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Issue #65

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Features:

Christmas in Hell: No, Virginia, There is no Santa Claus- Matt Taibbi

Disinformation Age: America Loves a Good Liar- Allan Uthman

Power 1, Truth 0: RIP Gary Webb, Journalism - Michael Manville

Insane in the Ukraine - Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Celebrity Holiday Greetings

Ridiculous Gift Guide

Tips on Buying Thoughtless Gifts

Giambra Admits Drinking Live Sea Monkeys

Area Child Expects Lame Christmas Gifts

Paris Hilton's What Hot & What's Not in 2005

Advice From John Ritter's Ghost



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

I HATE YOU: The Senate, Slaves to the South

DJ's Notes from the Big House

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner



Comix:

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley


BEASTIVITIES


Issue #64

Download Entire issue (31mb PDF)

 

Features:

Happy Bhopal to You: The Disaster is 20 Years Young! - Matt Taibbi

Sleeping With the Fishes: Fear Not, Buffalo--Corporate Welfare Will Save You! - Chris Abbey

No Moore Dissent: DLC Targets Populism, Man-Boobs- Matt Taibbi

Drowning the Scorpion: Debating a Neocon- Stan Goff

Condoleezza Rice is Going to Lick Your Beaver- Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Bush Refuses to Pardon Turkey, Execution Proceeds as Scheduled

Kmart, Sears Merge to Create One Big Failure - Josh Righter



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Arcade Fire

MF Doom - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills Still Have a Shot at 5th Super Bowl Loss - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley





Issue #63

Download Entire issue (18mb PDF)

Features:

Top Ten Hacks of 2004 Election - Matt Taibbi

MEMRI Problems: Was Kerry's Election Bid Lost in Translation?- Chris Riordan

Pick of the Litter: Bottom-Feeding all the Way to the Top

Redwoods Evil, Must Be Destroyed: Bush Wants Some Wood- Kit Smith

Too Cool for School: City Honors Censorship - Al Uthman

Tortures - R - Us - Christopher Lord


Faux-tures:

New Hotel on Baltic Ave: Boon or Burden? - Ian Murphy

10 Tips For Coping with your Dysfunctional Family this Thanksgiving

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Matchbook Romance/Midtown Show - Chris Meister

Goo Goo Dolls DVD - Seamus Gallivan

Elliot Smith CD- Michael Gildea

Odd Couple CD - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills could Make Playoffs--in the NFC - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

Beast Comix - Ian Murphy

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley







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© 2004 The Beast

 

 

Insane in the Ukraine

by Matt Taibbi

I've been trying to avoid the subject of Ukraine, not only in this column, but in general. Like anyone with strong ties to Russia, I have a whole range of feelings about Ukraine and Ukrainians, not all of them generous.

These are people whose idea of a snack is a big lump of fat. The Ukrainian fat-snack—a fiendish thing called salo that is virtually indistinguishable from suet—has played a significant role in my life, and I'm reminded of it every day. The problem began in 1994, when I spent a summer playing with the CSKA Red Army baseball team in Moscow.

Our team had an unusual fitness drill. We would divide up the team into pairs, in descending height order, and line up on the third-base line. Then each player would put his partner on his back, and, carrying that person, run wind-sprints to the right-field fence and back. Whichever pair won got to sit down. The losers continued, and the process was repeated, until there were no more pairs left.

I was the second-tallest person on the team. The tallest was a Ukrainian. Our ace starting pitcher, this Ukrainian subscribed to the David Wells school of fitness, only he was even bigger in scale: six-five and about 240 pounds. The Ukrainian was this fat because all he ate was salo. In fact, he ate so much salo, we all called him "Salo." I don't even remember his real name. All I remember is that I always had to carry "Salo" on my back for these wind-sprints, and naturally lost every single race, which meant that I had to run about 10 wind sprints with this kid on my back every day for two months.

I have a bad back now. I can't sit on stools or benches. So fuck the Ukrainians and their Orange Revolution.

That was my initial reaction to the Ukrainian revolution story. Petty as it is, I'm not sure it's any dumber than any of the other takes on the revolution that we're hearing in the Western press.

At first, the storyline coming out of Ukraine was suspiciously simplistic, with the "pro-Western" candidate, Viktor Yuschenko, heroically standing up for the freedom-loving population against the evil revanchist "Kremlin-backed" candidate, Viktor Yanukovich—a bloodless sadist who brazenly tried to steal an election and inject his horrible haircut onto the world stage.

When the likes of William Safire stood up and painted the Putin crowd as a gang of KGB thugs in trench coats and Yuschenko as the second coming of Gandhi, this sent a signal to some people that perhaps the Orange Revolution was not the festival of unambiguous wonderfulness it was being made out to be. When William Safire starts holding his lighter in the air and waving his hand to the sunny tune of humanist revolution, you know it's usually time to place your bets on the other guys.

