65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2007
If you really want to know how Bush got to be President, the real reasons we're in Iraq, the details of the infighting that made our occupation such a disaster, and the manifest and nefarious electoral machinations that the right inflicted on the democratic process in 2000 and 2004, and is putting in place for the elections of 2008, READ THIS BOOK. Palast has the interviews, the documents, and the facts that never get reported in the mainstream U.S. press. It's the first thing I've read that makes sense of how the battle for power between the Pentagon, the State Department, the neocons, Big Oil, and the Saudis played out on the ground in Iraq. It's a complex but fascinating sequence of events that explains the revolving-door administrations we put in place there and the flip-flopping approaches we tried to use, especially dealing with Iraq's oil. True, Palast comes across as an arrogant, in-your-face know-it-all. But I'm more than willing to put up with his abrasive style, given that he's willing to track down the real stories behind the most important events of our times and lay them out for us. I learned more per page of this new edition of _Armed Madhouse_ than almost any book I've read. If you're sick of the pap that passes for news, and eager to understand what's really going on, this is a crucial book. Robert Adler, author of Medical Firsts: From Hippocrates to the Human Genome and Science Firsts: From the Creation of Science to the Science of Creation
63 of 66 people found the following review helpful
There's a spiffy, hip kind of feel to this nouveau Wobblie update on how George W. Bush and his craven cronies and currish corporate sponsors are trying to turn America into a kind of gargantuan banana republic. Even if half of world-renowned journalist Greg Palast's indictment is even fifty percent correct, Momma, pack the kids and the dog and my old guitar: this country is going to hell.
I've got a friend or two who have actually left the good old US of A for places like Panama and Canada, not so much out of fear of a neo-fascist takeover, but out of pure disgust, the kind of disgust that can only be bought with stolen elections and massive redistributions of the nation's wealth from the poor and the middle classes to the conspicuously rich.
Before reading this I couldn't believe that the Democrats were so incompetent and so stupid as to allow the Republicans to steal two national elections. Now I wonder if it matters whether they can prevent a third. Probably Hillary will win, but after four years of her, the power structure will have had enough and it'll be the reincarnation of some cardboard flunky like Reagan or some idiot like the present occupant who will be installed in power and who will again rob the treasury, sell off the public lands and start a war for ExxonMobil and kill a gook for God.
People like Cheney and Rumsfeld will probably be dead or deathlike, writing their mendacious memoirs, but there'll be others from the think tanks and the corporate world to look out for the interests of the ruling class. And, yes, the rich will get richer and the poor poorer and there's nothing new under the sun--although this "nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" once seemed so.
Goodbye yellow brick road. Welcome to the armed madhouse!
The problem with America, with this democracy by capitalism, is that it isn't what it once was. We used to be the greatest country on earth. But sometime around the time that Kennedy got shot we began to change. We won the Cold War but it ruined us morally. With our idealism and sense of fair play compromised by our need to stem the tide of the red menace, we became, step by step, like every other country in the history of the world, hopelessly corrupt.
Clearly, if Palast is to be believed, we are corrupt, right down to the very core of our being. When elections are stolen in a democracy, it is no longer a democracy. When a powerful nation invades another country to control the supply of oil (as Palast charges) under false pretexts, it is no different than Iraq invading Kuwait or Germany invading Poland.
When a country allows profiteers to poison and despoil the land and the people (as Palast charges) that country is no better than the robber barons of old or the dictators of South America and Africa. When the president steals from the middle class to feed the gluttonous, the middle class will eventually dry up and die and we will have the wealth distribution pyramid of a banana republic.
Obviously this book will delight and entertain those on the left. Palast is a gifted writer as well as a tenacious researcher who serves well as a pied piper to those about to be disenfranchised. (People on the right will send him death threats.) I suggest you read this book regardless of how you feel about what is happening in America today and who's responsible. If nothing else, reading Palast's prose is an education in how to express yourself with verve, gumption, and the employment of le mot juste. Here's an example from pages 262-263. Noting that 59 million Americans actually cast votes for George W. Bush in 2004 (regardless of whether he really won or not), Palast writes:
What we witnessed on November 2, 2004, was a 59 million strong army of pinheads on parade ready to gamble away their pensions so long as George Bush makes sure that boys kill each other, not kiss; who feel right proud that our uniformed services can kick some scrawny brown people in the ass in some far-off place when we're mad and can't find Osama; who can't bring themselves to vote for a guy with a snooty Boston accent who's never been to a NASCAR tractor pull and who certainly thinks anyone who does [sic] is a low-Q [sic] beer-burping blockhead.
