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September 07, 2009

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How come the news media makes a big flippin' deal out of what a Democrat says but treats rightwinng crazies like they have something normal to say?

I watched about an hour of CNN today.

I told Paul that I don't want to live in this country any more.

First, my take is that he's a guy with some amazing accomplishments who simply never should have signed on in light of his 9/11 comments. There's just no way you can ask an administration with such big issues on its plate to take the time to fight this battle.

Well, if only they'd take the time to fight any battle.

I know what you mean: it's the old "Bringing your employer into disrepute" clause - it doesn't matter whether that's just or unjust, as soon as the tabloids decide to go after an employee on that basis, the employee's basically completely screwed.

But the notion that someone deserves to be fired because they signed a petition calling for an investigation into something that, you know, most countries would agree merited investigation - how come their own government appeared to have done nothing to prevent a terrorist attack, then used that attack as a justification for war?

But hey. Americans trust their government beyond reason, and anyone who demands investigation into apparent crimes committed by the government is obviously not worth fighting for.

/sarcasm

His calling assholes "Republicans" is actually more of a recognisable sin: oh sorry, I got that the wrong way round. I apologise, assholes, that wasn't cool. His calling Republicans assholes obviously brings down the tone of political discourse from a previously extraordinarily high level.

I don't think it's fair to lump Van Jones in with them. It's just qualitatively different.

Yeah, because no one was going to battle over Van Jones.

But we did investigate it. I even have the book

Because the system of doctor Tarr and professor Fether is applied (it's unknown whether Rupert is part of the plot). Nothing else makes sense. Either Beck is indeed insane or he should be awarded an OSCAR for his consistent portrayal (a true method actor).
---
And I wonder, whether Beck simply does not know that the "swords to ploughshares" is from the Bible (even the OT) or deliberately ignores it to spread his commie conspiracy theories (btw, in the former GDR the symbol was seen as dangerously subversive).

But we did investigate it. I even have the book

Yes. And some people weren't at all happy with the 911 Commission's report, and in a free country, they have a right to say they're not happy and say why. Without that then affecting their later job prospects.

But, you know. That's the US for you.

I'm not sure I agree with Jesurgislac's statement. While this is a free country, and I do have protected free speech, just because I can say "Hitler was clearly right and here are X and Y reasons that whites are clearly the master race", does not mean that anyone is obligated to hire me in spite of this later.

While this case is different, in that it is a less obviously objectionable kind of speech, there is seemingly a segment of the population who believe that signing the petition reveals some kind of negative character trait, and they have every right to use Van Jones freely exercised free speech rights against him.

Then again, I'm on a lot of vicodin right now, so I may be wrong.

Zaeron, fair point.

As discussed in a previous thread (Music for unemployment) there are crazy reasons to be dissatisfied with the 911 Commission report, and those crazy reasons range from ("There were no planes! All the buildings were blown up by the US government!" which is clearly nuttiness on a level of "Barack Obama's birth certificate was forged!");

through the slightly less nutty theory that the Bush administration was actively responsible for the attacks on 9/11;

to the perfectly reasonable position (unless you're a loyal Republican) that Bush, Cheney, et al, appear to have been grossly stupid and grossly incompetent, and hardly merited the delicate, kind handling they got from the 911 Commission. Bush and Cheney were allowed to be questioned in private, their answers not recorded for publication, and not under oath.

Van Jones, perhaps figuring he's lost anyway, simply says he doesn't support the statements made by the 911Truth organisation whose petition he signed.

There are loyal Republicans who regard any criticism of Bush as a character flaw. Those loyalists have been allowed to conflate a range of positions from crazy to reasonable as just all "Truther" - and this allows Von, Sebastian, and other ordinarily reasonable Republicans to say "But the Truthers are crazy, ergo Van Jones is crazy!"

This makes no more sense than arguing that the loyalist Republicans have a right to use public criticism of George W. Bush to force people out of their job working for Barack Obama. In a free democracy, criticizing your elected President ought never to be grounds for losing your job unless you actually work for that President - which Van Jones does not.

'How come the news media makes a big flippin' deal out of what a Democrat says but treats rightwinng crazies like they have something normal to say?'

