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Powell: “There may not be ‘boots on the ground.’”




(stock photo)

WASHINGTON – Bender Arena at American University was generously packed for former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s remarks Wednesday. The 74-year-old retired four-star general gave a one-hour talk at the behest of the Kennedy Political Union, and at its culmination, responded to inquiry regarding the pre-no-fly zone presence of Special Forces and CIA agents in the civil war-torn North African nation of Libya. Powell couched Barack Obama’s metonymous statement that there would not be “boots on the ground” by suggesting that the group of elite American soldiers “on the ground” would only be indirectly involved in enabling insurrection against Gadhafi’s regime.

A presidential finding leaked by various news outlets a few days after the enforcement of a United Nations no-fly zone over Libya evidences Obama’s willingness to deploy America soldiers into Libya weeks before he would tell the American people on television that they would not have to count on “boots on the ground” being deployed into Libya.

If indeed there are flickers of democracy evident in the rage of Libyan family and friends of nonviolent protesters gunned by Gadhafi’s heartless mercenaries, their encouragement by domestic players or foreign interlocutors is curious insofar as so many American public figures feel compelled to fan them solely under the aegis of Libya’s self-determination and sovereignty.

TB: “White House Spokesman Jay Carney –”
CP: “Yeah.”
TB: “—has repeatedly said there are no boots on the ground in Libya. So has Barack Obama, but we have reports from The New York Times and other outlets saying in fact that there are, as well as CIA, which I guess is ‘shoes on the ground,’ right? So why is – why is Barack Obama saying this? Why is Carney saying it? Or are they not aware, which I think is really unlikely? Or why are they saying it?”
CP: “They’re obviously aware of what’s going on, but what they meant by ‘no boots on the ground’ is that we were not – (off mic) –ground war – (off mic) – sending in our combat units – (off mic) – infantry or armor to fight these units on the ground, but to send in intelligence agents and –”
TB: “Or Special Forces.”
CP: “—or Special Forces –”
TB: “OK.”
CP: “—they are not going to be actively involved in fighting either the government or the rebels, but obviously it’s a way of gathering intelligence and helping the rebels fight more effectively. So there may not be boots on the ground – (off mic) – shoes on the ground – (off mic) –”

When Powell had approached the stage, long-time Code Pink Activist Medea Benjamin stood to extend a sign proclaiming him a war criminal. Many students booed her, and she was summarily shown out. Later that evening, I asked her why she had protested the general’s presence. She replied, “Why did I walk on the stage with a sign that said ‘Powell=War Criminal?’ I was in Baghdad the day Colin Powell got in front of the UN and made a raft of false accusations about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. That sealed the fate of millions of Iraqis who have suffered so much since the US invasion. Powell has the blood of countless Iraqis–as well as thousands of US soldiers–on his hands. He shouldn’t be given huge honorariums for addressing college students; he should be an trial for war crimes.”

In the same moments as he mused upon his teenage grandson’s comfort with Twitter and other social media, for the “Arab world” in particular, Powell repeatedly celebrated the oncoming “information revolution” and the “infonuts” who have enabled it, lauding them for their willingness and ability to “get around the government systems.”

Powell spent time reflecting on the privilege of office. He visibly enjoyed reminiscing in front of AU students about the trappings and perks of his former station. His face glowed as he described the process of walking up the red carpet to his ever-waiting 757 that accompanied him on every trip he took to foreign dignitaries and sovereign leaders. When a foot of his hit the bottom step, he said, one engine would turn on; when another hit the top step, the other engine would go on. Inside his private cabin, a steward would pull out a Diet Coke and, with the clink of the can hitting the surface of the table in front of him, the plane would roll. Half jokingly, he would admit that something was amiss that “they took [the plane] away.” It was a theme that began early in the talk when he lightly mourned his loss of station, holding one hand higher than the other to indicate the psychological toll of settling back into a life of less authority, if more income.

In the early part of the previous decade, his wife, Alma, would browbeat the then former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for even considering treating his new role at the State Department as if the command of a barrack. Powell would iterate that, upon seeing 500 State Department employees his first day as secretary, the department “was [his] infantry battalion” and that he “didn’t know any other way” after having been so thoroughly inculcated into the military meme.

