Fifteen minutes later, a Toyota Corona being driven by a man called Mazin, who was disabled and walked with the aid of a frame, arrived in the area. His wife was in the passenger seat and his teenage son in the back. If he had turned left out of the small lane that led to their house, they might all still be alive.

Instead, Mazin made the mistake of turning right towards the roadblock. A bullet from the volley of shots fired at the car passed through the windscreen and blew off the right half his head, according to Ahmed Ibrahim, who runs an optician’s shop opposite the Al Sa’ah restaurant.

Nobody on the street yesterday seemed to know what had happened to his wife or teenage son, only that they had been injured and taken away by the Americans.


Kazutaka Sato, 47, was held in an arm-lock, thrown to the ground and kicked by several US soldiers Sunday when he was filming the bodies of Iraqis being removed from a car which was shot up in the raid, the reports said.

Sato suffered slight injuries to his face and hands, the Kyodo news agency and the newspaper Asahi reported from Baghdad. He had his hands tied and was detained for about one hour.

When members of the Western media approached, Sato was released and his camera, which had been confiscated, was handed back to him, the Asahi said.

US News

Much of the negative press, Chalabi argues, is due to translators who have their own anti-American agendas and give American and other reporters their version of what is going on rather than what the Iraqis being interviewed are saying.

Thanks for the Strip Malls

In subtle, moving language, Charles Eicher at Disinfotainment expresses his feelings about the passing of beloved entertainer Bob Hope: “I spit on your grave.”

Why this outpouring of warmth? Well, Bob Hope’s development company La Mancha can take at least some credit for making southern California what it is today — they built the first mini mall and followed it up with thousands more.

Eicher also points out that the USO scion was the “golf buddy” of Nazi collaborator and presidential progenitor Prescott Bush. (This is a strange piece of trivia for the Internet Movie Database to highlight since Hope was actually the golf buddy of every president, even if it was only the Republicans who invited him to stay at the Lincoln bedroom).

Back in May, Couch Pundit discussed an episode of This American Life with a segment on Bob Hope. [real audio — the part on Hope is about 35 minutes in]. It focuses on his role in the USO as a particualry shrewd business move, with each taxpayer-funded special getting sold to NBC. The recorded interviews by Margy Rochlin were from 1986, so at one point Hope runs through his “Iran-Contra” bit:

“I dunno who the White House aides were, it was either Curly, Larry, or Moe.”


“I can’t understand selling arms to Iran. That’s like Johnny Carson selling jokes to Joan Rivers.”


While discussing the Viet Nam war, Hope proudly tells a story of someone who criticized his supporting role:

Hope: I had a couple a people that, ah, called me a warmonger. And I gave it to the FBI and the sheriff here and they found these guys over on Santa Monica Boulevard. And they chased ’em outta town.

Rochlin: But who were these people?

Hope: They were some bums. That were, you know, probably guys that, uh, were defectors or something.

Bob Hope — a man before his time.

System Justification

Two months ago a study was published in the APA’s Psychological Bulletin called “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition.” It took a set of scientific studies from the last 50 years and attempted to parse out some of the motivating traits of a “conservative” worldview. Although the shorthand descriptions of conservative traits are definitely unflattering, it didn’t really make any outrageous claims (conservatives tend to be intolerant of ambiguity. Yeah, that’s a stretch.) And when it was published, nobody outside academia seemed to care much.

Until last week when Berkeley Media Relations put out an inflammatory press release, one sentence of which directly linked Hitler, Mussolini, and Reagan — something the study doesn’t actually do. They put the press release on the web and sent it far and wide, and that finally got some attention.

But only for the press release. Which is now described as the study itself on a wide array of conservative websites. There’s reposting of the full press release even though it’s already online. There’s tedious line by line insulting of the press release. There’s Rush Limbaugh ranting and flapping about the press release. There’s cosmic pronouncements about the fallen nature of Man and how this differs from the press release. And in almost all the responses there are torrents of gibbering, howling, frothing hatred of Berkeley, who put out the press release… even though the lead author of the study is at the Stanford.Business School and has a PhD from our “president’s” alma mater, Yale.

The full study itself is online at Stanford [1.7 MB pdf]. And since it was published in a reputable academic journal, there’s a response to problems in the study, with a counter response by the authors [also online, 1.7MB pdf].

The commie swine at Berkeley Media Relations didn’t provide a link to their cross-town rival, so it’s a pity that conservative bloggers couldn’t figure our how to Google any faster. Cause the paper itself includes a handy graph so you can attempt to understand the inner machinations of conservatives in the wild:

[full image – 84k]

Glenn Reynolds almost made one insightful point about all this:

What’s most amazing to me is that the Berkeley PR office thought that trumpeting this study to the nationwide media would be a good idea, and that doing so would somehow enhance the school’s reputation.

