Monday, August 24, 2020

Fossil Fuels Crimes and Criminals Newsletter #1



Fossil Fuels Crimes and Criminals

Newsletter #1

Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace, Justice, and Ecology


Kramer and White, Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes. 2020.

     Publisher’s description.

     From Western Michigan U.


Carter and Woodworth, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science
     Denial. . . . 


     Dick’s Analysis.

     Review by Andrew Glickson in Monthly Review.


Christopher Leonard.   Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America. 

     Review by Scott Horsley.


Jane Mayer.  Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.  

     Bromwich’s Review
     Mullins Library

Rachel Maddow, Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.  Crown, 2019.

     Publisher’s description

     Jill Dougherty’ Review in The Washington Post





And the criminals pushing toward Nuclear War: Ellsberg’s The Doomsday Machine  and Perry and Collina’s The Button: The New Nuclear Arms Race and Presidential Power from Truman to Trump.   It’s up to us to connect presidential power with fossil fuels and nuclear weapons.





Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes
(Critical Issues in Crime and Society).  Rutgers UP, 2020.

Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes analyzes the looming threats posed by climate change from a criminological perspective. It advances the field of green criminology through a examination of the criminal nature of catastrophic environmental harms resulting from the release of greenhouse gases. The book describes and explains what corporations in the fossil fuel industry, the U.S. government, and the international political community did, or failed to do, in relation to global warming. Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes integrates research and theory from a wide variety of disciplines, to analyze four specific state-corporate climate crimes: continued extraction of fossil fuels and rising carbon emissions; political omission (failure) related to the mitigation of these emissions; socially organized climate change denial; and climate crimes of empire, which include militaristic forms of adaptation to climate disruption. The final chapter reviews policies that could mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to a warming world, and achieve climate justice.


Dr. Ron Kramer to Speak on Carbon Criminals, Climate Crimes and the Current Political Crisis (from Western Michigan U communications)

March 22, 2018 12:30-1:30

Ronald C. Kramer
Department of Sociology
Western Michigan University


This presentation analyzes the serious social problem of climate change through the lens of the concept of state-corporate crime. Four distinct forms of state-corporate climate crimes are identified and described: 1) Crimes of Continued Extraction of Fossil Fuels and Emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHG); 2) Crimes of Socially Organized Denial of Climate Change; 3) Crimes of Political Omission related to the Mitigation of GHG; and 4) Crimes of Militarized Adaptation to Climate Disruptions. In the new era of political transformation and crisis wrought by the 2016 U.S. election, these climate crimes have been amplified, while prospects for holding carbon criminals accountable for their blameworthy harms and achieving climate justice have been dramatically reduced.

Ron Kramer is Professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His books include: Crimes of the American Nuclear State: At Home and Abroad (with Dave Kauzlarich); State-Corporate Crime: Wrongdoing at the Intersection of Business and Government (with Raymond Michalowski); and State Crime in the Global Age (edited with William J. Chambliss and Raymond Michalowski). His most recent research focuses on climate change as state-corporate crime. Dr. Kramer is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Division of Critical Criminology of the American Society of Criminology, the Larry T. Reynolds Award for Outstanding Teaching of Sociology from the Michigan Sociological Association, and the Charles Horton Cooley Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Sociology also from the Michigan Sociological Association.   Published on February 07, 2018

From Western Michigan University:

Kramer’s book describes and explains what corporations in the fossil fuel industry, the U.S. government, and the international political community did to cause global warming.

Kramer analyzes four specific "state-corporate climate crimes": the continued extraction of fossil fuels and rising carbon emissions; a political failure to mitigation the effects of these emissions; socially organized climate change denial; and what Kramer calls "climate crimes of empire," which include militaristic forms of adapting to climate disruption.

The final chapter reviews policies that Kramer believes could mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to a warming world, and achieve climate justice.

Kramer says there are many ways individuals can get involved in fighting the climate crisis.

