Reflections And Gratitude On Turning 30 Thursday, Sep 11 2014 

Today I turn 30 (yeah, I have a hell of a birthday, I know) and it has been an interesting few years. Been married and divorced, nearly lost everything and got it back, trapped in a dead end job and now doing what I ultimately love for a career. I’ve been privileged to meet so many people over the past few years and each one has been a blessing, even if I didn’t think so at the time.

While I’m not exactly thrilled with the fact I am getting older, nor am I exactly thrilled to have grey in my beard, today is a good day to take stock of everything I’m blessed with in my life. Without further ado, here’s a brief list of what all I have been blessed with recently.

  • My mother, I don’t know how much longer I’ll have her and I hate seeing her in so much pain, but truly no one else has stood by me in both good times and bad, although I do not deserve it.
  • This second one is easy, my managing editor Kyle Becker for officially discovering me four months ago and giving me my first big break as a professional writer/blogger/pundit. Also, my editor in chief Bubba Atkinson for accepting Kyle’s suggestion to bring me on board. Thanks a lot for the opportunity and here’s to hopefully many more years of working together.
  • The rest of my colleagues at IJ Review.com including Justen Charters, Mike Miller, Michael Hausam, Caroline Schaeffer, Jennifer Van Laar; my copyeditors and social media editors Becca Lower, Emily Hulsey, Bethany Cummings and everyone else behind the scenes at the office who help make IJR a great place to work. If I didn’t name you, thank you as well!
  • Jack Hunter, Ian Cioffi, and Ray Lehmann who are my editors at Rare, Liberty Chat.com, and R Street Institute respectively. Thanks a lot all three of you for the opportunities I’ve had with your publications. A special shoutout to Zach Graves, the digital director at R Street and former United Liberty colleague, for putting me touch with Ray Lehmann. I also look forward to many more months and years contributing to your sites and publications.
  • To Jason Pye, Eric Cowperthwaite, Julia Porterfield, Fishie and Jay Caruso who have allowed me to write for their sites in the past; thanks a lot for the opportunity. I’ve learned from each of you and I wouldn’t be where I am today without your advice (even if I didn’t take it), your sites, and you taking a chance on me, regardless of how it ultimately turned out.
  • To Doug Mataconis, thank you for your friendship and for being an inspiration to me as a blogger; even when I don’t agree.
  • To Sara Brenner, my stint at Brenner Brief helped set me on course towards becoming a professional writer. For that, I’ll always be grateful. Another special shoutout to P-G Matuszak, BBN’s (former?) managing editor, whose work I had the privilege of editing and has endorsed me on social media with much praise. Thanks for your encouragement.
  • Finally, to each and everyone of you who has read my work, praised it, encouraged me, and/or shared my pieces; thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you I cannot do what I do. You are the reason why I do this.

There are many of you that I have failed on a personal level, for that I’m sorry. I can only promise to try and right the wrongs and to be a better man.

As I hit this milestone in life, I promise to continue doing my best to entertain you, inform you, and inspire you. I also strive to not disappoint those who believe in me.

Here’s to many, many more years!

 

Robin Williams And How Depression Affects Us Creatives Monday, Aug 11 2014 

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Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams was found today in his California home. He was aged 63. It appears likely he committed suicide.

As I learned the news and did the story on the death for IJ Review, I found that the story was having a deep emotional impact on me. I found it odd because although I realized that Robin Williams is a very talented comedian and a very good actor, he wasn’t a favorite actor of mine. Then I realized when I the likely suicide of Robin Williams hit home, because it reminds me so much of my own struggles with depression.

For those of us who are creative, we tend to feel emotions far more intensely than most normal people do. When we’re happy, we’re very happy and when we’re sad, we’re very sad. We can make others laugh and we can be there for them, but the sad irony is that we can’t help ourselves and pull back the dark veil that is depression. Although we have many fans, we feel all alone in the world.

I have been to the point where I prayed that I didn’t wake the next morning. I have been to the point where I was seriously contemplating to take my own life. Sometimes, the feelings of hopelessness, deep sadness, and the deep emotional loneliness just become overwhelming and all the reassurance in the world just won’t make it better. Some of us just become better at wearing the mask of happiness, or at the very least contentment, in public.

What I found was contributing to my depression was the fact that I was trapped in a dead end occupation and once I was fired from that and began writing full-time and professionally, things began to turn around emotionally. The only thing I worry about is that these good times can come crashing down in an instant. If those of us who were given the gift of creativity are not using to entertain others and make the world a better place, it hurts. In the case of Robin Williams, even being a successful actor and comedian was not enough to soothe the pain and fill the emptiness.

As for Robin Williams, I hope God will realize that he was a sick man and that He will provide him with eternal comfort and love. I also pray that his family finds some measure of peace.

As for those of you who are reading and maybe suffering from depression, please get help. Find someone to talk to, you are not alone. Talk to a trusted friend or a family member and let them help you find help. You are loved and never forget that.

