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Posts Tagged ‘Mother Jones’

VAL 2016 | Koch Industries är USA:s näst största privata företag. Endast Cargill lär vara större.

Mother Jones July-August 2015

Parallellt med detta familjeföretag har bröderna Charles Koch och David Koch byggt upp ett politiskt imperium som bl.a. består av stiftelser, tankesmedjor och lobbyorganisationer.

En av de viktigaste, och mest inflytelserikaste av dessa organisationer är Americans for Prosperity. Organisationen förväntas spendera många miljoner kronor under kommande presidentvalskampanj.

De två andra bröderna, Bill och Fredrick, har dock aldrig delat sina bröders politiska intresse.

Däremot har striden om vem som skall leda företaget ibland tagit sig direkt groteska proportioner. Kochs mångåriga familjefejd får i emellanåt Lars Noréns pjäser att framstå som direkt harmoniska i jämförelse.

I Daniel Schulmans bok Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty, beskriver författaren hur Charles och Davids politiska intressen blev ett slagträ i kampen om företaget.

Här nedan följer ett utdrag som publicerades i Mother Jones i augusti förra året.

Bill’s criticisms—intemperate as they could sometimes be—were not merely rooted in sibling rivalry. He and other shareholders had developed some legitimate worries about the company’s direction. Koch Industries had run afoul of agencies ranging from the Department of Energy to the Internal Revenue Service, and it even faced a criminal indictment for conspiring to rig a federal lottery for oil and gas leases.

Bill had also grown troubled by the increasing amounts of company money Charles diverted to his ”libertarian revolution causes”—causes Bill considered loony. ”No shareholders had any influence over how the company was being run, and large contributions and corporate assets were being used to further the political philosophy of one man,” Bill said later.

Charles’ philosophy had been deeply influenced by their father, whose experiences helping to modernize the USSR’s oil industry in the early 1930s turned him into a rabid anti-communist who saw signs of Soviet subversion everywhere. A staunch conservative and Barry Goldwater backer, Fred was among the John Birch Society’s national leaders; Charles joined in due time, and by the ’60s was among a group of influential Birchers who grew enamored with a colorful anti-government guru named Robert LeFevre, creator of a libertarian mecca called the Freedom School in Colorado’s Rampart mountain range. From here, Charles fell in with the fledgling libertarian movement, a volatile stew of anarchists, devotees of the ”Austrian school” of economics, and other radical thinkers who could agree on little besides an abiding disdain for government.

By late 1979, as tensions with Bill were escalating, Charles had become the libertarian movement’s primary sugar daddy. He had cofounded the Cato Institute as an incubator for libertarian ideas, bankrolled the magazine Libertarian Review, and backed the movement’s youth outreach arm, Students for a Libertarian Society. He had also convinced David to run as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in the 1980 election (Bill had declined). David was able to pour unlimited funds into his own campaign, circumventing federal restrictions on political contributions.

Their father had loathed publicity, scrupulously guarding the family’s privacy. But, to Bill’s dismay, Charles and David’s activism was beginning to draw attention to the company and the family. Worse, at the very moment that the Energy Department was investigating Koch Industries for violating price controls on oil, David and his Libertarian Party running mate, Ed Clark, were on the campaign trail openly antagonizing the agency by calling for its eradication.

[…]

Just as Charles and David had elevated their father’s midsize Midwestern oil company into an international behemoth, they have carried the family’s political torch into the 21st century in a way that Fred Koch would find hard to comprehend. Fred’s John Birch Society, where Charles began his political education, has been relegated to the fringe. But as Charles and David’s influence reached new heights during the Obama era, so too did the strain of thinking popular among Fred and his allies, who saw socialism (and its evil twin, communism) lurking behind government’s every move.

After mounting an unprecedented political effort in 2012, and earning little more than a reputation as rapacious villains for their trouble, the brothers and their allies have regrouped for another battle. The advocacy group they founded, Americans for Prosperity, is expected to dump $125 million into the upcoming midterm elections—and the Kochs are gearing up for an even bigger and more expensive bout in 2016. Like their father, it’s not in their DNA to back down from what they believe is a just fight. Decades have gone by, and peace has still never come to Kansas.

