Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse is a startling book. I thought I knew all about this stuff — but I'm getting a real education. He starts off with a well-organized, deft analysis of the conflict between Big Oil and the Neocons, and how this conflict has guided and metastasized the Iraq war. The details are unnerving. The research, including many exclusive photostatic copies of secret documents, and hidden-tape-recorder interviews, tells a terrible story. The problem with Greg Palast is that he's right. It's a scary read at times — what these men will do to maintain power is catastrophic for any democracy, for reason, for life.
He then writes about the big topic for me — Election Fraud. This is an issue that I get emotional about, because it leads societies to disaster, witness these days, I rest my case. Greg Palast treats the subject with extraordinary detail, interviewing all key figures, providing photographed documents, recording, and video. As I read on, I found myself getting angrier. He emphasizes that the practices that Republicans used to suppress minority votes in 2000 and 2004 are still in place, and that in 2008, the Republicans will again successfully suppress the votes of MILLIONS of legally registered, law-abiding, American Citizens. The Republican Party has somehow become empowered to start elections with a multi million vote lead. They use Governors, Secretaries of State, Federal Attorneys, District Election Supervisors, State Police, and myriad legions of other right-wing political operatives to:
* Engage in 'caging'. The Republican Party has been under a restraining order since the 1960's not to engage in caging, which is the practice of purging state voter rolls by race. Greg Palast has provided emails to Waxman and Conyers, intercepted by a friend who operates whitehouse.org; a clerk mistakenly addressed one of the CC:'s to the .org address, and they gave the entire set of emails to Greg Palast. They contain strategy discussions, multiple and lengthy lists in Excel attachments that detail black voters that will be the targets of the caging. They actually use the word 'caging'. They also mention Karl Rove, Monica Goodling, and Tim Griffin. The list includes Black American soldiers on active duty in Iraq, who have now been removed from the voter rolls without their knowledge, by Republicans engaging in caging. Their ballots will not be counted. They will never know. Republicans have successfully blocked any investigation into these matters where they control the State Legislatures.
* Provide either too few or malfunctioning machines to minority districts nationwide, including the notorious Sequoia pushbuttons that refuse to record votes for president in minority communities in Arizona and New Mexico, at a rate astronomically higher than in Bush/Cheney distircts. There are also the 'ghost votes' all throughout New Mexico, as many as thirteen thousand, in which votes for Bush in Republican-controlled districts exceeded the number of registered voters. Bush won New Mexico in 2004 by six thousand votes. Again, all investigation has been blocked, and there is no short-term Federal solution for these matters. They are going to happen again. No one can prevent it. The Republican Party gets to do this. Because it can.
* Engage in Tabulator Fraud. Some states, like California, have elected activist Secretaries of States like Debra Bowen, who are struggliing to clean out the viper's nest of Diebold and ES&S machines that were spread through CA counties by McPherson; others have permanently installed systems without any available auditing or oversight, in which the votes are counted secretly and with proprietary software by companies owned by Republican activists. In these states, like Florida, the problem has worsened under Jeb Bush. Every attempt has been made to prevent oversight, auditing, or investigation. In many states, disputed elections will be investigated directly after the legal destruction of all evidence. Again, there is nothing that can be done in these states. They are controlled by Republicans. End of story.
State's rights, after all. Except when they interfere with the neocon looting.
Palast also presents interviews and detailed analyses of districts in which compromised Democrats with financial ties to Diebold have blocked audits and destroyed evidence, in effect allowing Democratic voters to be disenfranchised for personal gain. After all, Diebold and ES&S provide free yearly cruises to the Organization of Secretaries of State, serving the finest champagne and caviar. And they have very, very deep pockets when it comes to campaign contributions. It will always be a temptation as long as such things are legal.
Palast's work for the BBC has been extensive and thorough. This book contains many harsh truths and much critical evidence, but it is the fact of incurable election fraud that plagues me, because it is the seed from which all Neocon Disease sprouts. The Republican Party commits election fraud in an organized and well-financed fashion, impinging on the civil liberties of all Americans, but more specifically the millions of minority voters that tend to favor Democrats. It is a fact of life in this beleaguered nation that the Republicans get a head start on every election because they are willing to do what it takes.
So I ask the question again: should minorities be allowed to vote? How about homeless people? How about people who can't read? How about law-abiding, registered people that you fear and hate and who don't generally vote for your candidates?
A Head Start. Millions of votes. In every election, for as long as they are willing to do what it takes. It is unfair, unethical, unworkable, and un-American. It is Not Democracy.
And for this, may every Republican come to understand — this is your party. This is what they do. And you helped.