September 12, 2007

armedmad-medium.jpg  Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans - Sordid Secrets &Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild By Greg Palast

Book Review by Mark Groubert

At the age of 25 most people were finished. A whole goddamned nation of assholes driving automobiles, eating, having babies, doing everything in the worst way possible, like voting for the presidential candidate who reminded them most of themselves.

Charles Bukowski

Greg Palast clearly hates George Bush and his mafia-like crime family. But he’s also not too fond of Al Gore, Hilary Clinton or John Kerry either. Nor does he particularly like New Mexico governor Bill Richardson for that matter. The former so-called “forensic economist” a kind of socialist Sam Spade who specialized in corporate fraud, is now on the trail of political shenanigans as a TV journalist for the BBC.

Armed Madhouse, which came out in 2006, has been re-released in paperback with a new bonus chapter/afterward entitled Busted …and How to Steal Back Your Vote. It is mandatory reading for anyone interested in how the Republicans are going to steal the next election in 2008. The Chicago Tribune said it is composed of, “stories so relevant they threaten to alter history.” Powerful stuff.

Palast is also the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, a New York Times bestseller and is a frequent guest on Air America Radio with Randi Rhodes and Robert Kennedy, Jr.

As a writer for the British newspaper The Observer the Los Angeles-born muckraker has written extensively about the war on terror. In 2006 Palast himself was charged with violating anti-terror laws by the Department of Homeland Security for filming victims of Katrina caged in a trailer park near Exxon Petroleum’s Baton Rouge refinery. Apparently the DHS was more concerned with the filming of the oil refineries than the downtrodden refugees of Hurricane Katrina. Charges were later dropped when Palast pointed out that anyone with Google can see complete aerial maps of the so-called “critical infrastructure asset.”

Palast believes Exxon finally called off the dogs. Seems he has been nipping at the heels of the oil giant going back to the Exxon Valdez grounding, which Palast reported had less to do with a drunken sea captain and more to do with faulty navigation equipment and cost cutting.

Palast has more recently made his bones specializing in election fraud and the minutia of vote stealing. With the upcoming ’08 presidential elections the bonus chapter/afterward is of enormous current interest. During the past three elections, Palast’s election stories have been effectively blocked by U.S. corporate media. Despite being filmed by BBC Television his work rarely makes it even to PBS here in America.

With the Democrats regaining a mini-swagger in their political strut, Palast lays out the scenario for the Republicans stealing the upcoming presidential election. In fact the longtime swagger of Bush and the smirk of Rove may be grounded in their total confidence in knowing how to steal presidential elections in perpetuity. Palast lays out in detail just how they did it and more importantly, how they plan on doing it again. Can the Democrats stop them is the only question at this point. It’s kind of like facing a football team with a massive offense and your team has a pretty good defense. Can your team stop their offense - in both meanings of the word?

In 2000 it was caging lists. In 2004, it was provisional ballots. In 2008 it will be voter IDs. Palast lays out the case about Florida scrubbing its rolls for ex-felons or anyone who had the same name as a felon or might have known a felon. But there were other scrubbing going on. The overall genius of the National Republican Party is to work with local state officials to eliminate as many ethnic voters, aka Democrats, as possible through a myriad of methods.

For instance, Florida absentee ballots were discarded in record numbers. The ones that came from Republicans actually said so on the outside of the envelope. Nice. Election officials also used methods; such as zip code, race reporting and name recognition to achieve the same goal.

Concerning provisional ballots in 2004, Palast explains how the Republican-controlled Congress, confronted by Jesse Jackson and the Congressional Black Caucus, signed deceptive bipartisan legislation for access to so-called provisional ballots. The one thing carefully omitted was that it wasn’t required by law to actually count those ballots. No accident.

Other methods included leaving the oldest machines in poor neighborhoods and reducing their numbers over all to create 7-hour wait times and thereby crippling the election process. Secretary of State Blackwell did everything he could to reduce the number of ethnic/student/urban voters including challenging the weight of paper used for voter registration forms.

