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Pope Francis, Barack Obama And Buying In To Power

What makes a radical? What makes someone give up on moderation, stick to their principles and tell the world to get with it or fuck off?

I have been involved with Gonzo Times and the community around it since roughly 2010. It's been five years of arguing and brotherly bonds. I ran Gonzo Times for a brief time before giving it back to the founder, Punk Johnny Cash, earlier this year.

I think that the members of the Gonzo community have as many disagreements as agreements. I have disagreed with Josh over gun control - although he has made me come around to seeing disarming the police as a prerequisite that is necessary before private citizens are ever disarmed. I have disagreed with Luis about prescription drugs for behavioral disorders.

What is the unitary thing? I noticed, bizarrely, that almost every single member of the Gonzo community had, once upon a time, been a conservative or libertarian. I don't think there are actually exceptions to that.

Libertarianism and conservat…

Thomas Merton and the Synergy of Christianity and Buddhism

I have a new article at the Hampton Institute! Colin Jenkins has been allowing me to contribute there for a bit over a year now. He has encouraged me several times to write more religious material and I was initially reluctant because I didn't think I had enough knowledge about it yet. I feel much more confident and this point and I can proudly say that this is only the start of more to come:

I had a very interesting conversation with a good friend recently. My friend is a lifelong Catholic who has attracted more recently to evangelical faiths of the "personal savior" variety. I mentioned to him Thomas Merton, who he had never heard of, much to both my surprise and his.

My friend is more on the fundamentalist spectrum of things, which is okay - unlike many progressive Christians, I don't think fundamentalism is completely out of bounds. I told my friend about the parallels between Buddhism and Christianity, and he began to say he was "worried" that…

Rethinking Feminism

Feminism is a topic I have been weary and careful about writing at Radical Second Things. I have written up articles about it and scrapped them and considered writing them anonymously. (Writing an article anonymously would be stupid - where would I write it that no one would connect it with me? Also, my style is fairly unique and I think anyone who knew about me would figure out who wrote it.)
 I am a man. I'm not a woman. I don't know what it's like to be a woman in this world and never will. I like to think I am empathetic and have long accepted that we live in a multilayered people - people can adopt views that may cast me in an unfair light while being totally rational, building off of their personal experience. This makes identity politics and gender politics especially extremely difficult to talk about without loading it with all sort of subjective analysis - we ultimately cannot truly understand the other person's experience unless we have lived it.


A Journey Through Post-Protest Berkeley

As of at least right now, I am living in Berkeley, California - the home of America's top public university, the site of the Free Speech Movement fifty years ago and a bastion of progressivism and radicalism. It shouldn't come as a big shocker that the riots and protests taking off after the non-indictments of several police officers who killed unarmed men have taken root in such a place.

It's been a bit strange - for a couple days helicopters were very, very present overhead and a pizza guy even said to me, "Stay safe out there." The BART train closed very early in the afternoon. The pictures I took were during the day, when the protests were either over or had moved on to elsewhere:

The couple and I got a pretty cool conversation about Hillary and who the political candidates were that, if not anti-war, were at least reluctant about war. She mentioned Bernie Sanders and I mentioned Rand Paul, which caused her to cringe. The boyfriend in the couple, Lucas Oshun,…

Maiello And Orion Do It Again: Star Wars, Police Brutality, Obama And 2016

Orion's Questions For Maiello

With this Eric Garner ruling, Michael Brown, etc. - it really feels like this country is a big chaotic mess. I watch and digest international news and no other countries in such bizarre disarray. What is wrong?

America's race problems are unique but we're not the only country with them. When you say "no other countries," I guess you mean developed, Western style democracies.  Spend any time in Nigeria and you will see disarray.  In France there has been significant unrest over the years and enormous prejudice.  But I do think that police cultures are different in Europe.  Perhaps less likely to shoot first and even less likely to have a gun in the first place.  I am reluctant to say, though, that you are necessarily less likely to be roughed up by a cop in London or Paris or Berlin.  Brutality is universal.  Police have power and it generally corrupts them no matter where you are.
Here is something that may be uniquely A…

Canvassing And The Why The Left Alienates Everyone

I quit a canvassing job yesterday. I did it pretty abruptly and without explanation. The job was with a pretty well respected left wing think tank based in the South (that should be enough for people to figure it out if they are in the know how). I liked the work they did but I hated the way canvassing works.

