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A Czar Bites the Dust:

The Obama Administration has appointed more czars than Romanov dynasty ever had. Now, however, one of those czars has been forced to resign. "Green jobs" czar Van Jones has resigned as a result of the controversy that arose after the discovery that he signed a 9/11 "Truther" petition back in 2004. Jones' dubious excuse that he had not read the petition carefully before signing and that it didn't reflect his real views failed to mollify the critics, especially given other inflammatory statements he has made.

Jones' ridiculous beliefs probably aren't typical of those of the administration's many other czars. However, the fact that a person like him could be appointed to an important czar position does highlight one of the weaknesses of the czar system: by circumventing the normal appointment and confirmation process, it makes it more likely that a poorly qualified person or one with ridiculous policy views will be put in charge of important issues. Unfortunately, not all such dubious czars can be as easily exposed as Jones was. And that is just one of several flaws of the czar system.

As I noted in previous posts, Obama is not the first president to use "czars." Several Republican presidents also employed them. However, that does not justify the present administration's massive expansion of this dubious practice. We can only hope that the Jones incident will convince the president to cut back on it.

ArthurKirkland:
Van Jones' departure apparently leaves a spot available for a more qualified or less ridiculous public servant.

Does anyone know whether Monica Goodling is available? Michael D. Brown? John Yoo? Bradley Schlozman? Any of the politically connected, ideologically homogenous twenty-somethings selected to be the czars of Iraq?

If you believe that Jones' ridiculous beliefs "probably aren't typical of those of the administration's many other czars," Prof. Somin, how probable do you believe it to be?
9.6.2009 9:10pm
Hadur:
I enjoy the fact that this blog's discussion of "czars" is colored (both delightfully and insightfully) by the fact that so many of the bloggers have either fled Russia during their lifetime or descend from people who fled Russia.
9.6.2009 9:17pm
SuperSkeptic (mail):
Is it that "czars" are "Inferior Officers," despite their leadership roles, which permits them not to be confirmed? If so, how can this be remedied, unless, by recharacterization by the "nine-headed caesar"?
9.6.2009 9:26pm
DG:
{If you believe that Jones' ridiculous beliefs "probably aren't typical of those of the administration's many other czars," Prof. Somin, how probable do you believe it to be?}

Considering the large number of czars, the vast differences in their levels of public exposure, and their differing levels of qualifications, there's probably at least one more flake like Van Jones who got through the vetting process, probably as the result of a buddy putting his finger on the scales.

Arthur, you see fixated on the Bush administration. Thats the past. Yes, there were incompetents abounding. This is supposed to be better, not the same.
9.6.2009 9:33pm
Borealis (mail):
The Executive Branch gets away with the unconfirmed czar positions because the czars do not have significant decision authority themselves. Their power is access to the President. Real Cabinet officers essentially have to sign the documents executing the decisions of the czars because they have the backing of the President.
9.6.2009 9:34pm
Angus:
Most of the so-called Czar positions are confirmed by the Senate. Some have been around for decades before being termed "Czars." None of them refer to themselves as czars, nor do they think of themselves as such. The Czar explosion is largely in the minds of journalists either too partisan or too lazy.
9.6.2009 9:47pm
neurodoc:
Poor vetting by the Obama administration because they didn't discover Jones' "problematic" parts before appointing him and were surprised when it all came to public attention? Or, those responsible for the vetting were aware of those same "problematic" parts but didn't see them as disqualifying, since not all that remarkable or objectionable in their view? Might a less notorious Bill Ayers-type be appointed to something if not previously outed, as Ayers was during the course of the campaign? Any others of the Jones sort who have been appointed to consequential positions, but not publicly spotlighted yet?
9.6.2009 9:49pm
Shawninphx (mail):
This Czar "uproar" is completely out of hand. Where were any of you, who are now complaining about how many czar's there are, during the last administration? Do you not remember there were 36 different czar positions (46 individuals who filled those positions). Does no one remember the "Reading czar"?

Seriously, get a grip people.
9.6.2009 9:54pm
Angus:
Cass Sunstein is next up on the target list for Glenn Beck and his followers. The call went out to dig up any dirt possible on Sunstein. Glenn Beck's Next Target
9.6.2009 9:56pm
methodact:
Czars? Interlopers. Color of law. Yoo committed war crimes. Obama "Czars" commits usurpation, with other Causes of Action:

1) Compassing
2) Læsæ Majestatis
3) Defalcation
4) Barratry
6) Misprision
9.6.2009 10:08pm
Tritium (mail):
That's interesting. I am not familiar with this petition, but am I to understand that there is something improper about a person believing that full disclosure of any information found as a result of any investigation by the Federal Government be disclosed?

Perhaps my understanding of the petition lacks knowledge of the groups intent, but the only reason I can see the Obama administration as having on the subject, is if they intended to engage in activities they preferred the public not to be aware of. I do not believe the Constitution allows the President any secrecy, nor can any law or Judicial grant give a power to the president that is not in the Constitution. If they try, and we accept, whether through ignorance or silence, then it defeats the purpose of the Constitution and everything we hold dear.

If there needs to be secrets, then there is no need for freedom.
9.6.2009 10:17pm
one of many:
I caught the story on the evening news and am wondering why Jones had to resign. So he didn't like Republicans and signed a petition asking for an investigation of what the government knew about 9/11, big deal? It's like he insulted half the country or was conspiracy theorist.
9.6.2009 10:21pm
J. Aldridge:
Sunstein argues the Second Amendment was primarily about hostility toward standing armies and not a private right to own a gun at home. No wonder the right wants dirt of him.
9.6.2009 10:31pm
Mark N. (www):

Sunstein argues the Second Amendment was primarily about hostility toward standing armies and not a private right to own a gun at home.

Do we actually want to enforce a climate of intellectual conformity so strict that proposing a coherent, if ultimately incorrect, reading of the 2nd amendment ought to disqualify him to serve in a position within the Office of Management and Budget? It seems that if nobody's ever allowed to argue any positions outside a narrow consensus, we'll never actually get anywhere, since if anything, the cause of truth is best served by people with incorrect positions feeling safe enough to articulate them fully, so they may be debated and ultimately refuted--- rather than just holding them quietly.
9.6.2009 10:41pm
AUINSC (mail):
I think this practice should end now...because we've now found one nasty cockroach in the soup...chances are there are a lot more in the kitchen. A self-proclaimed communist/Mumia supporting/race baiting/truther was allowed into the highest echelons of power in this country with a $60 Billion discretionary budget...with a job description that nobody, including those in the administration, can even define. Maybe it's a one-off, but it doesn't seem likely, given that there is no process in place (by the White House's own admission) to vet these Czars.
9.6.2009 10:47pm
Recovering Law Grad:
The focus on czars is just another piece of the broader picture the nuts are trying to paint: Obama is an agent of some sort of anti-American ideology; he is using anti-democratic means to accomplish ends that people don't want; he is unlike normal Americans; he is using "czars" who are unaccountable and can change law by fiat; etc.

This is 100% pure bull and we have a major political party out there fomenting this nonsense.
9.6.2009 10:49pm
AUINSC (mail):

The focus on czars is just another piece of the broader picture the nuts are trying to paint:



Actually, that was the excuse the Obama administration itself used when explaining how Van Jones came got the job:

From the WH press release:


A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter, said Sunday that Jones’s past was not studied as intensively as other advisers because of his relatively low rank.

Jones’s position, for example, did not require Senate confirmation. So he avoided the kind of vetting Cabinet officials were subjected to…

“He was not as thoroughly vetted as other administration officials,” the official said. “It’s fair to say there were unknowns.”


I guess the Obama administration if full of "nuts" then.
9.6.2009 10:54pm
AUINSC (mail):
Sorry, the previous didn't come from a press release...from the Washington Post...same thing.

9.6.2009 10:56pm
Ben P:

an important czar position


what exactly was his position again?

He was a member of the Council on Envionmental Quality and has a formal title of "Special Advisor"

The CEQ

"reports annually to the President on the state of the environment; oversees federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process;"


So it files reports and publishes guidelines for other agencies on how to .....file more reports?

Jone's "special" responsibilities include

Jones's responsibility is to work with various government agencies to make sure the $30 billion from the stimulus earmarked for green-jobs funding attached to it gets "doled out appropriately."


So his job is to advise the government agencies that actually do the work, (and are already nominally at the direction of the president) on how to do their work?


Ok, so maybe I'll buy that he's per se important because he was appointed by the president and presumably gets to see the president every once in a while. But from all apperances this guys job was nothing more than a minor, additional and completely useless layer of bureaucracy writing reports on how to file more reports that no one ever reads in the first place.


I'm sure his opinions reflect badly on him himself, and maybe you can say they reflect bad on obama for associating with him or negligently failing to vet his appointees.

But I struggle to get incensed about the radical opinions of a generally pointless bureaucrat.
9.6.2009 11:02pm
AUINSC (mail):

But I struggle to get incensed about the radical opinions of a generally pointless bureaucrat.


He was actually the 'Green Jobs' Czar. By the way...how many pointless bureaucrats have even a $30 billion budget and direct access to the President?

Here's a cookie for your effort though.
9.6.2009 11:13pm
Leroy Washington (mail):
"Circumventing" is neocon code for "black." You are a racist bigot.
9.6.2009 11:14pm
Ben P:

He was actually the 'Green Jobs' Czar.


What and what exactly was the "green jobs czar" except a title made up by someone in the media?

and that budget was all allocated to other agencies, so he's just a layer on top of that.

But thank you for making my point exactly that this is almost a substance free issue.
9.6.2009 11:15pm
Ben P:

"Circumventing" is neocon code for "black." You are a racist bigot.


Go troll somewhere else.
9.6.2009 11:21pm
AUINSC (mail):
What and what exactly was the "green jobs czar" except a title made up by someone in the media?

and that budget was all allocated to other agencies, so he's just a layer on top of that.

But thank you for making my point exactly that this is almost a substance free issue.


Well, if by "someone in the media" you mean Obama and Jarrett, then yeah...

And, he did control that budget...though you are suggesting otherwise, it doesn't change the fact.

And, no, I didn't help you make your point...I rebutted it...but you are welcome anyway!
9.6.2009 11:29pm
bluecollarguy:
The problem here isn't this particular Friend of Barack, the problem is the MSM's utter refusal to report on or "vet" any of the Friends of Barack.

Presidents for some time have appointed czars, czarinas and commissars without the advice and consent of the Senate but we have always been able to depend on an inquisitive MSM to do that vetting for the senate.

That no longer obtains.

And yet Van Jones, the crass truther and Friend of Mumia has been forced to resign with nary a word from the New York Times, the WAPO, ABC, NBC or CBS, etc.

The times they are a changing.
9.6.2009 11:33pm
Owen H. (mail):
Just touching on the whole "czars" thing. It seems to me that one of the goals, no matter who used the term or appointed someone something, the goal was to create a very public face for the task, instead of a faceless bureaucracy.
9.6.2009 11:40pm
methodact:
The station of Czar is ultra vires. It is neither available to the president nor his minions.
9.6.2009 11:45pm
Ben P:


Well, if by "someone in the media" you mean Obama and Jarrett, then yeah...


the press release anouncing his appointment doesn't call him that, and neither does the whitehouse coverage of it. If it's obama calling him that from the beginning where did it start?


And, he did control that budget...though you are suggesting otherwise, it doesn't change the fact.


Possibly, but the source of the statement I quoted doesn't sound that way at all.


It's Jones' responsibility to work within all the government agencies to make sure it gets doled out appropriately. It's Jones' task to convince the American people that this is a good idea. . It's for Jones to sculpt that messaging operation.


You can keep asserting "he had a budget" but the budget was the budgets of the EPA, and the interior department and national science foundation and whoever else might actually distributing money. Even being chairitable with the amount of power he had his job was to convey the presidents wishes to those in those other executive branch agencies. He simply didn't have his own budget, the CEQ didn't have that money directly and neither did he by virtue of any other position.
9.6.2009 11:47pm
karrde (mail) (www):
How much is this a careless use of the title "czar" for people in special, Presidentially-appointed positions?

How well are such positions defined?

What is the difference between asking for a full airing of documents and insinuating that political enemies had orchestrated the murder of thousands for nefarious purposes? Where is the line between a demand for full revelation, insinuation that such revelations as have been seen are incomplete/flawed, and assertion that the Truth Has Been Hidden From the Public?

I assume that whatever knowledge the government has, it was the result of some obscure, specially-appointed commission that did its work in the dead of night and published nothing of import.

If this is not the case, why would Van Horn (or anyone else) agitate for the full release of all information?

More importantly, how did the members of Obama administration who vetted Van Jones fail to see the variance between his views and the views of the general public on that matter?

If either of these views deviates from reality, it is important to know which one (and why).

This whole situation speaks of a large intractable mess. That mess is composed of special appointees with poorly-understood powers, a press that seems incapable of researching (or unwilling to research) the background of such appointees, political decision-makers who don't understand the difference between dissent and conspiracy-theory, and a public that has lost the ability to trust the appointees, the press, the political decision-makers, and possibly the President.
9.6.2009 11:50pm
AUINSC (mail):

the press release anouncing his appointment doesn't call him that, and neither does the whitehouse coverage of it. If it's obama calling him that from the beginning where did it start?


Sorry, you're right...they don't use the word Czar in official announcements...got me:


WASHINGTON, DC -- White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley announced today that Van Jones will serve as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at CEQ.



Apparently it's 'Special Advisor' instead of 'Czar'...which is totally different...yeah.

As far as your 'quotes'..."doled out appropriately."

That's control...he has control...what if he thinks something isn't being "doled out appropriately"? Is it just a suggestion you think?
9.7.2009 12:01am
Brian G (mail) (www):
The smear campaign against Van Jones has Karl Rove's name written all over it. Labeling him a "Communist," a charge that the radical right has tried to place on Mr. Obama for a long time, just shows how low the right wing will go in order to smear anyone that isn't a Jesus freak and refuses to bow to the whims of Israel. I can just see at the next confirmation hearing for an Obama appointee the question from a right-wing ideologue, "are you know or were you ever a member of the Communist Party?"
9.7.2009 12:13am
Shawninphx (mail):
AUINSC,

As I stated above - where were you when the last administration had the Reading Czar or the Birth Control Czar? Now, this is not to say I think one bad decision warrants another. However, I can see a Green Jobs Czar (perhaps because my Sister is a solar engineer for Intel and I somewhat get what the position is meant to do).

I guess I'm not clear why I'm supposed to be up in arms about Van Jones. Because he was a 'Czar'? Because he signed a 9/11 petition? Because he called Republicans a**holes? I've tried to keep up with why I should be so enraged, but it seems like Glenn Beck is on crack -- each new day is another reason I'm supposed to call for Van Jones' head.
9.7.2009 12:17am
Ben P:

As far as your 'quotes'..."doled out appropriately."

That's control...he has control...what if he thinks something isn't being "doled out appropriately"? Is it just a suggestion you think?


Suggestion is too weak, but budget implies administrative control, which is something he almost certainly doesn't have. If you read the quote carefully the "doling" is done by the agencies that were given the funds under the congressional act.

