My late father was fond of many truisms. One of his favorites was, “Keep your words sweet; you might have to eat them.” Being one who has far too many times made a meal out of self-baked Alpha Bits, I fully testify to the aforementioned statement’s accuracy.

This came to mind yesterday when learning of John McCain’s battle with brain cancer. Cancer in any form is hideous; brain cancer is an unspeakable obscenity. Given McCain’s age and health history, it is impossible to envision this being anything but a brief, final battle before his ascending into eternity.

As a career moderate, one willing to work both sides of the aisle, McCain has garnered more than a few detractors at each end of both aisles. On the right, McCain has been routinely pilloried as the RINOs RINO, a squish benignly or actively bulldozing every hill upon which red pill poppers choose to make today’s final stand; tune in tomorrow for the new indignation du jour. On the left … eh, it’s the left. What aren’t they indignant about? But I digress.

It’s sadly predictable how, in a world where “Obama is a POOPYHEAD!” and “Trump is a MEANYPANTS!” passes as political discourse, the armchair politicians have not universally disarmed themselves in favor of prayer and support for a man now fighting his greatest battle. Be it damning with faint praise via tacking a grievance diatribe onto a get-well wish, or proclaiming McCain’s condition as karma come home to roost, haters gonna hate. And how. Hope they never take ill.

Like it or not, we are known by the company we keep. Those who herald the snarkbelcher for being cool and edgy and speaking truth to power abandon all claims of innocent bystanding when the worm turns. Make no mistake; the worm will turn … after it metamorphosises into a dragon.

Those who blog, post, and tweet as they please with total disregard for the humanity of others will in time discover that which they believed granted immunity from their own words’ consequences was transitory. The day will come when that rock solid, self-made (to whatever degree it actually was, this as opposed to whatever degree we perceive it to be) career will both blow up and throw up in our faces. That immovable object of a third party or outside corporation we’ve built upon? It will move, downsize, change direction, or simply fold altogether. That in-demand, on-demand skill set we have laboriously acquired? Seemingly overnight it will become faded fish wrap, dated and discarded. Your status as the hot hand, the heartthrob, the heavy hitter? As The Eagles succinctly put it decades ago, where’ve you been lately? There’s a new kid in town. Everybody loves him, don’t they. And he’s holding her … and you’re still around.

Remember conservative new media’s early days when all were welcome? Now, CNM is CNN minus a spot on the local cable network, stratified and tied to a totem pole. Used to be we called ourselves an army of Davids. Well, Goliath is still standing, and our slingshot ammo consists of yelling at Jake Tapper on Twitter.

Relying on the new corporation, same as the old corporation (ratings/website hits are KING!) albeit with a different philosophical core as long as it is a solid business model for attracting advertisers, is a risky proposition. An endless drone of opinion pieces makes for an entirely unsatisfying intellectual meal and a dwindling marketplace. Now, there are people in CNM who practice fundamental journalism. They read the bill. They study the transcript. They attend the meeting. They ask direct questions to those directly involved. But these people are the rare exceptions in a morass of clip and comment sludge.

The failure to treat political opponents as people instead of crash test dummies will inevitably consume both its creators and its supporters. As surely as if we signed it ourselves, that which we sign off on will be attached to our names. Therefore, be cautious and circumspect. Fire; a cleansing one but fire nonetheless, is coming. Don’t get burned.

Be careful what you sign.

 

Do you ever wonder if there is more you could do to improve your ecommerce website? Well, maybe there is. We have put together a list of useful tactics that can help you improve your ecommerce website and turn a lead into a customer.

1.  Start Upselling

Upselling is a great way to encourage a customer to buy a more premium product at the checkout. In fact, the tactic is thought to be 20 times more effective online than cross-selling. For instance, if a customer is looking at a handbag made from a low-quality material, why not upsell a similar style in a higher quality fabric?

For upselling to work, you must highlight the difference in the two products, which may convince a customer to pay a little extra for a higher quality item. Highlight a product’s USP, such as “handmade” or “as seen on TV”, etc. Ensure the upselling tactic relates to the original item, and only highlight products similar to a customer’s price range.

2.  Decrease Cart Abandonment Rate

One big issue troubling many ecommerce websites is cart rate abandonment. It is easy to take an abandonment personally, but don’t. Instead, take action to reduce the number of people clicking away from your website in the middle of a sale.

More than likely, a customer may not have been 100% confident a product was right for them during the online shopping experience, so they chose to click away. Look for ways to persuade them to buy a product from your website by providing free delivery or a welcome discount code.