All intentional.

All incrementally effective.

Anti-conspiracy theorists in the media kept demanding a ‘smoking gun’. There is no smoking gun – just thousands of spent rounds of ammunition.

It is not two sided by the way. Republican operatives covered the landscape with various illicit techniques from phone slamming, to hidden party switching petitions that in some cases said they were for marijuana reform on the “cover” sheet.

Regarding black box voting.

Palast insists that while touch screen voting is a real threat, it is really a McGuffin that will not do as much damage as feared. It is the total overall ballot and registration dumping that caused Democrats to lose two elections they actually won with ease.

Now the new boogieman is the voter ID card needed to vote in battleground states. For Democrats, a nightmare in the making. Only 20% of Americans have passports. Not everyone has a driver’s license. And many do not have birth certificates. In many states, the phony threat of voter fraud has permitted legislation for this new method of voter elimination to be ratified. The drama will be played out on Election Day 2008, a little over a year away.


And that is why they are still smirking.

Check the government’s official numbers in Ohio for the 2004 presidential election:

Spoiled ballots 103,660

Provisional uncounted 33,998

Absentee uncounted 15,519

Ghost & blocked votes 85,950

Total Uncounted 239,127

Bush ‘victory’ margin 118,599

Through careful statistical analysis, Palast demonstrates how inner city Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Jews and students were successfully targeted and eliminated by Republican election operatives. All of the above were overwhelmingly Democratic voters.

Palast Prediction: The next battleground will be Nevada in 2008.

Palast suggests Democrats flood the zone with poll workers. He also recommends NEVER voting by absentee or provisional ballot. Also to vote early, weeks before if possible.

Do not wait until Election Day.

It may be too late. This is not a fair fight. It is not a level playing field. We may have the numbers but they have the illicit methods and control numerous state political machines. We may be naïve, laid back and incompetent. But they are organized, devious and Machiavellian. Please do not suggest that both sides are equal in this fight. It doesn’t hold water.

In Germany in 1933, the Social Democrats fought hard against the National Socialists, but only one group started a fire in the Reichstag. Should the Social Democrats be blamed for the political victories of the Third Reich and their candidate? Or were they, like many others around the world, soon to become victims of a brutal regime?

Don’t become a victim.


You must make sure you are registered. Rolls are purged in the middle of the night now. You may have to register more than once. Don’t be so sure you’re registered. Check and double check. Help others register. It is not about simply getting out the vote any longer. We are way past that, folks. It is about making sure that whatever recording device is supposed to record your vote actually does. Think like a Third Worlder. Be aggressive. Be confrontational. Do not take your vote for granted.

They don’t.

American power elites have tried to stop us from voting since the inception of the United States. Voting has always been seen as the function of the great unwashed. The grubby working class little people. Ever see a wealthy politician vote?

He always looks clueless.

Like old man Bush-buying milk at a supermarket.

Landless couldn’t vote until 1844.

Ex-slaves until 1869

Women – 1920

Poor - 1964

Great grandchildren of ex-slaves - 1965

The new Jim Crow is electronic, non-confrontational and extremely successful. We have fought for our right to vote since the beginning. They have tried to stop us since the beginning.


We outnumber them.

It is a worldwide struggle now.

Ohio = Mexico = Poland = Ukraine = Venezuela = Florida.

Nothing can be taken for granted. Polls mean nothing. Predictions mean nothing. Endorsements mean nothing.

Only votes matter.

Make ‘em count.

A screenwriter/producer/journalist based in Hollywood, California, Mark Groubert is the Senior Film and Book Reviewer for As a filmmaker he has produced numerous documentaries for HBO. Groubert is also the former editor of National Lampoon Magazine, MTV Magazine and The Weekly World News. In addition, he has written for the L.A. Weekly, L.A. City Beat, Penthouse, High Times and other publications. He is currently at work on his memoirs…or so he says.

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