The answer I give to this question is that the reference to right wing crazies is not relevant because none of them (whoever they are) is a prominent presidential advisor (czar). I also think that Jones' record as an avowed communist is more significant in judging him unfit for the post he holds than the 9/11 truther connection and his derogatory description of republicans. He would not likely even make it to a hearing for an appointment requiring Senate confirmation and it is inconceivable that the White House didn't know this. Otherwise, total incompetence is the answer.

The practice of appointing people to high-level advisory positions (czars) had already come under scrutiny and criticism (of course, its mostly partisan but that does not make it invalid) and now it is reasonable for the news media to engage in an examination of the two dozen or so appointments made using this approach.

Someone supporting such inquiry does not a right wing crazy make.

Yet someone supporting an inquiry into 9/11 does a left wing crazy make. Interesting.

The answer I give to this question is that the reference to right wing crazies is not relevant because none of them (whoever they are) is a prominent presidential advisor (czar).

Jim Inhofe. (Who else has claimed that the birthers "have a point"?) Sarah Palin. Rush Limbaugh. Glenn Beck.

and his derogatory description of republicans

Yeah, because look at how Dick Cheney got ostracised and condemned by the Republican party after using derogatory language to a Senator on the floor of the Senate.

and now it is reasonable for the news media to engage in an examination of the two dozen or so appointments made using this approach.

Shame they never thought of doing that when Bush was appointing known terrorists to government positions, hm?

It's outrageous that so many offices remain vacant.

They are vacant because the White House prefers to appoint "czars" that can operate with less scrutiny and with less interference from the legislative branch.

A list of czars is here

I'd appreciate it if zywotkowitz or anyone else identify what position or office should have handled the various areas that would increase scrutiny and permit more legislative input to any of these areas. And how, after any programs or suggestions were promulgated, how they would automatically be guaranteed to avoid scrutiny.

I am entirely with Publius on this one. One of our strongest arguments against the crazies -- who always fire back 'but there are crazies on your side, too' -- is the faqct that we could say, 'Yes, of course we have, but we don't elect or appoint them.'

"Truthers' are no less crazy than birthers, and, whatever his excuse for signing the petition -- and if he 'didn't realize what he was signing' that is an equal condemnation on his judgment.

No, whatever Jones' accomplishments, the Administration could not afford to pull a Bush and 'gather the wagons' around a bad appointment rather than give their opponents a slight -- and momentary -- political advantage.

I'm willing to cut Van Jones some slack on the 9/11 issue, especially given that Truthers have been known to, um, misrepresent their true beliefs in order to amass signatures on their various petitions. That being said, Van Jones has been deeply involved with pseudoscientific New Age garbage, which was not a good sign. The administration's environmental policies need to be based on the best available scientific evidence, and given that we're coming out of eight years where science was subordinate to the 'inspired' 'Word' of 'God', we don't need someone who believes in distance healing, biofields, psychic abilities, and other 'alternate ways of knowing' making decisions on what 'green jobs' the government should be supporting. Good riddance, says I.

A general comment: At a time Democrats should be "on top" and in charge, it is a frustrating time to be a Democrat (or at least a liberal Dem), kind of like it was a frustrating time to be a Democrat during eight years of the Bush Administration.

That seems incongruent.

I keep hearing how Republicans have lost their way, and they do seem to be a crazy lot these days.

But Democrats don't seem to be running things so smoothly now, either.

I think that speaks to leadership.

Which means you have to start at the top with President Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Finally, I am not confident in President Obama's ability to lead on a major and complex issue like health care when he can't even lead on something like this, where Obama has been no better than Bush.

Just as the U.S. Constitution holds that certain truths are self-evident, I'd like to believe that the Democratic Party holds certain truths self-evident as well.

Let's call them no-brainers, such as gays being able to serve openly in the military. (Perhaps other Dems here could offer up other such principles.)

I think if President Obama ignores the party's liberal base long enough and casually enough, eventually it will come back to bite him.

There's nothing remotely crazy about the petition Van Jones signed. The petition said we needed to investigate the possibility the admin allowed 9/11 to happen.

Well, we know the administration knew Al Qaeda was planning something - it's on the public record that Bush got a warning in his daily briefing (and responded dimissively). Likewise it's public that Ashcroft and Rice knew, and I'm sure there were more, lower down at the least.

We know at least some in the administration considered it a significant threat, because Ashcroft stopped flying public planes after he was informed of the threat.

