Citizens for Legitimate Government, a multi-partisan activist group established to expose the Bush Coup d'Etat and oppose the Bush occupation in all of its manifestations.

 

 

A Night in London with Greg Palast, Democracy's Best Investigative Reporter, by Michael Rectenwald, CLG

Greg Palast and his wife Linda and I went to a restaurant in London's trendy "Angel" section this past Friday night (18 Jan)-- to chat, get to know each other better, and enjoy a night out as fellow leftist Americans in London. We entered a rather crowded, Mediterranean restaurant, as the three of us scrunched into a four-top in the middle of the place. Greg was wearing his BBC Newsnight trademark, the fedora, and I noticed that he was getting a lot of attention from the professional London crowd packed in there. (That Greg is a celebrity in Britain is something that this trip made more clear to me. Later he showed me some profile pieces written on him, and told me about some funny satirical pieces placed in the humor mag, The Investigator).

I had met Greg before, in March 2001 during his visit to the States. He gave a lecture about globalization to students at Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. I had discussed the election with him then, specifically with reference to the Florida Voter Purge, the story which Greg broke in the London Observer, and which then was picked up by several sources in the U.S. At that time, I had asked Greg what would become of then yet-to-be-released CRC report on the election, and the NORC recount results. In both cases, Greg's predictions have proven to be right: the results of both would be released, they would prove us right, that Gore won, but the mainstream media will either ignore or subvert their findings. At that time, Greg's story was soon to hit the PBS television satellite. I told him about our plans to promote it with the individual stations.

Of course, during this visit with Greg, I wanted to talk with him about his new book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, due to come out this Spring. "What is the book comprised of, Greg, a compilation of essays?" Yes. Greg compiled his stories on the election, on the Bush antics including Texas oil dirt (air, water, land and election pollution), the Carlyle Group, etc., and expanded them into a full-scale broadside aimed to expose the scale and depth of the subversion of Democracy in connection with the current Republican administration and their cohorts in Big Business Crime. The book will plumb the quagmire of what is surely a misnomer, "American Democracy." An opening chapter on the election --"Jim Crow in Cyberspace"---will be followed other scandal-airing intrigues. One story that will be conspicuously absent from the book is that from which the collection takes its name: "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy." This golden nugget, as you'll recall, was about Barrick Gold Mining. Among other findings, the story probed the associations of the company with George Bush, Sr. Remember, at the end of his term, Bush sold a piece of gold-rich federal land to Barrick at the outrageously low price of $10,000, from which they've derived millions of dollars in gold revenues. Bush Sr, meanwhile, was compensated with a yearly salary of some $100,000/year. As for the other charges in the story, I won't wager my meager personal property against Barrick's armory of legal funds perched to pounce on anyone who reports on them. Regardless of any story's veracity, Barrick has the power to shut it down. Barrick's libel suit, which threatened Greg's paper, the London Observer, and also named him personally for liability, forced him to pull the story, even from his own personal website. Likewise, I can't consult it to check my facts. This case will certainly pose a challenge in terms of international freedom of information as it conflicts with British (and other) national libel law.

On our way to (or was it from?) a classic English pub, Greg and I agreed that I would be the book's first reviewer, placing my review(s) with the newspapers (for some of which I've written book reviews in the past), with a longer version on the Citizens for Legitimate Government website: http://www.legitgov.org. That is, I will be the first reviewer of Greg's new book.

"What will Enron mean to Bush--will it damage him?" 'Yes, it will damage him significantly,' Greg said. But, he intoned with some doubt, 'Will it bring him down...?' Greg suggested that Enron might ultimately be evaded in terms of a complete Watergate style scandal, but that it will serve to underscore the need for campaign finance and other electoral reform. And, while Bush's approval ratings are high now, Greg said, American war fever historically has a shelf-life of around 6 months, after which the electorate begins to focus again on domestic conditions. Since Bush is destroying the domestic situation, his re-(s)election bid is by no means secure.

I also asked Greg about the new book on Bin Laden. Greg reminded me of his article on Bush's begging off of investigations of Bin Laden, just after his taking office. He didn't have too much to add, except to agree that the Republican party is implicated in the very problems it is now "fighting" on "our behalf." Meanwhile, the CLG's French-speaking, Monique Frugier, is busy writing reports and translations of the book for our site. A report is now available at: http://www.legitgov.org/forbiddentruth.html.

On a more personal note, Greg and I learned that we have more in common than we had thought. We both studied poetry with Allen Ginsberg, he in a graduate poetry class at NYU, and I as an apprentice to Allen at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa, in Boulder, Colorado. But, I'll spare the reader (and Ginsberg's legacy) some details that are best kept to small dinner circles! Greg, his son and I also enjoyed a morning bike-ride and breakfast the following Sunday.

Before I left London, and before in fact a day had passed, I received a note from the book's US publicist, asking for my address. A galley copy of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy is on its way to my house. My review(s) will be forthcoming, as will photos of Greg and company at his London home, and riding bikes with his four-year-old son, Darrow.

  

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