Another effective tactic is an email marketing campaign, as you can send an automated email to remind potential customers to complete a purchase on your website. A well-designed, professional and friendly email could be all it takes to convince a visitor to buy a product.

3.  Build a Following with Instagram

Are you taking advantage of Instagram to drive traffic to your e-commerce site? If not, now is the time. While Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest social media platforms, Instagram is certainly hot on their heels. It currently has more than 500 million active users and is growing five times faster than overall social network usage.

By using the right hashtags, stunning photos and scheduling posts at the right times, you could gain an impressive Instagram following in no time. As a result, you can direct a large proportion of followers to your website, who may browse and buy your products.

Encourage engagement by running competitions, beautiful advertising campaigns or providing a behind-the-scenes look at your products or office. Don’t forget to regram photos of followers using your collections, which will prove to others that you have many happy customers.

4.  Integrate Shopify with NetSuite

Did you know you can integrate Shopify ecommerce with NetSuite? The simple solution can help you to streamline back office operations to run a more efficient ecommerce business, which will provide you with more freedom to sell and deliver great products to your customers. Easily manage orders, cancellations and refunds in one location, while unifying stock levels and connecting multiple Shopify stores to a comprehensive account.

5.  Utilize Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. If you want to regularly engage with new and existing customers, while turning leads into sales, you must deliver aesthetically-pleasing, relevant emails directly into a subscriber’s inbox.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, the marketing tactic can provide an ROI of approximately 4,300%. While only 2% of social media followers will view your posts, it is believed an average of 90% of emails will reach subscribers. So, if you want to grow your online store, it is time to create an email marketing strategy that complements your brand and audience needs.

6.  Wishlist Reminder Email

One tactic you should add into an email marketing strategy is a Wishlist reminder. Allow a customer to place an item into their account’s Wishlist. If they haven’t viewed the Wishlist in a while or if the item will soon be sold out, send them a helpful reminder to consider buying the product before it is too late. This may cause a customer to develop a sense of urgency, so they may decide to buy the product after receiving your email.

7.  A Beautiful Website

Customers will not buy from a website they cannot trust. An easy-to-use, visually-appealing website will prove to a visitor that you are an established company. Don’t stuff a home page or landing page with too much text or photos, and try to find the right balance between the two.

It is not only the aesthetics that can cause a person to click away from your website. The site should feature well-written content and detailed product descriptions; provide clear navigation and offer a quick load time.

8.  Encourage Product Reviews

Prove to your customers that you have nothing to hide and encourage product reviews on your ecommerce site. A customer will appreciate your transparency, which is a great tool for building trust in your products. What’s more, it will allow each visitor to make an informed decision before they make a purchase. Highlight the product review section at the bottom of a page, and ask people to leave a review via an email marketing campaign or social media.

9.  Embark with Market Research

Update your collections to encourage customers to return to your store again and again. However, don’t rush in when adding new items to your inventory. Embark on market research to identify if market demand outweighs the cost.

Undertake keyword research and review social media trends to meet upcoming industry demand. Don’t be afraid to test items by listing them as “out of stock” to see how many people enquire about the product. Review the pages for each “out of stock” item to see which one receives the most attention, so you know the right product to sell to your customers.

In a world where hatred and horror are marching in lockstep, we can all use a good laugh. With this in mind, below is an unsent, albeit sorely tempted to do so, response to an actual customer survey. It must be noted the views and opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the writer and in no fashion speak on behalf of, or represent, the employer of said writer. (As if it isn’t obvious.)

Dear Mr. C(remainder of name redacted):

Thank you for your customer survey response regarding your recent visit to, and purchase from, our store.

We deeply apologize for the store and staff not meeting your expectations, this surmised from both your written comments and your grading the store as a one on all scale of one to ten questions. We readily confess this comes as something of a surprise, given that since late last year, through the course of several dozen returned surveys we had not once received an overall score lower than eight. We appreciate you, unlike the aforementioned several dozen misguided individuals, setting the record straight.

Addressing a specific point made in your response, namely how the store carries far too much Superman and Transformers product, a quick calculation reveals out of the 448 feet of linear shelf space available the two toy lines mentioned presently occupy eight feet. We are grateful for you opening our eyes to how this 1.79% waste of display area is entirely too high, and are presently carrying out a detailed action aimed at reducing this to 1.78%. Regrettably, you did not detail what should be done with this newly available space, this leaving us to our own painfully inadequate devices commonly referred to as “what sells.” Which, to our astonishment and we confidently say yours, includes an alarmingly high amount of Superman and Transformer toys.

