Will Bernie Folks Listen To Van Jones And Noam Chomsky?

CNN contributor Van Jones, you may remember, once worked for President Obama as his Special Advisor for Green Jobs, or as some liked to call it, the “green jobs czar.” You also may remember that Glenn Beck repeatedly attacked him after his appointment in 2009, essentially suggesting he was, like Obama, a left-wing terrorist who hated white people. Other conservatives attacked him, too, including Republican members of Congress. Those ol’ boys were mostly offended because Jones, just before Obama appointed him, attended a lecture at Berkeley, in which he was asked why Democrats couldn’t get that famous stimulus packaged passed in 2009 even though they had 58 votes in the Senate:

QUESTIONER: …how were they, Republicans, able to push things through when they had less than 60 senators, but somehow we cant?

JONES: Well the answer to that is, they’re assholes.

QUESTIONER: I was afraid that was the answer.

JONES: As a technical, political kind of term. And Barack Obama is not an asshole. Now, I will say this: I can be an asshole, and some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama, are going to have to start getting a little bit uppity.

As you can imagine, since this was pre-Drumpf, everyone on the right was outraged that the Scary Negro’s appointee, himself an even scarier Negro, called lily-white legislators “assholes,” even though it was true and even though he did so before the Scary Negro appointed him. Here’s a screen grab from Fox “News”:

I want to particularly call out one Republican congressman who went after Jones. His name is Mike Pence from Indiana, who is now the governor of that Drumpf-loving state. Back in 2009, Pence was very upset with Jones and demanded his resignation, saying, “His extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in this administration or the public debate.” Yes. Pence said that. He said that extremist views and coarse rhetoric have no place in government or in public debate. None. Nope. No place.

Except when they do.

Less than a month ago, while meekly endorsing Ted Cruz, Pence said,

I particularly want to commend Donald Trump, who I think has given voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans with a lack of progress in Washington, D.C.”

Hmm. Things have changed a bit since 2009. Not long after Pence made that statement about Drumpf giving “voice to the frustration of millions of working Americans,” Cruz got shellacked in Indiana’s GOP primary. Shortly after that, Pence endorsed the extremist views and coarse rhetoric approach:

I’m fully supportive of our presumptive nominee, and I do think Donald Trump will do well in the State of Indiana. I’m going to campaign hard for the Republican nominee because Indiana needs a partner in the White House.

He meant, of course, that Indiana needs a partner in the White’s House, even if that partner is really, truly a profane extremist. Apparently, Pence, like other Republicans in bed with Drumpf, don’t mind white folks doin’ all that fussin’ and cussin’; they just don’t like uppity Negroes doin’ it. Ain’t acceptable.

In any case, Van Jones resigned in September of 2009, after it became clear President Obama wasn’t in the mood for a fight. There were important things to get done and Jones was a distraction. That was too bad for the Obama administration but good for Jones. He has enjoyed a pretty good career since then, including a lot of face time on television, where he appears often, these days as a Bernie supporter.

But even though Jones is a Bernie man, he ain’t nuts. He isn’t about to let the Bern get the best of him or his country. I have never seen him badmouth Hillary in the way most Bernie people do when they get in front of a camera. He’s cool about it. That’s why he made a video for van jones videoMoveOn.org, an organization that also went all-in for Bernie, but apparently understands that things are getting out of hand with some Bernie folks. The video is a warning that Drumpf can win the general election if we, liberals and leftists and anyone else who doesn’t like Orange Man, don’t “work together” to make sure the profane extremist doesn’t make the White’s House his home.  (You can watch the video at https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fmoveon%2Fvideos%2Fvb.7292655492%2F10153454110680493%2F%3Ftype%3D3&show_text=0&width=560  and then come back for a word from a leftist’s leftist, Noam Chomsky.)

