By John Ruberry

Here’s a reminder that we’ve moved beyond spirited debate within our political culture into rudeness and thuggery. Take a look at the selection of stories about that descent towards anarchy.

The most recent abomination occurred just two days ago as the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has harassed at a Louisville restaurant. All of these other stories are from 2018, except the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). He was seriously wounded by a liberal activist at a practice of the Republican congressional baseball team.

Each article involves, directly or indirectly, an elected Republican official, a current or former top member of a GOP administration member, or a candidate for public office.

Remember, a blue wave may be coming. Are you prepared for it?

Buzzfeed News: Angry protesters confronted Mitch McConnell at restaurant and threw out his leftovers.
Daily Caller: Georgetown protesters harass Mitch McConnell — Elaine Chao fights back
NBC 9 Denver: Mitch McConnell harassed by protesters at DC airport over Brett Kavanaugh vote.
TMZ: Ted Cruz and wife Heidi run out of D.C. restaurant … by Kavanaugh protesters.
USA Today: ‘God bless you’: Sen. Ted Cruz thanks women heckling him at airport over Kavanaugh vote.
Twitchy: Angry mob? Restaurant owner called a Nazi sympathizer for renting a room to Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn.
Fox News: Minnesota House candidate says he suffered concussion in ‘politically motivated’ attack at restaurant.
Campus Reform: Former sec of state [Henry Kissinger, age 95] heckled at NYU.
Townhall: WATCH: Jeff Flake mobbed by screaming, rabid leftists after saying he’ll vote for Kavanaugh.
DCist: Update: Capitol Police have arrested more than 200 protesters at Kavanaugh hearings.
Gateway Pundit: Democrat senator defends ‘well justified’ harassment of Republicans by leftists over Judge Kavanaugh (VIDEO).
Fox 13 Memphis: Ole Miss professor under fire for urging people to harass senators in viral tweet.
CNN: Maxine Waters encourages supporters to harass Trump administration officials.
The Blaze: Pot-smoking protesters storm GOP lawmaker’s DC office; Capitol Police intervene.
Politico: Protesters chant ‘shame’ at DHS Secretary Nielsen at Mexican restaurant.
New York Post: Hillary Clinton’s hypocritical call for ‘incivil’ war.
Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Political Insider: Kavanaugh critics corner David Perdue at D.C. airport.
Eater: Red Hen Restaurant 86’s Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
USA Today: ‘It’s time to destroy Trump & Co.’: Scalise shooter raged on Facebook.

Did I miss an attack or two? Probably. Feel free to add any omissions in the comments section. Oh, don’t be timid about sharing this entry on social media. After all, a blue wave might be coming.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

“Get up off your arses men
Don’t let ’em think you’re getting lazy
Get up out of your easy chairs
We gotta lot to do out there, well ain’t we.”
The Kinks, “Get Up.”

My Sunday post here is a bit late because this morning I ran a race–my first one since the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

I’ve been running ten miles a day four times a week for a couple of months now, so I’m in pretty good shape.

Although not race shape.

I had to drastically cut down my running eight years ago because of a torn meniscus in my right knee paired with a stress fracture on my fight fibula.

Clearly I lean to the right.

So what race did I choose for my comeback? The World’s Largest Corn Maze 5K at the Richardson Farm in Spring Grove, Illinois, just a few miles south of the Wisconsin border.

The race course has 250 turns. That’s over 80 turns per-mile. Wow. What a great way to re-tear a meniscus.

Even in Illinois few people are paying attention, so you probably didn’t know that this is the Land of Lincoln’s bicentennial year. Illinois’ 200th birthday was the theme of the maze, although I couldn’t ascertain that at ground level

Man, oh man, this was a tough race. Some of those turns were of the hairpin variety and there were some circular turns too. 250 turns? Why not just 200 Illinois bicentennial turns?

Yes, I finished. And finished well, coming in second place in my age group–55-59–and gaining a medal for my effort.

This post might be turning into a gloating exercise, which is not my intent at all. For you, well, seasoned guys and gals out there, there’s no need to believe that you are too old, tired, or banged-up to participate in athletic endeavors. Will you win an age group award in a race? Probably not. Jim Fixx, who wrote the best selling The Complete Book of Running, finished last in his first race. But since I started running at an intense level, I feel better and I look better.

The same result might come your way.

And if you are young there is a lesson for you too. Now is the time to create healthy habits. I ran my first marathon when I was 28.

