Marriage

I had the incredible honor and pleasure of officiating the wedding of two dear friends of mine in New Jersey this weekend. It was a beautiful event filled with fun, laughter, joyous tears, and a whole lot of dancing. Truth be told, I love weddings… a lot. They are a blast, but my excitement over two people celebrating their love and hope for the future seems to surprise a lot of people. I guess it comes as a shock that a polyamorous, libertine, burner, pansexual, nomadic person like myself would enjoy a traditional celebration that I have no intention of ever doing myself.

That simply isn’t the case though. I enjoy the diverse forms that love and relationships can take. If two (or more) people love each other and wish to have an event to celebrate that then I am all over it. Just because I don’t want something similar at this point in my life doesn’t mean I won’t congratulate and help my loved ones who do. I also don’t want kids but I find joy in my nieces and nephews, as well as the relationships they represent between children and parents.

As humankind loosens the chains of societal norms and begins to express the incredible diversity of tastes and preferences I believe we will all appreciate and embrace love in all its forms. Monogamy works for many but not for all, but that does not make one expression of love “right” or “wrong”, it just means that we are complex social creatures who find love through many paths… and I think that is a good thing. This world needs more paths to acceptance, love, joy, intimacy, sex, and happiness. Love is not a zero-sum game, love you experience does not take away the love I experience, in fact, I think it is quite the opposite. The more love the world experiences and the more ways we find it, the better off the world will be.

Memorial Day

Days like this continue to be strange for me. Much like Veterans Day, my Facebook feed blows up in a bipolar reflection of my conservative military post and my libertarian anti-war present. I rarely speak out on these issues, instead I spend these days with friends enjoying the beauty of life and try to live away from my computer for just a bit. Today that isn’t possible as I sit in the Newark airport sucking down coffee and waiting for my flight back home.

As I mentioned, my Facebook feed is currently pretty bipolar. On one side is my republican conservative past. Pictures of flags, graves, quotes, and requests for prayer for the troops litter the feed. All troops are heroes and we should support them with a nationalistic fervor. To question any military action on a day like this is deemed inappropriate or even treasonous. Unsurprising to me, most of the men I served with do not fall in this category, they seem to prefer to turn their thoughts to the men we knew, drink a beer, and leave the flash waving out of it.

On the other end of the spectrum there is the extreme anti-war movement libertarians. They litter my feed with demonizing all military as murderers who deserve death. Their Facebook profile seem to rarely have their birth name or picture and instead hide behind pictures of Rothbard or a gold and black flag. Their anti-nationalism approaches knee jerk zealotry and they seem more interested in arguing instead of engaging in meaningful debate.

I think both of these sides are wrong in their treatment of this holiday and military veterans. Those who stand up to violence and evil to protect their loved ones are doing something honorable. To stand up and say, “you shall not harm my family, enslave my children, or kill my friends until my heart no longer beats” is a noble act, and a moral one. But, to blindly support political actions that send these brave people to war to kill and die needlessly is foolish at best.

It is easy to say from behind a computer screen that those who enlist are immoral because they should “know better”. I’m certainly not making excuses to remove individual responsibility but we all should try to understand where people are coming from. New enlisted military are usually young and have spent most of their life in government schools being told to obey, not to think. We have two pro-war political parties which means the media, the schools, and likely the dinner table never have an anti-war voice. The internet had the potential to spread the liberty message but if the vocal messengers seem extreme, like calling soldiers murderers, they don’t help anything.

So, on this Memorial Day I lift my glass to the men and women who bravely said they are willing to die before they see freedom die. I encourage them each to read about blowback, research America’s imperial interventionist history, and listen to some of Ron Paul videos on YouTube. Check out Bastiat and Milton Friedman, and maybe find a libertarian you trust to ask them questions. And, if you are feeling conflicted and still in the military, check out your options to become a conscientious objector.

