The Van Jones affair could be an important turning point in the Obama administration if we use it as a window to understand the structure of the left and to stop the huge power-grab now taking place in the name of green jobs. It's also one of the most significant things I've ever had the honor of being involved in. Here's how, from my perspective, it happened and what it means.
I was an unlikely Van Jones expert. It started July 9, when "FOX & Friends" asked me if I'd come on the show the morning of July 10 to explain what "green jobs" are. It meant an early morning the next day, but I was glad to do it, because exposing the green jobs scam is critical to fight cap-and-trade, my top legislative priority for the year. The producer asked me if I knew anything about green jobs "czar" Van Jones. I didn't but said I would find out.
I e-mailed a friend who follows the green groups and he said he thought Jones was socialist. -- I doubt he had any idea how deep it went. A couple Web searches later, I couldn't believe what I found in an article from the alternative San Francisco newspaper the East Bay Express. The man was a self-professed communist, with ties to ACORN and a radical Maoist group called STORM. His real name was Anthony, with "Van" made up in college because he thought everyone cool has a one-syllable name.
There was so much material there, but what really stood out is what I used the next day on F&F: the "green jobs" concept was merely a new face on the old ideology of central economic planning and control, an alternative and a threat to free market capitalism.
As soon as I got back to the office, I e-mailed the East Bay Express article to one of Glenn Beck's producer, saying: "Please share with Glenn this article about green jobs czar Van Jones, a self-described communist who was radicalized in jail. Confirms "watermelon" hypothesis." (I was referring to an explanation we had offered on his show of the cap-and-trade bill as a "watermelon," green on the outside but Communist red to the core.)
The rest is history. I spent the next two weeks researching everything I could find about Jones and the Apollo Alliance (much of which is still to be published, including a forthcoming paper from the Capital Research Center next month), the national umbrella organization for coordinating between the environmentalists, the labor unions, and the social justice street organizers that Jones has served as a board member and a primary national spokesman for. Beck had me on his show to explain Apollo on July 28, and several more times thereafter, while he began pounding away.
Two days later, the stakes got higher when another Jones-founded organization, Color of Change, called for a boycott of the Beck show. Amazingly, many in the mainstream media would report the fiction that Beck's coverage of Jones was retaliation for the boycott, even though coverage of Jones started first. Given the chronology, if there is any connection we should consider whether the boycott was retaliation for the coverage.
The mainstream media completely ignored the controversy, but the Internet kicked into high gear, with so many people doing great work that it was hard to keep track of. This week, when Gateway Pundit the broke story that Van Jones actually blamed George Bush for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, some of the mainstream media (but only some) finally began paying attention. Rep. Mike Pence stepped up and called for his resignation. And early today Jones made his exit.
Now Van Jones has left the administration, but we can't afford to stop thinking about him and what he represents. Clearly, he was far less cautious than many of the left-wing radical currently influencing the direction of policy in this country. Less cautious but not ideologically distinct.
The agenda laid out in Van Jones's book, "The Green Collar Economy," which we now know is an attempt to achieve radical ends, is squarely within the mainstream of the political left and the Democratic Party. He urged adoption of a carbon cap-and-trade program, renewable electricity mandates-- including Al Gore's outlandish and impossible goal of eliminating fossil fuel use by 2018, large taxpayer-funded green jobs programs, a so-called smart grid for electricity, more mass-transit subsidies, higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, federal funding for organic farms, a ban on new coal plants, expanded ethanol mandates, and even a spirited, multiple page pitch for a cash-for-clunkers program--he called it "Hoopties for Hybrids."
Even if Apollo is properly tainted by the Van Jones scandal, it's only the tip of the iceberg, as this chart shows. In fact most of the action has already moved to the Center for American Progress, the hyper-politicized think tank that's advancing most of the left's agenda, especially the push for green jobs and all of the policies from Van Jones's book.
As I explained previously on the FOX Forum, the push for "green jobs" has everything to do with funding the far-left political activities that Van Jones so adamantly believed in. Green jobs are not economic jobs but political jobs, designed to funnel vast sums of taxpayer money to left-wing labor unions, environmental groups, and social justice community organizers.
Now that Jones has resigned, we need to follow through with two critical policy victories. First, stop cap-and-trade, which could send these green groups trillions, and second repeal the unspent portion of the stimulus bill, which stands to give them billions. The Van Jones affair is, as President Obama likes to say, a "teachable moment," and we need to put not just him but the whole corrupt "green jobs" concept outside the bounds of the political mainstream.
Phil Kerpen is the founder of American Commitment Action Fund, on the web at www.BookerFAIL.com.