Dark Money, by Jane Mayer: The Koctopus Goes to Kochopolis (Book Review)

Koctopus Goes to Kochopolis

If you want to know why the U.S. is pivoting to the far right in local and state elections, you should read Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer. 
In this shocking exposé of how dark money is manipulating the ignorant and the naive (low information voters) into angry citizens, the reader is taken to the deepest depths of spending depravity, designed to steer this country into an Oligarchy, defined as “a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.” – Dictionary.com 
If this very possibility doesn’t scare you, it should; we may be at a tipping point in our history in which true Democracy may be in serious peril – that the Koch brothers, Donald Trump, and other powerful money people may evolve into the Kim Jong Un of the U.S. in which all decisions become top-down.
It looks as though Hillary Clinton’s “Far Right-Wing Conspiracy” belief isn’t too far off the mark; if just 10% of what Mayer avers is true, then Washington, D.C., should be renamed “Kochopolis” and the money machine thrust into motion by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision should be referred to as “Koctopus” or “Kochtopus” (Mayer’s version).
Politicians from both sides of the aisle and some conservative Supreme Court Justices have been bought by dark money to govern and rule in certain ways that benefit the big money guys, in the process squashing the business of the majority: social programs, climate-change issues, and the upkeep of infrastructure.
Moreover, government obstruction is not an accident but an intentional strategy. Marc Morano, a Koch operative and climate-change denier, says it best: “There’s no legislation we’re championing. We’re the negative force. We are just trying to stop stuff.”
Big money from the Koch brothers and other super rich moguls has been spent in manipulating a certain American mind into thinking government is evil and should be eliminated. They instill into primarily uneducated white constituents unreasonable fears, such as the Muslim and Black bogeymen and the Mexican immigrant storming the border. They tap into the latent racism and prejudice of the ignorant, instilling  the fear of the other.
The author backs up her assertions with facts and by following the money to bogus foundations and think tanks with names like “Americans for Prosperity.” She searched tax records and was able to trace the money to the Koch, Olin, Scaife, Bradley, etc. families and foundations.
She explains how “foundations” are perfect tax dodges, and how they are perfectly legal. In summary, the super rich often set up non-profit foundations and trusts. The interest earned on these mechanisms must be donated to “charity” for a set amount of time – usually about 20 years. You might think that charities like the Red Cross, the March of Dimes, and the arts would be likely recipients, but you would be wrong. Most of these donations go to non-profit “think tanks,” which set conservative policy and churn out reports to send to legislators and judges to act upon – and if they don’t, their campaign money dries up. (To a certain extent, moderate and liberal think tanks also create policy for the liberal side, but, obviously, the billionaire class has more money to spend and tends to lean to the radical right).
Mayer claims that the entire Tea Party movement was manufactured by conservative foundations funded by the Kochs – that attendance at the “movement’s” first rallies was pathetic and only became a real movement when foundation operatives were planted to rile up the masses.
The author also asserts that conservative bloggers and reporters (for example, Glenn Beck at Fox News) have been paid off to report obvious fabricated stories, such as Hillary Clinton’s so-called culpability for Benghazi and the private email “scandal.”
For me, the big takeaway: big money guys are not true Libertarians, for they believe that government is evil when it works for everyone, but good when huge tax breaks, tax loopholes, and outright grants are handed over to the super rich, such as the greedy Koch brothers, et al. In their minds, government should control ordinary citizens, not empower them.
So much for the much heralded “bootstrap” theory.
Mayer’s book shows how nearly unlimited dark money – thanks to the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens’ United decision – has undermined the very foundation of Democracy.
If this doesn’t scare you, then nothing will.


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