The Woods Fund, And A Few More Bad Actors

The Woods Fund, And A Few More Bad Actors 

Part 11 In the series,  Politics, A Disgustingly Dirty Game Filled With Unbelievably Vile Things

By: Passionate Pachyderms

The Woods Fund

360 North Michigan Avenue – Suite 1600  Chicago, IL   60601  Phone :312-782-2698 Email :info@woodsfund.org URL :http://www.woodsfund.org/  Assets: $68,540,872 (2005)    Grants Received: $10,000 (2005)   Grants Awarded: $3,425,000 (2005)


The Woods Fund of Chicago is an outgrowth of the Woods Charitable Fund (WCF), which was established in 1941 by Frank Woods and his wife, Nelle Cochrane Woods. Frank Woods was an attorney and a nationally prominent telephone company executive. He and his wife incorporated WCF with their three sons, two of whom remained in Lincoln, and one of whom (Frank Woods, Jr.) worked in Chicago after finishing college and eventually became the head of the Sahara Coal Company.

Frank Woods headed WCF in the 1950s, during which time he gave money to groups advocating equal rights for minorities. He was also instrumental in developing the Council on Foundations. His grandson Thomas C. Woods, Jr. was President of WCF from 1968 until 1990, at which point Lucia Woods Lindley (Frank Woods, Jr.’s daughter) took over that position. In the early 1990s, George Kelm became WCF President and, with the assistance of Staff Director Jean Rudd, moved the Fund politically to the left. Kelm and Rudd then created a separate entity, which they named the Woods Fund of Chicago; Kelm, who was active in the Council on Foundations, became the Woods Fund’s first President.

This new Fund focused on welfare reform, affordable housing, the quality of public schools, race and class disparities in the juvenile justice system, and tax policy as a tool in reducing poverty. The Fund supported the concept of an expanding welfare state allocating ever-increasing amounts of money to the public school system, and the redistribution of wealth via taxes.

The Woods Fund of Chicago’s current President is Deborah Harrington, who served on former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar’s Taskforce on Human Services Reform.

A notable Woods board member is William Ayers, who in the 1960s was a member of the terrorist group Weatherman, and was a wanted fugitive for over a decade as a result of the group’s bombing campaign; today Ayers is a Professor of Education at the University of Illinois. In 2002 the Woods Fund made a grant to Northwestern University Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers’ wife, BernardineDohrn, was employed. Barack Obama was one of Ayers’ fellow Woods Fund board members at that time.

A former President of the Woods Fund was Maria G. Valdez, a member of the Regional Council of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the most influential Hispanic advocacy group in the United States.

The Woods Fund’s philanthropic agendas are focused in three program areas:

1) The Community Organizing program finances the formation of grassroots organizations, staffed mostly by volunteers, that attempt to shape public policy through activism.

2) The Arts and Culture program supports those who combine artistic pursuits with leftwing activism in the form of community organizing.

3) The Public Policy program supports “policy and constituency-building work that helps low-income individuals and families to attain higher standards of living,” and aims to address “issues of poverty among low-wage workers as well as unskilled potential workers.”

Woods Fund philanthropy is founded on the axiom that there are “structural barriers to job opportunities, job retention and job advancement” that harm the “working poor.” The Fund also condemns what it considers discrimination directed against those “having prison records or felony convictions that make it difficult for them to enter the workforce.”

The Woods Fund has given sizable grants to the Midwest Academy; the Tides Foundation; the Tides Center; the Nature Conservancy; AGAPE Youth Development; the Arab American Action Network; the Center for Community Change; Trinity United Church of Christ (where Barack Obama was a congregant); the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues; the Community Justice Initiative; the Center for Law and Human Services; the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability; Grassroots Collaborative (for American Friends Service Committee); Latin United Community Housing Association; the Center for Economic Progress; the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless; the Chicago Rehabilitation Network; the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights; the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; the Juvenile Justice Initiative of Illinois; Latinos United; the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing; the National Center on Poverty, Inc.; Protestants for the Common Good; the Public Action Foundation; the Community Justice for Youth Initiative; the Safer Foundation; the Woodstock Institute; Work, Welfare and Families; the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN); the About Face Theater Collective; Day Laborer Collaboration; Business and Professional People for the Public Interest; the Coalition of African Service Providers; the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law; the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities; Urban Outreach; and the Proteus Fund.

 

 

Cass Sunstein

  • Contributing editor to The New Republic and The American Prospect
  • Played an active role in opposing the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998
  • Served as an advisor for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008
  • Was appointed (by Barack Obama) to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in 2009Born in September 1954, Cass Sunstein earned a BA degree from Harvard College in 1975. Three years later, he received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he had served as executive editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review.After graduating from law school, Sunstein clerked for Justice Benjamin Kaplan of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (1978-1979), and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1979-1980).