Tidskriftsomslag: Mother Jones, augusti 2014.

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USA | Allt fler talar numera om senator Rand Paul som republikanernas blivande presidentkandidat. Detta säger en del om partiets problem.

The New York Times Magazine August 10 2014

Det har skrivits mycket om senatorn från Kentucky på senare tid. The New York Times Magazine och Time har haft honom på omslaget. The New Yorker har publicerat en längre essay. Time kallade honom t.o.m. för ”The most interesting man in american politics”.

Robert Drapers artikel i The New York Times Magazine fokuserar på de förändringar som republikanska partiet står inför om man vill kunna attrahera fler väljare.

After eight years out of the White House, Republicans would seem well positioned to cast themselves as the fresh alternative, though perhaps only if the party first reappraises stances that young voters, in particular, regard as outdated. Emily Ekins, a pollster for the Reason Foundation, says: “Unlike with previous generations, we’re seeing a newer dimension emerge where they agree with Democrats on social issues, and on economic issues lean more to the right. It’s possible that Democrats will have to shift to the right on economic issues. But the Republicans will definitely have to move to the left on social issues. They just don’t have the numbers otherwise.” A G.O.P. more flexible on social issues might also appeal to another traditionally Democratic group with a libertarian tilt: the high-tech communities in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, whose mounting disdain for taxes, regulations and unions has become increasingly dissonant with their voting habits.

Hence the excitement about Rand Paul. It’s hardly surprising that Paul, in Ekins’s recent survey of millennial voters, came out ahead of all other potential Republican presidential candidates; on issues including same-sex marriage, surveillance and military intervention, his positions more closely mirror those of young voters than those of the G.O.P. establishment. Paul’s famous 13-hour filibuster last year, while ultimately failing to thwart the confirmation of the C.I.A. director John Brennan, lit afire the Twittersphere and compelled Republican leaders, who previously dismissed Paul as a fringe character, to add their own #StandWithRand endorsements. Paul has also gone to considerable lengths to court non-Republican audiences, like Berkeley students and the National Urban League. In a presidential field that could include Cruz, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, Paul — who has called himself “libertarian-ish” — is by far the candidate most associated with the movement.

Pauls önskan om att bli mer relevant i amerikansk politik har inneburit att han har varit tvungen att kompromissa och modifiera sitt politiska budskap för att kunna tilltala fler inom och utanför sitt parti.

Time Oct 27-2014

Det är talande är att Michael Scherers artikel i Time har rubriken ”The Reinventions Of Rand”.

It is a measure of his caution that his positions now take several sentences to explain. He will not say whether he supports bombing Iran if Tehran acquires a nuclear weapon, but also supports sanctions policies to try to prevent that from ever happening. He is against marijuana legalization even as he fights to end prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. He opposed limits on campaign donations but supports a plan to bar federal contractors from donating to politics. He opposes gay marriage but also opposes a constitutional amendment to define marriage, saying that states and Congress should pursue an extensive strategy of decoupling all government benefits from marriage so a ban might pass court scrutiny.

Paul uppfattas, både politiskt och ideologiskt, fortfarande stå i skuggan av sin fars politiska karriär. Kongressledamoten Ron Paul var under många år den tydligaste förespråkaren för de libertarianska idéerna inom det republikanska partiet.

Vid ett tillfälle bröt Ron Paul t.o.m. med partiet när han ansåg partiet hade blivit alltför konservativt. Inför valet 1988 nominerade Libertarian Party honom som sin presidentkandidat.

Ideologiskt har Rand Paul därför, precis som vicepresidentkandidat Paul Ryan under förra presidentvalet, försökt distansera sig från en lång rad nyliberala idéer.

