By John Ruberry

Last night Feld Entertainment, the owner of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus since 1967, announced that it is pulling up stakes and shutting down the circus for good.

For a very brief period I was one of its center ring performers. More on that later.

Steeped in history more than any other American entertainment offering, the Greatest Show on Earth can be traced to the 1860s with a circus run by James Anthony Bailey. In 1881 he teamed up with P.T Barnum, a circus latecomer who made his name as an oddity museum and freak show operator, creating Barnum & Bailey Circus. Its first big attraction was Jumbo, purportedly the world’s largest elephant–and an unintended result was the adding of “jumbo” to the English language.

Three years after Barnum & Bailey was founded, the five Ringling brothers, entertainers from Baraboo, Wisconsin, started their circus.

Technology was at first kind to these circuses, trains allowed the shows to travel quickly from city to city, abandoning wagons except for the parades with wild animals that served as priceless publicity for drumming up ticket sales. Trains gave Barnum & Bailey the opportunity to travel outside of its base in the Northeast–and the Ringlings weren’t confined to the Midwest anymore.

The Ringling family purchased Barnum & Bailey in 1907 and the shows were consolidated in 1919.

An elephant helped establish Barnum & Bailey and the combined circus was partly brought down by elephants.

Sometime around 2000 animal rights organizations, notably PETA, began protesting circuses and the Greatest Show on Earth was of course its biggest target. The mud and dung started flying with animal cruelty accusations from these groups, particularly regarding elephants. But Feld Entertainment collected $25,2 million in a settlement from animal rights activist groups over their charges of cruelty to pachyderms.

The battle was over but the war was lost. Two years ago Ringling Brothers announced that its elephants would be retired from the circus in 2018, but that date was moved that up to May of last year, largely because of what Ringling CEO Kenneth Feld called “anti-circus” and “anti-elephant” local ordinances.

When he announced the shutdown of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Feld didn’t cite one item but offered, “The competitor in many ways is time.” People, particularly children, are less patient than ever in the age of smartphones, tablets, and YouTube–and the length of its shows has dropped by nearly an hour since Feld Entertainment purchased Ringling Brothers. Technology now worked against the circus.

But Feld’s daughter, Juliette, went in a different direction, stating “We know now that one of the major reasons people came to Ringling Brothers was getting to see elephants.” Ticket sales, which have been declining for a decade, dropped noticeably when the shows became elephant-free.

Of course it’s the goal of the animal rights activists to have all circuses to be strictly human affairs. They’ll never deny that. So the camels, alpacas, lions, and tigers that are part of the Ringling menagerie will be retired, likely ending up in reserves.

Mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, 500 Ringling employees will be out of work, and it’s my fear that it will be tough going for them, as circus life tends to be a multi-generational endeavor.

Interviewer: “So, what makes you think you can be a good fit at our big box store?”

Job seeker: “Well, I’ve worked at Ringling Brothers for thirty years and I’ve lived on circus trains all of that time. I was educated at circus schools because my parents worked for Ringling Brothers too.”

Thanks for hanging in there, I’m getting to my center ring moment now.

Twice I attended Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey shows. My dad took my brothers and I to a performance at Chicago’s International Amphitheater in 1967. It was a dazzling experience–and the hall was packed. Nearly forty years later I brought Little Marathon Pundit to the Ringling circus, this time at the Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont. Yes, the show was shorter, there was a motorcycle daredevil act in addition to the animal performers, but there was no big band this time–a rock combo offered music and there were a lot of empty seats. Outside the auditorium there were protesters even though it was snowing.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Back inside, as David Larible, a clown, descended the stairs of the arena I snapped a photo of him with my then-exotic smartphone. He motioned me to follow him, brought me to the center ring, where I, along with a few other lucky attendees, participated in a musical instrument comedy skit, as my daughter heartily laughed. It was one of those unforgettable father-daughter moments.

Yes, I’m a former Ringling performer.

You can argue that Ringling Brothers was dying then–but certainly the animal rights radicals hastened its death. And when this venerable circus is dead–a part of America will have died with it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago’s Grant Park, where Obama gave his victory speech

By John Ruberry

On the Sunday after the 9/11 attacks, Jeremiah Wright, then Obama’s pastor, bellowed, “God d–n America” and “America’s chickens are coming home to roost” from the pulpit of his Chicago church.

