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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 American -- we had a "Civil Rights Moment" that has allowed some people to just assume that all problems were solved.  They do not like to be reminded that it's a process, not a moment, and that problems linger.  They outright deny the facts.

I know this would be unpopular with Dagblog but, since we're friends, I'll be blunt about it. I don't feel like the country was as chaotic during other presidents. However charismatic he seemed in 2008, Barack Obama is almost painful to listen to now. He is an awful, confused and confusing leader. I am seriously thinking about Republican in 2016 if there aren't better choices - Ben Carson and Rand Paul certainly seem like serious possibilities. Why would this be a mistake? How would things be different with Republicans in charge?

I just read the Frank Rich/Chris Rock interview in New York.  The whole thing is great, definitely read it.  Rock says that a difference between George W. Bush and Obama is that Bush was willing to be the president of just the people who voted for him.  Obama, meanwhile, has spent his time trying to be everyone's president and, to his detriment, he has spent a lot of time trying to court people who will never, ever like him.  Bush never cared about converting those people.  That's also what Mitt Romney was trying to say when he made his 47% comment.  "Those people will never like me so I am not going to waste time on them," is what he wanted to say.  That makes a certain amount of sense.  if you spend your middle school dance chasing the cheerleader around the dance floor while you ignore the girls you're actually friends with, you won't end the night having danced with anyone.  Obama wants to bring people together who do not want to be together.  It's as if he's hosting The Dating Game but with contestants who signed up for The Family Feud.  I am out of similes now.
Ben Carson and Rand Paul both seem unpresidential to me.  Rand Paul just blamed Garner's death on cigarette taxes.  Carson has thrown around the "Nazi" word way too many times.  They aren't serious candidates.  If you are going to vote Republican, you are voting for Jeb Bush.

What is going right in the world? What gives you hope, confidence or inspiration?

Frank Rich, Chris Rock, the enduring legacy of David Foster Wallace, a Federal Reserve that saved the economy in spite of the government... not everything is bad.
On more light hearted things, the new Star Wars Episode VII teaser trailer was released. One thing I thought immediately was "Wow, this looks like a real movie." What did you think?
It looks like fun!  But I was really hoping for an update on Naboo's trade surplus.

I am enjoying Star Wars Rebels - however, I haven't yet been gripped the way I was with Clone Wars. There is still a ways to go. What do you think so far?
I think the first season of Clone Wars wasn't an immediate hook either.  First season, ensemble sci-fi is always hard as there is so much to establish about the characters and their relationships.  Happened to Star Trek: The Next Generation, as well.  That took three seasons to get going.  But that was a more civilized aged.  Now, we expect things to click more quickly.  I think the Inquisitor seems a little silly with his spinning lightsaber.

Do you think Ahsoka Tano will have a return to the Star Wars world? As far as we know, she survived the rise of the Empire and the Jedi Purge.

I wonder... How did she even survive?  No way Vader forgot her like he forgot C3PO, right?  If she did come back, she'd be a unique character because she'd be a trained Jedi who stayed hidden throughout the rebellion and, unlike every other Jedi, she is the only one who left the order before it was bamboozled by the emperor.  Of all of them, including Yoda, she was the only one who knew something had gone very, very wrong.  So, if they bring her back she should be brought back as a "better than Yoda" type of guru.

Maiello's Questions For Orion:

Garner was choked to death on film and the guy who filmed it was indicted on a weapons possession charge even as Daniel Pantaleo, filmed murdering somebody, walked.  What does this expose about police body cameras as a solution to police brutality?

I haven't been in exactly that situation but I was in a situation when Jen kept videotaping the hospital when she was going on various drug seeking adventures. The people at the hospital were pretty aggressive in getting me to delete that stuff from her phone, though they backed off when they reached the point where they might seem like they were being aggressive to me as an individual. You have alot of behavior with people in authority now that it is pretty antidemocratic.

I think we should just accept the possibility or more crime in exchange for less law enforcement.  Would you make a bargain like that in America?

