David Sirota

David Sirota
Denver, Colorado,
November 02
David Sirota is a political journalist, best-selling author and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist living in Denver, Colorado. He is a senior fellow at the Campaign for America's Future , the founder of the Progressive States Network and a Senior Editor at In These Times magazine, which in 2006 received the Utne Independent Press Award for political coverage. He also blogs for Credo Action. and the Denver Post's PoliticsWest website. His two books, Hostile Takeover (2006) and The Uprising (2008) were both New York Times bestsellers. In the years before becoming a full-time writer, Sirota worked as the press secretary for Vermont Independent Congressman Bernard Sanders, the chief spokesman for Democrats on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, the Director of Strategic Communications for the Center for American Progress, a campaign consultant for Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer and a media strategist for Connecticut Senate candidate Ned Lamont. He also previously contributed writing to the website of the California Democratic Party. For more on Sirota, see these profiles of him in Newsweek or the Rocky Mountain News. Feel free to email him at lists [at] davidsirota.com

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SEPTEMBER 7, 2009 11:18AM

CNN Clip: Obama Sells Us Out to Political Terrorists

Rate: 16 Flag

Per my post and announcement last night, here's the clip of my CNN debate with David Frum about the Van Jones affair this morning. Notice that Frum has no answer for the obvious double standards. Somehow, nobody gets fired for lying us into Iraq, Tim Geithner keeps his job after tax evasion and gift scandals, Republican congresspeople remain credible while championing the "birther" lunacy - but Van Jones must be fired for carelessly signing a petition years ago, which he later apologized for.

As I said on CNN, the hypocrisy uncovers the real truth of this whole affair: Van Jones was targeted by the political terrorist known as Glenn Beck - the man who leads a 21st century lynch mob looking to hunt down anyone (and especially anyone black) who has ever been a part of progressive movement politics. I don't use that term "political terrorist" lightly. According to the dictionary, a terrorist is "a person who terrorizes or frightens others" - and usually does so with an ideological objective. There are, of course, many different kinds of terrorists, and I'd say Beck - with his fearmongering, paranoia and hate - fits the letter and spirit of the dictionary definition of a political terrorist quite well. Indeed, just listen to this clip or look at this not-so-veiled threat and then try to claim with a straight face that Beck isn't explicitly using the mass media to scare and terrorize people.

In placating the demands of this terrorist and his lynch mob, the Obama administration has simultaneously empowered that terrorist and that lynch mob, while abandoning its own progressive base (And yes, yes - I know saying that makes the sycophants upset. I know it means I'll get a lot of irritating email saying "I guess you wanted McCain!" or "you're going to get us President Romney in 2012!" - as if the progressive movement exists solely to worship at the feet of politicians with a "D" behind their name. That's fine - that kind of cultism is everywhere in the American Idiocracy, and I've got my "delete" key fired up and ready to go).

I am at once loathe to help fuel this media-manufactured controversy and eager to use this as a kind of "teachable moment" that Obama talks about, but rarely delivers on. If we as a movement cannot stand up for a genuine progressive hero like Van Jones - a guy with a towering record of real-world accomplishment on behalf of issues and grassroots communities - then we will not be able to stand up for anything, much less major legislative initiatives.

The multi-million-dollar Washington-based "progressive" organizations that previously used Van Jones to stress their environmental and racial progressivism haven't strongly spoken out about Jones and about the White House's failure to back him. Indeed, most of those organizations have issued mealy-mouthed statements praising Jones but giving their friends in the White House a pass. This is par for the course, unfortunately. As I wrote in my newspaper column this week, and as Jane Hamsher has so effectively shown, these institutions are still too concerned with their White House access than in building a real movement.

So if I can do my own little part to take up the slack through the media, I will - even if it means I will inevitably be targeted by that same right-wing lynch mob.

Of course, perhaps the Jones affair is the canary in the coal mine. Maybe the White House's refusal to stand by Jones and willingness to accept the demands of right-wing political terrorists is a symptom of the bigger disease whereby the Obama is already selling out progressives on every major priority. Perhaps, in short, Jones isn't the issue - and what his firing represents is.