The study itself is actually, well, conservative. What’s amazing is that Berkeley decided to put out a press release that was clearly intended to piss off every conservative they possibly could. Why? No such thing as bad press? Or, being deceptive Marxist scum, is it something more… sinister?

William Kristol recently hypothesized that Bush ordered his subordinates to deliberately screw up their explanation of his State of the Union misspokenings and thereby drive the liberal media into a tail-chasing frenzy. I assumed that this suggestion was either a ham-handed rhetorical device, or (more likely) just batshit crazy. But then again… maybe it’s just batshit crazy enough to work.

Maybe Berkeley has done the same thing with conservatives — putting out a “sexed-up” press release! Now we have Rush Limbaugh attacking a single sentence while the study itself gets lots of attention but remains basically unassailed. (How clever you are, Kathleen Maclay. “Media Relations” — is that a title they gave you in Havana?)

Not only that, conservative bloggers are now providing a fascinating source of annecdotal evidence for the study itself. Especially Dr John Ray at Dissecting Leftism. Here he is exhibiting what might be described as the existential motive of self-esteem:

But perhaps the best indication of how “motivated” their own cognitions are is the fact that they cite only two of the more than one hundred articles I have had published on the subject. I am clearly one of the major authors (if not THE major author in terms of number of articles in print) in the field that they purport to survey, but they ignore 98% of what I have to say.

Unfortunately Dr Ray is apparently the only blogger who seems to have even attempted to read the study itself (although he’s still mostly worked up about the press release). Not coincidentally, he’s the self-proclaimed number one worldwide expert on conservative psychology — namely that it doesn’t exist. And even if it did, then there’s no way in hell that liberal academic so-called scientists would be able so say anything meaningful about it.

Oh but liberal psychology? You can be damn sure that exists. And John Ray will TELL you all about the DANGERS of LEFTISM. For example this piece at David Horowitz’ Front Page Magazine:

As the quotations already given show, Hitler shared with other Leftists a love of constant change and excitement — and what could offer more of that than war?

So, um… all “Leftists” are pro-war? Like Hitler?
Cause they love excitement?

And Tony Blair was inspired by Mussolini ?

And this guy is the only person trained in psychology who responded negatively to the study itself?


So if a group of psychologists spend years looking at scientific surveys and publish a peer-reviewed paper suggesting there’s a relationship between certain personal traits and a politically “conservative” worldview, then that is a scandalous example of junk science.

And if a single lapsed psychologist simply feels in his heart that “Leftism” is universally tied to various poisonous beliefs, then… he starts a blog. And Glenn Reynolds cites him as a reliable authority. And lots of other conservative bloggers attack a press release.

I think we’ve all learned something today.

Fixed the link to the study PDF.

Midgets Talking Backwards

So much for Cruz.. Recall and replacement on same ballot, Oct 7.

And Bill Simon might run again (dear god, why). But now there’s a rumor that Schwarzenegger might not run? Then who? It only takes 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot for free, and it only takes a plurality of votes to get elected…. Maybe everybody on Friendster should all run each other for governor. The biggest slut with the most testimonials would surely be better than the current array of choices.

Meanwhile Davis is trying to squeeze in to his old “democrat” costume that used to fit back in high school:

In San Francisco, a Democratic bastion he has visited three times in the last week, Davis appeared with Mayor Willie Brown at a day-care center where Davis sat on the floor in a circle of children for an awkward rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.”

Doesn’t look like Gray is going to fit in to those pants by October.
Prison food goes straight to your ass.

On the bright side, this whole election is starting to resemble a very trying episode of Twin Peaks.

Hey. wait a minute…

Maybe that would explain both California politics and the movie Mullholand Drive.


The recall of Gray Davis is going to a vote. No doubt.
So that means Arnold….

Oh but wait. Cruz Bustamante the lieutenant governor is choosing not to put the replacements for Davis on the ballot, leaving that decision up to a “Commission on the Governorship” and the Supreme Court. That might mean Davis getting recalled but being replaced with the next person in succession — Cruz Bustamante.

Clearly none of this is clear, but it is possible that the right-wing recall drive won’t work out anything like it was planned.

As Kos writes, if the courts back the lt. governor’s interpretation:

Then Issa will have spent millions to allow Californians to replace one corrupt, sleazy Democrat (Davis), with a popular, Latino, and far more progressive Democrat (Bustamante).

And that, my friends, would be what a happy ending looks like

Bad Heir Day

They sure do have the Iraqi “breaking news” ready waaay in advance. Sitting at a coffee shop, I got slapped with an hour long TV special with multiple interviews about the Brothers Hussein, their full biographies, a psychological breakdown, an analysis of their escape strategies, a profile of the shootout, a prophesy-based media analysis of how future news reports will affect future news in Iraq, and a brief discussion of the Rose Garden ceremony tomorrow.

