Thursday, June 27, 2013

Getting It Out of Our Systems (and the Systems Out of Us)

Gay activists are pretty happy with the Supreme Court’s decisions this week, but it was also a good week for the multilayered federalist system. 

When America’s in doubt (and especially, to my mind, when even some libertarians are a bit torn about how to handle things), punting to the states at least avoids everyone having to fight viciously for one-size-fits-all, centralized victory.  Even when it means Arizona enforcing immigration regs that may soon be obsolete or California making extra-onerous climate regs, at least the state-by-state method allows for some variation and experimentation (though individual property rights remain my favorite sweeping, all-purpose systems-hack, of course). 

Indeed, I very much look forward to (repeatedly-arrested but unbowed) libertarian activist Adam Kokesh’s planned fifty-state-capitols July 4 protests calling for all fifty states to secede simultaneously from Washington, DC (replacing his less-ambitious, but potentially more-dangerous, earlier plan for an armed DC pro-gun march that day).  Diversity is strength, after all, and the mass-secession plan has the Constitution and history on its side – instead of just anarchist/libertarian theories that not all states or citizens would necessarily like. 

Secession might prove the path of least resistance for those who want to maximize resistance, so to speak – and, hey, it’s not like only pro-slavery states can secede.  Consider the beneficial break-up of the USSR, which may not have been as unlike us as we used to think. 


I’m happy to see the feds be gender-neutral on marriage and at the same time to let states (outside the Ninth Circuit, presumably) keep wrestling with the issue – though I keep hoping social conservatives will just give up, I admit, since I don’t want these issues to keep splitting the free-market portion of the electorate. 

As the print record will show, I had hoped the rise of (somewhat “conservative”) gay commitment ceremonies in the 90s might mollify the social conservatives, then hoped the early-00s knocking down of sodomy laws by the Supreme Court might get conservatives to give up on that stuff and just stay focused on econ, then hoped some compromise would be reached on gay marriage...though people keep fighting this battle, plainly, alienating various potential GOP voters in the process.

(Even very-Christian Rand Paul would pretty clearly like the issue to stay at the state level so he doesn’t have to touch it, and his aged dad was moving that way on the issue by the time of his final presidential campaign, despite some very-nearly-unlibertarian deviations on the issue earlier in his career.  I watch Rand Paul’s delicate libertarian/GOP/mainstream balancing act with almost as much tension as I did Nik Wallenda’s dizzying tetherless tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon.)


Being radical enough to get something big accomplished while also seeming moderate enough not to be marginalized is a tricky game that recurs in many contexts: As befits the climactic entry of this blog’s “Month of Systems,” I’m really talking about the challenge of working within the system to drastically alter the system. 

Whether the topic is constitutionalism, philosophy, or conflict-resolution in general, everyone tends to sense that appearing to be in the “neutral” position is an easy route to victory-by-default (though any pretense of neutrality is usually a bit phony).  I was reminded of two thinkers I like who manage to sound pragmatic/moderate and still have very radical implications, David Stockman and Jonathan Haidt, when I saw the former speak at a Reason event and the latter in the audience for the talk, earlier this week. 

And here’s hoping that a feminist out there trusts me to be neutral-despite-some-radical-notions when I moderate my planned July 9 onstage Dionysium debate on evolutionary psychology (and the question of whether gender roles are more determined by nature or nurture).  We have our ev-psych/“nature” debater (Diana Fleischman) and will need to finalize her feminist foe very soon, so by all means contact me if you want to be that feminist (we’re very civil, really – civility and humor are also good defaults, after all). 

After that biological-systems-hacking debate (so to speak), August 12 will bring our econ-hacking debate on Bitcoin, so join us (possibly even volunteering to be a debater) for that, too.

Every Dionysium debate is a potential shock to the system, though.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

BOOK NOTE: “Crisis on Multiple Earths, Vol. 6” and “Godzilla: The Half-Century War”

•Long, oft-told story short: comic book superheroes (and some sci-fi characters) have undergone so many revisions over the past eighty years that the writers eventually, inevitably, want to do stories in which different versions of the same characters meet each other.  Thus, for example, DC Comics’ periodic “Crisis” stories in which characters hop universes to meet, say, the World War II-era versions of themselves. 

