Category Archives: greg palast

Obama Vs. The GOP Vote Fixers and How To Steal Back Your Vote


I haven’t written in about a week but I have been thinking. Obama is way ahead in the polls. This would be a great thing had the Republicans not used every method in the book to steal the last two presidential elections. For example, several states that Obama is leading are run by Republican Secretaries of State, most notably Michigan and Colorado, which brings us back to the Ken Blackwell/Katherine Harris scenarios. Obama is leading in Florida but as far as I can tell there’s nothing that’s been passed at the federal level that would prevent thousands of Democratic Party votes from being stolen, again. There is a bright spot in Ohio because they elected a progressive Secretary of State in Ohio. The Republicans are attempting to strip about 200000 voters from the Ohio registration list. I’m going to guess that they come from mostly DNC strongholds. However, as I’ve been watching and learning from various voter’s rights group our very own Pennsylvania is very likely to be stolen because in most precincts there simply won’t be a paper record. In fact, in arguably the most important precincts in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia–where Obama needs to roll up big majorities in order to beat the bible belt T that makes up the rest of the state–the machines leave no paper trail. Its not unlike going to the robber and asking him to be honest about robbing you. You won’t be able to verify it. If we lose Pennsylvania, then let’s make sure we thank Dan Onorato, Ed Rendell and the Philly machine.

I think that’s why McCain thinks Pennsylvania is more promising. It’s one of the easiest states in the nation to steal. Obama almost has to win by a landslide nationally in order to win at all. Of course, what do you say about a DNC that doesn’t pass a single bill in the last two years in order to change the equation? They could have mandated paper trails and audits but they did nothing. I think you call them collaborators. Or people who like proxy wars on behalf of Israel. Or DLC members. Or clueless. Or all of the above.

Anyway, that’s the sad state of affairs as far as I can tell.

Sounds depressing. But Greg Palast and great alt cartoonists Ted Rall and Lloyd Dangle have written a 24 page comic telling you how to fight back. You can download the comic as a pdf file for a donation as small as a dollar. That’s what I did. Palast, arguably one of the best journalists in the United States (Who, of course, you can only find online for the most part and who doesn’t work for an American newspaper. Sigh.) needs the funding so that he can continue to do cutting edge reporting. You can find his seven instructions both above and below this post. Relevant: You can find a nice update on these issues from this episode of Democracy Now.

Related: Just to comment on Uncle Scam’s previous post, yes there is a good chance that they could steal it again. But this time people are fighting back. Yes, it would be nice if the DNC was more involved but they’re not. But people are fighting. Brunner is fighting in Ohio. The ACLU is fighting in Michigan. There’s a move on to do a citizen’s exit poll. There’s also a theory that Obama can win in a landslide which is what it looks like now. But we really don’t know. We do know that the DNC is incredibly passive in the face of theft. We also know that if they win they say the machines are great and if they lose they say the machines are great. And if you ask to check the machines you’re a crazy person. One good thing about the third party runs by Nader and McKinney. They’re not affecting the race but they have standing to ask for recounts even if Obama pulls a Kerry and lifts not one finger to fight for DNC voters.

And its a Special Greg Palast Christmas

And here’s a special Greg Palast Christmas Story. You can see this story on Democracy Now this Thursday I believe. I highlighted the notable parts.

Good and Evil at the Center of the Earth:
A Quechua Christmas Carol
by Greg Palast

December 24th, 2007

[Quito] I don’t know what the hell seized me. In the middle of an hour-long interview with the President of Ecuador, I asked him about his father.

I’m not Barbara Walters. It’s not the kind of question I ask.

He hesitated. Then said, “My father was unemployed.”

He paused. Then added, “He took a little drugs to the States… This is called in Spanish a mula [mule]. He passed four years in the states- in a jail.”

He continued. “I’d never talked about my father before.”

Apparently he hadn’t. His staff stood stone silent, eyes widened.

Correa’s dad took that frightening chance in the 1960s, a time when his family, like almost all families in Ecuador, was destitute. Ecuador was the original “banana republic” – and the price of bananas had hit the floor. A million desperate Ecuadorans, probably a tenth of the entire adult population, fled to the USA anyway they could.

“My mother told us he was working in the States.”

His father, released from prison, was deported back to Ecuador. Humiliated, poor, broken, his father, I learned later, committed suicide.

At the end of our formal interview, through a doorway surrounded by paintings of the pale plutocrats who once ruled this difficult land, he took me into his own Oval Office. I asked him about an odd-looking framed note he had on the wall. It was, he said, from his daughter and her grade school class at Christmas time. He translated for me.

“We are writing to remind you that in Ecuador there are a lot of very poor children in the streets and we ask you please to help these children who are cold almost every night.”