To the political leaders and crony capitalists I say FUCK YOU! You are protected by better men and women then you. You should know better and despite your intentions you should be judged by your results, and these results have lead to undesirable damage through loss of life, destruction, and mental and physical injuries. I hope the day comes when you give the approval to some unnecessary intervention overseas and soldiers say no. I hope they shove a rifle in your hand and ship you out to some other land. Maybe if you aren’t sitting in some air conditioned office collecting and absurd paycheck far away from danger you will act more responsibly with the lives and liberties you were elected to protect.

(Please forgive any errors, writing this on a phone is a little awkward)

Words

Language is a funny thing, but for me it can also be incredibly confusing and annoying. I came from conservative upbringing, served in the military, went to college in the South, worked in the liberty movement in DC, and now live in Los Angeles, and all this has taught me that most people don’t listen and that even English speakers are often speaking a different language. When political debates unfold it seems incredibly rare that the two people debating even agree on definitions, but instead of clarifying language people scream past each other. Words like “coercion”, “legitimate”, “oppression”, “equality”, and “freedom” can mean very different things to different people depending on their background and experience.

Personal relationships do not always seem to add much relief to the confusion. When two people have even slightly different personalities or perceptions there can be a lot of confusion. I’ll give two recent examples from my life where my INTJ nature and confidence issues lead me to miss language cues that may have been obvious to someone with a different personality. First, when I asked my best friend what he was up to at night he said he was going to the movies and dinner with some mutual friends of ours. I assumed that if he wanted me to join then he would have explicitly invited me. He assumed that because we have known each other for over 20 years I would know that I am always welcome to hang out if I want.

The second situation was me overanalyzing what a word meant. A hot girl that I’ve talked to for a while and flirted with a bit called me “dude” in a text. I assumed I was being told that she saw me as only a friend and really didn’t think we had a connection beyond that. I asked her about it (which was out of character for me) and my assumption was wrong. I tend to be overly cautious with women because I fear making them uncomfortable, which makes communication very difficult. I basically can’t read implicit signs and fear making explicit comments.

I don’t really know where I was going with this. It was just on my mind and I think we could all benefit from clearly saying what we mean and make an effort to clarify terms when needed. In order to make ourselves, our relationships, and our world a better place I think we need to spend the time communicating clearly instead of assuming the other person knows what we mean. 

“X Is Why We Aren’t Winning”

Sometimes it is tough to be in the liberty movement. To the outside world we can seem unnecessarily zealous about niche issues and to within the movement we seem to be filled with pessimistic infighting. A dear friend of mine posted this on Facebook “I’ve started keeping a list of every time a libertarian says, “X is the reason we’re not winning.”” and it got me thinking. Most libertarians have heard thousands of reasons why “we aren’t winning”. Maybe it’s the anarchists fault or Rand Paul isn’t pure enough, we focus too much on drugs, there aren’t enough women, etc. There is always someone to blame for why libertarianism isn’t more popular. I have a couple of problems with this mentality.

First off, we ARE winning. Libertarian/Classical liberal thinkers have helped improve society by leaps and bounds in the last couple hundred years. It was pro-freedom advocates who helped end slavery, end the draft, and increase equality under the law. Sure, the last decade or so has kind of sucked but the world has gone through a lot shittier times than this where government has clamped down on civil and economic liberties. Libertarians job is to help provide an intellectual foundation and shift the Overton Window so that politicians are forced to move. Political action follows behind intellectual action and on the intellectual side we are winning. Yes, there have been steps back and yes, things aren’t going as quickly as we would like but it would be short-sighted and wrong to say the ideas of liberty aren’t winning, particularly if you take a look at things from a long-term and global scale.