The comment section accompanying the video is an interesting read. There are some real Hillary haters on there, folks who won’t vote for her no matter what. Even if it means a President Drumpf, they don’t care. They want a “clean conscience.” Which brings me to Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky is a real radical leftist. Over the years he has said some things I agree with and some things I think are ridiculous. No need to go into that here. What I want to do is post something he said to yet another leftist, Amy Goodman, on her fine program, Democracy Now! After raising the point that corporate forces are funding elections and writing legislation and that a “countervailing force” is necessary to defend “popular interests, needs and concerns,” Chomsky said this:

noam chomskyBut now, going back to who should you push the button for, well, my own—in the primaries, I would prefer Bernie Sanders. If Clinton is nominated and it comes to a choice between Clinton and Trump, in a swing state, a state where it’s going to matter which way you vote, I would vote against Trump, and by elementary arithmetic, that means you hold your nose and you vote Democrat. I don’t think there’s any other rational choice. Abstaining from voting or, say, voting for, say, a candidate you prefer, a minority candidate, just amounts to a vote for Donald Trump, which I think is a devastating prospect, for reasons I’ve already mentioned. So—but meanwhile, do the important things.

I have to admit that surprised me. We are, after all, talking about Noam Chomsky. But even though clearly he doesn’t like Hillary Clinton—heck, even Bernie isn’t quite radical enough for him—he still has enough sense to see that even radical leftists should not commit national suicide by voting for a third party candidate or not voting at all.

Now, I say this to all you earnest Bernie folks out there: If Noam Bleeping Chomsky can “push the button” for Hillary, you can too! We can’t afford to let the assholes win! “Do the important things.”

Top Of The Ninth: Secularism 2, Religious Fanaticism 0

It’s getting late in the game. As same-sex marriage bans fall, jurisdiction by jurisdiction, the religious reactionaries are swinging for the fences and, as the governor of Indiana is now discovering, whiffing.

When it is all over, even the most zealous Religious Right Republicans will finally have to admit that this is not a Christian nation. America is becoming, day by day, ruling by ruling, boycott by boycott, a secular country, at least when it comes to our laws regarding discrimination.

Mike Pence Surrounded By Bigots When He Signed SB101 Into LawDemocratic strategist Richard Socarides said last night on MSNBC that Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s problem is that “he was lying through his teeth” when he denied that the now infamous Indiana law, disguised as an effort to protect religious liberty, was really about allowing what I call Bible-based bigotry to have its way. The law most certainly was designed to allow discrimination against gays or quasi-gays or anyone who doesn’t have sex the way, presumably, Governor Pence and his evangelical friends do.

Richard Socarides finally said out loud the truth about what the evangelical-influenced legislature and governor in Indiana were trying to pull off. That they weren’t able to pull it off, that they weren’t able to lie their way to a victory for discrimination based on an ancient set of manuscripts, is wonderful news.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, where trees on the Ozark Mountains cover a multitude of reactionary sins, conservative lawmakers passed a similar “religious freedom” bill that even the CEO of Wal-Mart—who could only manage to express himself in a tweet—found so offensive that he urged the Republican governor, Asa Hutchinson, to veto the attempt to put gays in their rightful, hell-bound, place.

No matter what one thinks of Wal-Mart, that is progress.

Last October I wrote about “The Slow Triumph Of Secularism.” That was just after the Supreme Court had then decided not to decide the issue of gay marriage and let stand a lower-court ruling that entitled gay citizens to the same matrimonial bliss, or non-bliss, as those who have sex in the Religious Right sense. Things look even better now, what with a groundswell of negative reaction to what happened in Indiana and what is happening in Arkansas.

So, the game is almost over and the forces of secularism, which demand that the rights of LGBT folks are respected as much as anyone else’s—as much as any pew-renting patron of literalistic religion—are, with success, ridiculing the forces of reactionary politics, with the help of Wal-Mart and, uh, believe it or not, NASCAR.

There may be a setback before it is over—the governor of Arkansas may ignore Wal-Mart and NASCAR and every other objector and sign the discriminatory law passed by his legislature—but I can confidently say that secularism will win this important game.

