By John Ruberry

Four months ago in this space I wrote this entry: Horrible season for White Sox may portend bright future.

Okay, the situation has improved somewhat since May, when the South Siders were on pace to lose a club-record 117 games, which would be just short of the modern day record for futility, 120 losses, which was well, uh, achieved I guess, by the 1962 New York Mets.

With thirteen games left in the 2018 season, the White Sox need just four wins to avoid the landmark millstone of 100 losses. The Sox haven’t reached a triple digit “L” season since 1970.

Two weeks ago I was in attendance at Guaranteed Rate Field on Hawk Day, which honored the retirement of longtime White Sox television broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, whose best seasons as a player were with the Boston Red Sox, the South Siders’ opponents that day. The Red Sox are enjoying a stupendous 2018, they’ve already collected 102 wins. But the team Harrelson calls, this is one of his “Hawkisms,” the Carmines, were vulnerable when they visited Chicago, as they were enduring a rash of injuries among its pitching staff, including Chris Sale, who was traded by the White Sox to Boston in 2016 for several prospects, including Michael Kopech.

Kopech jerseys, number 34–Walter Payton’s retired number with the Chicago Bears–were prominently displayed in all of the Guaranteed Rate Field gift shops.

The White Sox split the four game season with the Red Sox; the game I attended was an 8-0 winner for Chicago. It was the South Siders’ sixth straight series without losing one of those series. Not only was the future bright for the White Sox that day–so was the present.

The White Sox are obviously a better team since I wrote my spring Da Tech Guy post. But injuries have plagued the team. Nate Jones, their closer, suffered what was thought to be a season ending forearm injury. But he was back in the bullpen on Friday, picking up the save as the White Sox topped the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, by the way, have already lost 106 games. Wellington Castillo, a veteran catcher, was signed as a free agent last winter, so he could mentor Chicago’s young pitching staff. But around the time of the Jones injury, Castillo was suspended for 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy. And in July, for the second time this season, right fielder Avisail Garcia, was placed on the disabled list. As in the came with Jones, both players recently returned to the roster.

First baseman Jose Abreu brought some surprising good news to the Pale Hose as he became the first team member to be elected to the All Star Game as a starter since Frank Thomas, who is now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, did so twenty-two years ago.

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But the cruelest injury came this month. The top prospect in the White Sox farm system was right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech. His first big league three starts went well for him, including one against Boston on August 31. But two of those ended up being no-decisions as Kopech was pulled after long rain delays. In his final start, Kopech was hammered by the Detroit Tigers. A few days later it was announced that Kopech will likely undergo Tommy John surgery, missing the remainder of this season and all of the 2019 campaign.

So the present isn’t looking very good now.

But Kopech should be back by 2020, which has been the season White Sox fans have been looking towards as when the team makes its return to prominence. By then outfielder Eloy Jimenez, one of the prospects traded by the Chicago Cubs for another White Sox starter, is expected to be in his second season on the South Side.

Blogger with Carlton Fisk statue at Guaranteed Rate Field this month

Jimenez batted .337 in the minors this season.

On the quirky side, the White Sox have a Hamilton and Burr in the bullpen. That’s right, Ian Hamilton and Ryan Burr.

No other MLB team can match that pitchers duel.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

When season one of Ozark concluded last summer, the Byrdes, a drug money laundering family from the Chicago area, decided to put roots down at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), is the number-crunching erstwhile financial planner struggling to keep all of the balls he is juggling up in the air. He’s aided, for the most part, by his wife Wendy (Laura Linney), a former Democratic political operator.

Click here to read my review of the first season of Ozark.

In season two, which takes place in November, off-season in the Ozarks, the Byrdes are again plotting their escape from Missouri, but first they must open a casino on the lake built on land owned by Jacob (Peter Mullan) and Darlene Snell (Lisa Emery), who manufactures heroin for the same Mexican drug cartel Marty is indebted to. Getting a casino up-and-running of course means obtaining a license, so the Byrdes scheme with conservative powerhouse Charles Wilkes (Darren Goldstein) to smooth over the numerous blemishes and scars the power laundering couple have.

The sins of the parents taint the Byrdes’ children, high-schoolers Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), who initiate their own criminal enterprise.