I fear that is the case - certainly the Obama administration's behavior on everything from health care to climate change to war suggests that's what's going on. And if that's true, then we've got a huge problem on our hands.

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I would kill to be targeted.
david-- nice work overall but I would suggest not getting in the game of yelling simultaneously.... sounds like a jerry springer talk show at times...
the real hypocrisy is accusing those of attempting to CLEAN OUT the government of corrupting re 911 truth .. of "having no place in government" because of extremist views ... comparing 911 truth to holocaust denial?? quite a clever twist /reframe to compare 9/11 truth to DENIAL of 911 truth.. amazing.. I think I read frum's paperback on Enemies or whatever.. what a blowhard.. alas, quite effective..
the scientific paper on nanothermite is the canary in the coal mine. try reading it sometime mr intellectual boy
heres a weird "6 degrees of separation" factoid. glenn beck has invited alex jones on his show-- alex jones is a premiere "truther" and conspiracy theorist re 9/11 "inside job". I didnt catch that show.. there are also rumors that van jones targeted Beck with a advertiser boycott campaign. more than meets the eye on all this....
fyi I just put up a link in my latest post to cnn. the obama white house is denying that they forced jones out or asked him to resign. but true, they only lukewarmly defended him when the heat got turned up.
You've lost all credibility by labeling a talk-show host a political terrorist. Right out of Stalins handbook. Van Jones was and said a lot more than signing the truther document, otherwise the administration wouldn't have let him go.

You want to be labeled a political terrorist? It goes both ways - I wouldn't start throwing rocks my friend.
ps david-- I am not sure but I believe frum was involved in some of bush's speechwriting-- incl some of it surrouding the iraq war. he literally may be regarded as one of the master Iraq war propagandists. he's a master propagandist with probably decades of practice. so your debate is a little like david vs goliath in that regard.
you talk about "thousands" dying re iraq war. the actual iraqi civilian casualties are probably in the hundreds of thousands acc to some credible estimates.
Sad, stupid and spineless I am very disappointed.
Go get 'em David. I actually think that Van Jones has put allies like yourself and progressives in a bad position because of his selling-out of the 9/11 truth movement. He should have stuck to his principles. I don't think anyone believes that he did not read the petition. That is just bull.

I agree that Glenn Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, other hatemongers and terrorist at Fixed News and Dobbs on CNN need to be held accountable for their hateful rhetoric. The President is receiving 30 death threats a day according to an email petition I received today from the website Alternet.com. That is very scary. These hatemongers/terrorist are responsible and should be closely monitored for when they cross the line.

"President Obama faces 30 death threats a day, a 400 percent increase from former President Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, a veteran investigative journalist and conservative who recently authored a book about the Secret Service."
Great post despite the Stalin comparison! I stopped watching CNN when they because they gave Glenn Beck a show and again when they were in the tank for Obama.

Van Jones' resignation is a great loss for the country. His commitment to the environment is sincere and he could have accomplished a lot.

Where was I when that petition he signed was going around? Is it too late to put my name on the list?

See my column on salon about this. Van Jones WAS incompetant and deserved to get fired. He was also sexist, elitist, and had no environmental credentials, except ripping off the work of sustainable economists internally, whos work has been available for years. I might also point out that there is NOT A SINGLE WHITE WOMAN in either her late thirties or forties in either the White House or any cabinet post. My own environmental creds alone kick Van Jones ass, not to mention my time in DC.

But he never even bothered to return my phone calls for a proposal that had solutions this administration, nor for that matter, anyone in government has for both drastically putting the economy into cleantech overdrive, and dealing with such intractable problems like TBI, which even the TBI Centers for Excellence over at the Pentagon, the leaders in the subject nationally, told me I was way ahead of them, AS AN AGENCY.

And the dumb son of a bitch, knowing this, and that Mayor Bloomberg had ripped off my IP in PlanNYC 2009, ignored me, never called me back, but very publically praised Bloomberg.