    From 1980-81, Sunstein worked as an attorney-advisor in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, and then took a job as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 1981. Two years later he also became an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. In 1985 he was made a full professor of both law and political science. He would continue to teach full time at the University of Chicago Law School until 2008, at which time his status changed to that of Visiting Professor. Today he also holds the title of Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

    In 1992 Sunstein expressed his view that the office of the U.S. presidency should be elevated to a position higher than that of the president’s administration generally, and that the Constitution should be viewed as a “living,” evolving document:

“Now, it is alarming to people who want to believe in the unitary executive, like me, that the 19th-century writers thought this was self-evident. [The unitary executive theory holds that a powerful president controls the entire executive branch.] That’s the policy recommendation and the conclusion that the Constitution is largely, not entirely, but largely irrelevant. Now, I say what I’ve said about the Constitutional matter with considerable regret. I wish it weren’t so. The executive department’s vision of the Constitution, with the president on top and the administration below, has elegance and simplicity and tremendous appeal. It would make much more sense, I submit, given our current situation, to have a Constitution in which the president is on top of administration is below. But that was not the founder’s original conception. The Constitution does not speak in those terms…. Because the conclusion that I’ve reached seems to me so unfortunate, I’m trying hard to figure out what can be done about it…. One thing that perhaps can be done about it is to say, well, we shouldn’t really be originalists about the meaning of the Constitution. Maybe Judge Bork had wrong. Maybe we should think that the Constitution has a high degree of flexibility. Maybe it’s a changing and living document. Now, under that conception of Constitutional interpretation, maybe we can have the ingredients of a new unitary executive idea.”

In 1993 Sunstein published the book The Partial Constitution, which contains a chapter titled “It’s the government’s Money,” wherein Sunstein writes that “the Constitution … forbids government from refusing to pay the expenses of abortion in cases of rape or incest, at least if government pays for childbirth in such cases.” By Sunstein’s reckoning, a system whereby the government funds childbirth but not abortion “has the precise consequence of turning women into involuntary incubators” and “breeders” whose bodies are sacrificed “in the service of third parties” (i.e., fetuses).

With regard to citizens who object to having their tax dollars finance abortions, Sunstein writes:

“There would be no tension with the establishment clause if people with religious or other objections were forced to pay for that procedure (abortion). Indeed, taxpayers are often forced to pay for things – national defense, welfare, certain forms of art, and others – to which they have powerful moral and even religious objections.”

Also in The Partial Constitution, Sunstein promotes the notion of a “First Amendment New Deal” in the form of a new “Fairness Doctrine” that would authorize a panel of “nonpartisan experts” to ensure that a “diversity of view[s]” is presented on the airwaves.

According to Sunstein, private broadcasting companies do a disservice to the American public by airing programs only if their ratings are high enough, or airing commercials only if advertisers can afford to pay the cost of a 30- to 60-second spot:

“In a market system, this goal [of airing diverse views] may be compromised. It is hardly clear that ‘the freedom of speech’ is promoted by a regime in which people are permitted to speak only if other people are willing to pay enough to allow them to be heard.”

“If it were necessary to bring about diversity and attention to public matters,” Sunstein writes, “a private right of access to the media might even be constitutionally compelled. The notion that access [to the airwaves] will be a product of the marketplace might well be constitutionally troublesome.” Government, he says, has a moral obligation to force broadcast media companies to air commercials that represent a “diversity” of views:

“The idea that government should be neutral among all forms of speech seems right in the abstract, but as frequently applied it is no more plausible than the idea that it should be neutral between the associational interests of blacks and those of whites under conditions of segregation.”

According to Sunstein, the judicial system should issue rulings to make it clear that private media companies do not have the final say in rejecting “diversity” commercials.

Asserting that government regulation of the broadcasting industry is consistent with the spirit of the Constitution, Sunstein writes: “It seems quite possible that a law that contained regulatory remedies would promote rather than undermine the ‘freedom of speech.'” Sunstein proposes “compulsory public-affairs programming [and] content review by nonpartisan experts or guidelines to encourage attention to public issues and diversity of view.”

Reasoning from the premise that public television stations provide benefits to society that profit-driven private enterprises do not, Sunstein calls for a government mandate that “purely commercial [television] stations provide financial subsidies to public television or to commercial stations that agree to provide less-profitable but high-quality programming.”

In 1998 Sunstein said that “a progressive consumption tax would be a really good thing” that “hardly anyone would be hurt by.”

Also in 1998, Sunstein said the following about socialism:

“I dont have anything good to say about socialism in the abstract. If what’s understood by socialism is efforts to insure that people don’t live under desperate conditions, well, you know, Roosevelt and Madison and Jeferson were all socialists. I think that … these abstractions often can just create holy wars where people might really be able to be in agreement….

“If what socialism means is public ownership of the means of production, I think that is a recipe for economic disaster and democratic failure of the worst kind. The socialist ideal, which [dates] back to Aristotle, of human flourishing, is, that’s great. That’s Roosevelt’s ideal. And Johnson’s too, and Dewey’s….

