A Small But Heroic Return

Twice I have attempted to shut down this public journal.

Once before in 2007 when I took on the responsibility of representing the Republican Party of Virginia as their communications director under happier times with Ed Gillespie as chairman and the inestimable Charlie Judd as executive director, and once again as I merged my own writing into other projects.

The list of projects thus far is not a very long one, and almost all of them have been digital publications in a way that I felt I could get thoughts off of my chest and into public consumption.  Bearing Drift was the first and longest lasting of these experiments, followed by the revival of The Jeffersoniad before moving to The Republican Standard.

Other publications kind enough to take my scribbling have been digital journals such as Ethika Politika and The Wanderer — the oldest Catholic publication in the country and a mainstay of Catholic traditional thought.  In truth, writing for Der Wanderer has become one of the most pleasurable experiences, allowing me to express my faith to fellow travelers — and it helped me discover what I missed about my own writing today.

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The Top 10 BANNED Thomas Jefferson Quotes of ALL TIME!


A handful of faculty and a ton more students at the University of Virginia decided to sigh a petition entitled co-sign an e-mail to University of Virginia president Theresa Sullivan that might as well have been titled “Please Tell The Alumni To Stop Giving To This University” — from the Cavalier Daily:

Some professors from the Psychology Department — and other academic departments — did not agree with the use of this quote. Their letter to Sullivan argued that in light of Jefferson’s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs, she should refrain from quoting Jefferson in email communications.

“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,” the letter read. “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

The letter garnered 469 signatures — from both students and professors — before being sent out via email Nov. 11. Signees included Politics Prof. Nicholas Winter, Psychology Prof. Chad Dodson, Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Corinne Field, College Assistant Dean Shilpa Davé, Politics Prof. Lynn Sanders and many more. Asst. Psychology Prof. Noelle Hurd drafted the letter.

In that spirit, we would like to help with the TOP 10 BANNED THOMAS JEFFERSON QUOTES OF ALL TIME!

10. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

9.  I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

8. The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

7. All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution.

6. That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical…

5. The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive.

4. The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.

3. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body, and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks. Never think of taking a book with you.

2. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in Europe.

1. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights; that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

You have to admit, #3 should come with a trigger warning.

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Forgot To Brag About This… But Ireland Rugby DESTROYED The All-Blacks Last Week

I forgot to brag about this, but Ireland beat the New Zealand All-Blacks quite convincingly on November 6th in Chicago — for the first time in 111 years.

If you want to watch this (as I am doing right now) and see just how popular rugby can be in the United States? Check this out… that’s Soldier Field packed to the gills.

New Zealand responded to this loss with a 68-10 drubbing of Italy this week, as Ireland beat Canada in a stunner.  The two teams will now head to Dublin on 19 November for a final match.

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Social Security Deferments: Playing Off One Entitlement Against The Other


Two Republican candidates in Virgnia — Mike Wade in VA-04 and Tom Garrett in VA-05 respectively — have embraced what has to be the most underreported solution put forward this election cycle.

What is perhaps more amazing about the proposal is that it did not come from a Washington think-tank, nor did it come from a policy wonk.  Rather, the idea came from Albemarle County’s Republican unit chairman, Mr. Elliott Harding.

The white paper is entitled Student Security, and it is worth an evening read.  In short, the federal student debt load is already subsidized by the government and is a tremendous drag on GDP growth.  Social Security likewise is a multi-trillion dollar wall that will effectively force certain financial realities in terms of either massive cuts or massive tax increases (or the elimination of the SSI cap).

What Harding attempts to resolve is a simple question: how does one convince Millennials to continue to subsidize a Ponzi schematic to benefit a generation that drove America into debt — for an entitlement that few Millennials expect to benefit from? Continue reading

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Oh Great, The Falangists Are Back…


I’ll begin with the basics — I had no idea that Catholic socialism still existed, given its utter repudiation by Pope Leo XIII.

Still, it would appear as if the old dragon still draws breath, in no small part as a reaction to the neo-conservative moment within the Catholic intelligentsia in the United States (spearheaded perhaps by First Things) and countered perhaps by the “revolutionary Aristotelians” such as MacIntyre and Dreher.

If you are a layperson, consider four camps within Catholic intellectual circles: two on the right, two on the left.  Within the right there are two camps — conservative (John Paul II) and traditionalists (SSPX).  Within the left, there are two camps as well: radicals (liberation theology) and progressives (Pope John XXIII).

