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The Wisdom of Washington and Kirk

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The Wisdom of Washington and Kirk


Unlike our present politicians, George Washington and Russell Kirk cared about the common good, strove for it, and constantly reminded us what it means to be a citizen of a republic.

Dear Imaginative Conservative reader, as we approach this journal’s fourteenth birthday, I owe a humble apology (bless me, Father, for I have sinned!) to all of you. I’ve not contributed anything to TIC for nearly a year. Maybe you’ve not noticed, and maybe you have.

Please know that my absence had nothing to do with the quality of TIC or the excellent editorship of Winston Elliott III. Rather, I simply burned out on writing. And, it’s incredibly strange for me to admit this even to myself, as so much of my self-understanding and self-definition is wrapped up in my writing, output, and productivity.

Since about age 6 or 7, I’ve wanted to be a professional writer. Back then, I made up all kinds of adventures, especially fantasy adventures about a Paladin knight by the name of Cirion. Or, I tried to write poetry (it was terrible! My fantasy stories were better, crazily enough).

This brings me back to The Imaginative Conservative. Between its founding in 2010 and the year 2023, I wrote a weekly essay. Indeed, for several years, I actually wrote two essays a week. In other words, I’ve written close to 830 essays for TIC. And, I’ve loved every moment of it, even, as I noted above, defining myself by my output. But, I also, unfortunately, got really burned out. Again, this burn out had nothing to do with my love (or lack there of) for TIC or Winston. It just happened.

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So, for the last year, I’ve written quite a bit on other projects—a book on Tolkien and the Inklings, an intellectual biography of Robert Nisbet, and one on Ray Bradbury and the Moral Imagination. I’m also writing a 250th anniversary history of the Declaration of Independence. However, this means that I’ve let my TIC contributions slide to nothing, and, for that, again, I am profoundly sorry.

For what it’s worth, though, I think I’m ready to resume a regular schedule of writing. Here’s hoping the year off gave me a fresh perspective on things.

Yet, as I write this—looking over the past year—the world is in nearly complete chaos. Constitutionally, we’re in a mess. The Supreme Court, for example, backs Texas troops on the Mexican border, while the executive branch backs federal troops. Amazingly, there’s not been much a clash between the two. Additionally, the president—in complete violation of Articles I and II of the U.S. Constitution—forgives billions of dollars of student loans. Even the Supreme Court has tried to stop the president, but to no avail.

We have an election coming up—one that certainly repeats huge aspects of the 2020 election. Former president Trump is now a convicted felon. That’s new in American history!

We’re 34 trillion dollars in debt. That’s new, too! Remember, our last balanced budget was under, of all presidents, Bill Clinton.

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Abroad, despite little national conversation regarding such things, we’re deeply entangled with Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, pitting us, however, indirectly against Russia, Iran, and China, respectively. Though the public and the press say almost nothing about this, we’ve also fighting rather seriously in Niger, though President Biden has relatively recently called for a troop pull-out.

Though the power to declare war resides constitutionally within it, Congress seems worse than impotent.

Conservatives had also deeply divided since 2016, with all kinds of adjectives being added to the august term.

And, yet, and yet, and yet… I would argue that all that was true remains true, no matter how many labels we might give a thing. In his farewell address, President George Washington, arguably our greatest president, gave voice to several worries. First, he warned us against excessive debt. Second, he warned us about the divisive nature of political parties, and, third, he warned us again entangling alliances with foreign powers. The warnings seems as important in 2024 as they did in 1797. Our ancestors speak to us, but do we listen?

I’m also reminded that the founder of post-World War II conservatism, Russell Kirk, never needed to modify the word conservative. He was not a neo-con, a theo-con, or a NatCon. He was, simply, a conservative. He defined his conservatism over the years through four tenets or canons, five canons, six canons, and, at the end, in ten. I’ll stick with the mainstream six from his magisterial 1953 book, The Conservative Mind.

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First, a person must believe in something higher than himself. When Kirk first wrote this, he, not yet a Christian, was probably thinking of something like the Stoic Logos, something that unifies all of us, rendering us equal before the eyes of the Divine.