It was kind of corny. And kind of sweet. A smart display for a politician.

Or maybe there was something else to it.

Correa is one of the first dark-skinned men to win election to this Quechua and mixed-race nation. Certainly, one of the first from the streets. He’d won a surprise victory over the richest man in Ecuador, the owner of the biggest banana plantation.

Doctor Correa, I should say, with a Ph.D in economics earned in Europe. Professor Correa as he is officially called – who, until not long ago, taught at the University of Illinois.

And Professor Doctor Correa is one tough character. He told George Bush to take the US military base and stick it where the equatorial sun don’t shine. He told the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which held Ecuador’s finances by the throat, to go to hell. He ripped up the “agreements” which his predecessors had signed at financial gun point. He told the Miami bond vultures that were charging Ecuador usurious interest, to eat their bonds. He said ‘We are not going to pay off this debt with the hunger of our people. ” Food first, interest later. Much later. And he meant it.

It was a stunning performance. I’d met two years ago with his predecessor, President Alfredo Palacio, a man of good heart, who told me, looking at the secret IMF agreements I showed him, “We cannot pay this level of debt. If we do, we are DEAD. And if we are dead, how can we pay?” Palacio told me that he would explain this to George Bush and Condoleezza Rice and the World Bank, then headed by Paul Wolfowitz. He was sure they would understand. They didn’t. They cut off Ecuador at the knees.

But Ecuador didn’t fall to the floor. Correa, then Economics Minister, secretly went to Hugo Chavez Venezuela’s president and obtained emergency financing. Ecuador survived.

And thrived. But Correa was not done.

Elected President, one of his first acts was to establish a fund for the Ecuadoran refugees in America – to give them loans to return to Ecuador with a little cash and lot of dignity. And there were other dragons to slay. He and Palacio kicked US oil giant Occidental Petroleum out of the country.

Correa STILL wasn’t done.

I’d returned from a very wet visit to the rainforest – by canoe to a Cofan Indian village in the Amazon where there was an epidemic of childhood cancers. The indigenous folk related this to the hundreds of open pits of oil sludge left to them by Texaco Oil, now part of Chevron, and its partners. I met the Cofan’s chief. His three year old son swam in what appeared to be contaminated water then came out vomiting blood and died.

Correa had gone there too, to the rainforest, though probably in something sturdier than a canoe. And President Correa announced that the company that left these filthy pits would pay to clean them up.

But it’s not just any company he was challenging. Chevron‘s largest oil tanker was named after a long-serving member of its Board of Directors, the Condoleezza. Our Secretary of State.

The Cofan have sued Condi’s corporation, demanding the oil company clean up the crap it left in the jungle. The cost would be roughly $12 billion. Correa won’t comment on the suit itself, a private legal action. But if there’s a verdict in favor of Ecuador’s citizens, Correa told me, he will make sure Chevron pays up.

Is he kidding? No one has ever made an oil company pay for their slop. Even in the USA, the Exxon Valdez case drags on to its 18th year. Correa is not deterred.

He told me he would create an international tribunal to collect, if necessary. In retaliation, he could hold up payments to US companies who sue Ecuador in US courts.

This is hard core. No one – NO ONE – has made such a threat to Bush and Big Oil and lived to carry it out.

And, in an office tower looking down on Quito, the lawyers for Chevron were not amused. I met with them.

“And it’s the only case of cancer in the world? How many cases of children with cancer do you have in the States?” Rodrigo Perez, Texaco’s top lawyer in Ecuador was chuckling over the legal difficulties the Indians would have in proving their case that Chevron-Texaco caused their kids’ deaths. “If there is somebody with cancer there, [the Cofan parents] must prove [the deaths were] caused by crude or by petroleum industry. And, second, they have to prove that it is OUR crude – which is absolutely impossible.” He laughed again. You have to see this on film to believe it.

The oil company lawyer added, “No one has ever proved scientifically the connection between cancer and crude oil.” Really? You could swim in the stuff and you’d be just fine.

The Cofan had heard this before. When Chevron‘s Texaco unit came to their land the the oil men said they could rub the crude oil on their arms and it would cure their ailments. Now Condi’s men had told me that crude oil doesn’t cause cancer. But maybe they are right. I’m no expert. So I called one. Robert F Kennedy Jr., professor of Environmental Law at Pace University, told me that elements of crude oil production – benzene, toluene, and xylene, “are well-known carcinogens.” Kennedy told me he’s seen Chevron-Texaco’s ugly open pits in the Amazon and said that this toxic dumping would mean jail time in the USA.