So, what some people really mean is “X is why we aren’t winning elections”, which is a whole different statement. I think we aren’t winning elections with the Libertarian Party and explicitly libertarian candidates is because politics is the opposite of liberty. Liberty is freedom from coercion and government is a monopoly on coercion. Expecting libertarianism to spread throughout the government (particularly the federal government) is like getting your pilots license to fly to Japan and then purchasing a Honda Accord and driving into the ocean. It doesn’t matter how good of a pilot you are the vehicle is wrong for the task. And teaming up with Progressives and Conservatives is great on some issues but they have a different foundation for their beliefs, both sides generally believe that violence against peaceful, non-consenting people is okay if it is creating greater equality or security. Libertarianism itself cannot work within government, it can only shift people away from government and back to peaceful cooperation (preferably at a community level in my opinion).*

As access to information increases and technology provides greater opportunities around the globe it will become increasingly easy to ignore the government and spread libertarian ideas. Anyone who has read “Radicals For Capitalism” knows that in the early part of the 20th Century being a libertarian was a lonely idea, if you were lucky you could correspond or read a few journals entries on the subject but times have changed. The internet allows thousands of people to come together to discuss ideas and coordinate events. It would have been unheard of even 15 years ago to imagine putting on one convention that attracts 150 students dedicated to freedom and now Students For Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty hosts dozens combined. We are winning, and things are going to continue to get better. 3D Printing, longer life spans, bitcoin, wikipedia, and a thousand other developments are going to contribute to a society that does not need the state any longer. There will be bumps in the road, there are fights ahead, nothing is inevitable, but things really are better now than they have ever been.

*People point out Ron Paul as working within government. I disagree. His strength was in changing the conversation and using his position to get the issues discussed, which is very different than using legislation or political office to make changes from the inside.

Death

I found out today that a soldier I once served with passed away last Thursday. To be honest, it has hit me harder than I expected. Peter Fedorka joined my unit (C Co, 3/504 PIR) on the same day I did, he also has the same first and middle name as me. While the years drifted us apart, as they tend to do, I still feel a lot of heart break upon his passing. It is not easy to explain the brotherhood and camaraderie that comes from serving in combat with someone. Even now, as I am a vocal critic of war and military occupation around the globe, I still feel a kinship with the men I served with and I know they will always be my brothers. I know that if I needed help I could count on them for support.

Fedorka and I didn’t know each other well, we were in different platoons and didn’t really run in the same social circles. But a part of me feels great loss at his passing and it brings to light my own mortality. I don’t know what happens when this body ceases, I have theories and hopes, but it is something that really can’t be objectively known. We really only have this life. 

My thoughts and love go out to his children, wife, and family. I hope they find comfort and peace in time. Peter is still loved and in his life he loved. If there is more after these bodies fade I hope he finds peace and love as well.

CTRL – P

We live in a wonderful new world where knowledge and information can be sent at nearly the speed of light across the globe. The Industrial Age is giving way to the Information Age and with that revolution there are bound to be forces that fight this evolution. Government, as always, is one of those forces. Government thrives off of the status quo and control of information, every tremor caused by new technology gets the bureaucratic machine moving to slow things down and those in power fight to maintain it. But in many ways the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t stop the internet or exchange of information except through tyrannical restrictions that are nearly impossible to impose on an armed, diverse public spread over a large geographic region. That doesn’t mean the state won’t try though.

I believe that 3-D Printing will revolutionize the world. From ears, shoes, art, human organscars, homes, and guns the ability to input blueprints into machines will change the economy in ways unknown since the internal combustion engine, assembly line, and printing press. It is the idea of a 3D Printed gun that has sprung the state into action, but the ramifications could be far reaching. The government has utterly failed in the past at restricting information, from copyrights to state secrets it seems that the truth will always get out as the market moves faster and can adapt to changes than bureaucrats can fathom.

What I find interesting about the current demand from the State Department to take files offline (files that have been shared 100,000+ times already and are being hosted in countries around the world) is that they have not accused the creator of a crime. They are ordering the restriction of spreading information, a right protected by the 1st Amendment, while they investigate if a crime was even committed. They are enforcing punishment without even the accusation of a crime, much less the conviction. If the government is allowed to control what people talk about and what ideas are shared online they have rendered freedom of speech void.