And indeed, last week, a counter-spin on the Ukraine election started to creep into the Western press. Traveling by way of the Russian press, to such outlets as Al-Jazeera, and finally to British papers like the Guardian and the

Independent, the news started to reach America last week that certain of the Ukrainian oppositionist political groups had received funding from American organizations. Specifically, it is said that the youth-opposition group "Pora" (meaning "It's time"), with its slick marketing campaigns and impressive organization, had received money from such groups as the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House. Moreover, many of these stories pointed out that the same organizations had helped fund and found similar "pro-democracy" movements like the Serbian "Otpor" (resistance), the Belarussian "Zubr" (Bison), and the anti-Shevardnadze Georgian group "Kmara" (Enough is enough).

This reporting inspired this new spin on the Orange Revolution. The Guardian put it most bluntly, calling the revolution "an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing." The paper also said that the ascension of Yuschenko was a "postmodern coup d'etat" and a "CIA-sponsored third world uprising of cold war days, adapted to post-Soviet conditions."

Here in the States, this line of reasoning has begun to be parroted by a number of liberal analysts, including some friends of mine, like Katrina Van Den Heuvel of the Nation. These articles, in turn, have inspired conservative denunciations on the part of people like Anne Appelbaum of the Washington Post, who described folks like Katrina and the Guardian crew as "freedom haters" for espousing these opinions. Here's how Appelbaum put it:

At least a part of the Western left—or rather the Western far left—is now so anti-American, or so anti-Bush, that it actually prefers authoritarian or totalitarian leaders to any government that would be friendly to the United States.

This whole debate, it seems to me, is ridiculous.

Of course the U.S. is improperly influencing the domestic politics of places like Ukraine, Georgia and Serbia. It has been shamelessly injecting its proteges in ex-Soviet governments ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, and it has used groups like Freedom House and the NDI and USAID to funnel money to all sorts of unsavory characters. That's why the reaction of certain people familiar with these mechanisms has been to balk at the Orange Revolution—because it's seldom failed to be true that anyone described in the New York Times or other major American dailies as a "pro-Western politician" has ever turned out to be anything other than a scumbag of the highest order.

Hell, just look at this quote from Alessandra Stanley of the Times a few years back:

Under the leadership of President Leonid Kuchma, elected last July, the once isolated and economically ruined Ukraine has turned pro-Western and pro-economic-reform...

Within a few years, Kuchma would be chopping off the heads of journalists, and a few years after that, he'd be stealing elections. Next thing you know, this same pro-Western president is showing up in the news as the "Kremlin puppet," and his successor's opponent is being hailed as the Thomas Jefferson type. It should be noted that Yuschenko's chief pro-Western quality is that he opposes the government of the old pro-Western guy, Kuchma.

Anyone familiar with ex-Soviet politics has seen this script repeated endlessly over the last decade or so. It has always been next to impossible to identify the "pro-Western" politician by his politics alone, as he, too, steals elections (see: Boris Yeltsin's theft of the 1993 referendum), represses the media (Kuchma, lately the bad anti-West guy, beheaded Gongadze; Yeltsin, at the time still the good pro-West guy, whacked Dmitri Kholodov), and commits gargantuan acts of thievery (too numerous on all sides to detail).

The difference in this case is that the guys who tried to steal this election didn't have our support, and were too stupid to pull it off. That doesn't mean they don't still deserve to lose. I mean, they tried to kill Yuschenko. They put dioxin in his soup, for Christ's sake. (Soup! In Ukraine! Is nothing sacred?) There have to be some standards.

But does that mean Yuschenko is the next Tom Paine? I'm not holding my breath. My old colleague at the eXile in Moscow, the writer/politician Eduard Limonov, put it best:

The choice between two swine-looking bureaucrats is not so exciting. Ukrainians have not choosen between say, Che Guevara and Yanukovitch, between capitalist development and Revolutionary way of life... Coal miners better to drink their Ukrainian vodka "Goritka," stay home and fuck their huge wives.

Who knows, maybe that was in the first draft of Safire's piece. Now that would be thrilling.



 

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Disinformation Age

Allan Uthman

....The problem with the left is that our whole model of changing opinions—that contrary facts will alter people’s views—is inherently flawed. Mundane, oafish Americans, in a national competition to see how many $3.99 “support our troops” ribbon magnets they can fit onto the backs of their Suburbans, simply aren’t interested in reality...Let’s face it; there is a sizable chunk of the population who deny the validity of evolution—evolution. Who are we kidding, thinking we can make them see the errors in Social Security privatization?


Christmas in Hell!

Matt Taibbi

NO ONE NOTICED, of course, but last year, I did not file a column on Christmas week. This was not because I was too busy with a long schedule of holiday merry-making.