Mission Accomplished!

Obviously it’s unpatriotic to ask, but I am curious: two hundred soldiers from the 101 Airborne, crack anti-terrorist Task Force 20, circling Apache helicopters firing TOW missiles…
and seven guys held them all off for six hours with nothing but small arms fire?

Well damn. I guess they really were supervillains.

Which must be the reason we had to kill them extra hard rather than get any intelligence from them or put them on trial or use them to find Saddam or even release them on the streets of Baghdad for some Mussolini-style lamppost action. Cause when you have supervillains that powerful holed up in a villa, you gotta blow that shit all the way up on the spot. Otherwise they’d just bust out like Godzilla and stomp the fuck out of Mosul.

Some people like Lambert at Eshaton just don’t understand how to deal with supervillains:

At best, killing Saddam’s sons was a missed opportunity. At worst, it’s the tip of the iceberg of a policy of targeted assassination that perverts the notion of American justice, and will lead to blowback just as certainly as funding Afghan jihaadists did.


[clever title jacked from polaroidgirl’s dad’s friend phil]

Metaphorically Speaking

LA Observed is keeping up with the attention given to Michael Ramirez’s latest deeply confused attempt at conservative editorial cartooning.

For example at the Washington Post. And at the LA Times, where he offers this thoughtful explanation of the cartoon:

“President Bush is the target, metaphorically speaking, of a political assassination because of 16 words that he uttered in the State of the Union,” Ramirez said. “The image, from the Vietnam era, is a very disturbing image. The political attack on the president, based strictly on sheer political motivations, also is very disturbing.”

Apparently Ramirez does not explain why he depicted Iraq as Vietnam and Bush as a Viet Cong guerilla.

Of course conservatives must be blinded with outrage that anyone, right-wing or liberal, could slur the president in this incompetent way. The cries of treason, the patriotic outrage, the, uh…

The “viciousness” is not in Ramirez’s cartoon, but rather in the mindless partisan attacks on the President which dominate the news day after day.

Such high-minded unbending principles.

It’s like Bill K and I always say: Bush is driving one of our two major political parties stark, raving mad.

[via Matthew Yglesias ] Eugene Volokh makes this insight:

Seems to me that the Secret Service should be focusing on real threats, not on this.

Or this, or this, or this, or this
The delicious irony doesn’t make it less bitter.

move small objects just a little

Job opening:

I am looking for someone who is capable of moving physical objects with his/her mind (telekenetics). This is for scientific experiments to enhance and harness this power. If you are able to move small objects just a little you qualify. This only applys to telekenetics. The job pays $75.00 an hour, 40 hours+ a week. Thank you.

No overtime?

[via polaroidgirl]

Name Calling

San Francisco is now officially a suburb of Silicon Valley.

I think the mild schadenfreude I feel is best personified by a young gentleman who rode his motorcycle down from The City to visit friends in LA. He kept his bright purple leather jacket on the whole evening and he didn’t say much. Something about how the party we were at reminded him of the Bay Area, except it was like that every night. And also that you should never ever call The City “Frisco.”

That’s San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area to you, son.

By contrast, I think this is one of the things I’ve come to most appreciate about Los Angeles — it’s almost impossible to meaningfully insult it. The whole place is shrouded in a smog of insults, a weird mixture of disgust, fear and envy. The root mythology is horror and deception — when the pueblo was founded, they were already calling it Los Diablos.

But this soft bigotry of lowered expectations makes every wonderful thing here feel like a discovered secret. Last week it was Little Joy, Paru’s, and the roof of the Figueroa.

I do {heart} the wee peninsula, especially as I sit in front of two fans, squinting out the window towards something beige, remembering a particularly delightful 65 degree summer… If only I could have left my overactive sweat glands in Frisco.

Stark Raving Mad

William Kristol:

Karl Rove is a genius…

George W. Bush is a genius…

the president ordered his White House staff to bollix up its explanation…

As we say, George W. Bush is a genius…

driving one of our two major political parties…stark, raving mad….

if the Democrats prefer instead to act as a pathologically disgruntled lunatic fringe…

That muffled sound you hear coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the sound of George W. Bush chuckling at the success of his nefarious scheme.

Ah. So that’s what the muffled sound is.

Good to know.

In this Washington Post story, a Texan interior designer recounts the moment he knew he could believe in George W’s nefarious schemes:

“Everyone else was drinking and partying, and George was fixed on unraveling this spool of thread, part of the puzzle, and he unrolled and unrolled, and when the spool was empty, there was the answer,” says Turner. “I’ll never forget it, his focus was such. And that is the focus I know he brings to this giant task of his.”

