I got an email last week, alerting me to a new bipartisan coalition whose aim it is to reform our criminal justice system and cut mass incarcerations by 50% over the next 10 years. My first thought was “sign me up!” And then I looked at some of the people and organizations who were participating. Although I still firmly believe that it’s an important and admirable goal, some of the participants have me wondering about their ulterior motives.
Van Jones is the man behind #cut50, the main organization spearheading the coalition. #Cut50, in conjunction with Newt Gingrich’s Gingrich Productions, is producing the Bipartisan Summit on Criminal Justice Reform, happening Thursday in Washington, D.C., and being livestreamed, for free, to anyone who’s concerned about one of the most devastating issues for millions of people here in the US. (Disclaimer, a quick visit to the Gingrich Productions website turned up no mention of the Bipartisan Summit, unlike a visit to the cut50 website…)
Although I adore and respect Van Jones, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say that a look at the participants in the truly bipartisan summit and subsequent efforts to cut the mass incarceration rates and reform our criminal justice system make me a little uncomfortable.
In addition to Gingrich, the list of participants from the other end of the political spectrum include Koch Industries, the American Legislative Exchange Council (aka ALEC), former NYPD chief Bernard Kerik, and other infamous names including Matt Kibbe, Ken Blackwell and more!
All that said, I know that any efforts to effect real change must include some strange bedfellows. But this strange???? I don’t know!
We’ll continue this conversation, though I truly applaud Van Jones’ efforts!
After this morning’s news update from Bob Ney at Talk Radio News, I had to leave for an appointment. So I filled the rest of the show with a couple of interviews from my archives.
From 2007, as I was filling in for Jim DeFede on a show I produced, my conversation with Norman Lear! Talk about a big honor!!
And from 2008, my one and only interview with the one and only Bill Maher. Not only did I make him laugh (a few times, by my count), but I also called him out for making jokes at the expense of Restless Leg Syndrome sufferers!
I’ll be back tomorrow to take on yet another day, radio or not!
[…] for Media & Democracy Executive Director Lisa Graves joined me to address my concerns after last week’s conversation with Van Jones about his bipartisan effort toward criminal justice reform. I suggest you listen to her segment […]
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I’m still non-committal on Van Jones’s initiative. On one hand, “it doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice,” as Chinese Premier – Deng Tsiao Peng put it when he embarked on an ambitious capitalization reform strategy for Communist China back in the 80’s.
If the goal is of supreme importance, then the ends justify the means….including having a cast of Republican governors and conservative think tankers waving for the camera in the background. And that will include the risk that they have ulterior motives for reducing prison populations that we don’t know about…..yet!
I’m also thinking of the BDS Campaign, and campaigns to boycott carbon fuels companies. If Exxon-Mobil offered a sizeable donation to #cut50, would Van Jones accept the donation? Might be a good question for next time!
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Cory Booker, not surprisingly, is another participant. I like Cory, sometimes. It’s good he’s working on this. Our prison industrial complex should be a bipartisan issue. And as I said, hey, why not, if conservatives will support the right causes for the right reasons, I’m willing to exploit them as useful idiots. ;-P
But this, I don’t like.
Cory recently attended the American Enterprise Institute’s “World Forum”. AEI is the premier neoconservative/neoliberalism think tank of the U.S.
That’s strange bedfellowism of an even greater variety.