Palast adds, "Nitwits who think Ollie North's a hero not a conman, who can't name their congressman, who believe that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were going steady, who can't tell Afghanistan from a souvlaki stand and, bloated with lies and super size fries, clomped to the polls 59 million strong to vent their small-minded hatreds on us all."
He sums that up with, "I fear the election was an intelligence test that America failed."
It is said that domesticated animals are not as smart as the wild kind. It is put forward that humans were smarter in, say, 30,000 BCE than we are now. Some call it "devolution." We are domesticated animals: we and the massage of TV and fast foods and soft couches, and the pounding rhythms of the ads relentlessly aimed at us, have domesticated ourselves. Nowhere in the world is this truer than in America. Alas.
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
If you are concerned with America, our way of life, our political process, and there is only one book you can read this year, I recommend you make it this one. Using creative colloqualisms that may annoy or amuse you, you cannot get away from the author's facts, statistics, leaked documents and information that prove why we really went into Iraq, how your vote was stolen or not counted, and how you are producing more today and earning less, and how your rights and security are being taken away from you.
In five long chapters, Palast covers a wide range of topics. I began highlighting important portions of the book for this review. In short order there was too much highlighted text to add here.
But it's Chapters 4 and 5 that will really scare the hell out of me because I realize that even if all of us vote, it is not enough. Palast shows:
*how the republican machine kept minorities from voting in 2000, 2004 and will keep them from voting in 2008.
* with statistical evidence how voting machines were too few in minority communities or too far away. Either the lines were too long or the trip back and forth was.
* that Kerry's name didn't even show on the ballot in some places.
* statistical anomalies where Black, Hispanic and American Indian votes where not even counted, or their machines didn't even register a vote for president. In white neighborhoods, such anomalies were almost nonexistent.
* how provisional and absentee ballots were simply discarded, or mailed to the voters too late to be returned and counted.
* how voting machine error and evidence were destroyed even after there were calls for an investigation that secretaries of states ignored.
* how voter reform is nothing but a blatent attempt to perpetuate this fraud rather than fix it e.g. In New Mexico anyone now challenging a vote must put up a $1,000,000 bond first!
* how the Republicans still managed to list thousands of law-abiding, registered voters from voting because they were on felon lists (even in Ohio) where there is no law against that.
* how republicans are clamoring for national ID cards (poll tax)costing $30, which will require that you to produce an ID to get the ID! Palast muses how many people are going to risk jail voting twice when you can barely get many of them to vote even once, or how many felons will risk going back to the jail just so they can vote. (In many states, they may.)
Palast got wind of some of these vote-destroying practices before the election and published and broadcast them to British and European audiences where they received wide attention, everywhere except the US of A. Now that our networks are owned by conglomerate businesses, the chances of receiving such news is nil.
Over three million votes tossed, unrecorded, thrown out, or people kept from voting, and the democrats did nothing! Even I thought more people had voted for Bush, but with Mr. Palast's evidence, Kerry won.
His last chapter is equally disturbing. Americans are producing more, yet taking home less. Power deregulation and higher gas prices have replaced the increased taxes we were not going to have. Both industries have forced black-outs or profit gouging. Companies have reneged on their pension and health care contracts while maintaining those for management. We are now making less wages than we did when Lyndon Johnson was president. Our Department of LABOR actually shows businesses (in public registers) how they can avoid paying overtime to their workers by making them hourly wage earners or simply calling them managers. That's our US Department of Labor!
