Thursday, October 31, 2013

20 Spooky/Spiritual Thoughts for Halloween

1. Nothing says Halloween like an H.P. Lovecraft-inspired Cthulhu ski mask (h/t Jeremy “release the” Kareken).

2. But this beaver is instead dressed as a bee (h/t Rebecka Heise).  I guess you could say he’s a bee-ver.

3. Yesterday was the seventy-fifth anniversary of Orson Welles’ infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast, and as hoaxing/trolling/punking/pranking (for good or ill) becomes an ever larger part of media culture, he deserves new respect as a forebear.

4. This year’s also the seventy-fifth anniversary of Superman, who inspired an online debate among friends of mine about whether he’s more Christian or Nietzschean in tone.  For today, let us just agree he’s not Satanic.

5. Superman might yet save us from the scary NSA -- or at least from the DC Comics version of the NSA (or at least of S.H.I.E.L.D.), the group A.R.G.U.S., implicitly criticized in this scene along with Obama (the very first time I have ever seen Obama criticized instead of lionized in a comic book).

I believe Captain America will face similar doubts about S.H.I.E.L.D. in April’s Captain America sequel movie (it will also depict French villain Batroc the Leaper doing parkour, which sounds logical to me -- I just hope he won’t be wearing those annoying toe shoes you see lately).  I’ll have far more to say about liberty themes in comics in a few weeks, by the way (stay tuned). 

6. The scariest superhero news this week is that DC Comics is moving from New York City to Burbank, likely taking a few of my acquaintances including Scott Nybakken westward in the process. 

If they go, here’s hoping they all end up with the same “rich and famous” contract that Kermit signed with Orson Welles upon arrival in Hollywood in the great original Muppet Movie.

7. As I noted on the Facebook recently, I saw a headline announcing “Website Tells You If Anyone Has Died in Your House,” and I’m so materialist/science-oriented, I thought it just sounded like a needlessly convoluted medical-alert system.  Then I remembered some people actually care whether their home might have ghosts in it.  (It doesn’t.)

8. St. Francis, Aquinas, and of course Jesus himself would all have disagreed with my certainty on that point, as would Dawn Eden, who was nice enough to send me a volume collecting G.K. Chesterton’s book-length musings on each of those men. 

One of Chesterton’s (always-amusing, warmhearted) complaints this time around is that (even 100 years ago) moderns admire St. Francis but would like to reduce his love of all creation (and its implied Creator) to a mere fondness for animals or the poor, when in fact there’s more going on there.  

(Dawn also sent a link to these parodies of bad atheist arguments, though I must say they sound more like bad arguments Aquinas would make than like atheist arguments I routinely encounter.  Aquinas’s “proofs” of God are so weak that even 800 years later, there remains disagreement among both his critics and his supporters about whether Aquinas was himself joking in the proofs, whether he was parodying bad theological arguments, parodying bad rationalist arguments, or perhaps just going through the motions of confirming God’s existence to reassure religious folk his philosophizing needn’t lead to blasphemy.)

9. The Francis section of that Chesterton anthology has an intro by Manhattan’s own Father Rutler, who as many here know is an amusing character fond of pushing free-associative, ironic observations about historical coincidences almost to the point of engaging in conspiracy theory -- or the somewhat heretical view that God’s plan is such a comedic one that He had some reason for having Al Gore born on the same day as the Roswell UFO crash (which I also don’t believe in -- though I’m keen to see the documentary Mirage Men alleging that the government likes to leave the public wondering about UFOs, to distract us from thinking about stealth aircraft and drones).

10. I take it Pope Francis has been retracing the footsteps of his namesake this month, and he remains an interesting character.

11. Much as I might wish I could completely ignore religion,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lou Reed, Waterboys, Cats, X-Men, PBR

My obit for Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground is up at American Spectator’s site.

•I learned at a concert last week that the Waterboys -- who I’d been narrowly missing chances to see for about twenty-five years -- doing Yeats poetry set to music sound a lot like glam-era Bowie. 

•I left the Internet Cat Video Festival in Williamsburg early to catch the concert and have no regrets -- especially since there was time to see this Halloween-themed cat video starring Henri from last year, and his surprisingly large and death-metal-fan-shaped owner, before departing.

