“Armed Madhouse”, A Must Read

Stephen Lendman

Posted Jun 9, 2006      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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“Armed Madhouse”, A Must Read

Comments on Greg Palast’s New Book Armed Madhouse

by Stephen Lendman

I’ve known about and followed Greg Palast’s important
work for some time.  I read his eye-opening book The
Best Democracy Money Can Buy a few years ago and have
mentioned it several times in some of my other
writing.  Greg is one of the most important and
exhaustively thorough investigative journalists
anywhere, which is especially important at a time when
that kind of effort is needed more than ever.  I knew
he had a new book in the works, and I looked forward
to getting and reading it knowing it would be full of
important and explosive material we all should know
about.  I wasn’t disappointed nor did I expect to be.

Living in the US under a rogue administration bent on
world conquest and dominance, I can easily understand
what Greg might have had in mind by his title.  But as
he explained, he chose it from his late teacher Allen
Ginsberg who wrote: “The soul should not die ungodly
in an armed madhouse.”  He also explained before he
became an investigative journalist he was a “forensic
economist” meaning he cut deeply into the inner
workings of companies like Enron and Exxon-Mobil (my
favorite one to pick on because they make it so easy
for me to do) to learn what they’ve really been up to
- no good for sure as everyone now knows about Enron
which was little more than a crime organization posing
as a legal business.

I suspect not enough people know about Greg in the US.
That’s because the dominant corporate media won’t go
anywhere near him.  Why? Because he uncovers and
discloses some of the most important information we
should know that gets people upset when they find out
about it.  That’s not the kind of material an empire
wants in circulation nor its corporate media.  It
might interfere with the empire’s plans if the public
knew what it was up to, and it wouldn’t be good for
business either as the corporate media and the rest of
corporate America profit from its government’s antics
which are engaged in on their behalf.  So to assure
it’s business as usual, the public is kept uninformed
except for the steady stream of propaganda, lies and
distortion reported that’s called news and

Greg does get some air time on BBC Television’s
Newsnight in the UK.  But I’m surprised he gets any as
that august organization is as much in bed with its
government as our dominant media is with ours.
Nonetheless, apparently over there some important
information slips between the sheets and manages to
come out over the airwaves and into peoples’ homes.
In the US, it’s almost impossible finding any of that.
Over here we have a highly controlled system of mass
communication and in a nation claiming to have a free
press.  In the words of a former commentator of a
bygone era, the press here is free to anyone who owns

Greg divides his book into five chapters crammed with
facts we need to know that we’ll never see on CNN or
hear on National Public Radio which has about as much
to do with the public as Pravda did in the former
Soviet Union.  We’re clever in our use of language
here, and sadly too many people are none the wiser
about it.  But thanks to the efforts of journalists
like Greg, that number is declining.  I’ll give you a
healthy sample of what he reported in Armed Madhouse
chapter by chapter.

Chapter One - The Fear - It’s Osama Again

I’d guess more people in the US know who Osama bin
Laden is than the mayor of their city, governor of
their state or Vice-President of the US.  They have to
know because he’s been packaged as the world’s most
fearsome bogeyman and placed in the spotlight enough
times to make the public believe he’s a threat to life
on the planet.  He’s the face and persona used to
justify the so-called “war on terror,” which is the
convenient scam scare tactic the Bush administration
uses to justify its war on the world and on the US
public for good measure.  That war without end against
new enemies whenever we run out of old ones is to make
the world safe for corporate America, and to make sure
its extra safe it destroys our civil liberties and
essential social services as well.

We’ve blamed Osama for everything from 9/11 to
conspiring with Saddam to maybe causing the price of
gasoline and gold to skyrocket making them both the
world’s two greatest bogeymen.  With Saddam in the
dock and his show trial now ongoing at the kangaroo
court we set up for him, it leaves Osama alone on the
loose as boogeyman-in-chief to allow the scare hoax to
continue.  It’s an old con game used to heighten the
level of public fear even more and thus make the scam
of the “war of terror” sound real when, if fact, it’s
not.  Whatever Osama did or didn’t do, Greg explains
what he wanted and why he had reason to be upset at
the US. 

As far as we know, he’s not a particularly nice
fellow, but what he wanted was our troops removed from
the “Land of Holy Places” called Saudi Arabia.  They’d
been sent there in preparation for the 1991 Gulf war
and remained after it ended.  His motive was not out
of compassion for the Saudi people.  It was because
our presence threatened what he called the largest oil
reserves in the world.  Those reserves certainly are
enormous but not nearly the greatest as Greg explains
later in his book which I’ll get to below.  The US
initially recruited him as a CIA asset and financed
his jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan
in the 1980s which he also found oppressive and
wouldn’t tolerate.  He had other motives as well which
included removing Saddam, overthrowing the House of
Saud and creating a new fundamentalist Islamic state
from Sudan to Kazakhstan with every nation in it an
oil producer which Greg calls a Petroleum Kingdom of
God run by Osama and his followers.

While the Bush administration was busy fingering Osama
and Saddam as the twin threats we had to remove,
although neither one had the weapons to threaten
anyone, they went to great pains to ignore the real
threat of A.Q. Khan.  He happens to be the father of
Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and was eager and willing to
share his technology at a price with interested buyers
like North Korea, Libya and possibly others we may
never know about until they develop their own “bomb”
and test one.  Selling nuclear secrets apparently is a
good way to make a living.  It’s easy to get away with
it when you do it as a representative of a client
state run by a man who came to power the old-fashioned
way - he forcibly seized it but claimed it was to
benefit his people.  Don’t they all say that?  But
that’s never a problem for the US if that leader or
any other is willing to sell out the sovereignty of
his nation and turn it over to us.  General Pervez
Musharraf was very willing to do that, and he’s been
well-rewarded for his consideration.

So instead of trying to restrain the threat of nuclear
technology proliferation, the Bush administration
concentrated instead staking out “Marion the
Librarian” so it could violate our civil liberties to
learn if anyone was reading books in libraries it
didn’t happen to like.  I do that all the time, like
the one I’m now reviewing, but I don’t get mine from
libraries.  I wonder if they also stake out Barnes and
Noble and Borders.  You can bet not if they’re big
contributors to Bush or the Republican party.

The Bush enforcers and protectors of our liberty then
went after most anyone they decided threatened our
security regardless of whether, in fact, they did.
Topping the list have been Muslims and their
organizations for no other reason than their religion
happens to be Islam and their skin color is a little
darker than ours - even those from Arab countries who
are caucasians but not ones white enough to suit us.
That’s enough to make them convenient targets, using
the ruse that persecuting and rounding them up makes
us all a lot safer.  It hardly seems to matter to a
gullible public that it does just the opposite.

So using a daily mantra of fear (with added emphasis
from color-coded levels flashing across TV screens) as
needed, the Bush administration has managed to
convince the public it’s a good idea to wage two wars
without end and is getting ready to wage one or two
more for good measure against Iran and Venezuela.  It
hardly matters that we don’t have the troop strength,
we’re violating international laws we call “quaint”
and “obsolete,” we’ve amassed huge and growing budget
and trade deficits, we’re illegally spying on our own
people, and the world has never been less safe because
we, not Osama or Saddam, made it that way by our
actions.  Is it any wonder why most everyone hates us,
and as a result, Greg says: “We will be hit again.” I
certainly agree we will but would suggest it may be
another inside job just like the first one on 9/11
whoever was on those planes.