The Byrdes are reminiscent of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, while not “careless,” as F. Scott Fitzgerald described them, the Byrdes, to paraphrase his words, smash up things and creatures. And I’ll  use Fitzgerald’s exact prose here, the Byrdes “let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

Those messes include arson, child abduction, suicide, waterboarding, and murder.

The sins of the Byrdes visit the Langmores, a small-time criminal family, who in the first season served as stereotypical redneck foil. Yes, they live in trailers. The de facto leader of the family is Ruth (Julia Garner), who is about 20 years old. She has transformed, maybe, from being a thief preying upon the Byrdes to being the utility infielder and perhaps more for the Byrde operations.

Roy Petty (Jason Butler Harner), plays a tormented FBI agent, who, like just about every other Ozark character, has no moral compass. He’s a law unto himself.

Hmm…an FBI agent who is unaccountable. That doesn’t happen in real life, does it?

There are many lessons in Ozark. Not only do drugs destroy lives, so does drug money. Ten years before the Byrdes fled Illinois Marty and his business partners made a deal with the devil when they started laundering money for that cartel. And that’s a job that no one can quit. And dismissal by the cartel does not entail being escorted by human resources out the door with a severance check in your hand.

As the second season of Ozark was released only a week and a half ago there is no word about a third. I expect there will be one with many more messes created by the Byrdes. When the Byrde family is asked by a photographer to smile at the conclusion of the final episode–they can only come up with grim grins.

The future appears to be an unhappy one for them.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Logan statue, centerpiece of many 1968 DNC protests

By John Ruberry

There are cries on both sides of the political aisle for a return to civility.

When did it go away?

It happened fifty years ago in Chicago during the Democratic National Convention.

The left killed civility.

The documentary Best of Enemies, available on Netflix, centers on ten debates broadcast on ABC during the 1968 Republican and  Democratic conventions between left-wing author Gore Vidal and National Review founder William F. Buckley, whose remaking of the conservative movement resulted in the election of Ronald Reagan at president twelve years later.

Buckley and Vidal’s feud went back years earlier and continued until their deaths.. Both men had polished mid-Atlantic accents and were masters of grammar. Debate moderator Howard K. Smith called them “two craftsmen” of language as he introduced the duo at their first debate during the GOP convention in Miami Beach.

There the similarities ended. Buckley was a devout Catholic and Vidal was a hedonist.

Over the course of the debates the rancor metastasized. By the final debate the hatred between the two men–yes, they really despised each other–was evident. When Smith brought up a protest in Chicago’s Grant Park and queried Vidal if it was “a provocative act to try to raise the Vietcong flag in the park in the film we just saw,” name calling followed. Vidal told Buckley that he was a “crypto Nazi” which led the usually genteel Buckley to respond angrily, “Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in your goddam face, and you’ll stay plastered.” It was very likely the first time “queer” was uttered on television when it referred to homosexuality.

The Chicago Police of course, on live television in front of millions of viewers, including myself, beat many of the protesters with billy clubs in front of the convention headquarters hotel. The chaos ironically helped elect Republican Richard Nixon president. What a report later called a “police riot” of course occurred at the Democrats’ convention and Chicago’s mayor, Richard J. Daley, was one of the most powerful Democrats in America.

The night after the riot, Daley explained on CBS, very late in the evening when few people were watching, that the cops’ tempers were inflamed because they were pelted with bottles and bags filled with feces and urine.

How uncivil is that?

Antifa, the enforcement wing of the leftist movement, utilizes feces and urine attacks at their protests.

A couple of years later in an incident recalled in leftist Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” guidebook, there was a protest of lawyers inside the Chicago federal court building during the Chicago Seven trial. The Seven were alleged conspirators who were being tried, quite unfairly it turned out, for disrupting the 1968 convention. The courthouse protest was put to bed by a federal judge, William Campbell, which compelled one of the assembled lawyers to shout, “Fck you Campbell!” Alinsky didn’t scold the sole heckler, instead he admonished the other attorneys for not starting a “fck you Campbell” chant.

Antifa loves four-letter word chants. As do many other left-wingers.

Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis was about Alinsky. And a Chicago Alinkskyite organization gave Barack Obama his first political job.

