By John Ruberry

Last Monday I had a errand to run for work–which brought me to Milwaukee’s suburbs. And for the first time in five years I drove on Interstate 94 north of the Illinois-Wisconsin state line–on what is known as the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor.

A lot has changed since 2012. As I left a toll road south of the border and entered a true freeway–okay, to be fair, the toll road has been there for decades–I noticed a lot.

Businesses–with huge facilities–that weren’t there five years ago leap out at you. Most obvious is the massive Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie. The headquarters office of the industrial supplier moved a few miles north from Waukegan, Illinois into Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County in 2010. Its “Chicago warehouse” followed four years later.

In the 1980s Wisconsin’s tourism slogan was “Escape to Wisconsin.” Illinois businesses are now heeding the call.

Yes, the Chicago area has a couple of Amazon fulfilment centers, but farther north on my drive I saw a massive one in Kenosha–it opened in 2015. The Milwaukee Business Journal calls it “the largest in the recent Kenosha County industrial boom.” There is a “Hiring Now” sign out front.

Sears Holdings, an Illinois loser

South of Kenosha County is Lake County in ILL-inois. There is no Lake County industrial boom. There is no Illinois industrial boom.

Why is that? Sure, tax incentives from Wisconsin’s Republican governor, Scott Walker have helped greatly. Illinois, when inept Democrat Pat Quinn was governor, offered tax breaks to Sears Holdings, which operates the Sears and Kmart brands, and Mitsubishi Motors, to encourage them to stay. This was a few months after a huge income tax hike was enacted. What about attracting new business? By all accounts Sears and Kmart are on life-support and Mitsubishi closed its Bloomington plant in 2015.

Corporate taxes might be slightly higher in Wisconsin–no place is perfect. But Illinois has the nation’s highest median property tax rate. And Illinois’ expensive workers compensation laws frighten business owners.

In 2015 Wisconsin became a right-to-work state. All the states that border Illinois except for Missouri are right-to-work states and Show Me State voters will be asked next year if they want to join the trend. Nearby Michigan has been right-to-work since 2012. Job creators don’t like unions and based on recent workplace votes, neither do workers.

Illinois has its 800-pound odious gorilla in its basement, a woefully underfunded public-worker pension system. Wisconsin’s state pensions are by most accounts fully funded. Businesses don’t like uncertainty and Illinois’ pension bomb, despite a massive personal and corporate tax hike put in place this summer, has not been defused. Not even close. Ka-boom is coming.

Blogger in Pleasant Prairie

This summer Wisconsin and the Milwaukee to Kenosha I-94 Corridor snagged its biggest prize, the Foxconn factory. The Taiwanese manufacturer will hire anywhere from 3,000 to 13,000 employees for its facility in Mount Pleasant in Racine County. Yes, Illinois had also bid on the Foxconn plant.

Indiana is also enjoying great success poaching Illinois firms for the similar reasons.

And when the jobs leave the people leave. And Illinois is one of only three states with negative population growth.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Characters in Broadchurch

By John Ruberry

A few days ago I finished watching season three of Broadchurch, a British mystery series which is broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV–and here on BBC America–starring David Tennant as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Olivia Colman as Detective Inspector Ellie Miller.

Tennant of course is best known as the Tenth Doctor–and the second one of after its revival–in Doctor Who. Except for the first half of the “Tooth and Claw” episode, Tennant uses an English accent as the Doctor, here his natural Scottish accent is utilized for his Hardy character. One of the supporting characters in Broadchurch is Jodie Whittaker, who will accede to the Doctor’s role in the next Christmas episode of Doctor Who and become the first female Doctor, to the horror of some longtime fans, including the founder of the blog you are reading now.

The creator–and sole screenplay writer, save for one episode that he had a co-writer for–of Broadchurch is Chris Chibnall, who has been executive producer of Doctor Who since last year and who will be showrunner for the feminized edition next season. Chibnall was a co-producer and screenwriter for Torchwood, the sexualized “grown-up” spinoff of Doctor Who.

The fictional town of Broadchurch is where this particular show is set, it sits on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset in southwestern England. Broadchurch is a tightly knit–perhaps too much so–small town that, in season one, is wracked by the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer (Oskar McNamara). Whittaker portrays his mother, Beth, and Andrew Buchan plays his father, Mark. The suspects are numerous and there are plenty of plot twists to keep you on the edge of your couch for all eight episodes. Season two, which also consists of eight episodes, splits time between being a courtroom drama and the re-opening of the investigation of a murder and disappearance in Sandbrook, which presumably is near Broadchurch. The botched handling of that investigation is what led Hardy to take the DI position in Broadchurch, which Miller assumed was already hers.