Chapter Two - The Flow - War Is Good, Especially If
Winning It Means A Big Oil Bonus

We learned right from the start of the first George W.
Bush administration there was a secret plan to attack
Iraq and seize its oil fields.  But most people think
there was one plan while Greg reports, in fact, there
were two very different ones competing to be the one

Plan A was short and sweet to be completed in three
days if all went as intended.  An insider told Greg it
was to be “an invasion disguised as a coup” with a
friendly Ba’athist general parachuted in to replace
Saddam.  Colin Powell and the State Department
supported this plan because it avoided occupying the
country which he opposed.  So much for the nonsense
that Powell was against the war.  He wanted one like
the others in the Bush administration and only
disagreed on the tactics.  As we know, Powell’s view
lost out to the war hawkish neocons including Donald
Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and other signers of the
Project for a New American Century (PNAC) - an
imperial plan for US global dominance to extend well
into the future to be enforced with unchallengeable
military power. 

The neocons wanted and got Plan B which was to be
anything but quick and easy.  It was detailed and
designed to conquer and occuply Iraq followed by a
total transformation of the nation’s policies, laws
and regulations making it into a neoliberal free
market capitalists’ dream.  It was to be an incubator
for all conquests to follow essentially making it
heaven for US predatory corporations and the rich and
hell for the Iraqi people and US taxpayers who have to
pay for it. 

The biggest prize of all in the plan, of course, was
Iraq’s immense oil reserves which may be much greater
than the 115 billion barrels of known reserves.  The
Bush war hawks even made clear what they wanted by the
name they first chose for their adventure: Operation
Iraqi Liberation - O.I.L. The plan involved selling
off all the country’s oil assets “from the pipes to
the pumps to the crude in the ground.”  As Greg in his
humorous style put it: “even if we didn’t go into Iraq
for oil (why else would we have gone), we sure as hell
weren’t leaving without it.”  How true indeed, and so
far it still is despite the living hell we created
there for all sides including our own.

Palast then gave a detailed account of events on the
ground from when on April 7, 2003 US tanks broke
through the walls of Saddam’s palace, ceremonially
pulled down his statute in a staged for TV event and
sent General Jay Garner to the country to be its first
viceroy or proconsul.  Garner barely had time to
unpack when he was replaced by Paul Bremer III because
the general had a few different notions on how Iraq
should be governed than did the neocons who sent him
there.  For them, Bremer filled the bill much better
because of a key credential Garner lacked - he had
previously served as Managing Director of Kissinger
and Associates run by the former Secretary of State
who never met a US instigated war he didn’t support or
help start or a friendly client dictator he didn’t

During his tenure in Baghdad for the empire, Bremer
performed admirably.  The “Pasha Omnipotent” showed
his contempt for democracy and signed into law (the
new law because we said it was) an array of orders
creating the neoliberal utopia of corporate America’s
dreams.  Whatever that fraternity wanted, they got,
but at the expense of the Iraqi people who lost
everything: the right to run their own country, to
have a decent job with income enough to support
themselves and their families, to organize unions to
represent them, to be safe in the streets when they
went into them, and just about everything else they
had once had but no longer did thanks to the US
illegal invasion and occupation. The US aggression
actually achieved the impossible.  It made Iraqis
wish they had Saddam back.

Greg covered much more in this chapter that’s far too
detailed to recount here.  Let me just explain his
account of “the war for OPEC” which is important and
readers can get all the rest in the book.  Buttoning
down control of Iraq’s oil treasure was central to the
US imperial mission.  Saddam was little more than an
inconvenient irritant to be removed so we could get on
with why we went there in the first place. The issue
was how to do it.  It turned out the neocons from
right wing think tanks like the notorious Heritage
Foundation, which Greg called “the madrassa of neo-con
fundamentalism,” had one idea and Big Oil another very
different one.  The HF notion was to break the back of
OPEC by privatizing Iraq’s oil industry, maximizing
oil production way above Iraq’s established quota,
getting oil prices to tank setting off bickering among
its members, and breaking the power of Saudi Arabia.