•I am less confident now that I’ll be entertained by this coming May’s biggest-ever X-Men movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past.  Sorry, I just think the new trailer looks a bit lame.

•And if you liked my piece on Lou Reed, don’t forget you can read my essay “Conservatism for Punks” (not to mention a couple dozen pieces by Helen Rittelmeyer and numerous other conservatives) in the Jonah Goldberg-edited anthology Proud to Be Right.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dionysium 11/11: For Which Puritans Are We Least Thankful?

•Vandals out to defend Judaeo-Christian tradition painted the word “blasphemer” on the home of one of our Nov. 11 Dionysium speakers over his bawdy rewrite of Genesis.

•Islam has inspired totalitarians and terrorists abroad and what some see as “creeping Sharia” in U.S. enclaves.

•Ex-Sandinista and nanny state politician De Blasio says he likes Bloomberg’s idea for a ban on giant soda servings, and the bans Bloomberg already enforced probably aren’t going anywhere. 

So this holiday season, the Dionysium asks: “For Which Puritans Are We Least Thankful?”

Making the case against the three factions noted above will be, respectively:

Matthew Stillman, author of Genesis Deflowered

Gerard Perry, writer of the blog American Rattlesnake

Jim Lesczynski, author of the libertarian novel The Walton Street Tycoons

It’s all moderated by straight-laced New England extract Todd Seavey, with ample Q&A and audience discussion from you, Monday, Nov. 11 (8pm) at:

The Muchmore’s performance space/bar, 2 Havemeyer St. at the corner of N. 9th St. in Williamsburg (just an easy three-block walk east of the very first L subway stop after Manhattan, the Bedford Ave. stop).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dionysium “Paleo” Debate TONIGHT: Poised Between God and Beasts

Tonight’s big 8pm debate at Muchmore’s (2 Havemeyer St., near the very first L stop into Brooklyn, Bedford Ave.) asking “Should We Eat More Meat?” will be moderated by me (and argued by John Durant and Allen Salkin, seen nearby) but guided in part by the audience’s questions (join us).

Given the animal-eating implications, there are a few subsets of the community it’d be interesting to have present:

Vegans: Clearly, vegans would oppose eating more meat.  They even oppose using animal-related products such as cheese, unlike the cheese enthusiast who wrote the fourth Oct. 18 article visible at the revealing site BuzzfeedMinusGIFs. (h/t Ed Krayewski).

Hunters: For contrast.

Otherkin: Virtually anytime intellectuals talk about culture, rather than just law, they easily veer into assuming that Priority #1 must be: preaching some form of open-mindedness, tolerance, and/or relativism. 

By contrast, I think trying to prevent the culture from producing videos like this may need to be a much higher priority (though solely through voluntary means, such as the all-important institution of shaming).  I suspect such videos will be happening with a growing frequency as more of these folk claim to be “animal-identifying” or spiritually connected to wolves, etc.

SIDENOTE: Things could of course be weirder than the otherkin.  In this video, for instance, Astral Bob reminds one and all to remain calm while exiting astral projection (“stay frosty,” says Bob -- and there’s just something so action-movie about that, as though the hippies should shout, “This is it!  We’re goin’ in!!”).

And today is the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Valentich UFO disappearance, for those keeping track of such things.  

Franciscans: How nice to the animals should we be?  The folks at the Catholic church across the street from Muchmore’s might have an interesting perspective.

More about St. Francis and his ilk in the near future, though, as I blog about Chesterton’s take on him.  Tonight belongs to DIONYSUS. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Comic Con Behind, Geek Films Ahead

Face front, true believer!  Did you know Scarlet Witch’s hex fields are loci of improbability (as seen in the nearby photo)?  That’s only one of the things you might have learned if you went to New York Comic-Con this weekend, as did the editor of the site, which posted that cosplay pic.

Since I didn’t actually attend, the other pics you see in this blog entry are merely ones I took during the set-up day, Thursday, prior to the real con – including a shot of the faux-set for what appears to be a major new South Park project and the booth of Japan-influenced knickknack-seller Hip Hop Candy, run by Olivia Lilly, who together with Matt Brandenburgh got me in.  Among other things, Hip Hop Candy now sells “Unicorn Poo” perfume (I cannot promise it smells like real unicorn poo).

If that’s not cute enough, this entry also contains a photo pointed out by Jacqueline Cohen that shows a unicorn with a dog sitting on it.