In spite of, or probably because of the insults, the Vidal-Buckley debates were a huge hit for little-watched ABC News. As Best of Enemies points out, CBS’ still relatively new 60 Minutes quickly utilized the format with its Point-Counterpoint segment between a liberal and conservative, which was hilariously parodied on Saturday Night Live. Of course SNL’s writers gave the nasty punchline to Aykroyd’s conservative alter ego, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

As for the shout-shows on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, they also can look to the Vidal-Buckley debates for their genesis.

As for Donald Trump, sure he’s a crude man. But he is simply fighting back.

And where were the obscene chants when the Tea Party movement was at its peak? When have Trump supporters tossed urine and feces at their opponents?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

While “the betters” on the Sunday talk shows were praising John McCain, who died from brain cancer Saturday, Mrs. Marathon Pundit turned to me and asked, “Why isn’t anyone talking about the number of houses he owned?”

The TV talking heads weren’t.

In his laudatory statement about the Arizona senator’s passing, of course Barack Obama didn’t bring up the houses. But in 2008, when a Politico reporter asked the Arizona senator how many houses he owned, and in a awkward manner, McCain replied that he didn’t know. He suggested that the reporter check with his staff.

Watch Obama–the pertinent section begins at 1:38–mock McCain for being an out-of-touch elitist over the houses gaffe.

The correct number was eight, if you include the homes owned by McCain’s wife.

Obama’s campaign used the McCain houses remark in television ad. Which, in one of the McCain campaign’s better moments, led a spokesperson to retort, “Does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from vacation on a private beach in Hawaii and bought his own million-dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon really want to get into a debate about houses?”

Obama still owns that mansion, purchased with guidance from Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko. And he now owns a second mansion, this one with–wait for it–a wall, in Washington.

McCain was tortured by his North Vietnamese jailers during his five years as a prisoner of war. Those injuries made it very difficult for him to type and use a computer. Which led the Obama campaign to run this sneering ad against McCain:

CNN didn’t begin its piling-on against prominent Republicans with the rise of Donald Trump, its Jeanne Moos sardonically reported on the McCain computer kerfuffle during the ’08 campaign.

When asked a town hall in 2008 about a George W. Bush statement that American troops might be serving in Iraq for 50 years, McCain musingly replied that they could there for “maybe 100.”

Let’s add some context here. Over seven decades after the defeat of the Axis powers there still are American troops stationed in Germany, Italy, and Japan. Only extremists from both sides of the political aisle are calling for their removal.

Obama pounced on McCain for the 100-years remark. “Instead of offering an exit strategy for Iraq” Obama said a month later, “he’s offering us a 100-year occupation.”

A lie.

McCain never spoke of an “occupation.” Obama pulled out our troops from Iraq in late 2011 and bragged about it in during his reelection campaign. Three years later ISIS seized nearly one-third of Iraq. Then Obama dispatched combat troops to Iraq again. About 5,000 of them remain.

Obama, as he is about so many other things, was wrong about Iraq.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Next week the fiftieth anniversary arrives of the release of the groundbreaking Sweetheart of the Rodeo album by the Byrds..

At the time, however, the collection was a commercial flop and it received mixed reviews.

Byrds leader and lead guitarist Roger McGuinn envisioned the band’s sixth album as an overview of the history of American music. McGuinn was not originally a rocker, he began his preforming career after graduating from Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. But a new member, who was soon to depart, Gram Parsons, urged the band to record a country album. The result was arguably the first country rock album, at least by a major artist, one that also served as an inspiration for the alt-country and Americana genres.

“Eleven trips to the country” is how a radio ad described the work. And Sweetheart’s eleven songs are dominated by banjo, country fiddle, and pedal steel guitar. This was not your older sibling’s Byrds.

The album begins typically for the Byrds, with a Bob Dylan cover, “You Ain’t Going Nowhere.” Dylan’s primary career inspiration was Woody Guthrie and Sweetheart includes a version of his “Pretty Boy Floyd.”

Parsons’ two Sweetheart compositions–one was co-written by a former bandmate–“Hickory Wind” and “One Hundred Years from Now,” offer a contrast to listeners. The first is a traditional country tune. The second ironically is the Byrdsiest–sounding track on the album.

