Buffalo Beast

Apparently, the Reason I Don't Believe in Unicorns Is That I'm Too Arrogant -- How Louis C.K.'s God Talk Ruined Louis C.K. for Me

Life in Buffalo, NY is a relentless shit-show. Unless you’re excited by awful sports teams, there’s not a lot of quality entertainment around, so on the rare occasion a comedy genius rolls through town you go. You just go. And for two hours you get to forget you live in Buffalo. Sadly, not very long into his set, Louis C.K. did a bit that left me acutely aware of where I was, how much I overpaid for my ticket, and why our species is so utterly fucked.

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The Most Loathsome People in America: The Double Dirty Dozen

The following is AlterNet's own selections and rankings of two dozen from America's 50 Most Loathsome Americans by Ian Murphy of the Buffalo Beast.

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10 of the Most Loathsome People Living in America

The following is a selection from the Buffalo Beast's Top 50 Most Loathsome Americans list. A funny annual tradition, the Beast shares its charges for why an individual is loathsome, shares a piece of smoking gun evidence, and offers a possible punishment.

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30 of the Most Loathsome People in America

The following is a selection from the Buffalo Beast's 50 Most Loathsome People of the Year:

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Sodomized to Protect Our Freedoms

"Yasser tearfully described that when he reached the top of the steps 'the party began. … They started to put the [muzzle] of the rifle [and] the wood from the broom into [my anus]. They entered my privates from behind.' ... Yasser estimated that he was penetrated five or six times during this initial sodomy incident and saw blood 'all over my feet' through a small hole in the hood covering his eyes." – by Physicians for Human Rights' "Broken Laws, Broken Lives," a report containing firsthand accounts of men who endured torture by U.S. personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.

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15 Most Loathsome People of 2008

The Buffalo Beast has released its 50 Most Loathsome People in America list for 2008.  We here at AlterNet rounded up 15 people from their list that we thought most deserved the insulting honor. Read through our top picks from their list, go check out the Beast's full list, and then drop some of the folks you think are the most loathsome people in America in the comments below. Happy hunting.

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George Bush Is Engaged in an Epic Battle to Cover His Ass

Something astonishing happened the other day in the House: The Democratic leadership found some courage. After over a year of demoralizing, often inexplicable capitulation, they actually gathered the fortitude to push back slightly against Republicans on so-called national security issues. The Republicans' response was swift: They took their ball and went home, after a brief stop at a prearranged press conference on the Capitol steps.

Two issues caused the dispute: One, in a stunning display of rudimentary oversight, the House issued contempt citations for two former Bush staffers, Harriet Meiers and Josh Bolten, who've been ducking House subpoenas for months now. This was predictably dismissed by weepy Minority Whip John Boehner as a "partisan fishing expedition," a boilerplate cliche if ever there was one.

The second issue, which the indignant Republicans preferred to discuss, for obvious reasons, was the House Democrats' refusal to cave on retroactive immunity for telecom companies, like AT&T and Sprint, for collaborating with the White House in spying on domestic internet and phone communications, which, to be clear, was tremendously illegal.

What's less encouraging, but interesting, is that the Democrats were ready to sign off on extending the repugnantly named Protect America Act, except for telecom immunity. To Bush, this made the bill dead on arrival. That's right; Bush promised to veto the bill if it reached his desk without a get out of jail free card for Comcast.

It's hard to line that up with the apocalyptic tenor of Bush's exhortations regarding the bill. If the warrantless domestic spying provisions of the Act were not renewed, Bush warned, Osama bin Laden would rain fire upon us all. But he was planning to veto them if they came to him without immunity. Naturally, this makes no fucking sense. Either Bush is willing to risk another 9/11 to embarrass the Democrats, or he's lying when it comes to the threat posed by having to get a FISA warrant -- retroactively, after the fact -- for domestic surveillance. I think he's lying, but I suppose it could be both.

