The Shock and Awe Campaign of Greg Palast’s “Armed Madhouse: Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?, The Scheme to Steal ‘08 and other Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Class War”

By Steve Brown, Exclusive for the LA Free Press

“The soul,” he reported, “should never die ungodly in an armed madhouse.”
- Greg Palast quoting Allen Ginsberg

SOMEWHERE IN THE CALIFORNIA DESERT, 6/06/06: Clouds roll in across the hi-desert sky over Twentynine Palms, home to the country’s largest Marine base.  The base is where fake Iraqi villages, manned partially by real Iraqis, and supplemented with local talent, await visits from grunts scheduled to ship out for Iraq.  The training is to prepare them for what lies ahead, and ostensibly, to perhaps prevent more episodes like the slaughters in Haditha and elsewhere.

Some Marines at the base have already been to Iraq - for three tours of duty.  And it looks like they’ll be going back.  Talk to their spouses.  The tension is high, and barely under control in some who have already said goodbye several times to their loved ones.  It seems the Marines tend to leave town under the cover of darkness, with little fanfare, while their returns are triumphantly broadcast on local radio so folks can welcome them home.  I don’t blame them for that - leaving their families for more than half a year of uncertainty and separation is a highly personal trial of endurance.  They should have the chance to say goodbye in peace, and they should be welcomed home when they return.

In between goodbyes and welcome homes, the town seems pretty stoic about their comings and goings for the most part, having such a strong military presence locally for many years.  The military culture is pervasive in town, from haircuts and tailors to tattoo shops and all the out of state license plates on new Mustangs driven by young men with little or no hair.

Then there is the ex-Marine I ran into at a local coffee shop referring to the Iraqis as “sand niggers,” while a prominent local businessman recounted his training day on base, where he gunned down hapless virtual Iraqi civilians while on patrol in a Humvee simulator.  I don’t think he’d hurt anyone in real life.

On the other hand, there is the pastor and local peace activist who, at the risk of becoming utter pariahs in their own community, have continued to hold candlelight vigils to remember those lost in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Over time, they have become more accepted and less controversial.  They are less frequently, if ever, referred to as “traitors,” as they were when the war first began.  Over time, the losses of Marines stationed at the base in “29” have grown, and the seriousness of their endeavor has become more apparent.

No short, straightforward old fashioned invasion in the Reagan tradition like in the original American Gulf War under the previous President Bush.  Three years on, this is civil war with our troops stuck in the middle, with the reasons given for us being there showing transparently false.

Today, Greg Palast’s new book, “Armed Madhouse,” hit’s the bookstores.  For those who are not familiar with Palast, he is the best American investigative journalist working today.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the American corporate media, he is rarely seen here.  Instead, he works for the BBC Television and the Guardian newspaper in Britain - where journalism continues to be practiced (imperfectly, but at a far higher standard than in the American media, where investigative journalism is mostly a lost, if not missed, art form).  His last book, “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy,” recounted his reporting on the stolen Florida election of 2000, and much more.  While the American corporate media has chosen to ignore the manipulation of democratic elections in our republic in 2000 and 2004, the rest of the world learned about their theft via Palast’s investigative work.  From what Palast has to say in his new book about the millions of votes not counted in our last presidential election, you can look for the rigging of the 2008 elections to be even more impressive.

I am working my way through Palast’s “Armed Madhouse,” and it is not for the faint of heart.  The sheer amount of information gathered by Palast’’s investigative team (sometimes using admirably creative  techniques to gather information), is bound to be intimidating for more timid readers.  There will be some who will be overwhelmed by the details and the pace of the presentation of information devastating to any preconceived notions about American reality they may have previously held.

This is typical Palast.  During the two interviews I have conducted with him over the years, I count myself lucky to have recorded them.  He goes at blazing speeds with frequent asides and connections demanding further investigation, all whipped together with incredible anecdotes from his investigations that leave you incredulous.  Without the recording, I’’d be lost.  With it, in a half-hour interview, I’’d always have enough to write a book.