Sweetheart was recorded in the spring of 1968 in Nashville–after which things got interesting. The Byrds managed to score an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, where these hippies were booed by the straight-laced audience. A deejay covering their concert mocked the band, which inspired McGuinn and Parsons to write a song, “Drug Store Truck Driving Man,” that appeared on the Byrds’ next album.

By that summer Parsons, who some say was not actually full-fledged member of the band but a contract player, quit the act. There are two versions of his departure. One was that he preferred to hang out in London with the Rolling Stones, or that Parsons left to protest the Byrds’ decision to perform in South Africa.

Parsons’ lead vocals on “The Christian Life”, “You Don’t Miss Your Water”, and “One Hundred Years from Now,” were replaced by McGuinn’s on the first two and with Chris Hillman’s along with McGuinn on the latter.

Since 2003 the Parsons leads have been available, but on Spotify only the original release versions play first–you have to scroll down to find Parsons voice up front on those tracks. McGuinn’s take on “The Christian Life” is a sardonic take of this Louvin Brothers song, found on the now infamous, because of its outlandish album artwork, Satan Is Real collection.

Recently McGuinn had this to say about Parsons vocals on that cut. “I was doing almost a satire on it. I was not a Christian at the time,” he remarked. “Back then, it was kind of tongue-in-cheek. I know the Louvin Brothers meant it when they wrote it and sang it. And Gram meant it. He was a little Baptist boy.”

After Sweetheart Hillman bailed on the Byrds and with Parsons formed the highly-influential Flying Burrito Brothers. After two brilliant country rock albums that sold even worse than Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Parsons was booted from the band because of his excessive drug use and overall unreliability. Parsons’ two seminal solo works, also poor sellers, showcased the talents of the then-virtually unknown Emmylou Harris.

Parsons died in 1973 from a drug overdose. The theft of his body and the makeshift cremation of his remains at what is now Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most bizarre tales you will ever hear.

McGuinn and Hillman, two of the three surviving original Byrds members, David Crosby is the third, are currently on a 50th anniversary tour celebrating the release of Sweetheart, which has already included a performance at the Grand Ole Opry.

As Aesop wrote in the Tortoise and the Hare, ‘Slow and steady wins the race.” As that is the case with Gram Parsons and Sweetheart of the Rodeo.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Early next year the first round of the Chicago mayoral election will be held, If no candidate achieves a majority, then the top two face each other in a runoff.

The two-term incumbent, Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s first chief of staff, is running, as are several other candidates, each with baggage, including former Chicago Police superintendent Garry McCarthy, who Emanuel fired after the details of the shooting of Laquan McDonald became public, political gadfly and ex-Chicago Public Schools head Paul Vallas, and Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, whose office is under federal investigation.

There is a one person who could wipe the floor with Rahm and these other candidates and easily avoid a runoff. Take a look at his resume: He served in the Illinois state senate and the US Senate He held an executive political office for eight years. He is loved by many business leaders, in fact, his smartphone is probably packed with the private phone numbers of hundreds of CEOs. He is quite adept at political fundraising. This man has a solid base in Chicago and beyond, in fact, he is one of the most adored people on the planet.

Of course I’m talking about Barack Obama, the 44th president of the United States. After Chicago’s most violent weekend of the year, Emanuel was hapless as he tried to act as the healer. On the other hand, such touchy-feely stuff comes natural to Obama. When the House and Senate was in Democratic control, Obama was quite skillful–to be fair, Emanuel helped–in pushing his left-wing agenda.  When the House and then the Senate became Republican-majority bodies, Obama’s magic vanished. But no worries–of Chicago’s 50 alderman, 49 are Democrats.

Chicago’s Northwest Side

Obama, with his sonorous voice, like Liam Neeson’s Aslan character from the Narnia series, can give Chicago’s 2.7 million-and-declining residents feel-good speeches on demand. Of course a half-hour later, it’s hard to recall what Obama actually said in those pep talks, other than “hope and change.”

