Thanks to OEN volunteer editor Don Caldarazzo for help editing the transcript.
I spent almost an hour talking with one of the best investigative reporters in the world, Greg Palast, about his newest book, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits. And we got into something very interesting-- that there's a war between two kinds of billionaires-- The vampire squids and the Vultures. And yes, this affects the elections and the nine ways they are going to be stolen and corrupted.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show -(WNJC 1360 AM), out of Washington Township, NJ, reaching metro Philly and South Jersey.
My guest this evening is Greg Palast. He's got a new book out-Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in Nine Easy Steps. Now, Greg has been on my show perhaps more than anyone else since I started doing OpEdNews.com and my radio show, Bottom Up Radio. He's also the author of Vulture's Picnic and the New York Times best sellers, Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. He's an incredible, kick-ass, investigative reporter who doesn't hold back, as you'll find out. His reports go on DBC [Deanoz Broadcasting Company] and in The Guardian. He has had done investigations that produced a 4.3 billion dollar jury award, and he's got a story to tell about what's happening with this election that is horrifying, terrible, disgusting. Welcome to the show Greg!
Greg Palast: Horrible, terrible, and disgusting! What a way to introduce me Bob. Yeah, it's a comic book for god's sake! Billionaires and Ballot Bandits is a comic book, a fifty-page comic book, which happens to be surrounded by two hundred pages of my best investigative reporting and worst jokes, which is then surrounded, wrapped up by two chapters by Bobby Kennedy, Jr. This is all based on our work, and Ted Rall's work and my work for Rolling Stone magazine, investigating the theft of American elections. It's non-partisan; I'm not here to elect Obama or his mama, but the truth is that most of the steals, not all of it by any means, but most of the steals are being done by GOP billionaires. Thirty-seven billionaires have gotten together in an organization called Restore Our Future, meaning billionaires' future, and they are using every trick in the book (and there are nine, in the book) to shoplift the election. And by the way, the real fight is not about Obama- these guys never liked Romney, these billionaires; they don't care if he goes down in flames, which he will. The issue for them is the United States Senate. They are in the process right now, I'm telling you, that there's going to be... there are nine senate seats, which are going to be swiped, and I don't care if the GOP wins them with votes, it's a question of winning them by stealing it. That is no-no if we're having a Democracy. So we're talking, literally, about billionaires buying the United States Senate by ballot banditry. Not pretty. It is very funny though, I've got great stories and great comics. But, you know.
Rob Kall: Now you and I have a similar take on billionaires. I've been writing and saying for a year and half that we've got to de-billionairize the U.S., and you have a chapter that talks about a similar idea.
Greg Palast: Yeah, I say look, if you want billionaires to stop buying our elections, you're not going to stop billionaires from donating money, because not only do we have the Citizens United Case which says that corporations are people. You know how I feel about corporations are people. You've met corporations that have lost their legs in Iraq, right? You know, I mean, you've met corporations that have work injuries, they can't work and need disability? Uh, no. Or need student loans? No. So, you know, with Citizens United we don't stand a chance getting the billionaires' billions out of politics. What we have to do is end billionaires, prevent the billionaires. And that means... The reason they're swiping this election, not because they care about the Republican party, or abortion, or any of that. In fact, almost all of them are not Republicans, by the way, registered; they are not Republican. They're in it for the money. And that's how they make their money, by the fix. And we have to end the fix of the economic system. If we end the economic fix, we can end the political fix. And, for example, Romney's biggest donors actually made 5 billion dollars off the Auto Bailout. Like that? They made 5 billion off the Auto Bailout. Romney's biggest donors made something like 9 billion dollars, just a half dozen of them, off the Bank Bailout. In fact, specifically, one of his million dollar donors, a guy named John "The Snake" Paulson, not Hank Paulson, from Goldman Sachs, but John "The Snake" Paulson. And I didn't give him the name "The Snake." That's, his bankers call him that. He made 3.5 billion dollars by pushing the mortgage market over a cliff and then collecting on the insurance, literally collecting" this guy collected 3.5 billion dollars on insuring homes against foreclosures, which is usually done by home owners, so if you lose your job, you don't lose your home? He actually took out insurance on a million peoples' homes that he knew were going to foreclosure and then he helped the market go under and collected 3 and half billion dollars. Ya like that? And he gave a million dollars to Romney- the first million dollar donor to Romney. That's what happening. So if we end that type of billionaire burglary of the banking system (got enough B's in there?), then we can end the billionaires ballot banditry.
Rob Kall: So these billionaires are costing America tens, scores, hundreds of billions of dollars?