Även om detta rent teoretiskt ökar sannolikheten för att han skall lyckas bli nominerad öppnar det samtidigt upp för attacker från politiska motståndare. Det är bara att fråga Mitt Romney.

När han nu försöker bättra på sin politiska image riskerar han slå knut på sig själv. Romneys motsägelsefulla försök att distansera sig från sin tid som guvernör i delstaten Massachusetts förföljde honom under hela presidentvalskampanjen.

Samma månad som Scherers artikel publicerades i Time publicerade The New Yorker Ryan Lizzas betydligt längre essay “The Revenge of Rand Paul”.

In some respects, Paul is to Republicans in 2014 what Barack Obama was to Democrats in 2006: the Party’s most prized fund-raiser and its most discussed senator, willing to express opinions unpopular within his party, and capable of energizing younger voters. The Republican National Committee, which in 2008 refused to allow his father, Ron Paul, to speak at its Convention, recently solicited donations by offering supporters a chance to have lunch with Rand Paul.

[…]

Yet, also like Obama at a similar stage in his career, Paul could be hobbled by past associations and statements, especially on race and foreign policy. He has questioned government attempts, including a core provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to address discrimination in the private sector. He has proposed dramatically slashing the Pentagon’s budget and cancelling all foreign aid. Ron Paul ran for President as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 1988 and as an isolationist Republican in the Presidential primaries of 2008 and 2012. Rand has followed his lead in opposing most U.S. military interventions of the past few decades, aside from the war in Afghanistan.

Many members of the Republican establishment see him as a dorm-room ideologue whose politics are indistinguishable from his father’s. Earlier this year, Mark Salter, who helped run John McCain’s 2008 Presidential campaign, wrote that Rand’s “foreign policy views, steeped as they are in the crackpot theories that inform his father’s worldview, are so ill-conceived that were he to win the nomination, Republican voters seriously concerned with national security would have no responsible recourse other than to vote for Hillary Clinton.”

[…]

As with so many aspects of his personal history, Paul approaches the subject of his intellectual influences as though he were defusing a bomb. In his book, he wrote about several libertarian writers he had turned to since high school: Ayn Rand (“one of the most influential critics of government intervention and champions of individual free will”), Hayek (“ ‘The Road to Serfdom’ is a must-read for any serious conservative”), and the Mises disciple Murray Rothbard (“a great influence on my thinking”). In my conversation with him, he shrugged them off.

Ayn Rand was just “one of many authors I like,” he said. “And it’s, like, ‘Oh, because I believe in Ayn Rand I must be an atheist, I must believe in everybody needs to be selfish all the time, and I must believe that Howard Roark is great and Ellsworth Toohey is evil,’ but she’s one of many authors I’ve read. I like Barbara Kingsolver, too.”

Hayek? “I wouldn’t say I’m like some great Hayek scholar.”

Rothbard? “There are many people I’m sure who are more schooled.”

[…]

Rand Paul has spent the past few months often clumsily trying to convince voters that his foreign policy differs from his father’s. Rand is perhaps best known, thus far, for his nearly thirteen-hour filibuster last year to protest the Administration’s use of drones—a tactic that further convinced Republican hawks that he doesn’t share their assessment of the risks posed by terrorism. Over the summer, Paul was under constant attack from rivals, such as Governor Rick Perry, of Texas, who described him as “curiously blind” to the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. As with the criticisms of his past statements on civil rights, Paul felt that he was the victim of a smear campaign. “Unfair criticism from people who have partisan goals,” he told me.

Kritiken kommer knappast mildras framöver. Ju närmare valrörelsen vi kommer ju mer kommer hans idéer att granskas.

Och skulle han vinna partiets nominering väntar demokraternas attacker. Är det något man kan vara säker på så är det att demokraternas kampanjstrateger har en tjock dossier märkt ”Rand Paul – flip-flopper”.

Läs mer: Rand Paul: The Most Interesting Conspiracy Theorist in Washington” av David Corn i Mother Jones är ett bra exempel på vad demokraterna (och republikanska motståndare) kan komma att fokusera på.

