reading notes


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I almost half way through Van Jones’ book,  Beyond the Messy Truth. It is the most sensible thing I have read about the current madness in the USA.

Reading Van Jones, I am reminded of my late Father’s idea about conservationism and liberalism. Dad insisted that in order to function one needed to be both conservative and liberal, that is to “conserve” some things and protect them and to “free” other things and to liberate them.

Van Jones makes an argument that liberals like himself need better conservatives with which to disagree and work together. He makes a good case.

Here are some of my book notes:

The second chapter is entitled “An Open Letter to Liberals.”

Regarding the extreme invective on the left, Van Jones writes critically.

“We must ‘resist’ Trump—yes—and that task includes resisting the temptation to become more like him ourselves.”

To the liberal question, “why do Trump supporters and others vote against their own self-interest?” He asks,


“[W]ant to know the group of white people that most consistently votes against its own ‘economic self-interest’? Rich white liberals” since they support programs which are just but from which they personally do not benefit.

Regarding liberals blindness to the part of Obama’s presidency which reflected non-liberal values:

“Obama did do things when it came to surveillance, drone strikes, and jailing whistle-blowers that progressives would never accept from a Bush or a Trump.”

Destructive progressive elitist attitudes:

“It is elitist to crack jokes that imply all Republicans are insane. Or uneducated. Or  bigoted. It is elitist to assume that anyone who disagrees with us is either a bigot orf a dummy or both. It is elitist to refer to the red states as Dumb-fuck-istan. Expressing pity, contempt or disdain for red-state voters has to stop being the price of admission into the club of liberalism.”

Democrats need black support but do not appoint them to positions of leadership.

“….. not one U.S senator who is a Democrat has a black chief of staff. Ironically, the only black chief of staff in the entire U.S. Senate works for Tim Scott—that esteemed body’s only black Republican.”

Concerning the current Republican’s attack on fair voting.

“Republicans took a shortcut to power through gerrymandering in 2010 riding Donald Trump’s coattails in 2016.”

Concerning conservatives inconsistency about voting and guns.

“[C]onservatives should be just as skeptical when the state makes it harder to vote as they are when the state tries to make it harder to buy a gun.”

He cites a Republican National Committee report following the 2012 presidential loss which outlines actual issues. His outsider advice from the point of view of conservatives in restoring conservative values to the Republican party to follow these recommendations.

Remember these four recommendations from Republicans to Republicans.

First “Republicans should embrace comprehensive immigration reform and end nativist language.”

Secondly, the report concluded “harsh language and legislation targeting LGBTQ Americans hurt electorally.”

Thirdly, the report “determined that Republicans were engaged in an echo chamber of belief—caused in part by choosing news sources like Fox News and onnly talking to colleagues and friends with similar beliefs—that resulted in a distorted understanding of the empirical reality of certain policies as well as voters’ interests.”

Fourthly, “the report warned that the Republican Party was at risk of becoming the party of rich white guys even as America was becoming browner, younger, and as inequality was growing.”

Van Jones correctly describes the Republican party as one that is “anti-liberal rather than pro-conservative.”

He concludes his third chapter entitled “An Open Letter to Conservatives” this way:

“[T]he promise of America is liberty and justice for all. My fellow liberals are so focused on justice we too easily forget about liberty. Conservatives can be so committed to liberty that you become blind to cases where injustice curtails freedom.”

That’s enough for today.



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