Even interpreting his power broadly, that part of his job would be something Equivalent to writing a memo to (X executive branch agency) saying 'you were appropriated Y dollars under "Z act," for environmental technology development the president has decided your priorities for this spending are (Green techs 1, 2 and 3.)

There's some control, but only in that both agencies are under executive control, but the CEQ is not administrative, it's a policy body, and it's job isn't the same as the bodies that actually do the work of distributing funds.
9.7.2009 12:17am
AUINSC (mail):
There's some control, but only in that both agencies are under executive control, but the CEQ is not administrative, it's a policy body, and it's job isn't the same as the bodies that actually do the work of distributing funds.

How do you derive this from the quote you cited?
9.7.2009 12:21am
Ben P:

Even interpreting his power broadly, that part of his job would be something Equivalent to writing a memo to (X executive branch agency) saying 'you were appropriated Y dollars under "Z act," for environmental technology development the president has decided your priorities for this spending are (Green techs 1, 2 and 3.)


Again wishing for edits.

What's more likely, in line with the rest of the CEQ is that his power doesn't even flow laterally like I described, but is advisory to the president, then the president makes those decisions.

In effect, his job is more likely to produce "Briefing paper 1" that tells the president how he ought to spend "green jobs money" and the president than prepares the orders to the agencies that prepare the budets (for the presidents approval) for that money.
9.7.2009 12:22am
Factchecker:

Jones' dubious excuse that he had not read the petition carefully before signing and that it didn't reflect his real views failed to mollify the critics....


Actually, signing things that you haven't read is pretty good practice for a government job.
9.7.2009 12:22am
Phili (mail):
Angus:

Cass Sunstein is next up on the target list for Glenn Beck and his followers. The call went out to dig up any dirt possible on Sunstein. Glenn Beck's Next Target


Wrong forum.
9.7.2009 12:25am
AUINSC (mail):

Suggestion is too weak, but budget implies administrative control, which is something he almost certainly doesn't have.


I don't think so...once the budget is passed by congress, control goes to the executive branch. They may dispose of it as they see fit.

This administration has already admitted it can't even account for TARP funds...doubtful they can account for what Van Jones may have spent.
9.7.2009 12:27am
Phili (mail):
Recovering Law Grad:
The focus on czars is just another piece of the broader picture the nuts are trying to paint: Obama is an agent of some sort of anti-American ideology; he is using anti-democratic means to accomplish ends that people don't want; he is unlike normal Americans; he is using "czars" who are unaccountable and can change law by fiat; etc.

Well, 3 out of 4 isn't bad. The 4th we'll know in time.
9.7.2009 12:29am
Phili (mail):
Brian G (mail) (www):
The smear campaign against Van Jones has Karl Rove's name written all over it. Labeling him a "Communist," a charge that the radical right has tried to place on Mr. Obama for a long time, just shows how low the right wing will go in order to smear anyone that isn't a Jesus freak and refuses to bow to the whims of Israel. I can just see at the next confirmation hearing for an Obama appointee the question from a right-wing ideologue, "are you know or were you ever a member of the Communist Party?"

Jones's radicalism is self-avowed.
9.7.2009 12:34am
DG:
This guy was a marketing executive, nothing more. Well, also clearly a crackpot. But a relatively powerless one. Glad he's gone, though - the Obama administration should be glad too, because eventually he would have said something crazier yet, and really made the administration look bad.

Brian G: you sound like a hard left version of Glen Beck. Try inserting some fake tears and you'll be ready for the big time. That was not, by the way, a compliment.
9.7.2009 12:35am
Ben P:

How do you derive this from the quote you cited?


1. He's a member of the CEQ, which is not an administrative body.

2. As for the specific quote from the Slate piece, which is just a quote from the reporter, not directly from a government agency.


Jones is the switchboard operator for Obama's grand vision of the American economy; connecting the phone lines between all the federal agencies invested in a green economy. The $787 billion stimulus Congress authorized in February had at least $30 billion of green-jobs funding attached to it. It's Jones' responsibility to work within all the government agencies to make sure it gets doled out appropriately. Obama wants a cap-and-trade policy that will eventually force American industry to develop new green technologies that will lead to new green jobs. It's Jones' task to convince the American people that this is a good idea. The administration will have to get employees of dirty-energy companies—companies Jones calls the "pro-polluter status quo"—to believe they'll have jobs in a green economy, too. It's for Jones to sculpt that messaging operation.



"working within" those agencies implies to me that he's advisory, not administrative. His job is to coordinate, not direct.

To put it a different way, Suppose the EPA got $10 million under the act, the Department of Energy gets $10 million, and the National Science foundation gets $10 million all "earmarked" for "green jobs development' or whatever some senator decided to put in the bill.

Each of those agencies will at some point prepare a budget describing how they will spend that money. Obama through the executive branch has some control over that budget, but clearly doesn't have time to get involved in the minutiae.

So what Obama might typically do is appoint someone to head each of those three agencies whose judgment he trusts and let them come up with the specifics. All presidents have done this.

But suppose the president wants a uniform policy on this topic, and he isn't sure that the guy heading the DoE might think something completely different about green jobs from the guy heading the EPA (Clean coal for example, many of those even in favor of pro-environmental policies disagree about the extent this should be used).

So he needs someone to

a. Actually figure out what the comprehensive policy is (because I'm reasonably sure Obama isn't an environmental policy pro)

b. Convey that policy to the relevant administrative people.

That person was Van Jones.

He didn't require confirmation because he's not actually in charge of anything.
9.7.2009 12:38am
AUINSC (mail):
Shawninphx,

I don't even know where to start on that, dude. I guess at the beginning:


As I stated above - where were you when the last administration had the Reading Czar or the Birth Control Czar? Now, this is not to say I think one bad decision warrants another. However, I can see a Green Jobs Czar (perhaps because my Sister is a solar engineer for Intel and I somewhat get what the position is meant to do).


I guess it's not an issue until a self professed communist/truther magically winds up in the job and the current administration can't even explain how that happened except to say "guess we didn't do a very good job of vetting him, eh?"

BTW, that strongly implies they think there was a problem with the guy too...but, they just didn't catch it.

Because..and this gets to your next point:

I guess I'm not clear why I'm supposed to be up in arms about Van Jones. Because he was a 'Czar'? Because he signed a 9/11 petition? Because he called Republicans a**holes?


Obama apparantly did have a problem with it...and if you think this guy just resigned without a nudge...then you think Obama can no more deny Reverend Wright than he can deny the black community or himself.
9.7.2009 12:48am
AUINSC (mail):
1. He's a member of the CEQ, which is not an administrative body.

You are simply asserting that...he's an executive official...he has whatever powers Obama says he has.

He didn't require confirmation because he's not actually in charge of anything.

"working within" those agencies implies to me that he's advisory, not administrative. His job is to coordinate, not direct.

See my answer above...still applies.
9.7.2009 12:52am
James Gibson (mail):
As AUINSC has noted, there are people out there who have actual degrees in alternative energy and environmental protection. Van Jones had no technical or scientific education. His education was in Law, which qualifies him more to blog on this site then to talk about green energy and the control and distribution of at least 30 billion in federal funds for the creation of green energy jobs and or green energy plants.

Besides, its more then 30 billion; there is other funding for clean coal and or carbon sequestration that he also had a say on.

Also, Mark N.

since if anything, the cause of truth is best served by people with incorrect positions feeling safe enough to articulate them fully, so they may be debated and ultimately refuted.


The reality is there are many people who when confronted with the truth still will not except it and act in an intelligent manner. Having such a person in a position where they can both suppress the truth and fund their delusions with Federal dollars is not intelligent, its blind stupidity. Its best for all involved, including President Barrack Obama, that only the best people be in such positions to either advise or create policy.
9.7.2009 1:26am
Angus:
Wrong forum.

Phili,
Doing some reading of this blog would be a good idea before commenting. My note about Cass Sunstein being the next target of a smear campaign is very much on topic here given that Sunstein has been an occasional guest blogger at VC.

Of course, your other posts demonstrate that your lack of knowledge isn't limited to just this blog.
9.7.2009 1:29am
kunkmiester:
A number of the other "czars" have a variety of papers, speeches, and other works that indicate that Jones is just the vanguard of lunacy. Population reduction/control, giving animals standing at law, etc. are all there, and well documented. Too many people close their eyes and sing "la la la, wonderland is real."

The problem with "conservatives" is that there's two kinds, real ones, and republicans. Glen has been a real conservative, long before Obama. Only a few people on the right criticized Bush, and he does admit he wasn't up with it early, but woke up a lot earlier than others. A number of fakes are criticizing Obama for doing things they praised Bush for doing. Make sure you know which one a person is before slamming them--some don't need it.

I'm sure a dozen people here know enough to find in Marx everything Obama is doing. It can be proven that many of these policies and policy-makers are socialist/Marxist. Unless you can prove that they got their ideas from some radically different philosophy, they're socialist/Marxist.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Even after the plastic surgery, a DNA test will prove it's a duck, no matter how much you try to call it a swan. The left has been trying to call socialism "liberalism" or "progressivism" for decades, but you can still go back to those original thinkers and find that Obama and his ilk are peddling the same thing under a different name, and we hated it then, and we should hate it now.
9.7.2009 2:01am
cheap supra shoes (mail) (www):
This is a great piece. Very thought provoking. I like the sort of ending that leaves it opn to personal input. Makes it work for just about everyone I think. Nicely done! I’ll subscribe.
9.7.2009 2:16am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Nancy Palosi says Van Jones is one of the most innovative and strategic thinkers of our time. Look and listen here. The Democrat Party is now America's Socialist party.
9.7.2009 2:25am
Phili (mail):
Wrong forum.


Phili,
Doing some reading of this blog would be a good idea before commenting. My note about Cass Sunstein being the next target of a smear campaign is very much on topic here given that Sunstein has been an occasional guest blogger at VC.

Of course, your other posts demonstrate that your lack of knowledge isn't limited to just this blog.


Neither Sunstein or Van Jones have been the target of smear campaigns. You are on the wrong forum and only wish to bring up the likes of Glenn Beck because, besides it being the level of political discourse you inhabit, you are unable to deal with conservative argument not dealt by Beck, Hannity, etc.
9.7.2009 2:28am
BGates:
Where were any of you, who are now complaining about how many czar's there are, during the last administration?

I was locked in a secret prison because I discovered the clause of the Patriot Act that Karl Rove was going to use to cancel the 2008 election and declare martial law.

Brian G, read around a little. I think you want to move on (so to speak) from "how dare anyone suggest anything so completely unconscionable as a belief in Communism", to "why can't you small-minded, fearful little people tolerate someone with an interest in an important political-economic theory like Communism".

Now, this is not to say I think one bad decision warrants another.

Of course not. It is to say that you're too hopelessly partisan to whisper (or quietly type) a word against Obama without prefacing it by claiming Bush did the same and worse.

budget implies administrative control, which is something he almost certainly doesn't have.

Not now, he doesn't.
9.7.2009 3:00am
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Bringing up facts (e.g.,Jones having organized and headed a revolutionary organization in Oakland, Jones's signing a "truther" letter, this year's public denunciation members of the political party he opposes as ass***es) seems to be considered "smearing" for some of the commenters here.

Apparently, President Obama and his advisors did not share that view of the matter. If this were nothing more than a "smear", Jones would still be in his job in the Administration, especially since he had no responsibility.
9.7.2009 3:29am
eyesay:
A. Zarkov, you wrote (A) "Nancy Palosi [sic] says Van Jones is one of the most innovative and strategic thinkers of our time; (B) The Democrat Party is now America's Socialist party. Please show how you you got from A to B.
9.7.2009 4:04am
eyesay:
Jim Rhoads wrote "Bringing up facts [Emphasis in original] (e.g.,Jones having organized and headed a revolutionary organization in Oakland,...."

That an organization is "revolutionary" is opinion, not fact, so Jim's argument lacks foundation.

Calling an organization "revolutionary" is also intended to scare mainstream Americans, but, after all, Bill Gates founded a revolutionary organization in Redmond, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded a revolutionary organization in Cupertino, and Thomas Edison founded a revolutionary organization in Menlo Park. Maybe founding a revolutionary organization isn't such a bad thing after all.
9.7.2009 4:14am
eyesay:
DG wrote, "This guy was a marketing executive, nothing more. Well, also clearly a crackpot."

Well, from the viewpoint of a non-Christian, the idea that some guy could die a painful death so that all present and future humans could go to heaven is pretty crackpot. From the viewpoint of a non-Jew, the idea that some entity with an unutterable name forbids you to wear clothing made of linen and wool fibers, or requires you to remove a protective part of your son's genitalia, is pretty crackpot. From the viewpoint of a non-Muslim, the idea that some guy ascended to heaven on the back of a horse is pretty crackpot. From the viewpoint of a non-Catholic, the idea that one guy chosen by a bunch of humans who call themselves "Cardinals" has a special ability to know the will of the deity is pretty crackpot.

But we welcome political leaders and public servants who are Christian, who are Jewish, who are Muslim, and who are Catholic. In fact, as a society, we are suspicious of anyone who does not adhere to some religion or another, even though for any given religion, most Americans are not adherents of it and would regard at least one idea of that religion to be kind of crackpot, especially if they studied the teachings of that religion.

So please explain to me what is the problem with harboring the notion that maybe we don't know everything about what happened on September 11, 2001, including the possibility that maybe someone in the Bush administration had a role that we don't know about? Crackpot it may be, but it's ultimately no more crackpot than ideas embedded in religions, and being an adherent of some religion is virtually a sine qua non for election to public office in the United States. (Pete Stark (D-CA) is the only person elected to federal office who openly admits not believing in god.)
9.7.2009 4:39am
A. Zarkov (mail):
eyesay:

"Please show how you you got from A to B."

Van Jones is pretty clear about where he stands. Listen to the videos of him explaining his positions. By his own admission, he's an avowed socialist. Now we have Nancy Pelosi giving him an unqualified recommendation. While Obama tends to use code words more than Van Jones, it's pretty clear that he's also a socialist. We can argue over whether Obama and Pelosi are Fabian as opposed to Marxian socialists, but they are socialists none the less. The Democrats now resemble the British Labour Party-- essentially a center-left European party. To be sure there more radial parties both in Britain and the Continent. For example the Socialist Labour Party in Britain, and Parti de gauche in France. I would place Van Jones in either of these two. He's clearly not center left.

The US has basically a center-right population that voted for a center-left candidate without realizing that's what he is. Now over the last several months Americans are becoming aware what Obama is really like and that's why his approval numbers are dropping.
9.7.2009 5:27am
PersonFromPorlock:
Brian G: you missed "swiftboating." How could you miss "swiftboating?"
9.7.2009 5:31am
Federal Dog:
"there's probably at least one more flake like Van Jones"


But...but...he went to Yale!!!!
9.7.2009 7:40am
Steven Zoraster (mail):

Not yet discussed here: Did Van Jones have any special qualifications for his job? Was he a known expert at "green jobs"? Or the Federal budget process? Are there past indications of his being able to come up to speed quickly in either of these job requirements?