This book is too important to ignore. This book tells you that you cannot ignore politics simply because you don't trust politicians. They are sapping our earning power, our quality of life, and our rights. The only constituents they have are the ones with the deepest pockets. This book should stir you into action, to make sure "voter reform" does not take your vote away, to ensure that there are voting machines that give you a printed receipt, that secretaries of state do not have conflicts of interest with voting machine companies or work for a presidential campaign at the same time they are counting votes.
This book reminds me a little too much of "Animal Farm." I see the 59,000,000 people who voted for Bush as being the same as the character Thumper, the horse that works hard, looking for his reward in the end. Thinking he is going to the hospital, Thumper is sent off to the glue factory by Napoleon (guess who?)when he is too sick to produce anymore. If you actually believe that this administration or congress actually cares about Americans over business interests, than you really need to read this book.
We could take a page from Equador, Palast insists. They knew their election was rigged. They struck, and took to the streets, and chased the usurper out of the country. We might have to do the same if we don't want to end up in the glue factory.
If you don't believe it, ask the pilots of United Airlines when the company managers reneged on honoring their pensions but kept their own.
Happy Independence Day!
78 of 86 people found the following review helpful
There is a great deal of substance in this book, but it is irritatingly cavalier, desperately trying to be "hip" and often coming across as glib. This book is not nearly as serious as "Best Democracy Money Can Buy," and that is a pity because it could have been a better book with less of the breathless banter.
Here are my notes from the flyleaf:
Usefully reviews US obsession with Iran and US special relations with Iraq under Reagan (then Secretary Rumsfeld being the bearer of bio-chemical weapons and satellite imagery--a photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein and smiling very broadly on the web).
After investigation, finds that most of the US "global war on terror" is focused on regimes in Latin America that are anti-Bush.
Explores the idiocy of repurposing Virginia class submarines from anti-Soviet missions to being able to shoot nine Marines in a large torpedo on to a beach--notes that Israeli's use much less expensive canvas kayaks.
Notes that right before the war on Iraq Bush passed into law a drop in corporate taxes on "war profits" from 21% to 7%.
Notes that Bush's most important first public announcement to the Iraqi people as the war began was not about "welcome our troops" but rather "don't destroy the oil wells."
Points out that General Garner was fired as the first pro consul in Iraq because he ignored orders to delay elections until the oil fields could be sold off to "friends of the family."
Provides a rather extraordinary list of idiot laws and astonishing looting under new pro-consul Bremer, who was given $8.8B to spend and cannot account for $8B of it--cites specific examples of people taking $25M and coming back with no receipts or receipts for a fraction, zero accountability.
Notes that invasion (remember, Exxon met with Cheney very early on) boosted the value of Exxon oil reserves by $666B.
Devastatingly critical of IMB and World Bank for seeking to destroy third world economies (see my review of Jeffrey Sachs "The End of Poverty," where he develops a new theory of developmental economics.
Admiring of a CIA study that says that by 2020 China will be short-handed due to its one child per family policy, and discusses the possibility that Latin America and its cheap young labor will be to China then as China is to the US now.
Defends Chavez as a "Norwegianist" rather than a Marxist or socialist and notes that as the price of light oil skyrockets, it is Chavez, sitting on the world's greatest reserves of heavy oil and tar oil, who benefits.
Examines Ohio where Bush stole the 2004 election (with a little help from matched thievery in New Mexico). 153,237 votes in Ohio were literally discarded and not counted, more than Bush's margin of victory there. In Ohio, 14.4% of black votes were not counted, only 1.5% of white votes.
Provides a superb discussion of Republican "caging lists" which could be used to challenge predominantly black voters and move their votes into an alternative voting system. Notes that of the 3,107,400 "provisional" votes that the Republicans were able to force, 1,090,739 were discarded--not counted. Also notes that the Republicans sent expensive lawyers everywhere to focus on this, and the Democrats, with $51M in the bank, chose not to confront the Republicans.
This book makes it clear the Republicans have mastered the art and science of stealing elections by manipulating the assignment of old machines to anti-Bush districts, and new machines, where Hispanics will almost always be able to understand, to pro-Bush districts. He also discussed how the number of machines per capita is manipulated to make it easy to vote in pro-Bush areas, and cause seven hour lines in anti-Bush areas.
