by Jenn Bleyer
Greg Palast is back with an updated, expanded edition of the bestseller that won't die, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. GNN's Jenn Bleyer caught up with America's most prolific muckraker at a recent New York event. Palast was in rare form, pulling no punches as he explained how we're headed for another election debacle, the connection between Iraq and America's African-American community, and why Michael Moore is allowed to get away with what he does.
GNN: What's new in this edition of your book?
Palast: Well, there's nothing new in the sense that it's the same old thieving shits that have been walking away with everything in our nation that isn't bolted down, plus hunks of Mesopotamia. That ain't new. What's new is the information that I have on exactly how they do it. What's new on the election story? It's grim. Our president has signed the Help America Vote Act. When George W. Bush is going to help me vote, I'm concerned.
They're pushing it to go digital, and I think a lot of people are getting distracted worrying about the hacking. The real game is what the Civil Rights Commission calls the “no count,” which is machines that don't work, power failures, machines that lock up. Hey, you have a laptop, right? Your presidency is hanging on it. This isn't about whether the machines work or not-they work perfectly. That's where I investigated. I went into Broward County's white precinct where touch screen voting works just wonderful, like a coconut oil massage. Real smooth. And you go into the black precincts and it's like plantation whips brought out in digital form. Precincts were shut down for hours while they told people, come back tomorrow. Power failures. You name it. In the black community, thousands of votes were lost in Broward County with the touch screen vote.
In the new edition of the book, I am revealing something that was discovered by the Civil Rights Commission in their raw data. 1.9 million votes were cast and never counted in the last election. Thrown in the friggin' garbage cans. Half of those were cast by African-Americans. And it's state after state after state, with all kinds of different machines. The biggest game they play is saying “blacks don't have education, they can't figure out the ballot.” That's a wonderful little racist out. If you give black people the same machines, they have the same vote count as white people. Election supervisors told me they told the Jebster about it beforehand. You can't find this stuff in mainstream newspapers. Ted Koppel runs this story and it's, “blacks is too dumb to figure out how to vote.” Dig: You're one thousand times more likely to lose your vote if you're black than if you're white.
GNN: Have you seen concrete evidence of this happening in other black counties in the country?
Palast: Sure. Chicago, Illinois is the worst place in the country. I watched as the machine totals on the back of the lever machines were simply read off differently in the black precincts. Chicago has the worst spoilage rate-that's what they call it, the “spoilage rate.” That's because the Daly machine can't allow a black majority of the Democratic Party to take back their party from the white folks who maintain the political plantation in Chicago. Basically it's like political cotton pickin' out there. That's an old one.
GNN: So what's the solution?
Palast: Kill the white people, we know that. But since that's not going to happen, we have to say that we know. And we have to say we're not buying this jive ass bullshit they're doing with the Help America Vote Act.
GNN: Has their been any mainstream coverage of this story?
Palast: Absolutely none. The L.A. Times ran this big story about Greg Palast, one of the world's greatest investigative reporters. Big story. Whoa, I can send that to my mom! But then I go to the editor and say, if I'm such a great investigative reporter, why don't you run my story? “Well, what story?” A million black votes missing. “Oh, we've run that story.” You've run that story? What, in the invisible ink edition? See, when you defend black people, you suddenly became an invisible man, like black people are. You're invisible. You're behind the glass.
That's not unrelated to what I found on Iraq. What I found on Iraq was a document that's the Iraq strategy, post-conflict plan for the economy. These little weasels had been working on it, as far as I can tell, since before they returned the rented tuxes from the inaugural. This is why we're there. Why are kids there getting their asses shot off? Saddam's gone. What the fuck are we still doing there? That's a simple question and nobody's answering it. The Left is still arguing about whether we should have gone in. Forget all that bullshit. The reason we're still there is to “sell off all the state assets, especially in the oil industry”- that's a quote. They don't want you to know that when your kid comes home in a box, it's because of Appendix B, which says we need 360 days to grab their oil. Big problem. In those 360 days, there's a lot of angry Iraqis. We can call them old Baathists. We can call them Al Qaeda agents. But I'd call them Vietnamese. It's coming.
GNN: If Iraq really does devolve into a modern Vietnam, how will they maintain popular support for it?
Palast: They don't give a shit about popular support. Bush is running on fear. He's the fear candidate. He's the “you better get scared cuz those guys with the towels on their heads, they're coming to git you” candidate. People have to understand what the game is: pump the fear. His daddy created Osama bin Laden, who came back for us. His daddy created Saddam. And now he's creating Musharraf and all the other crazy bastards, and it's going to be a very fucking dangerous world. They're going to make it so goddamn dangerous that then they'll turn around and say, see, you need us. They're selling fear. That's their commodity.
