About the Singing

A few people noticed that I was tapped to do some singing for Holy Week and the Triduum.  It is a long and ugly story but the short version is that Father assigned it to me as penance.  That may sound bad, but it’s actually an improvement for me.  My normal penance is to watch Son #9 so the rest of the family can participate in the liturgy.  He and I wrestle in the narthax and engage in other forms of physical and mental challenge of one another.  Sometimes I win.

Anyway, a couple of people expressed an interest in hearing some samples of the singing, no doubt hoping it would be bad enough to go viral with their mockery penned high on the comment list.  The Wife assures me that my singing is “not THAT bad” and that I manage to “blend” well with others.  (Certainly that cannot be said of me in other contexts!)  If you hear the tenor, you know that’s not me, that is The Organist responsible for the execution of my penance.  If you hear a baritone singing well, that is me.  If you hear a baritone singing poorly, that is someone who should never be allowed to sing in public again, penance or not.

Here are a few samples from Holy Thursday.  I’ll load some samples from Friday and Saturday as Son #1 can fit in editing time between dates.

If you want to skip ahead:

Ubi Caritas 3:54
Gloria 8:10
Tantum Ergo 10:43
Crux Fidelis (my favorite from this night) 16:04

Update:  Apparently more penance is in order.  I’ll have more music to share.

Update 2:  I know the video doesn’t fit on the blog.  Beggars can’t be choosers.




Rebel, Revolutionary, Slave or…..Expat?

Readers may know that I dislike most of what the central government does, favor states’ rights and do not shy away from correcting widespread Yankee revisionist history about the origins and purposes of the Civil War War of Northern Aggression.  That having been said, I am among those who look upon that pitiful history of our country and learn the lessons it offers us.  Among them is this; neither peaceable or armed rebellion against this government has a reasonable chance of succeeding.

These are not the only considerations, of course.  We can look to Thomas Aquinas for some guidance on the question of just war.  It seems to me the motives could be just.  For example, I find many of the policies of the central government to be immoral and dangerous.  The fears of the founders have come true; the government they constructed is increasingly hostile towards the citizens it exists primarily to protect.  This is the nature of governments.  They understood it.  Either we do not, or, as I think is more likely, we do, and we simply want it to be ‘our’ government that we wield against them.  This is basically the argument of the Republicans now.  The Democrats have long since stopped pretending they didn’t want a all-power state a la Mao or Stalin.

In theory there could be a peaceable secession.  This would satisfy Thomas’ “means” question.  However, it seems to me the War Between the States already proved that our central government will not tolerate secession.  Instead of being seen as a bloodthirsty tyrant who would eagerly kill innocent women and children to protect the artificial political state voluntarily joined by the individual states, Lincoln is routinely seen as a hero.  I suppose one day Obama will be lauded similarly.  So dreaming of peaceable secession is out of the question.

We then have to ask, if we have both a legitimate cause, and acceptable means, whether the situation that would result would be better than the one we have now.  I believe most of the rebels and revolutionaries today assume that it must be.  They would be mistaken of course.  Most everyone assumed Iraq would be better off without Saddam.  Look how that turned out.  For that matter, many of my associates couldn’t wait until Clinton left office.  I wish we had him now.  Sometimes you really are better with the devil you know.

But granting for now that any new government would be less hostile, we’re left with the all important question of whether or not the endeavor has a reasonable chance of succeeding.

Many on the right see themselves as latter-day Revolutionary War patriots.  It’s a pleasant delusion.  I often times see myself as a martyr.  It’s a way to pleasure our egos while denying the reality of the situation.  Those on the right will tell me they’re fighting for

I think the other one had too much baggage. A good lesson in PR.
I think the other one had too much baggage. A good lesson in PR.

God, or for the restoration of the Republic, or for liberty, or lower taxes, or whatever.  They usually don’t really know and can’t define it well enough to sell it.  After all, the founders weren’t establishing a government pledged to recognizing the sovereignty of God and to carry out His will; they explicitly created a government which denied that all-important truth.  You know, the whole, ‘build your house on sand‘ approach.  Presumably the southern and western WASPs who would lead this rebellion and form the new government would similarly embrace “religious liberty”, also known as, the ‘freedom to drown in my own error’.

These well meaning ‘patriots’ think that a little insurrection will, I guess, cause Washington to suddenly fear the citizens and just let all the states walk away from $100 trillion in liabilities.  Presumably the remaining, oh, let’s say 35 states would happily pick up that tab, while the rebels start fresh.

John Whitehead writes, in support of the notion that things are going to change quickly:

Those tempted to write off the standoff at the Bundy Ranch as little more than a show of force by militia-minded citizens would do well to reconsider their easy dismissal of this brewing rebellion. This goes far beyond concerns about grazing rights or the tension between the state and the federal government.

