Chicago’s lakefront

By John Ruberry

“Decent people shouldn’t live here. They’d be happier someplace else.”
Jack Napier/The Joker in Batman.

Often, I’m asked, “Why is Chicago so corrupt?” The short answer? It’s always been that way.

Now let me expand a bit.

Earlier this month the Department of Justice released a report that excoriated the Chicago Police Department for use of excessive force, slipshod training, and soft discipline within its ranks. The report was produced because of the shooting in 2014–with sixteen bullets–of an unarmed teen black Laquan McDonald by a white Chicago cop.

But the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass noted a significant omission in that report: Chicago’s corruption culture.

It wasn’t the Chicago cops who shaped the police culture. The political corruption and cynicism of politicians over decades in a one-party Democratic machine town shaped the culture.

Kass adds that it was City Hall that sat on the damning police video of McDonald getting shot. It was released over a year later–seven months after Mayor Rahm Emanuel was releected. Kass, without mentioning his name, reminded readers that longtime CPD chief of detectives, William Hanhardt, was placed in that position by his political friends. Hanhardt, a mob cop, ran a jewelry theft ring while he was chasing select other bad guys.

But why is Chicago so corrupt?

Chicago, like other Midwestern cities, was settled first by New Englanders and upstate New Yorkers, white Anglo-Saxon protestants mainly. But Irish people fleeing the Potato Famine and seeking work on such projects as the Illinois & Michigan Canal, along with Germans, were the first wave of immigrants to Chicago. My great-great grandfather, another John Ruberry, was part of this wave. But the Irish already knew English and the arguably more numerous Germans initially did not. Which meant that the Irish were able to qualify for government jobs. Then some of them made the logical next step–run for political office.

The eighteenth-century Irish were unwilling subjects of the British Empire–they viewed government as an alien force and many didn’t see anything wrong with stealing from that government. Old habits are hard to break–and many Irish-Americans saw public service as an opportunity to stuff their pockets with bribes and kickbacks–and to place their friends and relatives in other government positions. Or to offer other friends and relatives government contracts, who might reward their patrons with “gifts.”

So Chicago’s culture of corruption was born.

Other immigrants followed–many with similar backgrounds. Poles didn’t have their own nation for the entire 18th century, the majority of Chicago’s Italian immigrants came from southern Italy, and there was no love between them and the Italian royal house, which emerged from the northern half of the peninsula. The Czechs and the Croatians were part of Austria-Hungary.

Abandoned South Side home

Even newcomers to Chicago who were Americans fit the bill.

Until the mid-1960s blacks who came to Chicago as part of the Great Migration were subject to Jim Crow laws and could not vote. Clearly local government was not their government. Puerto Rican corruption is even worse than that of Chicago.

You can make the same argument about Mexico, the latest source of mass-immigration to Chicago.

Another Chicago newspaper columnist, the legendary Mike Royko, often quipped that Chicago’s official slogan should be “Where’s mine?”

Roughly once every 18 months a Chicago alderman is sentenced to prison. One of Chicago’s dirtiest secrets is the coziness between politicians and street gangs.

My point is not to demonize any group but to explain how Chicago got to the unhappy place where it is. For instance, my father, another John Ruberry–he went by Jack–once told my mother, “I’d like to work in politics.” She replied, “That will never work out–you are too honest.” My dad was 100-percent Irish-American. And yes, my mother was right–and my father never ran for public office. This decent man moved his family out of Chicago in 1968.

Meanwhile, Chicago, and yes, the rest of Illinois is a cesspool of cronyism and corruption.

Oh, you WASPs, particularly Republican ones reading this post–I’m coming for you.

Much is made of Chicago not having a Republican mayor since 1931. But that mayor was William Hale Thompson, a Boston-born Protestant who was probably Chicago’s most corrupt mayor. Thompson was a protector and sponsor of Al Capone. Thompson, a crook, was able to reap dishonest benefits from a crooked bureaucracy that was already in place. After his death two safe deposit boxes containing nearly $2 million were discovered. Although Thompson’s successor, Czech immigrant Anton Cermak, founded the modern Chicago Democratic machine, he was a better mayor than Thompson.

I began with a quote from one Batman movie and I’ll end this post with a quote from another, this time from Batman Begins.

The League of Shadows has been a check against human corruption for thousands of years. We sacked Rome, loaded trade ships with plague rats, burned London to the ground. Every time a civilization reaches the pinnacle of its decadence, we return to restore the balance.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Chicago is clearly in decline. Payoffs to public-sector union members, pensions that weren’t properly funded, gave Chicagoans–including of course the decent ones–their largest property tax hike ever two years ago, followed by more tax increases last year. No serious person believes there won’t be more soon. Last year more Chicagoans were murdered than those killed in New York City and Los Angeles–combined.

Chicago is at its lowest population in one hundred years, coincidentally, that was when Chicago was still a boom town and William Hale Thompson was mayor.

While there is no League of Shadows, Chicago is long overdue for a check against human corruption.

Where is Chicago’s Bruce Wayne?

Or its Bruce Waynes?

And no, I’m not calling for bubonic plague in Chicago. The city is emptying out just fine on its own.

John Ruberry, a decent man who moved his family out of Chicago in 1999, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. 

I saw the Superman / Batman movie after Good Friday Services and was thinking….