Tidskriftsomslag: The New York Times Magazine, 10 augusti 2014 och Time, 27 oktober 2014.

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USA | Vem är republikanernas svar på Barack Obama? Finns det någon som skulle kunna locka unga, kvinnor och latinos i ett presidentval?

Moterh Jones - June 2014

Ännu har partiet inte hittat någon som har samma ljuskraft som Obama när han dök upp på den politiska scenen. Ingen ser ens ut att kunna utmana Hillary Clinton om hon skulle bli demokraternas presidentkandidat.

Man har haft vissa förhoppningar knutna till guvernör Bobby Jindal (föräldrar från Indien), senatorerna Marco Rubio och Ted Cruz (båda med föräldrar från Kuba).

Men ingen har riktigt lyckats entusiasmera gräsrötterna på samma sätt som Ronald Reagan. Och det är en ny Reagan man måste hitta om man ser till partiets opinionssiffror.

Dessutom står både Rubio och Cruz Tea Party-rörelsen nära. Det är svårt att se att detta kan vara en fördel om man skall vinna över mittenväljare och demokrater.

Med tanke på att Hillary Clinton ser ut att bli demokraternas presidentkandidat skulle republikanerna dessutom behöva en kvinna vid rodret.

Det är här Susana Martinez kommer in i bilden.

Som guvernör i New Mexico, och med mexikanska föräldrar, har hon potential att locka den allt mer betydelsefulla väljargruppen latinos.

Om det nu inte var för at hon är kontroversiell även inom det republikanska partiet. Hon och hennes närmaste medarbetare har t.o.m. kallats hämndlystna och småaktiga.

Hennes främste rådgivare, den politiska konsulten Jay McCleskey, har beskrivit som mannen som styr bakom kulisserna.

”They’ve got this Sherman’s march to the sea mentality, burning everything in sight until they get to the finish.” Allt enligt en donator inom Republican Party.

Exakt samma kritik riktades en gång mot Sarah Palin, en person som Martinez har liknats vid.

Andy Kroll skriver bl.a. om hennes konfrontativa stil i Mother Jones.

Since her election in 2010, she and her team have meticulously cultivated the image of a well-liked, bipartisan, warm-hearted governor by avoiding tough interviews and putting her in photo ops greeting veterans, reading to kids, or cutting ribbons. ”This administration is very disciplined,” says New Mexico pollster Brian Sanderoff.

[…]

In the general election, Martinez ran as the clean-government advocate who would do away with everything New Mexicans disliked about her predecessor. Once hugely popular, Bill Richardson had been dogged by grand jury investigations, corruption allegations, rumors of sexual misconduct, and growing disenchantment over his perennial presidential aspirations. Martinez’s campaign slogan (”Bold Change”) was straight out of the Obama playbook, and it was all the more cutting given that her Democratic opponent, Diane Denish, had spent eight years as Richardson’s lieutenant governor.

On policy, Martinez drew on borrowed ideas (her education plan largely came from Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education) and flashy initiatives such as repealing a law allowing undocumented immigrants to get state driver’s licenses.

[…]

Martinez’s crew saw enemies everywhere. A former staffer recalls the campaign on multiple occasions sending the license plate numbers of cars believed to be used by opposition trackers to an investigator in Martinez’s DA office who had access to law enforcement databases.

[…]

The campaign emails and audio recordings also show how Martinez and her team strategized to maintain her straight-shooting image while avoiding actually being up-front with the public. Throughout the campaign, Martinez praised teachers and insisted she’d ”hold harmless” funding for public education. In private, Martinez implied teachers earned too much: ”During the campaign, we can’t say it, I guess, because it’s education, but…they already don’t work, you know, two and a half months out of the year.” She and McCleskey acknowledged that cuts to education could well be necessary, so her aides plotted about how to respond if they were ever called out for it once elected: ”Put up a YouTube video that no one will ever see where you talk about making everyone feel the pain,” McCleskey suggested. ”And when you win, we say, ‘See, we said this shit the whole time. What are you guys talking about?'”