“On campus, we have the WMU working group on climate change that’s been in existence since 2012, and so we’ve got an interdisciplinary group on campus that is working hard on the issue. Our working group is part of a broader Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition that formed last summer and has been very active…If people want to work on this issue, there are a lot of ways they can get plugged in.”

Ron Kramer is also the co-author of State-Corporate Crime: Wrongdoing at the Intersection of Business and Government (Rutgers University Press).



Peter D. Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival.  2017.



Given this availability of solutions (which are largely absent from 
the North American media), we authors concur that the political, 
media, and moral failures to act decisively have now become willful 
crimes against life itself.  

This conscious refusal to act with purpose helps to answer the 
questions, “Where is the human outcry for earth’s life-support?  
Why have we failed to seize control of our survival? ”

Trappist monk Thomas Merton explored a similar mystery in the 
1960’s. During the nuclear madness of the Cold War, he coined the 
term “the unspeakable” to describe a vacuum that can be utterly 
void of compassion and responsibility.

This moral abyss is still very much alive within the deep military-
industrial state
 that Eisenhower warned about in 1961. The public 
needs to acknowledge and understand this nihilistic mind-set, 
which will be discussed in a brief section, “Confronting the 

Pope Francis, in his 2015 Encyclical Letter – which was backed by 
all the major world faiths – referred to climate change as “a sin 
against God.”  

Following the Pope’s declaration, the UN Paris climate summit was 
signed by 195 countries – yet astonishingly our North American 
national governments persist in activities of deep denial, as they 
rush ahead with new pipelines.

And incredibly, against decades of IMF and World Bank pressure to 
phase them out, governments continue to subsidize fossil fuels to 
the globally suicidal extent of trillions of dollars worldwide, as if 
our political leaders wished to destroy our future.  

Simply stopping these subsidies would be an instant game changer.

Another powerful strategy is legal action against governments for 
the crime of omission to protect the right to life of their 
populations – a public trust duty that dates back to Roman times 
and early British common law.

This book is presented in two parts:  Crimes Against Life and 
Humanity, and Game Changers for Survival.  It will present:

1)        the escalating emergency caused by rapidly increasing CO2, 
methane, and nitrous oxide;

2)        the ongoing political and media efforts to suppress climate 
change as a crisis:  by denial, by under-reporting solutions to it, 
and by fixating on adaptation to daily extreme weather events 
while failing to urge radical emissions reduction; and

3)        the emerging and largely unreported opportunities for major 
sectors of the economy to transition to renewable energy, while 
increasing jobs and profits.

4)        A special chapter called “Mission Impossible,”  introduces 
entirely new thinking on how powerful and transformative action 
can begin immediately.

In spite of all obstacles, we are encouraged to see powerful game 
changers on the horizon:  for one, the markets are forging ahead 
to bring wind and solar energy into mainstream dominance over 
fossil fuels.

Another is the signatories to the Subnational Global Climate 
Leadership (alias Under 2°C), which represents 1.2 billion people 
on six continents, and 37% of the global economy.  Its 175 
jurisdictions pledge “emission reductions for a trajectory of 80 to 
95 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”  

Completely blacked out by the media since its inception in 2015, 
this outstanding initiative has been called a game changer by 
former UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

Predictably, many such survival responses are being downplayed 
and ignored by the corporate media, which, although it now reports 
incessantly and superficially on climate change, is still criminally 
tied to the profits and employment generated by oil, natural gas, 
and coal.

It is very late – but not too late – to recognize and address the 
crime of ecocide in the form of business-as-usual.  There is still 
time for the planet to recuperate, but we must start emergency life-
saving measures to reduce CO2 emissions to near-zero.  (These 
measures are explored in the chapter “Mission Impossible.”)

The truth embedded in climate science is unstoppable, and 
solutions whose time has come simply need to be elevated into 
general consciousness and translated into government action, 
which is a central purpose in writing this book. 


 Its subtitle makes the book’s unique and important two-part case clear:  “Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival.”   