It's interesting that these issues are what it takes to really outrage Republicans -- threaten huge corporate giants with lawsuits, or exercise congress's constitutional oversight powers. Of course, it's only natural that the Republicans would shudder at the prospect of effective investigations being conducted in the House. If the Democrats actually start following through on the legal options to compel testimony, it's only a matter of time before everyone's implicated. But telecom immunity?

Republicans are, of course, fundamentally pro-corporate, even more so than modern Democrats. But to go to bat this hard on behalf of an industry seems anomalous even for them. All a congressman usually has to do for his biennial bribe is vote in a corporation's interests, not engage in tantrum theatrics. There's more than pedestrian corruption at work here.

Of course, there is the terror issue, and in a most perilous election year, Republicans would like nothing more than to be able to run on the "Dems are sissies" platform. If they can keep people frightened and badly misinformed, they may manage to make telecom amnesty into a winning issue for them come November.

But to do that, they have to lie. A lot. They have to feign outrage, and actual concern for the wellbeing of their fellow Americans. They're doing their level best. To hear Republicans tell it, requiring a rubber-stamp warrant, after the fact, to spy on Americans is like mailing plutonium to Iran. Bush's spiel was grade A horseshit from start to finish:

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Lies My Paper Told Me

While I'm one of those big complainers about deception in the media, I have to admit I get a giddy thrill out of reading it. As with any addiction, I've developed an increasing tolerance and require an ever purer dosage of insidious lies and appeals to conformity to get my kicks. Now I have a special appreciation for the most extreme variety of corporate press dishonesty: articles written solely to insult reality.

There's a pattern that articles seem to follow when some poor bootlicking journalist is tasked with refuting an objectionably true piece of information, despite having no coherent case against it. Usually, the majority of the piece will assess the offending claim and generally summarize the evolution of the controversy. This first 80% or so of the article will read like a regular, reasonably evenhanded piece of journalism, perhaps even containing sympathetic quotes from the suspect claim's proponents. Then, having nearly filled their word-count and still at a loss for a decent argument, the author will make a wild U-turn and hurry through a brief, entirely subjective, incomplete and patently idiotic dismissal of whatever point they were just explaining, a tacked-on "there, there" to soothe their tender, easily rattled readers. It reeks of editorial interference, but what's really remarkable is how clumsy and transparent the process is.

I recognized this pattern last year, when The New York Times addressed the fact that, despite having been quoted as saying "Israel must be wiped off the map" by every man, woman and child in the United States over the past year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a frequent victim of deliberate mistranslation, never actually said that. A correct translation, according to many native Farsi speakers, goes something like, "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the pages of history," and was a direct quotation of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The article, by Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner ("Just how far did they go, those words against Israel?"), is really something special. Of course, a regime -- that is, a government -- vanishing from the page of time doesn't evoke the apocalyptic image that a nation wiped off the map does, and this specific misquotation has done probably more than any other piece of domestic psy-ops to vilify Iran. It's an effective lie, so it must be saved, and it's Bronner's job to do it.

Despite Bronner's obvious reluctance to go along, the facts practically dragged him kicking and screaming toward the inexorable conclusion that Ahmadinejad didn't even say the words "Israel," "wipe" or "map." Bronner sprinkled a generous portion of bullshit throughout the piece, stating that the verb translated as "wipe" is transitive when it is intransitive, and even arguing that the fact that the Iranian president actually said "the regime occupying Jerusalem" instead of "Israel" makes the statement worse, because Ahmadinejad "refuses even to utter the name Israel." That is some amazing spin, I have to admit. But Bronner still cannot deny that "map" is wrong and significantly different in tone than "pages of history," even offering weak excuses for the error, and at least acknowledges that Ahmadinejad referred to Israel's government, not the whole of Israel. He really can't avoid decimating the original misquotation, which was and still is so oft-repeated in the media.

But then an amazing, incongruous thing happens: he draws precisely the opposite conclusion flatly contradicting his own analysis. Immediately after admitting that "it is true that he has never specifically threatened war against Israel," Bronner's final paragraph is outrageously illogical and cowardly. Check it out:

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