And, as I said back in October, that means the American experiment is working.

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[photo credit @seamonkey237]

Come See The Results Of Right-Wing Media

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, a Columbus, Ohio, Democrat, is undecided about whether she will vote for health care reform.  Outside her district office, this is what she faced, as reported by the Columbus Dispatch:

The kind of anger that would make these conservatives—yes, they are conservatives; what else could they be?—behave in such a way is a product of months and months of right-wing media feeding hate and fear to soul-starved people.

On Chris Matthews’ show, I listened to Mike Pence meekly condemn what he saw on this video, even as he made the case that it just shows how angry people are out there.

I can’t believe I share a planet with such people, not to mention a country.  

House Republicans No Match For Obama

President Obama, during the Q&A part of his visit today to the House Republican retreat, explained to Republicans that their use of damaging rhetoric about him in front of their constituents back home—such as claiming that his crazy policies and plans would “destroy America” or that the health care reform bill was part of some kind of “Bolshevik plot“—made it nearly impossible for them then to turn around and work with him on anything, even if they happen to agree on it.

In other words, if Republicans paint Obama as the Devil, then claim that they want to work with him, they are in effect saying they want to make a deal with the Devil.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think that would play well in the Bible Belt, which, of course, is why Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, have no intention of “working” with the President. 

I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen the event, which ran about an hour and a half, to check it out here or here.  Or read the transcript here.  It was quite unusual, and I have never seen anything like it.

Obama, as usual, was very impressive, not just with his teleprompter-less answers and his understanding of all of the issues raised, but he also impressed with his commitment to get things done.  And surprisingly, he demonstrated a strong willingness to call out Republican questioners who asked questions that were clearly designed to fit nicely in a campaign ad against Democrats back home.

And, of course, after the event was over, Republican leaders were on the tube in full partisan mode.  I doubt if Obama had left the building before Mike Pence was waving around a copy of the Republicans’ policy book, which was featured prominently during the event.

So, here we go again.

UPDATE: Less than an hour after the event, Congressman Trent Franks* from Arizona was on television repeating the Republican line that Obama’s domestic policies will ruin the country and his national security policies are a terrorist’s dream. However, Mr. Franks did manage to say that Obama was “articulate” and that he didn’t think that in his “heart” he meant to do such things.

Well, I guess that’s an improvement.

___________________________________________________________

*Congressman Franks represents a district in Arizona that although geographically widespread, actually comprises largely conservative voters living in the western suburbs of Phoenix.  Anyone who has ever been to those suburbs can easily understand that Democrats aren’t likely to be wildly popular there. So, what motivation does Mr. Franks have to be bi-partisan, when he would be thrown out of office in 11 months, if he were to try it? 

Men Of Constant Sorrow

Lest anyone think that conservative Republicans have not been consistent in their fear-mongering over the years regarding the encroachment of “socialism,” here are a few selections from Rep. Mike Pence’s article lamenting his own party’s plans to provide a prescription drug benefit to seniors back in 2003:

Not only is the need for a universal public subsidy questionable, adding a universal drug benefit to Medicare may have certain unintended consequences. Namely, seniors with private coverage from a former employer may actually lose their coverage. The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that thousands of seniors could lose coverage they currently enjoy from a former employer if Congress creates this new entitlement.

Mike+PenceSound familiar? How about this:

The final, and most ominous, consequence of a universal drug benefit could be that it will usher in the beginning of socialized medicine in America.

Nobody said conservatives were original. They have been painfully consistent through time in their attempts to scare the dook out of old folks and their claims that government-provided benefits will lead to nasty socialism.

The truth is that Pence did concede in his article that it was okay to provide seniors “near the poverty level with urgent and sufficient prescription coverage.”

The problem is that neither he, nor any conservative, ever makes clear just how the government can do that without being open to the charge of “socialism.”

That’s called having it both ways.

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