Unraveling, unraveling

Shooting Self in Head

I’ve been looking around for some kind of intelligent conservative response to the crumbling war propaganda. For example this Washington Post story which points out how most of the major reasons for war have been “discredited” — the polite term.

But the only things I’ve found are an eye-rolling “16 words” and a grim warning of a growing liberal insanity provoked by Bush. Weak. But I have to say, that all the right-wingers helpfully making “McGovern” warnings about anti-war democrats are pretty cute. (Re-elect Nixion? Seriously??)

So not only did I fail to find any thoughtful conservative response to the war lies, I found out (at Drudge Report of all places) that LA Times cartoonist Michael Ramirez finally pushed his special brand of inane idiocy so far over the edge that the secret service is offended.

“We take all images such as this very seriously,” a top secret service source who requested anonymity said from Washington. “Regardless of the politics behind any speech, images of the president, such as this, raise concern.”

No reaction from the LA Times yet. LA Observed noticed. And the National Review already took a shot at the editors while somehow forgetting to mention right-wing cartoonist Ramirez. Go figure. Of course the Times editors are irresponsible for publishing Ramirez at all. I suppose they’ve been using him as a talisman to ward off accusations of liberal bias? I wonder how that’s working out for them….

The cartoon is not only tasteless, it’s an interesting symptom of how war believers are dealing with the increasing revelation and discussion of the lies leading up to our current guerrila conflict. Ramirez is referring to a pulitzer prize winning photo of South Vietnamese National Police Chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Viet Cong officer in Saigon on February 1, 1968.

So not only does the cartoon depict Bush getting executed, it depicts him as a Viet Cong officer getting shot by the American-backed South Vietnamese police. Like the man said, revisionist history.

“Mr. Nixon said that “we are moving swiftly” toward “peace with honor, the kind of peace that will last.”

Past Presidents

of the Transportation Club of Houston

R.N. Jarl, 1965-66
The way they all appear in exactly the same spot with the various transit devices aimed at their heads… it’s disconcerting and yet calming.

Toxic! Toxic! Return to your vehicles!

Finally read White Noise last week. Suburban refugees getting chased back and forth by a deadly cloud. Funny funny stuff. Little did I realize how hard it was to get the attention of a toxic airborne event when your really need one.

Spent last night from dusk to dawn putting pasta and steak sauce in double sets of NYLOFUME® bags (“to protect food and other commodities during fumigations with VIKANE® gas fumigant”). The natural gas was shut off on shedule, fine fine. And then exterminators arrived. We discussed hiding places for the keys. We checked around downstairs.

Of them asked about the trench. There was very clearly no trench. “Mire” said another of the men below the deck pointing at the area where a trench would have gone. “Todo el esto aquí.”

They kind of implied that maybe I should really be getting to work on that trench. And that ivy. In fact I had better seriously buckle down with a damn sharp hoe if I was going to get that ivy cut back in good time, they implied.

“Trench?” I implored.

It was no good. We were trenchless. The sandbags would roll away. A seal could not be made. The poison would just fitter away, killing something without any measurable return on investment. Pointless.

The four of them sat on the curb, eating pistachios, one of them on a cell phone trying to work the angles. I listlessly sealed up the last of the NYLOFUME® bags, just in case. Like laying out victory champagne for a candidate who was clearly loosing…. An hour later they left. They had a sense of resignation, and a little pity.

We do not get our toxic cloud.

The lake we’re going to at allows boats and watercraft with their economy-boosting fluids and beneficial synthetic secretions. However the flesh of mortals is not to touch the water. Swimming is forbidden. ├é┬íNinguna Natación Aquí! The water is for drinking.

What if you throw up while on your watercraft? I don’t know who to ask about this. But I do know that while we are out, our trusty double-layered NYLOFUME® will keep our food, feed, drugs and medicinals sealed away from any wayward poisons.

The Techno-Erotic Imaginary of 1947

1947 was the year this issue of Starting Comics came out (#44, featuring the Fighting Yank).

It was also the year of Kenneth Arnold’s UFO sighting, the first official “flying saucer.”

Also the year of the Maurey Island Incident, with the first modern “men in black.”

Also the year of the Roswell Incident, and the interweaving of technological otherness with national security, atomic warfare, and the epistemological wobbliness of the Fallen Object.

Also the year of the National Security Act and the creation of the CIA.

Many other painful delights at the Golden Age Comic Book Cover Gallery [ via metafilter ]
The crime and horror comics of the 50’s? Find out what little Richie Cunningham was really thinking when he sang Blueberry Hill. Oh dear….