There was only one problem with this plan - Big Oil
wanted no part of it.  It was the last thing they
wanted, especially if it would break the back of OPEC
that’s essential to the oil giants’ strategy to keep
prices high and profits growing.  That’s because the
power of the cartel to control output effectively
controls the price as well, and that’s what good
business is all about.  It’s particularly true if that
business is supplying the world with a commodity it
can’t do without.  So to get right to the point of
Greg’s detailed account of a confrontation of strategy
that wasn’t so epic, guess who won out.  It’s not hard
to imagine with an administration in Washington run by
former oil men and at least one powerful woman who had
an oil tanker named after her.  Final score: Big Oil -
1, Heritage Foundation neocon ideologues - 0.  Case
closed.  Iraq’s oil industry remained a state
enterprise with its output set by OPEC quotas, we know
what the price of gasoline and heating oil are today,
and now we should know why.

Greg also tried to fathom a better explanation of why
Saddam had to go.  It had nothing to do with the “now
you see ‘em, now you don’t WMDs.”  We knew years
earlier he had none or at least almost none.  Greg
posits the notion that Saddam was playing fast and
loose with his oil spigot - alternating between
raising and cutting production as he chose, which, of
course, affects the price of crude.  He also chose to
sell oil in euros which angered the US, but not enough
in Greg’s judgment to be a reason for his removal.
Greg and I disagree on this point as I believe in the
virus theory. 

Even just one large oil producer abandoning the
dollar, sacred to how the US wants oil traded, isn’t
catastrophic enough to harm the value of the currency.
But if enough other nations got the same idea and
began doing it too, the effect on the dollar would be
enormous as would the reverberations on the US and
world economies.  The US will never allow that to
happen, and will even go to war to prevent it.  In my
judgment, that was definitely a factor in removing
Saddam, but the dominant reason was our unwillingness
to tolerate any leader of a developing nation
unwilling to sell out his nation’s sovereignty to US
interests.  Saddam played by our rules in the 1980s
when he committed his worst crimes.  We ignored and
financed them because he was a valued ally.  It was
only when he became independent that he had to go.
Independence is the one unforgivable “sin” that won’t
go unpunished.

Chapter Three - The Network - The Dream of A
Borderless Interconnected World That’s A Corporate

Greg is referring to a world ruled by money and the
power that goes with it.  It a world controlled by the
“multi-national dominion of dollars; multi-dollars,
electro-dollars and…petro-dollars.”  He begins his
discussion explaining that the Saudis and other oil
producing nations suck out our billions of dollars and
then loan them back to us by buying US Treasuries to
fund our our budget and trade deficits.  They also buy
plenty of our expensive weapons.  He then goes on to
call China the other Saudi Arabia as that country is
now the location of so much former US manufacturing
that went there for its near chattel-level wage scale.
The combination of China and other low wage countries
we import from along with petro-dollar outflow has
created a huge and growing trade deficit that’s only
manageable through the kindness of strangers. 

Greg goes on to explain what the folks who brought us
an endless war on the world and massive transfer of
wealth from most of us to the rich have in mind ahead
if they accomplish what they want.  It’s a brave new
world order with the US increasingly taking on the
characteristics of the developing world - low wages
and no government provided essential services like
Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid if the
Republican ideologues get their way.  It’s a race to
the bottom to enrich giant corporations at the expense
of people here and everywhere who are just used as
commodities - to be used as production inputs at the
lowest possible cost and then discarded when no longer
needed.  That’s how it is in China, India, the new
Russia and “liberated” Eastern Europe and coming soon
to a city or town near you so we all can enjoy the
fruits of predatory capitalism. 

It’s called “the free market” meaning the corporate
giants are allowed to operate without restraint - no
unwanted regulations or even need to obey the law,
tariff-free entry to foreign markets but protectionism
at home, little government spending except for
corporate welfare, no unions, no worker pensions or
other benefits and no government anywhere interfering
with their divine right of capitalism.  It’s a world
ruled by the privileged, mostly sitting in corporate
boardrooms, and the halls of dominant governments and
one in which they alone benefit and at our expense.
It’s a world where no “outliers” are allowed -
democrats like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez who’s viewed as
having the temerity to dare think he can choose to
serve his own people rather than the interests of the
US and Global North.  It’s a “flat borderless world”
where people everywhere are losing out to the
interests of power, privilege and profit.  It’s a
world no one should want or have to live in.  And it’s
one extolled as being the best of all possible ones by
the likes of nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman
and his well-paid empire flack namesake Thomas selling
his snake oil at the nation’s unofficial ministry of
information and propaganda - the New York Times.