Steven Zoraster
9.7.2009 7:43am
Angus:
Zarkov,
Van Jones has been praised also by Meg Whitman, Republican candidate for Governor of California. Guess that makes the Republican party the Socialist Party of California.

Phili,
You are either dead wrong or delight in smear campaigns so much that you won't call it one. Conservative sites have made it no secret that they intend to go through every Obama official and attack each one methodically using anything they can. For example, the early attack on Sunstein relies on a distortion of his views on organ donation. It now has become: CASS SUNSTEIN WANTS TO STEAL YOUR ORGANS!!1!
Example One
Example Two
Example Three

There are dozens more from righty blogs, all on the same day, September 4.Note how ALL of those discussions started the day after Beck tweeted: FIND ALL YOU CAN ON CASS SUNSTEIN
Beck Link - Click at own risk of catching the Nutiness
9.7.2009 7:47am
jim (mail):
Perhaps it's time for Obama to begin looking at something other than skin color when he makes appointments!
9.7.2009 7:48am
Angus:
Zoraster:
2008 - Time Magazine Environmental Hero
2008 - Elle Magazine Green Award
2008 - Global Green USA "Community Environmental Leadership"
2008 - NY Times Bestselling book Green Collar Economy

So, it's not like the guy was just picked randomly off the street
9.7.2009 7:53am
Fub:
A. Zarkov wrote at 9.7.2009 5:27am:
By his own admission, he's an avowed socialist.
That alone qualifies him to be czar of the Department of Redundundancy Department.
9.7.2009 7:57am
AntonK (mail):
From Andrew Breitbart at the Washington Times:
Now that White House “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones has resigned, what’s next?

Inevitably, the American mainstream media – ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, et al – must be held to account for sitting on the sidelines as this major story kept building without them, went viral on YouTube, and then became so large that a key appointee of President Obama was forced to step down.

But with their decision to ignore the Jones story, they may have actually done Mr. Obama far more harm than good: Who vetted this guy? How did he get past the FBI? What did he say, and how did he answer the infamous seven-page questionnaire that all Obama appointees were required to fill out? Inquiring Freedom of Information Act minds want to know.

For most people in this country, the resignation was the first they had heard of Van Jones. For this sin of journalistic omission, there’s institutional media blame. Bias is too tame a word for the utter shamelessness on display: Only Republican scandals – real and imagined – matter.

And it’s not just those the Democratic-Media Complex dub as “mobs” or “tea baggers” that are taking notice. Diminishing audience and evaporating subscribership reflect widespread consumer dissatisfaction. Eventually, the money will run out. . . . All eyes are on the media. We are judging them by the standard they taught us during Watergate: “The cover-up is worse than the crime.”
9.7.2009 8:54am
SG:
My note about Cass Sunstein being the next target of a smear campaign

You insinuate that this would be problematic, but why would you take issue with it? After all, "Public figures invite more scrutiny and have less expectation of privacy when they make themselves into public figures by their own actions."

You went on at great length defending the smear campaign launched against Joe The Plumber. Said it was justified by him entering the public sphere. Surely people who take appointments to public positions invite even greater scrutiny?

Is there some form of blog estoppel? There's no intellectually honest way you can begin to protest against a smear campaign against a public person, unless your underlying principle is simply that it's justifiable to smear people on the right, but not people on the left.

Well, I suppose you could call that a principle...
9.7.2009 9:23am
Bill Harshaw (mail) (www):
Did anyone catch the CSpan play of Jones speaking to a class at School Without Walls (DC school)? I caught part of it--a good performance on his personal history and on green jobs. Based on that, I'd guess Ben P is partially wrong--Jones was probably hired mostly as a salesman, not for any ability to worry about which agency should spend what on what project.

As for "czar"--Paul Light has talked about the proliferation of titles at upper levels of government. IMHO, calling someone a "czar" is just soft soap, an ego-building exercise, whether the label is applied by one's boss or by the media. (Something similar to calling someone the: "John M. Olin Fellow..."--it's fluff, a way to build egos (both of Mr. Olin and the incumbent fellow) without dipping into the wallet.

The Post today has a piece on what DC residents are paid. Note that US Senators get about $175K, the police chiefs in the area and the school chiefs get about $200K. No word on what the area lawyers and lobbyists get, but much more than any White House official.
9.7.2009 9:54am
ArthurKirkland:
A lot of anger out there on the right. Curiously, it seems to be directed not at the people and ideology that broke the world and weakened our country when right-wingers ruled the roost, but instead at the people trying to clean up the mess.
9.7.2009 9:57am
ArthurKirkland:
A lot of anger out there on the right. Curiously, it seems to be directed not at the people and ideology that broke the world and weakened our country when right-wingers ruled the roost, but instead at the people trying to clean up the mess.
9.7.2009 9:57am
Angus:
You went on at great length defending the smear campaign launched against Joe The Plumber. Said it was justified by him entering the public sphere. Surely people who take appointments to public positions invite even greater scrutiny?
Criticism is fine. Absolutely. However, the people putting together this campaign are not really interested in Sunstein per se, but in how they can use Sunstein to destroy Obama by twisting Sunstein's words until they no longer match reality. Deliberately distorting someone's writings and beliefs in an attempt to undermine effective governance of the country? A-OK in your book, I suppose.
9.7.2009 10:12am
Al (mail):
Jim Rhoads wrote "Bringing up facts [Emphasis in original] (e.g.,Jones having organized and headed a revolutionary organization in Oakland,...."

That an organization is "revolutionary" is opinion, not fact, so Jim's argument lacks foundation.

Calling an organization "revolutionary" is also intended to scare mainstream Americans


Ummm...Jones' organization was named Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement. But, I know, it's a vicious smear to accurately quote Obama's friends and advisors, or to keep bring up pesky facts that media would rather ignore.
9.7.2009 10:14am
Al (mail):
Deliberately distorting someone's writings and beliefs in an attempt to undermine effective governance of the country? A-OK in your book, I suppose.

Agreed, we had enough of that in the last 8 years.

So, how did Beck or anyone else deliberately distort Jones' writings or beliefs?
9.7.2009 10:20am
Angus:
So, how did Beck or anyone else deliberately distort Jones' writings or beliefs?
Van Jones deserved to lose his job. No question. My statement was about the person Glenn Beck has targeted next, because let there be no doubt that this is the beginning of an organized campaign to "get" people at all costs. The early smears coming out in the effort against Sunstein are untrue.
9.7.2009 10:24am
Dave N (mail):
ArthurKirkland,

You are starting to sound like a troll.
9.7.2009 10:29am
Ben P:

You are simply asserting that...he's an executive official...he has whatever powers Obama says he has.



But where's your evidence that he has all this power except that the media started calling him the "green jobs czar? Apparently they even went to pains to deny it.

An email he sent out to reporters after they first started describing him as a "czar"


This has resulted in everyone from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal pushing for clarification from Jones, who just an hour ago sent out a mass email to describe his new role:

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.

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"?

He also explained that he would not be handing out "big piles of Recovery Act cash." Darn!



An interview he did is full of quotes that imply he doesn't have that kind of job.


E&E: Do you consider yourself Obama's "green-jobs czar," as some have dubbed you?

Jones: No, I'm the green-jobs handyman. I'm there to serve. I'm there to help as a leader in the field of green jobs, which is a new field. I'm happy to come and serve and be helpful, but there's no such thing as a green-jobs "czar."
...
E&E: You've advocated "greening the ghetto" in the past; how much of the $787 billion economic stimulus will go toward greening inner cities, and where will the money go?

Jones: HUD has somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion to do energy-efficiency retrofits and weatherization. I know [HUD] Secretary [Shaun] Donovan is going to be passionate about getting that money spent well. But I'm not in a position now to comment on all of the details, the particulars of how the various agencies are planning to spend the money.



Or going back to the slate piece linked above, which again, the reporter likes paraphrasing, which makes things difficult but,


He sees his role as being a Gladwell-ian connector, making sure that somebody in labor knows about somebody in energy and that he's happy to serve as a go-between.
...But then, just as I got back from D.C. the next day, I had an e-mail waiting for me. It was Jones, who had summoned a way to frame his job. "I'm a community organizer inside the federal family," he wrote. Compared with my belabored switchboard metaphor, it was an inspiring way to put it.




I suppose it is possible that Obama intended to completely restructure the lines of authority within the federal government, but I just don't see much support for that.
9.7.2009 10:31am
therut (mail):
The guy is a self avowed Communist and that is apparently O:K with the left of the Democratice party and all excuses are made. I think their underwear is showing and they are trying to cover it back up. NOthing new here except he said what is the truth OUTLOUD and on film in a very DIRECT manner. Now please a "truther" also. He did not speak in CODE enough and got caught. But apparently there are those who will try and take up for a COMMUNIST. Watch out you white environmentalists YOU are sending your filth into minority communities !!!!!!!!!!!! Good Grief. Wonder if he believes in blue-eyed devils like me?????
9.7.2009 10:36am
Al (mail):
Van Jones deserved to lose his job. No question. My statement was about the person Glenn Beck has targeted next, because let there be no doubt that this is the beginning of an organized campaign to "get" people at all costs. The early smears coming out in the effort against Sunstein are untrue.

You may be right (I don't know much about Sunstein). However, when the media utterly refuses to scrutinize Obama's advisors and, when it has no other choice, sugarcoats their beliefs and misstates the reasons for opposition to them, as it did in the Jones case, it does nothing but strengthen and legitimize the Glenn Beck's of the world.
9.7.2009 10:36am
Ben P:

I'd guess Ben P is partially wrong--Jones was probably hired mostly as a salesman, not for any ability to worry about which agency should spend what on what project.



That's sort of what I'm arguing, except I'm just taking it for a given that he has those sort of marketing duties.

My overall point is just that there's really not any evidence that he had any sort of serious power within the government, and so I found it rather difficult to get incensed about his crazy opinions.

As far as I'm concerned it's just another example of Obama's well known tendency to surround himself with advisors whom he sees as having good opinions on a particular topic regardless of what other crazy opinions they might hold. Ayers is a pretty influential thinker in education theory, but also happens to be a die hard 60's radical. Cass Sunstein is an equally respected thinker when we're talking about Administrative law, but apparently has some crazy ideas regarding animal rights.
9.7.2009 10:41am
Bad (mail) (www):
I'm sad to see this ridiculous hysteria over a made-up word capture one of the bloggers I like. There is no meaning to the word, no consistency in the positions. "Czars" are just any random person in the executive branch that specialize in a particular area.

Our public debate has become so sub-rational and divorced from reality that I don't even know how we can get it back.
9.7.2009 10:47am
Angus:
Agreed, we had enough of that in the last 8 years.
At least most of the criticism of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, etc. was based on what they were doing in office rather than what they were doing before.
9.7.2009 10:55am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm fine with Cass Sunstein where he is. Until he got appointed to some meaningless "diversity" post, I was worried he'd get the nod for SCOTUS.

As for "smearing" him, reading verbatim from "The Second Bill of Rights" is enough for me to know the guy's dangerous.
9.7.2009 10:58am
ArthurKirkland:

Our public debate has become so sub-rational and divorced from reality that I don't even know how we can get it back.


When one party stops relying on anti-science, anti-elite, anti-education, anti-reason supporters, the public debate will improve.

I give it about five more years.
9.7.2009 11:05am
neurodoc:
Dave N: ArthurKirkland, You are starting to sound like a troll.
If we didn't know better, we might think you a newcomer here.
9.7.2009 11:13am
Federal Dog:
"A lot of anger out there on the right."


At least they're not biting fingers off people who disagree with them.

Talk about anger.
9.7.2009 11:13am
AntonK (mail):

"A lot of anger out there ...."
Indeed, and most of it seems to reside with the still Very Angry Left. By anger, I mean the "bite your fingers off" or "beat you with a truncheon" "Leftist Thug" style of anger.
9.7.2009 11:48am
eyesay:
Al wrote, "Jones' organization was named Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement," to defend the earlier claim by Jim Rhoads, "Bringing up facts (e.g., Jones having organized and headed a revolutionary organization in Oakland,...."

Al's defense of Jim fails, because Van Jones neither organized nor headed STORM. His work at STORM was on the organization's police brutality campaign. Paraphrasing Patrick Henry, if opposing police brutality be revolutionary, make the most of it.
9.7.2009 11:54am
bluecollarguy:
"Much of the time, the United States seems to have embraced a confused and pernicious form of individualism. This approach endorses rights of private property and freedom of contract, and respects political liberty, but claims to distrust “government intervention” and insists that people must fend for themselves. This form of so-called individualism is incoherent, a tangle of confusions."-- Cass R. Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and
Why We Need it More Than Ever, Basic Books, New York, 2004, p. 3

:-} Papa Cass is definitely gonna draw scrutiny form the Glen Beck's of the world. And deservedly so I might add.
9.7.2009 12:03pm
eyesay:
A. Zarkov wrote "Van Jones is pretty clear about where he stands.... By his own admission, he's an avowed socialist. Now we have Nancy Pelosi giving him an unqualified recommendation. While Obama tends to use code words more than Van Jones, it's pretty clear that he's also a socialist. We can argue over whether Obama and Pelosi are Fabian as opposed to Marxian socialists, but they are socialists none the less."

Well, actually, we can't argue whether any of them are Marxist, because they aren't calling for the abolition of private property, or generally calling for state ownership of the means of production, or for saying anything like, "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." To a real socialist, Jones, Obama and Pelosi are capitalist through and through.

(Note: I used the word "generally" above because I don't want anybody to say, "What about General Motors." That was done not with the intent to move toward state ownership, but with the intent to save a large corporation and give it a second chance to compete in the marketplace.)
9.7.2009 12:14pm
rc:
Ben P: "Ayers is a pretty influential thinker in education theory, but also happens to be a die hard 60's radical. Cass Sunstein is an equally respected thinker when we're talking about Administrative law, but apparently has some crazy ideas regarding animal rights."

I love how lefties are allowed to be crazy in compartments. But as a conversative, you make just one joke about a coke and a pubic hair, and you're no longer fit to be a Supreme Court Justice.

And I don't think 'Green Czar' is a small post, either. Listen to Obama's speeches, his stimulus and energy policy, and you'll get the feeling like the "Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation" has influence over the direction of tubs and tubs of cold hard pork.

'Diverse green enterprise and innovation?' Half the democrats out there just made a mess in their pants. A more appropriate title (former title) for Van Jones would be 'pork czar.'
9.7.2009 12:15pm
eyesay:
A. Zarkov wrote, "The Democrats now resemble the British Labour Party-- essentially a center-left European party." I have news for you. European center-right parties, such as Christian Democratic Union in Germany, are to the left of the Democratic party in the United States. For example, European center-right parties support their own country's existing federal health care system, including in the United Kingdom, where the Conservative party supports the continuation of the British health care system, wherein doctors work for the government, which, by the way, is a lot closer to socialized medicine than anything the Democrats are proposing in the United States.
9.7.2009 12:23pm
bbbeard (mail):
Fascinating comment thread.

I think the "czar" mechanism for creating unaccountable, cross-departmental executives was not necessarily a bad idea from its inception, but it has clearly grown to unmanageable proportions. I gather that the growth of this mechanism has been evolutionary, and that it dates back at least to the Nixon administration. So the proliferation of the czars is not Obama's fault, but it may be time for Congress to rein in the practice.

