Book Review: Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, by Greg Palast

Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, by Greg Palast

If you’re not familiar with Greg Palast, you should be. The author of Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps is one of the very, very few real investigative reporters still muckraking (to seek out and expose scandal) in America today.

Book review - Billionaires & Ballot Bandits by Greg PalastIt is a sad commentary on our so-called “Fourth Estate,” the American press, that authentic investigative reporting is rarely done anymore. It is the single most important thing the media can do. But, instead, the media has abrogated its responsibility in this regard over the last few decades, and is content to provide “infotainment” – working harder to entertain us than inform us. This is a dangerous trend for any democracy.

In fact, media conglomeration has reduced the ownership of something like 95% of news organizations – print, broadcast, cable and online – to just a few corporations.

For TV and Radio, those corporations, according to, are:

Bain Capital/Thomas H. Lee Partners (Clear Channel) (Yes, Romney’s Bain owns Clear Channel! Is it any wonder their talk radio hosts are so critical of Democrats?); CBS Corporation; Comcast; Gannett Co.; News Corp. (owners of Fox “News,” the Wall Street Journal, and much more); Time Warner, Inc.; Tribune Company; Viacom; Walt Disney Company; and the Washington Post Co.

For print and online, it’s not much different – many of these same corporations own most of that as well.

Back to Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. Owning the media is a big part of how elections can be manipulated, which is why I wanted to make the point. But Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, et al, masterminds of the election theft Palast writes about, do not stop at simply polluting the airwaves. As Palast explains in excruciating detail, their goal of owning not only the presidency, but all of Congress, the courts, and state houses across the country, is being accomplished with a full-on assault on nine fronts.

These include voter suppression, electronic vote rigging, a staggering flood of secret campaign cash the likes of which have never been seen before, voter caging and much more.

Republicans are fond of citing “voter fraud” and cranking up the paranoia around it, but the fact is, very little in-person voter fraud ever occurs. Only a handful of cases have been actually prosecuted – since 2000, about one out of every 15 million prospective voters. The real fraud, as Palast uncovers, seems to be accomplished by the folks raising the alarm. In fact, their “fraud” accusations are the cover for their very own voter suppression efforts. Very Rovian strategy, indeed.

All Americans owe it to themselves to get educated about what’s happening to the very roots of our democracy. If we don’t, and if we fail to do anything about it, it’s goodbye democracy, hello plutocracy — or worse, fascism.

Of course, being a political humor magazine and website, we at the Humor Times love the fact that this book includes a little “comic book” section within by writer and cartoonist Ted Rall, titled “Tales from the Crypt of Democracy.” Rall is as hard-hitting (yet funny) a cartoonist as Palast is a reporter.

There is also a great introduction by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the indefatigable crusader for environmental and citizen justice. As he notes, “For my part, I have no problem characterizing these corporate-centric super-PACs as treasonous. They are designed to subvert American democracy and turn out country over to the moneyed aristocracy.”

Kennedy goes on to issue a dire warning that all Americans should heed: “We are now in a free fall toward old-fashioned oligarchy, that noxious thieving, tyrannical, oppressive species of government that America’s original settlers fled Europe to escape.”

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and Vultures’ Picnic as well.

Video of Greg Palast on RT online news:

James Israel
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