In the third season, which is said to be the final one, Hardy after time away from Broadchurch, returns and again is teamed with Miller. Their relationship has always been tense–but by this time they carry on like elderly spouses, albeit there is no physical side of it. When Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh) calls the police a few days after being raped at the 50th birthday party of a friend and co-worker, Hardy and Miller oversee another investigation that tears the town apart. This season is just six episodes long.

There are many fabulous performances in Broadchurch, beginning of course with Tennant and Colman, but also by Hesmondhalgh, Eva Myles (Gwen Cooper in Torchwood), David Bradley (Walder Frey in Game of Thrones and the new First Doctor in Doctor Who), Arthur Darvill (a onetime Doctor Who companion), who portrays a vicar attempting to heal the town of its wounds while preaching to mostly empty pews, as well as Carolyn Pickles. She plays a rarity–an honest journalist searching for the truth who goes out of her way not to hurt anyone.

I didn’t include Whittaker in that list, but perhaps not much was asked for her by directors of Broadchurch, although as the mother of a murdered child, that doesn’t make very much sense. Based on what I saw in the program, all the performers listed in the previous paragraph would have been better choices as the Thirteenth Doctor, not that I would expect Tennant to return to Doctor Who. My choice would have been Bradley as the next–the first shall be the latest–Doctor. But perhaps a septuagenarian as a lead character in a classic television show is too broad of a bridge to cross for our youth-worshipping culture to cross.

All three seasons are top-notch, but I’ll give my nod to the first one, which was re-done as Gracepoint for Fox in the United States. I haven’t seen that one and from what I’ve heard, it isn’t worth my time or yours, despite Tennant reprising his role as Hardy and Chibnall’s involvement.

Broadchurch is available on DVD, on Amazon, and Xfinity On Demand. Seasons one and two can be viewed on Netflix.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

“So you’ll be paying yourself to build a railroad with government subsidies.” Sen. Jordan Crane to Thomas “Doc” Durant.

“These are exciting times. You and I are opening the way for the greatest nation the world has ever seen.” Major Augustus Bendix to Cullen Bohannon.

“See him driving those golden nails
that hold together the silver bars
That one day’s gonna take us to the stars
cos he’s the man who built America.”
Horslips, from their song, The Man Who Built America.

“A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the renewal of the American spirit.” President Donald J. Trump to Congress last week.

Last week I completed my latest binge-watching endeavor, Hell on Wheels, an AMC show that ran from 2011-2016 that is available on Netflix and on Amazon.

The building of the American transcontinental is the driving force of the plot of this series–the Union Pacific heading west from Omaha and the Central Pacific heading east from Sacramento.

The transcontinental railroad exemplified America at its best–getting the job done 16 years before Canada and 36 years before Russia. It also exemplified America at its worst. Racism and corruption–the Crédit Mobilier outrage was one of our nation’s worst political scandals and it forever tainted this monumental achievement.

The Civil War purged America of slavery, the nation was no longer “a house divided against itself,” but in 1865 the United States was in a way like an uncompleted jigsaw puzzle, the east and west coasts, the easy part, were settled but much of the middle–the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, still needed to be filled in.

Hell on Wheel’s main character is Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount), a former slaveholder and Confederate cavalry officer who travels to Nebraska Territory to hunt down Union soldiers who murdered his wife and son in Mississippi. Despite that ruthlessness–make that because of that ruthlessness–Union Pacific president Thomas “Doc” Durant (Colm Meaney) takes him under his wing, although their relationship is mostly turbulent throughout the run of the series.

Bohannon isn’t the only character scarred by the turmoil of mid-19th century America. Elam Ferguson (Common) and Psalms Jackson (Dohn Norwood) are freedmen who quickly learn that freedom from slavery doesn’t mean equality. The Reverend Nathaniel Cole (Tom Noonan) and his daughter Ruth (Kasha Kropinski), suffer from pangs of guilt remaining from Bleeding Kansas. The Rev. Cole’s most prominent convert to Christianity, Joseph Black Moon (Eddie Spears), is estranged from his father, a Cheyenne chief. The most compelling character on the show, Thor “The Swede” Gunderson (Christopher Heyerdahl), is a Norwegian immigrant and former Union army quartermaster–a man who says he is good with numbers, but after his barbaric incarceration at the notorious Andersonville prisoner of war camp, he ascertained that “I had to control people like I control numbers and I learned to practice a sort of immoral mathematics.”

