Friday, March 31, 2006

Smoochies

Well, another work-week wraps up here at Codemorse.

I hope you're all enjoying some of the changes, from the newish site design to the addition of self-described Lex Luthor surrogate, Jabawacefti. Judging by the emails, I'd say our new cuddly n' conservative commentator is pushing all the right buttons, and provoking some good conversation.

If you visit Codemorse on a daily basis (and some of you, God/Jehovah/Allah/L. Ron Hubbard/Ramtha bless you, visit several times a day) why not email the site to a friend? We make no bones about our desire to conquer the fertile Earth and seed it with our influence and questionable impregnation metaphors, and you all can help make that happen.

We welcome suggestions, comments, fatwas, and cookies. You can send the suggestions, comments, and cookies to the email address I've provided under my profile name.

You can send the fatwas to Jaba. He enjoys that sort of thing.

I Polled Your Mother Last Night

I posted information on the Wichita tasering fun-fest (for more info, scroll down) over at Dailykos, along with a poll asking whether we should taser students.

Here, for your edification, are the sweet sweetback results:

Poll

Should We Taser Students

  • No, That's Bizarre And Worthy Of A Stanley Kubrick Film
  • 74%
  • No, We Should Be Huggin' It Out, Bitch!
  • 5%
  • Maybe, If The Student Is Physically Assaultive
  • 14%
  • Maybe, If The Student Looks Like He's Askin' For It
  • 0%
  • Yes, Taser Them Sonofbitches
  • 5%

    What Is a "Neocon"?

    Recent (and not so recent) debate on American foreign policy has unfortunately, although perhaps not surprisingly, morphed into a debate on motive. I've always viewed an attack on motive as an inability to view an opposing view as simply a disagreement on the issues. Instead of, "you're wrong because of facts A, B, and C," debate often regresses into, "you're wrong because your motives are impure." The debate is "unfortunate," because an attack on motive is almost always impossible to rebut, and often not supported by facts.

    Nevertheless, a characterization that has taken on a life of its own with regard to the impure motive has been the bogeyman otherwise referred to as the "Neocon." Individuals are labeled (or label themselves) as Neocons by different groups of people from various political persuasions for all sorts of different reasons.

    Even the Rolling Stones have a song berating the evil Neocon.

    That should beg the question: What is a neocon?

    Most people today loosely (and lazily) refer to Neocons as those who supported an invasion of Iraq.

    The long story is fairly well encapsulated in Wilkpedia on Neoconservatives. But the short explanation is this:

    The term neoconservative was used to define, simply enough, new conservatives. The term was first used pajoratively by leftists who felt betrayed by their former intellectual allies in their strident opposition to the Soviet Union.

    From Wilkpedia:

    Historically, neoconservatives supported a militant anticommunism, tolerated more social welfare spending than was sometimes acceptable to libertarians and mainstream conservatives, supported civil equality for blacks and other minorities, and sympathized with a non-traditional foreign policy agenda that was less deferential to traditional conceptions of diplomacy and international law and less inclined to compromise principles even if that meant unilateral action. Indeed, domestic policy does not define neoconservatism — it is a movement founded on, and perpetuated by an aggressive approach to foreign policy, free trade, opposition to communism during the Cold War, support for Israel and Taiwan and opposition to Middle Eastern and other states that are perceived to support terrorism.

    Meanwhile, middle eastern magazines and others have used neoconservative as a short-hand way to describe a "Zionist plot.":

    Some neo-nazi conspiracy theorists such as David Duke have attacked neoconservatism as advancing 'Jewish interests.' Classic anti-Semitic tropes have often been used when elaborating this view, such as the idea that Jews achieve influence through the intellectual domination of national leaders. Similarly, during the run-up to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, left-wing magazine AdBusters published a list of the "50 most influential neocons in the United States", noting that half of these were Jewish.

    In the end, Neoconservative means many different things to many different people. It's a term misused by many, misunderstood by more, and often used as a not so subtle way to challenge an opponent's point of view without offering a competing point of view.