[…]

Prominent Republicans around the state have blamed McCleskey for devising a political strategy that’s left the Martinez administration estranged from its natural allies. In a 2012 state Senate election, the governor endorsed a primary challenge to a Stetson-wearing rancher named Pat Woods, whom Martinez and McCleskey didn’t like; they bankrolled their candidate, Angie Spears, with money from SusanaPAC. In an unprecedented move, Martinez herself traveled to Woods’ district to campaign for his opponent. The plan backfired: Woods made the campaign about McCleskey, a ”slick…Albuquerque political consultant” meddling with local politics, and won easily.

The Woods-Spears race infuriated members of the New Mexico GOP. State Rep. Anna Crook, a Republican whose district overlaps with Woods’, wrote in the local newspaper that the ”nastiness, misinformation, innuendo, slanderous mailings, robocalls, and, in some cases, flat-out lies have created a toxic political environment the likes of which I have never seen before.”

[…]

Despite the growing discontent among New Mexico party leaders, Martinez enjoys approval ratings in the high 50s and low 60s—among the highest of any Republican governor. Her advisers seem keenly aware of how those numbers could help her achieve higher office, and appear determined to maintain them. Martinez’s aides have closely guarded her travel schedule and her media appearances, protecting her from tough and unflattering questions. Unlike such popular Republican governors as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Ohio’s John Kasich, Martinez has for more than three years largely avoided the Sunday talk shows; the lone national news figure to get substantial time with her is Fox’s Van Susteren. As she runs for reelection this fall with a full war chest and no strong contender among the Democrats challenging her, Martinez is well positioned to shape the debate and control her own image.

Yet Democrats and Republicans alike wonder if she has what it takes to succeed at the national level.

Tidskriftsomslag: Mother Jones, juni 2014.

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VITA HUSET | Hur många år kan man vara president i USA. Åtta år? Fel. Rätt svar är 10 år.

Bild av Steve Brodner

Om en vicepresident tillträder presidentämbetet två år före mandatperiodens slut och sedan väljs två gånger kan det totalt bli tio år.

Bild: Steve Brodner.

Steve Brodners teckningar hittar man bl.a. i Mother Jones, The New Yorker och Harper’s. Se fler teckningar på SteveBrodner.com.

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INFLYTANDE | Bröderna Koch är ägare till USA:s näst största privata företag. Sedan 1970-talet ägnar man sig även åt politisk påverkan.

Fobes 24

I det senaste valet drev man en mycket aktiv anti-Obama kampanj. En av de organisationer som har varit aktivt involverade i opinionsbildningen är Americans for Prosperity som startades av David Koch 2004.

The Huffington Post rapporterade i februari 2012 att Charles Koch själv lovade bidra med 40 miljoner dollar för att besegra Barack Obama.

På senaste listan över ”The World’s Most Powerful People – som sammanställs av tidskriften Forbes – hamnar bröderna på plats 41.

Trots valförlusten ser det inte ut som om bröderna kommer att ge upp. Nu skall man analysera valet för att lära sig vad som gick fel.

Daniel Fisher skriver i Forbes:

Charles’ many critics on the left–including the President of the United States–accuse him of accumulating too much power and using it to promote his own economic interests through a network of secretive organizations they call the “Kochtopus.” Ironically, the Koch brothers believe they’re fighting against power, at least in the political realm. For the Kochs the real power is central government, which can tax entire industries into oblivion, force a citizen to buy health insurance and bring mighty corporations like Koch Industries to heel.

“Most power is power to coerce somebody,” says Charles, in a voice that sounds like Jimmy Stewart with a Kansas twang. “We don’t have the power to coerce anybody.”