DC just put out a sixth (and probably second-to-last) volume of Crisis on Multiple Earths stories of that sort that they did prior to the big 1985 team-up in which they smooshed all their fictional universes into one for simplicity (at least for a couple decades). 

Stories like these will likely have at least a little influence on the tone of eventual Justice League movies, though for now it sounds far more likely DC’s parent company, Warner Bros., will focus on Man of Steel sequels. 

These stories will also be echoed in an explicitly meta-fictional fashion by my favorite comics writer, Grant Morrison, in his upcoming Multiversity miniseries, riffing on the rarely-mentioned but intriguing idea that some DC Comics universes are considered “fiction” (and read about in comics) by the inhabitants of other universes.

•As befits this blog’s “Month of Systems,” it’s all evidence that the nerd mind specifically, and the human mind generally, likes to weave sufficiently complex things into more tidy and elegant systems, for good or ill. 

You’d think Godzilla – being a big, dumb, lumbering reptile-monster instead of a confluence of alternate realities – would be less prone to such systematizing efforts (Destroy All Monsters! and the fragile ecosystem of Monster Island notwithstanding), but in the beautifully-drawn (and now anthologized) comic book Godzilla: The Half-Century War by James Stokoe, you can see a bit of the systematizing nerd-impulse at work. 

Stokoe takes the (over) half-century of depictions of one of the most famous monsters in movie history and asks what it might be like if the creature had actually lived that long and been tracked (and periodically fought) all that time by two determined, stoic military men.  The result is great balance between the tone of the movies I loved as a four year-old and the bittersweet tone of much manga and anime. 

You might read it as prep for next month’s heavily Japanese-influenced, robots-vs.-giant-monsters movie by Guillermo Del Toro, Pacific Rim.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

BOOK NOTE: “Why Coolidge Matters” by Charles Johnson

I’m off to a Reason-organized talk by David Stockman shortly.  It’s interesting how much his stock has risen, perhaps especially among conservatives, as he continues the economic-doom talk that got him denounced in the Reagan years for failure to be a team player.  (Perhaps one day it will also be more acceptable among conservatives to favor increased immigration, and Reason has something to say about that, too, or at least Shikha Sood Dalmia draws some lessons from Canada.)

Charles Johnson (who might disagree with me, Dalmia, and for that matter Reagan on immigration) thinks Calvin Coolidge is due for a favorable reevaluation, too (he’s already my favorite president, not that I’m saying there should be a government at all).  When not researching nefarious living politicians, Johnson (a young Publius Fellow and one of my fellow Novak Fellows) found time to write Why Coolidge Matters: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Underrated President, and he makes a great case that both Coolidge’s many detractors and his libertarian defenders tend to mistake his very active – but laissez-faire – leadership for a sleepy, do-nothing style. 

Coolidge here comes off as a tough decision-maker, albeit one whose tendency to pick non-regulatory and non-tax solutions looked like neglect to many intellectuals of his day and, soon, to the Progressive historians who have since shaped how we see Coolidge. 

To many, he is mainly remembered as the president before Hoover and thus, presumably, one more person to blame for the subsequent Depression – but whereas the Depression may have been slightly exacerbated by Hoover and greatly exacerbated by FDR (conventional wisdom notwithstanding), it’s worth noting that the 1920s prosperity Coolidge oversaw increased American living standards by about half, with a substantial portion of those gains withstanding even the subsequent Crash.

Coolidge as seen here should be of interest not only to libertarians but to fusionist conservatives, since Coolidge blends even more seamlessly than Reagan (who was influenced by Coolidge) a belief in laissez-faire and a humbly-religious belief that America owed its prosperity and success to a traditional moral foundation. 