     The first part, the “Unprecedented Crime,” explains the fossil fuel industry’s and fundamentalist free market foundations’ international crime of disinformation against humanity, the environment, and the climate itself.  The chapters move in persuasive order:  Reality of extreme weather around the world.  Science betrayed by the crime of denial by fossil fuel corporations and their political agents.  State crime against the global Public Trust.  Media collusion.  Corporate and bank crime.  Moral collapse and religious apathy.    Summary evidence of the climate emergency (Appendix). 

    On this solid, carefully researched foundation, the second part argues equally persuasively that we should take the industry to international and national courts, and to the global court of public opinion, and we should pursue additional “game changers”:   Ending energy subsidies and tax loopholes, carbon tax, legal challenges to human rights violations, embracing technological innovations, finding market solutions, public resistance strategies.  And “mission impossible,” a global mobilization to end dependence on fossil fuels comparable to the Allied mobilization during WWII (or a Manhattan-Marshall-Apollo Plan).




Dear Reader, we make this and other articles available for free online to serve those unable to afford or access the print edition of Monthly Review. If you read the magazine online and can afford a print subscription, we hope you will consider purchasing one. Please visit the MR store for subscription options. Thank you very much. —Eds.


“The Criminal Dimension of Climate Change” by Andrew Glikson.  Monthly Review (March 2019).  A summary.  

Peter D. Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth, Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival .  With a foreword by leading climate scientist James Hansen.  (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2017), 270 pages. 

“We’re simply talking about the very life support system of this planet.”  Joachim Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impacts

The extreme rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide since the onset of the industrial age, reaching ~403 parts per million (ppm) in 2017, and the corresponding rise in mean global temperature to 1.3°C above preindustrial temperature, pose an existential risk for the future of civilization and nature.

Unprecedented Crime outlines the criminality of those who actively promote the continuing emission of carbon gases into the atmosphere despite having full knowledge of the consequences. These consequences include the breakdown of large ice sheets, rising sea levels, and the intensification of extreme weather events around the world, such as hurricanes, floods, and fires.  MORE

Andrew Glikson is an Earth and Paleoclimate scientist. He is a visiting fellow at the Research School of Earth Sciences at Australian National University, College of Science. This review is adapted from the one published in Media Monitors Network.




SCOTT HORSLEY.  'Kochland' Explores How The Famous Brother Duo Made Their Money.“ NPR August 13, 2019.

Kochland:  The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America by Christopher Leonard.  687 pages.

The Koch brothers are a ripe target: political plutocrats who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in a decades-long effort to reshape the country and the Republican Party.

They've used their vast wealth to build a hydra-headed network of think tanks, lobbying shops, and "astroturf" advocacy groups to advance a philosophy that conveniently overlaps with the economic interests of their Wichita-based corporation.

None of this is exactly a secret, though. Jane Mayer's 2010 New Yorker article and subsequent book shined a bright spotlight on how the Kochs and other wealthy patrons use their Dark Money to wield outsize influence on American politics.

What Kochland, the new book from Christopher Leonard, adds to the story is not so much an account of the ways in which the brothers spend their money, but rather, a richly reported tale of how they make it — the inner workings of one of the nation's largest private corporations.

To be sure, the Koch brothers aren't entirely self-made. They got a sizable head start from their father. Fred Koch, a co-founder of the far-right John Birch Society, assembled his own mini-empire of ranches, factories and oil pipelines. But Charles and David Koch supersized this fortune. They added a Minnesota refinery that was well-positioned to turn cheap, Canadian crude oil into pricey gasoline for the fuel-thirsty Midwest. Over time, they expanded into fertilizer, paper products, options trading and even greeting cards. . . .

But for the most part, this is fast-paced business history. An episode about ammonia runoff at an oil refinery keeps you turning pages like a John Grisham thriller.

Koch Industries has some parallels with Enron, but without the flash. The company's low-key employees often come from state schools in the middle of the country. They don't pretend to be the smartest guys in the room, just the most disciplined.

