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Dad’s Last Erection

Greg Palast 

Just before his eighty-ninth birthday, my father was watching a Viagra commercial on TV. It ends with the warning, “If an erection persists for more than four hours, contact your doctor.”

He called up his clinic and got the nurse. He’d taken some Viagra, he said, more than four hours ago and his erection still wouldn’t go away.

“Mr. Palast, you shouldn’t have done that! You’ll have to get to the emergency room immediately.”

“I can’t go,” he said. “I haven’t shown all the neighbors yet.”

gil_palast_ret
Gil Palast (1921-2010) in Jeep WWII Pacific Theater (passenger seat) 1944 

In 1930, when my father was an eight-year-old kid in Chicago, he asked his older brother why people were outside in the cold snow waiting in a long line. His brother Harold said, “It’s a bread line. They don’t have anything to eat. …more

My Father’s Victory in the Pacific

Greg Palast 

 

In 1995, in Chicago, veterans of Silver Post No. 282 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their victory over Japan, marching around a catering hall wearing their old service caps, pins, ribbons and medals. My father sat at his table, silent. He did not wear his medals.

He had given them to me thirty years earlier. I can figure it exactly: March 8, 1965. That day, like every other, we walked to the newsstand near the dime store to get the LA Times. He was a Times man. Never read the Examiner.

He looked at the headline: U.S. Marines had landed on the beach at Danang, Vietnam. …more

My Father’s Victory in the Pacific

Greg Palast 

 

In 1995, in Chicago, veterans of Silver Post No. 282 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their victory over Japan, marching around a catering hall wearing their old service caps, pins, ribbons and medals. My father sat at his table, silent. He did not wear his medals.

He had given them to me thirty years earlier. I can figure it exactly: March 8, 1965. That day, like every other, we walked to the newsstand near the dime store to get the LA Times. He was a Times man. Never read the Examiner.

He looked at the headline: U.S. Marines had landed on the beach at Danang, Vietnam. …more

Going Postal: Excerpt from Billionaires & Ballot Bandits

Greg Palast 

The following excerpt is from “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps,” a new book on the conservative – and big money-led effort to steal elections this November, based on investigations by gumshoe journalist Greg Palast and attorney and activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. It also includes comics by Ted Rall.

“I didn’t know I had to fill in the bubble.”

That was the totally lame excuse of a voter who blew away the election of a Democrat as mayor of San Diego, California.

In 2004, the “Surfer Chick,” Donna Frye, got the most votes for mayor of the city, but was refused office. Donna runs the surf shop on the beach (husband Skip Frye was the world surfing champ) and, concerned about real estate sharks killing the beachfront and waters, decided to run for mayor as a write-in candidate.

In California, nearly a third of voters mail in their ballots. But four thousand of the folks who wrote in Donna Frye on those mail-in ballots didn’t fill in the bubble.

On the ballot, there was a choice of candidates with a bubble next to their name and a space for Write-in candidate. You had to write in Donna Frye and fill in the bubble next to it. (Completely fill it in, but not excessively: no X or check-that would disqualify you too.)

Republican election officials tossed out the four thousand ballots with Frye’s name but no bubble-blackening. Though Donna complained, she told me she conceded ballots marked Surfer Chick.

In the days when we still had a democracy, courts held that the voter’s intent should determine if a ballot gets counted. But since Bush v. Gore, what the voter clearly wants isn’t worth a bubble.

But the Rovearians insist that this is the only way to prevent wholesale fraud.

All over the nation, party hacks are playing “gotcha” with mail-in ballots. Here are some of my favorites, each one costing several thousand folks their vote:

– Wrong envelope.
– Wrong postage. Questionable signature. Stray mark (spoilage). Folded wrong.
– Lost by election officials.
– And an X instead of a dot in the bubble.

The “wrong signature” is the most suspect of all. If an election official thinks a signature has been forged, then he should call the cops. This is the serious crime of ballot fraud (filling out and mailing a ballot which is not yours). This is one of the only voting crimes that actually do occur, though it’s incredibly rare. So if there’s real evidence of a crime, the answer is not to toss out a ballot, toss out the evidence, but to jail the criminal.

So I went to visit two of the fraudsters who didn’t fill in their bubbles. Maybe I’d have them busted.

“Mom! Why didn’t you fill in the bubble?!”
“I’m sorry! I didn’t know you had to fill in the bubble! Your sister’s a lawyer and she helped us fill it out.”

In the last presidential election, over twenty-seven thousand “suspicious” (i.e., forged) signatures were detected. And yet not one of these forgers was busted. Why? Maybe because they weren’t forgeries but merely a slight change in signature (remember Melissa Tais?) or the pen used. Or the election official doesn’t like the choices of the signatory. Heavens! Could such a thing happen in America?

There is a solution: if an “absentee” ballot has an error or questionable signature, the election clerks could simply call the voter and have them come in to correct it. Oregon does that. So does . . . well, actually, no other state does that. Because Rove and his fellow tossers want it that way.

So you lose your vote. And here’s the charm: you don’t even know it! Ha ha ha!

Does it matter?

It has more than once changed “Hail to the Chief” to “Hail to the Thief.”