Second, a person must believe in the dignity of the human person, embracing what Kirk called the principle of proliferating variety. Each person, therefore, is a unique reflection of the Divine, born in a certain time and in a certain place, never to be repeated.

Third, the best way to express our uniqueness—honing our gifts as well as delimiting our foibles—is through community. Here, Kirk sounds very much like Aristotle, recognizing that man is meant to live in a Polis. Community allows us to become what we are meant—by God or nature—to become.

Fourth, that of all our natural rights, the most important for us is the right to property. Through this right, we make ourselves morally, physically, and spiritual culpable. If we lose the ability to own ourselves, we give everything over to Leviathan.

Fifth, a recognition that the great human laboratory is the past as a whole. There, in the past, we see all the excellences as well as the follies of humanity. As Kirk wrote, “custom, convention, and old prescription are checks upon man’s anarchic impulse and upon the innovator’s lust for power.”

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And, finally, six, an understanding that reform—taking that which is given to us and judging it—is a critical part of life. Indeed, through prudence, each generation must decide what to inherit, what to change, and what to discard. But, “hasty innovation may be a devouring conflagration.”

Frankly, I’ll take the voices of Washington and Kirk any day over those of Biden, Trump, and their ilk. Unlike our present politicians, Washington and Kirk cared about the common good, strove for it, and constantly reminded us what it means to be a citizen of a republic.

It’s good to be back…

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

The featured image is Portrait of George Washington Taking the Salute at Trenton (1856) by John Faed, and is in the public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Washington Commanders Offense to Look Different Under OC Kliff Kingsbury

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Washington Commanders Offense to Look Different Under OC Kliff Kingsbury


The Washington Commanders roster reload brought every bit of juice to Washington D.C. Not only because there is a new set of talent on the team, but because there are new coordinators and coaches running the operation, which will have the franchise looking quite different.

Drafting LSU product Jayden Daniels with the No. 2 overall pick and hiring offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury — along with an entire fresh coaching staff — will lead to a potential offensive resurgence.

Last season, the Commanders had the No. 24 offense in the league, according to their 312.8 yards per game. Eric Bieniemy’s Commanders offense was a pass-first offense, though they didn’t do so efficiently.

READ MORE: Commanders Tight End Duo Listed in Fantasy Football Rankings by PFF

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Pro Football Focus recently “clustered” offenses together, which left Washington in Cluster 1 — pass-heavy teams that were fairly efficient in doing so.

“The Commanders led the league in pass rate in 2023 (69.6%) but ranked only 26th in passing grade (60.9),” PFF wrote.

So, the Commanders are coming off a season in which they passed plenty. The Commanders will have a different offensive outlook this season. With Kingsbury taking over the offense, there will be a more “balanced approach.”

Not only is Daniels an incredible dual-threat quarterback, but the team has talented wide receivers and two solid running backs — one of those being newly acquired Austin Ekeler.

Ekeler is a threat in both the run and pass game, and his versatility only adds to the balanced offense, opening up more possibilities.

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“We want to be balanced,” Kingsbury said of his offense. “We want to be able to run the football and play-action pass and really do whatever it takes to win.”

With a potential star dual-threat quarterback, there will be plenty of opportunity to simply do whatever it takes to win. They’ll be in the shotgun formation plenty, thanks to Kingsbury’s air raid roots. Still, it seems the offensive coordinator is open to switching things up and giving the offense new looks, which should leave Commanders fans hopeful.

With Daniels under center and talent in both the backfield and in the wide receiver room, the Commanders’ offense could be intriguing to watch and potentially explosive with the amount of versatility all around.

READ MORE: Was Drafting Jayden Daniels Washington Commanders ‘Biggest Gamble’ Of Offseason?

Stick with CommanderGameday and the Locked On Commanders podcast for more coverage of the Washington Commanders throughout the 2024 season.

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Bordeaux powerhouse winery buys Virginia’s RdV Vineyards

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Bordeaux powerhouse winery buys Virginia’s RdV Vineyards


RdV Vineyards, the upstart winery determined to prove that Virginia wine could stand proudly among the world’s best in quality and price, has been purchased by the owners of Bordeaux’s famed Château Montrose, the companies announced Monday in a joint statement posted on the RdV website.