The Swede is Hell On Wheels’ principal villain and if there is ever a Villains Hall Of Fame built, then he belongs as a charter member.

Another intriguing HoW character is Irish immigrant Mickey McGuinnes (Phil Burke), who like Durant, finds a way to make himself a success after starting with nothing. One of his workers is a tattooed former prostitute and a Jack Mormon, Eva (Robin McLeavy). She was captured by Indians after her family’s wagon train was waylaid.

The final season of Hell on Wheels brings in the storyline of the Central Pacific. Movie posters for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly boasted, “For three men the Civil War wasn’t hell. It was practice!” The Chinese laborers on the Central Pacific can be forgiven for having a similar dismissive view of our Civil War, which killed 600,000 Americans. Emotional scars from the Taiping Rebellion plague many of the Chinese characters. That conflict, which was actually a civil war between Imperial China and a man claiming to be the brother of Jesus Christ, probably killed 20-30 million people–after the famine deaths are added in. Some estimates bring the death total as high as 100 million. If that last figure is correct, then the Taiping Rebellion was the deadliest war ever.

Life is cheap in both the Union Pacific and Central Pacific camps–both are served by brothels, although opium is offered at the latter instead of whiskey.

Durant was a real person, although his portrayal in Hell on Wheels is largely fictional. Other historical figures appearing include Wyoming’s territorial governor John Campbell (Jack Weber), President Ulysses S. Grant (Victor Slezak), and Brigham Young (Gregg Henry). Eva’s character was based on an actual woman, as was the man in the show who survived a scalping. He carries his scalp in a bottle of alcohol–and offers paid listeners a recounting of his ordeal. The phrase “Hell on Wheels” is a real one in this context, it’s what the tent cities that followed the construction of the Union Pacific were called.

Blogger walking the rails

In the penultimate HoW episode, there is a prescient moment as black and Chinese workers rush to finish the road in 1869. Above them you see the moon. One hundred years later, yes, in 1969, “the greatest nation the world has ever seen” reached the moon. No country has repeated that feat or even attempted it.

Yes, American exceptionalism is real.

If you enjoy westerns, you’ll find Hell on Wheels worth your while. But if you are looking for romance–then look elsewhere. Mount is a fine actor but love encounters are not his long suit. And what was the point of his sex scene on top of a table with fused nitroglycerine on it?

As with most westerns, the cinematography is first-rate–with Alberta filling in capably for Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and California. It would be better if movies about America would be filmed here, but that’s another subject for another time.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

The Washington Post has long been a leftist publication, in the 1970s it was dubbed “Pravda on the Potomac” by conservatives.

The newspaper has gotten worse since then, even after its purchase in 2013 by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

On Friday it released a 2005 video of Donald Trump in a hot-mic conversation with Billy Bush of Access Hollywood as he very crudely discusses his sexual moves on women. In his apology the Republican presidential nominee categorized his behavior as “locker-room banter,” but the reality is that most men, or even high school sophomores, don’t speak in that manner about women, at least in such explicit detail. Trump needs to make one more apology added with a vow never to discuss women in that fashion for as long as he lives.

While NBC, which owns Access Hollywood, not surprisingly had the video clip first, it was cognizant of it on Monday. But while the network’s lawyers were still reviewing the clip, an anonymous source alerted the Post about it on Friday, four hours later it went live on the newspaper’s website.

But who was that source?

In a July Wikileaks release, Greg Sargent, who writes the Plum Line blog for the Post–most of the its blogs are leftist electronic rags–was exposed as a shill for the Democratic National Committee. Lee Cary in the American Thinker laid down how the DNC propaganda treadmill works at the Post. Sargent gets a tip of slanted information from the DNC, which of course he doesn’t credit in his blog entry. Writers higher up on the Post food chain credit the Plum Line on this “scoop,” other media sources credit the Post, when in fact the “news” is really a disguised Democratic Party informercial.

How many other shills such as Sargent at the Post have yet to be exposed?

“According to the Washington Post” is a much more convincing article lead-in than “According to a Democratic Party press release.”

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

Back to the Trump tape. Yes, it’s newsworthy, but if the DNC was the Post’s source, shouldn’t its readers know about that? Remember, there’s a conveyor line of information coming from the Democrats to the Washington Post. Here’s another question: Let’s say a similarly damaging recording of Hillary Clinton was out there and the Post became aware of it. Would the Post run with that story? Or does the paper ignore it, using feeble excuses that it is “old news” or “not relevant to the political discussion.”