Chapter Four - The (Election) Con - Gore and Kerry
Really Did Win in 2000 and 2004

Greg was the first investigative journalist to
document how the Republicans stole the 2000
presidential election depriving Al Gore of the office
he won.  Back then, the story was Florida and the
recount that never quite happened because five High
Court justices decided they alone and not the people
had the right to decide who would become President.
The rest, as they say, is history, though we may need
to rephrase the famous aphorism attributed to Mark
Twain that “history doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.”
It repeated closely enough in 2004, except for the
change in the crime scenes and some of the methods
used.  Republican machinations worked so well in 2000
they went for an encore four years later and pulled it
off again - this time principally in Ohio and New
Mexico where Kerry won the popular vote but Bush got
the ones that were counted and Kerry had lots of his

How was it done?  Republicans were just learning their
trade in 2000 as a warm-up for what they had in mind
henceforth.  They cleansed the voter roles in heavily
Democrat counties, never counted opposition ballots
they said were spoiled (remember the hanging chads),
obstructed black voters from getting to the polls and
used assorted other dirty tricks.  They wanted to be
well prepared for a more sophisticated heist in 2004
and did it following the sure-fire wisdom of Joe
Stalin who once reportedly said: “It’s not the people
who vote that count; it’s the people who count the
votes.”  Uncle Joe wasn’t so dumb after all.  He
gained and held on to power for over 30 years and
survived the likes of his rivals, Adolph Hitler who
wanted his head, and a hostile US that felt the same
way.  In the end he proved to be a rarity among
tyrants - he died in bed.

Greg did a great job investigating the Rebublican high
jinks in 2000 and did it again in the 2004 election.
From what he learned then and since, he predicts 2008
will be a repeat of the same with maybe some new
tricks thrown in but yielding the same result.  He
begins his account of the heist with a section titled
- “Night of the Uncounted: How to Disappear Three
Million Votes.  The main battleground was Ohio where
153,237 supposedly “spoiled” or unreadable, damaged or
invalid ballots were tossed out and never counted.
The same tactic was repeated at least in New Mexico
and Iowa.  In all, over 3 million votes were cast but
never counted.  Here’s how he broke it all down:

Provisional ballots rejected -

This was a whole new category of ballot that totaled
1,090,729 uncounted votes.

Spoiled Ballots -

These were votes bad machines failed to record: a
total of 1,389,231 thrown out.

Absentee Ballots Uncounted -

These ballots were heavily used, especially in certain
states.  An astonishing 526,420 were rejected mostly
in swing states where they counted most.

Voters Barred from Voting

Greg explained this category included a “combination
of incompetence and trickery” that included
eliminating polling stations in opponents’ districts,
creating long lines and purging supposed felons and
others whose only crime was wanting to “Vote While
Black.”  Greg didn’t have a total here but estimated
it was in the hundreds of thousands.

Greg then went on to present in great detail the
results of his thorough investigation.  Its conclusion
helps show why half the voters never bother showing up
on election day in the first place and those who do
and think their vote counts are quite mistaken.  The
votes from the well-off in white (Republican)
neighborhoods or counties surely do, but the game plan
is to play fast and loose when it comes to people of
color in strongly Democrat areas and use every dirty
trick a clever mind can invent to deny them their

So far it’s working so well Greg believes the plans
are set on how the 2008 election will be stolen.  Its
centerpiece in Greg’s estimation involves
disenfranchizing Latino voters because it’s clear to
this large and growing segment of the population that
the Republicans have no interest in serving them.  How
right they are.  So that being the case, the solution
is to keep them from voting for the opposition or
simply not let them vote at all. It looks like they
have a hat full of dirty tricks in mind to pull it off
- some of the old standbys from 00 and 04 plus some
new ones that will make it more interesting for
journalists like Greg.  One “reform” involves
requiring a photo ID supposedly to be able to prevent
someone from trying to vote illegally using someone
else’s name - something that never, if fact, happens.
Greg ran the idea of voters doing this by a
get-out-the vote organizer in New Mexico who
complained how hard it was to get people out to vote
once, let alone twice.