More interesting, I think, is the reaction of the commenters here to Van-Under-The-Bus. It seems that the usual polarization is accentuated, with some readers completely clueless about the controversy surrounding Jones, and others who have read enough blog posts and watched enough YouTube videos to know that the story is too long and complicated to recite to someone who is too dumb to figure it out themselves. Some commenters seem to think the fact that Jones is a Communist is a right-wing smear, ditto that he is a vicious racist, ditto the fact that he thinks "Greening" is tactic to start the overthrow of the capitalist system, and on and on (I'm too lazy, too, to summarize all the hooks in the Jones story) -- and they don't understand that Jones stands indicted by his own recorded words on all these subjects. They bury their heads in the sand and think it's all a product of the fevered right-wing imagination.

So this raises the question of the extent to which the MSM is or should be responsible for the poor state of awareness of the populace, even the relatively educated and plugged-in audience of the VC. I mean, if you can figure out how to get to volokh.com, a click-rich environment, and you still don't know what's going on, to what extent should we hold poor Katie Couric responsible for your ignorance? And yet, it's clear that even here some people don't believe stories are significant unless they read them in the NYTimes or hear them from Katie. Amazing.

BBB
9.7.2009 12:38pm
eyesay:
rc wrote, "But as a conversative, you make just one joke about a coke and a pubic hair, and you're no longer fit to be a Supreme Court Justice." This is a complete distortion of history. Clarence Thomas did a lot more than make one joke about a coke and a pubic hair. His sexual harassment of Anita Hill was repeated, ongoing, and graphic. Anita Hill testified, "He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes.... On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess." For example, he compared himself to Long Dong Silver (startling photograph). Anita Hill was not the only one. Angela Wright also had evidence of sexual harassment, but she didn't testify at the confirmation hearing.

And the U.S. Senate, which had 57 Democrats at the time, voted that Clarence Thomas was fit to be a Supreme Court Justice.
9.7.2009 12:45pm
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
Jones probably didn't believe what the petition he signed said - he signed what he signed for political reasons. That should be obvious. John Bachelor of the radio show, doesn't find him that kind of pperson at all.

This doesn't indicate what Jones really believes any more than Arack Obama's friends and associates in Chicago indicated what he really thought. The problem here is what is ertong with the politics or the intellectual climate in certain places that signing such things is how you make friends.

He resigned because Obama and company doesn't want anyone loking too much into the spread anf mainstreaming in places of fringe politics. You can say one thing: in such places there is no real politics that could ever challenge incumbents.
9.7.2009 1:05pm
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
The Second Amendment was about allowing an armed unit to form, and not about indiviodual rights to a gun, because what would be removed first would be the right to assemble together a lot of armed men and because the idea of not allowing individuals to manufacture and own arms was almost inconceiveable. They were not mass produced, or capable of being mass pRoduced until after Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793 - no interchangeable parts.
9.7.2009 1:09pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
@ AntonK

From Andrew Breitbart at the Washington Times:

Now that White House “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones has resigned, what’s next?

Inevitably, the American mainstream media – ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, et al – must be held to account for sitting on the sidelines as this major story kept building without them, went viral on YouTube, and then became so large that a key appointee of President Obama was forced to step down.

But with their decision to ignore the Jones story, they may have actually done Mr. Obama far more harm than good: Who vetted this guy? How did he get past the FBI? What did he say, and how did he answer the infamous seven-page questionnaire that all Obama appointees were required to fill out? Inquiring Freedom of Information Act minds want to know.

For most people in this country, the resignation was the first they had heard of Van Jones. For this sin of journalistic omission, there’s institutional media blame. Bias is too tame a word for the utter shamelessness on display: Only Republican scandals – real and imagined – matter.

And it’s not just those the Democratic-Media Complex dub as “mobs” or “tea baggers” that are taking notice. Diminishing audience and evaporating subscribership reflect widespread consumer dissatisfaction. Eventually, the money will run out. . . . All eyes are on the media. We are judging them by the standard they taught us during Watergate: “The cover-up is worse than the crime.”



This is only the most notorious of the posts blaming the media for not catching this situation earlier. Where have all of you been over the past few years? The buyouts, layoffs, downsizings, etc., have left the media, mainstream and otherwise, short of people. Investigative reporting takes up a lot of resources, and the Post, the Times, and the WSJ just do not have the capacity that they once had to do that in addition to the spot reporting that they are stuck with.

Even if they had the reporting staff, where would they put the stuff? Papers have gotten smaller because of the recession and the Internet.

This is the wave of the future. You can bitch and bitch about the MSM, but they do not have the ability anymore to do the job that they did even 10 years ago.

At some point, the papers may completely disappear. Care to offer a suggestion for what to do then?
9.7.2009 1:12pm
kunkmiester:
Why is is so blinking hard to find left wing sources for this? I was really not wanting to link to something someone could claim was biased, but this will have to do:
/cn/communistmanifestortenplanks12sep06.shtml

The other problem with a page like that is they have a bit of controversy about the things they claim as fulfilment of the planks. Our income tax system is obvious, but others not so much. When you score it like a quiz though, we're well on our way.

Notice that this also screws over a lot of repiblican stuff. One of the reasons Obama won is because many conservatives were frustrated over the repubs not being conservative.
9.7.2009 1:26pm
Bob Tufts (mail):
I am more concerned that Jones, as a member of the Colorof Change.org, was in contact with that group after Glenn Beck started going after him, and may have used his government position to try to silence a member of the media by being part of an attempt to drive off his advertisers.

A government official trying to use their position to intimidate and silence a member (however coarse) of the press? Let's FOIA Jones. contacts with ColorofChange to see if this happened.

Will media cover this possible First Amendment threat?
9.7.2009 1:31pm
rc:
eyesay: "This is a complete distortion of history."

I've been known to apply a thick layer of hyperbole. (there is also a more 'organic' term for the thick layer I sometimes spread)

eyesay: "Clarence Thomas did a lot more than make one joke about a coke and a pubic hair."

And we know this because the press covered it thoroughly, constantly, breathlessly. Granted, a supreme court justice deserves more scrutiny than a 'czar'...

But Van Jones was fired and the NY Times still won't say why. Apparently, it's 'due to repeated accusations by right wing bloggers.' Was opposition to Clarence Thomas best and fully described as 'repeated accusations by left-leaning feminists and disgruntled employees?'

I don't defend Clarence Thomas. What I care about is the media blackout concerning the firing of Van Jones from a medium-powerful, non-confirmed exectutive office.
9.7.2009 1:31pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'it makes it more likely that a poorly qualified person or one with ridiculous policy views will be put in charge of important issues.'

Yeah, a man like James Watt could never got confirmed by the Senate.
9.7.2009 1:34pm
Al (mail):
Al's defense of Jim fails, because Van Jones neither organized nor headed STORM. His work at STORM was on the organization's police brutality campaign.

Nice attempt to change the subject. You claimed that it was simply Jim's opinion that STORM was "revolutionary." At least according to STORM itself, you were wrong.

Your move-the-goalposts claim that Jones himself did not specifically organize or head STORM is equally unavailing. Even if true, Jones and his organization, the Ella Baker Center, were intimately involved in the development and leadership of STORM. David Duke did not organize, nor do I think that he ever specifically headed, the KKK. So, according to your standard, it would presumably be wrong to associate his beliefs with those of the KKK, right?
9.7.2009 1:37pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
eyesay:

"Well, actually, we can't argue whether any of them are Marxist, because they aren't calling for the abolition of private property, or generally calling for state ownership of the means of production, or for saying anything like, "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." To a real socialist, Jones, Obama and Pelosi are capitalist through and through."

You sound like you expect Marxism to appear in a classic textbook form. It never does. Lenin had to severely modify Marxian model to fit Russia. But then he abandoned it altogether with "NEP." Later Stalin reinstated Lenin's original state capitalism work around. Mao came up his is own incoherent bastardized version. Tito went in another direction and allowed a form of free enterprise for small business.

In the 1960s we got the "New Left" mostly from the Marcuse, a Frankfurt School transplant. Now we have a new twist with the proletariat getting replaced by an amalgamation of racial minorities, the lumpenproletariat and radical students. He also replaced the puritanism of the old Marxists with a free love manifesto so the students could get laid after the demonstration. Shorter version-- Marxism without the working class! Today we see with activists like Van Jones a kind of Marcuse lite where the white lumpenproletariat gets eliminated, and racial minorities gain center stage. Of course Jones really has no coherent set of Marxist principles to operate under-- he's not much more than a grab bag collection of anti-capitalist, anti-white, and anti-American slogans. He would get laughed out of the room even by Marcuse.

You are not going to see an explicit call for across-the -board nationalization of US industry. But listen to him carefully. He wants to destroy jobs in the fossil fuel industry and replace them with "green jobs." That is green jobs that go to black, Hispanics and other Third World migrants. He wants income transference from whites to blacks. He has many allies. Professor Robert Reich at UCB told Congress that stimulus package money should not go to unemployed white males. He did not mince words, he came right out and said that.

Americans are beginning to see that the above agenda is essentially Obama's agenda too.
9.7.2009 1:39pm
rc:
troll_dc2: "This is only the most notorious of the posts blaming the media for not catching this situation earlier. .... The buyouts, layoffs, downsizings, etc., have left the media, mainstream and otherwise, short of people."

First things first: Love your screenname. -fist bump- But what happened to troll_dc1?

Next thing: So where do internet bloggers come up with the resources to report the news? You claim that funded corporate media organizations can't afford it?

This story has been investigated, broken, then resulted in the firing of a midlevel Obama appointee (all for free)... and the media still won't report the story. Don't blame it on budget cuts..
9.7.2009 1:46pm
BT:
"We can only hope that the Jones incident will convince the president to cut back on it."


Well our president did not take your advise.



Obama names union adviser as manufacturing tsar

Alexandra Frean in New York


The White House has named Ron Bloom, a top Treasury Department official and a senior member of President Obama's auto industry taskforce, to head a drive to revitalize America's hard-hit manufacturing sector.

Mr Bloom, a former United Steelworkers union adviser and an ex-investment banker, is to work across a number of government departments including Commerce, Treasury, Energy and Labor to develop new initiatives affecting the manufacturing sector, the White House said in a statement.

His appointment follows news last week that the US manufacturing sector had expanded for the first time in 18 months and had the highest monthly output in two years. The Institute of Supply Management index of the factory sector jumped to 52.9 per cent from 48.9 per cent in July. Any number above 50 indicates growth.

"It's a sign that we're on the right track to economic recovery, but that we still have a long way to go," the President said.

Related Links
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US jobless soars as companies squeeze workers
Obama taskforce faces Congress over car industry rescue
"We must do more to harness the power of American ingenuity and productivity so that we can put people back to work and unleash our full economic potential."

Mr Bloom, who helped guide General Motors and Chrysler through bankruptcy as part of the government's rescue of the auto industry, said that a strong manufacturing sector was a cornerstone of American competitiveness.

"As we meet the challenges of globalization and technological change, it is vital to have a concerted effort across the administration to support an innovative, vibrant manufacturing sector," he said.

Prior to joining the Obama administration, Mr Bloom, who will retain his role on the auto industry task force, was a special assistant to the president of the United Steelworkers Union, where his responsibilities included the union's collective bargaining programme.

Before that he was one of the founding partners of Keilin and Bloom, an investment banking firm, where he was involved in transactions on behalf of the Steelworkers, the Auto Workers, the Teamsters, the Air Line Pilots Association and other unions.
9.7.2009 1:51pm
BT:
Someday I am going to learn how to link.
9.7.2009 1:54pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Jones' ridiculous beliefs probably aren't typical of those of the administration's many other czars.


oh, I'm sure...
9.7.2009 1:55pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I have news for you. European center-right parties, such as Christian Democratic Union in Germany, are to the left of the Democratic party in the United States."

The CDU in Germany is center and not center-right. Moreover, I would not place them to the left of the US Democrats in their current form. They are less inclined to high taxes. For example Germany up until this year Germany had no capital gains tax. Of course they are going to retain entrenched social welfare programs such as a national health system. That's the way socialism works. It advances in increments and like a ratchet, it can't backwards unit it goes bankrupt. As Thatcher said, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend]."
9.7.2009 1:57pm
SG:
However, the people putting together this campaign are not really interested in Sunstein per se, but in how they can use Sunstein to destroy Obama by twisting Sunstein's words until they no longer match reality. Deliberately distorting someone's writings and beliefs in an attempt to undermine effective governance of the country? A-OK in your book, I suppose.

Likewise, the people who smeared Joe The Plumber had no interest in him per se either, but only in how defending Obama and you where A-OK with that. You have no standing to even begin to complain about the treatment of a Democratic figure. You've sown the wind and now reap the whirlwind.

Clearly consistency is not your strong suit. Do you possess any intellectual integrity or do you just stop thinking when you determine which party has the (D) after their name?

I have no knowledge of what is being said about Sunstein. I would be dismayed (although unfortunately not surprised) if he were being smeared, but given the claims that Van Jones words were being "twisted" by being quoted in context, I'll need more than the word of hack that the treatment of Sunstein crosses the line.
9.7.2009 2:00pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):
9.7.2009 2:01pm
DangerMouse:
At some point, the papers may completely disappear. Care to offer a suggestion for what to do then?

Celebrate? And then gun for NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC?

Once the papers go bankrupt, I'm going to walk down to 42nd street and dance on the grave of the NYT.
9.7.2009 2:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"At some point, the papers may completely disappear. Care to offer a suggestion for what to do then?"

That won't happen so long as the Democrats control Congress. If necessary the big dailies like the New York Times and the Washington Post will simply get a bail out. How could they let their boosters fail? Unfortunately some people simply can't believe something until they see it in the NYT. It defines their reality. I have gotten people mad at me for criticizing the Times. They take it personally.
9.7.2009 2:13pm
ArthurKirkland:
It appears ranting about a minor-leaguer like Van Jones, struggling to use the term "socialist" properly, and preparing to capsize the media are more fun for right-wingers than apologizing for eight years of catastrophic failure measured in blood, misery, dollars, deficits, Constitutional rights, national interest and morality.

We probably should have seen it coming.
9.7.2009 2:17pm
DangerMouse:
Arthur,

I love the sweet taste of your bitter tears. Cry some more, please.
9.7.2009 2:22pm
SG:
It appears ranting about a minor-leaguer like Van Jones, struggling to use the term "socialist" properly, and preparing to capsize the media are more fun for right-wingers than apologizing for eight years of catastrophic failure measured in blood, misery, dollars, deficits, Constitutional rights, national interest and morality.

And it appears that continuing to rant about now out-of-power right-wingers is more fun for left-wingers than holding their own left-wing leadership accountable for doubling down on that catastrophic failure in blood, misery (surge in Afghanistan), dollars, deficits (Obama's best-case projected deficit is doubtle greater than Bush's worst deficit) Constitutional rights (FISA reform, Gitmo still open, rendition still occurring), national interest (talk of the dollar losing reserve currency status) and morality (release of Lockerbie bomber, predator strikes in Pakistan).