Along the way pulling up a decent Reagan vocal impression, Powell mused on the Soviets repeatedly and the ideological coaching the Soviets and he had received in the interest of hating each other. He recalled his meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev and how the Soviet Communist Party’s final general secretary proceeded to lecture him at length at the series of reforms he had sought to put in place.

Gorbachev, relays Powell, looked at Powell’s scowling face and wasn’t convinced that Powell had bought his sales pitch. The then secretary general looked up and away from Powell and then returned his gaze, this time with a twinkle in his eye. Powell made a point of imitating Gorbachev’s smirk at this juncture. “Thirty years,” he said, “he had invested in this thing,” the Cold War, and he didn’t intend to lessen his condemnation of Soviet ideology on account of Gorbachev’s claims he had impressed a newfound transparency upon the aging Communist regime.

Unconvinced by the full-throated advertisement of “glasnost” and proclaimed attempt at reconciliation, Powell dismissed the Soviet leader as another “commie.” Gorbachev had countered that he had seen Powell’s KGB file and insulted him on the basis of his simply having been a soldier only trained to fight.

Apparently not including former FBI Assistant Director John O’Neill or Counterterrorism Security Group Chair Richard Clarke in his proverbial “we,” the former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, “We never thought anything like 9/11 could happen to us.” Yet now implicating a direct foreign threat from Osama bin Laden, the general expressed his determination not to be afraid of “some clown hiding in a cave in Pakistan.”


Murphy can has Congress?




Dear BEAST fiends,

Sorry I haven’t posted anything lately. We have hours of video and pages of notes from the trip to Wisconsin, but something crazy happened when we got back, which has kept me a little busy.

I’ll have a full report from my week in Madtown eventually–with updates on the situation there and what’s bound to be a very cool documentary by my videographer Trotsky. But long story short:  the union-crushing bill the State Senate & Assembly recently crammed through, in a most illegal fashion, has been temporarily blocked by Judge Maryann Sumi of the Dane County Circuit Court in Madison. That’s awesome. How a higher court will rule is unknown, but the idea is to keep it tied up in the legal system until some of the bastard Senate Republicans can be recalled. And many will be. More on Wisconsin later.

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The Earth-Spirit exposition is this flea market of New Age products and ideas which pops up around once a year. So I felt I had to go to find out what it’s all about.

The way we originally wanted to cover this at The BEAST was to register as a vendor, get our own table, and sell “Hitting You In The Face With A Stick” therapy. But this would require actual money up front, so it never ended up happening. Also you might have noticed we’ve been busy with other issues at the moment.

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BEASTcast 3: Eartha Melzer




BEASTcast espisode 4 (mp3)

Here is an interview with Eartha Melzer. She is a reporter for the Michigan Messenger and has been covering recent “budget repair” legislation in Michigan which almost makes Scott Walker look sane by comparison.

You can subscribe to the BEASTcast by using this link in iTunes or any other podcast subscription software.

Our new theme song is by Pigface and is used with permission.

Madtown is Mad




Live BEAST Report: Wisconsin Capitol in Lockdown

Madtown @ night

I left the Capitol at about 6:30 am CST, and I was assured by a Wisconsin state trooper that I’d be let back in at 8 am — regular business hours. Some 40 people remained in the building. As thousands descend on the Capitol, there are reports trickling out that the people who occupied the building overnight have been hauled out through underground tunnels (not confirmed). No one is being let in. Not Jesse Jackson. Not State Assembly Dem Joe Parisi. They both tried.

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Madtown @ Nite




Live from inside the Capitol in Madison, WI

Madtown @ night 002

MARCH 10, 2011 (2:55 am CST)–So I couldn’t sleep. I went back to the hippie crash pad, had some “medicine,” and now I’m back inside. There are no police posted at the doors. A few hundred people come and go as they please. Many now are dozing off on the floor or chatting quietly. The drumming has ceased, for the night. I hope.

The shame from last evening is still echoing through the halls. My fucking foot is asleep. Pins and needles. I’m splayed out on the marble. I think Trotsky’s starting a sexual revolution somewhere.