But it wasn’t as much what the Chevron-Texaco lawyers said that shook me. It was the way they said it. Childhood cancer answered with a chuckle. The Chevron lawyer, a wealthy guy, Jaime Varela, with a blond bouffant hairdo, in the kind of yellow chinos you’d see on country club links, was beside himself with delight at the impossibility of the legal hurdles the Cofan would face. Especially this one: Chevron had pulled all its assets out of Ecuador. The Indians could win, but they wouldn’t get a dime. “What about the chairs in this office?” I asked. Couldn’t the Cofan at least get those? “No,” they laughed, the chairs were held in the name of the law firm.

Well, now they might not be laughing. Correa’s threat to use the power of his Presidency to protect the Indians, should they win, is a shocker. No one could have expected that. And Correa, no fool, knows that confronting Chevron means confronting the full power of the Bush Administration. But to this President, it’s all about justice, fairness. “You [Americans] wouldn’t do this to your own people,” he told me. Oh yes we would, I was thinking to myself, remembering Alaska’s Natives.

Correa’s not unique. He’s the latest of a new breed in Latin America. Lula, President of Brazil, Evo Morales, the first Indian ever elected President of Bolivia, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. All “Leftists,” as the press tells us. But all have something else in common: they are dark-skinned working-class or poor kids who found themselves leaders of nations of dark-skinned people who had forever been ruled by an elite of bouffant blonds.

When I was in Venezuela, the leaders of the old order liked to refer to Chavez as, “the monkey.” Chavez told me proudly, “I am negro e indio” – Black and Indian, like most Venezuelans. Chavez, as a kid rising in the ranks of the blond-controlled armed forces, undoubtedly had to endure many jeers of “monkey.” Now, all over Latin America, the “monkeys” are in charge.

And they are unlocking the economic cages.

Maybe the mood will drift north. Far above the equator, a nation is ruled by a blond oil company executive. He never made much in oil – but every time he lost his money or his investors’ money, his daddy, another oil man, would give him another oil well. And when, as a rich young man out of Philips Andover Academy, the wayward youth tooted a little blow off the bar, daddy took care of that too. Maybe young George got his powder from some guy up from Ecuador.

I know this is an incredibly simple story. Indians in white hats with their dead kids and oil millionaires in black hats laughing at kiddy cancer and playing musical chairs with oil assets.

But maybe it’s just that simple. Maybe in this world there really is Good and Evil.

Maybe Santa will sort it out for us, tell us who’s been good and who’s been bad. Maybe Lawyer Yellow Pants will wake up on Christmas Eve staring at the ghost of Christmas Future and promise to get the oil sludge out of the Cofan’s drinking water.

Or maybe we’ll have to figure it out ourselves. When I met Chief Emergildo, I was reminded of an evening years back, when I was way the hell in the middle of nowhere in the Prince William Sound, Alaska, in the Chugach Native village of Chenega. I was investigating the damage done by Exxon‘s oil. There was oil sludge all over Chenega’s beaches. It was March 1991, and I was in the home of village elder Paul Kompkoff on the island’s shore, watching CNN. We stared in silence as “smart” bombs exploded in Baghdad and Basra.

Then Paul said to me, in that slow, quiet way he had, “Well, I guess we’re all Natives now.”

Well, maybe we are. But we don’t have to be, do we?

Maybe we can take some guidance from this tiny nation at the center of the earth. I listened back through my talk with President Correa. And I can assure his daughter that she didn’t have to worry that her dad would forget about “the poor children who are cold” on the streets of Quito.

Because the Professor Doctor is still one of them.

*****

Watch the Palast investigation, Rumble in the Jungle: Big Oil and Little Indians, on BBC Television Newsnight, now on-line via www.GregPalast.com – and Thursday’s US broadcast of Democracy Now.

For a copy of Palast’s prior reports from Venezuela for BBC and Democracy Now, get “The Assassination of Hugo Chavez,” on DVD, filmed by award-winning videographer Richard Rowley.

Palast on Chavez

Stunning video profile of Hugo Chavez by Real Journalist Greg Palast. There are three parts (part one here and part three here) to the interview at the Youtubes. Part two is what I’m showing here. Contrast this with the Hightower vid of what we’re doing in Iraq and what we would probably like Venezuela to be. The United States, especially under this particularly vile Republican crew, has become a force for evil in this world. There really isn’t any other way to put it.

Everything I Posted on May 24th at my Site

May 24

From Tom Moody, who got it from an unknown artist.

I just think there’s a real need for a viable third party right now. We certainly needed it locally. (Did the Greens run a candidate for mayor?) And I think we need it nationally. Here’s the trick: It probably can’t be done by the usual suspects with your crazy ACORN/PIRG types and your wish fulfillment candidacies. You don’t have to win every seat. You need to vie for 25 House seats and 5 Senate seats nationally. You need to work with the dems and focus on republicans and whatever dems voted for continued funding. There needs to be a third option, certainly for progressives but really for everybody.

You need 1 million dollars to run a viable house campaign at the federal level and you need 2 million dollars to run a viable race at the senate level. Period. Otherwise you’re being silly. That’s about 35 million. That’s a lot of money, but not an impossible amount of money to raise. What to call it? “The New Party” is taken but they haven’t done anything “new” in years. We’ve seen where the Green’s all volunteer efforts have taken us: nowhere fast. (New Rule: Build a new party around the canvass. Pay your workers and occasionally ask them to pay themselves. Use Progressive Discipline in firing and not the crazy cultlike ACORN/PIRG rules.) How about “The Enlightenment Party”? Turn that new science lobby into something bigger…

More on this later. I’m going to codify these rules when I have some more time.

Jim Hightower on Walmart. Well done.

David Sirota has the best wrap up of the carnage.

It is a dark day in our nation’s history. That sounds melodramatic – but it is true. Today America watched a Democratic Party kick them square in the teeth – all in order to continue the most unpopular war in a generation at the request of the most unpopular president in a generation at a time polls show a larger percentage of the public thinks America is going in the wrong direction than ever recorded in polling history.

The numbers are not pretty. First, 216 House Democrats cast the key vote to send a blank check Iraq War funding bill over to the Senate. As I reported at the beginning of the day and as the Associated Press now confirms, the vote on the rule was the vote that made it happen. As the AP said: “In a highly unusual maneuver, House Democratic leaders crafted a procedure that allowed their rank and file to oppose money for the war, then step aside so Republicans could advance it.” Nauseating.

In the Senate, we saw lots of promises and tough talk from senators telling us they were going to do everything they could to stop the blank check. Some of them bragged that they were going to vote against the bill – as if that was the ultimate sign of heroics. Then, not a single senator found the backbone to stand up to filibuster the bill a la Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Apparently, Senate club etiquette comes even before the lives of our troops. The blank check sailed through the upper chamber on a vote of 80-14 with 38 Democrats (the majority of the party) voting yes. In all, at a time when 82 percent of Americans tell pollsters they want Congress to either approve funds for the war with strict conditions or cut off all funding immediately, 90 percent of House and Senate Democrats combined voted to give George W. Bush a blank check.

The worst part of it all was the overt efforts to deceive the public – as if we’re all just a bunch of morons. House Democrats have the nerve to continue to insist the blank check they helped ram through the House was all the Republicans doing, and that a sham vote on a GOP amendment today – which most Democrats opposed for show – was the real vote for the war. But, again, as the AP reported, it was their parliamentary motion – passed so quickly and under the devious pretenses of mundane procedural necessity – that showed their calculated complicity. Now, tonight, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is actually sending out fundraising emails, claiming: the House just passed legislation that will go to the White House that includes critical issues Democrats have been fighting for including canceling the President’s blank check in Iraq.” Beyond nauseating.

I’m not a purist nor am I a “pox on both their houses” kind of guy. I have worked to elect Democratic politicians and I supported Democratic leaders when they pushed an Iraq funding bill that included binding language to end the war. But what happened today was perhaps the most stunning travesty I’ve seen in a decade working in Democratic politics. A Democratic Party that six months ago was elected on a promise to end the war first tried to hide their complicity in continuing the war in the House, and then gave a few token speeches as the blank check sailed through the Senate club. And it all happened, as the New York Times reported today, because these Democrats believed criticism from President Bush – the man who polls show is the most unpopular president in three decades – “seemed more politically threatening to them than the anger Democrats knew they would draw from the left.”

Of course, according to Real Journalist Greg Palast, the republicans are already trying to purge 8 million voters for the 2008 election. Palast has to have a hacker under his hire. How does he do it.

Investigative reporter Greg Palast says 4.5 million votes will be shoplifted in 2008, thanks largely to the “Rove-bots” that have been placed in the Justice Department following the U.S. Attorney firings. Being the guy who uncovered the voter “purge lists” of 2000 that disenfranchised black voters, he’s worth listening to, even if the mainstream press chooses not to.

This time around, he claims to have the 500 emails that the House subpoenaed and Karl Rove claims were deleted forever. They prove definitively, says Palast, that the Justice Department is infested with operatives taking orders from Rove to steal upcoming elections for Republicans and permanently alter the Department.

The “clownocracy” of Bush and Rove is criminal and even evil in its attempts to steal past and future elections, according to Palast, and can only be stopped if “Democrats…find their souls and find their balls.”

In an updated new version of his best-selling book, Armed Madhouse, Palast lays out the case for the future theft of the presidency, along with lots of other Executive malfeasance. I chatted with him about the role of the Justice Department in this scheme, and what it means for the viability of our “democracy.

Read the whole thing. No matter how depressing.

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