The Kochs successfully leverage the insight and experience gained in one industry to get a leg up in others. They aren't always successful. A big push into agriculture and animal feed in the 1990s ended in disaster. But many of their moves pay off, sometimes lavishly. The Kochs were among the first to roll the dice on the shale oil boom, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on speculative pipelines from south Texas to their refinery in Corpus Christi.

"This investment was entirely a gamble," Leonard writes. The Kochs could have been left with useless pipelines to dry wells. "Then the oil started to flow."

For Leonard, the rise of Koch Industries is a refined example of forces shaping the wider economy, with growing returns for corporate shareholders — in this case just two — and shrinking bargaining power for workers. Charles Koch's philosophy of Market Based Management supposedly empowers workers to act as mini-entrepreneurs. But there's little evidence of that among the Georgia Pacific warehouse workers, whose autonomy is steadily stripped away in the name of greater efficiency. . . .

The legal battles with Bill spilled into a series of fines and criminal investigations in the 1980s and '90s. Koch "developed a regulatory rap sheet that gave the company a reputation for borderline criminality." Ultimately, Charles and David decided that was counterproductive and declared the company would comply with 100 percent of the rules, 100 percent of the time.

Of course, Koch's political arm was simultaneously working to water down or eliminate those rules — a push that has been richly rewarded in the Trump administration.

A company that prizes information has been a central player in efforts to spread disinformation about climate science. "This wasn't accidental," Leonard writes. "As early as 1991, Charles Koch and other executives in the fossil fuel industry helped foster skepticism about the evidence of climate change."

Even ExxonMobil eventually abandoned this strategy, acknowledging the scientific consensus. But the Koch political machine continue to fight any effort to limit carbon pollution, using the considerable resources that a $120 billion fortune can buy.


JANE MAYER, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires behind the Rise of the Radical Right.   

DAVID BROMWICH’s REVIEW OF DARK MONEY IN THE NATION (JUNE 6/13, 2016).  Condensed by Dick Bennett

     Bromwich praises “this brave and resourceful book” for recounting pertinaciously the abuses by the network of billionaires that is the subject of the book.     On page 4 she declares clearly:  The Koch brothers, Charles and David, “were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, archconservative families that for decades poured money [from oil and gas by the Koch brothers], often with little public disclosure, into influencing how Americans thought and voted.”  This is her topic, and by performing it thoroughly, she provides an enormous public service, for the public needs to understand thoroughly and precisely this engine of the present anti-regulatory government oligarchy, if we are to resist and return to the direction for a social democracy developing during the 1930s-1970s.

     If we are to regain a system designed to help people, we need to understand both the scale and the details of the money corruption possessed by this small group—“no fewer than 18 billionaires”-- of extreme libertarians, and Mayer provides that information compendiously yet interestingly, anecdotally, sometimes electrically.  For example, that W. Clement Stone gave $2 million to Richard Nixon’s 1972 campaign (approximately worth $11 million today), causing a storm of protest and leading to reforms in campaign financing, almost vanishes in significance when contrasted to the Koch network’s $889 million projected for the 2016 election.   For limited government, drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services, and much less oversight/regulation of industry, “particularly in the environmental arena,” these few billionaires “formed a new generation of philanthropist” to “alter the direction of American politics” toward “their personal financial interests.”  The public must wrest power back from the billionaires, and this book empowers us with the knowledge necessary.

     The full title of Mayer’s book is Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.    The direction of our struggle against  the fossil fuels industry and money corruption and for affirmative government of and for the people is much clearer because of her book. 

Robert G Heckler   

On PBS Frontline documentary “Dark Money.”

Seeing Corruption in Action

Last night, I watched Frontline and it aired a program called "Dark Money."

Even though I was already aware of dark money and have seen its effects, I felt more deeply enlightened by watching this documentary. In this film, you can really see and feel the effects on human beings and on the environment.

The specific techniques were spelled out. You could see how big moneyed elites (oligarchs) were systematically taking over the running of our nation and the damage that it causes.

Whether we realize it or not, we are in a war with dark moneyed interests and have been for some time. Right now, dark money is winning. Dark moneyed interests have gained control over our supreme court, the presidency, the national house and Senate, most of the governorships, the leadership of our institutional departments of government, the courts and more.