Greg Palast: Yeah, cause see what happens is for them to make their money they have to cost a lot more. Understand... By the way, you do realize the big banks are still behind Obama as they were in 2009? JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, United Bank of Switzerland- what are the Swiss doing in our political system? It doesn't matter: they've got Nazi gold and we're broke, so yeah, they still back Obama, and these guys are scared of the hedge-fund billionaires, the vulture fund managers. In fact, the number one donor for Mitt Romney is Paul the Vulture Singer, who I've written about for five years. He was not a Republican, but he jumped in.
And so these vultures are costing us. And so, as I've written in Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, there's no such thing as a victimless billionaire. Yeah, don't tell me about Oprah and J.K. Rowling- (laughs). Yeah, there's exceptions to every rule, but basically there's no such thing as a victimless billionaire, the top billionaires, who are funding Romney, and there's thirty seven billionaires funding Romney, and about a half dozen supporting Obama" thirty seven billionaires supporting Romney, and every one of those made their money on the markets collapsing. They don't fund staples, you know, for all this stuff about... they're not job creators. They make money when jobs die. These are hedge-fund managers who all bet on the collapse economy, and made the money when it collapsed, and helped it collapse. And that's the story here, and they have very specific ways of doing it, of making that money. The only exception to the guys making money on the collapse directly are the Koch Brothers because they're resource guys, but they and a guy named the Ice Man are the only guys that are the big funders of the Republican party not making their money from the collapse, they make it from the theft.
Rob Kall: How do they make it from the collapse?
Greg Palast: Okay. So for some example, as I've mentioned, The number one donor according to Fortune Magazine, the key donor for the Romney operation is Paul "The Vulture" Singer. If you read my last book, by the way, Vulture's Picnic, I investigated him all over the world. I just came back from the Congo investigating this guy. And when I wrote that last book, I didn't even expect him (because he's not a Republican) to be a big funder of Romney, but he has gone berserk because Obama's trying to get in his way. Now, let me explain what happened. Paul "The Vulture" Singer used this incredible financial flimflam to take the aid money that we and Europe (the United States Treasury and Europe) gave to the Republic of Congo to end a cholera epidemic. He took that money. He waylaid it. He laid claim to it and sucked it up into his bank account. That was one of his minor hits: 90 million. But, I was in the Congo at the cholera clinic, and let me tell you that 90 million was desperately needed. OxFam was waiting for the money but he sucked it up. I won't go into the whole thing, you'll have to read Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, because these guys don't work in a simple way, it's complex. Obama went to court to stop it. This guy's operations, Paul "The Vulture" Singer's operations, have been made illegal. After I did my report, and you know, for those who know Greg Palast, I report for BBC TV, right. I put my report on BBC TV about Paul "The Vulture" Singer, and the next day Parliament, all parties, unanimously voted to outlaw this guys operation in England and the Commonwealth. He is outlawed in Germany and Holland, Congo... China won't let him in, and all over Latin America, and yet the United States is an exception where he still operates (The Vulture) Except that now, Obama's feeling a lot of diplomatic pressure, and pressure even from banks has called for putting Singer out of business. He was lugged into federal court on April 4th. Singer is livid! So he gathered together thirty-seven billionaires to say "Obama's got to go, or we're out of business." I'm not supporting Obama. That's your problem. I'm a British reporter. That's your problem Gringos, despite my accent, but, you know..
How about the justice department? You know, Obama's justice department"I personally have been saying that Eric Holder is the worst DOJ Attorney General in history. What's your thinking, how do you think the DOJ is doing in terms of all the things you're concerned about?
Greg Palast: Terribly, I wouldn't say he's the worst, because the operation under Bush literally fired... you know, one of the stories in the book, by the way... Well I'm happy to say Holder, it's not that he's the worst, but I'd like him to set his alarm clock because he seems to be dead asleep. He's finally woken up about the issue that ID can wipe out black voters. But remember these guys are Harvard graduates. They have their passports; they've got their chauffeurs to vouch for them. You know, Andy Young and Vernon Jordan, they're all for voter IDs. They say, well you know that's a good idea, because then poor people can go get credit cards if they have IDs. But yeah, who's giving them credit cards, Andy? Okay, so this is a class issue, and so what you have to remember is that Eric Holder, he's not the attorney general for the Democrats; he's the attorney general for the rich. And particularly, and as a matter fact, Mark Rich, the billionaire bandit? Holder was the guy who convinced Bill Clinton to pardon that international outlaw. So yeah, I mean, Holder works for the rich, and the rich want to maintain control of the election. Now, he's getting nervous because his boss was going to lose, and he would lose, his job. So he had to make a few little adjustments on the electoral system so that (unintelligible)13:02 the White House.