“Armed Madhouse,” is no different.  Packed with incredible information and documents that the lazy, narcissistic American corporate media couldn’t be bothered to hunt down and piece together, Palast’s new book should be required reading for all citizens.  Ditch the moronic partisan ideologies - read the real agendas behind Iraq and the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into there.  Learn about the corporate connections and the plans to create in Iraq, the Chile of the Middle East.  Read about the neocons vs. Big Oil, and how OPEC figures into the picture.

I don’t want to give away too much, but to say that this book challenges all generally held public preconceptions about American involvement in Iraq, is an understatement.  Palast’’s book is akin to jumping down the rabbit hole, into a warped world of intertwined and competing political and business plots and scams.  Once you’ve gone down that hole, you’’ll be a lot wiser, but also a lot less trusting - of anything you hear or see in the American corporate media.

The truly frightening part for me is that Palast, a highly skilled and capable investigative journalist and researcher, has uncovered and presented an incredible amount of revelatory information in “Armed Madhouse,” and it isn’t a work of his own bias and partisan political bent.  Rather, it’s to the point, factual, and terrifying in its detail.

Palast isn’’t afraid to present facts that upset - or totally topple - notions of how things work in America.  It’s knowledge he thinks Americans should have access to, about how our government really functions.  And with his level of research, everything from our true reasons for war, to our real agenda for public education, from the energy cartels to the rampant corruption that is beyond the imagination of most of us, you need to allot yourself time to read and re-read this book.  Then you will need time to recover from the shock of having to pick up the pieces of your shattered assumptions about America, and go on with your life.

This is a must-read book for anyone who cares about their country and can stomach the fact that we’ve been played as patsies for a long time now.  If you want to live on with the half-truths and lies of Limbaugh and the hate-mongering truly anti-American spew of Coulter, who also released a book today, then “Armed Madhouse,” may not be for you.

But if you want to know what is really going on, that knowing the truth of the matter, no matter how unpalatable it may be, is better than living and buying into a lie, then this is  your book.  It’s a damned good book - a great book for those who deeply love America, and it’s an incredible ride at the same time.  You get smacked up the side of the head with stunning revelations, whipped through twists and turns of plot at breakneck speed, introduced to the most villainous characters - and it’s all real.

To order “Armed Madhouse,” visit www.gregpalast.com.

Excerpt from “The Con: Kerry Won.  Now Get Over It,” from “Armed Madhouse.”

First, consider CNN’s Ohio exit polls broadcast just after midnight after the voting ended on Election Day. They show John Kerry defeated George Bush among women voters by 53% to 47%. And among men voters, Kerry defeated Bush 51% to 49%.

So here’s your question, class: What third sex put George Bush over the top in Ohio and gave him the White House?
Answer: The Uncounted.

In Ohio, there were 153,237 ballots simply thrown away, more than the Bush “victory” margin. In New Mexico the uncounted vote was fives times the Bush alleged victory margin of 5,988. In Iowa, Bush’s triumph of 13,498 was overwhelmed by 36,811 votes rejected. In all, over three million votes were cast but never counted in the 2004 presidential election. The official number is bad enough-1,855,827 ballots cast not counted, reported to the federal government’s Election’s Assistance Commission. But the feds are missing data from several cities and entire states too embarrassed to report the votes they failed to count. Correcting for the under-reporting of the undercount, the number of ballots cast but never counted goes to 3,600,380. And there are certainly more we couldn’t locate to tote up.

Why doesn’t your government tell you this? Hey, they do. It’s right there in black-and-white on a U.S. Census Bureau announcement released seven months after the election-in a footnote to the report on voter turn-out. The Census tabulation of voters voting “differs,” from ballots tallied by the Clerk of the House of Representatives for the 2004 presidential race by 3.4 million votes.