Surrealpolitik: Vulture's Picnic

Author: Greg Palast

Dutton (2011)

Quick Summary

A tale of oil, high finance, and investigative reporting. Palast investigates the story behind a few scandals, e.g., BP and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; Fukushima; banking and globalization. By turns hilarious and enraging, the spirit of gonzo journalism lives on here as with few other reporters.


There are 10 quotes currently associated with this book.

'Switzerland is the only nation where the citizens are both prisoners and their own prison guards,' wrote Switzerland’s only Nobel Prize author, Max Frisch. (page 99)
Tags: [Apathy/Resistance, Everyday Life, Fascism]
V. S. Naipaul, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature (and Bitterness), once wrote that imperial powers 'don't lie, they elide.' That is, they leave shit out. Caspian Man says BP left out that the gas was leaking from under the rig, and it was ready to blow sky high. (page 103)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Capitalism]
Democracy is more than voting; it's having the information to vote. (page 110)
Tags: [Propaganda, Capitalism]
The White Man's Tools of Power, Crime, and Mystification: legislative lobbying, community organizing, international law, petroleum geology, political philosophy. (page 125)
Tags: [Fascism, Globalization, Capitalism]
Any time NPR and The Washington Post agree, I figure it can't be true. (page 167)
Tags: [Propaganda]
But the Public Broadcast System takes our tax money. It owes us something, no? If we can't get the real story about Big Oil, at least we deserve an apology.

I was waiting for the PBS Frontline reporter to say, 'BP has kept the truth locked in its files for years – and so have we at PBS AND WE ARE ASHAMED. Send us back your Ken Burns DVDs for a refund.'

But no, they didn't apologize; they asked for more money! And we will send it, leveraging Chevron's and ExxonMobil's payola. As P. T. Barnum once said, there's a PBS donor born every minute. (page 203-204)
Tags: [The Left, Apathy/Resistance, Everyday Life, Environment, Propaganda, Culture]
I'm not a conspiracy nut but a conspiracy expert. 'Conspiracy' as I'd describe it in a courtroom is nothing more than an agreement between two or more parties, acting in secret, acting in concert, who know their scheme is going to hurt someone. (page 261)
Tags: [Conspiracy]
This nonfiction fable has a moral to it: 'Power, Crime, Mystification, Mr. Palast,' Etok said. 'That's how they do it. Power, Crime, Mystification.'

Etok walked me through the three steps on 'How to Take Oil That Isn’t Yours.'

1. POWER: The expression of the conqueror's strength or, more often, the weakness of the conquered.     It's not wild coincidence that Bob Malone, who headed BP's Alaska and Gulf operations, was simultaneously co-chair of the George W. Bush re-election campaign.

2. CRIME: Making promises you don't intend to keep is fraudulent inducement. Do it three times and it's racketeering.

3. MYSTIFICATION: The web of rituals, usually legalistic -- including treaties, land deeds, and laws -- imposed by conquerors to legitimize their crime. In the fog of legalismo, the victims often acquiesce to the terms imposed. (page 285-286)
Tags: [Fascism, Capitalism, Conspiracy]
I learned that, at Fukushima, at least two of the diesels failed before the tsunami hit. What destroyed those diesels was turning them on. In other words, the diesels are junk, are crap, are not capable of getting up to full power in seconds, then run continuously for days. They're decorations attached to nuclear plants so people will think these radioactive tea kettles are safe.

Just testing them can damage them. There are alternatives to snap, crackle, pop diesels, but they can cost a billion dollars per station. And the operators have decided you're just not worth it.

Sometimes the diesels work, sometimes they don't. It's meltdown roulette.

'So, you're saying emergency diesels can't work in an emergency?'

'Actually, they're just not designed for it.'

Failure is in the design, the design of the political system, the corporate system. Instead of diesels, they might as well surround the plant with tin foil and Christmas wrapping. They are decorative, there to reassure a snoozy public that all is well. Much like BP's Clean-up Theater, this is the nuclear industry's Safety Showtime. (page 344)
Tags: [Truth & Real, Capitalism]
In their closed little gatherings, this bankers roundtable (please don't say, 'cabal') rewrote the FSA, with protocols forcing every nation to remove restrictions and old-fashioned safe-banking regulations. The rewritten agreement would require every nation to allow trade in new financial products, whether magical or toxic. (page 376)
Tags: [Globalization]