...busting up my brains for the words

Sunday, April 30, 2006

John kenneth galbraith, rip

Today, at the age of 97, economist, author and ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith passed away.

That this giant of economic history has only just passed now is amazing. He was very influential to the economic ideas of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But moreso, Galbraith was very much the soul of Lyndon Baines Johnson's Great Society, the natural successor to FDR's New Deal Big Government.

In the 1930s, when Galbraith began work with FDR's big government machine, the world was seeing a consistent trend toward state centralization and planning. In the Soviet Union it was the economic plans of the Kremlin. In Nazi Germany, the Fuehrer dictated economic policy. The Roosevelt Administration was America's version of this historic trend and Galbraith cut his teeth there. As Red State blog points out;

In speaking of his appointment as the head of the Office of Price Controls in the (Franklin) Roosevelt, Galbraith noted that his staff at the OPC was initially sized at 7 people.

It eventually reached 15,000.

15,000 people. And they were in charge of price controls.

Galbraith authored, The Affluent Society, in which he argued that Americas corporations had grown too large and were growing ever wealthier at the expense of the poor. It can be said that the writing of this book led to LBJ's "war on poverty", a dismal failure that not only failed to eradicate poverty, it only served to make big government yet bigger.

In short, Galbraith was a key player in steering America away from the free ideals of its founding, changing her forever, despite Ronald Reagan's subsequent revolution, into a state of big taxes and liberal wealth redistribution.

I win "most eligible bachelor"

After much drama and suspense and a nose-to-nose race, I have been voted the MOB's Most Eligible Bachelor. I accept this honor with great reverence and seriousness and sobriety immediately after the ginormous bender I am launching tonight. Nihilist In Golf Pants points out:

This is indeed an upset victory as PMB actually conceded the decision to Andy early last week.

I tried to help AAA garner as many votes as he could. I felt that it was the only honorable thing to do in a contest between gentlemen. Heck, I even voted for AAA, but I won't tell you how often. It is my solemn belief that this honor will lead to meeting someone special, devotion and love will follow, culminating in my lifelong enslavement to a woman who knows that if she works me hard enough, I can one day be worthy of her.

I imagine one of the first things she'll command is that I drop my effeminate blogger name. Consider it done.

Friday, April 28, 2006

United 93

I just saw the new 9/11 movie, United 93 downtown at the Block E Crown Theater. The show times were designed to capitalize on the boxoffice draw, so it seems. Usually, I can see a movie at 5:30 and pay a measly $5 or so at matinee rates. This movie had a showtime of 4:15 and the next one was at 7:25. Since I, like a lot of workers, get off my job at 5 0'clock, I had to pay $8 and change. No wonder people are staying away from theaters and opting to watch movies at home.
Nevertheless, I would say the audience I viewed this movie with numbered about 100 heads. So that's an extra $300 for this one show that the Crown Theater is pulling in.

But I'm not writing this post in order to report how much it costs a body to watch a movie on the notorious E Block, where a man was recently shot dead on the sidewalk. I'm writing this entry as a review of United 93. So let's roll.

The film is shot in the documentary drama style. Jittery cameras. Off color timing. Guerrilla style moviemaking. And this proves to be a very effective style to tell this particular story, as we very soon come to believe that we are there on the plane, there in the control room, with the people of this story. And of course, that's our natural default setting in the first place, as there is not a single person in the auditorium who isn't intimately familiar with the occurrences of that day and what they felt when they learned of the attacks.

The movie begins with the al Qaeda terrorists getting out of cabs, praying in their hotel rooms, preparing for what we all know they are about to do. But the film is so purely docu-drama, the filmmakers do not even tell who these men are. We hear them speaking Arabic. We see their brown faces. But there is no dramatic device such as a phone call from Afghanistan with instructions or any such kind of contrived scripting. The filmmakers know that their audience has plenty of wheels turning in their heads already. They wisely choose not to let the movie get in the way of that anticipation.

September 11, 2001 was a beautiful, gloriously sunny and calm day to begin with. And we see air traffic controllers going about their jobs with competence and good spirits and intelligence and professionalism. How ironic, the viewer feels these innocent moments are, as the shock of a foreign attack overwhelms them in the moments to come.

Frankly, I'd forgotten some of my United flight 93 history. I'd forgotten that the terrorists had seized the cockpit and that the brave passengers took it back. But I had to wonder how much of this movie was dramatic speculation and how much of it is known to be accurate. One never gets the sense that any detail of this movie is embellished for dramatic effect. When one of the passenger/attackers says, "I don't give a damn if that bomb is real or if it's fake. I'm going to take it away from him. I'm going for his hand. I'm going to break his arm," I have no reason to believe that was invented out of thin air. We know that the passengers of United 93 used phones to call home and tell what was happening. And this is depicted in the movie as well. The whole experience is as organic as Buddy Hackett.

I don't think I can spoil much by telling what happens in this movie. All of us know that it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania and everyone died. But I can inform you that it is a ride of a movie, fueled by the knowledge that it really happened and that anyone of us watching the movie might have been aboard Flight 93 that morning, given the circumstances.
When the movie faded to black, women were gently weeping, couples and small groups of friends were hugging where they stood before their seats. I kid you not.
In the final battle for the cockpit, I was gripping my own forearms tightly in tense anticipation of what was going to happen on the screen.

There has been some voiced reservation that this movie is too intense, too soon after the day of it's horrible telling. I think that's nonsense. I urge every American to see this movie, to think about what they hope they would do under similar circumstances and to remember the bravery of the passengers of United 93.

