part one of a transcript of my interview 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.
This is part one of a two part interview transcript, from a recording, which can be found here:
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.
But as far as losing the Senate and the rest of it, he couldn't care less, he really couldn't care less. And he certainly doesn't care less, by the way, remember, in Billionaires and Ballot Bandits we have nine ways to steal the election. Every single one has a racial bias; and Holder doesn't care.
Rob Kall: Now, I want to get back to the election. You've mentioned the word "swiping" a few times; that billionaires are "swiping" the election. Now that could mean stealing, but I'm getting the feeling that swiping means something more than just stealing?
Greg Palast: Two things, well, because I want to distinguish this, and remember that in Billionaires in Ballot Bandits we have the opening and closing chapters written by Bobby Kennedy, who is a dean of a law school, Pace. His daddy wrote the Voting Rights Act. Now, so I am very careful about how I make statements of law, so I leave it to him. We have nine ways to steal the election in the book. Some of them are unfortunately legal; it's disgusting, racist, and horrible. Some, as Kennedy says, again I'm not the lawyer, he is, as Kennedy says "They are crimes: Karl Rove should be in jail." That's a quote from Professor Kennedy. So some are crimes and some are not, and all of it is a threat to our democracy ,no matter who's in office. And I could give you an example.
Rob Kall: Are there any things that our listeners and readers can do about these nine ways that the election are being stolen? You have in the back of the book a collection of ways to beat the ballot bandits, so maybe you can talk a little bit about some of them.
Greg Palast: Yes, well I'll be happy to talk a little about the nine ways that they steal it. What I think is the most important part of the book is a tear out at the back of it called "Seven Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits." We don't have to sit on our hands. I call "Seven Ways to Beat the Ballot Bandits" the "ballot condom for safe voting." It tells you things, a basic kind of voting hygiene...
Rob Kall: Wait a second, wait a second. Well I just need to say, if you're talking about a condom, whether it's used or not, either way you're "effed" I mean.. (laughs) that just prevents some of the risk... I mean (laughs)
Greg Palast: Yeah, well okay. (laughs) Well, you got me there. (laughs) But some of the things you can do, like for example, one of the obvious things to do is register to vote. Now, you think oh, I'm registered to vote. Sure you are, Jack. Let me explain something. I'm sitting in Washington D.C. looking at an empty building called the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, which was defunded by the Republicans. But before they did they collected the fact that 22 million, and I want you to write that on the back of your hand, that 22 million voters have had their registrations purged from the voter rolls in the last two years. That's the official number. Now, most of those, it's not going to make a difference, you know people registered elsewhere. But about 3 million people of the 22, about 3 million are legal American citizen voters who've had their votes challenged by the Themis Machine or the Data Trust Machine; these are two giant data mining operations, The Themis by the Koch Brothers, Data Trust by Karl Rove. So they've wiped out a lot of legal voters. You don't know if they put you down as a felon, or in Florida, insane. You can't vote in Florida if you're insane unless you're the Governor or Secretary of State. And then, in a lot of states, you have everything- inactive voters"my own assistant, bless him, who knows this stuff inside and out, showed up at the last Congressional Election and he was told he couldn't vote because he was an inactive voter, and he said "I've voted for everything from the PTA on!" and he said "Too bad, you're inactive." So he was not allowed to vote. They gave him a provisional ballot, which was then thrown in the garbage, that's is another thing. So check your registration! Okay, you know, check your registration. If you want to, by the way, get the ballot condom, then go to ballotbandits.org. You don't have to get the book, though you should, you know unless you want to be deliberately stupid, get the book, which is a lot of fun. And if you can't, and if you are a victim of New Jersey's and Philadelphia's No Childs Behind Left schooling, then just at least read the fifty page comic book inside by Ted Rall. But go to ballotbandits.org, and our foundation has a poster up there. Download it, spread it around it, seven  ways to beat the ballot bandits or order copies of our very colorful folder, poster; get the word around. And one of the things, is just register. Go online and make sure you are registered with your proper name at your proper address, so you don't have any B.S.
So you know, people talk about the ID laws, one in twelve voters have their names misspelled on the voter rolls by the clerks who enter the names. You'll show up with the correct ID, but if you're listed as Bob Koll, you are effed (laughs)
Rob Kall: Now, How do you check, how do you check to determine how you're listed? What do you do?
Greg Palast: Okay. The state, your Secretary of State's office, or the County Board of Elections, wherever you are, should have your name on the voter rolls.
That's a public listing, and everyone has them online these days. So, you should be able to check your registration. Make sure it's listed as active, not challenged by some GOP jerk, and I say GOP because sometimes, if you're in New Mexico, you would probably be challenged by Democrats, especially if you're Hispanic. The Democratic party really hates Hispanic voters. They're all Democrats, but it doesn't really matter. That's another story in the book. So, just make sure you registered by going to the county Board of Elections site. If you're not, re-register. It doesn't hurt.