In 2012, it is expected that about 26 million votes will be mailed in. And, in the name of preventing voter fraud, about ONE IN FOURTEEN WILL BE TOSSED OUT. That’s nearly two million votes tossed in the gotcha! dumpster.

But don’t both parties do it, play “gotcha” with the ballots? Yes, they do. So then it all evens out, right? Wrong!

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve already guessed that the probability that a mail-in ballot will get the heave-ho is based on the color of the person whose name is on the ballot and his or her income bracket.

And just to make certain the class-biased count would pick one of their candidates, the Kochs spent at least a million on absentee ballot handling in the June 2012 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race. Using their new monster database, Republicans received a preprinted ballot and envelope with all the personal data properly filled-in to make it reject-proof. Just sign and drop in a mailbox.

It’s legal and brilliant. What’s brilliant and possibly not so legal is that in November, the same database could be “inverted” to target the Blue-ballot absentee voters and do the same match for the purpose of pumping up rejections and challenges. They won’t? During the recall, a group called United Sportsmen of Wisconsin sent Democrats absentee ballot request forms with the wrong address and deadline. USW, which existed only during the Wisconsin recall, was created by John W. Conners-until recently, Director of the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity. That’s sportsmanship a la Koch.

Reprinted from “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps” by Greg Palast. © 2012 by Greg Palast. Used with the permission of the publisher, Seven Stories Press.

The Family Jewels
A Veteran’s Story

Greg Palast 

A note from the Palast family
My mother, my sister and I can’t thank you enough for your expressions of kindness on hearing of my father’s death. For those of you who so graciously honored him with a donation to the Gil Palast Memorial Fund, my family will shortly designate the young journalist who will receive these funds as a fellowship. Last week, a mile off the California coast, we scattered my dad’s ashes in the Pacific. Yours, Greg P

In 1930, when my father was an 8-year-old kid in Chicago, he asked his older brother why people were outside in the cold snow in a long line.

His brother Harold said, “It’s a bread line. They don’t have anything to eat. They’re hoping for bread.”

My father ran to his mother’s bedroom, grabbed her diamond brooch, ran downstairs, and gave it to a man in the line.

Gil Palast (1921-2010) in Jeep WWII Pacific Theater (passenger seat) 1944
Restoration of photo by Sari Kadison-Shapiro, sari@sarigraphics.com
(click to enlarge)

Later in the Depression my grandfather lost all his money.

The important thing is, that after my father gave away the jewels, no one in his family chastised him.

Here’s what you need to know about my father and maybe about me:
My father worked in a furniture store in the barrio in Los Angeles, where he sold pure crap on lay-away to Mexicans.  Then, later on, he sold fancier crap to fancier people in Beverly Hills and he hated furniture, and he hated the undeserving pricks and their trophy wives who bought it.

Dad figured it this way:  The bankers, the union-busters, the Bushes – whoever ran the show – were all a pack of vultures and the rest of us were just food.

And when I turned 8 myself, my dad gave me some important jewelry:  His medals from World War II.  He wanted me to lose them, to throw them away, anything.  It was March 8, 1965.  I know the exact date because the US Marines had landed at Da Nang, Vietnam.

My father won the medals in the Pacific jungles for freeing the oppressed. Then, on that day in 1965, that degenerate Lyndon Johnson ordered my dad’s Army to return to the jungle to oppress the free.  Johnson and Nixon, and the rest of the gangsters, had turned my dad’s medals into garbage.

But life wasn’t all garbage and Nixon and furniture.  My parents danced – in fact, they were champs. Even in their 70s they won a medal in the tango.

Today my mother needs oxygen to breathe and my father, after his stroke, needed a walker frame to move. A little while back they decided to have a nice day out.  My mom dressed up in her goofy red, white and blue patriotic garb, strapped on a canister of oxygen, and my father, limping a few inches at a time, made it to the local grocery store – to join the union picket line.

This past Saturday was my mother’s birthday, her 89th.  My father, in the hospital, told her to have a real blowout of a party.  She did.   It was a hell of a celebration.

But the next day, as we had expected, my father died.

He was happy my sister and I had flown in on time.  He was especially happy that we don’t sell furniture.

His last words were to my mother, “Happy birthday.”

***

My mom and dad don’t want anyone to send flowers. My mother asks that if you’d like to honor Gil Palast to please send a donation to our not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund. My father was damn proud of what we do.

I’d be just as happy, if you have a couple bucks, to take your mom and dad out dancing.

…more

My Father’s Victory in the Pacific

Greg Palast 

by Greg Palast

Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse. [Hey, it’s Father’s Day! Get one for dad.]

In 1995, in Chicago, veterans of Silver Post No. 282 celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their victory over Japan, marching around a catering hall wearing their old service caps, pins, ribbons and medals. My father sat at his table, silent. He did not wear his medals.

He had given them to me thirty years earlier. I can figure it exactly: March 8, 1965. That day, like every other, we walked to the newsstand near the dime store to get the LA Times. He was a Times man. Never read the Examiner.

He looked at the headline: U.S. Marines had landed on the beach at Danang, Vietnam. …more