On the contrary: As editor Jeff Koyen can attest, I actually tried to write a column on Christmas last year. I spent three long days reading and rereading the old New York Sun's hideous "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" column, and tried to come up with a satisfying counter-argument. The opening was easy enough:


Celebrity Holiday Greetings

Hey everyone! Aren't my tits great? Truly they are a gift unto us from the Holy Father. I'm so hot for Jesus!

Please buy Nick's album. He could really use the help.

 


Power 1, Truth 0

Michael Manville

On December 12th I opened my Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times and saw in the obituaries that Gary Webb was dead. More specifically, I saw that Gary Webb had killed himself. He had, it seems, shot himself in the head. When movers arrived at his house on Saturday they found a note on the door that said "Please do not enter. Call 911 and ask for an ambulance."


Ridiculous Gift Guide

Matt Taibbi

The Devito Code: A new and baffling sequel to the much-lauded Da Vinci Code, involving a murder mystery in Hollywood which leads to the pointlessly protracted revelation of a secret code interspersed throughout the body of work of actor/director Danny Devito.


Insane in the Ukraine

Matt Taibbi

I've been trying to avoid the subject of Ukraine, not only in this column, but in general. Like anyone with strong ties to Russia, I have a whole range of feelings about Ukraine and Ukrainians, not all of them generous.



Sleeping With the Fishes

Chris Abbey

What do dying urban centers need to keep them afloat when everything and everyone has long since moved out to the suburbs? A gimmick, of course, like the Arch in St. Louis or, even cooler, a Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of fame like Cleveland has! Too bad those ideas were already taken, and the only thing our leaders could think of is resurrecting the long dead Aud and turning it into a massive Bass Pro outdoor shop, along with a hotel and restaurant.


Happy Bhopal to You

Matt Taibbi

THE BHOPAL DISASTER had its 20th anniversary last week, and so was duly (and briefly) commemorated in the inside sections of a few American newspapers.

It is unlikely, however, that any public figures are going to pay tribute to what happened 20 years ago this week. Which is too bad, because as far as America is concerned, the week of Dec. 9 to 16 was the more important week of the Bhopal disaster. That's when we got over Bhopal.


Drowning the Scorpion

Stan Goff

When I was first invited by Dr. Stephen Smith to speak at Winthrop University in South Carolina, I was preparing a trip to Haiti and I didn't give much thought to how I would handle the engagement. I'd just finished being pole-axed by a bout of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and it was everything I could do to just pull the Haiti trip together. So I didn't pay much attention to the person who would appear with me - one Patrick Clawson - to represent "the other side" in a forum/debate billed as "What Next in Iraq? A Post-Election Perspective."


[sic]

Seeing your last rag/magazine complaining about the last Presidential elections made me laugh. You commies have nothing better to do but insult our President, our country and our troops. You all should go back and help your fellows brothers in the Ukraine, where there really was a corrupted and stolen election.


The Top 10 Hacks of the 2004 Election

Matt Taibbi

10 - GEORGE WILL, NEWSWEEK: Will uses big words and pompous literary references to dress up what are basically the brutish and vulgar thinking patterns of a non-union meat-packing plant owner. He is a pig in a lace hat.



Pick of the Litter

Pat Ragpicker

It's 4am on a winter night, and I'm parked on a dead end street near Kaisertown. It’s a secluded corner of the city I found by driving around aimlessly. I'm new to town, and penniless after buying my van with $700 I squirreled away the last time I got a paycheck. That was 7 months ago. Over those months, I managed to live off a few hundred bucks while sleeping in a warehouse closet and helping some friends make a TV show to try selling to a network.



Too Cool for School

Al Uthman

In the decomposing cesspool of Buffalo's public schools, City Honors has long been regarded as something of a gem. In fact, it is widely regarded as the best school the city has to offer, with the brightest kids around.


Tortures-R-Us

Christopher Lord

Iraqis wondering what the next phase of the Republicans' invasion of their country will bring should consider El Aguacate airstrip in Honduras. In 2001, 185 bodies were dug up there: the victims were the 'terrorists' and 'enemies of democracy' of the day.




O Buffalo

Al Uthman

It's time to face some unpleasant facts, Buffalo. This country may not be the best place for us anymore. On November 2nd, we all bore witness to a terrible turning point in our history; a bad lifestyle choice, if you will. We had the chance to reject the increasing madness of our nation's leadership, their blind march to pointless war and craven desire to take advantage of us in every manner conceivable, and we blew it. America has spoken, and it said "duh."



10 Ultra-cynical Ways to Beat the Republicans

Why did the Democrats lose? At least in part, it's because they thought that being right would actually work in their favor. Let's face it, logic doesn't mean squat in politics. People say there's too much cynicism in politics today, but we think there really isn't enough. Cynicism works. The Republican Party has embraced it, and it has worked wonders for them. The Democrats have made some progress in this area, but they are still lagging badly. If there's any hope for the blue states, they must learn the lessons of Machiavelli and Rove. To help them along, the BEAST offers these suggestions.