DARK MONEY IN UAF’S MULLINS Main Library  JK2356 .M373 2016    Here’s its Bibliographical Entry

Includes bibliographical references (pages 381-425) and index

The investors -- Weaponizing philanthropy: the war of ideas, 1970-2008. Radicals: A Koch family history ; The hidden hand: Richard Mellon Scaife ; Beachheads: John M. Olin and the Bradley brothers ; The Koch method: Free-market mayhem ; The Kochtopus: Free-market machine -- Secret sponsors: covert operations, 2009-2010. Boots on the ground ; Tea time ; The fossils ; Money is speech: The long road to "Citizens United" ; The shellacking: Dark money's midterm debut, 2010 -- Privatizing politics: total combat, 2011-2014. The spoils: Plundering Congress ; Mother of all wars: The 2012 setback ; The States: Gaining ground ; Selling the new Koch: A better battle plan

Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers? The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against "big government" led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But Jane Mayer argues that a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system. Their core beliefs -- that taxes are a form of tyranny; that government oversight of business is an assault on freedom -- are sincerely held. But these beliefs also advance their personal and corporate interests: Many of their companies have run afoul of federal pollution, worker safety, securities, and tax laws. The chief figures in the network are Charles and David Koch. The brothers were schooled in a political philosophy that asserted the only role of government is to provide security and to enforce property rights. When libertarian ideas proved decidedly unpopular with voters, the Koch brothers and their allies chose another path. If they pooled their vast resources, they could fund an interlocking array of organizations that could work in tandem to influence and ultimately control academic institutions, think tanks, the courts, statehouses, Congress, and, they hoped, the presidency. These organizations were given innocuous names such as Americans for Prosperity. Funding sources were hidden whenever possible. This process reached its apotheosis with the allegedly populist Tea Party movement, abetted mightily by the Citizens United decision -- a case conceived of by legal advocates funded by the network. And their efforts have been remarkably successful. Libertarian views on taxes and regulation, once far outside the mainstream and still rejected by most Americans, are ascendant in the majority of state governments, the Supreme Court, and Congress. Meaningful environmental, labor, finance, and tax reforms have been stymied. Jane Mayer spent five years conducting hundreds of interviews -- including with several sources within the network -- and scoured public records, private papers, and court proceedings to trace the byzantine trail of the billions of dollars spent and to provide vivid portraits of the colorful figures behind the new American oligarchy



Rachel Maddow, Blowout: Corrupted Democracy, Rogue State Russia, and the Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth.  Crown, 2019.Blowout by Rachel MaddowREAD AN EXCERPT

Look Inside


Category: Politics | European World History

Ebook   Audio (2)

 #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All
The oil and gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at it is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”

Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher. As Maddow writes, “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.”


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Big Oil and Gas Versus Democracy—Winner Take All
In 2010, the words “earthquake swarm” entered the lexicon in Oklahoma. That same year, a trove of Michael Jackson memorabilia—including his iconic crystal-encrusted white glove—was sold at auction for over $1 million to a guy who was, officially, just the lowly forestry minister of the tiny nation of Equatorial Guinea. And in 2014, Ukrainian revolutionaries raided the palace of their ousted president and found a zoo of peacocks, gilded toilets, and a floating restaurant modeled after a Spanish galleon. Unlikely as it might seem, there is a thread connecting these events, and Rachel Maddow follows it to its crooked source: the unimaginably lucrative and equally corrupting oil and gas industry.

With her trademark black humor, Maddow takes us on a switchback journey around the globe, revealing the greed and incompetence of Big Oil and Gas along the way, and drawing a surprising conclusion about why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. election. She deftly shows how Russia’s rich reserves of crude have, paradoxically, stunted its growth, forcing Putin to maintain his power by spreading Russia’s rot into its rivals, its neighbors, the West’s most important alliances, and the United States. Chevron, BP, and a host of other industry players get their star turn, most notably ExxonMobil and the deceptively well-behaved Rex Tillerson. The oil and gas industry has weakened democracies in developed and developing countries, fouled oceans and rivers, and propped up authoritarian thieves and killers. But being outraged at it is, according to Maddow, “like being indignant when a lion takes down and eats a gazelle. You can’t really blame the lion. It’s in her nature.”