Concerning your grievance over the survey containing too many questions, we are compelled to note the survey is run by a third party and therefore is not entirely under our control. However, we have communicated your concerns to the survey provider, and have been assured it is hard at work on a new version which will contain nothing but one emoji happy face and one emoji frowny face. This will greatly reduce the time and effort required to complete the survey, as compared to its present seventeen scale of one to ten grueling questions.

We could not help but to notice in addition to the two items you did purchase, you are a member of our rewards club for frequent shoppers. Given your disdain for our store, the only possible conclusion is you are suffering from retail self-flagellation, a/k/a punishing yourself by shopping at a store you detest. This can result in dangerous symptoms such as monetary loss and a sharp increase in hypocrisy. We urge you to exercise maximum caution and watch for these signs.

In conclusion, we again deeply apologize for our store and ourselves. We hope you will give us another try, especially encouraging you to visit our board game area and pick up a copy of The Game of Life to remedy a noticeable deficiency in this area.

Sincerely,
Someone At The Store You Hate

Like Stacy McCain who finds yet another crazy feminist:

Do not assume that my description of this woman as “demon-possessed” is a joke. Maybe you’re an atheist, and do not believe demons exist. Believe what you want to believe, but I know evil when I see it.

This is the spirit of Satan. This is the face of totalitarian hatred. This is Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Mengistu and every other murderous dictator who ever claimed the right to kill in the name of “the people.”

Nothing makes allies like telling men who support your cause:  “Know your place.”

And Jazz Shaw who reports that Trump continues to make his goal like more NATO spending with allies

But even if this is the new policy and she’s good to her word, what prompted the change? Nobody seems to be saying, but two possibilities come to mind. One is that Merkel is looking ahead to her own election and believes that her voters aren’t in line with the less defense oriented plans of her opponents so she’s trying to put some daylight between herself and them. If that’s not the case, was there a phone call from Washington in the past week that we didn’t hear about? It would be in both Trump’s and Merkel’s best interests to keep any such discussions private. But it would allow Trump to eventually point to Germany and say that he got his way without Merkel looking like she was bending the knee for him.

Maybe this guy does know the art of the deal?

At Powerline John Hinderaker tells us it’s not just the south of the border flow slowing down:

it appears that the flow of refugees has declined, even though the president’s travel orders, including his reduced ceiling on refugee admissions, has been tied up in the courts by partisan judges. The Star Tribune reports: “Minnesota’s refugee stream slows to a trickle.”

The pace of refugees arriving in Minnesota slowed markedly in recent months, even though President Trump’s executive order pausing resettlement remains mired in the courts.

Arrivals hit a low of 66 statewide in March, roughly one-fifth the level of a year ago, before rebounding slightly in April. Somalis, who last fall were a majority of refugees in the state, made up less than a quarter of last month’s arrivals, based on new data from the State Department.

This chart shows the numbers:

At Pirates Cove William Teach notes both Obama’s are now making waves:

Refer back to the previous tweet. Is that something you would eat? Better question: is that something Michelle Obama would eat? Would she serve that to Barack? Would she have allowed the White House chef to serve that to her kids?

“My commitment to these issues is real,” she said. “I picked this issue because there was deep passion for it as a mother. … I’m going to continue working on this.”

Her kids sure didn’t eat that slop at their own high-toned and fancy to-do school. Why didn’t she force that school to serve her kids the same as other kids? She did very much want Everyone Else’s kids to be forced to eat that slop, and still does.

It’s not about the kids it’s about virtue signaling.

Over at Adrienne’s Corner she notices the lack of liberal self-awareness:

And nothing points more to this desperation than this screed I stumbled upon at the Huffington Post by Michelangelo Signorile, the editor-at-large of Queer Voices, To Save America We Must Stop Being Polite And Immediately Start Raising Hell.

You could almost stop reading at that over wrought title because I can’t recall a gaggle of libtards ever being polite and they’re forever raising hell.

That’s not entirely true, Liberals are invariably polite to conservatives, as long as they are attacking their fellow conservatives or republicans.

Old friend Lady Liberty 1885 is now writing at American Lens and notes the crazy continues:

A rash of campus bulletin boards and hoax stunts have recently made headlines with some of the most racist, outlandish and hyperbolic statements imaginable. But these stunts get a pass by NC campus authorities as long as the message is progressive.

Stunts at other campuses include Appalachian StateUNC Gay Assualt HoaxElon University Hoax

The truth is that Representative Mark Walker (NC06-R) is a Christian Minister and a Conservative that has opposed funding for abortions, has marched in support of life and opposes many forms of state-sanctioned killing. Yet, progressives and liberals have targeted him because he voted to lower health insurance premiums. He wants to ensure that health care remains available to all Americans and that Obamacare doesn’t destroy the viability of our healthcare system. Walker voted in favor of the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA) (See the Bill Here: HR 1628) and for that, he is labeled a murderer?