I get people disliking Bush policies - I disliked many of them too. I don't get how this dislike translates into support for the current administration. On foreign policy, it's been largely a change in style not substance. Domestically, it makes Bush look like an piker when it comes to dollars and deficits. And despite a majority in the house, a super-majority in the Senate and control of the White House, you're probably not even going to get a public option. Yet you're still ranting about "right-wingers". I think your concern really should be focused elsewhere.
9.7.2009 2:40pm
ArthurKirkland:
Tears?

I shed no tears for Mr. Jones. His parting of ways with the Obama administration strikes me as a mildly positive development.
9.7.2009 2:44pm
Vader:

We can only hope that the Jones incident will convince the president to cut back on it.


I doubt anything short of a SCOTUS ruling that the "czars" are senior officials and thus must be confirmed by the Senate is going to keep this or any future President from cutting back on such an expedient practice.
9.7.2009 2:49pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
@ rc:

troll_dc2: "This is only the most notorious of the posts blaming the media for not catching this situation earlier. .... The buyouts, layoffs, downsizings, etc., have left the media, mainstream and otherwise, short of people."

First things first: Love your screenname. -fist bump- But what happened to troll_dc1?

Next thing: So where do internet bloggers come up with the resources to report the news? You claim that funded corporate media organizations can't afford it?

This story has been investigated, broken, then resulted in the firing of a midlevel Obama appointee (all for free)... and the media still won't report the story. Don't blame it on budget cuts..



1. There was never a troll_dc1. Instead, first there was simply troll (on the Washington Caps message board). Then there was troll_dc (on the Pittsburgh Penguins message board). troll_dc2 came about when I had to relog onto the Pens board after I left my employment (which had the only computer that I was using) and could not remember my password. I have had it for so long that I have come to believe that I "own" it.

I think I explained on The VC to Joseph Slater some time ago how the whole troll usage began, but in any event we have more important things to discuss here.

2. I have no idea how bloggers come up with what they do. Maybe they have friends, maybe they get tips, or maybe they just have the time (and perhaps the political incentive) to google the hell out of everyone who is, or has the potential to be, in the government. This is a question that might better be addressed to Howard Kurtz, the media writer for The Post.

3. You state that the media won't report the story, but The Post did so today. See here.
9.7.2009 2:53pm
ArthurKirkland:

On foreign policy, it's been largely a change in style not substance.


Blaming your new physician for the pain of chemotherapy prescribed for the cancer his predecessor caused?

When Obama invades the wrong country, lets bin Laden roam free for seven years, turns the Department of Justice over to Regent and Liberty, sends every federal department an envoy from Jesusland and starts torturing people, I'll be the first to excoriate him as the worst president since . . . well, never mind, I'll exoriate him nonetheless. Until then, I'm rooting for comprehensive health care reform and welcoming most of the changes he has introduced to our government.
9.7.2009 2:55pm
gab:
Should there be a "DangerMouse" law akin to Godwin's Law? except that we make it "as soon as DM shows up, the thread is over?"
9.7.2009 3:06pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
@ me:


2. I have no idea how bloggers come up with what they do. Maybe they have friends, maybe they get tips, or maybe they just have the time (and perhaps the political incentive) to google the hell out of everyone who is, or has the potential to be, in the government. This is a question that might better be addressed to Howard Kurtz, the media writer for The Post.


Further thought has occurred. Perhaps in the days of shrunken newsholes and staff, the role of a newspaper has become that of verifier or rejector of something making the Internet rounds, at least with respect to domestic political and social would-be news.

Somebody starts something, and when there is enough traffic, the media take a look to see whether there is anything there. If they publish something about the matter, they give it some sort of imprimatur, unless they debunk it. But there is a lot out there, and they thus are necessarily selective.
9.7.2009 3:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
ArthurKirkland:

I understand your dislike of the prior administration. George Bush was pretty bad for everybody. Sometimes he seemed more like the president of Mexico than the US. But to dwell on it, and use it as a framework to interpret current events does not make for a compelling argument. If reaching back can provide some insight then by all means do it. But we need to go forward and I think you will garner more respect for your ideas going that route. Please accept this as a sincere criticism.
9.7.2009 3:21pm
rc:
troll_dc2:"You state that the media won't report the story, but The Post did so today. See here."

Indeed they did report the story. Ten days late.

But their headline and perspective is better than the NYT, whose story was more akin to 'Right wing bloviating brings down another public servant.'

Truth be told, after reading the story, I have to agree with Arthur- this guy is no big shakes in the administration. He's not even a czar, he's a vice-czar, or somesuch. How do you say 'vide' in russian?

Maybe if the NYT spent less time framing the story as a right-wing attack, and instead reported the facts, this would have been a smaller deal.

But instead, the bloggers are the reporters, the papers are the news aggrigators, and I'm left scratching my head, wondering why the media ar no longer interested in investigating executive malpractice...
9.7.2009 3:21pm
tmitsss (mail):
Has anyone else noted that the Appointment of a "Czar" means the problem will never be solved. Drug Czar, Energy Czar, Terrorism Czar. When has a Czar proved to be actually useful?

Appointing a Czar is an admission of failure.

Green Jobs is an oxymoron.
9.7.2009 3:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
tmitsss:

"Has anyone else noted that the Appointment of a "Czar" means the problem will never be solved."

Good insight. Keep it up.
9.7.2009 3:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Here is the questionnaire that Van Jones should have had to fill out.

Question 12

Speeches: Please identify all speeches you have given. If available please provide the text or recordings of each such speech.

He had a lot speeches to respond to this question.

Question 46:

Have any members of your family or close social or business associates ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation?

Jones himself was arrested.

I wonder if anyone has made a FOIA request to get the form Jones filled out. If he filled anything out.
9.7.2009 3:53pm
eyesay:
A. Zarkov wrote, "Of course they [The Christian Democratic Union party of Germany] are going to retain entrenched social welfare programs such as a national health system. That's the way socialism works. It advances in increments and like a ratchet, it can't backwards unit it goes bankrupt. As Thatcher said, 'The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money [to spend].'"

This is wrong on so many levels. Germany's national health coverage is not socialism, it is social justice. It dates back to 1883, and it can't go backwards because everybody, whether liberal, conservative, or moderate, wants it to continue. And it's fully financed and not bankrupting anybody. On the contrary, it's America, not Germany, that's getting bankrupted, since we're paying about 60 percent more for care that's no better than theirs, even for those who are fortunate enough to have health coverage.

And by the way, real state socialism has been collapsing since the 1980s, with China, Cuba, and North Korea being pretty much the only remaining vestiges, and China looks pretty capitalist at this point. The Soviet Union and iron curtain countries gave up socialism more by popular demand than because of financial bankruptcy.
9.7.2009 3:55pm
eyesay:
tmitsss wrote "Green Jobs is an oxymoron." Please explain why the existence of industries to produce electricity using solar, tidal, or wind is oxymoronic. Please explain why the existence of industries to recycle used-up or waste products into useful new products is oxymoronic. Please explain why the existence of industries that work to produce products with less waste and less pollution is oxymoronic.
9.7.2009 4:00pm
eyesay:
A. Zarkov wrote, "Here is the questionnaire that Van Jones should have had to fill out. . . . Have any members of your family or close social or business associates ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation?" Well, George W. Bush was arrested for drunk driving, which is more than a minor traffic violation, and Laura Bush as a teenager drove through a stop sign, killing another teenager. This didn't stop George from getting elected governor of Texas, and some people believe he was also elected president of the United States.
9.7.2009 4:04pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
@ rc:

But instead, the bloggers are the reporters, the papers are the news aggrigators, and I'm left scratching my head, wondering why the media ar no longer interested in investigating executive malpractice...


What makes you think that the media are not interested any longer in executive malpractice? Do you have any idea of the magnitude of the downsizings that have occurred? The national news section of The Post is a joke a lot of the time. There seem to be almost no reporters left!
9.7.2009 4:15pm
eyesay:
A. Zarkov wrote, "Of course Jones really has no coherent set of Marxist principles to operate under-- he's not much more than a grab bag collection of anti-capitalist, anti-white, and anti-American slogans." Two replies: First, like any human being, he's a lot more than a grab bag collection of anything. He has a credible resume and wrote a book. Whatever he may have said in the past, he also works extensively with corporations and with whites. I won't dignify the preposterous allegation that he's anti-American.

"But listen to him carefully. He wants to destroy jobs in the fossil fuel industry and replace them with 'green jobs.'"

Surely you're not saying that fossil fuels will last forever. Of course we have to scale back our use of fossil fuels through greater energy efficiency and through use of renewable resources. This is obvious, because fossil fuels are finite. It is also good for America, because a significant part of our trade deficit is because of importing fossil fuel, and lot of our fossil fuels come from regimes that are decidedly non-libertarian in their treatment of women, among other things. Therefore, Van Jones is right that we should, over time, replace jobs in the fossil fuel industry with 'green jobs.'
9.7.2009 4:20pm
neurodoc:
ArthurKirkland, apropos your interest in how presidents pursue foreign policy, you might be interested to know that Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post, hardly a right-winger or regular Obama critic, calls Obama's "direct diplomacy" approach to foreign policy simply "naive."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2009/09/06/AR2009090601186.html
9.7.2009 4:35pm
/:
not socialism, it is social justice

Explain this. I haven't laughed all week.
9.7.2009 4:45pm
David McCourt (mail):
"Jones' dubious excuse that he had not read the petition carefully before signing and that it didn't reflect his real views failed to mollify the critics...."

Perhaps because Jones's excuse was a transparent lie. Two years before he signed the 2004 Truther petition, Jones was on the organizing committee of a Bay area group of wackos peddling the same Truther lunacy (see below). So he made the same mistake twice?

San Francisco March To
Demand Congressional
Inquiry Of 911
From Carol Brouillet
cbrouillet@igc.org
650-857-0927
1-11-2

Tuesday, January 8th, 2002, at noon at Justin Herman Plaza, people will gather to march up Market Street to the office of Senator Feinstein (at Post St.) where a delegation will meet with the Senator's staff to raise their concerns over the "War on Terrorism." They will demand that the Senate launch an inquiry or hearings of the events of 9-11, and the U.S. government's international and domestic response.
The delegation will demand that these questions (and others) be raised and answered publicly-

Who created, trained and funded the Al Qaeda Network? What is the relationship between Bin Laden, his family and the Bush family and the Carlyle Group? Why were no fighter planes dispatched to intercept the four hijacked planes on September 11h , in violation of standard procedures? Who actually was in control of the "hijacked planes"? What is the U.S. relationship with Pakistan, and especially with its intelligence service, the ISI? Why did the then director of the ISI have $100,000 transferred to the man whom the FBI now calls the ringleader of the Sept. 11th attacks, and why does the U.S. not pursue this question? Did the CIA have foreknowledge of the attack, who tried to profit with put options on American, United, Merrill Lynch stock just before the attack? Why were the FBI told to not investigate the Bin Laden family links in the US? If the CIA met with Bin Laden last July, why didn't they try to arrest him? If the US is serious about ridding the world of terrorism, why do we continue to fund and train terrorists? Why are we bombing Afghanistan, when none of the alleged bombers actually came from there, could there be another reason for our presence in that region, like oil? Is the war against Afghanistan illegal? What are Bush's, Cheney's and Rice's connections to the oil industry? What are Bush's and Cheney's connections to the drug industry? Why is the evidence being destroyed when an investigation of the World Trade Center collapse is needed? Why seal Presidential records? Why intimidate professors from speaking out against this war? Why has the U.S. military been establishing working relations with the Uzbek military for several years? What other military involvement does the U.S. have in the Central Asian Republics? Why are U.S. military personnel or material assistance going to the Philippines, Indonesia, and Colombia as well? What relationship did various U.S. agencies and their contractors have with the Taliban, either directly or through Pakistani or Saudi agencies or contractors? Why does the U.S. overlook Pakistani drug lords who refine and export half to two-thirds of the world,s heroin despite its avowed determination to rid the world of drugs? Why has the Dept. of Justice stopped its investigation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International despite its admitted heavy involvement in laundering drug money?

Organizing Committee (organizations listed for identification purposes only):
Jan Adams, former associate director, Applied Research Center
Linda Burnham, executive director, Women of Color Resource Center
Max Elbaum, former managing editor, CrossRoads magazine
Adam Gold, STORM
Rebecca Gordon, Seminarians for Peace
Felicia Gustin, co-director, Speak Out
Van Jones, national executive director, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Elizabeth (Betita) Martinez, director, Institute for MultiRacial Justice
Steve Williams, executive director, POWER
Bob Wing, former executive editor, ColorLines magazine
Initial SF Bay Area Endorsers (organizations listed for identification
purposes only). National endorsers list in formation:
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee-San Francisco Chapter
Frances Beal, national secretary, Black Radical Congress
Robert Chlala, Students for Justice in Palestine
Jung-hee Choi, Women of Color Resource Center
Malkia Cyril, We Interrupt This Message
Gary Delgado, executive director, Applied Research Center
Antonio Diaz, executive director, PODER
Hari Dillon, president, Vanguard Foundation
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Indigenous World
Michael Eisenscher, Labor Committee for Peace and Justice
Arnoldo Garcia, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
Fred Goff, Data Center
Francisco Herrera, singer and activist
Phil Hutchings, racial justice activist
Yuri Kochiyama, activist
Gerald Lenoir, board member, HIV Education and Prevention Project of
Alameda County
Yolanda Lopez, visual artist
Miriam Ching Louie, activist and author of Sweatshop Warriors
Barbara Lubin, executive director, Middle East Childrens Alliance
Sharon Martinas, Challenging White Supremacy Workshops
Gus Newport, former Mayor of Berkeley
Peter Olney, Institute for Labor and Employment
Eric Quezada, Mission District organizer
Colin Rajah, executive director, Just Act
Adrienne Rich, poet
Wilson Riles, former City Councilperson and progressive Oakland Mayoral
candidate
Helen Zia, author
9.7.2009 4:49pm
ArthurKirkland:
I'm all for looking forward. I hope to see progress regarding an unacceptable health care system, and am optimistic that this administration will have the courage and smarts to accomplish something worthwhile. I believe we should focus intensely on preventing a recurrence of torture, unlawful detention and the like. I would like to see serious effort to reduce reliance on foreign and dirty energy sources, and a similarly serious push for conservation. Let's make sure we tax inheritance as least as much as we tax work, suck up to no (or, at least, relatively few) repugnant governments as part of a smarts-over-force foreign policy, stick to science in schools, and try, just once, a sensible approach to Cuba.

Let's hope looking forward doesn't require ignoring those with differing views . . . but it the opposition refuses to be constructive, the Democrats should (soon) cut bait and start voting.

To infinity . . . and beyond!
9.7.2009 4:52pm
rc:
troll_dc2: "What makes you think that the media are not interested any longer in executive malpractice? Do you have any idea of the magnitude of the downsizings that have occurred?"

Believe it or not, I sympathize with the pain of the old dead-tree media. I was watching a cool Q&A on Book TV. The comments and insight of the dead-tree investigative reporters make me realize that we're really losing something.

