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Issue #68

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Features:

Social Anxiety: Kleptocracy is the Greatest Luxury - Allan Uthman

Sorry to Wake You: A Rousing Conversation - Matt Taibbi

Hillary Takes a Dive: Buffalo loves any kind of attention - Jeff Dean

Soylent Purple : The Finger Thing Makes More Sense Than You Thought - Allan Uthman

Bowtie Bondage: Newsworm Tucker Carlson Asks the Tough Questions - Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Future World News

Rooney Eyebrow Reserves to be Opened for Driling - Ian Murphy

Money Matta$$: Finincial Advice from 50 Cent



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Cross Examination: Bible Study with Itza Crock

The Straight Dope: Growing Advice from Dr. Rotten

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




Music Reviews:

Voodoo Dollies CD Release Party

Full Treble Stereo/Day Month Year/Kamchatka

Hondsome Boy Modeling School

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Sports:

Wide Right: The Losman Cometh - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley

Perry Bible Fellowship - N!cholas Gurewitch

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez



Issue #67

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Features:

Devil in an Ice-Bllue Dress: Nation Delights in Worship of Unattainable Affluence- Matt Taibbi

Inaugural Balls: Increased Freedom Exports Lead to Domestic Shortage - Allan Uthman

Dr. Strangefeld - Alexander Zaitchik

Ripped from the Headlines: WMD Not Found, Media Coverage Likewise - Matt Taibbi


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Inaugural Numbers

Scores Injured as Landon Clone Ramages - N. Sorrenti

Beast Reader Opinion: This Tiger is Still on the Prowl

Are You Dyslexic?

BEAST Art Director Accidentally Drinks Own Urine

Corrections



Departments:

Cross Examination: Bible Study with Itza Crock

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Sports:

Wide Right: Wanna Bet? Pats are Sure Thing - Ronnie Roscoe



Issue #66

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Features:

The 50 Most Loathsome Americans of 2004

DLC Mooseshit: A Letter to Marshall Wittman - Matt Taibbi

2004: The Year in Regret Timeline

Time Lies: "Person of the Year" Issue Shits in Your Mouth & Calls it a Chocolate Sundae- Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Tsunami Offers Heartfelt Apology

Life Value Calculator

Giambra's Pets raise Questions, Concerns



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs: Looking Back

BEAST-O-Scopes

I HATE YOU: Channel 2 News "On Your Side"

Local Book Reviews

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




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Kino Korner

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills, Bledsoe Just not Good Enough - Ronnie Roscoe






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© 2004 The Beast

Social Anxiety

Kleptocracy is the Greatest Luxury

by Allan Uthman

Social Security is a pain-in-the-ass issue to write about. Columnists across the nation are currently struggling to form coherent opinions on a subject that is largely beyond them, trying to get their little brains around a giant, complicated math problem with conflicting information. Most will fall into their respective camps, parroting whatever the smartest-sounding guy on their little patch of the ideological spectrum says.

I’m no slouch when it comes to math, and I even did well in economics, but I don’t have to look at the numbers to figure out whether Bush’s proposed changes to Social Security will be a boon or a disaster. All I have to do is look at who’s proposing them. To date, Bush’s economic agenda has been extremely consistent: shifting the tax burden further onto the backs of poorer Americans, deepening deficits and debt to profound levels, and transferring huge sums in revenue to his corporate benefactors. There is simply no reason to believe he would deviate from that path at this point, when his party rules both houses of congress, and is more likely than ever to give him whatever the hell he wants.

Bush is going to save Social Security the same way he liberated Iraq: by ravaging it. To this administration, the Social Security trust fund looks a lot like a massive, untapped, proven oil reserve, and they just can’t wait to suck all that cash out—and give it to your broker.

I don’t want to lose you getting into the numbers, so I’ll go with an oversimplified analogy to explain how colossally stupid this “private accounts” scheme is: Imagine that you are actually saving money and planning your retirement. You realize you’re not saving enough money, and your cash flow will eventually run short of your goal. So, what do you do? Bush wants you to take out a giant loan, max out your credit cards, go down to the casino and try to make up the difference. How do you see that story ending?