Progressives (if they’re open-minded!) might be intrigued by the fact that Coolidge, as a Vermonter and then governor of Massachusetts, before becoming vice president and president, was very much a Progressive in the early-twentieth-century mold – but one who quickly became disillusioned with the gap between legislative intentions and real-world outcomes.  He often complained that America had begun legislating faster than it could manage, predict, or understand the fallout of law-making. 

I can only imagine Coolidge would be as chronically-horrified as Ron Paul if he saw Congress in action today with its massive, unread bills (including, admittedly, immigration reform). 

Here are ten bits from Why Coolidge Matters that particularly caught my eye:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Don’t Look Down While Using the System, Man! (plus Troll Stroll photos)

Fittingly, as this blog’s “Month of Systems” reaches its final week and America waits to see if marriage will be legally redefined, I find myself looking to recruit someone to argue the “nurture” side of a July 9 debate on whether sex roles are primarily a product of nature or nurture (arguing “nature” will be evolutionary psychology professor and fine human specimen Diana Fleischman). 

I may have a lead on a transgender anthropologist interested in arguing the “nurture” side (as you might imagine), but one hates to count one’s chicks, etc.

Biology and mainstream culture both tend to be treated as straitjackets in some debates of this sort -- but you might argue that science/biology makes both mainstream culture and more subjective forms of radicalism look like shifting and arbitrary things by comparison. 

I blogged in the previous entry, from my own skeptical perspective, about the mystical/spiritual outlook being at times a form of open-mindedness.  Of course, the main problem with views adopted from gut instinct or aesthetic preference is that they will tend to be arbitrary and nonetheless to get asserted as if descriptive of external reality. 

And so, for one thing, we find ourselves awaiting word from the Supreme Court this week about whether gay people can marry, largely because some people think God says they can’t -- though that’s admittedly making a long story I’m not terribly interested in short, etc. 

But I picked up a couple religion-inflected free magazines at a Columbia conference on marriage where my friend Dawn Eden spoke -- an issue each of Touchstone (January/February 2013) and the conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s mostly-sane Intercollegiate Review (Spring 2013) -- and they’re both reminders that mainstream religious claims, just like seemingly-odd mystical or paranormal claims, are at least usually footnotes to a much larger system that at least looks more harmonious taken as a whole than it does when examined only for its oddest or most offensive footnotes. 

Further, both magazines are conscious of defending an entire worldview against rivals such as liberalism -- and that can have some interesting side effects such as a Touchstone article contrasting the optimism of C.S. Lewis’s sci-fi novels (less familiar, perhaps, than his Narnia fantasies) and H.P. Lovercraft’s horror. 

As I’d noticed myself, there are many similarities in tone and approach between the two -- lots of ominous intrusions from barely-comprehensible higher dimensions in a very early-twentieth-century style -- but in the end Lewis thinks the universe is structured this way because someone up there likes you, whereas Lovecraft’s universe is an unfeeling, almost sociopathic void in which you don’t matter.  In the era of eugenics’ greatest popularity, Lovecraft was both an atheist and a bit of a fascist, and not too happy about either role.  (Not everyone is a well-adjusted skeptic and biotech enthusiast like me.)

But the ultimately arbitrary (or at least psychology-dependent) nature of spiritual claims can lead to much weirder places than overall optimism, pessimism, or limited conceptions about the nature of tradition. 

I only just learned that an online acquaintance of mine -- when not being an underwear model, rock singer, libertarian, and yoga instructor -- is also a

Thursday, June 20, 2013

BOOK NOTE: Freeman magazine and spirituality

•A utilitarian and a Unitarian walk into a bar – at least, that’s how many of my evenings begin lately, and tonight the bar/performance space in question is the Waltz-Astoria (close to the Astoria/Ditmars Blvd. N/Q stop), where Vito Racanelli will be one of the readers (join us, if you like).  Among other things, Vito has written about being a kid in Italy at a time of terrorist attacks. 