Thought #1 Lex Luthor = the Joker

For some reason the decision was made to make Luthor into the Joker as opposed to himself, Jessie Eisenberg plays the Luthor/Joker well but whoever that was, it wasn’t Lex Luthor

Thought #2 Ben Affleck is a pretty good Batman

There have been a lot of internet jokes about the concept of Ben Affleck as Batman, much of it due to his reputation but in the end Affleck does an excellent job. I found him a completely believable Batman and I suspect fans will be as shocked as they were when Michael Keaton owned the role as well. I look forward to seeing him in the role again.

Thought #3 Amy Adams OWNS Lois Lane

In man of steel Amy Adams excelled and she does the same here. She owns every scene she is in, although in fairness it was not hard for her to own the bathtub scene. Her Lois Laine is THE Lois Lane and it is a crime that in 20 years another actress will play the part.

Thought #4 “I thought she was with you” (minor spoiler)

That is the line that Superman and Batman exchange in when Wonder Woman shows up for the big final battle and in one sense it accurately represents the question: “What purpose does she serve?” Don’t get me wrong, her part was well acted and I like the way the character was written but if she was removed entirely from the movie I don’t think anyone would notice.

Thought #5 Damn right they deserve thanks

I stayed for the end credits expecting an easter egg (there was none) but noticed that they gave thank yous to a bunch of DC writers and artists from the past from Gardner Fox to Jim Aparo as well they should as anyone who was a comic guy in the 80’s can clearly see the plot, large chunks of the script and dialogue are basically merging a series of comic stories from the 80’s. Younger viewers might not have seen it but it’s painfully obvious if you’re my age.

Senior Citizens tend to remember things from their youth, sometimes clearer than things in the present. I’m still quite a few years away from this but I clearly remember seeing this PSA when I was a kid

It’s not surprising that the image of a beautiful Yvonne Craig might stick in a young boy’s memory, but that aside there are two facts about this PSA that are worth repeating.

One is trivia. In this PSA Batman was played by Dick Gautier NOT Adam West who didn’t want to return to the role that typecast him until he became a fixture on Family Guy.

One is not, I can’t seem to find the actual date of this PSA. I’ve seen numbers as old as 1969 (I don’t think that’s right) to 1974, (I think I saw this PSA before then) but either way this means this PSA is at least 38 years old..

Here is my question:

We have heard the left say over and over that if you didn’t support the Lilly Ledbetter law, you were NOT for equal pay.

But for at least 38 years equal pay has been FEDERAL LAW.

If that is the case why is Lily Ledbetter the yardstick for something that has been the law of the land for decades?

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on the Ledbetter or the Ledbetter law. But every employer who has owned a business since the 70’s knows that equal pay for equal work has been the law of the land for decades and the penalties for violating this are stiff.

Again I don’t know the Ledbetter law, I’m sure other bloggers can address it, but our friends on the left who are pretending that until Barack Obama signed this bill into law in 2008 equal pay for equal work wasn’t the law of the land are relying on folks who have short memories.

I guess this explains the drive to get kids to vote less memories to worry about.

I started collecting comics around 1975 when I was 12. Unlike the “cool” comic collectors I was a DC guy and one of the things I enjoyed was a lot was Batman. One story always stuck with me and that was in Batman 283.

The story “Omega Bomb Target: Gotham City” was a neat story about a blackmail attempt on Gotham city. A Hungarian nuclear scientist is kidnapped by a group who anchors a ship supposedly containing a nuclear device in Gotham harbor. They demand a ransom of 1 billion dollars. (As you can see they were way ahead of Dr. Evil).

Batman manages to rescue professor Nagy he is out of it but keeps muttering “Nembomba”. Batman then boards the ship and catches the baddies because “Nembomba” means “No Bomb”.

Batman explains to Commissioner Gordan that it was all a bluff saying:

What’s the next best thing to having the bomb? Convincing everyone else you have the bomb.”

Although Saddam might disagree that line stuck with me all these years and brings to mind the whole Birther issue.

I have already said that President Obama was born in the US, his overseas travel (passports requires birth certificates) and the birth announcement from the paper all in the days before his prominence are to me strong and the Clinton’s non action with the presidency at stake make it conclusive.

One question often asked is why doesn’t the president just release the original records? Hotair’s explanation:

The biggest reason? It wouldn’t work. The same people who believe that Obama forged a Certificate of Live Birth twice corroborated by the state that issued it will insist that Obama got someone to forge any new records produced by Hawaii as well. It’s the same reason that having Palin produce her gynecological records won’t satisfy Andrew Sullivan and why producing the phone records from United 93 families to prove that they haven’t been in contact with the supposedly still-alive-but-hiding passengers on the 9/11 flight won’t change Truther minds. The conspiracy theorists have far too much invested in their argument to retreat.

Good argument but WRONG! The president isn’t holding back because it is futile, he’s holding back because it is not.

It a bluff. They WANT this stuff to suck as many people into it as possible. Every day that people are talking about “Birth” stuff is a day they don’t have to talk about every dumb this president is doing. I said this back on July 28th and it’s even more true today. Today’s 1-2 punch on MSNBC is a great example of this. This is Longstreet waiting for the last Union reserves to go in before using his artillery to break them at 2nd Bull Run.

If the truthers are confined to cranks like Philip Berg who is just out to con people out of a buck, then the Obama administration gets no political capital out of it. If by suspicious behavior and omissions they can arouse interest in the general conservative movement then it can be a winner. This can only be done if people think there is something being hidden, or to paraphrase Batman above:

What’s the next best thing to having a hidden smoking gun? Making everyone THINK you have a hidden smoking gun.

The best part about it is they can wait till there is a big fish deep in the net before landing them and can play it any time in the next 3 years or beyond as needed.

The entire birther business is a trap and conservatives, would be smart to avoid it.