The last canvassing group I worked with, CalPIRG, straight up closed their offices in Berkeley very abruptly. A market based economy has pretty simple logic so the larger business must have shut it down because it was not making a profit. I asked a friend who worked for Human Rights Campaign about it and she said that most organizations like that are hurting.

Why is that? Why would they be hurting, in the second term of a progressive, black presidency? Why would they have trouble in Berkeley, California, easily the most liberal city in the United States? My landlord encapsulated it a little too well, "I was homeless for a year and a half in this city and I knew I'd never…

Interview With Poet Beneficient Richard-Yves Sitoski

Hello all! Richard-Yves Sitoski and I have never met but we became friends through mourning of our common lover and friend Jennifer Lauren Reimer. His upcoming poetry project peeked my interest though I will admit this interview took place a couple months ago. It got put off simply because alot of stuff was happening in my life of late. I'm very, sorry, Richard! Enjoy.

Why poetry? What pushed you to this art form instead of art, songwriting or novel 


Truth be known, I do practise all those forms, and for the longest time saw myself primarily as a

fiction writer.  I came to poetry comparatively late in my (artistic) life, in my 30’s.  Oh, I’ve

always read it, but never found a way to access that inherent musicality that is within us all.  The

big push came when I began attending open mics here in Owen Sound.  This is a musical town,

with a musical culture far more significant than what one would expect given its size.  When I

moved here I got the feeling that this might not …

Maiello And Orion Talk Comics, Pot And Conservatives

Orion's Questions For Maiello
A Republican majority! I had trouble getting upset about this. Aside from support of a few social programs, I have seen little difference besides culture wars stuff between the two political parties. Nevertheless, some found Republican victories very disturbing. What do you think?

I'm not too disturbed.  Obama has the power to veto any legislation he doesn't like, after all.  If it comes to that and he fails to use that power, I will certainly be disturbed.  I see plenty of differences between the parties, particularly after the Republicans allowed the Tea Party elements to take over.  Without Democrats to keep them in check I believe that Republicans would have privatized the Social Security system by now and that they'd have repealed Obamacare.  They would have cut public assistance to people right during the worst of the Great Recession.  These elections do matter.

On the other hand, as you say, both parties serve the same masters.  They…

Dia de Los Muerto's, Spirituality and the Uncommon Acknowledgment of Death

I have been a native, with ebb and flow, of the Bay Area most of my life. I have spent well on at least a quarter of my life here. Nevertheless, despite going to Pride, various events at UC Berkeley and Cal State East Bay, it wasn't until this past week that I ever went to the huge Dia de Los Muerto's event in San Francisco.
Dia de Los Muerto's is an unusual event from just a human perspective. Death is something most human beings only tacitly accept. Few ever face it head on. The fear is almost unreal. There is also a level of denial among many about it. A lot of people act as if firearms, hard drugs or other creations that kill human beings are hyped up and not dangerous at all. Many people have long acted as if war is something beyond just an insane orgy of killing and viewed it with romance.
Dia de Los Muerto's faces death face first, however. The name itself has "Dead" at its center and the makeup, which almost all attendees including me, put on is distu…

Sexual Harassment Towards Men Is A Thing (But Not What You Think)

By now, you have probably seen the video of the woman in New York who videoed herself getting cat called throughout a day in New York City. There's all sorts of things people have said about it and I'm not going to add to them - I have been right next to attractive female friends when they have been cat called and I have no doubts about what women face.

I am going to add my own little experience to it though - it's something most men probably ignore and don't even talk about. Unlike the harassment women face, it's not in your face but it's nonetheless annoying. You know what I mean - online sexual harassment.

Today I got this message in my inbox, along with this image of a "23 year old" (whoever that young lady is, I hope she is both aware that her visage is being used and is safe - if you know her and find this worrying, please contact me and I can provide the e-mail and we can possibly get law enforcement involved) woman:

From the message: "my dig…

God Is Necessary - But The Church Isn't Necessarily Necessary

I was homeless for a decent amount of time in Seattle around about 2012 (Unlike others who have been, I am not afraid of that word.). Like a lot of people who were homeless in that area, I would have breakfast at McDonald's. One morning, I somehow ended up talking about science and religion with this acquaintance I made while waiting for McD's. He told me that he was ambivalent about a lot of scripture but said bluntly, "It's a little obvious that there's something more significant in this universe than a human being." That seems obvious to me too but recognition of that comes with a great deal of humility and a recognition that your place on this earth is a bit limited in its actual significance. Many people aren't ready to do that.