We know the administration did nothing to protect the public. That was in the 9/11 commission too.

If anything, the petition is too mild. Can anybody explain to me how refusing to take any action on a significant threat differs from "letting it happen"? Really, the possibility the petition wants to examine is pretty much proven from the existing record. The question is more of who was making the decision and why - was it gross incompetence (strangely combined with paranoia on Ashcroft's part) or were some actually hoping something would happen?

You know, I am getting pretty sick of this. We don't have a Parliamentary system where the Prime Minister is guaranteed to have a majority for his program. (Gingrich tried to move us in that direction, and we see how that worked out.)

We have just spent eight years under a President who declared he was free to ignore Congress, or 'reinterpret' what they did through 'signing statements' and some of us thought that was grounds for impeachment. Yet we complain if Obama doesn't do the same thing.

We have been suckered by the 'new filibuster' but we are stuck with it, for now.

We praise FDR and LBJ rightly, but if any President used the type of 'horse-trading,' 'patronage deals,' arm-twisting or flat-out blackmail (see Sen. David Walsh) that they did, we'd be up in arms. (And can you imagine what the left blogosphere would have said when they realized that FDR had deliberately accepted an exclusion of agricultural workers from social security that was designed to keep blacks out of the program.)

The current Republican obstructionism is unprecedented, literally. Even during the McCarthy era there was effective bipartisanship even though one paryy was calling the other trqaitors. (I haven't researched it, but you'll certainly find many examples of even McCarthy taking the 'Democratic side' -- and I mean the Progressive side, not the segregationist democrat side.)

And there were always 'moderate Republicans,' and even truly Progressive Republicans (Norris, LaGuardia, LaFollete) to work with the Democrats.

While the press was no less pro-Republican during the Roosevelt Administration (Mr. Murdoch, meet Bertie McCormick and W.R. Hearst), or LBJs than it is now, and the radio was as bad, there were counterweights. People actually treated unions as information centers, and they had an effect, and people actually talked to each other, even liberals.

And yet, when I write a post defending Obama, I expect to get criticized as heavily as a Liberal (which i prefer to Progressive) as I would were I a Republican.

Has Obama made mistakes and misjudgements? Yes, certainly. And he was certainly as surprised by the disappearance of bipartisanship -- which did exist even last Congress -- as any of us.

But will some of you -- the reasonable ones,. not the ones (not really evident here, okay) who were already writing their "Obama has sold us out" speeches before McCain finished his concession please make some serious suggestions as to how Obama can work with the facts above.

And, btw, a few suggestions on how we can actually work towards supporting him, instead of continually attacking him from the left (not 'pulling him that way' but sniping at him) would be very welcome as well.

Prup: I understand your frustration. I just thing Democrats look weak when we constantly blame Republican obstructionists.

Knowing they exist and knowing the GOP moderates of today aren't really moderates -- I am think of Mr. Grassley -- President Obama was foolhardy to expect the same sort of consensus appeal that got him elected would work as a form governing.

Not when the opposition is a party that will take an inch every time you give them a mile.

P.S. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect my President to be a stronger supporter of wildlife.

And, btw, a few suggestions on how we can actually work towards supporting him, instead of continually attacking him from the left (not 'pulling him that way' but sniping at him) would be very welcome as well.

I find this telling. We're "sniping" at him rather than "pulling" him not because of our actions and intentions, but because he's intractable. Given his program, I have no desire to figure out how to "support" him.

But then, I guess I'm just one of those unreasonable ones who started writing an "Obama has sold us out" speech shortly after Hillary finished her concession.

I'm no political operative. But I think Obama, Emanuel, Pelosi and Reid should not have allowed the August recess to come around -- and all of the ugly townhalls -- without having produced the actual bill they intended for Americans to understand and support.

By leaving things so open to different models and different plans, it opened up too many holes for the folks who weren't going to support anything in the first place to drive trucks through and creat red herrings such as death panels.

Again, I blame this on leadership.

Actually, sniping (as opposed to pulling) could mean that one is not interested in moving anyone, merely trying to say 'I told you so'. I observe this not as an attack on anyone, but another way of reading that.