He goes further and has actual copies of tallys in which Kerry's name was simply not included. This is out and out criminality, and I have to ask myself, has this country gone nuts to allow these documented crimes to go unpunished as an encouragement to others in 2006 and 2008?
Bill Richardson in New Mexico is "outed" as a Kissinger associate who made nice with energy and oil while serving as Clinton's Secretary of Energy, and the author believes that this explains why Richardson's state sold out to Bush and failed to count many many Navajo votes and many Hispanic votes. The author's account calls Richardson's integrity--or his intelligence--into question.
The author concludes that the election system is now the front for a class war rather than a race war, with the 8% that are wealthy manipulating the system so that everyone else loses.
The author ends by pointing out that 59 million Americans (he calls them pinheads) voted for Bush because they felt comfortable with a fellow pinhead, and he pointedly notes that the Democratic party is dead in the water and completely incapable of rising to the challenge posed by smart, wealthy, motivated unethical extremist Republicans (as a moderate Republican who has lost his party to thieves, it pains me to have these many pejorative worlds associated with the Grand Old Party).
This is a thought-provoking book, a fast read, it could have been better had it had less of a gossip and tabloid nature.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2007
These superbly vitriolic and combative pamphlets expose the Bush II presidencies as a devilish mixture of `stolen elections, stolen countries, stolen dignity and stolen lives.'
Greg Palast punches uppercuts:
about New Orleans: `the lower your income, the lower your sea barriers'
about Iraq: O(peration) I(raq) L(iberation) = O.I.L.
He unmasks the real motive for the Iraq war: control of the oil price.
A member of the Bush II staff calculated that the Iraq war would be highly profitable: `The oil revenues of that country could bring between $ 50 and $ 100 billion over the next 2 or 3 years.' For Greg Palast, this is nothing else as saying `bomb them and the wretched nation could pay to rebuild itself.'
He shows that the Iraqi nation will be milked to the bottom: e.g., Saudi Arabia claims about $ 42 billion as reparations from the First Gulf War. Its lawyers are members of the Bush clan.
Ultimately, the author shows the US as a nation ruled by a tiny oligarchy for which `the issues are too important to be left for the voters.' Real democracy is too dangerous for the interests of its members. Therefore the powerful will always (try to) influence the election results. Greg Palast's explanations of the 2000 and 2004 election frauds are not less than brilliant.
This book is a must read for all those interested in the future of mankind.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Armed Madhouse is a Jon Stewart-like take on the George W. Bush administration. These are the political stories that you didn't see on the nightly news, the morning news, or the talk shows. If you want to know more about the causes and effects of American politics, this book is essential reading.
The best part of the book is the detailed description of how you can get rid of over 3 million votes, over 80 percent of which were cast for Kerry, and deny millions of others from voting . . . with a little help from your friends. In the new book, Brothers, there's the observation that there's so much voting fraud that goes on that you have to plan to indulge in the same if you want to be elected. After reading Armed Madhouse, I'm convinced.
My mother and sister have been telling me for years about how their electoral supervisors seem to be organized to create a lack of voting rather than voting in their rock-rib Democratic area. Now, I can see the hand behind their many tales of electoral incompetence . . . which I can now see as perhaps simply electoral competence in a partisan cause.
Based on this book, you can assume the next president will be a Republican. The Democrats are over ten years behind in dealing with election fraud . . . and falling further behind. Why? The Republican manipulations often help local Democratic officials get rid of their rivals within the party of the people.
The next most interesting part of the book comes in the behind-the-scenes battles between neo-cons and the oil industry to reap an economic windfall from Iraq, the true agenda behind the invasion in 2003.
Those who care about equal opportunity will be shocked by the section on class warfare. Most people haven't been paying attention since 2001 and don't realize how many of the basic safety net features for the poor and hurting have been permanently dismantled.
The section on the so-called war on terror is at its funniest where President Bush is quoted: In the final warning to Saddam Hussein on March 17, 2003, we are reminded that the president sternly said, "Do not destroy oil wells." At the time, I thought that statement was very puzzling. But now, I can see it was just a very interesting clue.
