Sunday, January 26, 2014

Koch World 2014

Kenneth P. Vogel


This year, the Kochs’ close allies are rolling out a new, more integrated approach to politics. 

That includes wading into Republican primaries for the first time to ensure their ideal candidates end up on the ticket, and also centralizing control of their network to limit headache-inducing freelancing by affiliated operatives.

The shift is best illustrated in the expansion of three pieces of the Koch political network expected to be showcased or represented at the three-day meeting in Palm Springs, whose evolving roles were described to POLITICO by several sources.

• Center for Shared Services: a nonprofit recruiter and administrative support team for other Koch-backed groups, which provides assistance with everything from scouting office space to accounting to furniture and security.

• Freedom Partners: a nonprofit hub that doled out $236 million in 2012 to an array of conservative nonprofits that is now expanding its own operation so that it can fulfill many of the functions of past grantees.

• Aegis Strategic: a political consulting firm started last year by Koch-allied operatives who will recruit, train and support candidates who espouse free-market philosophies like those beloved by the Kochs, and will also work with nonprofit groups in the Koch network, like Freedom Partners, with which it has a contract to provide policy analysis.

The Koch network raised an astounding $400 million in the run-up to 2012, spending much of it assailing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats. After the Election Day letdown, the Kochs did an in-depth analysis to find out what went wrong and what they could do better. Among the areas identified for improvement were greater investments in grassroots organizing, better use of voter data and more effective appeals to young and Hispanic voters, according to sources.

Still, the big question was whether the donors who attend the conferences would keep stroking big checks or scale back their efforts. There’s no way to measure that definitively, since most of the groups in the network don’t disclose their finances regularly or reveal their donors. Early indications, though, suggest enthusiasm is high.

Groups in the Koch network — led by the brothers’ main political vehicle Americans for Prosperity — spent $25 million between the summer and early this month on ads bashing Democrats over Obamacare, which have been credited for hurting Democratic senators who are vulnerable in 2014.

James Davis, an official at Freedom Partners told POLITICO that his group has expanded rapidly, “and we expect to continue to grow.”

The 2014 potential of AfP, Freedom Partners and the other groups in the network depends in large part on the reception they get at this weekend’s gathering – the annual winter installment in the Kochs’ long-running series of twice-a-year meetings. Koch Industries spokesman Rob Tappan declined to comment on the Palm Springs meeting, but the company’s website includes a statement describing the events as bringing together “some of America’s greatest philanthropists and most successful business leaders” to “discuss solutions to our most pressing issues and strategies to promote policies that will help grow our economy, foster free enterprise and create American jobs.”

Many of the right’s most generous benefactors – folks like Minnesota media mogul Stan Hubbard, Wall Street investor Ken Langone and Wyoming mutual fund guru Foster Friess – are regulars. The gatherings, which attendees call “seminars” and are typically held at tony resorts, routinely attract some of the top operatives and biggest names in Republican politics, as well as rising stars tapped by the Kochs’ operatives.

The last seminar, held in August outside Albuquerque, N.M., drew Rep. Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and Iowa state legislator Joni Ernst, who is running in a crowded GOP Senate primary.

The seminars typically conclude with pledge sessions that can raise tens of millions of dollars

In 2012, that cash mostly went into a pair of non-profit conduits — Freedom Partners and the Center to Protect Patient Rights — whose operatives then doled it out to a range of nonprofits blessed by the Koch operation, including some groups asked to make presentations to donors at the seminars.

But several sources suggested that Freedom Partners’ growth and expansion into a more central strategic role within the network means that the roles — and possibly funding — of the Center to Protect Patient Rights and other groups in the network will diminish. In other words, Freedom Partners will bring in-house many Koch network functions that had been outsourced. 

That could reduce the chances of a repeat of situations like that which the Center to Protect Patient Rights and one of its beneficiary nonprofits found themselves in California, where they paid $1 million last year to settle an investigation into alleged campaign finance violations. The settlement stipulated that the violation “was inadvertent, or at worst negligent,” but the investigation brought unwanted attention to the Kochs, who repeatedly stressed that they had no involvement in the matter and distanced themselves from the operative who ran the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Sean Noble, explaining that he was just a consultant.

Freedom Partners, by contrast, is run by Marc Short, a former Koch employee, and staffed by other Koch loyalists, although Koch Industries issued a statement saying the group “operates independently of Koch Industries.” The group, established in November 2011, is technically a business league, and its members pay at least $100,000 in annual dues. “Our membership has grown out of concern that the administration’s policies are hurting Americans by crippling businesses and our economy,”


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. versus the System that Produces Poverty

“We are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

"In the final analysis, the rich must not ignore the poor because both rich and poor are tied in a single garment of destiny. All life is interrelated, and all men are interdependent."

“There is no deficit in human resources; the deficit is in human will."