The sale represents the first entry by a Bordeaux powerhouse into the eastern United States and the first major foreign wine investment in Virginia since Italy’s Zonin family established Barboursville Vineyards in 1976. Financial terms were not disclosed.

RdV’s founder, Rutger de Vink, will remain through the 2024 harvest as a consultant. The rest of the RdV team will stay on board, including winemaker Joshua Grainer, a master of wine. The winery will be renamed Lost Mountain Vineyards, after the series of hills on which the vineyard sits, and will be under the direction of Grainer and Pierre Graffeuille, CEO of Château Montrose.

“The renaming is a natural outcome of the purchase and a celebration of the new era,” the companies said in the statement, which was expected to be issued in Bordeaux on Tuesday. “Converting RdV, Rutger de Vink’s initials, into ‘Lost Mountain’ pays tribute to the remarkable terroir of this ancient knoll once beloved by America’s founding father, George Washington.”

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In an email to close contacts Monday, de Vink praised his winery team and supporters. “This time has given me purpose and happiness, not to mention the fulfillment of knowing we have created a world-class wine and helped put Virginia on the worldwide wine map,” he wrote. “Together, we have created something that many said could not be done.”

Château Montrose is a leading producer in the St.-Estèphe appellation of Bordeaux’s Left Bank. Classified as a second growth under the 1855 Bordeaux classification, it has been owned since 2006 by Martin and Olivier Bouygues, billionaire brothers who steer a family conglomerate operating in telecommunications, media and construction. They also own Château Tronquoy in St.-Estèphe, Clos Rougeard in the Loire Valley and Domaine Henri Rebourseau in Burgundy, as well as a cognac distillery and a truffle farm. This will be their first U.S. wine venture.

Those holdings and Lost Mountain Vineyards will be grouped under a new company called Eutopia Estates, the announcement said. It will be headed by Charlotte Bouygues, daughter of Martin and Melissa Bouygues. Melissa is a native of Baton Rouge.

Montrose is the first Bordeaux house to invest in Virginia, but the Old Dominion has enjoyed French influence over the years. De Vink enlisted Eric Boissenot, a consultant for four of the five Bordeaux first-growth chateaux, to blend his wines, and Jean-Philippe Roby to consult in the vineyard. Michel Rolland, Stephane Deronencourt and Lucien Guillemet have consulted elsewhere in Virginia. And several French-born winemakers are currently active. Several Bordeaux wineries have properties or partnerships in Napa Valley.

In 2004, after apprenticing under Jim Law at Linden Vineyards in Virginia and David Ramey in California, de Vink purchased a 93-acre sheep farm off Route 17 near Delaplane, in Fauquier County. The estate now includes 18 acres under vine, mostly Bordeaux varieties, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and petit verdot, and a retro-modern winery that resembles a farmhouse on the outside and a concrete and metal temple to wine inside.

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From the 2008 vintage, RdV focused on two wines: a top cuvée called Lost Mountain, based on cabernet sauvignon, and a second blend, Rendezvous. Juice that didn’t make these wines was bottled as Friends and Family and occasionally showed up in shops or restaurants. RdV has also made small amounts of rosé and this year will produce its first white, a blend of albarino and semillon.

Even before RdV released its inaugural 2008s in April 2011, it was generating buzz as a potential Virginia first growth or an American grand cru.

Critics were impressed with the initial wines but skeptical that any from Virginia could fetch $88 and $55 a bottle. De Vink proved the skeptics wrong: The wines were an immediate success and caught the attention of British wine writer Jancis Robinson and chefs Eric Ziebold and José Andrés. The wines have improved over the years and are now on wine lists at many of the nation’s top restaurants, including Le Bernardin and Per Se in New York and the Bazaar and Minibar in Washington.

De Vink rejected the hospitality model familiar at Virginia wineries. RdV has no tasting room and does not host weddings. Tastings are by appointment and cost up to $140 for a tour and tasting, including food and library vintages. Sales are primarily through a membership program, with the current release of the Lost Mountain 2021 selling for $225 a bottle to members. Rendezvous currently sells for $110. The winery has about 2,000 members, de Vink said.