Blowout is a call to contain the lion: to stop subsidizing the wealthiest businesses on earth, to fight for transparency, and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enablers. The stakes have never been higher. As Maddow writes, “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.”



“At its heart, this book is a tale of two countries, the United States and Russia, and how, as Maddow sees it—individually and together—they have been warped by a rapacious fossil fuel industry. . . . Fulminating comes easy to Rachel Maddow. What sets her apart from other serial fulminators is that she does it with facts—and sardonic wit.”The Washington Post
“Expect a tweetstorm as Maddow’s indictment of a corrupt industry finds readers—and it deserves many.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Known for her intense inquiries into complex subjects, Maddow brings her laser-like intuitiveness and keen and wily perception to Big Oil, that stalwart of global economics, and the shadowy nexus of commerce and politics. Maddow likes murky, the murkier the better, and her examination of the intricacies of off-shore drilling, transnational pipelines, and hydraulic fracking is as deep as the coveted wells themselves. . . . Like trailblazing journalists before her, Maddow exposes both the slapdash and sinister practices underlying geopolitics and energy policies and revels in peeling back the layers of malfeasance to stoke righteous outrage.”Booklist (starred review)





“Rachel Maddow pinpoints the root of all evils: The fossil fuel industry” By Jill Dougherty.  Washington Post (Oct. 3, 2019 ). 

Jill Dougherty is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and a Centennial fellow at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She covered the White House and State Department for CNN and served for nine years as CNN’s Moscow bureau chief.


. . . .In tracing the industry and its impact on our lives, Maddow begins at the beginning, in 1859, with the discovery of “rock oil” and, a few years later, John D. Rockefeller’s founding of Standard Oil. She takes the story up to today’s inventions — hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling — that have revolutionized extraction and helped launch America on its road to “energy independence.”

An inseparable part of America’s fossil fuel history, Maddow points out, are the federal and state tax breaks for the industry, what she calls the “longest running welfare program in the nation’s history.” This spawned a symbiotic relationship, as the fossil fuel industry began to feed on the body politic, eventually creating its own “corporate shadow foreign policy.”

The ultimate victims, Maddow says, continue to be average Americans across the country, in thrall to an industry that gives them jobs but threatens their health, even their lives, all the while undermining democracy.

Russia, without strong democratic institutions, comes off even worse, beset with “the Resource Curse” — abundant energy resources that create enormous cashflows but that crowd out more stable and diversified roads to economic development. The result: “poor governance and high corruption [that result in] devastating economic, health and environmental consequences at the local level, and high incidences of conflict and war.”

The culprit, as Maddow sees it, is President Vladimir Putin. Early in his presidency he targeted energy resources as the path to return Russia to its rightful place on the world stage after the ignominious demise of the Soviet Union. That was a worthy goal, and during the George W. Bush administration, when relations with America were more hopeful, Putin calculated that Russia could become an important energy supplier to the United States.

It didn’t end up that way. . . .

There are a lot of bad guys in this book. But there are a few good ones, too. Like Austin Holland, head seismologist for the Oklahoma Geological Survey, who, under great pressure from the industry and its supporters to stop his research, found that disposal of wastewater from fracking was, indeed, linked to an astounding increase in earthquakes in the state. Eventually, he left his position and headed for New Mexico and a job with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The real heroes, Maddow says, are the teachers, students and parents in Oklahoma, fed up with the fracking and the earthquakes — more than 100 measuring a magnitude of 3.0 or higher in the state in February 2016 alone — and the tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, even as spending per student plummeted by 24 percent over eight years. Thanks to their protests, the state legislature eventually raised taxes on the industry and put more controls on wastewater.