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Protest Songs

Artist Ruth Ewan has been researching and archiving protest songs from around the globe since 2003 and uploading them into her artwork A Jukebox of People Trying to Change the World. Ewan’s jukebox now finds itself surrounded by a whole host of politically influenced international artwork, and provides visitors to Art Turning Left a soundtrack to their visit.  Where else can you listen to Johnny Cash, Black Sabbath, The Pixies or Woody Guthrie whilst taking in Jeremy DellerGuerrilla Girls and The Hackney Flashers? Inspired by Ewan’s merging of genres, I have compiled my own protest song playlist.

This is by no means a conclusive list of all protest songs, rather, it’s my selection of suggestions from Tate Liverpool staff and songs I believe have held a powerful resonance. I’ve tried to choose songs that span different decades and genres, exemplifying just how diverse the protest song is. I hope you like it, and please do feel free to contribute to this playlist in 
Tate’s Spotify or by leaving a comment below.

You can listen to the playlist here with a Spotify account

1. Woody Guthrie — This Land is your land
Guthrie’s critical response to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America, which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent
‘In the squares of the city/In the shadow of the steeple/Near the relief office/I see my people/ And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’/If this land’s still made for you and me.’

2. Public Enemy — Fight the Power
Written for Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing, the 1989 hip-hop song Fight the Power orders the listener to fight authority and carries the message of empowering the black community in America

3. Tom Robinson Band — Glad to be Gay
An attack on British society’s attitude towards gay people, Robinson criticises the police and their attacks and raids on gay pubs once homosexuality had been decriminalized since the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. Originally written for a 1976 London gay pride parade, the song was banned by the BBC and drills home the insanity of the violence. 

4. Billy Bragg — Between the Wars
Working-class pacifism as an alternative to gung-ho militarism

5. Billie Holiday — Strange Fruit
Strange Fruit is a poem written by teacher Abel Meeropol, as a protest against the lynchings of African Americans in 1930s America. Originally performed by his wife and the singer Laura Duncan, as a protest song in New York, it is Billie Holiday’s version that brought it to prominence
‘Southern trees bear strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root/Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze/Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.’

6. Gil Scott Heron — The Revolution Will Not be Televised
The song’s title was originally a popular slogan among the 1960s Black Power movements in the United States

7. Sam Cooke — A Change is Gonna Come
Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind inspired Cooke to take action. A Change is Gonna Come came to exemplify the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement.  It was even paraphrased by Barack Obama in his 2008 victory speech.
‘There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long/but now I think I’m able to carry on/It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna come.’

8. Edwin Starr — War
Dramatic and intense, Starr’s War depicts the general anger and distaste the anti-war movement felt towards the war in Vietnam
‘War! It ain’t nothing but a heartbreaker/War! Friend only to the undertaker/War! It’s an enemy to all mankind/The thought of war blows my mind’

9. Robert Wyatt — Shipbuilding
Written by Elvis Costello and Clive Langer about the Falklands War

10. Echo and the Bunnymen — All that Jazz
‘No matter, how you shake your fist/ You know, you can’t resist it’

11. Rage Against the Machine — Killing in the Name
Perhaps Rage Against the Machine’s most well known politically charged song (of which they have many), Killing in the Name was written about the revolution against institutional racism and police brutality. More recently the song was the focus of a successful Facebook campaign to prevent The X Factor winner’s song from gaining the 2009 Christmas number one
‘Some of those that were forces are the same that bore crosses’

12.  Johnny Cash — San Quentin
‘San Quentin, you’ve been livin’ hell to me/ You’ve hosted me since nineteen sixty three/ I’ve seen ‘em come and go and I’ve seen them die/ And long ago I stopped askin’ why’

13. The Special AKA — Nelson Mandela
Released as part of the anti-apartheid movement

14. Stiff little fingers — Wasted Life
‘They ain’t blonde-haired or blue-eyed/ But they think that they’re the master race/ They’re nothing but blind fascists/ Brought up to hate and given lives to waste’

15. Steve Mason — Fight Them Back
‘A weapon has been drawn upon your face/ Since you were born’

16. Patti Smith — People Have the Power
‘The power to dream / to rule/ to wrestle the world from fools/it’s decreed the people rule/ it’s decreed the people rule/LISTEN’

17. Bob Dylan — It’s Alright Ma (I’m only bleeding)
The lyrics express Dylan’s anger at hypocrisy, commercialism, consumerism, warmongers and contemporary American culture
‘Money doesn’t talk, it swears,’ ‘Although the masters make the rules, for the wisemen and the fools’ and ‘But even the president of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked.’

18. Nina Simone — I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free
Simone’s 1967 recording of Dick Dallas and Billy Taylor’s song quickly became the anthem for the civil-rights movement

19. John Lennon — Imagine
I just had to include a song from a native Liverpudlian, and Lennon’s Imagine continues to encourage generations to imagine a world at peace without the divisiveness and barriers of borders, religions and nationalities, and to consider the possibility that the focus of humanity should be living a life unattached to material possessions. 
“Imagine there’s no countries/It isn’t hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/ Imagine all the people/Living life in peace”

20. Bob Marley — Redemption Song
‘Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds.’