Cuter still, in this clip a single, unbroken shot of very rambunctious kittens lasts A HALF HOUR.

•If it’s more-serious geekery you seek, though, I see November brings three major nerd films, the controversial Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, the second Hunger Games film, and the second Thor film.  I cannot promise any of them will be as interesting as this month’s spectacular Gravity (with its silent absence of Mission Control bureaucrats both welcome and eerie) and mediocre Machete Kills.  The two films have far more in common than one would have anticipated -- and you would never guess which one has the cameo by space/travel/etc. entrepreneur Elon Musk (who was also in an Iron Man movie).

•The second of three Hobbit films comes out in December, but you can already enjoy this mind-bogglingly large Lego version of the Battle of Helm’s Deep from the second Lord of the Rings movie.  Less fun is this tragic story of a real-life “Hobbit home” vs. all-too-human government (h/t Andrea Pisani, Jesse Forgione).

And speaking of fantasy, shouldn’t they use this rock classic in a Game of Thrones promo at some point, tone be damned?

•Finally, if all this leaves you wanting to plan your 2014 and 2015 nerd-movie-going, you already can, with the help of my expanded list, below, of what I think’s relevant for the next two years (if you’re not boycotting Joss Whedon or anything).

Oh, and here’s free marketing advice for the people doing the new Godzilla: Due to what I think may be the horrific, metallic wail of industrial- and farming-sized “grader blades” being bent back into shape, numerous people around the world have posted clips of terrifying noises echoing throughout their towns, thinking the world is coming to an end.  Well, it happens to sound like Godzilla’s distinctive roar, too, so I say: do ads inviting people to listen for Godzilla’s approach and post videos of warning if he nears!  Instant viral campaign!  I got a million of ’em.  (That whole earthquake/Fukushima reactor situation ought to create some sort of mutant-fish-watch opportunity, too.  It’d be no more tasteless than Gilbert Gottfried.)


2/7 RoboCop
3/7 300: Rise of an Empire
4/4 Captain America: The Winter Soldier
? Mad Max: Fury Road
5/2 Amazing Spider-Man 2
5/16 Godzilla
5/23 X-Men: Days of Future Past
7/4 Atlas Shrugged: Part 3
7/25 Jupiter Ascending
8/1 Guardians of the Galaxy
11/7 Interstellar
11/21 Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
12/17 Hobbit: There and Back Again


3/16 Fantastic Four
5/1 Avengers: Age of Ultron
5? Star Wars: Episode VII
6/26 Ted 2
7/1 Terminator 5
7/17 Batman vs. Superman
7/31 Ant-Man
11/6 Bond 24
11/20 Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
12/18 Warcraft

Monday, October 7, 2013

10 Notes About Public Opinion (with X, Blondie, leaves, and meat)

We mustn’t be too quick to assume we know sane, moderate public sentiment from crazy fringe ravings.

1. That joke Senate campaign poster you see nearby for candidate Bag of Leaves (which hangs at the bar on my corner) is supposed to depict an electoral worst-case scenario.  I think even non-libertarians might agree with me right now, though, that a legislature made up of bags of leaves sounds much less dangerous than what we’ve got. 

During the #ShutStorm (as I dubbed it on Twitter -- follow me for additional hijinx!), government will attempt plenty of the usual bullshit designed to make us think it’s an essential institution, like park rangers being told to make life as hard as possible for visitors.  (I had heard a few years ago that one of many disturbing things about the Obama administration was its talent for turning offices never before politicized into arms of campaign propaganda, including park rangers.  Now I suppose that may be bearing fruit.  This administration is evil -- but then, they all are.) 

The less-panic-inducing truth is (A) shutdowns are common; (B) we can’t afford to reopen this debt-saddled government, not even close; (C) even failure to raise the debt ceiling is of no greater consequence than the slo-mo fiscal disaster we’re experiencing by routinely sinking deeper into debt; (D) and 83% of the government remains open, so we’re just shutting Mt. Rushmore to private viewers and so forth – even while, for example, the DEA goes right on smashing drug users. 

Don't be a sucker and think that contrast is caused by haphazard Republican cuts or something.  This is government punishing the entire populace for having the audacity to disobey it and question its role.  

