Book review: Dark Money

Dark MoneyWant to get really depressed? Have I got a book for you!

Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money,” is a thoroughly researched, very detailed account of how small, tactical changes to laws have changed politics in our country. At a time when Americans are deeply disgusted with politics, it’s an interesting and important book.

I realize both sides of the political spectrum are using dark money to manipulate the masses and to frame today’s political discourse, but this book really explains how it has been done. It describes how our democracy has been stolen from us, with our approval. It explains how we, as a people have become so polarized, but more importantly, who (at least in the case of conservatives) is behind it and why.

The names involved include a who’s who of current political events, like Charles and David Koch, The DeVos family, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, Mitch McConnell, as well as other names familiar to you.

My interest is in the current climate change debate and how we went from a point where the majority of Americans believed the scientific consensus to the current point of constant debate. Make no mistake, the same firms that confused the public about whether or not tobacco was harmful were involved in creating the confusion about global climate change. In fact, their slogan was “Doubt is our product.” And who pays these firms for their work? Why those who have been fined millions upon millions of dollars for damage to the environment and see rules preventing them from doing this as infringements on their freedom. Those who, to make an extra $7 million, reopened a gas pipeline they knew to “leak like swiss cheese,” killing two teenagers, when it exploded, resulting in a $298 million dollar civil judgement against them. Those whose employees, when they reported dumping of MERCURY onto the ground near rivers, were terminated for reporting the crime to management or the authorities. One instance of mercury dumping poisoned the fish for fifty miles downstream and made it into people who unknowingly ate those fish.

Did you know your politicians created a law allowing the very wealthy to place their children’s inheritances into trusts, where if the funds remained untouched for twenty years and the interest earned was donated to non-profit organizations, became a tax free inheritance? That doesn’t sound so bad, until it is uncovered that those same rich people created their own non-profit organizations which then distributed the interest earned to political campaigns, via donations to other non-profits, which removed their fingerprints from the funds. Some of the schemes were described by the officials trying to investigate them as “Russian nested dolls.”

It is one thing to confuse smokers into believing that the product they’re using isn’t killing them. That affects the users of tobacco and their families, but leaves the rest of us unscathed.

It is quite another thing to confuse the public into believing in “clean coal” or that global climate change is a “job killer” or is an evil plot by liberals to redistribute wealth from “doers” to “takers.” In this latter case, we all lose if we kill the planet.

Again, I believe both sides are doing this and the media is complicit, focusing on false “outrages” to keep the people of America distracted.

When will we wake up?

Will it be too late?

Where are the true statesmen/women?

3 thoughts on “Book review: Dark Money

  1. Even more depressing is how these right-wing extremists have created through gerrymandering what appears to be a permanent majority in the House of Representatives and in most state legislatures.

    For those who don’t know what gerrymandering is, it is the drawing of electoral districts so as to give one party far more representation—seats—than their voting strength would otherwise allow. For example, most of the voters in North Carolina are Democrats (or vote for Democrats), but gerrymandering of the congressional districts by Republicans has resulted in ten (10) of the thirteen (13) congressional seats going to Republicans. In other words, while a majority of the voters in the state vote for Democrats, 77% of the seats go to Republicans.

    Gerrymandering has reduced our democracy to a sham typical of banana republics.

    This is the sort of gross injustice that the Supreme Court of the United States should remedy, but it won’t, or hasn’t so far.

  2. Yes, and then there was an election on Tuesday 11/7 that showed us that Enough people are still aware and that good old involvement still works. Sure right now, today, electronic voting machines are being hacked and voter records purged in an an attempt to capture next year’s election.

    That won’t matter if we all get involved, really involved. Donate early to local candidates. Early money counts more, even if it’s not a lot. Check your state’s Democratic Party website and follow their Facebook page. Support a candidate by helping out. Their website will tell you how to get started.

    Democracy is a participation sport. There are far more quiet people of good will in the US than there are loud voices of hate and confusion. All we have to do is to do our part.

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