I’d say I was shocked but I like to be honest with the readers around here.

Over at Fr. Z’s blog he tells us of yet another chance to earn a Plenary Indulgence:

Pope Francis has granted a plenary indulgence opportunity for the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions throughout the centennial year, from the 27th of November 2016 till the 26th of November 2017. There are three ways to obtain the indulgence, detailed in a statement from the Fatima Shrine in Portugal

If you missed out on the Year of Mercy here is your chance to grab a few plenary indulgences, sure it’s only one a month but that’s still five folks out of purgatory

Wendy’s recent announcement that it’s installing 1,000 self-service kiosks in its restaurants is a huge counter-salvo against the Fight for $15 and its effort to push through an unreasonable national minimum wage.

Most mainstream economists believe paying America’s youngest and least-skilled workers at least $15 an hour will kill countless jobs, especially for those least able to lose them. But the progressives behind the push, seemingly ignorant about how the economy actually works, claim the wage hike would have few ill effects.

But the Wendy’s plan, plus similar automation ideas being considered by other fast-food chains, puts the lie to that contention. When you force employers to pay workers more than they’re worth, the result is fewer people have jobs.

The battle over the minimum began at the turn of the 20th Century, the dawn of the original Progressive Era . There is, however, a huge difference with how the leftists of yesteryear approached the issue. The original Progressives backed a minimum wage precisely because it would throw people out of work.

As economic historian Thomas C. Leonard explains in Illiberal Reformers (Princeton University Press, 2016), the Progs were a new breed on the national landscape at the end of the 19th Century. Devout believers in science as a cure for every ill, Progressives were convinced the only way America could survive and thrive was if all aspects of society were run by experts — namely themselves.

One of the Progressives’ main concerns was racial purity. They feared that Americans of Anglo-Saxon stock were threatened by hordes of inferior creatures, primarily racial minorities and immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe. They concluded that an efficient way to protect the native-born was to drive the undesirables — whom they called “unemployables” — out of the workforce.

The “experts” believed the government had to intervene to prevent white workers’ pay from plummeting to unsustainable levels. They thought blacks and immigrants would accept lower living standards than white men, so they would accept lower wages. The ensuing “race to the bottom” would cut white men out of the job market and leave them unable to raise families.

To that end, the Progressives sought a national minimum wage — or, as they called it even back then, a “living wage” — to make labor so expensive that employers would hire only highly competent workers (i.e., white men).

(The Progressives also wanted women out of the workplace. Not only did they hold jobs that men could do, but the Progs also wanted females at home, breeding and caring for their families for the betterment of the race.)

So what would the “unemployables” do if they were prevented from working? Under the Progs’ plan, some — imbeciles, drunkards, criminals and the disabled — would be institutionalized, while others would be placed in “labor colonies,” a euphemism for work camps. It’s not a stretch to imagine that such places could eventually become concentration camps.

By 1919, fifteen states had minimum wage laws, but the Progressives never got the federal law they wanted. Acts were passed, but the Supreme Court struck them down as unconstitutional because they interfered with employers and workers’ right to enter into free and willing contracts.

Not until Franklin Roosevelt’s administration did Congress approve a law, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, that survived judicial review.

When it comes to the Progressive Era, historians are unfailingly generous in telling how it improved American life by creating better working conditions, establishing food and drug regulations, and reforming the political system. Many also credit the movement for women gaining the right to vote even though most Progressives opposed the idea.

But the dark side of Progressivism is buried and rarely comes to light in the history books. Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is an excellent antidote that is both enlightening and entertaining. Now we can add Thomas C. Leonard’s Illiberal Reformers to the must-read list for exposing the anti-humanity ideals that formed the core of the Progressive machine.

 

By John Ruberry

Last week via Twitter President Donald Trump issued a warning: “If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!”

Local media was puzzled and irked as to what Trump meant by “the feds.” Does that mean the US Army? Short of widespread rioting breaking out in Chicago, that’s not likely to happen. Perhaps Trump means to dispatch FBI and DEA agents, or officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. But the federal government already has staff from those crime fighting agencies assisting the Chicago Police in fighting its murder epidemic.

Unless there is an ongoing investigation, I don’t believe the feds are looking for the evil pony at the bottom of the manure pile–Chicago politicians and their connections to street gangs.