But what about Chicago’s problems? They are legion–besides the murder count, Chicago suffers more murders annually than New York City and Los Angeles combined. The spike in Chicago’s murder rate. not coincidentally, began after the city signed on to an ACLU decree in 2015 that greatly decreased stop-and-frisks. Arrests went down. Murders went up. Chicago’s public schools, which Vallas of course used to run, are among the worst in the nation. The various pension systems in Chicago, are among America’s most poorly funded public retirement systems. Pensions for decades have been a way for Chicago politicians to utilize as a kick-the-can-down-the-road system to reward their union pals. Emanuel and the City Council have been raising property taxes in an attempt, probably futile, to dig Chicago out of this pension hole.

What else? Chicagoans pay the highest sales tax rate in America. There is even a tax on plastic bags. Red-light cameras are seemingly everywhere. The cameras, we are told. are there to deter speeding and prevent accidents, Chicago’s decrepit streets should be an encouragement enough to obey the speed limit and arguably red-light cameras cause accidents.

Chicago is a miserable place to live in but it’s problems are not intractable. Unless, that is, you are a leftist mayor. Let’s start with crime “If you want crime to go up,” Jeff Sessions said a few months ago, “let the ACLU run the police department. If you want public safety, call the professionals.” But would a Mayor Obama cross his beloved ACLU.? Of course not. Let’s move on to pensions. I believe that Chicago is near the tipping point where tax increases will bring negative returns. More people will move out, property values will decline, and then it will become a free-fall. The pension guarantee in the Illinois constitution needs to removed, which is something that Jeanne Ives, who narrowly lost to incumbent governor Bruce Rauner, favors. But a Mayor Obama would never used the bully pulpit to fight for this kind of change.

Oh, on a side note, I have several friends and relatives collecting municipal and state pensions. Yes, a pension is a promise, but please direct your anger at the pols who created this mess.

In The Simpsons Movie, Homer is handed $1,000 when he crosses the Alaskan border. In Chicago people’s pockets are seemingly picked by that same amount when they enter the city limits. Chicago has always been a place where government-sanctioned grifters run amok.


Liberals love high taxes because it gives them more money to unleash their social engineering schemes. So please don’t imagine that a Mayor Obama could be a tax-cutter.

But lower taxes–including the elimination of nuisance taxes–will make Chicago a more livable place and the type of city Americans will flock to, once the other problems Chicago faces are dealt with. And government revenues will go up, as public-officials are a poor spender of monies. Meanwhile, some Chicago liberals have bandied about “solutions” to its fiscal calamity that include a municipal income tax and a commuter tax. Ask Detroit how those are working out for it.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

So yes, Barack Obama will not run for mayor of Chicago. Sure, he probably sees any job other than president of the world beneath him. But also, if he has an honest moment with himself, he’ll ascertain that if he adheres to his leftist dogma as Chicago’s mayor, he’ll be setting himself up for failure.

And he’ll be setting Chicago up for even more failure.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.

Lake Shore Drive blocked by police

By John Ruberry

For the second time in less than a month, left-wing protesters illegally blocked a major Chicago expressway, with the goal of bringing attention to gun violence in America’s third-largest city.

You know what? People in Chicago and its suburbs already know about the homicide epidemic. As do most people nationwide. Last year Chicago, as it did in 2016, suffered more murders than the far-more populous cities of New York And Loa Angeles–combined.

On the flipside, according to Hey Jackass, murders and shootings are down in 2018 compared to last year.

Zero murders should be the goal of any society, although, given human nature, it’s not even a remotely realistic one. But Chicago can do much better.

I covered the most recent lawbreaking protest, the Thursday afternoon rush hour blocking of Lake Shore Drive on Chicago’s North Side for my blog, Marathon Pundit. You can read my report here. You’ll learn that the rally was really a collection of  a baker’s dozen of leftist grievances.

What was that I said about illegal protests? Has fascism, as the leftists claim, conquered America under President Donald Trump? What happened to the First Amendment of the US Constitution?

Nothing has happened to the First Amendment.

Let’s see what that right-wing group (just kdding), the ACLU of Illinois, has to say about street-blocking protests:

Protesters blocking traffic on Belmont Avenue last week

In some cases, government can require a permit as a condition of protest on public property. For example, government often can require a permit for parades in the streets, given the impact on vehicle traffic.

More…

Protesters do not  have [emphasis mine] a First Amendment right to block pedestrian or vehicle traffic, or to prevent entry and exit from buildings.

