Okay Donald, the cat’s out of the bag. It wasn’t so bad when, toward the end of last month, the Guardian printed quite a lengthy take on the billionaire behind Breitbart and Bannon, not to mention Brexit and (just to keep the alliteration going) Big Boy Bouffant as well.
Now, however, Jane Mayer – author of the best-seller Dark Money about the Brothers Koch, has a piece in the latest New Yorker that’s sure to raise more American eyebrows. Robert Mercer is the reclusive hedge-fund guy who’s figured out the algorithms to manipulate enough minds to get someone like Trump elected.
This is chilling stuff, right out of 1984 and Brave New World. Neither of those literary classics, however, could foresee the digital revolution and how Facebook, Google and now AI (Artificial Intelligence) might be used to put democracy in a death grip. (Another prophetic book worth reading is C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength).
I’m going to put the links to The Guardian and New Yorker pieces at the end of this column, because anybody who remembers what the land of the free used to look like should read them (and weep). Here, though, since this is a blog about the environment, I’d like to dwell on a few cogent facts about “Merciless Merry” Mercer. (Notice I didn’t make a play on the word “mercenary.”)
First off, since the beginning of 2015, Mercer has put more than $30 million into getting right-wing politicos elected. Half of that money went to a Super-PAC called – check out the plagiarism – Make America Number 1. Another $2.3 million was chipped in by his wife and daughter. This is what primarily bankrolled those last months of the Trump campaign.
At the same time – and credit goes to the DeSmog Blog for these numbers -$22 million plus got dispatched by the Mercers into “charitable non-profit” groups that promote denial of climate change and all efforts to slow down greenhouse gas emissions by the fossil fuel companies.
Are we surprised that Trump has called global warming a hoax? Of course, before the Mercers decided to back him, they were pushing hard for one of the Senate’s top climate-huckster/hoaxers, Ted Cruz.
The Mercers avoid the mainstream media like the plague, although they happily established Breitbart News, the alt-facts organ that propelled Steve Bannon to fame and to become the Machiavelli of the Trump White House. So anyway, to decipher what the Mercers think about climate change, you need to scrutinize where their family foundation spends its millions.
DeSmog Blog took a look at – perish the thought, but it’s public record – the tax returns of the Mercer Family Foundation since 2005, in order to come up with the $22 million figure for those beneficent gifts to climate science deniers and EPA-detractors. One of these groups, the Heartland Institute, has been recipient of nearly $5 million from the Mercers since 2008. Heartland holds its own “international climate change conferences” to bring the Dirty Dozen Denialists and their friends all together for strategic chats. According to DeSmog Blog, the Institute doesn’t publicly divulge the largesse of their behind-the-scenes buddies, the Mercers.
Another pleased recipient of $1.25 million is the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, run by a failed politician named Art Robinson. He, too, believes climate change is a hoax while his institute peddles nuclear survival manuals and – believe it or not – has been stockpiling human urine for testing. Even that doesn’t seem to faze or piss off Mr. Mercer. Poop!
Enough – check out the links below: