Saturday, May 26, 2007

Review of Palast's "Armed Madhouse"


Armed Madhouse, by Greg Palast, Published 2006.



There's nothing like a bald Brit investigator to shiv the power's that be, and show the tame herd of 'journalists' how it is done. And laugh all the way to the intellectual bank.

Palast does that in this series of hilarious investigative essays on Iraq, the Kerry election and more on the Gore debacle, New Orleans and the class war against workers, minorities and poor. Like Michael Moore talking about his new movie as a 'comedy about 60 million people without health insurance" Palast laughs at the grotesque lies and opaque absurdities of this ruling class.

No one uses the phrase 'class war' except the die-hard left, but Palast, who used to work for the unions in Chicago, is not afraid to.


THE WAR IS ABOUT THE OIL, STUPID

The lead piece is on the two plans for Iraq's oil. That, as any sentient person understands, is the reason we went into Iraq. According to Palast, one was the neo-con plan that involved busting OPEC and destroying the oil monopoly on Iraq, and selling it to any bidder. The other plan was a James Baker / oil company plan to continue Iraq's membership in OPEC, and to use the Iraqi state to sell the oil to the 7 sisters. As he put it, though capitalist, the oil companies want to do what is best to keep the oil price up. And that might mean keeping Iraqi oil nominally in the hands of the government. He shows the see-saw battle between these two factions over the years.

Palast points out that for Osama it has always been about the oil too. Bin Laden just wants to take it out of the hands of the 'infidels' and keep it in Arab hands. Palast suggests that the reason the U.S. invaded was because Saddam was playing with oil prices, and creating instability in the oil market. The same thing Chavez is doing today, which Palast covers in a complimentary way. Palast shows Chavez also using his oil wealth to help other countries and his own people.

Palast disagrees with the theory of peak oil because he thinks it interferes with the theory that the oil price rise the war was fought for would then be a consequence of 'shrinking supplies.' He insists it is only a product of the war, which was waged to stop capitalist oil overproduction and control Iraq oil reserves so as not to flood the world with Iraq's oil. However, I think you can uphold the theory of peak oil, and also understand that the 'bell curve" depicted by the peak oil theory does not have to be smooth on both ends. IE it can drop precipitously on the back side, ie pumping can go crazy, or it can be gradual, and pumping can be slow. So the price rise at this time is not an immediate consequence of peak oil. It IS the war.

Palast indicates the massive oil tar sands in Venezuela might make that country the most powerful on earth. He thinks $30 a barrel oil makes their 90% of the world's super-heavy oil tar viable. I have been hearing figures much higher to develop this kind of oil. Not to mention the environmental costs. But most of his analysis and evidence is 'spot on.'



GORE AND KERRY WON

If you thought Nader was to blame for the 2000 defeat, go to the back of the class. Even the NAACP got it.

The second largest part of this book is about Kerry winning the 2004 election. By carefully analyzing election returns and evidence down to the precinct level in some areas, he shows that a combination of tossed away 'provisional' ballots, old voting machines that created spoiled ballots, electronic machines that created spoiled ballots, intentionally missing voting machines in some wards, ballot purges based on felons or addresses, Bush over-votes, mysterious 'no' votes for president in some wards, uncounted absentee ballots and electronic voting that didn't allow recounts gave the election to Bush in Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida.

Essentially, black, Indian and Chicano people's voting rights were challenged in all these ways, making this the new Jim and "Jose" and "Joe" Crow election. Poor whites and students fared not much better. These were in elections where the Republican party was in control of the voting apparatus. And it was in the poorest areas, with the most transient Democratic populations that this happened in. The final nail in the coffin was the DLC and Democratic Party "pulling their attorneys" and not challenging the voting anywhere, thus acquiescing to the Republican theft of the election. He also revisits some of his work on the 2000 election in Florida, and amplifies it. Palast says the 2008 election can be stolen in the same way, unless people are aware of all the cons. Does our corporate press cover any of this? No.


CLASS WAR ESSAYS

Depressed yet? Don't be. There is more misery to come.

Palast has a chapter on the lynching of CBS' Dan Rather for challenging the president's service record. And the necktie party was organized by Sumner Redstone, chairman of Viacom, who owns CBS, and who supports the Republican Party.

Another chapter is on the class war, covering everything under the sun. It starts with Louisiana's Huey Long, and how he gave the populist program to some tired elitist from the East Coast, Franklin Roosevelt. Palast covers the removal of overtime laws for millions of workers that the Congress supported in 2006. And the price fixing of ADM and Wayne Andreas, a friend of Clinton's. And the legal protection of the entire firearms industry against lawsuits over gun violence. And Ken Lay suggesting who to appoint as the head of the Federal Public Utility Commission and FERC, and was accommodated by Bush. After a meeting with Ken Lay prior to the CA gubernatorial election, Arnold Schwartznegger then later settled with the power companies who raped California for 10-20 cents on the dollar. Enron paid about nothing, of course. Palast also covers the planned destruction of Delco/Delphi auto workers by bankruptcy law. And Gore cluelessly supporting NAFTA in the face of Ross Perot; Hillary on the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart; the destruction of public schooling by privatization and the "No Child Left" law. Whew.

Then we get to New Orleans, where Katrina was seen by the Republicans as a chance to destroy the City of New Orleans as a Democratic power point, with the help of black middle-class mayor Ray Nagin. Every whore crony for the Republican Party crawled out of the woodwork to get a no-bid contract following Katrina. Republican areas especially got the money. The refugees of Katrina still live dispersed all over the country, while their city is rebuilt without them. Class war? You bet.

...and I got it at MAYDAY Books.


--- The Red Frog
5/22/2007

2 comments:

Lefty Blogger said...

Interesting review, Red frog. I'm a little unclear on the competing factions and the different plans for control of Mideast oil. Do the plans of the neocons conflict with those of the oil companies/Baker? Or do they support each other? With the info coming out about the new oil law, with its grant of control of Iraqi oil to multinational corporations in 30-year contracts, anyone who disputes that the war was about oil is on shaky footing.

For those of you who heard Robert Brenner say the opposite here at the U. of Minnesota a few weeks, Palast's book sounds a good counterpoint.

Anonymous said...

Palast's theory is that the neo-cons want to destroy OPEC and the Baker/Oil Cos want to perserve OPEC. The neo-cons want to privatize Iraqi oil in order to bust the price control factor, and open the spigots. The Baker group wants to keep the oil in 'state' hands, and manipulate the government to control production, and work with OPEC easier.

Palast shows that the various personalities controlling the oil issue come from alternating and different camps. From what I can tell, some of the Shia, and perhaps all of the Kurds, agree with the Neo-Cons, which is why there is a privatization law waiting to be acted on.