2. Also above is the Roseland Ballroom marquis as it looked when I saw Blondie and X perform there a few days ago.  X’s John Doe introduced the song “The New World” with the apt dedication, “This song’s for our stupid government.”  Showing a bit more regional pride, Blondie later did a bit of “No Sleep ’Til Brooklyn.”  (In fresher alternative-rock news, today’s also the scheduled release, last I knew, of the second album by Siouxsie-like Anna Calvi, who did this a couple years ago.)

3. A more complex, long-term view of government and our possible doom was elucidated the night before X and Blondie by David Stockman (who fears the Fed’s influence has rendered the stock market irrational), and the biggest surprise about that was that host Victor Niederhoffer weighed in to say that he thinks Stockman is wrong about everything, that Stockman is wrong to distrust the wisdom of optimistic investors, that doomsayers like Stockman are a perennial problem, and that anyone who listens to Stockman would go bankrupt several times over. 

Yet the crowd and I still liked Stockman.  He’s surely wiser than IMF head LaGarde, who says “Looser monetary policy can also help” in the rough times ahead.

(I was also reminded by the awkward exchange of the first time I spoke at Niederhoffer’s Junto years ago, about cigarettes, not arguing for banning them but merely that libertarians, like everyone else, ought to keep in mind how deadly-dangerous they really are rather than pooh-poohing them simply to undermine the threat of regulation -- an irresponsible posture that would only serve to encourage people who think only regulation can foster safety.  Niederhoffer rose afterwards to call me and my ACSH colleagues tools of the FDA -- though I still enjoyed myself.)

4. A book derived from the often-useful libertarian-leaning journal Critical Review analyzed the complex causes of the financial crisis -- and with Vol. 24, Issue 4, CR looks at the comparably murky question of what determines public opinion anyway -- politicians?  Raw facts?  Journalists?  Professors?  Pop culture cues?  Factional leaders?  “Common sense”?  It’s harder to gauge than you might think.

5. People like to imagine they know roughly what their neighbors (be they allies or no-good bums) are really thinking, but opinions vary in surprising, unpredictable ways.  Heck, the Who’s Pete Townshend doesn’t even like the music of Led Zeppelin -- and there is disagreement on how to keep razors sharp.  We know so little for sure, really.

6. For a rare glimpse of someone with the courage to subtly nudge a probably-liberal, small-d democratic audience in a direction completely at odds with popular sentiments, namely something akin to a hybrid of anarchism and monarchy, you might watch this clip of (Seavey-era Brown alum) Mencius Moldbug in action, at the TED-like BIL Talks.  Perhaps Brown harbored more non-Marxist political currents than most of us realized at the time.

7. Other fringe views will be examined in objective and scholarly fashion Tuesday night at 6:30 at a talk by Reason’s Jesse Walker, concerning his book on conspiracy theories, United States of Paranoia.  As he recounts, the tactics of those who fear conspiracies often come to resemble those of the conspiracies (real or imagined) that they fear, whether it’s the paranoiacs who are on the fringe and the conspirators who are in power, or vice versa.  He’s just written an article showing certain parallels between the thinking of WikiLeaks today and the covertly-acting, whistleblowing Wobblies of a century ago. 

Call out the crazy folk, by all means, but remember how often it’s the pot calling the kettle black.

8. So often, anger seems to spring from a military-like desire to control all variables -- government, ever wary of its illusion of mastery being dispelled, becomes the all-clutching fist accompanying the master-narrative writing-hand of the ostensibly all-knowing media.  It’s not surprising they get along.  They have a common interest in purveying the message “All’s well, as long as you keep listening to us.”

9. By contrast, I couldn’t help noticing the complete absence of Mission Control from the NASA thriller Gravity (which you absolutely must see in 3D for once).  I have no doubt that even now leftist op-eds are being penned saying that defunding NASA would be as cruel as stranding George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in outer space -- but the film is an intense, unsettling look at individual survival skills instead of heroic bureaucracy, and in that way much more like a lot of classic loner-hero sci-fi.

And the truth is, no matter how much you might want government to fund only the cool things you love (or think you do when you don’t have to pay for them yourself), it will pay for all the other stupid stuff as well (like making radical-Islamism-defenders advisors to the Department of Homeland Security).  The so-called shutdown hasn’t stopped DHS or NSA chugging along.  