“Economic equality is a dangerous ideal and something that people should be frightened of, and not happy about. But …. if what you mean by economic equality is floors for everybody and ceilings for everybody, well, floors, absolutely. Ceilings? Probably. A consumption tax. Certainly a consumption ceiling. Great.”

Sunstein played a particularly active role in opposing the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998.

On April 14, 1999, Sunstein published an opinion piece in The Chicago Tribune titled “Why We Should Celebrate Paying Taxes.” He wrote:

“In what sense is the money in our pockets and bank accounts fully ‘ours’? Did we earn it by our own autonomous efforts? Could we have inherited it without the assistance of probate courts? Do we save it without the support of bank regulators? Could we spend it if there were no public officials to coordinate the efforts and pool the resources of the community in which we live?… Without taxes there would be no liberty. Without taxes there would be no property. Without taxes, few of us would have any assets worth defending. [It is] a dim fiction that some people enjoy and exercise their rights without placing any burden whatsoever on the public fisc. … There is no liberty without dependency. That is why we should celebrate tax day …”

In his 2001 book, Republic.com, Sunstein argued that the Internet posed a threat to democracy because it promoted cyberbalkanization, a phenomenon whereby people isolate themselves ideologically within groups that share their own political perspectives, while turning a blind eye to any views or facts that might challenge their beliefs. To counter this tendency, he called for government-imposed diversity on websites promoting a particular political perspective. Specifically, he suggested that all partisan websites should feature “electronic sidewalks” providing links to resources that offer opposing views. In a 2001 interview, he elaborated:

“Sites of one point of view [would] agree to provide links to other sites, so that if you’re reading a conservative magazine, they would provide a link to a liberal site and vice versa, just to make it easy for people to get access to competing views. Or maybe a pop-up on your screen that would show an advertisement or maybe even a quick argument for a competing view. [break] The best would be for this to be done voluntarily, but the word ‘voluntary’ is a little complicated, and sometimes people don’t do what’s best for our society unless Congress holds hearings or unless the public demands it. And the idea would be to have a legal mandate as the last resort, and to make sure it’s as neutral as possible if we have to get there, but to have that as, you know, an ultimate weapon designed to encourage people to do better.”

Several years later, Sunstein retracted this suggestion as a “bad idea.”

Sunstein’s views about human cloning have been the subject of some controversy. By his reckoning, cloning should pose no moral dilemma because human embryos are “only a handful of cells.”

In a 2002 paper (titled “Is There a Constitutional Right to Clone?”) for the Harvard Law Review, Sunstein wrote:

“Moral repugnance might well be a response to vaguely remembered science fiction stories or horror movies, or to perceptions based on ignorance and confusion (as in the idea that a clone is a complete ‘copy’ of the original, or a ‘copy’ that is going to be evil).”

Added Sunstein:

“For some people, cloning might be the only feasible way to produce a biological offspring. It would certainly not be ludicrous to say that as a matter of constitutional law, the state has to produce a strong justification for intruding on that choice in cases in which it is the only realistic option.”

In 2003 Sunstein wrote:

“It is silly to think that ‘potential’ is enough for moral concern [about cloning]. Sperm cells have ‘potential’ and (not to put too fine a point on it) most people are not especially solicitous about them.”
Sunstein is an animal-rights activist who once said, in a speech at Harvard University: “We ought to ban hunting, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law. It’s time now.” He also has stated that livestock and wild animals should have legal “rights” and should be empowered to file lawsuits; that the human consumption of meat is a practice that should be ended permanently; and that the use of animals for work, entertainment, science, and food is akin to “human slavery.” “[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, scientific experiments, and agriculture,” Sunstein wrote in a 2002 working paper while at the University of Chicago Law school. He expanded on these ideas in his 2004 book Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions.

Also in 2004, Sunstein published The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever. Arguing that citizens’ rights exist only to the extent that they are granted by the government, the book drew its inspiration from President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 proposal of a new Bill of Rights. WorldNetDaily reports that among the mandates laid out in the book are the following:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

In The Second Bill of Rights, Sunstein states that “if the nation becomes committed to certain rights [such as the foregoing], they may migrate into the Constitution itself.” He adds that “at a minimum, the second bill should be seen as part and parcel of America’s constitutive commitments.” Another notable quote from the book is the following:

“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.” (p. 3)

As noted earlier, Sunstein agrees with Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s assertion that the Constitution is a “living” document whose meanings and mandates change with the passage of time. According to The Weekly Standard:

“Sunstein would give up on the idea that law is supposed to be an apolitical discipline in which practitioners put aside their political beliefs. The judiciary Sunstein contemplates would have Democratic and Republican caucuses.”