The show may be interrupted by cell phones, unless the Waltz-Astoria (and other venues) adopt this new phone-use-preventing beer glass (h/t Justin Shubow).  But I’m sure I’d enjoy it anyway – and perhaps use the evening to recruit a feminist to argue the “nurture” side of the debate I’ll moderate on July 9 about whether gender roles are mostly a product of nature or not (or YOU could volunteer – let me know).

•Tonight and July 9 will presumably be more highbrow than my other main cultural plans for the summer, starting with seeing the monsters-vs.-robots movie Pacific Rim in mid-July (having just seen – and greatly enjoyed – both Man of Steel and World War Z, it’ll be like I’m seeing the apocalypse canceled three times in a row).

That outing will probably be followed by seeing three, count ’em three, comic book-based movies in a row: RED 2 (with sexy gun-toting Helen Mirren), Wolverine, and Kick-Ass 2.

•Back on a more brainy note: in addition to recruiting the aforementioned feminist, I should recruit a libertarian to argue the merits of recently-troubled e-currency Bitcoin (on August 12), alongside left-wing Bitcoin enthusiast Sander Hicks, against two appropriate Bitcoin-detractors.  

Someone along the lines of (busy) Jeffrey Tucker would be great.  He wrote a basic intro to Bitcoin for the Freeman (magazine of the Foundation for Economic Education), with other recent issues tackling important freedom-related topics such as education and anarchism.  I love the Freeman so much I left a copy on the magazine rack at the Brown Bookstore last month, right near a copy of Lacanian Ink and admittedly obscuring a copy of Brooklyn’s own n+1. 

Always subverting, always educating. 

•One curious thing about Freeman is that, in a libertarian movement overwhelmingly focused on earthly matters like government spending cuts and deregulation (my two favorite things), the magazine has occasionally over the decades touched on spiritual matters. 

It’s subtle and unlikely to offend even the most gung-ho of atheists, but Freeman has long augmented its Rand and Jefferson quotes with the occasional Bible quote, and not in an argument-from-authority way, either. 

Nor even a conventionally-Christian way: Foundation for Economic Education founder Leonard Read apparently was a devotee of meditation.  Brian Doherty has chronicled how mid-century LSD culture likely influenced Read’s all-things-are-connected approach to meditation, which in turn likely influenced his famous unplanned-connections-in-the-marketplace essay “I, Pencil,” which in turn influenced the rhetoric of pro-market economist Milton Friedman.

So maybe everything is connected, from acid-droppers to Ronald Reagan (on that note, maybe we should pause to watch this real footage of a 1950s housewife on LSD).

•It’s sort of fitting, then, that still-new Freeman editor Max Borders (the friend whose book Superwealth I blogged about last time) has written about libertarianism needing a dose of “mysticism,” by which he means a frank admission that since we (more than other political factions) admit we cannot predict or plan what innovations the future will bring, we ought to approach the unfolding process of civilization with a  fair amount of wonder, humility, and hope.  (Complex systems are often unpredictable, as has been noted repeatedly during my blog’s “Month of Systems.”)

Truth be told, I had something similar in mind when I jokingly distributed flyers for a “Church of the Spontaneous Order” two decades ago at the Mises

Monday, June 17, 2013

BOOK NOTE: “Superwealth” by Max Borders (plus the Man of Steel and a dash of punk)

For all its simplicity and flashiness, I for one loved Man of Steel and felt as if it resembled the 1930s Max Fleischer cartoons in its unapologetic emphasis on the visual and the large-scale (very operatic).  It’s really the only major film I’ve so far seen that made me glad I paid for IMAX and 3D.  And it’s not without emotional or moral gravitas: You will FEEL before Zod.  And if you’re a libertarian, you’ll like a couple timely surveillance jokes, too.

If you’re a libertarian who likes Superman-ish metaphors and wrote a book defending super-wealthy entrepreneurs, you might well be my friend Max Borders, whose Superwealth has a superheroic-looking figure sporting a dollar sign on its cover, sure to delight Ayn Rand fans. 