Maddow doesn’t think the fossil fuel industry is going away anytime soon, although she says it will eventually: “Coal is dead. As dead as whale oil and kerosene and every other fuel source we once believed we couldn’t live without. Oil and gas are dead, too — only they don’t look sick yet.”

The world, she says, must figure out how to get along without them. And, although it seems hard to believe after more than 350 pages of horrors that the industry has inflicted on the environment and geopolitics around the world, Maddow claims that “this is a doable, winnable fight here at home.”

In “Blowout,” just like in her MSNBC monologues, Maddow doesn’t shy away from hyperbole: “Democracy either wins this one or disappears.” But we readers have to ask ourselves — is it really hyperbole?




Related Reading


Bill Moyers interviews Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of Winner-Take-All Politics — How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. 2012. 

Naomi Klein.  This Changes Everything and No Is Not Enough. Provides a road map for countering Trump’s shocks.

David Korten, Agenda for a New Economy

 Billionaires and Stealth Politics by Matthew J. Lacombe, Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright, 2018.  

Mike Lofgren, The Party Is Over.  Pp. 11, 297.
The Right’s Stealth Plan for America  by Nancy MacLean, 2017.

Potter and Penniman, Nation on the Take: How Big Money Corrupts Our Democracy
Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty.

Sons of Wichita, How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty By Daniel Schulman, 2014.


David Cay Johnston has 2:  Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch.  Mayer quotes him page 15.  In 2004 David Cay Johnston’s book Perfectly Legal showed how ideologues had made the nation safe for wealthy people who don’t want to pay taxes.  In 2007 in Free Lunch he itemized and analyzed (declares the book’s subtitle:  How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense and Stick You with the Bill):  congressional earmarks, stock options, hedge fund tax breaks, abuse of eminent domain, subsidies to sports teams, K Street lobbyists, our health-care system, the gap between rich and poor, to name only a few.  These books were published before the financial crash of 2008 and the victory of the rich in the Supreme Court ruling, Citizens United.    I highlight Johnston’s  books (there have been many more like them) to emphasize the long preparation, long preceding 2004, for the billionaires’ plutocracy exposed in Dark Money.  His  books and those listed above teach us what the problem is and what we can and must do to stop and reverse it.  --Dick




Robert Fantina’s new book, Propaganda, Lies and False Flags: How the U.S. Justifies Its Wars, provides a chronology of warfare USA.  This is not a peacemaking nation.    A great peacemaker because national mythbuster, William Blum started giving us the facts of US imperial aggressions back in the 1980s.  Here are his books:

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.  1986, 1995.
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower.
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir.
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. 
America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy. 


To be able to CONNECT the CALAMITIES OF CLIMATE CRISIS (above) AND NUCLEAR WAR, read ELLSBERG’S THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE  (2018) and THE BUTTON: THE NEW NUCLEAR ARMS RACE AND PRESIDENTIAL POWER FROM TRUMAN TO TRUMP by William Perry and Tom Collina (2020).  The failures of the world's leaders to mobilize against nuclear weapons and climate change are UNPRECEDENTED CRIMES.  Read Ellsberg's The Doomsday Machine, or at least the last chapter or concluding pages (on nuclear winter) for indignation not only against the crimes but against continued public apathy.  Read the conclusion of The Button giving ten recommendations for a safer world.  Items 9 and 10 appeal to citizens to incorporate the nuclear weapons crisis into the popular uprising against diverse social dysfunctions, by implication the climate catastrophe     And we in 2020 include the Covid-19 pandemic.  The editorial on the Covid-19 pandemic by Gregg Gonsalvez appeared in The Nation July 27/August 3, 2020 with the title: “Stop the Death March.”  Readers can connect fossil fuels-wars-warming-pandemics.   

     Connect the dots. Blum, Fantina, Mayer, Leonard, Carter and Woodworth, Kramer and White, Ellsberg, Perry and Collina, Gonsalvez.  We must stop the death march.  They know how, and we must listen and act.

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Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)