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

By John Ruberry

Sometimes I watch television programs so you don’t have to. Such was the case this morning as I endured ABC’s This Week, which was slightly more tolerable than usual because the regular host, George Stephanopolous was off and Jonathan Karl was in charge.

Of course the show was dominated by the circus surrounding the drawn-out confirmation process of Brett Kavanaugh, who was sworn in last night as the newest US Supreme Court Associate Justice.

“I talked to a woman from UltraViolent who was paid,” Vice News’ Washington bureau chief Shawna Thomas told Karl on the program “she helped steer people in the right ways to be able to confront senators.”

Karl interjected, “So there were paid,” but then Thomas jumped back in, “There were people that were paid by organizations like UltraViolet to try to harness that energy in a way that would make the viral moments that we ended up seeing.”

UltraViolet, which I haven’t heard of until this morning, is left-wing female advocacy group.

Well one of those “viral moments” was the screaming attack on Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)  in a Capitol elevator. This is not, to paraphrase a favored chant by leftist protesters, how democracy is supposed to look like.

Another moment was the regular stream of shrieking interruptions during the Senate Justice Committee hearings for Kavanaugh.

Another viral moment were the mobs that swarmed the Capitol building over the last few days.

“The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad,” President Donald Trump remarked on Twitter on Friday. “Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love!”

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Now notice that Thomas didn’t say that the protesters were paid, as Trump claims. Perhaps they were, but let’s look back at her comment about the woman from UltraViolet who “helped steer people in the right ways to be able to confront senators.” Hmmm. That makes these protests much less spontaneous. Think astroturf, not grass roots.

Yesterday there was a Cancel Kavanuagh march in Washington that of course achieved nothing other than letting a bunch of leftists to blow off steam, assuming they had any steam left. Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Women’s March National, and CPD Action, an advocacy group connected to the Center for Popular Democracy, were behind that anger fest. The people running these organizations, and their lieutenants, are almost certainly paid.

Shame! Shame! Shame!

MoveOn.org was active in the effort to prevent Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Now that is rich. MoveOn was formed, to well, “move on” from the investigation of Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. When is the left going to have its defiant #MeToo moment with the Clintons? They’ve certainly had that moment with Kavanaugh in regards to the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford. Oh wait, I forgot, Kavanaugh is a Republican justice nominated by a Republican president. Silly me.

The anti-Kavanaugh protests are just the latest street theater performance of a play that goes back to the 1960s, as are the arrests. And once again I have to ask, what happens to those shrill screechers–and I’m just citing one series of instances–who were arrested for disrupting the Kavanaugh hearings at the US Capitol. Will they be prosecuted? Or will a sympathetic prosecutor quietly drop the charges against them so they can scream another day? Are we still a nation of laws?

And while the rank-and-file protesters may not have been directly paid, I have some more questions. Who designs and purchases the matching T-shirts many of them wear? Who pays for the travel expenses for the rabble rousers? Who writes the checks for those professionally printed signs and posters?

There is money, to be sure, perhaps big money, behind these confrontations and rallies.

UPDATE 9:15 EDT: I have video of Thomas’ admission:

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John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

“As I watch a great number of my fellow Americans and virtually all of the mainstream media descend further and further into irrational and immoral hysteria — regularly calling the president of the United States and all of his supporters Nazis, white supremacists and the like; harassing Republicans where they eat, shop and live; ending family ties and lifelong friendships with people who support the president; declaring their opposition to Trump and the Republican Party the “Resistance,” as if they were American reincarnations of the French who fought real Nazis in World War II; and so on — I ask myself: What is going on? How does one explain them?”
Dennis Prager, Explaining American Leftists: Part I.

John Edwards, the disgraced presidential candidate and the 2004 Democratic nominee, complained that that there were “two Americas.” Essentially a rich American and a poor one.

Now we have a liberal America and a conservative one. Prager, as I often do, prefers to use “leftist” to describe the former, a word that angers many, well, leftists. That is because liberal, in the classical sense, once meant open-minded. Leftists can’t tolerate opposing viewpoints, whether that issue is health care, illegal immigration (oops, I’m sorry, undocumented workers), taxes, or climate change.

Liberals are right, people like myself are always wrong.

As for global warning, (oops again, I mean climate change), environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is disappointed that there are no laws to punish climate change deniers. Ah yes, deniers, as in holocaust deniers. What is more illogical than a denier? And what happens to people, like myself, who could be jailed for being a climate change skeptic? Will I be committed to the psychiatric ward and pumped with drugs, a torture some Soviet dissidents endured, because of some blog posts of mine or because of some Facebook comments I made? If someone can be locked up for a scientific  belief, all options could be on the table.