Contending that “the judiciary is already politicized,” Sunstein says the notion that “judges are not policymakers” is a “myth.” Judges’ “political commitments,” he states, “very much influence their votes.” He contends that “judges are subject to conformity pressures, and like-minded judges go to extremes, in the sense that ideological predispositions are heightened when judges are sitting with others who were appointed by presidents of the same political party.”

In 2005 the American Constitution Society (ACS) sponsored a conference at Yale Law School titled “The Constitution in 2020,” whose purpose was to give liberal/left lawyers and judges a forum wherein they could trade ideas on what they would like the U.S. Constitution to look like 15 years down the road, and how they could influence it toward that end. Sunstein participated in this forum, where he put forth his ideas about a “Second Bill of Rights.”  The Weekly Standard offered this assessment of the goals of the ACS forum:

“The essence of the progressive constitutional project is to recognize ‘positive’ rights, not just ‘negative’ rights, so that citizens are not only guaranteed freedom from specified forms of government interference, but also are guaranteed the receipt of specified economic benefits. The bottom line is that Congress would no longer have the discretion to decline to enact liberal policies. The triumph of the left would be constitutionally mandated.”

Sunstein has argued in favor of expanding wefare benefits and redistributing wealth in the United States, but contends that the country’s “white majority” opposes such a development because of deep-seated racism:

“The absence of a European-style social welfare state is certainly connected with the widespread perception among the white majority that the relevant programs would disproportionately benefit African Americans (and more recently Hispanics).”

Sunstein depicts socialist nations as being more committed than their capitalist counterparts to the welfare of their own citizens:

“During the Cold War, the debate about [social welfare] guarantees took the form of pervasive disagreement between the United States and its communist adversaries. Americans emphasized the importance of civil and political liberties, above all free speech and freedom of religion, while communist nations stressed the right to a job, health care, and a social minimum.”

In 2007 Sunstein co-authored (with fellow attorney Eric A. Posner) a 39-page University of Chicago Law School paper titled “Climate Change Justice,” which held that it was “desirable” for America to pay “justice” to poorer nations by entering into a compensation agreement that would result in a financial loss for the United States. The paper refers several times to “distributive justice.”

Sunstein and Posner further speculate about the possibility of achieving this redistribution by means other than direct payments:

  • “It is even possible that desirable redistribution is more likely to occur through climate change policy than otherwise, or to be accomplished more effectively through climate policy than through direct foreign aid.”
  • “We agree that if the United States does spend a great deal on emissions reductions as part of an international agreement, and if the agreement does give particular help to disadvantaged people, considerations of distributive justice support its action, even if better redistributive mechanisms are imaginable.”
  • “If the United States agrees to participate in a climate change agreement on terms that are not in the nation’s interest, but that help the world as a whole, there would be no reason for complaint, certainly if such participation is more helpful to poor nations than conventional foreign-aid alternatives.”
  • “If we care about social welfare, we should approve of a situation in which a wealthy nation is willing to engage in a degree of self-sacrifice when the world benefits more than that nation loses.”

In their 2008 book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, Sunstein and co-author Richard Thaler brainstorm about ways to increase the number of organ donations that Americans make each year. They theorize that the main reason why more people do not arrange to donate their organs posthumously is because in order to do so, they are required to actively give “explicit consent” for such procedures, which few people ever take the time to do. To remedy this, Sunstein and Thaler advocate a policy of “presumed consent” — the opposite of explicit consent — whereby the the government would “presume” that someone has consented to having his or her organs removed for transplantation unless that person has explicitly indicated his or her wish to prevent such an action.

Sunstein and Thaler realize, however, that such a proposal “is a hard sell politically” because “[m]ore than a few people object to the idea of ‘presuming’ anything when it comes to such a sensitive matter.” Thus the authors propose an alternate solution — “mandated choice” — where the government forces all people to make a decision on the matter:

“With mandated choice, renewal of your driver’s license would be accompanied by a requirement that you check a box stating your organ donation preferences. Your application would not be accepted unless you had checked one of the boxes.”

Under such a system, government “incentives and nudges” would replace “requirements and bans.”

In 2008, Sunstein said the following about why he favored the establishment of a government that could “nudge” people’s behavior in certain desired directions:

  • “The nanny state … in a way is underrated, so long as there aren’t mandates.”
  • “We [Sunstein and Thaler] think that there’s a little Homer Simpson in all of us; that sometimes we have self-control problems; sometimes we’re impulsive; and that in these circumstances, both private and public institutions, without coercing, can make our lives a lot better.”
  • “Once we know that people are human and there’s some Homer Simpson in them, then there’s a lot that can be done to manipulate them.”

On July 4, 2008, Sunstein married his second wife, Harvard professor Samantha Power, whom he had met when they both worked as advisors to the presidential campaign of Sunstein’s longtime friend and former University of Chicago Law School colleague, Barack Obama.