Moral of the story; There were many aboard the plane who were too gripped in fear to do anything. There were some who tenaciously clung to the belief that if they behaved well, the hijackers would let them all go safely. It seems to me that's a parable of what's still going on in the world and in this country. Those who opposed the disarming of Iraq remind me of the European fellow on the flight who argued that everything would be fine if they did nothing. Like the brave passengers of Flight 93, we have to be realistic about the evil intentions of the bad guy. We cannot trust that all will be well if we do nothing.

Monday, April 24, 2006


My good friend, AAA over at Residual Forces is appealing to the MOB's good judgment to vote for him as MOB Most Eligible Bachelor.
He seems to want it more than I do, (sadly pathetic as that may be) so I endorse Andy as the best choice. Then, when he snarfs up the trophy, I get to mop up the leftovers. And I don't even have to buy a ring.
Fiendishly clever, eh?

Best of luck, Andy.

UPDATE: I should have pointed out that my other good friend, Kevin of EckerNet is vying for this honor as well, though he lags far behind in votes. Your votes would also be well spent on Kevin's good name. Word has it that Mitch of Shot In The Dark has taken himself out of the running. In other words, he's not eligible.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Indeed, I am the most eligible bachelor

Nihilist In Golf Pants is causing my meter to jump to heretofore undreamed of, off the chart levels of traffic up into the 30s. Now that Brian "St. Paul" Ward is engaged to be married, he loses the crown of MOBMEB and a new clown prince must be found. I am that clown. Why? Because I'm 52 years old, never been married and I'm reaching levels of desperation, that's why. I've failed in life on a number of scores and now I need to fail in a marriage. Jes' kidding.
But seriously, I am eligible. I haven't been on a date for years. I don't know why. Maybe it's because chicks hate me for favoring the smoking ban. Or maybe it's because I call women chicks. I don't know. I am very particular about the women I am willing to be seen with in public. They have to be hot and attractive and young enough to be my daughter. Jes' kidding again. That was then, this is now.
Now, I am much more accepting of the fair sex. All I want is a woman who has a car and can drive me places. Jes' kidding again.
Now you know why I'm still single. I don't have a serious mind about anything and people who talk too much irritate the heck out of me. If you're a reasonably attractive woman, like to laugh, can conduct an intelligent conversation and don't mind riding the bus...wink at me sometime. That's all the encouragement I need.

Lesson learned

Lent is over, Easter is past, and I am now "allowed" to return to The Patriot am1280. But I've found that I am in no hurry to hear the steady stream of annoying advertisements there that come with the programming. And I find that I'm in no hurry to hear The Hugh Hewitt Show itself, ads notwithstanding. Hugh is a great fellow and a very intelligent pol, but I am annoyed by just about anybody who talks as much as his job requires him to talk. And to be fair, that's probably not just Hugh who annoys me. The same goes for Katherine Van Den Heuvel. And in my book, Hugh talks infinitely more common sense than she.
Oh, I suppose there are some speakers who I could listen to all day and not become grouchy. That's a rare gift, though. And all too few with this gift have a radio show that requires them to speak almost continuously for hours per day. Rush Limbaugh? No, I don't think so. James Lileks has a voice like apple butter. I rarely grow tired of his Diner podcasts. And they're ad free.

But I do believe I was better informed of the day to day political landscape and world events when I was listening to Hugh than I now am. Unfortunately, I am happier. I'll tune in sometimes. But not so heavily as I was before Lent
I'm going to be listening to NARN today for the first time since before Lent. But I just don't have it in me to listen to the whole block of Patriot Insider through to the finish of NARN. I'd just rather have the blessed radio off or listen to Vivaldi or just about anything else than radio ads.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy easter

As I've mentioned, I've returned to the Roman Catholic Church. I think the reasons for this are just too personal to write about, but I don't mind saying that this is the first Holy Week that has ever meant anything to me and I feel very fortunate to be on this journey.
Whether you celebrate Easter in a secular manner or a religious manner, have a Happy Easter. And if you are Jewish and celebrate Passover, all the best to you as well.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sorry, preoccupied

I'm sorry I have not been updating this blog much lately. My days seem to be filled with things to do, and I never get around to posting. It seems that giving up The Patriot radio and its annoying advertisements has taken political topics out of my head. I've been devoting a great part of my energies to returning to the Roman Catholic Church and I feel that's a subject that's too personal for me to be sharing with the world in a blog.
I feel very good not to be listening to The Patriot much anymore. When Lent is over, I hope I won't be such a heavy listener as I was. Those ads were crowding my head, making me irritable.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I'm back

As noted the other day, I went on a road trip to Milwaukee. This excursion was a terrific idea. I really needed it. I traveled with parishioners from the Basilica of Saint Mary to see the aforementioned show. We also had dinner at an historic German restaurant and visited the Milwaukee Art Museum. We spent the night at a Howard Johnson's hotel.
Everyone was in an excellent disposition and it was great fun to make new friends. Now when I attend 9:30 mass on Sundays, there's a very good chance I'll see some people I know. Isn't that an important part of celebrating mass? Community with others? I think so.
Of course, most of these folks are liberal Democrats and dramatically opposed to the Republican Party and George W. Bush. So I don't let on about that part of my life. It might taint our relationship. One member wore a Code Pink button. On the way home, I was treated to one in my party's discussion (or should I say "lecture") to another in the seat directly behind, on the evils of the Bush Administration and the fact that the Iraqis are much worse off now than they were before the war was launched. It was interesting to hear him proclaim that history would vindicate his view and excoriate Bush. That's precisely the opposite of my claim. Rather than argue with my new friends, I relocated myself at the back of the bus and said a prayer for him.
But all in all, most everyone understood that politics ought to be left out of this trip. And so, a good time was had by all.