Few conflicts are ever black and white, and the Bundy situation, with its abundance of gray areas, is no exception. Yet the question is not whether Cliven Bundy and his supporters are domestic terrorists, as Harry Reid claims, or patriots, or something in between. Nor is it a question of whether the Nevada rancher is illegally grazing his cattle on federal land or whether that land should rightfully belong to the government. Nor is it even a question of who’s winning the showdown because if such altercations end in bloodshed, everyone loses.

What we’re really faced with, and what we’ll see more of before long, is a growing dissatisfaction with the government and its heavy-handed tactics by people who are tired of being used and abused and are ready to say “enough is enough.” As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there’s a subtext to this incident that must not be ignored, and it is simply this: America is a pressure cooker with no steam valve, and things are about to blow.

The government has been anticipating and preparing for such an uprising for years. For example, in 2008, a U.S. Army War College report warned that the military must be prepared for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order”—all related to dissent and protests over America’s economic and political disarray.

It’s an interesting read.  But consider the central government response to Clive Bundy, and put it in context.  This was a disagreement over $1MM in taxes, some land and cattle.  Not a big deal in their world.  It went badly for reasons I’ve already explained, and which shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign of weakness.  How would Washington respond if the new confederacy announced its intentions of separating?   I think we know how Obama would react.  It’s pretty simple to imagine how Chris Christie or Hillary/Biden would act.  With Rand Paul, who knows.

Mr. Whitehead therefore challenges you and I to answer for ourselves as to whether or not we’re rebels, revolutionaries or slaves.  I answer by saying, “Well, I plan on being an expat“.

Help Me Reverse the Trend

Nine months ago, on the hottest day of July, at 2:47pm, I ran a 6:09 mile.  I had not run a mile at any reasonably respectable speed since the fall of 1993, when I ran a 5 minute mile on the tarmac at Goodfellow AFB.  Back then I was single, weighed 160 pounds, and had yet to discover alcohol, sushi, second breakfast, and a great many other vices that can impede performance.

Anyway, I would not have run nearly that fast last July had I not had a compelling incentive; there were 11 members of the Mexican Mafia of Marion at the track, ready to enforce the outcome of the event.  You see, I was racing against one of their own.  El Conejo was 22 and very eager.  I suspect he had never had the straight-up opportunity to beat a white man at anything.  He drank a contraband energy drink before the race and was bouncing around the track.  I was stretching and drinking water.

If I won, which they all deemed highly unlikely, then a friend of mine who had gotten himself into debt with the MMM (and had no easy way to repay), would be released from their grip.  If I lost, then this friend of mine would become the, how shall I say this, the ‘servant’ of the MMM.  It was imperative I win, and so I had skipped my normal morning weight-lifting and scheduled the run at the hottest time of the day.  You see, although El Conejo was much younger than I and undoubtedly quicker, I had regularly been running two or three miles a day in the heat.  Although I was running slowly, I thought for sure the endurance I’d built up would count for something.  El Canejo would steal a chicken from the kitchen and run to the dorms, or outrun virtually any throw to first on the softball field, but otherwise, he engaged in no physical activity I could observe.  He also smoked.  I thought I had a decent chance.  Besides, my friend had nothing to lose and due to his credit rating, no other hope.  His confidence in my performance was such that he didn’t even show up to watch.

There was one white man there as a witness, a politician, and runner himself, whom I had befriended.  I later learned he had bet heavily on me, but he was the only one there who did.  Although by the final lap there was a decent crowd of non-Mexicans there, at the beginning we were lonely, and it looked bad.

At the signal, we began, he in a full out sprint.  I ran the fastest pace I thought I could maintain for four laps.  He finished the first lap 100 yards in front of me and his gang taunted me.  At the end of the second lap, I had caught him and a growing group of white guys were cheering.  At the end of the third lap, he was 10 yards behind me and I knew he was finished.  I was gradually increasing my speed and he was breathing very heavily and coughing.  I gave it everything I had that last lap and crossed the line at just over 6 minutes.  He collapsed well short of the finish line about 30 seconds later.  When I left 10 minutes later he was still on the ground, motionless.  The MMM released the debt as agreed.  I was a little sore the next day; El Canejo never got out of bed.

The almost-six-minute mile was an anomaly.  My average three mile time, until four months ago, was about 24 minutes.  Nothing to be proud of unless you’re 38, white, high-mileage and have lost 100 pounds.  I had put a lot of work and more than a decade into that weight.  Shedding it required more work.

Regrettably, over the last four months I’ve not been able to maintain the same hour a day lifting weights and 3 mile a day routine that I had come to enjoy.  It’s caught up to me.  My three mile time, shown below, has slipped by four minutes and my pants have shrunk.  At this rate, by Christmas I’ll have trouble walking to the kitchen and back between meals without having to pause to catch my breath and I’ll be back to shopping at Nashville Tent and Awning for clothes.