Those who don't know that political influence can be up for sale will be shocked by the reports of corruption in the book, but to me it wasn't anything new. The names just change, but politics by donation is a well established policy in the United States. It's an inevitable, and undesirable, feature of having two parties rather than people who primarily look out for the public interest.
A lot of the "economic" arguments in the book aren't well developed and will probably strike you as demagogic. That's too bad. Good arguments are available about how a different approach is more desirable for everyone, but you won't find those arguments in this book.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2007
Armed Madhouse is a masterworks in investigative reporting. Not only does Greg Palast make claims during the book, but he backs them up with specific names and documents. Having viewed or read Greg Palast in the past, I was familiar with his style. He has an uncanny way of getting people to talk and obtaining documents that the organizations he investigates would prefer left undiscovered. So respected is he that many whistleblowers seek him out. This is a definite must read/listen since there are so many plots and plots within plots by those with money to make even more money while destroying the democratic process. The corruption and deceipt perpetrated are so well hidden, but Greg Palast and his team are masters at digging for the truth. This book will enlighten you, but it will really piss you off. You will never look at politics and the free-market system the same.
56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
American-born BBC journalist Greg Palast wrote one of the sharper, better researched indictments against the Bush administration in 2004, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy", a revealing piece of research refreshing for its comparative lack of hyperbole. This high-octane follow-up takes a broader swipe but is no less piercing in its take-no-prisoners approach to the labyrinth, greed-induced dealings that have outpaced our inevitable cynicism about current political and economic policies. That Palast can make cohesive sense of this morass is testament enough to the value of his painstakingly documented book. The fact that it is as entertaining as it is insightful is a bonus.
The author wisely divides his findings into five interrelated sections. The first chapter, "The Fear", details the folly that the war on terrorism has become. It only begins with the bureaucracy instigated by CIA leadership, and Palast verifies much of what Gary Berntsen and Ralph Pezzulo has divulged in "Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander". On a larger scale, he paints a mercenary picture of military-based greed that has allowed the government and its ancillary companies to profit from the fear of the American public. This leads naturally to the main commodity valued, oil, which is the main topic of the second section, "The Flow", a penetrating look at how the current administration's hidden agenda has been to keep oil prices high in order to maintain the confluence of OPEC. Without hesitation, Palast points out that Exxon-Mobil wants neither OPEC disrupted nor Iraqi oil flowing, as the availability of more crude translates into lower prices and less profit.
The third chapter, "The Network", tackles the dark side of globalization that Thomas Friedman praises so highly in his best seller, "The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century". Through documents collected from the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, Palast divulges the real flow of international currency dictated by multinational corporations has allowed developing nations to rise as global economic forces. The juiciest part of the book - and the one that will rile the most feathers - is the author's fourth chapter, "The Con", about the jerry-rigging of the 2000 and 2004 elections which amounted to thousands of uncounted African-American votes throughout the country. Of particular interest is Palast's meticulous account of the ChoicePoint Corporation's role in carrying out a successful conspiracy of voter fraud amid the controversial Florida election results. Even more important is how he projects that the 2008 race will begin with a one-million-vote head start for the Republican candidate for President well before the first vote is cast.
"The Class War" makes an appropriate finale as it connects the depressing fate of the lower classes in the aftermath of Katrina with the broader socioeconomic picture that includes the rise of China, the downfall of the U.S. auto industry and how pervasive the current administration's fear tactics are in dictating the direction of the economy. Yet, for all the damning evidence he presents, Palast manages to convince us that democracy is a self-correcting force, that the power of the individual vote will triumph over the multitude of conspiracies he uncovers here. He is such an entertaining writer that I am willing to validate his optimism.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
As he did in 2002 with THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY, Greg Palast has once again shown in his latest book ARMED MADHOUSE, just how poorly served the American people are by their collective mainstream media, the great "gray lady" of the New York Times included. If you truly want to understand the policies and practices of the United States government, you need to be in England (how ironic is that?) reading The Guardian newspaper and watching BBC's Newsnight - or else wait for Mr. Palast's next book.