But the idea behind this scam is to throw up another
obstacle to make it even harder for poor people of
color to vote.  If they don’t have a driver’s license,
it will cost them about $20 for a voter ID card.  They
may not want to spend the cash for a privilege that
won’t count for much anyway, but it they’re willing to
they still need an ID to get an ID.  The idea is to
discourage the wrong voters from voting and if they
manage to do it then make it easier to toss out their
vote because they didn’t do it right.  To sell this
idea, Republicans needed Democrats to go along and a
key one to endorse it.  They found their man in Jimmy
Carter (a member of the privileged class in good
standing) who served on an Election Reform Commission
that recommended a mandatory national voter ID card.
We’ll have to wait a couple of years to see how all
this plays out.  But with the past two elections as
backdrop, it’s hard not to imagine more “fun and
games” in 2008.

Greg also makes another key point he believes is
accurate although I’m not as sure about it as he is -
the role of electronic voting machines and their
possible or likely manipulation to rig the 2004 vote.
Greg called this issue a “head fake” despite the fact
that Bush supporters made, programmed and serviced the
machines and most of them offered no voter printouts
for verification.  I was suspicious the first time I
heard about them and still am.  Any smart programmer
can make my vote come out twice for the other
candidate, and I have trouble believing it didn’t
happen often enough to matter.  But Greg feels
otherwise and reported this issue was brought up and
highlighted enough to divert peoples’ attention away
from where the real mischief was happening.  He may be
right, and if so, it certainly would not have been the
first time.  The folks who run the empire have had
lots of practice doing it and are very clever coming
up with whatever tactics they need to complete the job
they set out to do.

Chapter Five - The Class War - The Great and Growing
Divide between the Rich and the Rest of Us

The divide is great and worsening as wealth is
systematically sucked from the poor and middle class
and transferred to the rich.  It’s the Bush
administration’s notion of an “ownership” society
where the rich own it and the rest of us pay for it.
I’ve documented the downward trajectory of American
workers in a major article I wrote called Hostile
Takeover.  It was about how giant corporations run the
world and control our lives, how the rich have
benefitted greatly, especially since the Reagan years
in the 1980s, and how most people have seen an
unprecedented fall in their standard of living over
that same time.  Adjusted for inflation, the average
working person in the US now earns less than 30 years
ago despite the fact that economic growth has been
strong and worker productivity high.  But the gains
from it have gone to the top as clearly seen in the
following numbers.  In 2004, the average CEO earned
431 times the income of the average working person.
That was up from 85 times in 1990 and 42 times in

It’s all because of the shift away from high-paid
manufacturing jobs to low-paying service ones with few
benefits; the growth of “globalization” and its
accompanying worker-unfriendly trade agreements
destroying good jobs at home and sending them abroad;
the decline of unions; deregulation in key industries
like transportation, communications and finance; the
growth of high technology with machines displacing
people; the effects of racism and sexism as seen in
data showing 30% of black workers and 40% of Latinos
earning poverty wages with women in both categories
most affected; and the result of a 25 year assault on
the New Deal and Great Society programs by Republicans
and Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) led Democrats
that hope to reverse decades of great social advances
and replace them with the Bush administration’s notion
of an “ownership” society where we all can have
anything we want as long as we can pay for it.  What
Roosevelt, Truman and Lyndon Johnson had giveth,
Reagan, Clinton and two Bush generations have been
taking back.                           