Win or lose this autumn, conservative bloggers and activists need to widen the battlefield and include what Trump rightly calls the “dishonest media” in the war for America. The establishment media, with a few exceptions, is a leftist cabal. If we successfully expose them to the masses, we’ll discover that defeating the Democrats will be surprisingly easy.

Don’t worry about Greg Sargent. I’m sure he has a job waiting for him at the Democratic National Committee if things stop working out for him at the Post. Or in a Hillary Clinton presidential administration.

John Ruberry regularly blogs Marathon Pundit.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Amazon is ending its Associates Program in Louisiana effective April 1. I received this email last week:

Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program:

We’re writing to inform you that the Louisiana state legislature has passed, and Governor John Bel Edwards has signed, a bill to establish tax nexus and impose tax collection requirements, which is forcing Amazon.com to end its advertising relationships with all Louisiana-based associates. You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Louisiana. If our records are incorrect, please update the details of your Associates account here before March 25, 2016 to avoid termination.

Please note that this is not an immediate termination notice and you are still a valued participant in the Amazon Associates Program. However, if this bill is not repealed or overturned prior to going into effect April 1, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com or its subsidiaries, and we will not be able to accept new applications for the Amazon Associates Program from Louisiana residents.

The unfortunate consequences of this legislation affecting Louisiana residents like you were explained to the Louisiana legislature, including Senate and House leadership, as well as to the governor’s staff.

Over a dozen other states have considered essentially identical legislation but have rejected these proposals largely because of the adverse impact on their states’ residents.

Should you feel the need to voice your opinion directly, Governor Edwards’ office may be reached here.

We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you continued success in the future.

Sincerely,

The Amazon Associates Team

Now, I didn’t make a lot from my Amazon referrals, not the kind of serious change Stacy McCain makes from them, but that little commission incentive was nice every now and then.  Remember when capitalism was a good thing?

Louisiana considered passing the Amazon Tax in 2011 but at the time Governor Jindal vetoed the bill for the purpose of keeping his no new taxes pledge. There was little doubt this time that our new governor, Mr. “Tax to Prosperity” John Bel Edwards, would sign the bill.

Legislators don’t really know how much income this new tax will generate.  Studies have shown that people don’t spend quite as much on Amazon purchases once the sales tax kicks in:

Indeed, the researchers found that low-income households reduced the amount they spent on goods on Amazon by 12 percent, while high-income households pulled back by 9 percent. The researchers suggested this makes sense given that low-income shoppers generally tend to be the most price-sensitive.

The Amazon Tax had an especially chilling effect on big-ticket purchases that totaled more than $250, the study found. On these transactions, Amazon sales declined 11.4 percent once the tax was put in place.

So, here ends my relationship with the Amazon Associates program.  No more referral links at the end of my posts.  No more little cash incentives for advertising.

Sad.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

*******************************************************************

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Shut-Upby baldilocks

This is why my novel is self-published and why my next two (three?) books will be self-published as well.

From sci-fi author Nick Cole, via his fellow sci-fi scribe John C. Wright:

Banned by the Publisher

Or, Thank God for Jeff Bezos

I launched a book this week and I went Indie with it. Indie means I released it on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. I had to.

My Publisher, HarperVoyager, refused to publish it because of some of the ideas I wrote about in it.

In other words, they were attempting to effectively ban a book because they felt the ideas and concepts I was writing about were dangerous and more importantly, not in keeping with their philosophical ideals. They felt my ideas weren’t socially acceptable and were “guaranteed to lose fifty percent of my audience” as related back to me by my agent. But more importantly… they were “deeply offended.”

A little backstory. A few years back I wrote a novel called Soda Pop Soldier. It was the last obligated novel under my first contract. The novel was a critical hit (Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly) and it resonated with my post-apocalyptic readership from my breakout Amazon best seller, The Old Man and the Wasteland, and it picked up a new audience in the cyberpunk and gamer crowd. The novel is about a future dystopia where people play video games for a living. It’s basically Call of Duty meets Ready Player One and a lot of people really enjoyed it. When it came time to write another book for Harper Collins I was encouraged by my editor to dip once more into the Dystopian Gamer milieu and tell another story inside the Soda Pop Soldier universe. We agreed on a prequel that told the story of how that future became the way it is in Soda Pop Soldier.