But Max is a down-to-earth, humane fellow not just interested in defending the tough-as-nails qualities of mega-CEOs.  He jumps back and forth between examining a few of those and a few likable, ordinary mortals such as his own great-grandmother, who eked out a living during the Depression in North Carolina (a state full of interesting characters) and lived to be 104, showing in the process that the psychological traits leading to success are recognizable, distinct, and valuable regardless of one’s initial economic circumstances.

We aren’t afraid to say athletes might start with some natural (or early-developmental) differences that set them apart from the rest of us, but it’s unfashionable to call adept entrepreneurs natural talents – or even to admit how hard they drive themselves – since that risks undermining envious, egalitarian, and compassionate narratives alike. 

Yet even arch-capitalist Adam Smith – with what to me seems like a very appropriate and very modern mixture of awe, thanks, worry, and pity – wrote in Theory of Moral Sentiments that there’s something a bit miserly and abnormal about the way the very rich drive themselves to achieve profit – with the rest of us largely benefiting from their heroic mania.  (Maybe leftists would find it easier to view money-making as a weird yet creative activity if they read this article, pointed out by Emily Richards, about rich punk musicians.)

In much the same way that I’ve occasionally noted my own still-living grandmother as a neat yardstick of how much things can change in a lifetime, Max notes that despite all the despairing and declinist talk you hear, his great-grandmother saw the proliferation of everything from tractors and electric milkers to refrigerators, indoor plumbing, and colonoscopies during her lifetime, all the while hearing that “the poor get poorer.” 

Mama Borders lived a noble, hard-working, and non-famous life while professional whiners like Barbara Ehrenreich explain how we’re all economically doomed because she didn’t fully enjoy the menial jobs she took on a journalistic whim. 

There are some basic attitudes toward wealth-creation that people on both right and left seem to share: Max notes how many creative companies seem to share the view that every employee should function with some degree of autonomy and be rewarded as an individual for innovation. 

By contrast, when it comes to the big-picture economic models, leftists keep saying things that suggest they see wealth as something that happens automatically and effortlessly, making the rich and entrepreneurs creatures easy to, well, milk.  Max quotes Obama advisor Jared Bernstein saying “there’s no reason to expect people to respond to higher tax rates by working less.  That is, they could just as easily decide to work harder to make up the loss in their after-tax income.” 

So, hey, stick it to ’em some more.  (Adding to the

Friday, June 14, 2013

BOOK NOTE: Jeremy Scahill’s “Dirty Wars” and Critical Review

I blogged yesterday about the beautiful graphic novel Strange Attractors, with its meditations on complex, barely-predictable systems.  The journal Critical Review (vol. 24, issue 3) deals in its latest issue with similar questions, featuring essays reacting to the late-90s increase in interest in “systems analysis,” the attempt (initially in foreign policy) to acknowledge that prediction gets far more difficult when there are overlapping simultaneous forces in play and you aren’t really sure which ones matter most. 

That may seem intuitively obvious to most people, but the academics (and ideologues) who normally study such things -- trying to predict wars and coups and the like -- love the illusions of control, predictability, and simplicity that seem to give them at least a fighting chance of making useful models of the world. 

Of course, we don’t want to just throw our hands up and despair, either.  So, it’s unclear quite how to proceed.  As in the hard sciences, the answer might be forthrightly making more testable predictions (analogous to holding pundits accountable for their errors, which rarely happens).

While the political science professors wrestle with all those abstractions, though, I would suggest seeing leftist war reporter Jeremy Scahill’s ominous, dramatic documentary Dirty Wars (spun off of his recent book and articles on the topic, but that link takes you to the film trailer) as a simple, concrete, real-world illustration of how complexity leads to greater tension between desperation for control and the inevitability of tragic error.  Scahill just went and talked to the villagers and survivors who the mainstream press never dared trek over the hills to locate.  The result is very eye-opening.

Seeing the film might be a good way for some of my more neoconservative acquaintances here in New York City to spend Flag Day, in fact, since it’s a reminder how many variables are at play when you start down the road of running covert ops in numerous nations (without declaring war) -- much messier than just settling the simplified two-second debate about whether America is good and its major foes bad. 

