April 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’d like to know, who is thinking of proposing Ms. Rice (Amnesiac Rice) for VP?

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