Also in 2008, Sunstein authored a paper proposing that the government use a variety of methods to limit or eliminate conspiracy theories critical of the U.S. government. These methods suggested that the government could:

  • ban conspiracy theories outright
  • impose a tax on those who advance conspiracy theories
  •  engage in counter-speech to “discredit conspiracy theories and theorists”
  • hire private parties to engage in counter-speech
  • engage in informal communication with such private parties, encouraging them to help

Added Sunstein: “Our main policy claim here is the government should engage in cognitive infiltration of the groups that produce conspiracy theories.”

In 2008 Sunstein served as an advisor for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. After Obama’s 2009 inauguration, Sunstein was appointed to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Sunstein is a contributing editor to The New Republic and The American Prospect and has frequently testified before congressional committees.

 

 

Van Jones

  • Became a Communist in the aftermath of the 1992 “Rodney King riots” in Los Angeles
  • Founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in 1996
  • Was active in the anti-Iraq War demonstrations organized by International ANSWER
  • Served as a board member of the Rainforest Action Network and Free Press
  • In March 2009, President Barack Obama named Jones to be his so-called “Green Jobs Czar.”
  • Resigned in early September 2009

Born in 1968 in rural West Tennessee, Van Jones (whose birth name was Anthony Jones) attended the University of Tennessee at Martin. As an undergraduate aspiring to a career in journalism, he founded an underground campus newspaper as well as a statewide African American newspaper. After earning his BA degree, Jones abandoned his plan to become a journalist and instead enrolled at Yale Law School, where, as an angry black separatist, he first arrived wearing combat boots and carrying a Black Panther bookbag. “If I’d been in another country, I probably would have joined some underground guerrilla sect,” he reflects. “But as it was, I went on to an Ivy League law school…. I wasn’t ready for Yale, and they weren’t ready for me.”

Failing to develop a passion for legal studies, Jones contemplated dropping out of Yale. Realizing, however, that a law degree would furnish him with perceived credibility as a critic of the criminal-justice system — which he believed was thoroughly infested with racism — he persevered and earned his Juris Doctorate.

During his years at Yale, Jones served as an intern with the San Francisco-based Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), which views the United States as an irredeemably racist nation and “champions the legal rights of people of color, poor people, immigrants and refugees, with a special commitment to African-Americans.”

Jones says he became politically radicalized in the aftermath of the deadly April 1992 Los Angeles riots which erupted shortly after four L.A. police officers who had beaten the now-infamous Rodney King were exonerated in court. “I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th,” says Jones, “and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist.”

In early May 1992, after the L.A. riots had ended, Jones was dispatched by LCCR Executive Director Eva Patterson to serve as a legal monitor at a nonviolent protest (against the Rodney King verdicts) in San Francisco. Local police, fearful that the event would devolve into violence, stopped the proceedings and arrested many of the participants, including all the legal monitors. Jones spent a short time in jail, and all charges against him were subsequently dropped.

Recalling his brief incarceration, Jones says: “I met all these young radical people of color. I mean really radical: communists and anarchists. And it was, like, ‘This is what I need to be a part of.’ I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary.”

After leaving Yale in 1993, Jones relocated to San Francisco, where he helped establish Bay Area Police Watch, a hotline and lawyer-referral service that began as a project of LCCR and specialized in demonizing local police. In 1996 he founded the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which, claiming that the American criminal-justice system was infested with racism, sought to promote alternatives to incarceration. According to the Baker Center:

“Decades of disinvestment in our cities have led to despair and hopelessness. For poor communities and communities of color it’s even worse, as excessive, racist policing and over-incarceration have left people even further behind.”

Jones headed the Baker Center from 1996 to 2007. Between 1999 and 2009, the Baker Center received more than $1 million from George Soros‘s Open Society Institute.

By the late 1990s, Jones was a committed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist who viewed police officers as the arch-enemies of black people, and who loathed capitalism for allegedly exploiting nonwhite minorities worldwide. He became a leading member of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM), a Bay-Area Marxist-Maoist collective that was staffed by members of various local nonprofits, a number of whom had ties to the Ella Baker Center. STORM would grow in influence until 2002, when it disbanded due to internal squabbles.

Jones helped organize an October 1999 rally in Oakland, California, calling for a retrial on behalf of convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal. Around 2002, Jones, who had experience as a record producer, produced (for the Ella Baker Center) an album that starred Abu Jamal. Among the lyrics on this album were the following:

“The American way manufactured by white folk in office, by these rich men here to mock us. The United States; a piece of stolen land led by right-wing, war-hungry, oil thirsty … And when it’s all said and done, still can’t [garbled] the wrong place cause they got people of color playing servant to do that sh** for them; mother f***ers ready to wipe out soft targets on territories harboring terrorists? Tragedy. The true terrorists are made in the U.S.”