In New York City, you can see it at IFC and Lincoln Plaza, and its glimpse of the survivors of U.S. raids overseas -- and a visit with a warlord in Somalia who we’re paying to do our dirty work -- might just change your whole worldview, whether you’re a conservative hawk or a loyal Obama Democrat.  But then, I’ve grown anarcho-capitalist enough to think even minarchism, with its (over)emphasis on the state’s “legitimate” role in policing and military matters, might be granting far too much to the state.

Lest I sound all lefty, though, let me emphasize the capitalist part in that anarcho-capitalist formulation by blogging about Max Borders’ book Superwealth in my next entry.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

BOOK NOTE: “Strange Attractors” by Charles Soule and Greg Scott

Just the other night, I saw my mathematician friend Charles Blake talk about the impossibility of time travel as part of a panel at the Empiricist League -- and recruited decreasingly-Marxist activist Sander Hicks to be one of the Dionysium’s speakers on the topic of Bitcoin on August 12 -- so I was in the perfect mood to read a strange story about math.

The graphic novel Strange Attractors by Charles Soule and Greg Scott is perfectly timed: It depicts secretive mathematicians who can predict human behavior with such reliability that they take it upon themselves to save complex systems such as New York City itself from chaos, including bomb-making terrorists.

These mathematicians aren’t creepy government agents, though.

(And I type that while hearing, for a few weeks now, the steady, very quiet thrum of what are likely, a friend in the military agrees, permanent drones over the Upper East Side -- which I’m relieved to say I’m not the only New Yorker to have noticed in the wake of the Boston bombing, though I may have been one of the lucky few to notice the night of their deployment, or at least to have seen a larger, more conventional helicopter flying around here, oddly low, at about 4am one night several weeks ago, after which a much quieter rotor noise has never fully stopped, impossible though it is to hear when there’s substantial street noise.  All this was just a few months after a couple speeches by Bloomberg saying drones would soon be adding to our safety in the way street cameras do, though I thought little of his comments at the time.) 

The mathematician main characters are instead Columbia academics, an elderly mentor and a young acolyte, the latter a Gen X alternative rock fan after my own heart, proud of his Talking Heads collection and familiarity with some rising Brooklyn bands. 

Despite the presumptuous main conceit of the comic -- that these eccentric professors can save the City from disaster with tiny, random-seeming acts such as musical performances and strategic graffiti -- Soule does a great, dare I say it Hayekian, job of capturing how complex the City is and how hopeless would be the task of any real-world central planner trying to coordinate it all (but how exhilarating it is to be a part of it all nonetheless). 

Our mathematician heroes function less like Asimov’s planner Harry Seldon (one of Paul Krugman’s favorite characters) and more like unwitting chaos-theory butterflies, occasionally nudging things in a better direction but barely understanding how.  Soule has also written the ecology-themed Swamp Thing for DC Comics -- and, after all, one can appreciate the fragile complexity of both markets and ecosystems, though they so rarely get spoken of in the same breath.  There’s nothing wrong with Superman and his ilk -- I’ll see the Sunday 6:45pm show of Man of Steel -- but do check out Strange Attractors for something a bit more grown-up and artful. 

Zack Snyder directing Man of Steel reportedly meant Darren Aronofsky not directing it -- just as Aronofsky’s decision to direct Black Swan stopped him from directing the impending RoboCop remake, for good or ill.  But those hankering to see something sci-fi-ish from Aronofsky can take heart that the fifteenth-anniversary edition of his film Pi is out -- and the film probably had more than a little influence on Strange Attractors, so maybe you could get them as companion pieces.  (Oddly enough, come to think of it, if they ever made a movie out of Nassim Taleb’s totally unrelated, math-inspired book Black Swan, Aronofsky might still be the man for the job.)