My goal is to raise money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Gallatin by running in their 5k in July.  This is a more noble goal than simply running to lose weight.  There may even be an indulgence attached to it, although I haven’t found a direct mention of it in the Raccolta and Father hasn’t returned my phone call about it.  SVDP does great work helping out truly needy families who are facing emergencies.  I’d like to win my weight class, at least.  It would be nice if I could place highly in the Over 35 and Under 40 Sedentary Male category.  If I could finish in sight of the soccer moms who do Pilates, yoga, cross fit and P90X between visits to get hair, nails and skin done, that’d be even better.  Regardless, I’m posting this as a sort of universal accountability measure.  I’m sure you’ve heard of UAM before.  Now that I’ve put this out there, I’m much more likely to stick with my running plan.  Stay tuned.


Towards the end of the run I noticed a gym employee watching me nervously from across the room.
Towards the end of the run I noticed a gym employee watching me nervously from across the room.

BLM Tactical Retreat

When the Feds backed off their siege on the Nevada ranch I posted on FB the following, “Nevada rancher beats the feds….for now.”  I don’t for a second believe his tangle with the central government is over.

One of the best quotes I heard while on my, er, sabbatical, was the following; “They [the Feds], can make lots of mistakes; we can’t

Humiliation is a powerful motivator.  You can bet they will try again.
Humiliation is a powerful motivator. You can bet they will try again.

make any”.  The man who uttered this was referring to the fact that if the Feds are after you, they only need one misstep by the target to justify an arrest, indictment and conviction.  They, on the other hand, might and usually do make lots of tactical and strategic mistakes along the way, but they have the time, resources and immunity from litigation or prosecution to recover from them.  In the end, they’ll get the target, one way or another.  They have the disadvantage of the burden of proof, but they have every other advantage in the “game”.

I knew a guy who had been under investigation for 20 years, and knew it, but had remained beyond their reach because of his caution, discipline and paranoia.  It only took one single phone call and violation of his own rules and it all came crashing down. In his mind, he had been so disciplined for so long and was seemingly beyond reach that he had unconsciously dropped his guard.  He thought he was invincible.  Like a black swan event, the prospect of his arrest had become unlikely, and while at any given moment it might have been, in the long-run it was actually almost certain.   He got 21 years for selling (lots of) marijuana.

Anyway, I thought of this because of a recent article which suggested the Feds will simply retreat, review, and pursue a different angle where victory is assured.  It’s basic military (and political theory); pick the battles you can win and then use overwhelming force.  So much was wrong about the BLM decision making (and I don’t mean wrong in a moral sense (although it might be, I mean, the political execution of it), my guess is the second stringers were making the early decisions.  You can bet the big leaguers will call the shots for round two.   By Mr. Grigg:

When the ATF attacked the Branch Davidians outside Waco in February 1993, the expectation was a quick and painless victory over an eccentric religious sect and a public relations boost for the scandal-plagued agency. This is why the assault was code-named “Showtime.”

The Davidians, however, refused to follow the script. When the ATF stormtroopers arrived at the sect’s sanctuary at Mt. Carmel, David Koresh – who had known of the impending assault, and released an ATF informant rather than holding him as a hostage — attempted to de-escalate the confrontation, only to be answered by a murderous volley of gunfire. Rather than allowing themselves to be shackled or slaughtered, the Davidians stood their ground, killing four of the assailants in a morally unassailable exercise of self-defense and forcing the ATF to retreat.

Because the Regime cannot countenance resistance, the FBI laid siege to the Davidians for 51 days before the final assault that left of scores of Davidians dead from fire, asphyxiation, and gunfire.

In 1973, a band of Sioux activists at Wounded Knee held off the FBI and the US military for 71 days, demanding respect for their rights under treaty law, accountability for the corruption of federally installed tribal dictator Dickie Wilson, and investigation of unsolved murders. The Feds replied with the largest domestic military deployment since the last confrontation at Wounded Knee in December 1890, an undisguised slaughter carried out by the vengeful Seventh Cavalry that amounted to an American Babi Yar.

In response to the 1973 protests, Armed FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, SWAT teams, and teams of Wilson’s paramilitary “GOON Squad” formed an iron ring around the village of Wounded Knee. Colonel Vic Jackson, head of the Pentagon’s Civil Disorder Management School, was called upon by the FBI to implement the notorious “Operation Garden Plot” martial law blueprint. The FBI’s plan called for the Army would invade and “pacify” the village before the FBI went in to “arrest” whoever might survive the onslaught. Armored Personnel Carriers were on hand to deal with what were described as “bunkers” (and were, in fact, root cellars). Phantom F-4 jets flew low-altitude reconnaissance runs over the town.

At one point…

Here’s the rest of it.

Update:  Ms. Kwiatowski has an interesting take on things.