Street gang temple,
Chicago’s South Side

Elected officials in Chicago constantly decry gun violence. But while firearms are the symptom, the disease is gang warfare. By all accounts the great majority of murders in Chicago are gang-related. Members of the Progressive Caucus on Chicago’s City Council regularly condemn “gun violence,” as do the other aldermen on the council. As for the former, like all leftists, they conspire like a chess player to advance their causes, in this instance, this means a ban on all handguns in Chicago, if not all firearms. As for the rest of the aldermen, perhaps they are cautious in condemning gang violence because some of them have ties to these criminal enterprises that are hollowing out Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods.

Six years ago Chicago Magazine, in a story about those street gang-pol connections, interviewed Hal Baskin, a former gang member who was defeated in his effort to join the City Council, about a meeting between aldermanic candidates and gang-bangers, or perhaps, according to the magazine, ex-gang bangers.

The gang representatives were interested in electing aldermen sympathetic to their interests and those of their impoverished wards. As for the politicians, says Baskin, their interests essentially boiled down to getting elected or reelected. “All of [the political hopefuls] were aware of who they were meeting with,” he says. “They didn’t care. All they wanted to do was get the support.”

Baskin declined to name names, but Chicago has learned, through other sources at the meetings, the identities of some of the participants. They include: Aldermen Howard Brookins Jr. (21st Ward), Walter Burnett Jr. (27th), Willie Cochran (20th), and Freddrenna Lyle (6th). Alderman Pat Dowell (3rd) attended a meeting; upon realizing that the participants had close gang ties, she objected but stayed. Also attending were candidates who would go on to win their races, including Michael Chandler (24th) and Roderick Sawyer (6th). Darcel Beavers, the former 7th Ward alderman who would wind up losing her race, and Patricia Horton, a commissioner with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District who lost her bid for city clerk, also met with the group.

Cochran campaign sign in Englewood

Late last year one of those underhanded aldermen, Willie Cochran, was indicted for a series of alleged financial crimes, including stealing from his ward’s charity. Part of Cochran’s ward covers the notorious Englewood neighborhood on the South Side, one of the most violent parts of “Chiraq.” And by violence of course I mean street gang violence.

Okay, I’m not an attorney, but Chicago Magazine provided us a list of names that at the very least makes them, in my opinion, persons of interest.

Jesse Jackson in Chicago in 2012

Roughly once every 18 months a member of Chicago’s City Council is sentenced to prison, the most recent of which was Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th). Her father-in-law is the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whose half-brother, Noah Robinson, enjoyed long time connections to the El Rukn gang, which, under a different name, remains one of Chicago’s largest and most vicious street gangs. Robinson is serving a life sentence for narcotics crimes, racketeering, and murder-for-hire.

As for Jesse Jackson, in 1984, during his first campaign for the presidency, he publicly lauded the El Rukns for their efforts in voter registration. The year prior the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization paid the gang over $10,000 to work as poll watchers for the failed campaign of incumbent Chicago mayor Jane Bryne. At that time the party was led by Edward “Fast Eddie” Vrdolyak, then the 10th Ward alderman, who–this will sound familiar–was indicted late last year. Now a Republican, Vrdolyak is already an ex-con.

Shameful.

What can the Chicago Police do about gangs and their politician pals?

According to that Chicago Magazine article, not a heck of a lot.

Two police sources—a former gang investigator and a veteran detective—bluntly acknowledge that even if the police know of dubious dealings between an alderman and a gang leader or drug dealer, there is little, if anything, they can do, thanks to what they say is the department’s unofficial rule: Stay away from public officials. “We can’t arrest aldermen,” says the gang investigator, “unless they’re doing something obvious to endanger someone. We’re told to stand down.” The detective concurs: “It’s the unwritten rule. There’s a two-tier justice system here.”

That paragraph alone explains why Trump’s “feds,” or perhaps different feds, are needed in America’s third-largest city.

And the criminality apparently goes past shootings, as Chicago Magazine again tells us.

Beyond providing protection from police—the gangs’ number one request—public officials can help in other ways. Gang leaders, particularly the most powerful, are usually looking to build on the riches they already have. Knowing an alderman or a state legislator—or even a congressman—can help. Traditionally, aldermen have almost total say over what gets built and what sorts of businesses open in their wards. They also have considerable sway over city contracts, which can mean tens of thousands to millions of dollars for gang-owned businesses.

Chicago needs Trump’s feds.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Or maybe the president only needs to send an accountant. It was a member of that profession, Frank J. Wilson of the US Treasury Department, who put together the evidence to convict Al Capone of tax evasion.

John Ruberry, a fifth-generation Chicago area resident, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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.

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.

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