But Bush isn’t gambling with his money, he’s gambling with yours. Why? Because it’s going to generate huge revenues for Wall Street. Even the White House has admitted by now that private accounts will do nothing to brighten the program’s economic outlook, which begs the question: why are we still talking about this?

We’re still talking because the media isn’t doing its job. If they were, they would have already explained to you, with shiny multicolored chart graphics, how the private accounts thing just doesn’t make any sense. The Bush argument is a diaphanous patchwork of buzzwords and alarmist statistical manipulations, a smokescreen to obscure their real intention, which is to suck the trust fund dry, creating hundreds of millions of private accounts, which will generate hundreds of millions of individual fees for Wall Street investment firms, pumping an enormous cash infusion into the stock market (also benefiting Wall Street), and borrowing over four trillion(!) dollars—from Wall Street.

It’s an unprecedented cash handover, dwarfing an already impressive record of them, from the Prescription Drug Benefit to Operation Iraqi Freedom. The idea that the stock market will guarantee a better return on money is also straight garbage. Playing the market is gambling, plain and simple. Things can go from bad to worse in minutes. There is no “security” in private investments.

This isn’t even a debate about what’s best for Social Security, not really. The right wing is fixated on eradicating any and all traces of socialism from our society. While Europeans enjoy 30-hour work weeks, guaranteed health care and free colleges, Americans have been duped into cheering as updated robber-barons relieve them of more and more of their money. The real plan is to create a world of absolute social Darwinism, where power and influence inevitably bring only more of the same, and regular people are left to the meager relief of churches and charities to prevent them from freezing or starving when they are too feeble to work anymore.

And Americans will probably cheer this on too, sooner or later. Call me crazy, but I can’t think of a single instance since Bush announced his candidacy for President that he hasn’t gotten his way on what he really wanted, regardless of just how craven it was. With half a country ready to believe any ball of shit that falls from his lips, having learned nothing from his bogus war justifications, and a supplicant media willing to report every lie as a legitimate argument, chances are he’ll get what he wants here too, after some congressional arm-twisting. After all, what prominent opinion-maker is going to take a stand against it? Wolf Blitzer?

Democrats who oppose Bush’s insane plans are labeled “obstructionists,” as if that meant anything. When the President is pushing a plan that will significantly decrease the quality of life in America, it is the duty of every decent congressman to obstruct it, filibuster it, attack it with machine guns. Whatever it takes. There will be no excuses for anyone who endorses this thing, no conclusion other than that they just don’t give a shit what happens to you.

It was all going to come to this from the beginning. Using irresponsible tax cuts to force a budget crisis is an effective Republican tactic which has worked in the past. Using scary words like “bankrupt,” even if they simply don’t describe the situation, is an effective scare tactic. The GOP has been after Social Security since its inception, regardless of the lip service they pay FDR nowadays. Now they’re mounting up, launching their assault at the peak of their political power. It could be their Waterloo, but it could just as easily be a Hiroshima for the Democrats.

If you still doubt that Bush’s agenda for Social Security is a malicious attack on the most needy among us, maybe you should hear his side of the debate. Here’s what he said recently when asked how his plan will make up for the massive transition costs individual private accounts would entail:

Because the—all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those—changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be—or closer delivered to what has been promised.

Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the—like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those—if that growth is affected, it will help on the red.

Okay, better? I'll keep working on it.

Feel better now? The guy has no idea what his own plan is. In fact, the White House has made it known that they won’t actually release the details of their plan anytime soon, probably not until it’s just about time to vote on it. This is because they know how easy it will be to pick apart once the details are accessible, and they’re relying on a cursory, superficial debate in the media to be able to sell this pig to the people. It is almost certainly what they will get.

I hope I’m wrong, and Bush doesn’t get his way this time. Although I’m not anticipating becoming a wealthy man, I wasn’t planning on spending my golden years eating out of garbage cans.