And that involved talking about Artificial Intelligence because in the dystopian gaming future, the planet had almost been destroyed by a robot revolution sourced by Artificial Intelligence.

And here’s where things went horribly wrong, according to my editor at Harper Collins. While casting about for a “why” for self-aware Thinking Machines to revolt from their human progenitors, I developed a reason for them to do such.

Link added in text. Read on and find out what Harper Collins fears. Hint: intelligence.

Side note: in Tale of the Tigers, my first publisher didn’t like a line of dialogue I put in the mouth of one of my characters, but he had no choice; I was paying to be published. The conversation’s topic? Islam.

I’m hoping that my trip to Kenya lays the foundation for one of my future books, as well. Click to assist.

UPDATE: Larry Correia’s take on the situation is longer and far more entertaining than mine.

Kenya Trip Wishlist at Amazon.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: HER TRIP TO KENYA! Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

baldilocks

My apologies that I’m a tad lat to this but I can’t let July end without reminding everyone that Stacy McCain’s loyal morning fellow Kevin “Wombat” Trainor has entered the realm of authors with The Last Falangist:  Essays on Culture and Politics in America

Smithy has done a review and his piece on parenthood and Divorce is worth reprinting here 

The whole point of having a mother and a father working together is so that you have backup when one of you drops the ball; the other one is there to quickly scoop up the errant pigskin or maybe make the catch and run it in. Unfortunately, divorce screws up that neat metaphor, because all of a sudden Mom and Dad aren’t really on the same team any more. . . .
When you and the Mrs. are constantly fighting over every little thing, when a lot of her energy is going toward building up the new boyfriend and tearing you down for not being a passive, enabling doormat, it becomes damn near impossible. Because the kids know what’s going on. They may not understand it, but they know.

That’s excellent cultural commentary and being a divorced man to some extent self accuracy but the real gem of this book is to see how the internet once was as with this tidbit.

How far back does The Last Falangist go, you ask? On Page 59, we find an entry from January 2005 that begins thus:

“I’ve been thinking about the long comment Allahpundit left on Michele’s old blog . . .”

Yes: In 2005, there was no HotAir.com and Allahpundit was just another dude hanging out in the blogosphere.

Yup if I had started my blog just 3 years earlier….

Anyway you can pick up his book here.  I suggest you do so.

As you may or may not know my friend Tim Imholt is running for congress in the Ma-3 district against Niki Tsongas.

I’ve interviewed Tim many times, covered his campaign and had hi on my show. He’s a scientist, a small business owner a father of three and a PhD. The man is a problem solver and an excellent choice for congress.

And if that isn’t cool enough he is also is a writer of fiction, and his latest book The Forest of Assassins (with David Forsmark) is now out.

It’s a roaring story of a Vietnam era seals operating both at base and in country engaging charlie, dealing with the South Vietnamese and local tribes and at the same time trying to find a traitor in their midst.

My full review on Amazon is here but you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by just buying the paperback or the kindle edition

That way you can support Tim and give yourself the gift of great entertainment.


There was one good thing about the slow upload speeds at the Westin Hotel at RNC Boston, I had a chance to finish Elizabeth’s Scalia’s Strange Gods Unmasking the idols in Everyday life (FYI you can find my interview with her on the book here)

The book is all about the things we place before God in our life the idols and Icons that we raise up and I recommend it to anyone who can read.

I would especially recommend it to Secularists as I wrote in my review on Amazon:

But for the skeptic the lessons still hold true, because Strange Gods really is dealing with obsessions, and even if one is not a believer those obsessions can take over your life and get in the way of what is important.And nobody is more vulnerable to creating a strange god than a person who thinks they do not acknowledge one because they will not recognize behavior that a believer would instantly see as religious.

While a skeptic may scoff at the core message of Christ that is the center of the book that warning to remember what is truly important in life can do naught but help overcome they gods they don’t even know they have.

It’s a great read, buy it.

My review of Jonah Goldberg’s book The Tyranny of clichés is now available at Amazon.com here a peek:

And all this is done in the context of so many pop culture references that it’s hard to turn a page without them. He can start a point quoting Edmund Burke on example and finish with: “Similarly, we don’t all need to fight a land war in Asia or go against a Sicilian when death is on the line” without missing a beat.

The best way to put it Imagine if Firing Line was done in the style of Family Guy by a conservative writer and you will understand what to expect.

Buy his book below.

Oh and while Jonah Goldberg is trying to make a buck or two on his book The DaTechGuy Fundraiser is in progress, our goal is $3000. Any help is appreciated.

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