    It's irrelevant what I think a neocon is. It's a label. And a moving target of a label at that. Full of sound and fury...

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Kansas Continues To Offer Multiple Reasons For Not Living There

    This is...disturbing.

    Wichita, Kansas is apparently using tasers in their school systems.

    By the end of the month, all 22 SROs in the Wichita schools -- seven in high schools and 15 in middle schools -- will carry the controversial device....

    As commissioned police officers, the SROs adhere to the same use-of-force policy that the rest of the officers do, Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said.

    "We are not going to be using these to break up 12-year-old kids brawling," Stolz said.

    Lt. Kevin Vaughn, firearms instructor and SWAT commander for the police department, said officers are being taught that someone refusing a verbal command is not sufficient grounds to use a Taser.

    "There's got to be something else," Vaughn said. "You'd better have a strong reason for why you deploy," especially in a school. (ed.-Here's an interesting thing to note: Vaughn doesn't mention school in his quote - the paper added it for him.)

    Officers are instructed not to Taser the very old or the very young, but Stolz said there is no universal "thou shalt not" in the policy.

    "The fact of the matter is, if a 94-year-old man is coming after an officer with a gun or a knife," then the officer might fire his Taser, Stolz said.

    "Contrary to perceptions, officers are not zapping kids for not having hall passes," Trump said.

    Well, that's a relief. It sounds like this is a last-ditch sort of thing for emergencies only.

    Oh. Wait.

    Police tried to use a Taser on a Wichita student a month before stunning another student with a Taser two weeks ago at North High School, police records show.

    A report released Wednesday shows that a school resource officer tried unsuccessfully to stun a 14-year-old girl with a Taser during an altercation Feb. 17 inside Coleman Middle School.

    In a third incident, a school resource officer pulled his Taser during an altercation with an "emotionally upset" 15-year-old boy Feb. 7 inside East High School, the report said.

    Interestingly, the entire article focuses on the Police response to these incidents, and spends virtually no time on the student/parent perspective. Luckily, someone's paying attention.

    Here's a timeline of events, as provided to the website This Modern World by the Hope Street Youth Development:

    February: Wichita Police introduce tasers into schools.

    Early March: Students at Wichita West High School discover this and are understandably concerned. Organized by Hope Street, they gather 250 signatures on a letter to the school district asking about health effects and the district’s use policy.

    March 16th: A 15 year-old student is tasered during a confrontation at another high school, Wichita North. However, no one except those involved know at the time because the school district covers it up.

    The next week: The tasering becomes public thanks to an anonymous tip from a teacher. The Wichita Eagle criticizes the school district for trying to hide it.

    Today, March 30th: The Wichita Eagle reveals two other attempts to taser students, including a 14 year-old girl.

    This is a news to me.

    Thanks once again to This Modern World, here's Amnesty International's report on tasers. I've got no real idea what the school climate's like in Wichita. For all I know, every kid comes in armed and angry. But as a general rule, is the use of potentially-lethal weapondry on 14 and 15 year-olds acceptable behavior?

    Pap(arazzi) Smeared

    Cockblocking Iran, Courtesy Of Our "Friends," The Neo-cons

    Here's an interesting article, courtesy of the Asia Times:

    The George W Bush administration failed to enter into negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program in May 2003 because neo-conservatives who advocated destabilization and regime change were able to block any serious diplomatic engagement with Tehran, according to former administration officials.

    The same neo-conservative veto power also prevented the administration from adopting any official policy statement on Iran, those same officials said. Lawrence Wilkerson, then chief of staff to secretary of state Colin Powell, said the failure to adopt a formal Iran policy in 2002-03 was the result of obstruction by a "secret cabal" of neo-conservatives in the administration, led by Vice President Dick Cheney.

    Not that it matters. This is truly a teflon Presidency. Nothing sticks. Accountability is a meaningless, hollow word.

    Jimmy Carter, Bumbling Ignoramus

    Check out Jimmy's latest piece of wisdom.