Oh yeah, Facebook. While sifting through some old photographs at my late mother’s home, I found some class photos, which I posted on Facebook, and I tagged some of those ancient–yes, I mean ancient–classmates on the social networking site. Only I discovered many of them weren’t FB friends anymore, they unfriended me. Every single one of those unfriends is a liberal. Outside of pornbots (I’m more selective in the friend selection process now) and pyramid schemers, I’ve never unfriended anyone on Facebook. I have the maturity and liberalness (in the classical sense, of course) to look past political differences, musical tastes, and sports team loyalties to find other ways of bonding. Others clearly do not, at least in regards to politics.

As for the unfriending by leftists, don’t take it from me. The Washington Post, reporting on a Pew Research study, said “liberals are more likely to block or unfriend someone online because they disagree with something they have posted.”

Looking past my own little and of course twisted right-wing world, I have reams of evidence, not real paper reams, the production of which contributes to the melting of the polar ice caps and of course the end of planet.

Here we go:

Just last week Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife were hounded out of a restaurantt by screaming leftists over the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination while they tried to dine at a Washington restaurant. Three months ago Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen endured similar treatment while she was having dinner, and a few days later White house Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family were denied service at a Virginia restaurant because she works for President Donald Trump.

Here’s a story about a Washington woman who ran a Craig’s List ad for a roommate. “Alcohol, pets and meat products are not allowed in the house,” she wrote. Okay, so far so good. “Neither are Trump supporters,” she added. There have been similar ads elsewhere.

In California a woman selling her house stipulated that she would not entertain offers from supporters of the president. She later slashed the offering price by $100,000.

On the rare occasions a conservative speaker is invited to a college campus, the result is usually an angry and often violent protest that sometimes leads to a cancellation by panicked administrators.

Free speech, anyone?

Now, assuming they’ve read this far, I have a question for my dwindling roster of liberal friends. Where are the incidents where the reverse happened, that is, conservatives harassing or refusing to provide service to liberals? Which liberal pundits have been forced off a university campus? List these occurrences in the comments section. Go ahead, do it. I can take a punch.

Back to Washington: Here’s a story about Trump and GOP staffers having difficulty finding people to date there. Wow, even Shrek found love and settled down in the Swamp.

To the left conservatives aren’t just wrong, they’re evil That’s a dangerous totalitarian mindset that could lead to violence.

Wait, that already happened. US Rep Steve Scalise (R-LA), the House Majority Whip, and several others were shot at a practice of the Congressional Republican baseball team last year. The shooter was a longtime leftist activist who inquired just beforehand if the team was a Democratic or Republican one.

By no means has Michael Moore ever been a Trump supporter. After being wrong–in my opinion at least–for decades, he issued the grand slam of all political forecasts two years ago when he predicted Trump’s surprise victory. Of Trump supporters he said at the time, “They’re not racist or rednecks, they’re actually pretty decent people.”

And we are decent.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Twenty minutes into the first episode of a new Netflix series, Dark Tourist, not only did I ascertain what dark tourism is, I realized that I am a dark tourist. After all, I’m someone who has vacationed in Detroit. Twice. I’ve visited the most dangerous neighborhoods of Chicago. I’ve been to Gary, Indiana. Those jaunts are known as urban exploration.

Seeking out similar dangerous and notorious locations outside of cities, such as the radiation hot zone surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, the personality cult-driven capital of Turkmenistan, and the ghost resort town of Famagusta in Cyprus, where the Turkish army bans visitors–is what rounds out dark tourism.

Dark Tourist stars David Farrier, a nerdy journalist from New Zealand who nonetheless is, for the most part fearless, or perhaps I should say foolish. After all, Farrier, during his visit to the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan, swims in Lake Chagan, also known as “Atomic Lake,” which, as you can guess by its name, is radioactive. And he takes a bite from a fish caught there. Afterwards he at least has the good sense to down a shot of vodka.

Ferrier is a darn good reporter who asks what a cosmonaut calls “a profound question” about space travel at a pre-launch press conference.

There are dark tourism tours right under my nose. Several times a year my day job brings me to Milwaukee. But it never occurred to me to search out sites connected with cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. When Farrier was in Wisconsin’s largest city he connected with Dahmer devotees. Weird? Yes. What makes this situation very weird is that most of these fanatics are women. What do they see in this gay man who ate his murder victims? Why are bachelorette parties drawn to Dahmer?