Two nights from now President Barack Obama will give his farewell address in Chicago, his adopted hometown. The Hawaii-born 44th president moved to Chicago a year after graduating from college where he worked, with at best mixed success, as a community organizer on the Far South Side. It’s an area still beset by violence and poverty with no hope of a turnaround thirty years after Obama left that post so he could attend Harvard law school.

Ayers and Dohrn Chicago home

It was in 1996 Chicago where Obama launched his political career. One of his first campaign stops–perhaps his first–was at the home of his friends, unrepentant Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Eight years later another Chicagoan, state Senate President Emil Jones Jr, put Obama’s name on some key bills that bolstered his liberal credentials. Obama scored a surprise win in the Democratic US Senate primary, and after the Republican nominee imploded, he easily won in the general election.

You know the rest of the story.

However, Obama was not a slam-dunk in the 2008 presidential election against John McCain–what we now call the Great Recession sealed the deal–and America elected its first black president.

Chicago is still recovering from the ’08 economic collapse. Of the nation’s 35-largest cities, Chicago has the largest percentage of underwater home mortgages.Two years ago Chicago enacted its largest property tax hike in history, the impetus for it was to pay for underfunded municipal pension funds. What does this have to do with Obama? Chicago hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1931, Obama is the most hyper-partisan president in memory. Along the White House ride for Obama was Valerie Jarrett, his senior advisor and “Berlin Wall,” the former slumlord was a deputy chief of staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. It’s Daley, not his successor, former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who bears the responsibility for the Chicago pension debacle. But Chicago’s generous municipal pensions are political payback for public-sector unions, who’ve been an arm of the Democratic Party in all but name for decades.

Obama has always been very cozy government labor unions. 

Two years ago–under Emanuel’s watch–Moody’s downgraded Chicago’s bonds, and those of Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Park District to junk. Other rating services haven’t followed suit yet, but they absolutely don’t view Chicago favorably.

Chicago’s population is at it lowest level in 100 years.

Chicagoans pay the nation’s highest sales tax rate.

Chickens.

Last year at least 762 people were murdered in Chicago–an appalling 57 percent increase over the year before. Chicago suffered more killings than New York City and Los Angeles–combined. One of the reasons cited for the soaring murder rate was Rahm Emanuel’s inept handling of the shooting of unarmed black teen Laquan McDonald–with sixteen bullets–by a white cop, all of which has compelled Chicago Police officers to use less aggressive law enforcement tactics. Chicago is a hotbed for Black Lives Matter activists. The outgoing president has been supportive of this radical group, which deems racist the statement All Lives Matter.

Near where the Facebook attack occurred

That leads to last week’s racist atrocity in Chicago, the torturing of a white special needs man–thirty minutes of which was streamed live on Facebook–by four blacks in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side. The victim was bound, gagged, beaten, slashed, forced to drink toilet water, and coerced to say “F–k Donald Trump” and “F–k white people.”

Two months earlier in another West Side neighborhood a white man was pulled from his car and brutally beaten by four blacks. That attack was captured on video, the assailants screamed, “You voted Trump” and “Beat his a–.” While the victim was indeed a Trump voter–yes, there are a few in Illinois besides me–he told authorities that there was no way the thugs could have known that. There was no Trump bumper sticker on his car–he was white and that was enough provocation for these creeps.

Obama’s chickens–and those of Chicago Democrats–have come home to roost.

Our collectivist president has practiced identity politics for his entire adult life. which for the most part means race politics. Us versus them. And as a collectivist Obama has appointed himself as the savior to put the pieces back together.

Chicago’s Northwest Side

But breaking things is much easier than putting them back together.

Some final thoughts.

As a public service I am recommending that if you are planning to attend Chicago’s McCormick Place address, please use public transportation. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 45 of our 50 states. With the exception of Detroit, the worst-maintained streets and roads I’ve encountered are in Chicago. And while you’re driving around potholes and crevices, please beware of Chicago’s ubiquitous red light and speeding cameras. An astounding 1.9 million traffic camera tickets were issued between 2010 and 2015. Chicago has 2.7 million or so residents. Most of those tickets were written while Emanuel was mayor.

The former administrator of Chicago’s traffic camera program is serving a ten-year prison sentence for accepting bribes.

Someone needs to come up with a misery index for big cities like Chicago, which should include such items as corruption, low high school graduation rates, unfunded pension obligations, red light cameras, crumbling infrastructure, population loss, taxes, and yes of course, crime.

