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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them in check I believe that Republicans would have privatized the Social Security system by now and that they'd have repealed Obamacare.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 all pick up the phone when Jamie Dimon calls.  If the same people pay their bills, how different can they afford to be?

Marijuana is now legal in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. Thoughts?

As a white guy, marijuana has basically been legal for me all my life.  That's really the truth of it.  Sure, if I had committed some other crime and marijuana had been around, things could have been worse but it's been barely prohibited for me so long as I wasn't in the wrong neighborhood or calling undo attention to it.  Changing these laws is really necessary for the people who the police have bludgeoned with this prohibition of a harmless, consensual act.  I hope more states follow suit.  We won't really have justice on this issue until the federal government realizes that it never had any business enforcing this law in the first place.  Honestly, this should be just about repealing laws.  Anybody in jail for a non-violent marijuana offense should be immediately released and compensated.  Anyone with a conviction should have their record expunged.  Changing minds is great but now we should make amends.

My home state, Washington, approved universal background checks for firearms purchases. I have read your stuff on gun violence and I think it's one of the few sane voices. What did you think of this decision?

It's a great move.  I don't understand the logic of saying that licensed gun dealers have to perform checks but that any guy who needs to turn an old gun into quick cash can just hand it over in a handshake deal. I think if I did that with dynamite or industrial waste I'd get in trouble.  So, good on Washington voters for recognizing that guns are no more sacred than we make them,

I bet that if the Founding Fathers could see how this whole second amendment thing turned out they either would have cut it or written it differently.

I have a personal question! I am a big fan of your family pictures with your wife and son. Nevertheless, some of them reminded me of a dad I met at a Gary Numan concert once. He brought his son to see Numan and his son hated industrial music. Does your son share your sci-fi and comic book tastes? What differences are there?

He likes Star Wars and he likes Marvel heroes.  This is very much because I pushed both on him, though I also believe that George Lucas was just a genius at communicating to young males.  He loves R2-D2.  He loves Chopper, the astromech droid from the new series. Oh man, I wrote astromech.  Nerd alert!

He's been a Marvel hero for the last three Halloweens. Captain America, Thor, Red Hulk and Green Hulk. Yeah. he did both Hulks this year.  That Red Hulk costume revealed every one of the comic book fan dads of kids in his pre-school class.

That said, he definitely has his own tastes. I'm under no illusion that he's going to like things just because I say so.  Eventually, he'll get into not liking things just because I like them and, of course, purposefully liking what I can't stand.  I'll just tell him that I can't stand Beth Phoenix.

Maiello's Questions For Orion

We complain a lot about "conservatives" but what do you think are the good things that conservative political thought brings to the U.S. and the world?  What should we appreciate?

For a group of people that embrace individualism and free market economics unapologetically, the Right understands community and communitarian impulses on a much less superficial level than liberals. When Dems lose, liberals tell me that the Right is going to cut SNAP and Social Security, as if that is all that is needed for community building and really empowering people. When you add up all the churches that are in America and how heavily involved they are in communities, that is way more powerful than the Social Security budget. 

One of the best conservative books ever written, in my personal opinion, is Robert Nisbet's book Quest for Community. I cleansed myself of alot of things when I left the Right but I did look in to Nisbet heavily and he is the real deal as far as serious conservative intellectuals go. That book genuinely asked why both fascism and communism ended up appealing to so many in the world and led to World War II. His assessment was that the erosion of community from an embrace of the state caused it. Now, I think that is a bit wrong - a market economy is as responsible as the state is for community falling apart. Conservatives are the only ones who will talk about the breakdown of the traditional family - about how society made absentee fathers socially acceptable or tried to medicate the problems out of children who were born in such families. 

Likewise, whether leftists like it or not, religion is a reality of every society on earth. It is how most human beings philosophized and guessed at the meaning of our existence. The Right knows how to tap in to that. There is actually a lot going on in the world of the religious left, possibly more than the right, but we are left in puzzlement and often plagued for resources because much of the Left is both hostile and strangely ignorant about the world of faith. It seems bizarre to me that one would even try to function in society and be so ignorant about a huge swath of human experience but that is the case for many on the Left. It further puzzles me that many people go all the way through a Bachelor's level education without knowing the basics of the world's faiths.

Also, conservatives are correct in their assessment of many state institutions. I lived in public housing for two years and the feeling of being in a machine was horrible. I've been living in a community situation for the last few weeks and community and brotherhood really does make more effective socialism than what the state provides. The state is good for redistributing funds but it is often oblivious to human emotional needs.

Do you watch Agents of Shield?  If so, thoughts?

I tried and I didn't like it. Making a spy show out of Marvel is just a bit weird to me. I think it would have made more sense to have a Marvel show that is more exclusively powers and superhero based - like imagine Peter David's run on X-Factor in a TV show. Fantastic Four could work as a show. I am very excited about the Daredevil Netflix show.

What I am excited about, though, is Marvel is putting out a series called X-Men 92. It's the team from the classic Fox cartoon, which essentially was a spruced up version of the Claremont team. I don't know long it will last but it's a genius idea. That still is the X-Men for me.

What music are you listening to these days?

I am back in California. I was considered moving back again but my mom convinced me that CA is the place for me. My mood has lightened as it usually does when I am here. While I listen to alot of rough music like Nine Inch Nails or Gary Numan typically, my musical blend has lightened a bit while I've been in California. I've been listening to alot of country - the greats of course. Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zadnt, etc. I was listening to Wilco this morning.

Jamie Dimon used $9 billion of shareholder money to stop the government from prosecuting bankers after the financial crisis.  He didn't buy off the government, you did it for him and so did I?  What can be done?

I may have been sounding conservative a bit ago but I am a radical. The money that gets placed in the hands of predators like him could end up in the hands of families. We should have a constitutional amendment that prohibits bailouts of large corporations. If we're really about a "free market," whatever that is or wherever it has ever existed outside of the mind of Ayn Rand, then let companies that take advantage of people's trusts fail.


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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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