GNN: You seem pretty convinced that this administration is coming back for a sequel.
Palast: No. The way I read it is that Bush is running unopposed. The only hope for regime change is that Kerry is acceptable to the elite. I've been talking to the oil guys behind the plans to take over Iraq, and they're not unhappy with Kerry at all. Obviously, Bush is their guy. He lets them drill in the Oval Office. Right now we've established a puppet government in Iraq, and the Saudis have established a puppet government here. That's what we're talking about. But the puppets have started playing with their own strings, and that's a problem. That's why Jim Baker moved his office right into the White House. And now they're worried that Bush is creating too many problems. The big fear of the oil companies is not Iraqis. It's that the neo cons are going to try to undercut OPEC. So they have to control George.
GNN: And you think they have the same likelihood of controlling Kerry's puppet strings?
Palast: Kerry says we should have more troops there, and we should stay there until it's stabilized. Well. Iraq hasn't been stabilized since 1911. I have one question for Kerry. What the hell do you mean by “stabilized?” Is California stabilized? Think about this: Timothy McVeigh was our homegrown terrorist. And where did we train him? Gulf War I. He was part of the troops that buried Iraqi soldiers alive when they tried to surrender in their trenches in the Gulf. So he learned that you can murder unarmed people-the Iraqis were surrendering, they were unarmed-you can murder unarmed people if your cause is just. And he took that home from the Gulf War. People would say, how could a Gulf War hero with all these medals kill innocent people? Excuse me, how could a man who killed all these innocent people, kill more innocent people?? So those guys that were having Iraqis rape each other, they're going to come back, and they're going to be your cops on the south side of Los Angeles. Welcome home! The war will come back home. Forget the terrorists, we're creating our own.
GNN: So what's a lefty or progressive or just a mildly skeptical person to do?
Palast: Dance all night. I think the Left is too fucking stiff. The Left hasn't had an erection in years. We are not approaching people in a normal manner. I mean, these weird words like “imperialism.” You go to the corner bodega, the average asshole in America isn't an “imperialist.” They're just scared like everyone else, or they don't give a shit. In America we run between falling asleep, going to Disneyworld, and fear.
GNN: Can you tell yet which are the next Enrons and Global Crossings coming up the pike?
Palast: Well, people look in terms of collapse. What I look at is who's ripping off the public, who's stealing the public blind. Unfortunately, there was too much weeping over the Enron stockholders, who certainly didn't mind when the casino was running hot. I don't give a shit about people who lost money on Enron stock. Who are the next ones? The rip-off industry is coming back. We have Reliance Energy. The Koch Brothers-I'm deeply concerned about their little scams. Bass brothers. These are the barbeque billionaires who Bush hangs out with. I would look to Wackenhut Corporation, which is going from Prisons-R-Us to Spy-for-Hire. They're all dangerous. Plus, when they're not dangerous, they are, as Jello Biafra says, clownocrats. They're complete fuck-ups. It's like Castro and the exploding cigar.
GNN: What has Michael Moore's impact been on disseminating your work?
Palast: He's wonderful. He takes my stuff and he turns it into something that he can get past the censors, because he's a clown. If I can't get it into The New York Times, give it to the fat man in the chicken suit and you get it through as a joke. Which is fine, as long as it's done right. We don't have many choices. I don't mind doing skywriting. I have a dance track out, Silence of the Lambs. We're got a CD out with Jello Biafra. We've got DVD's. Larry Flynt is putting us in between the beaver shots. This weekend I was doing gospel with Jesse Jackson and the choir. Whatever we can do to get the word out.
GNN: Your detractors seem to go after you with pretty low-blow character attacks. Do they ever challenge the actual substance of your work?
Palast: Well, I must say I've been accused of being bald, and there's some substance to that. They never go after the substance. It's these whisper campaigns. I had that in England a lot-even worse in England. Everything from my sex life, or lack thereof, to that I'm twisted and maniacal, as Katherine Harris said. And the IMF said that I'm the master of misinformation. I like it cuz it's like, zing! The arrow hit. If anyone has information to counter what I've said, I'm going to publish it. I'll be the first guy to take back a story and correct it. I correct stories all the time. I have to work on the information that I've got. We're not talking papal infallibility here-we're talking journalism. Shit, it ain't the Magna Carta. On the other hand, most of the people who complain are whiners, bellyachers, and guilty as charged.
by Jenn Bleyer