10. But instead of heightening the politically-combative rhetoric during the ShutStorm, maybe it’s the perfect time to step back from politics and debate something completely different -- like “Should We Eat More Meat?” 

And so we shall (we being paleo diet advocate John Durant, food historian Allen Salkin, and moderator me), Monday, Oct. 21 (8pm), exactly two weeks from now, when I moderate the next Dionysium gathering at Muchmore’s in Williamsburg.  Join us (RSVP on Facebook if you like).

Maybe no one will argue about politics all night.  But I may monologue.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Russia’s Mini-Civil War (and our own #ShutStorm)

Fittingly, I have (for the moment) reached 666 Twitter followers (thanks to Reason’s Cathy Young and NYSalon’s Alan Miller) just in time for:

1. Halloween

2. My hashtag coinage #ShutStorm getting used by The Daily Show (feel the pride) to describe the current partial “shutdown” of the federal government (my attitude toward the shutdown was briefly explained in my prior blog entry)

(which is also causing “meltdown” in some left-leaning brains as well as some military-family brains -- and my research, in which admittedly N = 3, shows one tends to get unfriended on Facebook by those, uh, feisty individuals who sort of fall into both categories -- yet I am so little different from them in the grand scheme of things, growing up a Northeastern atheist with a dad who’d been in the Navy)

3. A second G.K. Chesterton book arriving in the mail from a generous Dawn Eden (I’ll blog of it by Halloween)

4. The death of Tom Clancy, just two months prior to the release of his Russia-themed President Jack Ryan novel Command Authority.

But who needs fiction?  Exactly twenty years ago today, Russian president Yeltsin and the Russian parliament ended up in a small-scale shooting war.  And an American on the parliamentarian protesters’ side (agree with them or not) died a hero in the process.  (I hope Pussy Riot’s doing OK, come to think of it.)

Twenty years later, of course, Russia has managed to look like a model of statesmanship -- with talk of a Nobel nomination for Putin (to match Obama’s, I suppose) over his sort-of defusing of the potentially-broader Syria war.  I wonder how many Americans even know that Syria is in some sense a Russian client state and that the deranged jihadists trying to topple the government of Syria are partly American-aided pawns who might well come back to haunt us like other dubious semi-clients. 

It’s less like good guys vs. bad guys than like layers of self-interest and madness over there (and perhaps one day Kenya and who knows where else).  If the abandonment for now of interventionist notions about Syria is evidence of a big upsurge in antiwar sentiment in the U.S., I think it’s more because the public is wary of muddles than because they sympathize with the other side or are calculating likely humanitarian benefits or any of those other, more pristine metrics one uses when confident about our ability to rectify such situations. 

And a wariness of muddles is a sign of intellectual maturity, I think.  It might have prevented World War I.

Here’s hoping a similar appreciation of complexity and messiness occurs in domestic policy debates.  If gridlock instead yields the usual “our side great, their side evil” reactions, there’ll be plenty of that noise ahead, it appears.  I will try to sit it out as calmly and quietly as I did the protracted uncertainty over the winner of the 2000 presidential election.  That should surprise no one who understands where I’m really coming from.

And so I will blog next about the sedate topic of modeling public-opinion formation as examined by the journal Critical Review.  Don’t let the ShutStorm freak you out, even if (as I hope) the government never reopens. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

#ShutStorm: Why I Coined That Term for the Gov’t Shutdown

The Twitter hashtag I coined the other day -- #ShutStorm -- to describe the current squabbling over the federal government’s (partial) shutdown appears to be pretty popular.  But to be clear: it’s not the government shutdown I regard as a crisis.  It’s the ongoing disaster called government that is the crisis.

Six brief points:

1. Shutdowns like this have occurred 17 times over the past four decades.  The politicians and the media freaked out, as they always do.  For the rest of us, if we are not duped by the hype, life goes on.

2. Cops, fire, weather service, mail, military, utilities, air traffic control, and prisons stay funded even during a so-called “government shutdown.”  That’s already far beyond the very limited functions the Constitution sets out for the federal government.

3. A glimpse at the math shows that we cannot reasonably reopen the federal government at all.  The federal government is already $16 trillion in debt, with each citizen owing something on the order of $40,000, and it would be insanity to pass up this opportunity to take a small step closer to fiscal survival.  Keep it “closed” permanently.