But the tone of the recent NYT article was 'mean republicans blow up another noble public servant,' and the WaPo jumps on, very late, to a story that many people broke for free.

I think the issue goes deeper than just budget cuts.
9.7.2009 5:00pm
troll_dc2 (mail):
@ rc:

I think the issue goes deeper than just budget cuts.

Like culture maybe? If you care to go further, I'll come along for the ride (but possibly not until tomorrow if I run out of time).
9.7.2009 5:10pm
Hans Bader:
This post doesn't tell readers about what was most objectionable about Van Jones: his racism, communism, and America-bashing.

Obama's racist, communist, America-bashing Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones, has resigned after revelations that he was a 9/11 "Truther," who believed that George Bush may have been behind the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

But Obama has long been aware of Jones' extremism, wacky statements, and arrest record, which would have come to light months ago during the White House vetting process, as former White House staffer Jeffrey Lord and National Review's Andrew McCarthy note. The Secret Service would have investigated Jones' past and Marxist views and informed Obama about them.

As the Washington Examiner's Byron York noted, most of the media systematically ignored revelations about Jones' disturbing past and extremist views, seeking to prevent damage to the Obama Administration. Despite weeks of controversy over Jones' extreme views on talk radio, blogs, and Fox News, newspapers like the New York Times, and TV networks like ABC and NBC, refused to cover the controversy until after Jones resigned, while the Washington Post and CBS covered the story only when his resignation was imminent.

Slate journalist Mickey Kaus, who voted for Obama but has been critical of the Administration, ridicules newspapers like the New York Times for deliberately concealing the Van Jones controversy in order to protect the Obama Administration. "'Readers of the print edition will never have heard of the presidential appointee so controversial the President had to dump him. Is this a milestone in the decline of the NYT?' . . .It seems this may be just another installment of the NYT's running feature, 'You Know That Guy You've Never Heard About? Well, He's Gone.'"

Jones is a race-baiter, "self-avowed communist" and Truther who believed that George Bush may have been behind the 9/11 attacks.

Why even a Democratic White House would hire Jones is beyond understanding. In 1998, Jones defended Al Qaeda and bashed Bill Clinton. Why would Obama even think of hiring someone who said a few years ago that he was part of a "global struggle against the U.S."?

Jones has also glorified convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal, in a campaign that likened supporters of the murdered police officer to the KKK.

Jones, who set up a group that is orchestrating advertiser boycotts of Obama's media critics, was until recently a "member of a radical communist group that was dedicated to 'organizing a revolutionary movement in America.'"

Jones also claimed that mass murder is a white characteristic, saying that the Columbine killers would not have committed their crimes had they not been white. "'You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child,' Jones, who's African-American, said in the 2005 video. 'Never. They always say, "We can't believe it happened here. We can't believe these suburban white kids." It's only them.'"

Many officials in the Obama Administration are sympathetic to Marxist regimes. For example, Obama's appointee to be the FCC's "diversity officer" is Mark Lloyd, a big fan of Venezuela's socialist dictator, Hugo Chavez. Although Chavez has shot unarmed demonstrators, Lloyd has called socialist Venezuela a model, praised its authoritarian leader's "incredible revolution" and defended his attacks on independent media.

Obama's nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State, Arturo Valenzuela, has a reputation as a loud defender of Venezuelan dictator Chavez’s terrible record on freedom of the press. Valenzuela is a big supporter of imposing sanctions on Honduras, which ousted its left-wing would-be dictator. Americans for Limited Government says that "Arturo Valenzuela has never met a Marxist dictator that he didn't embrace." ALG's assessment of Valenzuela is echoed by liberal Latin America expert Martin Edwin Andersen.

The Obama Administration is extremely hostile to non-communist Honduras and its democratically-elected legislature, demanding that they allow the return to power of Honduras's bullying ex-president and would-be dictator. The ex-president's removal was perfectly constitutional, say many experts, such as attorneys Octavio Sanchez, Miguel Estrada, and Dan Miller, former Assistant Secretary of State Kim Holmes, Stanford's William Ratliff, and "even left-liberal analysts."

The Obama Administration cites the UN's support for the bullying ex-president to justify demanding that Honduras allow him to return. But the UN is openly biased in favor of left-wing dictators.

The UN has just declared Fidel Castro, the longtime Communist dictator of Cuba, the "World Hero of Solidarity." Castro killed thousands and thousands of people during his rule, torturing some to death (including a few American citizens), and Cuba remains an oppressive dictatorship even today.

So it's not surprising that the UN backs Honduras's bullying ex-president Manuel Zelaya, given his fondness for left-wing rhetoric. (Two months ago, soldiers acting on orders of Honduras's Supreme Court arrested Zelaya after he systematically abused his powers. After the Court quite legally declared that Zelaya was no longer president, he was duly replaced by Honduras's Congress with a civilian, the Congressional Speaker).

The Obama Administration recently decided to impose sanctions on Honduras, and indicated it will not recognize future democratic elections in Honduras unless Honduras first lets ex-president Zelaya return to power.

"Green jobs" is a scam and excuse for vast amounts of corporate welfare, as is the cap-and-trade "global warming" scheme backed by Obama, which would rip off the public and do nothing to protect the environment, while enriching politically-connected companies like General Electric and destroying millions of jobs.
9.7.2009 5:24pm
Leo Marvin (mail):
Leroy Washington:

"Circumventing" is neocon code for "black." You are a racist bigot.

I thought circumventing was a Jewish thing.
9.7.2009 5:50pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
Nothing to do with Jones, but two things.

First, trolldc2 writes: I think I explained on The VC to Joseph Slater some time ago how the whole troll usage began, but in any event we have more important things to discuss here.

I don't think that was me, although I do remember you posting an explanation before. No big deal either way.

Second -- and I expect I will regret this, but @BT:

Is there something pernicious about Bloom's appointment? Is it that he was involved with unions? If so, I say, good for him. Or am I missing something in your post.

In either case, Happy Labor Day.
9.7.2009 6:07pm
DiversityHire (mail):
But the UN is openly biased in favor of left-wing dictators.
That is so unfair! The UN loves right-wing dictators, too.
9.7.2009 6:10pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
eyesay:

"He has a credible resume and wrote a book."

Have you read the book? I didn't but I made some effort to see what's in it. I went to the Amazon book reviews, but strangely the 50+ reviews are inaccessible! But I found I could get to them through my Amazon iPhone app. In general the reviewers don't think much of the book claiming it's far more about race than energy. One reviewer wrote Jones has only a single paragraph on nuclear power and that he falsely claims we have a uranium shortage.

We can argue over whether nuclear power is "green," but we certainly can't ignore it as it would be the most reasonable alternative to fossil fuels generating electrical energy. You seem to think we the Europeans do everything better and we should copy their medical systems, so why not use nuclear reactors? Frances generates 85% of it's electrical energy that way. They have proven by example that this technology can be deployed in a cost effective manner. As to a uranium shortage, I have no idea of where Van Jones gets that from. I know of no data to support such a conclusion. Moreover even with a shortage we could use breeder reactors which generate more fuel than they consume.

"I won't dignify the preposterous allegation that he's anti-American."

Listen to him.

"Surely you're not saying that fossil fuels will last forever. Of course we have to scale back our use of fossil fuels through greater energy efficiency and through use of renewable resources."


Finiteness is a red herring-- it's cost that matters. We use fossil fuels for our transportation system because we have no other means of getting the necessary energy storage for vehicles. No matter how you generate energy you still need to store it in a small enough volume to run a car or truck, and thus nothing else provides the range. Batteries, even the all too costly lithium-ion ones, are much too expensive and have only 1/20 the energy density of gasoline. Solar and wind power could theoretically replace fossil feedstock, but we would go broke trying to do that. We could use nuclear power and free up natural gas to run vehicles but that's still using fossil fuels. I'm afraid fossils fuels are here to stay until we get much better battery technology and more nuclear power. Repeat again. Cost is everything. Particularly capital costs. Most of your electrical bill comes from capital costs and not feedstock cost.

Obviously Van Jones understands none of this. He's a race hustler and nothing more.
9.7.2009 6:19pm
DiversityHire (mail):
Bill Gates founded a revolutionary organization in Redmond, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded a revolutionary organization in Cupertino

Hey now, Bill first put up his shingle in Albuquerque, 1975. Once the "Reagan Revolution" project was approved, Bill and Paul were instructed by elements of the shadow government to move their radical organization to an undisclosed location near Bellevue, Washington. The organization subsequently moved to a new supply-side Naukograd—known to outsiders only by the code-name "Redmond"—to avoid infiltration, where its emergence as the great right-wing satan of windows-icons-menus-pointing software was pre-ordained by the fascist cabal. Given the organizations close ties to the freemasons, trilateral commission, University of Waterloo, the Boy Scouts, and ECMA, "reactionary" seems a more appropriate term than "revolutionary." Except for the mouse wheel, that thing really is revolutionary.
9.7.2009 6:38pm
ArthurKirkland:
I sense in Mr. Bader's post a whiff of disappointment that U.S.-trained right-wing death squads have gone out of fashion in Central and South America. Nothing like a CIA-trained machete to straighen out anyone left of the New American Centurions. A few nameless peasants, union organizers and nuns is a small price to pay . . .
9.7.2009 6:41pm
BT:
Mr. Slater:

Ilya had commented at the end of his post that he hoped that Obama would not appoint any more Czars after Jones had resigned. At least that is how I read it. Needless to say, Obama appointed yet another Czar today, which is why I posted the story about Bloom. I made no comment on Bloom’s background one way or the other. As for your reference to regretting a possible response by me, have I done or said anything in the past to offend you? I don’t recall, I try to be civil in my responses as best I can. If for some reason I was not with you, my bad, as the kids like to say. Back at you on the Happy Labor Day.
9.7.2009 6:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
eyesay:

"Germany's national health coverage is not socialism, it is social justice."

The term "social justice" is largely meaningless beyond a shorthand for "this is what I want." It's true that Bismark did set up an early form of the welfare state. We get the retirement age of 65 from him. Of course in the 19th Century few people lived that long so it didn't cost very much. I any case a valid comparison between the German and the US medical system would take us far afield, and is largely besides the point. This isn't Germany. I don't think you can assert that the European medical systems won't go broke too.
9.7.2009 6:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Obama gives us another Czar and yet another socialist. Ron Bloom is to become the Obama "Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy." Does this man have any experience in manufacturing?-- no. He's a union negotiator.

From the Jewish Times
Born in New York City and raised in Swarthmore, a suburb of Philadelphia, much of Bloom’s early life revolved around Habonim (now known as Habonim Dror), a progressive Labor Zionist youth movement that emphasizes cultural Judaism, socialism and social justice.


Let me tell you I grew with people of his ilk. If he is anything like I expect, this guy will be hostile to business-- hostile to the very notion of profit and in favor is government run enterprises. He will be more than simply pro labor. I should add that my own immediate family was free from socialism and communism, but otherwise it was all around me.
9.7.2009 7:00pm
ArthurKirkland:
Ron Bloom, the socialist investment banker.

The horror.
9.7.2009 7:31pm
therut (mail):
I have decided that political ideology is genetic. I just can not wrap my mind around anything left wing. Why anyone would want to live under such madness is beyond me. I just do not get socialism or social justice or any such man made junk thinking. It really does come across as madness to me. I can somehow naturally understand republician and Constitutional limited government. It naturally makes sense. Meaning I do not need some weird PHD dude to explain it to me. I seem to be genetically wired that way. I have tried and tried to find some way to accept socialism as even a tiny little bit good but alas I can not. It is madness to a people or person who thinks about liberty and freedom. I think I need a drink.......
9.7.2009 7:35pm
eyesay:
A. Zarkov wrote: "I any case a valid comparison between the German and the US medical system would take us far afield, and is largely besides the point. This isn't Germany." Gosh, Homo Allemanus and Homo Americanus are practically different species, affected by different diseases and cured by different medications. Not.

"I don't think you can assert that the European medical systems won't go broke too." Watch this: "European medical systems won't go broke too."
9.7.2009 7:44pm
David McCourt (mail):
"Watch this: 'European medical systems won't go broke too.'"

Watch this: today's Reuters says
"French government to tackle surging health care deficit"
Mon Sep 7, 2009 11:18am

The French government is looking at ways to plug a gaping hole in its health care budget and may charge patients more for hospital stays, Budget Minister Eric Woerth said on Monday.

France's health system is largely financed by the state and has been hailed as the best in the world by the World Health Organization. It is also one of the most costly and the government constantly struggles to control spending.

After a 4.4 billion euro ($6.31 billion) shortfall in the health budget in 2008, Woerth said he expected the deficit to hit 10 billion euros this year and 15 billion next, with the economic downturn denting social security contributions.



http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/ idUSTRE5863CN20090907
9.7.2009 7:52pm
Hans Bader:
Arthur Kirkland,

It's a fact of public record that I (rightly or wrongly) opposed U.S. intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s, in my local newspaper (although not because I liked the Sandinistas, who had contempt for the rule of law).

I also opposed launching the Iraq War, again, in a newspaper editorial I wrote.

So I am not a "neoconservative."

Nor do I approve of "death squads."

I just hate unjustified meddling overseas -- especially when it's on behalf of a would-be dictator, like Honduras's Manuel Zelaya, whom even the Washington Post (which, strangely, supports Obama's policy on Honduras -- perhaps it is so liberal: it hasn't endorsed a Republican for president since 1952) admits was preparing his own "left-wing coup," before he was removed from office.

(Zelaya was earlier arrested by soldiers acting on orders of the Honduras Supreme Court, which had ruled that he was no longer president. He was then replaced by his country’s Congress with a civilian successor, and forced into exile. Zelaya’s removal came after he systematically abused his powers: he sought to circumvent constitutional term limits, used mobs to intimidate his critics, threatened public employees with termination if they refused to help him violate the Constitution, engaged in massive corruption, illegally cut off public funds to local governments whose leaders refused to back his quest for more power, denied basic government services to his critics, refused to enforce dozens of laws passed by Congress, and spent the country into virtual bankruptcy, refusing to submit a budget so that he could illegally spend public funds on his cronies.)
9.7.2009 7:52pm
~aardvark (mail):
I just hate unjustified meddling overseas -- especially when it's on behalf of a would-be dictator, like Honduras's Manuel Zelaya, whom even the Washington Post admits was preparing his own "left-wing coup," before he was removed from office.

You think WaPo is liberal? Really? You must not be reading it much! But my question to you, Hans, is not about WaPo--it's about you calling Zelaya "a would-be" dictator. Your evidence is pretty thin--one WaPo piece suggests that he was about to pull a "left-wing coup", another claims that he is the rightful president (which he is). It seems that you are coming from so far to the Right (no, not neocon, G-d forbid!) that you think every democratically elected leader governing from the Left is a "would-be dictator". Sandinistas? Well, they failed at one-party government, but, once the threat of external invasion has been removed, they turned into just another lefty party. Zelaya? Legally elected. And the only word we have for his potential "coup" is from the very people who removed him from power. It sounds a bit disingenuous to take their word for it--don't you think? I don't want to ascribe someone else's sins to you (although it did occur in comments on this blog), but another democratically elected president in South America (Equador--which has a history of right-wing military dictatorships, like many of its neighbors) has been labeled an "almost dictator". There is some question whether Chavez would have been able to concentrate his power as much as he has if he had not been able to round up supporters because of repeated US intervention. No one is going to argue that today Chavez is authoritarian and Leftist (although hardly Marxist), but it could have been quite different. The same is true of the Sandinista and even Castro and his merry band.

A part of the problem is that virtually every revolutionary movement and every left-of-center party in [formerly] Third World countries makes people at State and at the Pentagon nervous. The fact that they may well legitimately oppose a dictatorial regime (as was the case in both Cuba and Nicaragua) does not seem to bother them. This is the worst kind of moral relativism of which conservative intellectuals often accuse their more liberal opponents. We can choose either not to like dictators, period, or we can pick and choose friends based on their obsequiousness to our needs, not their human rights record. And what do we reap for our favoritism? We get the Iranian Revolution, the Taliban, the fall of Saigon, a bunch of Iranian drones in Baghdad. Is this really a wise foreign policy?

But don't be shy, Hans--tell us what you really think. It's not difficult to find your isolationist opinions in other places. But I agree completely--you are no neocon. If anything, you're closer to Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan and Lyndon LaRouche in your foreign policy suggestions. For me, that's not much better company. But if it works for you, just say so.
9.7.2009 8:11pm
neurodoc:
ArthurKirkland: Let's make sure we tax inheritance as least as much as we tax work...
Inheritances (starting from $1) should be taxed at least as much as we tax work because...? You are aware, are you not, that inheritance taxes a means of avoiding income taxes, they come atop taxes on income during life and investent gains.

Yes, there is an exclusion which is up to $3.5K this year, and 2010 will be great year for anyone of means to die, since there will be no estate tax unless Congress acts, but the tax will come back with a vengeance in 2011, the exclusion going back to $1M then. And there is stepped up basis upon death, but that just sets an estate up for a 45% whack after the exclusion, which can be reduced by gifts at an earlier time. You will be happy to know that iIf the decedent realized a long-term gain in their last year of life, then there may be a >20% whack for federal, state, and local taxes, followed by a 45% whack of the remainder for estate taxes, meaning a 55% tax on the gain, and a 66%(!) whack if it was a short-term rather than qualifying long-term one.

Why do you think the government should get so much of one's wealth, sometimes more than one's heirs? Just the "progressive" ideal?
9.7.2009 8:11pm
neurodoc:
DiversityHire: That is so unfair! The UN loves right-wing dictators, too.
Which "right-wing" dictators do you think find the UN so supportive of them?
9.7.2009 8:15pm
Angus:
Hans,
Glad you approve of the current Honduras government's arrests of opposing politicians (including elected members of Congress), forced shutdown of media critical of their actions, military curfews, suspensions of civil liberties, and violent attacks on protesters. The top military advisor to the new government is a former death squad leader, and coincidentally several critics of the new regime have turned up executed.

Ever wonder why not a single nation on earth supports the coup government? Not even those who would love to spite the U.S. just by backing the other side? Maybe they know more about the coup than the conservative blogosphere.
9.7.2009 8:33pm
~aardvark (mail):
Neurodoc--we tax gifts too. I hope you're aware of that. Do you know why we tax gifts? I suspect that's because they are income for people who receive them. There is no double taxation here. We don't generally tax transactions, but we do tax results of those transactions. If I sold a car to you for $500 in a state that collects sales tax (of, say, 5%), you owe the state $25. On the other hand, if I give you a car that is worth $5000, you are suggesting that nothing should happen, right? I just want to get a full picture here.
9.7.2009 8:35pm
Joseph Slater (mail):
BT:

I misunderstood you. My bad -- apologies.
9.7.2009 8:37pm
ArthurKirkland:

Why do you think the government should get so much of one's wealth, sometimes more than one's heirs? Just the "progressive" ideal?


If one person works for a dollar, and another is handed a dollar without working for it, I believe the person who worked for it should be treated at least as well by the tax code as the recipient of an inherited dollar.

If one young person mows a lawn for $50, and another gets $50 from an uncle's will, I would tax the earned $50 no more severely than the unearned $50. (Or, viewed from a different perspective, if I give $50 to a neighbor for mowing my lawn and $50 to a niece by bequest, I see no reason the niece should get preferential treatment from the tax collector.)

There are several reasons for this. First, I believe our society should create incentives for work as least as much as incentives for inheriting an estate. Second, from a moral perspective, if one person is to be rewarded with a 'most favored recipient' tax status, it should be the person who works. Third, society benefits when asset deployment decisions are made by people who have demonstrated some ability, so we should promote allocation of assets based on productivity rather than on accidents of birth or marriage. Fourth, this policy would tend to temper concentrations of wealth over generations (see items one, two and three).
9.7.2009 8:55pm
ArthurKirkland:
Hans Bader:

If you opposed U.S. training of savages in Central America, you did so rightly rather than wrongly. I hope you continue to see the immorality of the American record with respect to right-wing butchers in Central and South America.

When one encounters a barrage against the Obama administration for "Marxism" and "communism," with swipes at Chavez and Castro but nary a word about the equally reprehensible (if not worse) right-wing despots American interests have eagerly supported, it is tempting to perceive a neoconservative ideologue whose preference for right-wing politics includes either a taste for or blind eye to death squads aimed at leftist nuns, union organizers and similar targets.

If you disliked the Contras and Pinochet and Somoza and Christiani as much as you dislike Castro and Chavez, and picked the latter two for excoriation randomly rather than by right/left selection, I regret my inference.

(Iraq seems irrelevant to this issue; the mistakes there derived not so much from right/left distinctions as from lack of character and intense incompetence. Being right on that one reflects well on your character and on your judgment.)

Cheers
9.7.2009 9:09pm
neurodoc:
~aardvark: Neurodoc--we tax gifts too. I hope you're aware of that. Do you know why we tax gifts? I suspect that's because they are income for people who receive them. There is no double taxation here. We don't generally tax transactions, but we do tax results of those transactions. If I sold a car to you for $500 in a state that collects sales tax (of, say, 5%), you owe the state $25. On the other hand, if I give you a car that is worth $5000, you are suggesting that nothing should happen, right? I just want to get a full picture here.
Yes, I am well aware that we tax gifts, with a $1M unified gift tax exclusion and up to $13K per year exempt. But no, I don't know why we tax gifts, so please say, except that it cuts off a way around inheritance taxes.

"Income" generally means return from property, labor, business, etc. If a parent pays their offspring's graduate school tuition, though they are not legally obliged to do so, is that "income" to the offspring? Isn't it a "gift" if it isn't a legal obligation of the parent, but it isn't a taxable one.

Yes, I'm suggesting that nothing should happen tax-wise if you gave me a $5K car, and not just because it would be under that annual $13K exclusion. (Many states would still collect an amount equivalent to the sales tax on the value of the car to transfer ownership and register the car in the new owner's name.)

So now do you have "a full picture here," or something sufficient for these purposes, whateve those are? (BTW, I have no interest in going off about inheritance taxes. I was just reacting to ArthurKirkland's random remark, which I take to reflect his notion of social justice.)
9.7.2009 9:17pm
rc:
Arthur: "Let's make sure we tax inheritance as least as much as we tax work..."

So you favor a 0% inheritance tax? Inheritance money has already been earned and taxed. Besides, the gubment is just going to waste half the money, then give the other half to unemployed alcoholic hippies.

Also, 'inheritance tax' is just code for 'I hate small farmers and entrepreneurs." If a farm makes $200k a year, but has a capital value of $2mil, dad's death means that the farm is gone. But hell, no one worked for that money anyway...

People do not need to prove their proper marxist worker ethic credentials in order to hold on to their own family's money. There's no pinko card check required just to keep the feds from looting your dad's casket.
9.7.2009 9:20pm
neurodoc:
ArthurKirkland, you do understand that before I can pass along $X to my children, I must have earned that >$X and paid the taxes due on my >$X of earnings to have that $X after taxes. And you want my children to pay still more taxes (the top estate tax rate of 45% is in excess of the top tax rate on ordinary income) before they can have the bounty of my efforts, because in your view that will put them on equal footing with those who themselves had $X in income pre-taxes? That is Communism, or something like it, isn't it? (Do you have even a rudimentary knowledge of tax law?)
9.7.2009 9:25pm
neurodoc:
rc, like you, I am very much not in agreement with ArthurKirkland on what is/isn't a just tax scheme. Your farmer example, though, is flawed rebuttal in various ways.

For one thing, a property worth $2M wouldn't be subject at this time to estate tax if it was most of the estate; and both the farmer's exclusion and the farmer's wife's exclusion would be more than enough to shelter the property. Also, I believe that there are special provisions for farm properties. (The realities of small farms are such that they make for one of the weaker factual arguments advanced against inheritance taxes.)

[I'm dropping out of any more inheritance tax discussion here. Again, I just took it up in response to someone's revealing statement of their own political thinking.]
9.7.2009 9:33pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
The really rich avoid inheritance taxes by setting up foundations and putting their children in charge. Or some other gimmick like a spendthrift trust. Show me a rich guy who pays inheritance taxes, and you show me a man with a poor tax lawyer.

Just exempt the first few million from the inheritance tax and be done with it. It has nothing to do with letting billionaires get off. They always get off.
9.7.2009 9:34pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
If you want to understand Van Jones then start out with Tom Wolfe's classic Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, which is available here. Jones of course is applying a new twist by dressing in a suit and talking about the ever ambiguous "green jobs." But it's basically the same old shake down. Obama, the self described "community organizer," is himself a polished version of the shakedown artist. Only this guy is shaking down the whole country instead of a mere city.


If anyone thinks he has a hot idea for green energy then go with it. Write a business plan, get backing and put in the work. This is in the spirit of free enterprise. I know people who have done this by identifying a niche market for a green idea. The losers go running to the feds for a subsidiarity. Good ideas might require funding to develop, but they don't require on going subsidies to exist. This is the modern day version of socialism-- American style. It has nothing to with nationalizing industry. That's the last thing modern socialists want to do because they they have to take the heat for the failures.
9.7.2009 9:58pm
Eli Rabett (www):
neurodoc writes:


you do understand that before I can pass along $X to my children, I must have earned that >$X and paid the taxes due on my >$X of earnings to have that $X after taxes.


The polite word for this is nonsense. Let us, for example, look at stock or real estate which has increased in value from the time the late great neurodoc bought it. He never paid tax on the unrealized gain. Such is the vast majority of all inheritance AND IT IS NOT TAXED. (See Wm Gates Jr., Warren Buffett, etc)

Now you will tell me, OK, when son of neurodoc cashes the stock in, sells the real estate, it will be taxed. Under current law the gain is calculated from the value at the time sonny inherited it.

The difference between what doc paid for it, and what it was worth when he passed on during a fit when Obama was re-elected in 2012 has never been taxed.

One fix is simply to tax all inheritance at the value it was originally bought. OTOH, some stuff, esp. land has been in families too far back to do this in any reasonable way (see inflation). Thus inheritance tax. FWIW a couple of million exemption is probably reasonable.
9.7.2009 10:19pm
neurodoc:
Eli Rabet: The polite word for this is nonsense. Let us, for example, look at stock or real estate which has increased in value from the time the late great neurodoc bought it. He never paid tax on the unrealized gain. Such is the vast majority of all inheritance AND IT IS NOT TAXED. (See Wm Gates Jr., Warren Buffett, etc)
It's called "stepped up value." And yes, it means that if the property was held until time of death, then realization of what might have been a long-term capital gains will be avoided, and thus too the 15% (currently) bite that would have taken. BUT, the much greater estate whack of up to 45% will not be avoided. Indeed, by stating the full value of the property at time of death, the estate is walking right into that be expropriation by the feds, with possibly still more taken by the state.

And there is no point in seeing Wm Gates Jr. or Warren Buffet to know how the step-up in tax basis works, since neither inherited great wealth (Gates' parents are still alive) and both are still alive.

Eli Rabet, it seems you do know "nonsense." Indeed, you might be something of an authority on it.
9.7.2009 11:16pm
neurodoc:
A. Zarkov: The really rich avoid inheritance taxes by setting up foundations and putting their children in charge. Or some other gimmick like a spendthrift trust.
You're wrong about both of those. Foundations can't be used for that purpose, and "spendthrift trusts," as the name implies, is not about avoidance of inheritance or any other taxes, but are rather for the purposes of preventing the dissipation of monies set aside for someone's benefit by appointment of a trustee to watch over the beneficiary's money. The money that funds a spendthrift trust does not always come from what is willed to a beneficiary, though it frequently does.

At this time, with a very low AFR (Applicable Federal Rates), GRATs (grant retained annuity trust) are a favored means of passing wealth from one generation to another and minimizing the taxes on that transfer.

["Just exempt the first few million from the inheritance tax and be done with it." Yes, there should be fairly substantial exemptions, but I don't think we should do away with inheritance taxes altogether, any more than we shouldn't do away with a progressive income tax scheme.]
9.7.2009 11:25pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Well, now we have neurodoc walking it back. Being aggresive about it but walking it back none-the-less.

Looks like he agrees that the inheritance tax on unrealized gains is not a tax on taxed income. Of course, if that were verboten there would be no sales tax either.

Doc neglects to say that the first $3.5 mill is essentially tax free on inheritance taxes as opposed to capital gains taxes, so until you get to a ~$4.5 million estate, the estate tax is lower.

Still, this is irrelevant. The rate is not an argument against an estate tax, but one against the current estate tax rate or the current capital gains tax rate. YMMV

Doc might also realize that Warren and Bill are going to leave huge estates based on unrealized capital gains which was Eli's point. To their credit most of it will go to good works at least in the current plan which moots the tax issue.
9.7.2009 11:44pm
ArthurKirkland:
A dollar to be delivered to another person by inheritance has already been taxed, when earned by the donor. Just as a dollar that donor would hand to a neighbor for chopping wood has already been taxed. Until a dollar becomes a wage or a bequest, it is fungible.

From that starting point, the argument for preferring the act of inheriting the dollar to the act of earning it becomes unpersuasive.

The problem of needing to sell the farm also is inadequate to overcome the preference for earned over unearned income. If another recipient -- for example, a purchaser -- of the farm couldn't (or chose not to) pay the entire purchase price in ready cash, that recipient would finance the acquisition. As could the heir, by arranging a loan (secured by the asset) to pay the taxes. Not as good as something for nothing, but still a better deal than, say, actually working for something one wants.

In my experience, the arguments for taxing earnings more than inheritance customarily resolve to "just because." And the people who object most loudly to "handouts," and claim to believe people should "pull their own weight and earn their keep," exhibit a severe blind spot when the slackers receiving handouts are their grandchildren.
9.7.2009 11:44pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
neurodoc:

I stand corrected. But doesn't a foundation provide a means by which a wealthy family can propagate its influence? If the children can run the foundation they can still enjoy the power of their parents wealth although vicariously.

As for a spendthrift trust. Why does that not avoid inheritance taxes? I realize the "spendthrift" still need to pay income tax on what he gets. But doesn't the trust itself avoid inheritance tax?