 

Confessions Of An Ex-Libertarian Friday, Feb 7 2014 

Today, I finally acknowledged publicly what I have been knowing for sometime that I am no longer a libertarian. For awhile, I was feeling like I did not fit in any longer and felt alienated.

My own libertarianism was of a more moderate strain. I have no desire to privatize the roads, completely abolish the welfare state, abolish the military, privatize the police, and other anarchist fantasies. I believe in a strong, but limited government to maintain order, protect against external threats, enforce the laws and settle disputes, and provide the basic infrastructure the free market cannot provide. I continue to believe that free markets are preferable to central planning and do provide for greater prosperity for most people, although I do believe in a safety net for those who are inevitably the losers in capitalism, which I do not believe the private sector can provide on its own. Finally, I believe in a “live and let live” approach from the state as to how people live their lives, as long as they do not harm others. These beliefs have not changed.

However, for a few reasons I no longer feel comfortable calling myself a libertarian.

1)Libertarianism leads inevitably to anarchism. I agree with Thoughts on Liberty’s Rachel Burger that libertarianism eventually leads to anarchy and anarchy is quickly becoming the predominant strain in libertarianism. Organizations such as the Mises Institute, the Center For A Stateless Society, Students for Liberty, and the Foundation For Economic Education are promoting anarchy. I believe that a limited government is necessary to protect individual liberty and property. An armed mob is as coercive as any government agency and there must be a coercive power to protect life, liberty, and property from those who do not accept the social contract.

2) The infighting and dogmatism. Left-libertarians call right-libertarians racists, sexists, and homophobes and right-libertarians call left-libertarians communists. Both agree the other has to go. The differences between the two are becoming irreconcilable. In addition there is the unwillingness to tolerate opposing views in the movement. Such petty arguments are not conducive to a big tent or to a reality based approach to politics.

3) Making libertarianism into a cultural and not just a political ideology. One of the appeals of libertarianism is that anyone can support liberty, regardless of their cultural and moral views. All that is to be agreed to is that they would agree to not use the state to impose their morality. Unfortunately, that is no longer good enough. I outgrew utopian nonsense in elementary school.

I am a classical liberal which is the tree both libertarianism and American conservatism are spawned from. It is because of this common ancestry that I promote the conservatarian viewpoint. I still believe in limited government, the rule of law, private property rights, individual liberties, and free markets and that has not changed. I still consider myself a part of the broader liberty movement and I will stand up for liberty with anyone else who loves liberty, regardless of the label they give themselves.

I will fight for liberty alongside libertarians, however I will not fight for liberty as a libertarian.

Who Has The Best Pizza? Saturday, Jan 25 2014 

I love pizza. To me there is nothing better than the combination of tangy pepperoni, pizza sauce, gooey mozzarella cheese, and crust to put in my mouth. I could have pizza everyday if I could.

With the “Big Game” coming up and being inspired by this article, here’s what I think are the best pizzas from the leading national delivery brands.

1) Papa John’s

I know some people don’t like the sweet sauce, but I do. In fact, I think the sauce makes the pizza. I also like the cheese and toppings. The crust is alright.

2) Dominos

The best part of this pizza is the crust. The crust is flavorful and light. The sauce is tangy but also delicious. The cheese is also good and has a kick to it. The toppings are alright.

3) Pizza Hut

I have not had a chance to try to the new hand tossed pizzas they have come out with. The old crust was thick, but I liked it. The toppings were good, but the sauce and cheese were unremarkable. But my biggest complaint is that the pizzas were too greasy.

4) Little Caesars

The best that can be said about this is that the Hot and Ready is cheap at $5-$6. The sauce is virtually non-existant as is the cheese. The toppings are unremarkable. This pizza is for someone who is too lazy to heat up a frozen pizza and it has the feel and taste of a frozen pizza.

What do you think? Agree or disagree. Sound off in the comments!

New Year’s Resolutions For 2014 Wednesday, Jan 1 2014 

I normally don’t write out a long list of New Year’s Resolutions for the simple fact that I am usually too lazy to do such a thing. However, 2013 was not a great year for me. I see a need to make changes in my life and improve as a person. Also, I admit I was inspired by Bailey Connell’s post on this topic.

So here they are:

1) Pray every day in the morning.
2) Stop being such a negative person and start having a more positive attitude.
3) Stop being so anxious and learn to go with the flow.
4) Stop pushing away the people I care about and the good things in my life. The person this one is directed towards knows who they are.
5) Blog here at least once a week.
6) Write for an outside publication at least once a week.
7) Start finding a way to make some money from my passion for writing.
8) Pray that God will lead me to a church that I can become a part of.
9) Start writing that novel I keep threatening to write.
10) Read at least 2 books a month, either paper or e-book.

Here they are, some steps I need to do to change my life.

Here’s to Happy New Year to you and yours.

The TSA, Nazis, and Blowback Monday, Nov 4 2013 

There is a piece creating a firestorm in the libertarian blogosphere today written by Rachel Burger called LAX Shooting: Now We Know What Blowback Means. In the piece, she argues that the recent shooting death of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez was an example of the blowback theory. This piece has ignited a firestorm on libertarian social media. I myself was contacted by a media outlet asking my opinions on the piece.