I'm pretty torn on this myself. I really wish that there could be a little butt kicking and name taking, but on the other hand, I do get the inkling of the old Japanese proverb, mature rice bows low, i.e. is making van jones a they shall not pass moment really the best place to dig your trench? Of course, the comments any number of folks have made here about LGBT, Gitmo, transparency are things that I wonder, and worry about. Still, on one hand, it bugs me that he doesn't stick up for him, but on the other hand, I'm not sure the green jobs czar is an esential cog. He might have to be more cautious on these appointments that are for new and essentially ad hoc positions. But I am disturbed.

Shorter GOB @7:13am

"Teh COMMIES! ZOMG!!"

Jeez. Somehow I missed the Magick Time Machine(tm) which took us back to 1959.

Look, I don't know Van Jones from Tom Jones. Had anyone foreseen the foetid swamp of lies that the GOP machine has become, he probably wouldn't/shouldn't have been appointed. But he's gotta' go because he's a commie? Of the top ten concerns, that's about fifteenth.
=========================
And what are all you people doing up and blogging on the last holiday (for some of us) until Thanksgiving?

elfgoldman: Speaking strictly for myself, a student on summer break between quarters, "every day" (until Sept 29) is a holiday for me.

On topic: I'll wait-and-see what Obama says during his Big Damn Speech. A PO may be my line in the sand, simply because I see no other way to keep the insurance companies from selling a lot of crap policies otherwise.

Insurance companies are the enemy more than Big Pharma and the AMA, because they produce absolutely nothing, create absolutely nothing, and treat absolutely no one. The only reason for their existence at all is to provide economies of scale for healthcare by pooling populations. How they became, instead, a cash cow for investors is yet another chapter in the transformation of the US from a society of citizens into a target market for commodifiers. In any case, I see no reason whatsoever why their profit motive should even be "a" consideration, much less "the" consideration in HCR.

"I'm no political operative. But I think Obama, Emanuel, Pelosi and Reid should not have allowed the August recess to come around -- and all of the ugly townhalls -- without having produced the actual bill they intended for Americans to understand and support."

2 out of those 4 people you names are in leadership positions in the executive branch, not Congress. Last time I checked, the separation of powers means that while the President may make helpful suggestions, the job of writing legislation belongs to Congress. It seems to me that Pelosi has done a pretty good job of pushing health care through the House on time, so Reid is the one left holding the hot potato here.

If what you really were trying to say is that "Reid sucks as a Senate Majority Leader", well then I've got your back on that. But then we've known that for years. If the GOP takes back one Senate seat, I hope it is the one in Nevada.

Agreed on Reid, but then there is that copntinuing problem that no Majority Leader has the sort o power an LBJ did in that position. We don't accept the sort of 'horse trading' that was always key to politics. "Okay, vote for the Bill and I'll see that military base, or post office, or cabinet post goes to you." Can you imagine the uproar that would happen in someone reported Reid making such an offer.

(Actually whoever took over for Schumer as head of the DSCC would have the power to do a little punishing of the Blue Dogs -- only it is Bob Menendez, and he is even less likely to weild this power.)

But again, we have our own responsibilities. We have neighbors we can influence -- if we'd deign to start talking ith people who start out opposed and myth-believing. We could show up at town meetings too. I can imagine us putting together a solid piece of argument in a small flyer, including many of the horror stories about our current system that have been all over the net -- but we'd need to have the attitude of a King, retaining our dignity, always remaining polite, even when we were cursed at or even threatened.

And I have always believed print ads were better for politics than tv ads -- which can be muted or fastforwarded past -- as my wife does with all ads. Not in the WaPo or NYT but if you have the money, or can put together a group of friends who do, and live in an area covered by a medium sized paper, but a quarter page ad for a couple of months, and every day change the text, alternating between 'horror stories of the current system' and 'responses to Republican myths.' Don't make it 'boilerplate,' make it graphically and visually attractive, and make the writing interesting, so people will start checking it out to see what's there each day. And even if the paper is Neanderthal, they'll run the ads. (I do not have money to contribute, but if can help with design or writing, I'd be glad to.)

Yes. Vicodin really helps at times like this, which seems to be ALL the time.
" and given that we're coming out of eight years where science was subordinate to the 'inspired' 'Word' of 'God', we don't need someone who believes in distance healing, biofields, psychic abilities, and other 'alternate ways of knowing' making decisions on what 'green jobs' the government should be supporting. Good riddance, says I."