The November elections–which David, in a separate interview shortly after the results were finalized, termed “bitterly disappointing”–seem to confirm Charles’ last point. Not even the Koch brothers, who spent tens of millions of dollars during this election cycle (they won’t disclose the exact amount) funding direct political contributions and issue-driven “nonprofits,” could coerce voters to back their candidates. Mitt Romney’s loss was a huge blow to them, both in terms of likely policy outcomes and personal reputation.

But those who think the brothers, older and chastened, will now fade away don’t understand the Kochs. Not a bit. Obama’s victory was just a blip on a master plan measured in decades, not election cycles. “We raised a lot of money and mobilized an awful lot of people, and we lost, plain and simple,” says David. “We’re going to study what worked, what didn’t work, and improve our efforts in the future. We’re not going to roll over and play dead.”

[…]

So their revolution has been an evolution, with roots going back half a century to Koch’s first contributions to libertarian causes and Republican candidates. In the mid-1970s their business of changing minds got more formal when Charles cofounded what became the Cato Institute, the first major libertarian think tank. Based in Washington, it has 120 employees devoted to promoting property rights, educational choice and economic freedom. In 1978 the brothers helped found–and still fund–George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, the go-to academy for deregulation; they have funded the Federalist Society, which shapes conservative judicial thinking; the pro-market Heritage Foundation; a California-based center skeptical of human-driven climate change; and many other institutions.

All of these organizations, unknown to 99% of the population, and their common source of support, unknown to most of the rest, have provided the grist for conservative thinking since Reagan.

[…]

While Charles, more diplomatic as the steward of the business, avoids throwing partisan bombshells, David, who lives in New York City and whose main activities surround philanthropy and politics, is less shy. And he has a message for anyone who thinks the Kochs won’t be a factor in 2016 and beyond: “We’re going to fight the battle as long as we breathe. We want to bequeath to our children a better and more prosperous America.” That means more of the same tactics, as well as whatever new ones election lawyers cook up.

Läs mer: “Bad Blood: Meet Bill And Frederick, The Other Kochs” i Forbes och “Charts: How Much Have the Kochs Spent on the 2012 Election?” i Mother Jones.

Övrigt: Tidskriftsomslaget är Forbes den 14 december 2012.

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REKLAM | Det var tidskriften Mother Jones som först avslöjade vad Mitt Romney hade sagt i sitt tal på ett av sina fundraiser evenemang.

I videon här har Obamakampanjen använt sig av Romneys röst från eventet och sedan bara lagt in bilder på vanliga familjer, veteraner och arbetare.

TV-reklamen förstärker bilden av Romney som en miljonär utan någon som helst verklighetsförankring. Eller ännu värre, en miljonär som inte bryr sig om vanligt folk.

Resultatet: Enkelt, snyggt och mycket effektfullt.

Övrigt: Se videon med ljudupptagningen från Romneys event och artikeln om avslöjandet i Mother Jones. Läs också “What works in a campaign commercial? Ad executives offer their take” av Jeremy W. Peters på The New York Times.

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IDENTITET | Om Mitt Romney förlorar i november kommer republikanska partiet med all sannolikhet kastas in i en identitetskris.

Vad som slår en när man läser om partiet är hur genuint förvånade många skribenter är över partiets politiska utveckling under senare år.

Även ledande politiker inom partiet är oroade över utvecklingen.

Governör Jeb Bush, George W. Bushs bror, har t.ex. ifrågasatt om hans far George H. W. Bush eller ens Ronald Reagan skulle haft en chans att bli nominerade som partiets presidentkandidat idag.

Här är tre läsvärda artiklar om GOP – the Grand Old Party.

Monika Bauerlein och Clara Jeffery: “WTF, GOP?” (Mother Jones, juni 2012)

Ryan Lizza: “Life of the Party” (The New Yorker, 12 mars 2012)

John Heilemann: “The Lost Party” (New York, 5 mars 2012)

Läs även: David Frums ”When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” och ”George and Mitt Romney & the Death of Moderate GOP”.

Övrigt: Om tecknaren Bob Staakes tidskriftsomslag ”State by State” och storyn bakom (och en twist på den).

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