What is interesting here — and a worthwhile moment to pause — is the effort between some of the radicals to appropriate the language of the traditionalists, primarily in an effort to synthesize a few disparate ideas:

  1. Distributist ethics and a rejection of capitalism.
  2. Traditionalist language and norms.
  3. The spirit of integralism as a check against the corrosion of a post-modern society.
  4. A baptism of liberation theology (stick with me on this one).
  5. A reinforced emphasis on localism and subsidiarity.

The core problem here is that the tradinistas have been here before, and it is a radically different form of integralism than that proffered by the traditionalists.  In a previous incarnation, they carried a different name: falangists. Continue reading

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Your One Hour and Fifty Minutes of Civilization

Courtesy of Frederic Chopin — and all of them.

Chopin wrote 21 nocturnes during his lifetime, and great listening for gloomy weather such as we’ve been experiencing in Virginia as of late.

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Catholic Relief Services Stands With Planned Parenthood?

Here we go again.  Courtesy of the Lepanto Institute we find supposedly Catholic leadership actively on the side of the enemies of the Catholic Church:

On November 28, 2015, Garrels posted a “#StandwithPP” overlay over one of her pictures, indicating that she supports Planned Parenthood and endorses continued government funding of the big-box retail chain of abortion stores.  As is indicated in the image below, there are 36 “likes” of this post by Garrels … three of which came from other CRS employees.

Obviously, folks should be concerned about an employee of Catholic Relief Services who “likes” organizations that are diametrically opposed to the social teaching of the Catholic Church.  That should be enough for concern.  Full stop.

Critics will naturally raise a deeper objection — that being, how far can the Church go in stomping out “dissent” as it were.  What if it were a conservative employee who say, supported the defense industry?  The abolition of the minimum wage?  A more restrictive immigration policy?

There are two responses to this, the first being self-evident.  Rerum Novarum, the encyclical by Leo XIII that began the tradition of Catholic social teaching, does a marvelous job at dictating the ends — a living wage, centered around the family, and an open disdain for socialism and corporatism.  How one gets there — whether through a mandated living wage, the free market, or a more Thomistic application of custom and social norms — remains an open topic.  Namely, so long as one agrees on the ends, one is relatively safe when it comes to “dissent” on certain questions.

…but not all.

Pope Saint John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor helped whittled down the how in reaction to a seeming tidal wave of proportionalism that threatened to crash upon the Church in the post-modern age, a fight that Benedict XVI and Francis have continued marvelously, specifically the now famous cf. 75:

But as part of the effort to work out such a rational morality (for this reason it is sometimes called an “autonomous morality” ) there exist false solutions, linked in particular to an inadequate understanding of the object of moral action. Some authors do not take into sufficient consideration the fact that the will is involved in the concrete choices which it makes: these choices are a condition of its moral goodness and its being ordered to the ultimate end of the person. Others are inspired by a notion of freedom which prescinds from the actual conditions of its exercise, from its objective reference to the truth about the good, and from its determination through choices of concrete kinds of behaviour. According to these theories, free will would neither be morally subjected to specific obligations nor shaped by its choices, while nonetheless still remaining responsible for its own acts and for their consequences. This “teleologism”, as a method for discovering the moral norm, can thus be called — according to terminology and approaches imported from different currents of thought — “consequentialism” or “proportionalism”. The former claims to draw the criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter, by weighing the various values and goods being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the “greater good” or “lesser evil” actually possible in a particular situation.  (emphasis original)

Unfortunately, we do indeed live in the world.  Not everything is clean in a world of government grants, as many a grantee and grantor will cheerfully explain at Catholic Relief Services.

Yet Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia helpfully provides a little chart on how one formally or informally co-operates with evil.  Whether or not it is a grant made to a heterodox organization, a grant accepted to tolerate a little evil to do a greater good, or any other form of casuistry to explain away formal co-operation, the basic premise is the same — you cannot do evil to achieve good.

The second point?  Lies in a certain form of diversity among Catholic bureaucrats working within and among the support staff that seem to surround our Catholic bishops and priests.

One could rationally make the case that if a Republican (rather than a Democrat) were working on the staff of any Catholic organization, one could — perhaps rightly? — raise the question as to their personal values and leanings.

Perhaps… but the problem here is twofold: (1) Planned Parenthood is an enemy of the Catholic Faith, with the vast majority of their work shoveled into the maw of their abortion industry, and (2) among those employed by organizations such as CRS, where are all the conservatives?

The point of diversity of opinion falls unceremoniously flat when the vast majority of those employed are left-leaning and openly embrace positions directly contrary to Catholic social teaching.  If one saw evidence of a true diversity of opinion?  Perhaps a case could be made… but not here, because “diversity” seems to apply only in the instance of the political left, and not the width and breadth or Catholic opinion.

