Dark Money and the Deep Anti-State (film review)

Dark Money – the movie versus the book

When this movie began we wondered if we’d gone into the wrong theater. Beautiful shots of the state of Montana were shown in panoramic glory. But then the camera panned the ‘lake’ left behind by the Anaconda copper mining company when it left the state. 

At the ‘lake’ a guide is telling visitors that wild geese by the thousands have been killed by the acidity in this water that rises higher every year while the EPA has done nothing to remedy the situation.

I couldn’t help but think that Keats got it wrong in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn” when he wrote “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Wherever some human beings are involved we do need to know more—much more—to protect ourselves and the things we love.

Because for decades dark money, defined as massive secret funding by wealthy people to promote their libertarian goals in politics, has been radically changing the shape of our American governments.

Many voters in Montana feel deeply about the damage being done in their state, so deeply they have been the leading state in the U.S. to fight the 2010 law, “Citizen’s United” that allowed corporations to donate to state political campaigns. Continue reading →

Dark Money and the Deep Anti-State (book review)

What is Dark Money?

At age twenty I was employed by a business that I was pretty sure was owned by the Philadelphia Italian-Jewish mob. Five years later, as a temp agency worker, I witnessed my boss passing an envelope full of cash to a police detective to secure a contract with the City of Oakland, California police department

Were these dark money payments? I would say “No”.  These were illegal money transactions simply known as ‘money laundering’ and ‘bribery’. Dark money is something more – way more!

Dark money refers to money that wealthy billionaires and large corporations have been secretly funneling through charitable foundations and other nonprofits in order to support right-wing political policies via think tanks, political front groups, politicians, academics, and others who seek to radically change the very nature of our government. 

Sometimes dark money is used illegally, but often it is money legally spent in a non-transparent way so that others cannot see what is being bought. Continue reading →

What’s Really Wrong at the EPA?

Yesterday there were screams of delight that Scott Pruitt took the advice of Kristen Mink and resigned soon after she confronted him in a restaurant. Will that really make much of a change to the EPA?

Well, taxpayers will not be losing millions of dollars spent by Mr. Pruitt on extravagances. More importantly to me, a number of staff will not have to put up with the arbitrary whims and petty meannesses their boss forced them to endure. 

But Mr. Pruitt is not one of a kind. He is a type of manager I’ve witnessed a various times during my working career. I saw and heard many stories of his likenesses in government agencies, non-profits, and corporate settings. 

In fact almost everyone President Trump has appointed to office has done similar things to what Mr. Pruitt did, only on a lesser scale…

There’s a bigger picture here that points both to corruption in government and to implementation of policies many American people dislike intensely. It will take more than one or two resignations of government heads of agencies to ever stop this juggernaut!

But for the EPA  there is also another factor—that is its history. EPA leadership has been suppressed for decades now. Continue reading →