In 2000 Jones campaigned aggressively against California Proposition 21, a ballot initiative that established harsher penalties for a variety of violent crimes and called for more juvenile offenders to be tried as adults. Jones’ efforts incorporated a hip-hop soundtrack that aimed to attract young black men clad in such gang-style garb as puffy jackets and baggy pants, who would call attention to the alleged injustices of the so-called “prison-industrial complex.” But infighting and jealousies between various factions of Jones’ movement caused it ultimately to fall apart. “I saw our little movement destroyed over a lot of sh**-talking and bullsh**,” said Jones.

After the demise of his anti-Prop 21 movement, Jones decided to change his political tactics. Specifically, he toned down the overt hostility and defiant rage that he previously had worn as badges of honor. “Before, we would fight anybody, any time,” he said in 2005. “No concession was good enough; we never said ‘Thank you.’ Now, I put the issues and constituencies first. I’ll work with anybody, I’ll fight anybody if it will push our issues forward…. I’m willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.”‘

Added Jones: “I realized that there are a lot of people who are capitalists — shudder, shudder — who are really committed to fairly significant change in the economy, and were having bigger impacts than me and a lot of my friends with our protest signs.”

Jones’ new approach was modeled on the tactics outlined by the famed radical organizer Saul Alinsky, who stressed the need for revolutionaries to mask the extremism of their objectives and to present themselves as moderates until they could gain some control over the machinery of political power. In a 2005 interview, Jones stated that he still considered himself a revolutionary, but a more effective one thanks to his revised tactics.

Just hours after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Jones stood in the streets of Oakland, California with his fellow STORM members to denounce the United States for having brought the disaster on itself. In October 2004 he joined a host of notable leftists in signing the 9/11 Truth Statement (signature #46), which called for a federal investigation into whether President Bush had been privy to advance knowledge of – or perhaps had colluded in – the destruction of the World Trade Center.

In the early 2000s, Jones and STORM were active in the anti-Iraq War demonstrations organized by International ANSWER, a front group for the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party. STORM also had ties to the South African Communist Party and it revered Amilcar Cabral, the late Marxist revolutionary leader (of Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands) who lauded Lenin as “the greatest champion of the national liberation of the peoples.” (In 2006 Van Jones would name his own newborn son “Cabral” — in Amilcar Cabral’s honor.)

During his tenure with STORM, Jones collaborated on numerous projects (including antiwar demonstrations) with local activist Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, who served as a “mentor” for members of the Ella Baker Center. Martinez was a longtime Maoist who went on to join the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS), a Communist Party USA splinter group, in the early 1990s. To this day, Martinez continues to sit on the CCDS advisory board alongside such luminaries as Angela Davis, Timuel Black (who served on Barack Obama’s 2004 Senate campaign committee), and musician Pete Seeger. Martinez is also a board member of the Movement for a Democratic Society, the parent organization of Progressives for Obama. Martinez and Van Jones together attended a “Challenging White Supremacy” workshop which advanced the theme that “all too often, the unconscious racism of white activists stands in the way of any effective, worthwhile collaboration” with blacks.

In 2005 Jones and the Ella Baker Center produced the “Social Equity Track” for the United Nations’ World Environment Day celebration, a project that eventually would evolve into the Baker Center’s Green-Collar Jobs Campaign – “a job-training and employment pipeline providing ‘green pathways out of poverty’ for low-income adults in Oakland.”

During the George W. Bush administration, Jones ridiculed the President for advocating an increase in domestic oil-driling:

“We began to drill more, to drill off shore, to drill here, to drill there, to liquify coal … to do whatever you can to get more petroleum into the system. And we heard our president saying just that. That’s what he wants to do. And I hate to say this and I hope I don’t offend anybody, but the president of the United States sounded like a crackhead when he said that. [Mimicking a crack addict:] Just, a little bit mo,’ just a litlle bit mo,’ a little mo’, a little mo’, a little mo’ … Like a crackhead trying to lick the crack pipe for a fix…. I’m sorry, I’m gonna speak some ebonics up here. Good luck with the translation.”

Soon after attending the Clinton Global Initiative in September 2007, Jones launched “Green For All,” a non-governmental organization “dedicated to building an inclusive green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty … advocating for local, state and federal commitment to job creation, job training, and entrepreneurial opportunities in the emerging green economy – especially for people from disadvantaged communities.” A major funder of Green for All was George Soros’s Open Society Institute.

Said Jones:

“There is a green wave coming, with renewable energy, organic agriculture, cleaner production. Our question is, will the green wave lift all boats? That’s the moral challenge to the people who are the architects of this new, ecologically sound economy. Will we have eco-equity, or will we have eco-apartheid? Right now we have eco-apartheid. Look at Marin; they’ve got solar this, and bio this, and organic the other, and fifteen minutes away by car, you’re in Oakland with cancer clusters, asthma, and pollution.”

In a January 2008 speech, Jones said: “The white polluters and the white environmentalists are essentially steering poison into the people-of-color communities because they don’t have a racial justice framework.”