I actually have a bit of a different take. If you look at a guy like James Holmes, he attacked a movie theater wearing military gear. Weapons enthusiasts are all about the AR-15 and weapons like that, weapons that signify military action. The state sets the standard on firearms control, people only mimic it. I think if law enforcement was pushed back, alot of violent crime would be pushed back at the same time. Societies often reflect their governments. Without a state that seeks out conflicts in order to perpetuate itself, the most advanced a firearm might be would a rifle, which is somewhere in between a bow and arrow and a chainsaw in lethality.

Disarming the police and the larger police state is a critical part of making this country a more sane and safe place. I am for firearm regulation that would keep weapons out of the hands of an Adam Lanza or James Holmes but that regulation means nothing and is in fact harmful if police are still equipped with weapons. They are the ones who define a firearm as a weapon to be used on people in the first place. No one is free as long as they are armed.

I said earlier that if you vote Republican in 2016, you're voting Jeb Bush. Well, would you?

No, my saying that was very emotive. I do feel like the country has gotten significantly worse during the Obama years but the reasons why aren't really concrete or easy to identify. I seen some things in this country during the Obama years that I only ever saw in news articles or history books of other countries - I have seen cops goose steeping like they are in the Sudetanland and swastikas spray painted on people's car outside of church. I've seen these things up close and not on TV or the internet too. I remember the Bush years and TSA security was annoying but I never thought they'd point an AR-15 in my face.

Cornel West called Obama a "neoliberal opportunist" and I think that's accurate. He has intervened in more countries than Bush, has kept Guantanamo open for six whole years, bluntly proclaimed that his foreign policy would be about taking oil by force in front of the United Nations, accelerated programs that gave police departments the sort of gear you saw in Ferguson and bragged to his staff that he's "really good at killing people." This country has been the worst I've ever seen it under him.

 I would be willing to vote for conservative if it meant this world would go back to what I grew up with. I have alot of conservative and religious friends and they have been talking through me there too. There's been some really failures in leadership. This country has had enough Bushes though - I don't think it needs anymore.

My ideal political leadership would be someone like Archbishop Blase Cupich, who Pope Francis appointed to the Archdiocese in Chicago. A reverence for the community institutions that keep society together and an understanding of the vitality of social services is a potent mix and requires Left-Right understanding. Without reverence for these institutions, society will just be cannibalistic. Bernie Sanders might be the lesser of all evils but only if he is willing to run.

Do you think that Hillary would be a more focused leader than Obama and potentially less worried about pleasing the other side?

I think that endless wars are one of the most serious problems we have and have alot to do with our infrastructure as a society collapsing in on itself.  Hillary Clinton has supported the American Empire from the beginning, she has never been a voice of dissent and she has alot to do with our police looking like the Clone Army from Star Wars. Rand Paul would be preferable to her, in my view.

I've had arguments with progressives about the wars and some have acted like those wars are an abstract thing but they suck very real money out of our pockets that could go to anything from new bridges and highways to Social Security. I don't think Hillary Clinton could contribute to this country positively unless she makes a sane foreign policy part of her agenda.

What music are you listening to these days?  You always know the underground stuff that I don't.

Yelawolf. Yelawolf is part of Eminem's label, Shady Records. Eminem put alot of effort in to not just getting his career back on track but also bringing other rappers on board when he made his comeback. He has a new album coming out called Love Story and the three songs I've heard, "Honey Brown," "Box Chevy V" and "Til I'm Gone" are really good.

Yelawolf is from Alabama and he is a big fan of outlaw country. Guys like Johnny Cash, Shooter Jennings, that sort of thing. The guitar on "Til I'm Gone" sounds a whole lot like "Ain't No Grave," one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs. Yela doesn't really care what genre he is doing - he'll be country, hip-hop and electronica and not apologize about it.

Kendrick Lamar is pretty dope too. He's a Dr. Dre signee - it's sort of funny how that whole clique around Dr. Dre has sort of defined hip-hop. Dre's hands have been in almost all the hip-hop artists that have ever really mattered. 


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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.

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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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