John “Lee” Ruberry

Perhaps Austan Goolsbee, Obama’s amiable pal who is an economics professor at the University of Chicago, can absolve himself of leftism and get to work on this much-needed project.

Thank God I left Chicago for the suburbs nearly two decades ago.

And Obama, at least for now, won’t live in Chicago after he moves out of White House next week. He’ll probably only return to visit his presidential library.

John Ruberry is a fifth-generation Chicago area resident who writes the Marathon Pundit blog. The Chicago Convention and Tourism Board had no input in composing this blog entry.

By John Ruberry

“So listen, there’s still a little bit of it to go,” the host of NPR’s witty Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, Peter Sagal said as he opened his New Year’s Eve show, “but all the pundits and the pollsters have already called it: 2016 will go down as the worst year ever.” Which led moderator Bill Kurtis, the longtime journalist and Chicago news anchor to reply, “Sure, 1346 had the plague, but at least Black Death was a cool name.”

I’m here to explain, at least for me and people who visit Da Tech Guy and my own blog, Marathon Pundit, that 2016 was a darn good year, and absolutely a better one than 1346.

Defying the “pundits and pollsters,” but perhaps not the same ones Sagal was talking about yesterday, Donald J. Trump was elected president–he’ll be sworn into office in nineteen days. Although not as historic as being the first African-American elected to America’s highest office, Trump will be the first president who was not a prior public office holder or a general. That’s yuge.

Like Bob Dylan in 1964 keeping his love for the Beatles to himself and not, initially, telling his folk-music pals, I secretly hopped on the Trump Train in the autumn of 2015, but I was a vocal passenger well before the Iowa Caucuses. Like Sean Hannity, I saw Trump’s, yes, historic candidacy as the last chance to save America from collectivism and socialism, mediocrity, malaise, globalism, cronyism; and in what would have sealed the unpleasant deal, a runaway leftist Supreme Court. I am not an aberration, there are tens-of-millions of Americans who look at the rise of Trump in a similar manner.

A Hillary Clinton victory could have possibly hobbled America as much as the 19th century Opium Wars did to China. A large and populous nation does not necessarily mean that it will be a prosperous and powerful one, as India and Indonesia show us. And Russia is not prosperous.

I look at Trump’s win as the best news of the decade. But even as blogs and new media continue to prosper–my blog’s readership soared last year–the old guard media, which is dominated by leftists, for the most part despises Trump. Their bad news needs to be your bad news.

My daughter at the old
M*A*S*H set

The old year of course will forever be remembered as the year of so many celebrity deaths, which included Leonard Nimoy, B.B. King, Ben E. King, Dick Van Patten, Omar Sharif, Yogi Berra, and in one last cruel harvest by the Grim Reaper, a beloved actor from the television show MASH, Wayne Rogers, passed away on New Year’s Eve.

Wait…wait…don’t tell me! Yes, those are deaths from 2015. Celebrities die every year. Trust me, they really do.

Okay, second verse almost as same as the first: In 2016 the celebrity departures included David Bowie, Prince, Florence Henderson, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and in one last cruel harvest by the Grim Reaper, a beloved actor from the television show MASH, William Christopher, passed away on New Year’s Eve.

[Editorial note: The WordPress blogging platform does not like words with asterisks within them.]

Admittedly, some of these celebs are a bit different from the Class of 2015. Although enigmatic, Bowie, Prince and Michael meticulously cultivated their public images, they became familiar presences on MTV; so people, even if they weren’t fans, believed they “knew” these performers, and their 1980s videos enjoy eternal life on VH1 and on YouTube.

Fisher played Princess Leia in Star Wars, which was arguably the most influential movie, both artistically and in the business-sense, since The Jazz Singer. If you haven’t seen Star Wars, then you probably haven’t seen many films. Florence Henderson’s TV show, The Brady Bunch, was not a first-run success, but it achieved legendary status on the re-run circuit. Like Bowie’s “Modern Love” video on MTV, sometimes you need to watch something every day instead of once-a-week for it to be properly digested.

Oh, I mentioned earlier that Dick Van Patten of Eight Is Enough died in 2015. And few cared because I’m pretty sure you have to buy DVDs of his show to watch it.