Father Michael Pfleger, the gadfly left-wing Chicago priest, did not possess a rally permit when he and his followers blocked the 14-lane Dan Ryan Expressway last month on a Saturday afternoon on the South Side. Should’ve he been arrested? That’s a tough call, as the Illinois State Police, which has jurisdiction on this interstate, allowed Pfleger’s group to block the Dan Ryan.

So here we have cops, with the acquiescence of Governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican by the way, consenting to law breaking. Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel, expressed support for the protest.

At the block-Lake Shore Drive rally,, according to the Chicago Police, who has jurisdiction on that road, that event saw 150 protesters block eight lanes of traffic, ruining the commutes of thousands. Tio Hardiman and Gregory Livingston, the organizers of last week’s protest, carefully chose the day of their disruption. A few miles south of Belmont Avenue, where the rally began, the first day of the Lollapolooza festival was underway. And about a mile away the Chicago Cubs were hosting the San Diego Padres for a night game.  While they chose their day well, Hardiman and Livingston didn’t have a rally permit either. I guess they were so busy rabble-rousing that they simply forgot to apply for one.

Protest co-organizer Hardiman: “Where is your rally permit?”

Let’s take a closer look at those protest numbers. We know there were just 150 activists blocking Lake Shore Drive. Keeping an eye on the marchers were anywhere from 300-400 police officers. Also along for the hike, which ended at Wrigley Field, were 100 media representatives and bloggers, including  of course this one.

What about the cost?

The state spent $323,000 on the Dan Ryan protest. Municipal figures haven’t been released yet but it’s a safe guess that when those Chicago numbers are tallied, the cost of Pfleger’s protest will soar past a half-million dollars.

And when the Lake Shore Drive figures are added, will the costs of the two illegal rallies exceed $1 million? My prediction is they will.

If these protests were held instead downtown at a traditional and easy to patrol location, such as Daley Plaza, the taxpayer outlay would have been a pittance. And the plaza can handle many more than 150 people. Activists can enjoy their First Amendment rights there with minimal hassles for the rest of Chicago. And since all protesters seek media attention, nearly all of Chicago’s press and broadcast outlets have offices within walking distance of Daley Plaza. Everyone wins.

When unfunded pension debt is figured in, Illinois and Chicago are essentially broke. Chicago and Illinois are suffering from negative population growth.. And if such banana republic type protests continue to run amok, more people will throw up their hands and join the exodus.

There is another possibility.

Leftists fondly look back the 1960s protests at University of California at Berkeley as the good old days. But Ronald Reagan trounced an incumbent Democratic governor in 1966 by among other things, vowing to clean up “the mess” at Berkeley. However, California was right-leaning five decades ago.

At some point Chicagoans, will scream, “Enough!”

Especially if these expressway protestpaloozas become monthly occurrences.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

These illegal protests need to end. The police need to enforce the law. And that means arresting and prosecuting the organizers of these exercises in lawbreaking.

We are still a nation of laws.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Lake Michigan at Chicago

By John Ruberry

Chicago, which is for now America’s third-largest city, has suffered a rough 21st century. It is beset by a declining population, a high murder rate, soaring taxes, poorly-rated bonds, and burdensome public employee pension debt.

Now you can add lead in tap water to Chicago’s problems. Chicago pumps its water from Lake Michigan, which is largely lead free.

From an April Chicago Tribune article:

Amid renewed national attention to the dangers of lead poisoning, hundreds of Chicagoans have taken the city up on its offer of free testing kits to determine if they are drinking tap water contaminated with the brain-damaging metal.

A Tribune analysis of the results shows lead was found in water drawn from nearly 70 percent of the 2,797 homes tested during the past two years. Tap water in 3 of every 10 homes sampled had lead concentrations above 5 parts per billion, the maximum allowed in bottled water by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Alarming amounts of the toxic metal turned up in water samples collected throughout the city, the newspaper’s analysis found, largely because Chicago required the use of lead service lines between street mains and homes until Congress banned the practice in 1986.

It was the lead from service lines in Flint, Michigan that contaminated that troubled city’s drinking water. Service lines are the connecting pipes from water mains to homes, schools, and businesses. Upkeep of them, and their replacement, is the responsibility of the property owner in Chicago. And replacing those service lines isn’t cheap, it will cost a property owner anywhere from $2,500 to $8,000. A lead filter is a cheaper alternative.