It’s weird being in here at night. It’s a beautiful pigsty, indeed, and witnessing the peaceful occupation is like a bizarre piece of performance art. It’s a sleepover. I had free pizza. Mother Democracy’s letting us stay up late and play. We’re going to feel like shit tomorrow.

What happened earlier is disgusting. If you’re not up on the deal: The pig-fucking Senate Republicans pig-fucked Wisconsin. They stripped the anti-collective bargaining bit from Walker’s budget “repair” bill and voted on that issue alone. They did this because budgetary legislation needs a special quorum–they need 20 Senators, which is why the 19 Republicans have thus far been stymied by the 14 Senate Dems in exile. Non-budgetary matters only need 14 to achieve a quorum, so they pig-fucked it through. It’s illegal, strong-arm, third world bullshit. And that’s where we stand.

All the cries of “Shame!” in the world won’t stop the assembly from throttling through this pig-fucking mess. It’s nearly certain that the nation will wake up, go to work, and hear the news that collective bargaining is dead in Wisconsin. And if you believe one pig-fucking word out of Scott Walker’s putrescent maw, you know he thinks of himself as the first domino in a line that will mark the end of workers’ rights in America.

But the fight is not over. Sleeping out here tonight is an experience, but the only recourse left for the people of Wisconsin is a recall of Governor Walker and his Republican colleagues in the Senate. The Gov recall requires that he be in office for a year first, so this may call for more immediate and direct action. “General strike!” people chanted outside last night. That may be exactly the ticket.

I’m too wired to sleep. But I have to go walk around.

UPDATE (3:17 am CST):

Most have cleared out of the building. Fewer than 100 remain. I found an electrical outlet, so I’m going to take a nap, and recharge.

UPDATE (4:35 am CST):

There are very few people left. Some are snoring. The bathrooms are open. We’ve not been asked to leave, but if you do, you can’t get back in until 8 am. I’m dying for a smoke. Sleep instead.

UPDATE (6:45 am CST):

I never did sleep. I left the Capitol and now I’m just wandering. Ain’t we all.


CLARIFICATION: The phrase “pig-fucked it through” was meant to describe how the Republicans violated the Open Meetings Law. That was the illegal act mentioned above, not that the collective bargaining bit was removed from the budget and voted on separately.

And “Paul from England”: EAT MY FUCKING SHIT. I’m tired of you faux-sensitive assholes being more offended by words, which are completely arbitrary, than you are by billionaires and their government cronies putting profit before people at every turn. You, sir, are an asshole.


Smash Wednesday




The Wisconsin Senate Republicans ram through anti-collective bargaining measure by removing it from the budget repair bill.

State Assembly Democrat Brett Hulsey explains to The BEAST what the hell happened:

The Assembly will vote on the measure tomorrow. As of this writing, the Capitol has been overrun by protesters. Capitol police initially let in somewhere between 500 – 600 people, and then locked the doors. But as hundreds of outraged people swarmed the Capitol, police started letting people in again.

“Whose house is this?” everyone screamed. “Our house!” they responded.

We’ll have more video and updates as things unfold.


Madtown is proper pissed off, and for good reason. Right now (10:23 pm CST) the area around the Capitol is crowded with people, honking cars and a generally tingly feeling of democracy in action. It’s history. It’s exciting. It’s slightly chaotic. And it’s not known what will happen tomorrow.

People have completely occupied the Capitol with the intention of holding their ground and having their voices heard during tomorrow’s vote.

My cameraman, Trotsky, has had his “medicine” and everything’s cool on our end. For now. Check out the video he shot:

We don’t know if sleep is in the cards tonight. It’s time to hit the streets and see what’s what.

Stay here for the latest.


Top 11 Ways The BEAST is better than James O'Keefe




Because the MSM cannot figure it out

So, James O’Keefe got some NPR people to say that liberals are smarter than conservatives and that Tea Partiers are sometimes racists. Big scoop. Those are just facts, known-knowns, and the undercover sting revealed very little regarding what NPR execs know about right-wing lunatics.

Comparisons between O’Keefe and Murphy have abounded of late, but we’re here to clear up why our pranks are so much better than his and why that kid sucks:

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