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Issue #69

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Features:

Gannonballs: Republicans Defend Gay Man, Pigs Fly - Allan Uthman

Not Funny: You're Either With Kurt Andersen or the Terrorists - Matt Taibbi

Kyoto Fried Chicken: Where's Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum when you need them? - Alexander Zaitchik

Who Killed Gonzo? You're a Prime Suspect - Chris Crawford

No, Your Other Left: Americans Don't Know Which Way to Turn - Matt Taibbi


Faux-tures:

Q&A: The Beastmo Disinformer

What Your GOP Man Really Means

4 Rules to Avoid Dating Disaster - by Harvard Prez Larry Summers

Are You Being Tortured? The Beastmo Quiz

The Top 10 Coiffures of 2005 - N. Sorrenti

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 5

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




Music Reviews:

The Perceptionists

Chin Up Chin Up/ Sub Rosa

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner



Comix:

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley

Perry Bible Fellowship - N!cholas Gurewitch

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez




Issue #68

Download Entire issue (Right-click and "Save as")

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





Issue #67

Download Entire issue (Right-click and "Save as")

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


Faux-tures:

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




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© 2004 The Beast

No, Your Other Left

Americans Don't Know Which Way to Turn

by Matt Taibbi

The Harris polling agency last week released the results of an interesting study. In a survey of 2209 adults, they discovered that most Americans only have the vaguest idea of the meaning of two important pairs of words that play crucial roles in the national political discourse: conservative and liberal, and left and right.

Some of the numbers are surprising. According to the survey, 37 percent of Americans think liberals oppose gun control, or else they are not sure if liberals oppose gun control. Likewise, 27 percent of respondents thought a right-winger was someone who supported affirmative action. Furthermore, the survey showed that respondents generally viewed the paired concepts liberals and left-wingers and conservatives and right-wingers as possessing, respectively, generally similar political beliefs—with one caveat. In both cases, respondents were roughly 10 percent more clueless about left-wingers and right-wingers than they were about liberals and conservatives.

"The label left-winger is broadly perceived to be similar to liberal," the agency concluded, "except that more people are not sure what it means."

Respondents were asked to define the labels according to what their positions were on seven "political issues": abortion rights, gun control, cutting taxes, gay rights, same-sex marriage, affirmative action and moral values. This list of issues is preposterous in itself as a symbolic reflection of the political landscape, but that's a discussion for another time. To me the most instructive category was "moral values." According to the survey, 78 percent of respondents believe conservatives support moral values, while only 40 percent said the same about left-wingers. In fact, 29 percent said they believed left-wingers actually opposed moral values.

I'm glad the Harris people never called me for this survey, because I would have had to answer "not sure" to every question. Even after working as a political reporter for many years, I still have absolutely no idea what the American versions of left and right mean—what they mean in an ideological sense, that is. It's hard not to be confused when we call a saber-rattling free trader like John Kerry far left, while a man who keeps a portrait of Lenin on his wall, like Grover Norquist, is considered the very definition of a right-winger.

When I see someone called a leftist or left-leaning in print, I'm never sure whether they're talking about an actual communist, or just some timorous capitalist yuppie whom David Brooks spotted drinking a latte, or standing in line to see Cinema Paradiso. Politically, it's just not a very concise definition.

But of course we all know exactly what left means, when we're talking about social labels. In common parlance, left is clearly code for "feckless, pseudo-intellectual wiener," while right is code for "winner" and "the people who are actually running things while you assholes are reading James Joyce." Left also emphatically stands for "wrong side of history," while right is explicitly understood to mean the only remaining legitimate vision for future social organization. All ambitious politicians run screaming from the word left, understanding it to be a fatal electoral contagion, whereas being labeled rightwing even adds a winner's aura to an openly drooling political psychopath, like Kentucky Senator Jim Bunning.

Historically, the term left originated with the French Jacobins (they sat on the left in the Assemblies of the French Revolution) and the Stalinists who gave a 20th century gift of Jacobinism to about 20 million victims. That's what the term leftist meant for about 200 years: a bloodthirsty fiend who seized your property and chopped off your head. You'll never hear the editorial board of The Nation admitting that they're in any way the inheritors of this excellent legacy, but this implication is always lurking somewhere in the back of every right-wing caricature of the modern left.

For one thing, the left in these quarters is always described as a tiny minority of over-educated elites, desperate to seize power and impose some blockheaded, sweepingly sinister grad-school theory on decent folk. Beyond that, conservative writers always manage to have guillotines, terror-bombers, death-camps and other relics of the glorious leftist past ready to stick in some nearby paragraph whenever the modern left is described.