As members of the Greatest Generation and the Silent Generation pass on, there are proportionately more self-absorbed people remaining, those of course being the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Snowflake Generation, many of whom view every event, whether it is a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, an election, and of course, a celebrity death, as being about themselves. When Ish Kabibble, a kind of proto-Jerry Lewis, died in 1994, my parents didn’t take it as a personal loss.

John “Lee” Ruberry of
the Magnificent Seven

Here is some more good news from 2016: Third quarter growth in the United States was a robust 3.5 percent, perhaps because the end of the Obama era was in sight. And since Trump’s win, the stock market has been soaring, clearly many people, smart ones, are confident that 2017 will be a year of strong economic growth.

Now if we can only convince the self-absorbed ones to stop thinking about themselves so much, then 2017 will certainly be a great year.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

From Trump’s Twitter feed

By John Ruberry

For as long as I can remember the words “Merry Christmas” have been pushed away from public life, in the both the political and business world. I get it. No one wants to offend people who aren’t Christian, or those few Christians, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who shun Christmas.

However, 83 percent of Americans are Christian, and for many of them Christmas is their favorite time of the year. And I know some secular progressives who set up Christmas trees in their home.

When  President-elect Donald Trump on the later stops of his ‘thank you’ tour replaced his ‘USA’ lectern logo with a ‘Merry Christmas’ one, it got my attention.

And Trump’s Christmas spirit didn’t end there

“We’re gonna start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said at a Michigan ‘thank you’ rally. “How about all those department stores, they have the bells and they have the red walls and they have the snow, but they don’t have ‘Merry Christmas. I think they’re gonna start putting up ‘Merry Christmas.'”

About ten years ago the ‘War on Christmas’ compelled Christians who wished to say ‘Merry Christmas’ at their workplace to bite their tongues, including those working extended Christmas shifts at retail stores to accommodate Christmas shoppers. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, one of the defenders in the ‘War on Christmas,’ declares the conflict all but over, as increasingly more retail outlets use the word ‘Christmas” in their holiday advertisements. On Christmas Eve I was greeted with a hearty “Merry Christmas” when I walked into the local Walmart–and when I left.

Meanwhile, the outgoing president’s final Christmas card, oops, I mean holiday card, oh wait, make that a seasonal card, features the first family and a sprig of holly. Nothing else.

I’ll be shocked if Donald Trump’s first presidential Christmas card isn’t much different, even though his oldest daughter is a convert to Judaism.

Howard Kurtz ended today’s always excellent Fox News’ Media Watch program with “Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah.” Yes, like a rare planetary alignment, Christmas Eve and the first day of Hanukkah share the came spot on the calendar.

And from me to you, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

A couple of weeks back I completed my latest television binge-watching quest, in this case it was the neo-western Longmire.

Walt Longmire (Robert Taylor) is the Rainier Beer-drinking, unshaved sheriff in the fictional county of Absaroka in Wyoming. He’s a widower putting his life and career back together after the recent death of his wife. It’s easy to imagine Gary Cooper paying this role. His deputies are the loyal Victoria “Vic” Moretti (Katee Sackhoff), Jim “the Ferg” Ferguson (Adam Bartley), and not-so-loyal Branch Connally (Bailey Chase), who runs against Longmire for sheriff.

The series is based on the Walt Longmire mystery books by Craig Johnson.

Originally an A&E show, the network, despite high ratings for the show, cancelled it after the third season. Netflix picked it up, airing the next two editions. It has been renewed for a sixth and final season. The books are set in Buffalo, which is coincidentally in Johnson County, Wyoming. In the show Durant is the county seat of Absaroka. So assuming that Johnson is Absaroka, that would give Longmire’s county 8,500 residents. And since, especially in the first four seasons, there is a murder in almost every episode, that could give this rural county a homicide rate higher than that of Chicago, perhaps, yes, even higher than the small Maine town where the television series Murder, She Wrote, was set. Recurring Longmire character Louis Herthum, has experience with this scenario, as he played a cop in Murder She, Wrote.

Also in Absaroka is a Cheyenne Indian reservation, which isn’t in Walt’s jurisdiction. But just as Captain Kirk was never supposed to violate the Prime Directive in Star Trek, circumstances often force Longmire to pursue police work on “the rez,” which for the most part annoys Mathias (Zahn McClarnon), a Bureau of Indian Affairs police chief. His predecessor, Malachi Strand (Graham Greene), was jailed after Longmire busted him for extortion.