If you re-register, by the way, it doesn't cause any harm. It just makes sure that you're there. So please do so. And don't just go to like...
Rob Kall: Can you register online now? Or what's the best way to register?
Greg Palast: Yes, in a lot of places, and for example, one of our partners in Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, if you look at the book we have action resources, and one is Rock the Vote. In some states, they will direct you to a place where you can register online. Just make sure that after you register you, that have a notice saying that you are registered. In California, now here's one of the GOP tricks. And again, Democrats do it, but the GOP has gotten really good at this. In California (this isn't Florida baby) forty-two percent of the voter registration forms were rejected by the Republican Secretary of State. Forty-two percent, nearly half, and whose registrations were rejected? Bobby Kennedy and I checked with the current Secretary of State and she said "People with unusual names in the Republicans opinion," and I said "What's unusual?" And she said, "like Mohammad, or hyphenated names like Garcia-Marquez, or Philippino names." Asian names, basically Democratic names, minority names, were knocked out. Forty-two  percent, you're talking nearly a half a million voter registration forms thrown in the garbage. People went to all these Hispanic rallies, registered to vote, and don't know that they are not on the voter roles. That's one of the tricks of the nine ways - we call that blocking.
Rob Kall: Is that legal?
Greg Palast: Yes, because, it's legal under an evil little law called the Help America Vote Act, which was designed by Karl Rove and George Bush; Help America Vote Act. And when Rove and Bush decide to help you vote, look out. It empowered and required Secretaries of State to remove suspicious names from the voter rolls, and not allow registrations by votes it considered suspicious, whatever that means. And suspicious tends to be, Hispanic, African American, Asian, and really the worst group in the United States in terms of, the number one targeted group in the United States for vote suppression and wipeout are American natives. And you might think, the Vote on the Res" they are concentrated in every swing state - Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and when I say swing states, I am particularly talking about Senate races. I'm quite certain that the suppression of the Native American vote in Nevada is going to cost the Democrats the U.S. Senate: that's how it works.
Rob Kall: Why them, how do they do it?
Greg Palast: Oo, Native Americans... Many ways. Like we don't send Native Americans blankets with smallpox anymore. We send them (unintelligible) 22:23 voting machines, which jam and don't work. We send them electronic voting machines, and by the way, people worry about, you know, with electronic machines that Democratic vote get switched to Republican, and that's very, very fancy Hollywood stuff. The votes are lost in the computers by unplugging the computers so that they don't work. They just don't work; they break down. In poor settings, in poor neighborhoods. In you know, in Atlanta, in black areas, the machines are put in high humidity areas, you know (laughs) and they don't' work, and they're not supposed to. Have you ever been to a native pueblo in New Mexico? It's dusty, they're not set up for computers, so they know that they break down, and it happens systematically. The chance that your vote will be spoiled in an electronic voting machine because of a machine error, just lost, not switched, just lost, is about 500% higher than if you're voting in a wealthier white precinct. And, because of the cost of equipment and the cost of maintenance and operation, and difficulty, but they know this in advance. They know it. That's the trick.
Rob Kall: Alright, now Greg, we've talked over the years a lot about electronic voting, but it hasn't come up in our conversation yet today. So you're bringing up just the basic idea of e-voting. Why do we still have this abomination? I really believe e-voting has significantly diminished that the U.S.'s reputation as the place where honest voting happens. It is really allegorical Afghanistan!
Greg Palast: Well here's the trick. In Billionaires and Ballot Bandits, I think I quote Ion Sancho, who is one of the most experienced vote experts in America. Actually, he's in charge of voting in Tallahassee, Florida: not for the state, just for the county. And he says, look electronic voting machines have a higher failure rate than paper ballots, higher, a higher spoilage rate as they call it, higher spoilage rate, and they cost five times as much. So why would someone deliberately spend five hundred percent more than you have to for something that doesn't work as well for example, paper ballots with scanners in a precinct. Why would you spend more to get a crappier product? The answer is that it's not crappy from the guys who put it in. They know what's going to happen! It's not a question that they can reprogram the software. The votes are going to get lost where they want them lost.
In Sarasota, Florida, in the rich areas there was a vote for Congress that counted the votes on e-machines. The e-readers went down, towards Tampa where it's poor and black. Eighteen thousand votes simply disappeared. It was all black precincts and the Republican won, it was Katherine Harris' old Congressional seat, they won, the Republicans won by five hundred votes with eighteen thousand votes missing. Now, whose votes were they? And they say, we don't know. Gee, we lost eighteen thousand votes, but we don't know who they voted for. So the black areas lose eighteen thousand votes and the Republicans win by five hundred. They know what happens. And again, it's the hardest thing to trace as a steal, because,e unlike software, where you switch one vote from one to another, which is difficult, the machine's going down is easy as pie. Every computer expert could tell you that. If all you want to do is make a machine not work, or malfunction"so it loses track of what it's done, that's easy.
Rob Kall: Why didn't the Democrats when they had control of the House, the Senate, and the White House get rid of e-voting?