Here's this trick on display in a Miami Herald piece from last fall called "Left-leaning intellectuals, voters and their values." It takes writer Carlos Montaner about three sentences here to turn Noam Chomsky into a Shining Path terrorist:

The American academic left, sweet and law-abiding, usually grazes in the fields of the Democratic Party. Although it can be as radical as Noam Chomsky, its lucubrations end up in some fiery article disseminated through the Internet or buried in an obscure publication read by barely a few hundred members of the same sect. Thankfully, blood is never spilled.

In Latin America or Europe, the situation is different. The criminals in Peru's Shining Path emerged from the philosophy department of a provincial university. They began by reading Hegel and Marx and went on to slit the throats of peasants they called ''collaborators.''

Clearly, only the constant vigilance of the right prevents all those kids with pointy beards working in coffee shops from organizing massacres. Thankfully, blood is never spilled!

Which gets back to the Harris poll. If people are confused about what left-wing means, there might be a reason for that. If you can call both Leon Trotsky and Eric Alterman left-wing and be technically right in both cases, then clearly the word is doing injustice to one of them. They have nothing in common; Trotsky had a much better sense of humor.

There was an hilarious example last week of how loosely left-wing can be interpreted by our media. While covering Condoleezza Rice's visit to Europe, FOX News White House correspondent James Rosen described France's Institute for Political Sciences as "left-wing." Here's the exact quote, from a Feb. 8 broadcast on Special Report With Brit Hume:

ROSEN: Speaking to one of France's leading left-wing political science academies, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged old Europe to put aside the old differences over Iraq...

The institute in question is so left-wing that it claims L. Paul Bremer III as one of its graduates. Other graduates include Jacques Chirac, Francois Mitterand, Georges Pompidou, and Boutros-Boutros Ghali. What Rosen was obviously trying to say was that Rice was speaking to a bunch of recalcitrant Europeans. Left-wing is becoming a synonym for not American.

Obviously there's no way to really stop a group of people bent on demonizing dissenters by the tireless use of some all-encompassing, Satanic label. When even Nancy Pelosi can be described as a "left-wing torch-thrower" (a small California paper used that term last week), it's pretty clear the word is more meant as an insult, to describe a fuzzy-headed refusal to accept patriotic orthodoxy, than it is to refer to a concrete set of political beliefs.

But at some point it says something about you if you allow these labels to stick. Either the left is not being very clear about the winning politics that it stands for, or else the word accurately describes a secret willingness to be constantly abused by bigots, a market niche full of bashful subscribers to Total Pussy Weekly. Because nothing else makes the American left look worse; it can't even change your mind about its name, much less change the world.

 

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It's the Hypocrisy, Stupid

Allan Uthman

Secrecy and denial are as much essential components of Bush’s White House as they are of a closet homosexual’s lifestyle. Penetrate the mirage, reveal the lie, and people get angry. Right-wingers are mad because, in essence, Guckert is Bush—a talentless pretender firing a cannon in a glass house.


Not Funny

Matt Taibbi

Man, is it easy to make money in this writing business in New York City. You youngsters out there who are still waiting to get published, still trolling for intern jobs, you may not see it yet. But take a good look at Kurt Andersen at New York if you want to see how it all works out at the end of the rainbow.


What Your Republican Boyfriend Really Means

Everyone knows Republican boyfriends are the hot new item this season. They're large and in charge, and they have all the money these days. However, many girls are finding that communication difficulties arise when they start getting to know their supply-side sweeties. Here's a guide to help you out.


Kyoto Fried Chicken

Alexander Zaitchik

Let's hope Earth never gets attacked by flesh-eating Martians. By the time the governments of the world mounted a counter-attack, we'd all be getting force-bred in Martian factory farms, wondering why the fat kids keep getting dragged away.


Beastmo Quiz: Are You Being Tortured?

AG Alberto Gonzalez

Relationships are tricky. Find out if your partner is going too far.


Buffalo in Briefs

Budgetary Bullshit

It's been an interesting two weeks watching our elected assholes scramble like mad chickens to pass a budget, and highly demonstrative of just how the government "works."


[sic] - letters

CRUISIN' FOR A BRUISIN'

Gentlemen:

I represent Tom Cruise. Your Issue #67 of "The Beast" contains false, defamatory and malicious assertions about Mr. Cruise. They include the following:

(1) That Mr. Cruise is a "cokehead." This is utterly false. He is not and never has been a "cokehead" or even a cocaine user. In fact, his fiercely anti-drug views are well known.

(2) That Mr. Cruise consistently casts women "for the purpose of nailing them."



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

“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.”


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.


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.