In 2008 Jones published his first book, The Green Collar Economy, which focused on environmental and economic issues. The book received favorable reviews from such notables as Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Laurie David, Winona LaDuke, environmentalist Paul Hawken, and NAACP President/CEO Ben Jealous.

After the Bush administration had drawn to a close, Jones reflected:

“[A]n authoritarian sentiment seized control of the reins of power in our country, burned the Constitution, enshrined torture, launched an unjust war under false premises … somebody had taken the American flag and turned it into a war flag, and used it to beat and whip and lynch anybody who didn’t agree that we should be bombing people and torturing people.”

Jones has served as a board member of numerous environmental and nonprofit organizations, including the Rainforest Action Network; Free Press; the Apollo Alliance; Bioneers (which accepts the United Nations Millennium Ecosystem Report’s warning that “[h]uman activity is putting such strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted”); the Social Venture Network (which aims “to build a just economy and sustainable planet”); and Julia Butterfly Hill’s “Circle of Life” environmental foundation.

Jones also co-founded Color of Change (COC), an organization that views the United States as a profoundly racist country, and whose mission is “to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.” In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in late August of 2005, COC waged a campaign to censure President Bush, claiming: “He knew about the levees, and he knew about the Superdome. But he did nothing.” In 2006, COC collaborated with MoveOn.org Civic Action to screen Spike Lee’s film When the Levees Broke, which features allegations that the federal government dynamited the levees — a view popularized most famously by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In a 2005 blog on the Huffington Post, Jones asserted that the hurricane had been exacerbated by Bush’s environmental policies and “deep contempt for poor African-Americans.”

At a February 11, 2009 speaking engagement, Jones was asked by an audience member to theorize as to why the Bush administration had been so effective at passing legislation even though Republicans (under Bush) had not held anything even remotely resembling the types of majorities that Democrats eventually (in 2006 and 2008) would establish in both Houses of Congress. “How were the Republicans able to push things through when they had less than 60 senators,” asked the questioner, “but [now] somehow [President Obama] can’t?” To loud applause, Jones replied:

“Well, the answer to that is, they’re assholes. That’s a technical political [inaudible] term. And [President] Barack Obama‘s not an asshole. Um, 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.”

Later that same month in Berkeley, California, Jones made clear his desire to incrementally socialize, by stealth, the U.S. economy:

“Right now we say we want to move from suicidal gray capitalism to something eco-capitalism where at least we’re not fast-tracking the destruction of the whole planet. Will that be enough? No, it won’t be enough. We want to go beyond the systems of exploitation and oppression altogether. But, that’s a process and I think that’s what’s great about the movement that is beginning to emerge is that the crisis is so severe in terms of joblessness, violence and now ecological threats that people are willing to be both pragmatic and visionary. So the green economy will start off as a small subset and we are going to push it and push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.”

In late February 2009, Jones spoke at a Washington, DC event called Power Shift ’09, which was billed as the largest-ever youth summit (attended by 12,000 young adults) on climate change. There, Jones advocated what WorldNetDaily reporter Aaron Klein said “can easily be interpreted as a communist or socialist agenda.” Among Jones’ comments were the following:

  • “Now I’m gonna tell you this: All that clean coal stuff … We could have clean coal. I’m for clean coal. But I’ll tell you what. If we’re gonna have clean coal, let’s have a couple other things…. We could power the country with clean coal, or we could have unicorns pull our cars for us … Equally fictitious, equally fantastical, equally ludicrous. You know, so, we could have the tooth fairy bring us our energy at night. I mean, equally ludicrous. There is no such thing as a tooth fairy. There is no such thing as unicorns. And there is no such thing as clean coal, so let’s be clear about that.”
  • “When we talk about ‘Green for All,’ ‘Green for Everybody,’ where was it written that only men could put up solar panels? Where was it written that only men could manufacture wind turbines? If the green economy has the same sorry track record of sexism; if women in the green economy are making 70 cents to the dollar, just like they’re doing in the pollution-based economy, something’s wrong with our movement…. We need to have gender equity in this movement.”
  • “What about our Native American sisters and brothers?… They told us a long time ago that this was sacred land…. [They] were pushed and bullied and mistreated and shoved into all the land we didn’t want, where it was all hot and windy. Well, guess what, renewable energy? Guess what, solar industry? Guess what, wind industry? They now own and control 80 percent of the renewable energy resources. No more broken treaties! No more broken treaties! Give them the wealth! Give them then wealth! Give them the dignity! Give them the respect that they deserve! No justice on stolen land! We owe them a debt!”
  • “What about our immigrant sisters and brothers? What about people who’ve come here from all around the world, who we’re willing to have out in the fields with poison being sprayed on them, poison being sprayed on them because we have the wrong agricultural system. And we’re willing to poison them and poison the earth to put food on our table, but we don’t want to give them rights, and we don’t want to give them dignity, and we don’t want to give them respect. We need to get down on our knees and thank these Native American communities. But also the Latino community, Asian community, and every otherr community that’s willing to come here and help us out, ’cause we obviously need some help. We need some wisdom from someplace else. ‘Cause what we’ve come up with here don’t make no sense at all.”
  • [W]hat about our sisters and brothers that are in prison right now? What about the formerly incarcerated? We need to have a green economy that doesn’t have any throw-away species,… resources,… [or] any throw-away people either.”
  • “If all you do is have a clean energy revolution, you won’t have done anything…. If all we do is take out the dirty power system, the dirty power generation in a system, and just replace it with some clean stuff, put a solar panel on top of this system, but we don’t deal with how we are consuming water, we don’t deal with how we are treating our other sister and brother species, we don’t deal with toxins, we don’t deal with the way we treat each other; If that’s not a part of this movement,… this is all you’ll have: You’ll have solar-powered bulldozers, solar-powered buzz saws, and bio-fueled bombers, and we’ll be fighting wars over lithium for the batteries instead of oil for the engines, and we’ll still have a dead planet. This movement is deeper than a solar panel! Deeper than a solar panel! Don’t stop there! Don’t stop there! No, we gonna change the whole system! We gonna change the whole thing! We not gonna put a new battery in a broken system, We want a new system. We want a new system.”