    I will comment more on this later, but will merely for the moment comment on my impression that Jimmy Carter, aside from being one of the worst Presidents in history, is singularly wrong on virtually every political issue of our time. I simply cannot fathom how this man has the audacity to protest a nuclear agreement with India (a country that already has nuclear weapons), when he was the very same guy who President Clinton sent to "negotiate" or "engage" North Korea to prevent the same, and entered an agreement with the North Koreans that the North Koreans proceeded to ignore.

    Jimmy Carter protesting about the failure to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons is like George Bush complaining about the conflation of church and state.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    Protesting v. Patriotism

    You'll find through my posts that I get a lot of my inspiration from Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park. Like Jonah Goldberg used to use The Simpsons as a springboard for thoughts, so will I use those wily Westerners as mine.

    One of my favorite Matt Stone quotes (which really isn't a quote) is: "I hate conservatives, but I fucking hate liberals." So sums a substantial impetus of my political thought.

    Nevertheless, I caught an episode of South Park on the Iraq war that was moderately insightful. Give it to Stone and Parker to break down the importance of patriotism v. protesting.

    In the episode, Cartman finds himself back in 1776 in order to find out (for a class project) what the founding fathers would have thought about the Iraq War, and whether the nation should be founded on a principal of fighting or protesting.

    At the "Continental Congress", Benjamin Franklin had this to say on the relative merits of going to war while allowing for protests against that war:

    And that means that as a nation, we could go to war with whomever we wished, but at the same time, act like we didn't want to. If we allow the people to protest what the government does, then the country will be forever blameless.

    Cartman summarizes it nicely:

    I learned somethin' today. This country was founded by some of the smartest thinkers the world has ever seen. And they knew one thing: that a truely great country can go to war, and at the same time, act like it doesn't want to. You people who are for the war, you need the protesters. Because they make the country look like it's made of sane, caring individuals. And you people who are anti-war, you need these flag-wavers, because, if our whole country was made up of nothing but soft pussy protesters, we'd get taken down in a second. That's why the founding fathers decided we should have both. It's called "having your cake and eating it too."

    Mmm...cake.

    Parker and Stone are careful not to take sides in the debate, but merely to take note of the inherent good of having two sides. Frankly, we lose sight of this too often. I will discuss more on this later, but we have to remind ourselves from time to time that our internal debates all focus on what is best for America. No matter how much we may disagree, we are not the enemy.

    There is an enemy, imbued with a radical violent ideology convinced to kill as many of us as possible, not constricted by the deterence of death. They're not joking around, despite the fact that it's been some time since we've been seriously attacked. Let's keep at least one eye on the ball.

    Link-o-rama

    A bunch of fun/interesting/infuriating/stimulating/possibly-inebriating links for the whole family:

    Vern reviews The Transporter 2 in his own inimitable style. Still the funniest, most insightful guy currently writing about movies, he makes a forgettable action flick into comedy gold. A brief excerpt:

    This is one cool motherfucker. In the opening scene he's besieged by a gang of carjackers and he protests the BMW is brand new and he doesn't want them to scratch it. They want to fight him and he stops them to say that his suit was just dry cleaned, and he takes off the jacket before beating them all silly. Later in the movie when he gets dragged across black paint and has a sleeve torn off you feel bad for him. Because this dry cleaning backstory has already been established. That's what I call some fuckin WRITING.


    Christopher Hitchens makes Jabawacefti very sad, by informing us that "Jewish power is overrated."

    Listen to Maui's non-commercial, listener supported radio station, Mana'o Radio, right HERE.

    Breeze over to The Raconteurs official site, and check out rock's newest supergroup, featuring Brendan Benson and Jack White. Check, as well, the totally badass retro look of the site.

    Learn more about Georgia's plan to teach "History and literature of the old testament and new testament era" in their public schools.

    Here's an early "review" of Disney's new stage musical, Tarzan. It's mostly a rant about how so many of the seats had obstructed views, but it also makes the show sound kind of neat.

    Calling Bushit On The AJC

    From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

    It was 9:30 on a recent Friday night when Denise Grier saw blue lights in her rearview mirror.