George W. Bush has done it with a vengeance to service
his corporate allies and fight his illegal wars with
no end.  His administration killed OSHA workplace
ergonomic work rules that were more than 10 years in
the making; revoked grants to study workplace safety
and health; cut funding for job training; cut
enforcement positions in OSHA and the Mine Safety and
Health Administration; proposed paying welfare
recipients below-minimum wages; denied Homeland
Security employees the right to bargain collectively
and have protection for being a whistle-blower;
blocked release of funds to monitor the health of
rescue workers at Ground Zero in New York; cut health
care benefits for veterans; proposed privatizing
850,000 federal jobs over a number of years; changed
overtime work rules that will deprive millions of
overtime pay; made it much harder for low-income
workers to get the Earned Income Tax Credit; left
every child behind (except those of the rich) in his
education plan that helped his corporate allies and
allowed public education to become even more degraded
than it already was; allowed New Orleans to drown from
Katrina and much of its majority black population to
be ethnically cleansed so private developers could
turn a rebuilt city into a theme park for the rich and
tourist trade; allowed his Big Oil friends to
manipulate the price of their product by controlling
refinery output, resulting in everyone getting gouged
by high gasoline and heating oil prices (compared to
Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela where gasoline costs the
public 12 cents a gallon); managed to get passed huge
tax cuts for the rich and big corporations at the
expense of the rest of us, and so much more.

And if all that wasn’t bad enough, George Bush got the
Democrats to go along with just about all of his
programs including two expensive and illegal wars of
aggression with one or two more on the drawing board
in an endless assault on the world for corporate power
and profit and the destruction of our civil liberties
at home.  And all of it was justified by the scam
scare tactic of a “war on terror” against enemies that
don’t exist.

For the moment at least, we can take some comfort that
the Bush administration failed or perhaps more
accurately stalled in its effort to achieve its
central domestic economic goal after its successful
tax cutting scam to benefit the rich - the
privatization of Social Security beginning with just a
small portion of it.  So far, mass public opposition
to the idea of turning over the financial future of
millions of Americans to the sharks on Wall Street to
skim off big fees from retirees combined with multiple
Washington scandals and the President’s plummeting
approval rating has at least temporarily derailed the
whole idea.  However, it’s hard to imagine this
Lazarus won’t one day rise up to haunt us again
because the payoff for Wall Street is so great -
between $400 billion to $1 trillion according to an
estimate by one University of Chicago economist.
Should this plan ever come to fruition, it would be
what another writer calls “the granddaddy of all
pension rip-off schemes” and what I have called in
another article the grandest of grand thefts.  That
hardly matters to the Bush administration and the
leadership in both parties only concerned with
showering favors on their corporate paymasters and
doing it at the expense of the public welfare.

One Other Key Issue Palast Raises in His Book

Greg discussed one other issue I just wrote about in
another article and found myself embroiled in the
middle of a maelstrom from having done it.  It’s the
issue of “peak oil” and the man who wrote about it 50
years ago - M. King Hubbert.  Having already discussed
this subject in another article (available on
VHeadline.com, many other web sites and my own blog
site - sjlendman.blogspot.com) and paid the price for
it once, I don’t wish to do it again except to report
that Greg discussed it and why it’s important.

Greg got into the so-called notion of “peak oil” which
M. King Hubbert (a well-respected geologist of his
day) explained in a research paper he published in
1956.  Hubbert’s theory has been interpreted,
misinterpreted and now reinterpreted as part of the
debate especially prominent now on how close the world
may be to “peak oil,” the decline in its availability
and the effect that will have when there’s not enough
of it around to meet the demand for this essential
commodity.  I don’t think anyone disagrees there’s a
finite amount of every commodity.  It’s just a
question of how much there is and what theory best
tells us.

There are many knowledgeable people today claiming
we’ve about reached the “peak oil” stage or are close
to it, and from then on the available supply will
decline and eventually fail to keep up with demand.
But there are others with a much different view.  Greg
is in the latter camp believing in his words “the Peak
Oil crowd is crackers.”  After some of the responses I
got from my last article, I want to emphasize this is
what Greg believes and these are his words, not mine.
I’ll keep my views to myself so responders this time
can praise or scorn Greg and leave me out of it.