4. This is a scuffle far larger, really, than either the Democrats or the Republicans: All over the world, from the Middle East to China to Latin America, people find that government takes a vast portion of the populace’s wealth and then mismanages it, perpetually bogged down by partisan spats, inefficiency, corruption, cronyism, and outright theft. 

With technology and culture more fluid than ever, surely by now it’s time to abandon government altogether as a way of doing things.  Humanity can accomplish more through voluntary action, whether commercial or charitable, individualistic or collaborative. 

So long as we respect each other’s right to control our own bodies and property, we do not need rulers.  In fact, we’ll be better, kinder people for not expecting to rule or be ruled.

5. There is no question that whatever political faction you’re in, you can point to stupid things done by the other side(s).  I’ve certainly been in my fair share of partisan squabbles and will seize this opportunity to make a renewed effort to rise above them.  Governing is a crime in which we have all been implicated thus far.  If we focus on score-settling, it will never end. 

Once government exists, it inevitably becomes a perverse locus both of people’s lust for power and of their noblest dreams of reforming the world.  Since 7 billion people inevitably, always, disagree about what the world should look like, they will inevitably end up fighting over who gets to wield that power.  Better to eliminate it and let people go their own, voluntary ways. 

After all, if you saw a dozen people in the street outside your home going about their days, pursuing a dozen different life plans, you wouldn’t say, “I will ‘help’ them by forcing them all to be bound together as a chain gang so that they have no choice but to come up with a single itinerary for the whole group!”  Yet that is roughly what forcing people to govern each other inflicts upon us all.  Even if you told yourself you meant well, you would be regarded as a socially-destructive psychotic if you did such a thing.

So, too, should we regard any apologist for government, really -- and they are legion.  Even within the ranks of ostensibly anti-authoritarian, anti-government political factions, the siren song of government seems always to be faintly heard:

•So-called “liberal-tarians” within the libertarian movement devise schemes for maintaining just enough government to pursue politically-correct notions of “social justice.”

•Mainstream “minarchist” libertarians often passively accept that government is all right so long as it is kept to “legitimate” functions like cops, courts, defense, maybe roads.  They should know that government can make a giant, corrupt boondoggle out of anything and stop courting disaster. 

•“Fiscal conservatives” claim to prefer markets to socialism, yet their enthusiasm for markets is rarely consistent enough to end expensive corporate and bank bailouts paid for by the taxpayer -- especially when they care about little aside from near-future stock prices.  Some cheer for the costly military-industrial complex, which is little more than welfare for warmakers, warmakers kept in business by the subsidizing of overseas arm sales (and the attendant subsidizing of conflict and chaos).

•The “anarchists” found at Occupy Wall Street and countless anti-globalization rallies claim to hate the state but seem to be pleased by the idea of it giving them bailouts to match the bankers’ -- or by the idea of governments slapping still more regulatory restrictions on global trade to “rein in” corporations.

•And, more obviously, the liberal tradition that began with limits on government has long since mutated into a creature that glorifies nearly every expansion of the state.

But constant carping about “hypocrisy” becomes moot once government is gone and free individuals are left to do whatever they like (guided by whatever philosophy of life they prefer), from run businesses to attend Burning Man, from launch a website to worship Jesus or Allah.

6. Disillusioned former Reagan administration official David Stockman shocked Bloomberg TV’s Trish Regan this week by telling her the shutdown will have no appreciable effect on the economy (h/t Mike Vine). 

Indeed, without even sharing the full-fledged libertarian ideology of folks like me, Stockman has concluded that we have little fiscal choice at this debt-ridden point but to end the welfare state as we known it...and the warfare state...and the Federal Reserve that keeps dispensing dollar bills to disguise the fact that no accompanying increase in actual wealth is occurring. 

Terrified about what would happen if the illusion were punctured, the Fed now makes its mission the maintenance of that illusion (as Stockman will explain to the Manhattan gathering called the Junto circa 8pm, October 3, 2013, at 20 W. 44th St., and I plan to attend).

Yes, our pseudo-capitalism is as dysfunctional as semi-socialism.  The current state of affairs is no one’s ideal -- not your side’s, nor the other guy’s.  Government never will be.  Instead of accepting this misery as a “necessary evil,” let’s get rid of it (peacefully).  Now seems as good a time as any.