    "The officer asked if I knew I had a lewd decal on my car and I thought, 'Oh gosh, what did my kids put on my car?' " As it turns out, the decal was an anti-Bush bumper sticker Grier slapped on her 2001 Chrysler Sebring last summer. The bumper sticker — "I'm Tired Of All The BUSH—" — contains an expletive. The officer "said DeKalb had an ordinance about lewd decals and wrote me a ticket" for $100, said Grier, an oncology nurse at Emory University Hospital who lives in Athens.

    ...."This is all about free speech," Grier said in a telephone interview Monday. "The officer pulled me over because he didn't agree with my politics. That's what this is about, not whether I support Bush, not because of the war in Iraq, but about my right to free speech."....

    ....Grier, 47, the mother of four grown sons, is due in Recorder's Court on April 18. She has not removed the bumper sticker in question, or six other mostly politically oriented decals on her car. "I used to think that one person could not make a difference," said Grier. "Now I'm beginning to think one person can, and should. We shouldn't be afraid to stand up for what we believe in."

    Which, apparently, is the right to display lewd bumper stickers?

    Speaking purely personally, if Ms. Grier wants to make a difference, there's...well, lots of ways to do so that actually matter. Like, say, volunteering time for the needy.

    But what's interesting (on two levels) isn't Ms. Grier's weird sense of political priorities. It's the fact that 1) the bumper sticker in question apparently isn't "lewd," except in the most schoolmarm-ish sense, and 2) this article reports otherwise, despite supplying the evidence for lack of lewdness.

    Here's the bumper sticker:


    Get it? It's supposed to look like it says BULLSHIT, but it DOESN'T. It says BUSHIT.

    AHahahahahaha...

    So, the "obscenity" in question isn't actually an obscenity. Now, it may very well be the case that anything resembling an obscenity qualifies as "lewd" under state law. Stranger things have happened. But, still.

    More interesting to me is the Atlanta Journal-Constitution treats the word as an expletive, despite providing concrete evidence for us that it is not.

    I quote: "
    The bumper sticker — "I'm Tired Of All The BUSH—" — contains an expletive." No. It doesn't. There are no "L's" in the word you've excerpted for us, AJC. Just the words "Bush" and "It," mashed together for "comedic" effect. Whether that's funny is, I'd argue, a matter of opinion. Whether it's obscene is, I'd argue more strenuously, not.

    So why does the AJC go out of its way to paint it as such?


    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Lo, The Seventh Seal

    The end of the world is nigh:

    Quint here with a bit of news on a flick called HOW STARBUCKS SAVED MY LIFE, which has Tom Hanks attached and is currently in talks with Gus Van Sant to direct. The flick is at Universal and is about an older ad exec who gets laid off and ends up slinging Starbucks coffee to pay the bills. He learns about love and life from a young manager.

    Don't try to fight it, now. We're living in the end-times. Gather up your hats and glasses, and form two lines. Starbucks coffee will be provided. Obviously, God does not skimp on the halftime festivities, as he's thoughtfully employed Tom Hanks for the occasion.

    Immigration - The New Demagogue

    Well, I guess people are done talking about Iraq. Or at least, most people have come to the conclusion that for the time being, absent any significant changes on the ground, the whole lot of us will have to agree to disagree on the whole matter. Well, never you mind, we have an entirely new issue to demagogue. Meet the shiny new issue for the 24 hour a day cable talk shows - Immigration.

    What is most ironic about this matter is not what it says about the 12 million "undocumented" (i.e., illegal) workers in the United States, but what it says about the 300 million "documented" ones. Or, really, what it says about those chosen to legislate on their behalf. Our elected government (hereinafter "playa haters").

    One might expect more from Senator Clinton, the current Democratic frontrunner for the Presidential nomination (although we can all admit that means nothing at this point). Quite a smart woman, we're told. Well then, I'll assume that she knew what she was doing when she told a crowd of people that the efforts to curb illegal immigration would turn "probably even Jesus himself" into a criminal.