I have always been curious how far gun control advocates are willing to go. I’ve heard some say we should ban all guns, but that raises some practical questions that could have far reaching effects on individual rights. If I can’t buy or own a gun can I build one? What constitutes “a gun”? If I can’t build one can I draw diagrams and write down how to build one? If not, can I discuss building them with my friends? How much speech are people willing to censor when the subject is something that is uncomfortable for some but causes no harm? It appears the state believes that blueprints sent in electronic format should be stopped… that information should be stopped… that discussions should be stopped… I wonder if they will be willing and able to send agents with guns to stop “free” people from talking about guns.

Armed March in DC

As some may know there is an armed protest planned in Washington DC for the 4th of July. Adam Kokesh, a former RT tv show host and military veteran, plans on leading 2000+ people from Virginia (where open carry of loaded weapons is legal without a permit) across a bridge into Washington DC (where I’m pretty sure thinking about any item powered by gunpowder is illegal). This has put me in a position I am not really used to, my view is apparently moderate.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe we have the right to own any tool we want as long as we don’t harm others and I believe we have the right to self-defense. I own a gun (and she is beautiful) and have broken many gun laws in the past and I think the case for civilian ownership of firearms is strong from a philosophical and practical standpoint. Philosophically, we should not be discriminated against based on other peoples actions, which means I should be able to own a gun, tank, or whatever if I own it peacefully. I should not have my rights restricted based on what people like me have done in the past and I should not have my rights restricted based on what harm I have the potential of doing. Basically, the law should not discriminate and we should all be innocent until proven guilty.

From a practical standpoint I think when people say “but what about nuclear weapons” they are being intellectually dishonest and have divorced themselves from reality. If Iran can’t get a functioning nuclear weapon I am not concerned about my neighbor getting one. Also, I think that the government is here to serve the people and part of the balance of power is allowing citizens the ability to physically protect themselves from tyranny. If history tells us anything it is that every government eventually oppresses their own people or is invaded and overthrown… in either case, a well-armed populace will help secure the life and liberty of everyone. The United States of America is no different, there will come a day when this empire will become a police state or weaken so much that an aggressor will take over (I think the former is most likely).

So, I support private ownership of weapons but I think Adam Kokesh’s move is fucking stupid. This is not 1776 where marching against some red-coats will motivate a few people get involved and King George won’t know it is happening for a few weeks or months. If they march on DC and shots are exchanged (it really doesn’t matter who fires first) it will be used as an excuse to strip more rights from individuals, expand a “gun free zone” based on mileage instead of state borders around the capital, and the protesters will lose. And the public will support every one of these measures.

I have to wonder what Kokesh is trying to accomplish. This is tactically foolish and makes all libertarians look like gun-nuts. The current strategy of using the judicial and legislative system to re-secure our rights to own a weapon has been incredibly successful. There are more “will issue” states for concealed weapons permits, the Castle Doctrine is spreading, the Brady Gun Ban expired with little real opposition and the Supreme Court has defined the 2nd Amendment as an individual right in “DC v Heller” and “McDonald v Chicago”… it has been a good couple decades for gun rights and there is no real opposition to it. There has not been blood in the street, in fact, quite the opposite is true. So, what is Kokesh trying to do? Is this a power trip or some sort of ego-trip? He has been accused of worse though I really don’t know, I’ve never met the guy.

But, I think Skeptical Libertarian has it right:
“70% chance the protesters will meet in Virginia, try to walk over the bridge, get stopped by DC police, turn around, march around Arlington and call it a symbolic victory.
20% chance most of them turn around and a couple get arrested. 10% chance someone does something stupid and they die in a hail of gunfire.”

I certainly hope they are right, bloodshed over a relatively non-issue (regardless of the right-wing screeching about Obama trying to take our guns) would be a tragedy for all involved.