Here’s Greg’s case based at least in part on the views
of a former CIA oil expert now working in the
Department of Energy (DOE).  He names him in the book.
Greg, that analyst and others believe we’re nowhere
near peaking or running out of oil.  He and they claim
we have enough oil to last many decades into the
future.  Why? Because there’s oil, and then there’s
oil.  There’s the easy to find and refine kind called
“light sweet” that’s abundant in the Middle East, and
there’s also the harder to find, more expensive to
refine so-called “heavy crude” and oil available from
tar sands and oil shale.  When these other categories
are added in, the potential amount of total oil
available skyrockets to off-the-chart numbers.  But
when those who believe these alternate sources will
provide the oil of the future state their views
publicly, the fireworks begin.  I’ve learned there are
strongly differing views on this controversial subject
and both sides think the other one is “crackers.”

Here’s the case for the believers in heavy crude, tar
sands and oil shale.  When oil is priced at $10 a
barrel, the supply is low because only the easy and
cheap to extract and refine kind are economically
feasible.  But at $70 a barrel, it’s a whole new oil
market.  The heavy stuff and the rest become more
economical to extract and refine, and a new far higher
finite supply is realized almost magically.  In short,
it’s just a matter of supply and demand with the price
of a commodity depending on how much of it consumers
want.  Too little demand and the price is low, but
when it’s high like now and rising, then so does the

Greg also discussed the way this relates to Venezuela
and how this increases that country’s available crude
reserves to off-the-chart levels.  I reported earlier
that Venezuela may have reserves of about 350 billion
barrels if all their known heavy and light crude are
counted.  That number is far more than is now
officially recognized by OPEC which means the country
has greater reserves than the Saudis by that number

But there’s more, a lot more.  Greg reports his DOE
expert believes Venezuela holds 90% of the world’s
super-heavy tar oil reserves which he estimates to be
an astonishing total of 1,360,000,000,000 (1.36
trillion) barrels.  So with a report like this coming
from a source Greg feels is credible (I make no such
claim), it’s easy to understand why Venezuela is so
strategically important to the US and why it will do
whatever it takes to secure control over that supply
by any means including an act of aggression to seize
it.  The US goal isn’t access to the oil.  It’s the
control of the supply and its price, what companies
profit from it, and overall how control of as much of
this resource as possible can be used as a strategic
weapon.  The stakes for the US are enormous, and the
battle lines are drawn in the global game of where the
supply of oil is located and how an aggressive and
predatory US will make every effort to control as much
of it as possible even if it takes waging war to do

Greg goes into some detail about why Venezuela is so
important to the US, and I’ve written a great deal on
this subject as well explaining that the US is now
planning for the fourth time to oust Hugo Chavez after
failing three times to do it.  Greg has been to
Venezuela where he interviewed Chavez.  At least from
his visit and that contact he understands and writes
of Chavez’s courage to challenge US hegemony, but
having done it finds himself vulnerable as a target
for forcible removal including the option I’ve written
about - trying to kill him.

A Summation

Greg’s book is an important contribution for readers
to gain insight into the machinations of the Bush
administration from stealing elections to waging war
on Iraq and the world and much more as well.  You
won’t learn than ever on CNN or National Public Radio
which has about as much to do with the public as
Pravda did in the former Soviet Union.  I highly
recommend the book as I did his earlier one The Best
Democracy Money Can Buy.  I’ve written on that subject
myself and know how true it is.  Those of us living in
the US are governed by a band of out-of-control rogues
wanting total world dominance with no “outliers”
allowed abroad or dissent at home.  The result is a
dangerous world for us all and one in which our only
defense is good information.  Only from that can we
understand the problem and know why we need to work
for our own self-preservation.  Greg’s book gives us
lots of help.  I recommend it strongly and hope those
who read it will use it to resist more and fight back
for a better, more secure world we all deserve but
won’t ever get unless we’re willing to work for it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  Also visit his blog
site at sjlendman.blogspot.com