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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

 

Disinformation Age

America Loves a Good Liar

by Allan Uthman

Donald Rumsfeld is having a bad holiday season. He’s getting hit from all sides now, without even hillbilly armor to protect him. It would seem George Bush himself is Rumsfeld’s last remaining fan. In reality, Rumsfeld has always had, and still does, a cult following of dupes who just like the guy—I don’t know, maybe their dads were easily exasperated assholes, too. But when CIA and Pentagon bigwigs think the guy is going too far, you’d think that people would take note. It’s not like the CIA is an icon of prudence in the area of human rights.

I’m not going to go after Rummy for stamping those condolence letters rather than signing them. All that shows us is that he’s not all that bright when it comes to public relations. Signing a letter signifies nothing. But the armor thing is hurting him, bad. What’s hard to fathom is that we’ve all known about the lack of armor for a long time now, but nobody gave a damn until they were presented with a human-interest story about it. Now, because the mainstream media has chosen this moment to hammer Rumsfeld, it is everywhere. It’s good entertainment, because a “real” person asked the question.

Sort of. It turns out the soldier in question was fed his question ahead of time by an embedded Chattanooga Times reporter. Many have seized on this fact, as if it invalidates the question, but it only illustrates the point: why does this guy have to go to such lengths to pose a question that should have been asked of Rumsfeld 1,000 times by now? Why would a reporter have to go through a soldier for that? Because reporters don’t get real access anymore. Their questions are screened. They don’t get to ask follow-ups. They can’t do their jobs, but they keep right on pretending with nary a complaint, much like the Democratic Party. Actually, it seems the only group mounting a serious challenge against the White House’s current national stranglehold is the old school military-industrial complex.

The Pentagon has been waging a campaign of death by a thousand leaks right since our tragic, flawed election, as Rumsfeld moves to take more control, and the intelligence reform bill, more scary in it’s expansion of the secret FISA court than the infamous Patriot Act, has passed. Every day, papers come up with a new classified document or high-level leak detailing some wretched aspect of the current administration’s war on civil liberties, be it executive approval of torture, plans to spread false stories, or a plan to convert Iraqi civilian biomass into energy stored in hydrogen fuel cells.

I made that last one up; could you tell? It was the fuel cells, wasn’t it?

It’s kind of hilarious to watch. Every time another classified document surfaces, further detailing that torture is a matter of policy in Iraq as well as Guantanamo, liberals brace themselves for victory. “They’ll see it now,” they think.

But they won’t see it, because they refuse to look. 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. These people won’t be convinced of any upsetting facts that they can avoid thinking about, or can stave off with the crude set of official denials and made-up stories the White House provides for them and the press dutifully parrots. 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?

People don’t think much; they’re far more interested in feeling. God and country feel good; corruption and war crimes don’t. So when we see pictures of our soldiers engaged in less-than-admirable conduct, “values voters” cry out—against the reporters who brought it to our attention, who had the audacity to burst our imperial bubble. How dare these liberal media elites violate our right to not know?

This obsessive ignorance is a hallmark of the religious. It is a necessary reaction to encroaching reality. If you want to go on believing things that are simply and demonstrably untrue, you need to develop a selective blindness. The fact is, everybody already knows that we’re engaged in medieval interrogation techniques, and that the orders have come from on high. There is just too much evidence, too many stories from too many places. The “few bad apples” excuse was never really believed so much as it was embraced, in the same way a coddled teen’s parents will happily buy the most outrageous lie rather than believe their kid might actually be a shithead. It wasn’t my drugs, ma, I was just holding it for a friend, honest! America might as well believe in Santa Claus if they can continue believing that the torture of prisoners is the product of a few insane yahoos at the lowest levels of the command structure.

But, for Don Rumsfeld, lying as a matter of personal policy isn’t enough—he wants to make is military policy. Three years ago, Rumsfeld opened the Office of Strategic Influence—a propaganda division—and had to close it almost immediately due to the righteous outrage it provoked. Now he’s back at it, and even the military doesn’t want it. The plan calls for phony stories, translated into different languages, and disseminated through the foreign media. Now, we’ve been doing this for a long time in countries we are fighting, but the new plans are to strategically disinform neutral and even allied countries. The natural effect, of course, aside from flushing any vestigial US credibility down the toilet, will be that these propaganda stories will seep almost immediately into the press here—internet and all that, you know.

The New York Times article that broke the story, by Thom Shanker and  Eric Schmitt, says that “Critics of the proposals say such deceptive missions could shatter the Pentagon's credibility, leaving the American public and a world audience skeptical of anything the Defense Department and military say - a repeat of the credibility gap that roiled America during the Vietnam War.” As if there were no such credibility gap in existence today. In truth, while there is debate as to whether to engage in lying campaigns in other nations, there is no doubt that they have been practicing on home turf for years, and a necessary consequence of that is diminished credibility. Who the hell believes these guys anyway? After all the lies, from Tonkin to Grenada to Libya to Kuwait, from WMD to Pat Tillman, who is left out there that doesn’t know the media crap-cannon kicks into overdrive during war? Who doesn’t know that?

Unfortunately, a lot of you. People notice and remember the lie, which hits front pages with explosive headlines and incessant repetition on cable news, but the eventual retraction is drawn out, quiet, and receives little attention. The recent revelations about Tillman’s death by friendly fire and the subsequent market-friendly cover story made the papers, but not the TV. The sinister 1991 story from the Gulf War about Iraqis ripping babies from incubators, made up by an American PR firm, penetrated our national consciousness so deeply that it is repeated whole and uncorrected in a 2002 HBO movie “Live From Baghdad.” You probably still believe it.

No one ever get charged for these lies. Nobody is held accountable. And you’re probably comfortable with that. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this grand failed experiment, it’s that, given the choice between the cold truth and a friendlier lie, the majority will always choose the lie. We are benevolent; the enemy is evil. Freedom is on the march. You know the drill.

WMD. Jessica Lynch. Mission Accomplished. Pat Tillman. Liberation. All lies. Not mistakes, lies. Americans choose the lie every day. And why shouldn’t they? The truth is a stark void of insecurity, relativity, and struggle—who the hell wants that? Why on earth would anyone eschew the joys of patriotism and laser-white teeth to stare, horrified, at the dreadful depravity our denial enables, with full knowledge that to fight it is utterly futile? Maybe there’s something wrong with me. After all, it’s a hollow victory to be able to say to the guy next to you, as you’re being led into a concentration camp,  “I knew this was going to happen.” I think I’d really rather be the guy saying, “Oh really? I was too busy watching DVDs in my Escalade and licking champagne off of my girlfriends.”

I really do hope that the government moves further toward a stated public policy of lying. It can only propel us toward a better understanding of the most important truth, that we don’t know shit, and can’t trust the media to let us know when we should be really pissed about something (other than particularly brutal individual crimes involving pregnant white women). The best effect of a psy-ops media will be that, eventually, no one will believe anything, except the very worst baboons of us all. For example, from the same Times article I mentioned previously: “Mr. Di Rita, the Pentagon spokesman, says that even though the government is wrestling with these issues, the standard is still to tell to the truth.”

But that’s exactly what he would say if he were lying.



 

.. This Issue ...........Home............. Contact........Archives

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.