As for this one, ARMED MADHOUSE is largely an exploration of the Bush Administration's policies since 2000. Mr. Palast argues that most of the current administration's actions have been motivated by class warfare, a philosophy of enriching the elite professional and business classes at the expense of nearly everyone else. Of course, the primary beneficiaries of these actions have been the financial industry and Big Oil, the latter now recording staggering profits while reaping repeated tax windfalls from the Bush White House.
ARMED MADHOUSE is divided into five chapters. The first, titled "The Fear," is a loose collection of anecdotes and musings about the "war on terror." Palast argues that Osama bin Laden had already won his war just days before President Bush's renowned Mission Accomplished flight deck performance when the President pulled all U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia - this departure was Osama's one and only objective, clearly stated even on Al-Qaeda's own website. As for terrorism, Palast asserts that they are far fewer than Bush/Cheney would have us believe, and their specter forms little more than a cover for other Administration policy goals, sold to America on the basis of fear. This chapter's discussion of ChoicePoint is particularly alarming.
Chapter 2 , "The Flow," argues that the war in Iraq was never about WMD or Saddam Hussein, it was about oil. Not about getting oil, however, but about preventing us from getting it. The goal in Iraq is to keep Iraqi oil off the markets to raise the price, bolster OPEC, and line the black-slicked pockets of Houston oil magnates. Furthermore, Palast puts the lie to the notion that the world is even remotely running out of oil (other than the $10 per barrel kind) and reveals how the power centers of oil are moving away from Saudi Arabia and toward Iraq, Venezuela, and (believe it or not) Canada. Chapter 2 is one of the book's longest, most deeply documented, and most disturbing.
Chapter 3, "The Network," is an anti-Tom-Friedman , anti-globalization, anti-IMF dissertation on global corporations and privatization that will educate you about Ecuador and leave you wanting to move to Denmark or Norway tomorrow. "The Con" of Chapter 4 discusses American non-democracy in action, asserting (and documenting) not only that Bush lost in 2000 and 2004, but that these twin manipulations of the electoral process were mere dry runs for what's coming in 2008. This is the book's most demoralizing chapter by far, indicating that the American electoral system is hopelessly broken, more unreliable and more easily manipulated than that of any banana republic we've condescendingly chuckled over in the last half century. Yet as Palast correctly asserts, despite all the voter registration roll purges, caging lists, voting machine misallocations, discarded votes, intimidations, and other forms of Republican electoral manipulation, the 2004 Presidential election still came down to "nitwits [Bush voters who]...clomped to the polls 59 million strong to vent their small-minded hatreds on us all."
Finally, Chapter 5's "The Class War" describes how various actions of the Bush Administration, from changes in class action law suits and labor laws to electricity deregulation to No Child Left Behind and school vouchers have two things in common: class warfare and the stripping away of Americans' rights as established by the Constitution and enhanced by the New Deal.
Greg Palast's literary style is informal and colloquial, tending at times toward the histrionic, and his assertions can take on a larger sweep than his evidence perhaps suggests. Nevertheless, if you are an American citizen, ARMED MADHOUSE should make you angry enough to shake your head and spit blood. Mr. Palast appropriately and repeatedly invokes the infamous Mr. Beale dialog from the movie NETWORK ("Mr. Beale, you are tampering with the primal forces of Nature."), and in closing, he challenges us with, "What are you going to do about it?" In the movie, Howard Beale asked everyone to throw open their windows and yell, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Regretably, in today's America, everyone is too anesthetized by their iPod's and Blackberries and daily doses of "Fear Factor," "Desperate Housewives," and "Deal or No Deal" to hear the plea or bother with anything more than a faint mumble. The giant sucking sound that Ross Perot once described was not American jobs headed for Mexico because of NAFTA. Rather, it was (and continues to be) shreds of the American Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the economic future of average Americans being vacuumed away.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2006
I've never read Greg Palast before, but his style is very entertaining, and his analysis of the criminal enterprise masquerading as a presidential administration is fascinating and illuminating. The book can be read in chunks, and it has exhibits and pictures for those who, like me, have internet addiction-induced ADD. A perfect antidote for the "liberal media" (I mean, liberal in its sucking up to power).
Oh, incidentally, please throw away your TV.