More by Allan Uthman

 

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

Social Anxiety

Allan Uthman

I’m no slouch when it comes to math, and I even did well in economics, but I don’t have to look at the numbers to figure out whether Bush’s proposed changes to Social Security will be a boon or a disaster. All I have to do is look at who’s proposing them.


Sorry to Wake You

Matt Taibbi

1:36 a.m., Jan. 25. Somewhere along a row of darkened town houses near Arlington, VA, a phone rings.

RUMSFELD: Uh... Hello?

FEITH: Donny? Are you up, man?

RUMSFELD: Shit. Who is this?


Buffalo in Briefs

Playing Down Brown

Three weeks ago, the Buffalo News ran the results of a Zogby poll on our upcoming Mayoral election. The results were somewhat surprising, putting Byron Brown up front and spelling almost certain doom for Masiello, who may have actually lost to a canteloupe if it had been offered as an alternative in the poll.


Soylent Purple

Allan Uthman

...Then there was the clip of a bunch of Republican Congressmen pointing their ink-stained index fingers in the air.

“You see that shit?” Frank asked.

“Yeah,” he said, surprised to hear it. “I thought I was gonna puke.”

“Fucking hilarious, I know. It’s so ironic, really—if only they knew. Wouldn’t stop ‘em anyhow.”

“Knew what?”

He knocked back his whiskey, grimaced and wiped his mouth on his sleeve. “The ink. What it’s made out of. You wouldn’t fucking believe it.”


Bowtie Bondage

Matt Taibbi

Tucker Carlson is in the news this week. Rumor has it he is going to take Deborah Norville's nine o'clock slot on MSNBC, providing society with the hyperambitious, polysyllabic segue to Scarborough Country it has been lacking all these years. The move comes amidst reports that the network has scrapped plans for its long-anticipated revival show, Alvin Ailey Presents Michael Savage.


Money Matta$$

50 Cent

Bump dat! Dow Jones Industrials capped dat week with a 120-point climb and broader stock indicators also moved substantially higher. The Standard & Poors 500 index surpassed the 1,200 level for the first time since Jan. 3. The PIMP index was also up despite the Labor Department's job creation report, which showed just 146,000 new jobs last month, far less than the 200,000 expected. Uh Uh Uh Uh.


[sic] - letters

COMMA SUTRA

your article,,is written by an idiot.if it is you,,,oh well,,put the egg in your shoe and beat it.Do you remember sep 11th,,,i guess you don`t,,many firefighters lost their lives that day..I am a firefighter,,as you may have figured out already.i take offense to this article,,as would any fireman..you owe a apology,,you paper is trash,,,your news is trash,,,i use your paper to wipe my butt.


Future World News

Machine to Sign Historic Accord with Man

"Logic dictates that Machine and Man must learn to work together to terminate our common enemy. The world stage is now set to end the tyranny of nature" said President 1100, in a transmission from the White Cube mercury garden.

"The most important thing at the summit will be a mutual declaration of cooperation of violence against the planet earth," said Omega Sheila E, a Nectaris negotiator.

Whole page as PDF


The 50 Most Loathsome People in America 2004

21. Alan Colmes
Crimes: An angry conservative’s wet dream: an effete liberal dive artist. As a professional doormat, Colmes’ only tasks are to serve as a comforting aggregate of Republican stereotypes about Democrats and a target for the seething derision of his psychotic guests. Stands idly by while voracious green-blooded co-host utilizes Gestapo tactics against centrist Democrats.


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Inaugural Balls

Allan Uthman

...The real problem isn't that Bush's vision is vague, or that it signals an imperialist agenda that has already been in place for years. It isn't even that he's completely revised his justification for war in Afghanistan and Iraq for a proudly amnesiac public, or that he's launching his trial run at Iran. The real problem about Bush's speech is that it simply isn't true, and doesn't make any sense. It's 100% manure from start to finish.


Devil in an Ice Blue Dress

Matt Taibbi

I’ve always thought that one of America’s best selling points was that it never had a king. If there is one thing that defines us as a people, as opposed to all other peoples, it is this fact. Every other nation in the world has a dozen or so of those embarrassing chapters from the past to live down. Not us.


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?