Monday, July 03, 2006

The 4th Of July: On Liberty And Freedom

Frequent readers will know that I am a big fan of LtCol Jeff Cooper. Among the many subjects he addresses is the difference between liberty and freedom. He points out that the terms are not interchangeable; they are two different conditions. Liberty is a political condition, freedom is a physical condition.

As with so many other issues, I stand with Cooper.

One of the greatest things we can say about Liberty is that it isn’t an –ism. Liberty requires no creed, has no silly little red book, professes no tenets, encourages no class warfare, and issues no manifestos. Liberty is the condition where a free citizen goes about his business as he sees fit, under his own abilities and in pursuit of his own goals. Liberty is just normal life. In yesterday’s edition of my quaint and amusing local paper, there was a very good article on Canadians living here in the U.S. One of them wrestles with self-doubt: has he betrayed “his country’s socialism” by coming here for higher pay and lower taxes? No sir, you haven’t betrayed it, you gave it the middle finger. You chose normal life over a contrived system that limited your opportunities. Stop worrying about it. You chose Liberty over an –ism. Welcome to America, sir. (And btw, get out of Maryland; it's pretty socialist too.)

Liberty as a political condition has an equally attractive economic twin: free enterprise. Let’s not call it capitalism, let’s just keep it simple. It is “free” in that it is unfettered except by the basic rule of law, but it's not a free-for-all. And “enterprise”—what a great word! A venture by an individual seeking to make his fortune, be it across a continent or just down the street. Think of the innumerable daily economic liberties we enjoy. They go hand in hand with political liberty.

Freedom is just the absence of restraint. The man who just broke out of prison—or the man who was just released from prison—is free, but he cannot enjoy liberty. He is in a very limited position to pursue his life. Look at it another way: when the Saddam statue was pulled down in Baghdad in April 2003 (by a U.S. Marine reservist, I’d like to point out), the inhabitants of that city were free, but they had no Liberty. Their freedom descended into chaos, violence and lawlessness, but not only because there was no civil power to enforce the law. Rather, it was because they could not govern their own passions and actions. The basis of Liberty is truly self-government. A true state of Liberty requires few laws and a relative handful of men to enforce them, because the population is not inclined to break the law in the first place.

I believe that when the founders talked about Liberty, they meant exactly what they said. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is a wonderfully straightforward call. The Founders meant to appeal to an educated, engaged, self-governing people. I believe that that is what America still stands for.

So I’ll stand with Cooper, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson. Liberty is what I want, and it is what I’ll fight for.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Guns, Guns, Guns

The 4th of July weekend is a fine to time to think about, discuss, and shoot GUNS. Besides, it'll keep my mind off the closing of Thoroughbreds. I have a modest armory: a .22 rifle, a Remington 870 12-gauge, a CVA 50-cal muzzleloader, a WWII M1 Garand, a Taurus .357, and the twin prizes of the collection, a Springfield Armory 1911 .45, and the mighty .308 Steyr Mannlicher Scout.

It is true that you cannot operate more than one weapon at a time. Yet, I want more.

After years of resisting the urge, I’m looking at an AK. (Cooper says that the AK is not a citizen’s weapon, by which he means a rifle, but a peasant’s weapon. However, he points out, it is a system in use throughout the world and has much to recommend it in terms of simplicity, reliability and durability. One correspondent replied to me with, “It goes bang when you pull the trigger, every time.”) Several people have recommended this one to me, a Roamnian WASR:

I’d like to turn my 870 into this (and then of course buy a new one for fowl and turkey), a Wilson Combat Border Patrol model:

I really want one of these, a Ruger .22 Single Six:

Yes, one of these too, a Bushmaster or some other M4gery:

And thanks to good reviews and a new line of ammo that increases its capabilities (via John Farnam), I think one of these would be a good acquisition, a Kahr Arms M1 Carbine:

And of course then I’d have to attend more courses, like the Gunsite shotgun course and any number of AK courses. Not to do so would be a shame. :-)

Anything else? Ok, maybe one of THESE... finally, a good use for golf balls.


Thoroughbreds Grill, R.I.P.

I went yesterday, growler in hand, to a great local establishment, Thoroughbreds Grill and Brewing. There weren’t many cars in the lot, but I thought well, maybe it’s just an off-day. When I got closer I saw the blinds were drawn and the patio furniture was gone. Uh-oh. Sure enough, a sign on the door said, “Closed, gone bankrupt.”


This has happened to me before. I was a regular at Virginia Beverage Company in Old Town Alexandria, where I had a mug and even picture on the wall.

I really liked Thoroughbreds. I liked the food, I like the staff, I liked the beer. And they liked me. I was recognized when I came in and got great service. I had a nice little ritual: I would come in on a Friday night, and get my growler filled with 50 Cat IPA. I could (and did) drink that ale by the liter. The cost was $7.06 so I’d give them $10.06 and call it even. Sometimes I had son-and-heir with me, and I would say to him, one day you too will enjoy this. The whole thing was extraordinarily pleasant and comfortable. I can’t tell you how upset I am.