    Well of course it's wrong then. What kind of sick perverted monster would want to place the son of God (for a large majority of the American population) in prison? I know the Democrats are searching for a way to get back to the "values" voters, but is this the best way to start?

    I mean, if we're going to attack laws because of how they may have impacted Jesus, why stop there? I mean, you know how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (formerly the ATF) taxes alcohol production. Well, what about when Jesus turned water into wine. Are you saying you would have taxed Jesus for this?

    It doesn't stop there. The debate is getting dumber and dumber. Some on the "right" claim that anyone for granting amnesty toward these undocumented immigrants is allowing the country to be overun by millions who will take our jobs (see Lou Dobbs). Meanwhile, some on the "left" claim that anyone in favor of stricter immigration controls is xenophobic or racist. And the middle ... uh ... the ... well, there does not appear to be a middle.

    Note to aforementioned claimants - you bore me and tire me.

    The Second-Annual Irrelevants

    It's that time of year again. Spring is here, love is in the air, and the Oscars have come and gone. It's time once again to hand out Codemorse's annual Irrelevants (as in, "These awards are..."). All the picks come from movie's that I've actually seen, and may induce shaking rage in my fellow film buffs.

    To take a peek at last year's awards, click HERE. Feel free to offer your opinions and your thinly-veiled death threats in the comments section.

    Best Film I Saw Last Year – Serenity

    I am a whore for this movie. Or, in Serenity’s asian-cowboy patois, a “Companion” for this movie.

    Serenity is the film the Star Wars prequels should have been. Captain Malcolm Reynolds is the kind of verbose, funny, badass cowboy I’ve spent my life wanting to be. Mercenary Jayne Cobb is the kind of thick-headed, cold-blooded, merciless sonofabitch I fear I really am.

    Every character in the film reminds me of someone I know, or of a part of myself, except funnier, and braver.

    Was Serenity the “best” film of the year in terms of artistic achievement? Probably not. In a year that included both “Munich” and “A History Of Violence,” it’s tough to make that claim. But Serenity is everything I adore about the movies, all rolled up and lit for smoking. Serenity is the most entertaining, most exciting film I saw last year - and a film that few others saw at all. That’s a damn shame. Go. Now. Rent the Firefly box set. Then Serenity.

    Yes, right now.

    …Well?

    Worst Film I Saw Last Year – The Dukes of Hazzard

    How can the director/co-writer of one of the new century’s funniest films (Super Troopers – a movie that ages like fine wine-in-a-box) go on to make the cinematic equivalent of a black hole?

    And who’s bright idea was it to cast both Sean William Scott and Johnny Knoxville….and then instruct them not to be funny, at all costs?

    The Dukes of Hazzard is everything wrong with Hollywood, in a handy, shit-caked nutshell. Those of you claiming that you only saw the film to check out Jessica Simpson in those daisy dukes ought to mosey on down to the newsstand and pick up a Playboy, where you’ll see better looking women exposing more of themselves for less of your hard-earned cash.

    Everyone involved in this enterprise should be ashamed of themselves.

    Best Performance, Female – Maria Bello, A History of Violence

    Reese Witherspoon was terrific in Walk the Line. She deserved that Oscar, and the only reason I’m not awarding her the Irrelevant for her work is because Bello’s performance in Violence went (to my knowledge) entirely overlooked by the awards people this year.

    Damn fine work. Emotionally exhausting, un-showy, and aided by absolutely no beauty-defying makeup.

    And she looks great in a cheerleader’s outfit.

    Best Performance, Male – Eric Bana, Munich

    Whatever you think of Spielberg’s politics, Munich is a haunting, compelling, ultimately moving film and a large part of that credit goes to Eric Bana’s portrayal of Avner.

    Whether he’s sitting down to break bread with his fellow assassins at film’s beginning, or being abandoned by his handler at film’s end, Bana shows why he should be taken seriously as an actor, and why Philip Seymour Hoffman’s award for Capote was a joke.