"Yes, there should be fairly substantial exemptions, but I don't think we should do away with inheritance taxes altogether,..."


I agree, and I never intended anything other than a few million exempted with an inflation escalator.
9.7.2009 11:51pm
rc:
How about we just require that dieing people burn half their money?

For some reason having to do with morality and good and evil, Arthur says my son doesn't deserve my money, but the feds do.

Society has an interest in allowing families to continue their wealth, and it's not right for the government to double-dip.

Czar.
9.8.2009 12:10am
ArthurKirkland:
It's just as wrong for society to double-dip by taxing the boy who shovels your driveway for cash as it is to tax the son who gets the cash for doing nothing but receiving a handout from a parent. But so long as Americans like roads and bombs and national parks and medical care for injured veterans, someone must be taxed.

In that context, the feds deserve some of the money the heir received as much as they deserve some of the money a recipient actually worked for.

The coaster still comes out ahead -- he gets just as much money as the worker, except he didn't need to work for it and the worker did. Our society has long regarded that as an adequate head start for heirs, with good reason.
9.8.2009 12:34am
eyesay:
rc: "it's not right for the government to double-dip." I infer that you favor zero inheritance tax, based on this syllogism:

A. Every dollar in an estate has already been taxed.

B. The government should tax any dollar only only once.

Therefore, the inheritance tax should be zero.

There are problems with this syllogism.

A. Some of the dollars in an estate may be in the form of stock or other assets that have been held for many years and are worth many times the original investment, and on which no capital gains tax has been paid.

B. The government already taxes any given dollar more than once. When you earn money, you pay federal and state income taxes on it, plus payroll taxes. Then, when you spend it, you may pay sales and excise taxes. And if you own your own home, you pay state and local property taxes on that property every year, forever. So there is no overriding principle that your dollar can be taxed only once.

C. The government has expenses, and excessive deficits are considered bad, so the government has to tax something. Every dollar that is assessed in taxes on the estates of dead multi-millionaires is a dollar that doesn't have to be collected on the incomes of young working families, struggling to feed, house, clothe, and educate their children.

D. A temporary natural aristocracy based on talent and contribution to society is better than a permanent artificial aristocracy based on having wealthy ancestors.
9.8.2009 12:35am
rc:
Arthur "someone must be taxed."

ok, I vote that we tax Arthur and eyesay.

"he gets just as much money as the worker, except he didn't need to work for it"

but the money has already been 'worked for'. That money and behavior has been taxed just as much as the money and behavior that the street-shoveler paid. Why should there be a penalty for providing for your family? What are you penalizing? :Saving? Dieing? Having smart parents?

I doubt that many fathers feel that their money is 'their' money. It's their family's money... it's just not the fed's money. In that sense, estate tax is like taking a $10 bill from you left hand to your right hand, then getting taxed on it.

Should divorce settlement alimony/child support be taxed? It changes hands, yet it's not worked for...

Income and gain taxes should be assessed only once.

Eyesay: re: B.: Yeah, there's a lot of ways to get taxed. Earn it, spend it, pay for local services... but estate tax is unique in that you have to pay for already taxed money, the you're taxed again just for the right to hold on to that money. Nobody chooses to die- there's no gain, no choice, no service rendered, no behavior to encourage or discourage... it's nothing but a chance for the gubment to grab your cash.

re: C.: Lower expenses, and let everyone pay their fair share. Casket robbing isn't fair.

re: "D. A temporary natural aristocracy based on talent and contribution to society is better than a permanent artificial aristocracy based on having wealthy ancestors."

And the IRS should enforce that, eh? A real 'worker's paradise.'
9.8.2009 1:11am
Ricardo (mail):
but the money has already been 'worked for'. That money and behavior has been taxed just as much as the money and behavior that the street-shoveler paid. Why should there be a penalty for providing for your family? What are you penalizing?

Why should we penalize those who work for a living [income tax]? Why should we penalize those who drive to work every day to earn a living [gas tax]? Why should we penalize those who buy a house for their families [property tax]? Etc. There is a good argument for scrapping many of these taxes and replacing them with a consumption tax. However, as long as we have the current system, we have to find ways to raise money to pay for things like Medicare, Homeland Security, wars fought abroad and interest on the national debt in the least painful way. An inheritance tax that hits particularly large estates is one such relatively painless way.

I doubt that many fathers feel that their money is 'their' money. It's their family's money...

I'm pretty sure my parents regard their money as, well..., their money now that my brother and I are grown. Note that surviving spouses have an exemption from inheritance tax. I'm less clear on what happens if both parents die before the children reach the age of majority but I would definitely support an exemption for providing for the needs of minor children if it doesn't exist already.

Should divorce settlement alimony/child support be taxed? It changes hands, yet it's not worked for...

Again, there is already an exemption for the surviving spouse from inheritance tax since property is considered jointly owned by husband and wife. Divorce doesn't sever this link. If a man wants to give a gift of over $10,000 to one of his children, that money -- yep, you guessed it -- gets taxed. I'm not sure I'd find anything horribly offensive about taxing particularly large alimony or child support payments like the ones you typically hear about in Hollywood divorce cases. It doesn't strike me as a particularly rich source of tax revenue, though.
9.8.2009 3:31am
Mr L (mail):
The real reason we should kill the inheritance tax is that it's very easy to evade in ways that are difficult to legislate against - trusts, asset transfers before death, the gigantic spousal loophole - and that these schemes introduce economic inefficiencies over many years. The revenue is essentially negligible and it's pretty absurd to worry about wealth concentration when the largest estate in history wouldn't register a blip on the government's annual budget.
9.8.2009 6:18am
David McCourt (mail):
Calling Department of Thread Drift....
9.8.2009 9:22am
rc:
"Again, there is already an exemption"

Always, always an exception. This is because no none buys into the premise of the tax in the first place. It's not like earning money or spending money or paying for services. It's money going from the right hand to the left hand, and it should be taxed.

"Calling Department of Thread Drift...."

The department head died. And his inheritance was taxed, so no one can afford to go online and combat my madness.

Thread Drift Cazr?
9.8.2009 9:46am
George Smith:
It was a three day holiday weekend, people, and you spent it doing this?
9.8.2009 10:27am
neurodoc:
David McCourt: Calling Department of Thread Drift....
You are, of course, absolutely right, and I bear some responsibility for it, since I foolishly enough went after ArthurKirkland's gratuity about taxing inheritances ("Let's make sure we tax inheritance as least as much as we tax work"). But DM, you too went OT upstream when you responded to someone about national health care systems going broke.

FWIW (not much), the comments on inheritance taxes and how it all works, has caused me to take some people here (you know who you are) even less seriously than I was inclined to before. (A. Zarkov, I most certainly do not mean you.)
9.8.2009 10:42am
neurodoc:
rc: The department head died. And his inheritance was taxed, so no one can afford to go online and combat my madness.

Thread Drift Cazr?
Thanks for the chuckle. (Now, I will return to thinking about GRATs, defective trusts, family partnerships, "loans" to take advantage of the amazingly low AFR right now, converting to a Roth IRA next year, when/where to die, and other means to avoid or lower estate taxes, so I can pass along as much as possible of what I have to my family and those I would willingly give my money to, including charities I support. I have paid plenty in federal, state, and local taxes already. Let those who favor confiscatory inheritance taxes pay more themselves.)
9.8.2009 10:48am
Eli Rabett (www):
George Smith:

It was a three day holiday weekend, people, and you spent it doing this?


It rained Monday
9.8.2009 10:56am
Herb Spencer:
This is a repost of what I'd earlier submitted in a more general thread. Jones' denouement is Roberta redux, as in Achtenberg when she turned on - of all people! - Berkeley, CA citizens objecting to her own tsaritsa-like plan to ruin their neighborhood, and was obliged to resign from the first Clinton administration.


I first encountered Jones over a decade ago when he was running Police Watch, a group that purported to monitor police brutality claims in the SF Bay Area. (Somehow, under Jones' watch, very few of the cops they stalked were black.) I attended a seminar put on by Jones' group for lawyers who handled civil rights cases on behalf of those injured at the hands of the police. At that seminar, Jones pointedly ignored the white male lawyers in attendance who made comments or asked questions during the appropriate times in each session. It was so obvious that several attorneys attending commented on it. Finally, having been ignored once too many times, I loudly stated, "Question here!" before Jones tried again to "move on" to the next topic. For all his loudly-trumpeted learning, the Yale Law graduate could not answer what I subsequently researched to be a fairly simple question about a question of federal-state law in such cases, a "reverse-Erie" issue for those in the know. Call Jones' attitude what you will, but in light of his entire record I call it racism.


As far as the greening of the ghetto goes, that is a program based, like so many other forms of reparative social therapy, on denial. It doesn't require taxpayers' funds to get people to stop littering, keep their homes in good order, and generally show some of the pride that minority groups are always crowing about in other contexts. Like most other such programs, it's just another shakedown. And, if impact disparity is to be the rule, it's ultimately a shakedown of "whitey."
9.8.2009 11:22am
The Czar of Muscovy (mail) (www):
“Jones' ridiculous beliefs probably aren't typical of those of the administration's many other czars.”

Disagree. We prepared an extensive review over here that covers the existing czar structure along with some of their bizarre backgrounds. Not all Obama's advisors are whackjobs, but Holdren, Bloom, Carrion, Sunstein, Rosenthal, Taylor, and Warren have very radical and potentially jaw-dropping backgrounds.

Van Jones was certainly extreme, but he shares much weirdness in common with several others. And what they have in common says more about the Obama administration than many of his supporters would like to admit.
9.8.2009 12:26pm
ArthurKirkland:
I do not favor confiscatory inheritance taxes. I believe the act of receiving a handout by inheritance should be taxed at least as much as the act of earning by working.

The United States has collected inheritance taxes for many years. The inheritance tax is not some bizarre new veer in tax policy. I expect it to return to traditional levels soon, and I expect our nation to be better for it.

Many conservatives may mutter bitterly about that, and about many other aspects of an America they despise -- an America they believe consists of murderers (abortion), socialists (Medicare, progressive taxes), racists (affirmative action and diversity in general), blasphemers and heathen (prayer in school, evolution instruction, tolerance), family-wreckers (working women, tolerance of gays) and the like -- but those conservatives will be muttering on the sidelines, because America has moved past them, for the better.
9.8.2009 12:27pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
tmitsss sez:

'When has a Czar proved to be actually useful?'

Probably the first time was Donald Nelson, War Production Board.
9.8.2009 1:07pm
ArthurKirkland:
You are discounting the contributions of a series of drug czars to our freedom and land of justice?
9.8.2009 7:54pm
David McCourt (mail):
And what about Czar Alexander II? With his emancipation of the serfs -- in 1861, a few years before the rough man from Illinois could act -- he might provide a more fitting role model for the smooth man from Illinois, who, like the Czar, has his own ideas of imperial grandeur.
9.8.2009 8:55pm
David McCourt (mail):
And what about Czar Alexander II? With his emancipation of the serfs -- in 1861, a few years before the rough man from Illinois could act -- he might provide a more fitting role model for the smooth man from Illinois, who, like the Czar, has his own ideas of imperial grandeur.
9.8.2009 8:55pm
neurodoc:
ArthurKirkland: I do not favor confiscatory inheritance taxes. I believe the act of receiving a handout by inheritance should be taxed at least as much as the act of earning by working.
If someone realizes a long-term gain, say on a business they built and sold, then depending on the state, they may pay >20% on that gain. When they die, however soon that might be thereafter, the feds and state may take 45% of the 80% of what remains. Thus, the decendent's beneficiaries, perhaps minor children, might see only 44%, that is less than half of what the decedent managed to put together. In another words we are talking about a 56% combined tax rate, when ordinary income (the kid shovelling your walk) is taxed at most at 35%.

If the decedent was before their death in the 40% bracket with state taxes included, then the combined first and second whacks of income and estate taxes might leave his/her beneficiaries with only 33% of those earnings. That is a marginal tax rate of as much as 67%.

What is your definition of "confiscatory," only that which comes close to 100%, anything short of outright forfeiture not qualifying as "confiscatory"?
9.8.2009 10:16pm
ArthurKirkland:
I do not see the relevance of the decedent's tax bracket. The decedent should have paid as much tax as was due during life, and neither more nor less.

When a second person receives a sum by inheritance from the decedent, that transaction should, in my judgment, be taxed at least as much as an identical income derived from work would be taxed. I would be open to a reasonable first-dollars exemption from inheritance taxation (so long as the lost tax revenue were recovered by increasing taxation correspondingly at higher levels of inheritance).

By "at least as much," I do not intend a 75% or 80% rate. Inheritance tax rates slightly greater than income tax rates might be reasonable. If a 35% income tax is imposed, a 40% inheritance tax would be reasonable but, in my judgment, a 60% inheritance tax would not be reasonable.
9.9.2009 12:02am
neurodoc:
Tax policy at its simplest is about the need to pay for government, how the burden should be distributed, and what the effects will be on our economy. "Value" judgments factor in, especially with respect to how the burden should be distributed and whether non-revenue ends, which I'll call "social engineering," are to be served by encouraging/discouraging certain forms of economic activity.
Some think taxes should effect a redistribution of wealth from those who are better off to those who are less well off, with ones opinion on how far such efforts should go a very telling indication of how far to the Left they are politically.

You're free to think that high inheritance taxes atop taxes on actual income, especially those on ordinary income (as distinguished from long-term capital gains), are a matter of social justice. They contribute relatively little to government coffers now and wouldn't contribute all that much more unless they were made indisputably confiscatory. While to be sure there are many who favor "soak the rich" policies generally, I don't think many Americans would subscribe to your notion that death should be treated as the same sort of taxable event as the receipt of ordinary income or short-term gains, but subject to even higher tax rates, as you would like to see. Passing assets from one generation to another within families is for most of us, forgive the expression, the American way or ethos.
9.9.2009 9:21am
rc:
Okay, you logic experts out there.

If the only thing certain in life are death and taxes, then how certain are death-taxes?
9.9.2009 2:02pm
ArthurKirkland:
I do not believe death should be a taxable event (unless it effects a transaction, such as receipt of a contractual payment or the like).

I believe receiving money by inheritance should be a taxable event, much as receiving money by earning is a taxable event.

The inheritance tax has been an established part of the American way for decades. I suspect it has been a part of many societies for centuries. Claiming it is a devious new plot against the American way of life -- such as by raging against the "death tax" -- is about as sensible (yet oddly popular) as labeling a desire to return to the taxation levels of the Reagan administration as Marxist Commie Socialism.
9.9.2009 2:22pm
rc:
ArthurKirkland: "Marxist Commie Socialism"

No, that would be pinko marxist commie socialism.

Arthur follows the person or action, while I follow the money or action.

But death is not a choice or action- it just happens. Which means that inheritance is not a thing that responds incentives or disincentives.

So where does a dead guy's money go? With inheritance taxes, donation taxes (I'm sure I'm just making up a term here), etc, that means that the government gets a slice of each person's wealth upon their unwilling death, no matter where it goes.

It's true that I can't take it with me... but that doesn't mean the gubment gets to steal it.
9.9.2009 8:27pm

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