By the third season the murder-a-week package is less relied upon as the events surrounding the death of Longmire’s wife, the release of Strand from prison, the building of a Cheyenne casino, and development projects in Absaroka driven by Deputy Connally’s father, Barlow (Gerald McRaney), collide with Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear (Lou Diamond Phillips), the owner a local bar and restaurant. A Native American Longmire regularly tangles with is casino operator Jacob Nighthorse (A Martinez). Also captured in this web is Longmire’s daughter, Cady (Cassidy Freeman), an attorney who is more like her father than either character realizes, as she also discovers that doing the right thing is often an insurmountable challenge in an flawed world.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the
Magnificent Seven

I thoroughly enjoy Longmire and I’m eagerly awaiting season six, as season five concluded with things in a very complicated state. As a western, the cinematography is of course superb, although the show is filmed in New Mexico, not Wyoming. Starting of course with the lead character, the acting is superb, and the story lines generally contain much depth. Although I am curious why Phillips’ Standing Bear character, like those in True Grit, particularly in the Coen Brothers remake, never uses contractions in his speech.

If you prefer westerns that aren’t “neo,” I still recommend that you give Longmire a look. Just imagine cowboy Walt riding a horse instead of driving a Ford Bronco, and replace moonshine with narcotics. And after all of these years there is still conflict between whites and Indians. And vigilantism is also a welcome plot development in any western.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Saturday night news broke–that has not yet been confirmed–that President-elect Donald Trump has chosen ExxonMobil chairman Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

Predictably, the mainstream media is pouncing on this selection, zeroing in on his ties to Russia that go back to the Boris Yeltsin era. Russia of course is a major energy producer, it’s quite understandable that ExxonMobil would have a stake there. In 2013 Vladimir Putin honored Tillerson with its Order of Friendship.

This criticism folds neatly into the controversial CIA report that Russia tried to influence the presidential election, presumably to boost Trump. Of course the increasingly marginalized media is still trying to make sense of Hillary Clinton’s loss, even though the evidence is abundant and easy to understand.

On the campaign trail Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. And one way to do so is to bring in some outsiders, people like himself, to find a better way to run America.

On Fox News Sunday, in an interview where Trump told host Chris Wallace that he had yet to choose his secretary of state, the president-elect said of Tillerson, who has never worked in the public-sector, “In this case he’s much more than a businessman. He’s a world-class player.” Tillerson can point to decades of experience of negotiating deals with foreign governments, which is something his two predecessors did not have, unless you include Hillary Clinton’s shady doings at the Clinton Foundation.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven.

During the campaign Trump called the Iran nuclear deal “a disaster” and “the worst deal ever negotiated.” Alan Dershowitz, a liberal but a longtime defender of Israel, said of the Iran deal and the people who crafted it, “I wouldn’t hire this administration to negotiate a one-month lease for me.”

Nor would I.

It’s time for the amateurs and the Model United Nations role-players to exit Washington–the people have spoken. Trump values accomplishments. DC needs more men and women like Tillerson.

John Ruberry, who has never been employed by the private sector, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

usa-china

By John Ruberry

Building upon Peter Ingemi’s RH’s spectacular Trump’s China Call is a Deliberate Overreach from yesterday, it’s my turn to add my two yuan into the discusssion.

The media loves to dismiss Donald Trump as a showman–as if there was no showmanship with Barack Obama–but those under 45 first encountered our next president as a real estate developer, albeit a flashy one. Developers are many things, including, yes, deal makers, as well as a negotiators. In regards to that last one, when you are sitting across someone you are negotiating with, or as it usually turns out, haggling with, a strategy that has worked since the Babylonian era is to get the person sitting on the other side of the table from you off of his script and on to yours. One tactic is known as “getting-yourself-inside-their-heads.”

And that’s something that Trump may have accomplished by accepting a telephone call last week from the president of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, which has caused a kerfuffle. Because the United States recognizes communist China as the legitimate government off all of China, including Taiwan, a president hasn’t spoken to a Taiwanese leader since 1979. Of course we still have extensive trade relations with the island nation–oops, breakaway province–and we still sell Taiwan weapons. If they are ever fired in defense it would very likely be against the Chicomms.

Oh, Taiwan and China are major trading partners.

Trying to understand international relations is a descent into madness.