Me, too. My expectations for this bunch were quite low, and they havent come close.
Among the crackpot theories that ARE allowed by Republinuts is all what we've seen catered to in the teabaggers snits, PLUS the world is 5,7, or 8K years old (depending on who you ask) and that Sara Palin is fit to command.
Thinking a crew of invisible people dragged a few tons of "nanothermite" into the WTC and that wasnt an airplane that crashed into the Pentagon is thinking of similar calibre.
None of 'em should hold any sort of power in a sane world.....

Actually, my comments here would have been better in a more direct health-care thread, but mutt very accurately makes the point that Jones muight have other problems and that we don't need this type of quackery on our side -- Tom Harkin and his attempts to get funding for quack psuedo-science is bad enough.

"Just as the U.S. Constitution holds that certain truths are self-evident...",

Bedtime, perhaps I shouldn't be telling you about your country's sacred documents, but not only is that from the Declaration of Independence, but the main things in your Constitution that are "self-evident" would only be self-evident to an 18th century englishman.
Your constitution admirably does what it was intended to do: make it difficult to pass laws within the framework of the 18th century british parliamentary system. You just renamed the House of Commons, House of Representatives; House of Lords, Senate; King, President.

With a senate that is so biased in favour of small states that something like one Wyoming vote equals one Californian vote how can you expect to make big changes quickly.

Many commentors speak as if you have a parliamentary system- you do, 18th century model.

The great strength of the British constitution was that much of it was unwritten so that it could evolve.

I could rant on but you get the idea.

I think Obama is doing well considering the rules of the game and his legislative teammates.
Happy to trade him for our Prime Minister any day.

I was unaware of the existence of Van Jones until I saw this thread, so I don't really have an opinion about his fitness for the "green jobs czar" post. His background seems a little on the wiggy side for somebody in government these days, but I'm not sure if that's a comment on him or on government.

My only comment on the original topic here is that I'm still waiting for Obama to show how his bipartisanship kung-fu is yielding anything useful.

There's the old joke about bringing a knife to gunfight. Obama's not even bringing a knife, he's bringing a handshake.

I don't see this particular effort going anywhere good.

Thank you, Johnny C, that was a self-evident mistake, especially since I just helped my son with a report on Thomas Jefferson last spring.

LeftTurn: Obama could have damn well presented to the Democratic leadership what essentially would have been his version of a health-care bill.

LeftTurn: As Prup alluded to, Bush, whether you agreed with it or not, was very good at strong-arming Congress -- a Democratic Congress.

" Obama could have damn well presented to the Democratic leadership what essentially would have been his version of a health-care bill."

Isn't the problem, if there is one, that Obama attempted to learn the lesson of history, 1993-4 edition. Telling Congress what to do didn't work for Clinton. Therefore give them principles but not the bill.

Perhaps the lesson of history is that learning to fight the last war doesn't work either.

Glenn Beck has some real juice. Public opinion is responsible for Jones' resignation but GB fanned some serious flames, for better or worse.

RB

Actually, I think Glenn Beck is drinking some real juice.

[1] A green jobs czar can't sign on because he questioned the Bush Administration's on 9/11 ... and didn't totally buy an official report with a Bushie as a top player and a panel half Republican, some of the rest conservative Dems.

The fact he has many accomplishments and was supported by various establishment sorts, notwithstanding. This is not a tad McCarthyist how? It also doesn't help get progressive support, does it?

[2] The annoyance was well explained by Jane Hamser in her "veal pen" post on this subject at Firedoglake. It was not helped by targeting someone who spoke out against Republicans and was a true left leaning voice, but again one with establishment credentials. Yeah, those on the left aren't feeling the love.

[3] Why Beck et. al. will not just use this to target someone else is unclear. When the NYT leads the story on the firing by saying it was a "victory" for Republicans and conservatives, not the first time btw, it is not a problem, why?

[4] True enough on the appointment front, but if no line is drawn in the sand, it won't be any better.

And, if a controversial position (rather, the wrong sort) on a nongermane topic is going to make you unqualified, it's going to make it harder to fill positions. Who would want to deal with that ....?

"The more crazy they get, the more I think Obama benefits long-term."

In the long-term we'll all be dead.

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