    Single Greatest Moment In A Film This Year – The Alliance and Serenity face off

    Have I mentioned that I’m fond of Serenity? In a film chock-a-block with goodness, one stands above the others as the sort of sit-up-in-your-seat-and-get-excited moments that we go to the movies to find; The Indiana-Jones-is-about-to-get-run-over-by-a-damn-big-boulder moment. The Darth-Vader-is-his-WHAT?! moment. The standing-in-the-rain-as-a-free-man Shawshank moment.

    Watching Captain Reynold’s ship break from the clouds, heading straight toward a massive fleet of Alliance battleships in a game of sky-chicken, is like a shot of adrenaline chased with a sixer of Red Bull.

    Best Performance Only A Geek Could Appreciate – Chris Evans, Fantastic Four

    I think we can all agree that the Fantastic Four was not a great film.

    It was, however, a great showcase for what’s arguably the best/most-faithful adaptation of a comic book character to the big screen yet. Better than Bale’s Batman. Better than Maguire’s Spider-Man. Better than Shaquille O’Neill’s Steel.

    Chris Evans’ Johnny Storm was a revelation in a slightly-above-average film, perfectly capturing the cocky, balls-out hilarity of the Human Torch. When’s the last time you saw someone this excited to have super-powers? Evans leaps off the screen in FF, and his performance is (no pun intended) incendiary. If you’re a geek. Like me.

    Best Song – Hard Out Here For A Pimp

    For the first (and, I’m happily willing to wager, the last) time, the Academy and I agreed on Best Song this year. Watching Terrrence Howard and his ‘ho construct this song during Hustle and Flow was riveting.

    You don’t have to like or care about hip-hop to connect with Howard’s character in the film, or to find yourself nodding along to the pulse of the beat. Three 6 Mafia were the best thing about this year’s Oscars, and their song was the best of the year, hands-down.

    The Films I’m Most Looking Forward To:

    The Fountain, Southland Tales, Special, The Lady In The Water, Slither, X3, Superman.


    Monday, March 27, 2006

    A Liberal And A Conservative Walk In To A Blog...


    As Honorary Chairman of the Codemorse Welcoming Committee, it is my pleasure to extend a Laurel, and Hardy handshake to our new correspondent, Jabawacefti.

    Jabawacefti brings a conservative viewpoint to the site - along with a rapier wit, an appreciation for bizarre humor, and an enormous, lady-pleasing brain.

    It's my hope that adding him to the mix will result in more content, more conversation, and more converts. Also, some other words that begin with c.

    Let the wild rumpus begin!



    .

    I'm Honored

    Codemorse and Friends:

    I want to thank you for granting me the opportunity to interject my witless banter on an otherwise thoughtful site. I appreciate the opportunity and I promise to make it as interesting as possible.

    First and foremost, I would like to thank my good friend and best man in my upcoming wedding, Codemorse, a "warrior poet" standing athwart today's metrosexual world. May your love for meat on a stick never die. [Wow. Did that sound "Brokeback"? Well, what the hell. I'm amongst the openminded here. Let the fun begin.]

    There are so many things I'd like to discuss. And while I've generally been left alone at my law firm, there are many topics that I'll cover at the home of Codemorse.

    For the purposes of clarity and ease, I'll number them (although they will not necessarily be featured in this order):

    1) Clash of Civilizations? (Danish cartoons and Afghan Christian Converts)
    2) What does liberalism mean? Big L vs. small l liberalism.
    3) Is there true evil in this world or merely a different way of looking at it?
    4) Conservatives vs. Liberals - Who is more closeminded?
    5) Hamdi v. Rumsfeld - Does the Geneva Convention apply to the unlawful enemy combatant? Why should it not?
    6) What are our (US, Western, Democratic allies) values? Are they universal? Are they worth fighting for?
    7) What do they put in Frank's Red Hot that is so damn addictive?
    8) Abortion - who should decide its legality?
    9) What is a neoconservative?
    10) More, more, more....

    That's right friends. Get ready to break it down with your neoconservative nemesis. The Alpha to your Omega. The Joker to your Batman. The Lex Luthor to your Clark Kent.

    Anyway, it's getting close to sundown. Gotta feed. Hope I don't run into anyone...