Trump made the re-negotiation of what he calls bad trade deals a central campaign promise. Of course those bad deals with China, if they really are awful, are good ones for the Chinese. If Hillary Clinton won last month’s presidential election China could look forward to at least four more years of crony socialism from the former secretary of state. Since then China has been bracing itself for a return to the bargaining table, preparing for difficult deal making with this New York capitalist.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

But Trump, who was a very good baseball player when he was young, threw a curve ball at the Chinese.

He accepted a phone call.

He got inside their heads.

Trump knows what he’s doing.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update (DTG): I’d like to take credit for the piece that John is referring to but that one was written by RH (NG36B) one of the newest additions to our magnificent 7 writers. I’m delighted to have both John & RH on the team

jonathan-strange-and-mr-norrellBy John Ruberry

It’s time to take a break from politics.

Many times while surfing on Netflix I came across a recommendation to watch the seven-part 2015 BBC One miniseries, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is described as such: “In 1806 ambitious magician Norrell leads a revival of practical magic in England and ignites a fierce rivalry with bold young conjurer Strange.” If that sounds like a dopey show, well, that’s what I thought too. But I yielded to the luring and tuned in. I’m grateful that I did.

Magic in the alternative universe of Strange and Norrell is not smoke-and-mirrors and rabbits being pulled from hats, it’s a neglected scientific discipline that for unexplained reasons was abandoned in England in the early 16th century. But Gilbert Norrell (Eddie Marsan), a magician from York, becomes a national sensation when he brings to life the statues of  York Minster Cathedral and, in his only use of dark magic, brings back from death the future wife of a prominent member of parliament, Lady Pole (Alice Englert).

But just as in another alternative universe where humans can sell their soul to the devil, the dark side, in this case a mysterious being known as the Gentleman (Marc Warren), sabotages the transaction and establishes Norrell’s second rivalry.

Norrell offers his services to fight the French and their allies in the Napoleonic Wars, although only Jonathan Strange (Bertie Carvel) directly utilizes magic at the side of the Duke of Wellington (Ronan Vibert), who is initially skeptical of him. Included in the broad historical sweep of Strange and Norrell is the blind and mad King George III, and although not by name, the anti-industrial Luddites.

The rest of the cast is wonderful, particularly Ariyon Bakare as a mysterious butler and Vincent Franklin as the duplicitous promoter of Norrell and Strange. The special effects, with the exception of the ravens in the last two installments, are first rate.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a welcome diversion from the usual, and it’s a particularly good series for binge-watching.

Besides Netflix, the mini-series is available on many on-demand systems and on DVD.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

John ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

By John Ruberry

The leftist group MoveOn got its start as Bill Clinton was being impeached. Their initial message was along the lines of, Bubba has done a great job running the country, his affair with Monica Lewinsky was inappropriate, and now it’s time for Americans to, well, move on.

Now if only the cheerleaders in the media for the Democratic Party could do the same.

There’s a book’s worth of material out there for this post, but I’ll zoom in on just a few today. Dahleen Glanton, an African American Chicago Tribune columnist, puts the blame on the Democrats failure to keep the White House on where she feels it belongs. Yes, the headline gives the ending away, “White women, own up to it: You’re the reason Hillary Clinton lost.” Yet the first sentence of that column betrays how foolish she is, “I don’t understand women.” Her dazzling display of ignorance continues for another two dozen paragraphs.

There must be vile fumes from the Chicago River poisoning the minds of Chicago newspaper columnists, as ignorance begets insanity. I had to read Neil Steinberg’s Nazi-drenched column about Donald Trump and his advisor Steven Bannon, who, by the way, is not an anti-Semite, three times before I gave up trying to make sense of it. Well, almost.  When I am confronted with Nazis and insanity I do one thing and that is listen to avante-garde rockers the Residents’ masterpiece, “The Third Reich and Roll,” only this time I did so while trying to block out of my memory all of my knowledge of the 1960s garage pop classics that are satirized in this work, as a possible gateway into Steinberg’s rambling mess. That didn’t work either. But hey, I tried.

At the end of his column he all but claims that it will be followers of a religion who have been scapegoated for centuries who will be blamed if Trump’s economy doesn’t take off as he promises it will.

Oh, do newspaper columnists have editors anymore?

Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, who was exposed as a colluder with the Democratic National Committee by WikiLeaks, is calling the incoming Trump administration “the fake news presidency.” Yet two months ago Milbank was covering for Clinton’s “deplorables” gaffe by claiming that “she might have low-balled the number.”

