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Mark Ames

John McCain is making a big show of criticizing the government “bailout” of insurance giant AIG. But it turns out that AIG, which received $85 billion in US tax dollars earlier this week, is one of the largest donors to McCain’s pet think tank, the comically named “Reform Institute,” which he co-founded in 2001 “in direct response to the millions of Americans who, during the 2000 presidential campaign, expressed profound disillusionment with corrupt fundraising activities.” Indeed. (more…)

Posted: September 19th, 2008

Last week, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin declared that she was willing to go to war against Russia on behalf of Georgia. Palin wasn’t talking about launching World War III on behalf of our Georgia–you know, the adorable Southern state famous for its peaches, June bugs and KKK marches–but rather for a tiny mountainous country that few Americans even knew existed before last month, and still couldn’t locate on a map if their lives depended on it–even though their lives now do depend on it.

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Posted: September 16th, 2008

I just flew back to the U.S., just in time to watch the Democratic Convention’s opening night. I’m amazed by how Soviet my country has become, or always was. We love these hokey big ceremonies just as much as any totalitarian country. I flipped the channel away from the Convention coverage and wound up on the opening day of the US Open, and there it was again—more ceremony, with all the hokey Soviet nostalgia that comes with it. Jesus, even the US Open has succumbed, (more…)

Posted: August 25th, 2008

Five days after Georgia invaded and seized the breakaway separatist region of South Ossetia, sparking a larger-scale Russian invasion to drive Georgian forces back and punish their leaders, Russia surprised its Western detractors by calling a halt to the country’s offensive. After all, the mainstream media, egged on by hawkish neocon pundits and their candidate John McCain, had everyone believing that Russia was hellbent on the full-scale annihilation and annexation of democratic Georgia.

But then came Tuesday’s cease-fire announcement–and we’re now forced to ask ourselves serious questions about the recent conflict: what really started it, how dangerous was it and what, with serious careful consideration, could be done to prevent it from turning into a worst-case scenario? (more…)

Posted: August 15th, 2008

The outbreak of war in Georgia on Friday offers a disturbing and somewhat surreal taste of what to expect from John McCain should he become our nation’s Commander in Chief. As the centuries-old ethnic animosities between Georgia and Ossetia boiled over into another armed conflict, drawing in neighboring Russia, McCain issued a stark-raving statement from Des Moines (more…)

Posted: August 9th, 2008

The eXiled Coat of Arms Is Back With A Vengeance

One month ago, our newspaper The eXile got stomped into extinction by some ham-fisted Russian government officials, who decided that since there’s a new president in the Kremlin who’s talking up some nonsense about a new “liberal era,” what better way to show your boss that you understand what he means by “liberal”—with a big wink-wink—than to shut down the only good thing that Russia (more…)

Posted: July 14th, 2008

This article was first published in The eXile, April 2008

Last summer, The eXile took a safari journey in search of the legendary Gopniki, Russia’s underworld answer to the OGs of South Central, Long Beach, and the Bronx. Those notorious shaven-headed toughs in their kepki-tabletki and track suits, with their bad-assed “cho blya!” faces and their greasy-haired sluts, were our heroes. In our journey through the podmoskovie ghetto of Lubertsy, we discovered tragedy rather than adventure: the Gopniki, those proletarian toughs and kings of the petty crime margins, had all but gone extinct in the Putin Era. They’d survived Stalin’s Terror and flourished under Brezhnev’s Stagnation, but in the end, they were no match against the soul-sucking effects of capitalism and bourgeois Evroremont. Today, the nearly-extinct Gopniki are little more than irony fodder for urban Russian hipsters in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Word has it that this summer, the “Gop-Stop” look is the Cool New Thing. (more…)

Posted: April 11th, 2008