By focusing on one primary wine, the Lost Mountain, and making no compromises on quality, de Vink believed he could produce extraordinary wine. He used the analogy of automakers with a wide range of vehicles vs. those that specialize in one exceptional product.

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“I wanted to make a Ferrari,” he said.

The French buyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but in an interview de Vink said RdV’s focus on quality caught the eye of Graffeuille when he visited the United States last fall to scout out prospective acquisitions. Martin and Oliver Bouygyes visited RdV in February, and sale negotiations began soon thereafter.

When he launched RdV, de Vink often poured his wine alongside Château Montrose and a high-end Napa cabernet sauvignon to demonstrate that it belonged at that level. Handing his project off to the Bouygues brothers “feels like coming full circle,” he said.

De Vink, an avid mountaineer and skier, said he and his wife, Jenny Marie, will relocate somewhere in the western United States or Canada where mountains and snow are plentiful.

Aside from the new name, the joint announcement of the sale gave little indication of any major change in direction for the winery. Grainer, who has been at RdV since the beginning and earned the master of wine title in 2022, said his charge from the new owners is to improve the vineyards so that more of the wine qualifies to make the top cuvée. That will mean less Rendezvous and Friends and Family, he said.

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At Montrose, the Bouygues constructed new production facilities and purchased additional vineyards. At RdV for now, at least, the emphasis is on continuity and “ensuring quality and reverence for the vineyard’s storied past while steering it toward a promising future,” the joint statement said.



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Securing a Vibrant Future With UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene – UPMC & Pitt Health Sciences News Blog

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Securing a Vibrant Future With UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene – UPMC & Pitt Health Sciences News Blog


Welcoming UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene to UPMC represents a milestone in our promise to serve and care for all our communities.

The benefits of this affiliation are immense. It preserves local health care access, it builds upon needed life-saving services for more people and it ensures UPMC is growing for a strong future.

‘The Future Is Bright, There Is Much Good to Come’

On June 12, employees, medical staff, and community leaders joined to celebrate the becoming of UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene.

Leslie C. Davis, president and CEO of UPMC, applauded the dedicated leaders who never wavered in belief that Washington Health System would join UPMC.

“It’s been clear how deeply you care about your employees and your community,” said Davis. “Together, we will carry on that culture of caring in our next chapters as UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene.”

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Numerous media outlets shared the monumental news of the benefits that will come from our affiliation, including: Marty Griffin of KDKA Radio, KDKA-TV, Washington Observer-Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times, WPXI-TV and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Watch a recording of the affiliation celebration press conference to hear from Davis and John Surma, chairperson, UPMC board of directors; Brook Ward, president, UPMC Washington; John Six, MD, vice president of Medical Affairs, UPMC Washington; Mayor JoJo Burgess, mayor of Washington, Pa.; and Dan Miller, chairperson, UPMC Washington board of directors.

‘We Brought Quality Health Care From the Big City to Small Town Living’

At the press conference, Mayor JoJo Burgess described a powerful, personal account of the life-changing difference of UPMC’s care (watch below).

His father nearly lost his life. He was on a ventilator at a non-UPMC hospital and needed to be urgently transferred to UPMC for a higher level of care. By the time it took Mayor Burgess to drive from Washington to Pittsburgh, his father was off the vent and sitting up in bed eating Jello.

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UPMC will always be special to me,” Mayor Burgess said. “We got the right outcome we needed for our residents. I am so happy to have UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene.”

‘This Will Uphold and Protect a Healthy Future for This Community’

From every corner of every community served by UPMC, our talented medical staff, visionary leaders and dedicated teams deliver people-focused, best-in-class health care.

  • As we integrate UPMC Washington and UPMC Greene, we will uphold three core commitments:
  • – To keep health care local and grow UPMC Washington as a health care destination for the surrounding communities.
  • – To invest in retaining and recruiting the most talented nurses, physicians, and clinical experts to deliver the very best care.
  • – To contribute impactful investments, ongoing charitable care, and community benefits to improve the health and well-being of the people and places we serve.

“Now, it’s time to move forward by honoring UPMC’s commitments,” Davis continued. “We will proceed with the same tenacity and fervor to secure a vibrant future.”  

 

 

 

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