Wrong.

Perhaps what these mainstream media hacks really need is a good cry, which is something the Residents have done as they confide in “Hitler Was a Vegetarian.”

Yes, it’s your party, I know it’s your party
And, you know that you can cry, and, it’s cool
But you have to remember that I too cried my 96 tears
And… it’s just something we all have to go through some time or another.

Get to it.

And then move on.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

forwardBy John Ruberry

There are thousands–maybe hundreds of thousands–of explanations about why Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton last week that you can find online and in print, as well as why the Republicans maintained control of Congress and gained governorships.

Here’s another one, although this discussion confronts one angle, what I call “inevitable leftism.” Barack Obama was the “Hope and Change” candidate for president in 2008; four years later, “Forward” was his rallying cry. Some conservative pundits noticed that “Forward” has a long history as a communist and socialist slogan.

Leftists, Obama is one, firmly believe that their cause is one of inevitable success, that humanity is headed towards–choose your term–a collectivist, socialist, or communist utopia. They view popular leaders such as Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan, as atavistic aberrations, mere potholes that can be paved over when the time is right, sooner, as opposed to later.

Except when they are wrong.

The French Revolution, still idealized by the Left, deposed a king and disestablished the Roman Catholic church, and replaced the Ancien Régime with an atheist republic that executed thousands, which was quickly transformed into a dictatorship led by an Italian. Along the way the days and months were renamed in a new decimal calendar–hours and minutes were divided by ten too, as were weights and measures. A couple of decades later there was a king again in France, the Catholic church was the state religion–but the metric system survived, yet strangely enough, it still hasn’t completely caught on in the United States.

Maximilien Robespierre, the guiding force of the French Revolution, and his inner circle were certain they were guiding the world on the right path. He may have even held on to that belief as he walked up to the guillotine, two years after Louis XVI after made the same, final stroll.

The Russian Revolution’s state, the Soviet Union, was similarly hailed by the Left as a societal inevitably, it also led to regicide, and tens of millions were killed. Because the USSR survived much longer than the French Republic, it succeeded in shattering Russian culture. But the surviving Russian nation is a South American-style sham democracy run by a thug, not a nation consisting of a populace that lives “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

Barack Obama is not a psychopath or a murderer. But he’s a leftist, albeit one along the lines of French President François Hollande. Obama decided that America needs government-run health care in 2009 but he knew that what the Democrats euphemistically call single-payer would be unpopular, so a hybrid program, quickly dubbed ObamaCare, was developed as a bridge to that health care utopia. ObamaCare is deeply unpopular, and it was one reason for Trump’s win. The president-elect says he will repeal most of ObamaCare. The Democrats’ push for gay marriage is another page from the book of Dem inevitability, but only 21 nations allow same-sex marriages, none of them are in Asia, and South Africa is the only country in Africa that allows it.

It was the Democrats who, through their many friends in the judiciary, that created the so-called crisis surrounding the minuscule segment of the population who feel compelled to use the washrooms and the locker rooms–even in high school–of the opposite gender. They view choose-your-own-bathroom as their next social inevitability. The Democrats are the party of the confused horny teenage boy who wants to shower with girls.

Next year France will hold a presidential election. Marine Le Pen, a far-right politician with a fierce anti-immigrant stance, whose election as president last year ago seemed as likely as Trump moving in to the White House was, is confident of her chances. Hollande hasn’t declared himself as a candidate. Is Le Pen, another atavistic aberration, the inevitability of France?

France is ten percent Muslim. With the higher birth rates of its Muslim citizens a majority Muslim France could be possible by the end of the century. Gay marriage has been legal in France since 2013. Will it be in 2113?

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

The policy of open borders is also viewed as the next level of human achievement by the Left. It has worked well for the European Union, but there’s a big difference between thousands Germans buying homes in Italy and thousands of Middle Eastern migrants arriving in ramshackle boats there. Democrats, and even some Republicans, have been ignoring calls from ordinary citizens, now dubbed “the Forgotten Man,” to secure the southern border for decades. Opposition to open borders was the main reason why British voters voted to leave the EU.

Of course no one can predict the future. Not even leftists, even though they never tire in telling you how smart they are.

In the United States the hubris of inevitability led to the defeat of the Left last week.

Forward was the wrong way.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.