During a February 26, 2009 lecture on energy issues in Berkeley, California, Jones, referring to the economic crisis in which the U.S. was mired at the time, sarcastically asked a questioner: “How’s that capitalism working for ya this year?”

On March 10, 2009, President Obama named Jones to be his so-called “Green Jobs Czar”; the formal title for the position was “Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation” for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. At the time, Jones was a Senior Fellow with John Podesta‘s Center for American Progress and a Fellow at the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He described his new role with the Obama administration as that of “a community organizer inside the federal family.”

In a July 2009 interview with Newsweek magazine, Jones said he could not explain exactly what a “green job” is:

“Well, we still don’t have a unified definition, and that’s not unusual in a democracy. It takes a while for all the states and the federal government to come to some agreement. But the Department of Labor is working on it very diligently. Fundamentally, it’s getting there, but we haven’t crossed the finish line yet.”

Amid mounting controversy, Jones resigned his post as the Obama administration’s Green Jobs Czar on Labor Day weekend 2009. In his statement, he claimed that he had been “inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to ‘stay and fight.'” But “opponents of reform,” he said, “have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me. They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.”

Jones was later asked whether Barack Obama had been aware of Jones’ controversial history before the President appointed him as Green Jobs Czar. Jones replied: “I was fully candid, I mean, about my past, about the ideas that I explored. I was a mid-level White House staffer. I reported to a Senate-confirmed nominee — Mid-level White House staffers go through a vetting process that’s very — a process that’s very, very rigorous. But I wasn’t a cabinet secretary. I was a worker in the White House.”

After stepping down from his administration post, Jones was offered office work space by the Washington, DC-based Center for American Progress (CAP), known for its extensive influence on the Obama administration. Jones had previously served as a senior fellow at CAP.

In February 2010, Jones officially rejoined CAP. That same month, he received the NAACP‘s President’s Award, for achievement in public service. He also announced that he had secured a one-year assignment to teach a seminar on environmental and economic policy at Princeton University, beginning in June 2010.

In April 2010, Jones said the following about the nature of the Obama administration:

“You look at the New Party, which is now the Working Families Party, the idea of a new politics – that you could actually in this country bring together labor and civil rights and feminists, etc., and actually make a difference … is the basic framework for what just took over the White House.”

Jones serves as one of 20 advisers to the Presidential Climate Action Project (based at the University of Colorado), which makes climate-policy recommendations for the Obama White House. He has been praised for his environmental work by such notable leftists as Thomas Friedman, Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, Arianna Huffington, Ben Jealous, Laurie David, Gavin Newsom, Carl Pope, Tavis Smiley, Fred Krupp, and John Podesta.

During a January 19, 2011 speaking engagement at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina, Jones gave this definition of the term “social justice”:

“Here’s how you know if you live in a society where there’s social justice: Would you be willing to take your life [and] write it on a card [and] throw it in a big pot with everybody else, [and] reach in at random and pull out another life, with total confidence that it would be a good life?… If you don’t have that confidence, then you don’t live in a country where there’s social justice. Because in a socially just, as opposed to a legally just … world, since we’re all born pretty much equally ignorant, we should have a roughly equal chance to have a good life…. [W]e will constantly be striving [to achieve this]. We won’t ever arrive there, in all likelihood…. We won’t have a perfect union, but it can be more perfect. And every generation has to figure out a way to move us closer to the reality of liberty and justice for all, and not just the rhetoric.”

Next up:  THE LIST!!

Part 12 In the series,  Politics, A Disgustingly Dirty Game Filled With Unbelievably Vile Things

By: Passionate Pachyderms

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