It’s often been remarked, amidst the recent overlapping controversies over spying and data-mining, that one reason there isn’t even more outrage over

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Top 10 Obama Scandals to Discuss at Tonight’s Debate

I tend to indict the system rather than the man (in keeping with this blog’s “Month of Systems”), but here are ten current Obama scandals we should touch on at tonight’s 9:30 DIONYSIUM debate at Muchmore’s about whether to impeach him, with emphasis on what are arguably the victims:

10. The man got a Nobel Peace Prize before presiding over another five years of the war in Afghanistan.

9. It’s unclear we were told the truth about events during the al Qaeda attacks in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and others (as Rand Paul may end up reminding Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, in the ultimate semi-libertarian vs. semi-Progressive showdown).

8. The Associated Press,, and others have found themselves spied on thanks to the Department of Justice, while Fox News’s James Rosen was snooped on by the FBI (all of it suggesting to Sen. Ted Cruz that Obama dislikes the First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, despite being a constitutional law professor).

7. Bradley Manning is now on trial years after first being arrested for spilling Department of Defense secrets about collateral deaths to WikiLeaks.

6. Tea Party groups have gotten special scrutiny from the IRS.

5. As Nation-affiliated reporter and Dirty Wars author/screenwriter Jeremy Scahill has documented, the U.S. government kills many innocents and maybe-innocents caught in its drone strikes.

4. Obama has doubled the combined number from all prior administrations of lawsuits against whistleblowers.

3. If CIA whistleblower Eric Snowden is correct, we’re all being spied on every time we use phones, e-mail, or website, in an unprecedented government data-mining operation including the program called Prism.

2. Gitmo still being open over four years after Obama’s election, and wracked by a massive hunger strike, must frustrate some Democrat voters, I’d think (though I’ve always said it’s only 160 or so guys, for now).

1. More troubling is the fact that despite a decade of al Qaeda being the great menace on the horizon, we appear now to be allied with it in Syria.  Anyone but Russia, basically -- not that I dismiss realpolitik. 

And I will remain neutral as I moderate tonight’s debate (please join us), recognizing the very real tensions between transparency and the need for secrecy, government overreach and real terrorist dangers, American safety and the risk of imperialism, tradition and change, heroism and martyr complexes, honor and rebellion, uncertainty and inquiry, proper procedure and subversion, defense and anarchy.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dionysium, Tue. 6/11: Should Obama be impeached?

Manning on trial...Rice in confirmations...Holder on the hot seat...Snowden revealing massive government snooping...but perhaps the big question is:

"Should Obama Be Impeached?" 

That's the question debated by human rights lawyer Howard Yourow ("Yes") and consultant James Kaplan ("No"), with implacably neutral moderator Todd Seavey, at the next Dionysium ( ). 

Tuesday (not Monday!), June 11th, 9:30pm in the Muchmore's performance space, with abundant beer for sale (and sofas) for facilitating thorough audience Q&A on this very open-ended topic, at a pivotal time when people at varied points on the political spectrum see government credibility faltering.  

Easily-visited Muchmore's is at 2 Havemeyer St. (on the corner of North 9th St.), a mere three blocks east of happening Bedford Ave., which is the very first L subway stop after Manhattan.  

P.S. The 9:30 debate at Muchmore's kicks off a trilogy of big topics climaxing one year of the Dionysium in Williamsburg: power (Obama et al) on 6/11, sex (evolutionary psychology) on 7/9, and money (Bitcoin) on 8/12, so join us for all three. 

P.P.S. On 6/11, you may well be considering making a full night of it by checking out the latest science-themed talks by the Empiricist League at nearby Public Assembly (70 N. 6th), that same night at 7pm (my friend Charles Blake will be amongst those discussing what scientists, as opposed to Doctor Who writers, really say about the nature of the timestream, a once in a lifetime event...or is it???).  

P.P.P.S. And regardless of what side of the political fence you're on, by the way, if you want to buy, sell, or rent a place, mention my name to Atlas Real Estate New York via the following e-address and you can get a "politically aware discount" from my friend Lauren Weiner there, who has ten years experience in this sort of thing: