Includes what the The Observer calls 'a robust Reagan obituary' that was barred from the US edition.
Armed Madhouse opens with a dystopian news report from the not too distant future — Orwell, eat your heart out. There's yet another Bush in the White House, Michael Moore's exploded, and reality TV is replacing the news and health care riots But this is the only part of Armed Madhouse that's fiction — the rest is something that America doesn't get to see too often any more, true investigative journalism.
As Palast states, "If my report from the future gives you the creeps — the present ain't a joyride either." And with the separation of the rich and poor ever increasing, many Americans losing the vote, and a seemingly never-ending war in the Middle East — he's right, this country is no joyride.
In Armed Madhouse we take a whirl-wind tour of a world brought to you by Bush and his cronies — as the subtitle states, 'From Baghdad to New Orleans'. Documents in hand, Palast shows us in-depth the real story behind many of the biggest stories of the past decade. Immediately in Armed Madhouse we are introduced to the planned incompetence that has run the White House and thus the country for the past 7 years. From the writings of Osama to the databases of ChoicePoint, Palast tells you what you really should be afraid of. We then move to the oil fields of Iraq to answer the question, "Did Bush have a plan for Iraqi oil?" The answer: no, he had two.
Coming back to America - specifically to the offices of The New York Times - there is a class war going on. Thomas Friedman, formally known as Milton - Palast kids - says that the 'world is flat', arguing that free market capitalism will solve our problems. It all seems a little to close to the film Network for the author. "Petro-dollars, electro- dollars, multidollars, reichmarks... It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet." Palast argues that this system is going to take us back to the turn of the century - making America and the world a 'company town.'
In Palast's previous book Best Democracy Money Can Buy, he uncovered what really happened in 2000 Florida election. This time it's Ohio — and New Mexico — and Iowa. This time around, millions of voters across the country were either not allowed to vote or their votes were thrown away, enough to swing the election from blue to red. In 2000 Republicans had to use illegal caging lists to win, this time they used the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) - something that the Democrats actually asked for. But the vote suppression/fraud doesn't stop there; in 2004 Bush and Rove pulled out all the tricks.
The class war isn't being waged just on the pages of the Times - it's happening on the streets of America. This war doesn't have any soldiers and no Humvees have been deployed but it is a war. The casualties are our loss of overtime, greater income disparity, and our public education. In August 2005, the war became real, and the frontlines were the streets of New Orleans; they said it was a natural disaster but the documents, or in this case the lack of them, prove that it was a man-made disaster.