To the Lepanto Institute’s larger point, this seems to be a recurring problem — especially at institutions such as Catholic Relief — where decidedly non-Catholic or in many instances politically leftist anti-Catholic opinions seem to run rampant and without check.

From the perspective of the Catholic bishops, surely this has to be concerning, though the idea that Catholic bishops are basically powerless to change this dynamic is the gauntlet that CRS and others seem to be throwing down.  The fog of bureaucracy does a great deal to obscure facts on the ground, while a Goodbye, Good Men scenario seems to proliferate among seminaries and staff.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times?  That’s enemy action… and this proliferation of politically-driven leftism inside the Catholic bureaucracy is starting to become not just a scandal, but a discouragement.

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First Things: The Return of Ethno-Nationalism

A conversation earlier this week about the late Fr. Richard John Neuhaus’ observation that the Catholic Church is literally a “here comes everybody” sort of institution — a living embodiment of Christ’s command to preach to the ends of the world.

So it is not without a bit of concern that many Catholics see the rise of ethno-nationalism in the wake of economic tightening, as Brandon McGinley writes in the pages of First Things:

Whatever else is said about the election of 2016, we will remember this campaign for the reemergence of explicit ethno-nationalism as a force in American politics. Rather than listing and litigating the well-publicized instances of pandering to white identity politics that have marked this campaign, let me make some personal observations that I believe are widely shared: I have seen and heard—in public, in private, and online—more unambiguous racism in the past year than I can remember from the rest of my (admittedly rather short) life, combined. I have been exposed to terms of racial abuse that I had not known existed. I have communicated with non-white Americans who are frightened by our politics in a way they never were before.

I was one of the many foolish people who thought a resurgence of explicit white identity politics in America was impossible. The politics of race is an area in which American conservatives often apply a whiggish hermeneutic: We want to believe that the politics of racial and ethnic hierarchy are well and truly behind us—that our society has evolved. This optimism has been encouraged in part by the success of salutary norms of public discourse that mark out of bounds any rhetoric that gestures toward racial supremacy. (This is not “political correctness,” but a humane response to more than four centuries of de facto or de jure oppression on the basis of race.) These norms are currently being eroded at an alarming pace.

Ditto here.

Of course, the Catholic experience in America has typically smacked of these labels: the Irish, the Italians, the Slavs, and today the Hispanics.  As McGinley observes, the Catholic Church has traditionally been on the side of the downtrodden and poor — if for no other reason than the Catholic Church has been the faith of the very same.

Many Catholics of the intellectual bent are struggling with the rise of a populism that is completely alien to the idea of “here comes everybody.”  In that sense, Catholicism is far more globalist than nationalist, and traditionally has served a role that transcends nationalism in the wake of the Protestant Reformation (and earlier than this — certainly during the collapse of the Roman Empire, this was the precise political role of the Catholic Church).

McGinley argues that mainline Americans did not want Catholics in the past, and we are discovering very quickly that we are inconvenient to the political religions of the present day.

Perhaps he is right.  Then again, the temptation to reduce ourselves to our little Trotskyite platoons was never an option.  Rather, Catholics ought to remain and speak contra mundi.

After all, this is the Great Commission, whether we are welcomed to do so or not.

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Open Thread: Convince Me

trump_yelling_600pxI would like to think myself to be a fair man.  Perhaps not always right — but at the very least, fair to others and willing to hear a decent argument.

So here’s your chance to convince a #NeverTrump guy as to why this pro-life, pro-2A, small government Catholic ought to vote for Donald Trump.

Instant DQ’s?

  • Arguments as to why the “other guy” is worse.
  • Slogans.
  • Platitudes.
  • The current political climate being horrible.
  • How bad Obama is.
  • How bad Bush is.

What am I looking for?  Specific, credible, concrete policy positions that Trump has held over the course of two decades or longer.  Something where Trump has bled in the trenches and stood firmly on despite criticism.  Convictions that demonstrate who this man really is and what he believes.

I will be honest, I do not believe Trump supporters really can make this case.  One suspects (hypothesis) that the argument really centers around how much one defines themselves as anti-establishment… in which case, electing the textbook definition of a crony capitalist seems rather apposite towards the overall goal here.

…but nevertheless, let’s see what folks offer.

I’m listening.  Convince me.

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No One Cares About The RNC Convention


This 2016 election is quickly boiling down to whether or not the American electorate hates the status quo (and by extension, Hillary Clinton) enough to inflict upon it the persona of Donald Trump.

That’s it.

There is literally nothing else to this election.  Except perhaps the entertainment value of watching the Party of Lincoln and Reagan nominate their very own version of LBJ.

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