It had never been my primary issue but I had mocked faith in my past. I had a friend who was totally literal about Adam and Eve and creation and as an educated person, I couldn't help but think he was living in a fantasy …

Barack Obama Is A Bad President

I am a radical. This website has "radical" in its description. I abhor racism, discrimination and an unchecked and unregulated capitalist system like the United States has. These are all true despite my past in the libertarian world. This article is not meant to endorse the artistocratic policies of George W. Bush but rather those of a more humanistic radicalism like what we see from left wing leaders in Latin America like Jose Mujica of Uraguay.

I do not and will not ever call myself a "progressive," however. Progressive is an American term that the Democratic Party in the United States adopted in the years preceding and then following the election of Barack Obama and its a term that I think will lose its appeal as it becomes associated with this bizarrely horrible tenure of our 44th president. Despite, and in my own view, because of those radical principles, I greatly look forward to Barack Obama leaving office in 2016.

This country has become dramatically worse …

Josh Deeds Reviews "Genius"

Josh Deeds is a pretty good friend of mine. I'm proud of getting him in to the Hampton Institution and am very happy that he is willing to write for Radical Second Things. Josh is a big comic nerd and I hope this will be one of many like this. 

"Genius" is a comic that touches upon a very real problem in America's urban communities today. Violence and economic apartheid is visited upon minority communities in America. Violence disproportionately used against minorities due to internalized and blatant racism in America's police culture. Mike Brown was a recent victim of this culture.
In the beginning we see our main character Destiny as one of the prominent gang leaders girlfriends, she is wise as she takes advantage of this relationship and learns the business of running a gang. She uses her sexuality to take control in order to learn from her boyfriend. When he dies, she takes over and puts the gang into radical territory.
In what would have been a Po…

My Latest Article On Pope Francis

My latest article, published in Tikkun:

Pope Francis’ recent appointment of Blasé Cupich — a progressive bishop from Spokane, Washington — to replace the reactionary Cardinal Francis George as the leader of the Archdiocese of Chicago shows that Pope Francis is intent on reviving liberation theology not just in the Vatican and in the developing world but also within the ranks of U.S. Catholic leadership.

The leadership of the Archdiocese of Chicago is a huge role, as it involves a position of authority over two million Catholics. The Pope’s new pick, Cupich, is the opposite of Cardinal George, a reactionary who had butted heads with the Obama administration and compared gay pride parades to the Ku Klux Klan. In sharp contrast, Cupich has used his pulpit to condemn as “provocative” the Catholics who protested against abortion rights in front of Planned Parenthood. And during the election cycle of a referendum on gay marriage in Washington state, Cupich even expressed conce…

Conversation With An Atheist

M: Hello, how are you today?

A: I hate religion.

M: Why do you hate religion?

A: I hate religion.

M: No, I mean beyond that.

A: The Bible is a book of ancient mystical hocus pocus and magic that went way past its shelf life. The sooner the world realizes this, the better.

M: Okay, so it is The Bible you don't like, not religion - all religion, Eastern or Western, that you hate. What do you hate about it?

A: The Bible encourages oppression of women and killing of gays.

M: Well there is a forbiddance of gays in the Torah but not in the New Testament. There's no mention at all. And Christ stopped a prostitute from being executed. That's hardly oppressing women.

A: I hate religion.

M: I realize that. I'm just trying to understand where you're coming from.

A: You can't understand anything. You're stupid, ignorant and a mouth breather. Anyone enlightened believes in science.

M: In science? Okay, what do you make of the fact that interstellar chemicals resemble D…

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About Radical Second Things

Michael Orion is a blogger, writer, artist and photographer based in the Bay Area. Besides his maintenance and promotion of Radical Second Things, he contributes to the San Francisco newspaper SF Western Edition, where he writes about local non-profit organizations.

Mark Cappetta is a practicing Catholic and active LGBT activist. He has been instrumental in keeping Radical Second Things and updates the Facebook account almost daily.

Eva Gnostiquette is an artist, programmer, "future scientist," bi-trans girl and graphic designer. She voluntarily helped to create the first print issue Radical Second Things and designed our beautiful banners. Thanks so much, Eva!

Jordan Denato is a professional artist based out of Iowa. He took the initiative to illustrate both Jennifer Reimer's story and Michael Orion's Oscar Romero work. He has his own art studio, Tar and Feather Studios, and is a critical part of Radical Second Things.

Radical Second Things is a liberation theology themed blog that has clear cut goals - we see the structural decline of the United States and much of the west and hope to present alternatives that will offer "a preferential option for the poor" as more become vulnerable.

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