The Flint water crisis was brought about when that city, in a cost-saving measure, switched from purchasing its water from Detroit–which gets it from Lake Huron–to the Flint River. Chloride corrosives from the river reacted with the lead in the service lines, putting dangerous amounts of lead into Flint’s drinking water. While the US EPA says no amount of lead is safe, the EPA action level is 15 ppb, which many Flint homes exceeded.

But there is no federal standard for tap water lead levels in regards to individual residences.

The Tribune article cited here discovered that some Chicago homes tested had lead tap water with amounts slightly above 15 ppb.

Chicago is currently replacing 900 miles of water mains, and such work can increase lead levels in drinking water, the EPA says. And that might be the cause of the high lead content in Chicago’s water.

Excessive lead levels are particularly damaging to children as it can lead to developmental problems. In fact, dangerous lead exposures among Chicago’s children could be a factor in the city’s high rate of violent crime.

The Chicago Park District may soon shut off nearly half of its water fountains on its crowded Lakefront Path because of the high lead content in its water. For twenty years I swigged that water when I was training for marathons.

Chicago’s two-term mayor, Rahm Emanuel, who is up for reelection next year, has been mostly quiet about the lead issue.

I’ll leave the final words for Randy Conner, the city’s Water Management Commissioner, “Chicago has the best drinking water and the cleanest drinking water that is ever to be found.”

Pass me the bottled water as I praise the day I moved to the suburbs.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit from Morton Grove, Illinois.

By John Ruberry

Since Donald J. Trump’s upset win in 2016 over Hillary Clinton–who after the election the left-wing media belatedly informed us was a flawed candidate–we’ve been bombarded with story after story that the president is either colluding with Russia or is weak in dealing with it.

But the Democrats have a decades-long history of failure involving Russia and the Soviet Union, which is something Mark Levin reminded me last week, as the media spewed venom after Trump’s summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin last week.

Here are some of those fiascos.

At the Yalta Conference in 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, historically the most popular president among Democrats, signed over most of the eastern Europe to the Soviet Union, including Poland. It was the invasion of that nation by the Nazis that led France and Great Britain to declare war on Germany.

Graffiti in Latvia

While campaigning for a full presidential term in 1948 Truman said, “I got very well acquainted with Joe Stalin, and I like old Joe! He is a decent fellow. But Joe is a prisoner of the Politburo.”

Many Democrats still celebrate the memories of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who gave away atomic bomb secrets to the USSR. They were executed for treason in 1953. Alger Hiss, a State Department official, was convicted of perjury three years earlier. Many Dems revere his memory too. After opening up Soviet archives in the 1990s, it was discovered that indeed all three were Soviet agents, and yes, traitors.

“He savaged me.” is what John F. Kennedy said of Nikita Khrushchev after a two-day summit in 1961. The Soviet leader judged JFK as weak, two months later the communists began building the Berlin Wall. The following year the Soviets commenced building a missile base in Cuba, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, which nearly started a nuclear war.

Amazingly, the Democrats’ “Lion of the Senate,” JFK’s brother Ted Kennedy, hadn’t learned his lesson after being thumped in the Democratic primaries at the hands of incumbent president Jimmy Carter in 1980. The peanut farmer was trounced in a landslide in the general election later that year. Yet Kennedy was considering challenging Reagan in 1984. His plan was to–wait for it–collude! Teddy would aid Soviet leader Yuri Andropov in confronting Reagan–and the leader of the Evil Empire would assist Kennedy in facing off against the Gipper.

Barack Obama’s feckless response to the Syrian Civil War allowed Russia to gain a foothold in that troubled nation. After Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad crossed Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, Obama did nothing.

Shortly after becoming secretary of state, Hillary Clinton presented a “reset” button to Russian counterpart, signifying a new start to relations between our countries.

Bonus round:

The Democrats’ favorite newspaper is the New York Times. Its Moscow correspondent in the 1920s and 1930s, Walter Duranty, received a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Stalin’s USSR. But not only did Duranty fail to report on the famine in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s, he claimed such stories about it were untrue. But Duranty knew that as many as 10 million people starved to death during the famine, which as a direct result of Stalin’s barbaric policies. The proliferation of fake news is not a recent development.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. His wife was born in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic.