I did not like the piece for many reasons. I thought it was way too soon to try and make political points off this death. I also did not like the Nuremberg Trials reference (more on that in a little bit). I also didn’t like some style aspects of the piece, but I won’t go into that. Finally, while I strongly disagree with the way airport security is handled in this country and do believe there needs to be more emphasis on the dignity of passengers, I do believe that the TSA screening procedures are legal under current law.

Having said all that, Rachel did not compare the TSA to Nazis. At least that was not her intention. Again, I did not like the Nuremberg Trials reference. But here’s the paragraph in question (bold emphasis is mine)

As a Jew, I am consistently reminded of the Nuremberg Trialswhen it comes to the TSA. Those who slaughtered the Jews in the Holocaust were “just following orders,” but that did not mean that they were any less accountable. Just following orders, just doing the job that they signed up for, did not excuse their actions. Of course, the Nuremberg Trials specifically addressed war crimes, but I think that the idea of just following orders extends beyond that. Being an ethical person requires critical thinking about everyday actions, whether commanded or not.

What she was trying to do (albeit poorly) was trying to make the point that obeying orders to persecute their fellow citizens was immoral. Again, although I believe the TSA is not a good example of her point, it is clear she was not comparing Hernandez and other TSA agents to Nazis. She also condemned the killing of agent Hernandez and said it was an unacceptable way to express frustrations with the TSA.

A personal note about Rachel Burger, she is not a violent radical. Like most libertarians, she adheres to the non-aggression principle which rejects violence as a means of political change. She would agree with me that changing the law peacefully through persuading our fellow Americans through the democratic process is the best and only moral approach. I hate that she is being portrayed otherwise.

One last thing, I have to take a little responsibility for this kerfuffle in a way. Five days ago on Twitter, I was (playfully) teasing Rachel about her lack of edginess sort of speak in her writing. She was obviously trying to prove me wrong. If you’re looking for someone to blame, blame me.

Other than that, it is unfortunate if the reputation of such a great writer like Rachel is destroyed over one piece.

Confessions Of A Scrooge Thursday, Oct 31 2013 

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I hate holidays and I have since before I became a teenager. I also don’t really like my birthday, although the fact that it falls on September 11th is probably the reason why. It really made no difference when I was single or married. I have never been able to get into any holiday spirit.

I am an only child and the child of a single mom. My father has never really been in my life. Relations have been strained with my extended family so I have never had the large family others have had. I also hate large gatherings because I always feel like a fish out of water. For better or for worse, alcohol helps.

I guess my biggest dislike of holidays is that they all seem contrived and distant to me. Scary things don’t have any appeal and I (somewhat jokingly) said that the only thing I like on Halloween is when my attractive female friends dress up in skimpy costumes and post pictures of them on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t really like turkey so I’m not big on Thanksgiving. Christmas, meh I outgrew receiving presents years ago. Easter? Yawn, I can only eat so many Cadbury Creme Eggs. I just don’t feel a connection to these events and days.

There are somethings I love about some holidays. I love the idea of Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate romance. I love Christmas music, especially the religious carols. I appreciate Thanksgiving as a day to celebrate producers (but I can do without the hype of Black Friday). I enjoy many aspects of Mardi Gras as a celebration of Louisiana’s unique culture.

I guess the reason why I’m such a Scrooge is because I’m looking for something authentic instead of the commercialized hype that holidays have become.

Meanwhile, Happy Halloween!

Abandoning Politics, Rededicating To Principles Friday, Jul 26 2013 

Over the past week I have struggled with whether or not to quit politics and social media. I have clearly become burned out with the “outrage of the day” and political discourse that is little better than the Two Minutes Hate from George Orwell’s 1984.

I have decided to start quitting politics and get back to fighting for principles.

I need to get back to advocating the principles of limited government, federalism and localism, our Constitutionally acknowledged liberties, opposition to social engineering whether from the right or left, and a strong, powerful American defense with a prudent American foreign policy.

More importantly, I need to get back to the concept that we can disagree without being disagreeable. No more joining the outrage brigade or posting things just for shock value.

So, basically less politics and BS and more promoting ideas and principles.

If you like this post, consider donating a few bucks. Thanks!

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I Need Your Help Monday, Jul 8 2013 

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If you follow me on Twitter you know that I was recently laid off and that I was fortunately able to go back to work within days. However, I’m having a bit of a money crunch until I get paid.

This is the first time I have ever asked my readers and followers for money. If you see any value in my writings either here or Pocket Full of Liberty, please give what you can. I appreciate it.

Accepting Nominations For The 20 Hottest Libertarian Women In New Media Wednesday, Jul 4 2012 

The blog where I contribute, United Liberty, will be holding a contest where will be naming the 20 hottest libertarian women in New Media. I will be publishing more details on Friday at United Liberty about the contest, but if you want to get an early start on the contest, please comment to this post with your nominations.

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