So enough with the vindication of Jones. He was an asshole.

Just like Obama.

Crying racism is bullshit. It doesn't excuse the all white liberal groups who finally found their perfect black token "environmentalist" or the White House's actions, but you're barking up the wrong tree on this one.

Crying racism over this is ridiculous and undermines the issue.

However, you make a good point that the White House has acted abominably over this, and given the White Boys a pass where it has pushed Van Jones under a bus.

Obama is a sh*t with corporate sponsor tattooed on his ass.

The sooner progressives get used to it, the better. We've got a lot of organizing to do to kick Obama's ass. Not to mention the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue.
"Obama is a sh*t with corporate sponsor tattooed on his ass."

I'd venture to guess statements like that are one of the reasons he doesn't have a woman like you in a cabinet post.

If anyone on either side feels the need to create terms and shout nonsense....I just stop listening. I want truth, common sense, ethics, and logic. Not new ways to out-dual "the enemy".

Creating terms like "political terrorist" and using terms like "lynch mob" 10 times in the course of one clip and one post are not going to further a cause. You want to be angry? Be angry, fine, but without sitting down and having a reasonable discussion with someone you aren't going to prompt action. Without eloquence and actually paying attention to the other person that's speaking, you're not getting your point across. I'd much rather sound like a decent, competent human being and not have my point win-over than use their same scare tactics and win. Why? Because if you choose that second path then the cycle just repeats itself.

I don't think Van Jones should've been forced out of the White House....especially from a mid-level position. However, David, you yourself stated that Beck was a "terrorist" for spouting paranoia and hate. You're doing no better using "political terrorist" and "lynch mobs". You know what those terms imply in this country, and you're doing the exact same thing as Beck by using them. I respect your point and agree with it, but the way you're going about getting it across is no better than Beck's. When you start using those terms I immediately switch focus.

Just a thought.

Talk about losing credibility... calling Beck a terrorist is very mild language compared to the lunacy this guy and his cohorts are peddling. They persist in polluting the airwaves with hyperbolic language... fascism, socialism, Hitler and holocaust comparisons...etc. Give me a break!
It may be mild. But mild still means it's present. You don't have to be offensive or use their same tactics to be effective. I'd use Obama's speech yesterday as a prime example.

You can laugh it off and say something smart (which Sirota did for the majority of the interview) or you can start calling people names and using terms like "lynch mobs" to describe a situation. Certainly using a term like "lynch mobs" isn't going to douse a fire, it's more likely to fuel it. It's definitely not overtly calling someone something they aren't like facist or communist, but it is name calling.
"lynch mob" is a pretty accurate assessment. its a not-uncommonly used term used to describe the mobs going after someones job.

I just read in arianna huffington's editorial on the subject of van jones that her official site policy is to unilaterally reject/CENSOR all 9/11 "truth" related material, no matter by WHOM or how well researched, or how well it fits the facts, etc--
well @#%*^* you, arianna. "the net sees censorship as damage and routes around it". anyone who wants an uncensored view of 9/11 incl the incendiary revelations of NANOTHERMITE detected, visit my blog....
re 9/11 truth, see charlie sheens new letter to Obama. challenge him on the facts!! the facts are indisputable.
Great and poised job Mr. Sirota.

I'm getting confused when it's really a simple black and white issue. The Taliban are in black and the KKK are in white. They are both fundamentalist groups. They both belong to a book club featuring the same title as last month. They both have their restricted definitions of women. They both encourage guns in church, and when someone gets murdered, the celebrity retard stirring the soup says "I didn't know my mouth was loaded". And the choir of snakes keeps singing, when everyone is a touch paranoid. Easy to manipulate, hard to quiet down and do what's not wrong. What's happening here, and what's wrong with it, is that it's all a camouflage smoke screen cover up for the last eight years of the transparent Bush Theocracy. Van Jones was, and is not the problem...

We've got it, we've just got to get it right .