By John Ruberry

Little Marathon Pundit and I were on vacation earlier this month and our travels brought us to Wisconsin and Michigan. On our final day of that trip we visited the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, just six days prior to the 105th anniversary of the birth of the 38th president.

Of the presidents of my lifetime, Gerald Ford is the obvious choice for the “Most Likely to be Forgotten Award.” That’s partly understandable. His 29 months in office was the shortest term of any president who didn’t die in office. And Ford was the closest thing to a “regular guy” to live in the White House. The media loved Ford for that–delighting on him toasting his own English muffins in the White House kitchen. They loved Ford–yes, he was a Republican–until he pardoned his predecessor, Richard M. Nixon, one month after being sworn in to office.

Immediately Ford became a buffoon and a dope. He now was the media’s enemy and ordinary instances were blown out of proportion. He stumbled and fell from the steps of Air Force One. Have you ever had a misstep on a set of stairs? He sliced a few golf balls into crowds–those onlookers would not have been there if he was still House Minority Leader. Ford was an accomplished skier, but do you know what? Skiers fall. And so did he. Chevy Chase’s impersonations of him on Saturday Night Live portrayed him as dimwitted and yes, a man who could barely remain on his feet.

But Ford was arguably the greatest presidential athlete. He was an All-American football center for the University of Michigan. He was offered contracts by the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions. Until very late into his long life Ford regularly swam laps, Ford had an outdoor pool built on the White House grounds to replace the indoor one that Nixon converted into a press room so he could remain in shape.

Ford “the dummy” graduated in the top third of his class at Yale law school.

In short, because of the Nixon pardon, Ford was bombarded by, not fake news, but a fake perception from the media.

The museum of course looks back at Ford’s improbable rise from being abandoned by his father two weeks after his birth to becoming an Eagle Scout and a star athlete. After college and law school Ford returned to his hometown of Grand Rapids to practice law. After Pearl Harbor Ford joined the Navy. Shortly after marrying Betty Bloomer in 1948, Ford won his first election as congressman of Michigan’s 5th district. By the mid-1960s Ford was the House minority leader.

The film about Ford’s life, “A Time To Heal,” plays there.

As the Watergate scandal raged. Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, pleaded no contest to tax evasion and resigned. Nixon, under the provisions of the recently enacted 25th Amendment to the Constitution, nominated Ford as Agnew’s replacement, which Congress approved. Thus Ford became the first vice president–and the only president–not elected by the American people.

“I am acutely aware that you have not elected me as your president by your ballots,” Ford said in his brief inaugural address, “and so I ask you to confirm me as your president with your prayers.” And alluding to Watergate, he added, “Our long national nightmare is over.”

But Ford was president during an unusually eventful 29 months, which the museum documents. What transpired included: His controversial choice of liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller as his vice president, rampant inflation and the brutal l974-75 recession, the Mayaguez incident, the fall of South Vietnam, a summit meeting with Leonid Brezhnev, his signing of the Helsinki Accords, two assassination attempts–within a month, a general gloom of the American psyche, and his defeat by Jimmy Carter in the 1976 presidential election after a hard-fought primary battle with Ronald Reagan.

Quite a bit of bad stuff, to be sure. But the American Bicentennial was celebrated in 1976.

Oh yeah, Ford pardoned Nixon.

Blogger with Ford

The current special exhibit at the museum is centered on his wife, Betty Ford, the centennial of her birth was in April. Her life was a momentous one too. Unlike her recent predecessors as First Lady, Betty was outspoken. Six weeks after moving into the White House she underwent a mastectomy–which brought much needed attention to breast cancer. Two years after her husband’s electoral defeat she was treated for alcoholism and an addiction to painkillers. Rather than hiding in shame, she co-founded the Betty Ford Center, America’s best-known substance abuse treatment center.

Yesterday during the Gerald Ford birthday celebration at the museum a statute of Betty was unveiled.

Jerry and Betty Ford–two Americans who had two remarkable lives.

If you are anywhere near Grand Rapids, a visit to the Ford museum is worth your time.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.