The same episode sees Farrier in Dallas where there are Kennedy assassination tours, including one that employs a Jackie Kennedy impersonator.

How do you top these Dahmer and JFK tours? Why with a Charles Manson trip, of course.

Medellin, Colombia has a thriving Pablo Escobar dark tourism industry. As far as I know there are no Jeffrey Dahmer impersonators driving cabs in Milwaukee, but there is an Escobar reenactor cabbie who threatens to kill Farrier’s loved ones. Also in on the drug lord vacation racket is John Jairo Velásquez, whose nickname is “Popeye.” He claims to have murdered 257 people, including his girlfriend, who was recorded speaking with the DEA. Popeye has gone from killer to charismatic YouTube star.

One episode takes place in Africa. Predictably there is a voodoo sojourn in Benin. Then Farrier visits white nationalists in South Africa. They direct him to a group of Afrikaner survivalists.

There are plenty of disturbing and macabre bits, was well as some humorous ones, including Farrier embedding himself with a group of British men impersonating the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army participating in the world’s largest World War II reenactment, a dinosaur robot checks Farrier into a Japanese hotel, and Farrier is followed by his “guide” in Naypyidaw, the capital city of Myanmar.

The other Asian capital Ferrier treks to in Dark Tourist is Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. Both cities are beautiful–Ashgabat has been called the place where “Las Vegas meets North Korea”–but both are largely devoid of people. Turkmenistan is a dictatorship that has had two cult-of-personality leaders since the Soviet Union collapsed. Myanmar’s capital was founded in 2005 when that nation, now a struggling democracy, was a despotic state.

Blogger on a dark tourist trip in Detroit last year

Autocrats love buildings but not people. That’s a dark truth I learned while watching Dark Tourist.

Warning! There are unpleasant images and scenes in Dark Tourist. I dropped my plan to include the official Netflix trailer in this post because even that clip was too disturbing for a mixed audience. Dark Tourist is rated TV-MA.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So the present isn’t looking very good now.

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

Blogger with Carlton Fisk statue at Guaranteed Rate Field this month

Jimenez batted .337 in the minors this season.

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

No other MLB team can match that pitchers duel.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The future appears to be an unhappy one for them.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

As a young reporter in 1973, I worked in Washington when the Watergate scandal started to unravel.

Despite numerous comparisons to the Watergate, the Mueller investigation isn’t anything like what happened to the Nixon White House.

Watergate centered on the illegal activities of Nixon and his aides while they were working for the government.

The Mueller investigation has focused on activities BEFORE Trump took office.

The Watergate activities included bugging the offices of political opponents and people Nixon or his cronies thought were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides also ordered investigations of activist groups and political figures, using the FBI, the CIA, and the IRS as political weapons.

The White House recording system also gave investigators evidence of a conspiracy in the conspirators’ own voices.

The scandal also resulted in the indictment of 69 people, with trials or pleas resulting in 48 being found guilty, many of whom were top Nixon officials. These included top aides John Ehrlichman and Bob Haldeman, former Attorneys General John Mitchell and Robert Kleindienst, White House Counsel John Dean, and myriad other government officials.

So far, the Mueller investigation has indicted four former Trump advisers, 26 Russian nationals, three Russian companies, one California man, and one London-based lawyer.

That includes one, repeat, one Trump administration official: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

So far, the only possible link to President Trump is whether he paid hush money to two hookers. Remember another president who actually had sex in the Oval Office?

With the guilt of two former allies of Trump, the media talked about impeachment on a continuing basis. By one count, CNN and MSNBC used the word more than 200 times in one day.

If impeachment happens, it will be purely political IF the Democrats take control of the House in the midterm elections.

The media have gotten so much wrong that MSNBC even gave an incorrect explanation of how impeachment works for two days in a row.

What most media magnates fail to mention is that it takes two-thirds of the U.S. Senate to convict. That means 67 senators must enforce the findings of the indictment. That’s never happened.

The constant drumbeat of comparing Watergate to the Mueller investigation is simply fake news.

UPDATE DTG: Just got an email from Christopher telling me that he put this post up on facebook and it was taken down. He put it back up there again so stay tuned.

If these guys are scared of something this mild then in my opinion it means they’ve decided to go all in on censorship


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Or buying my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer

Either way it’s most appreciated.

By John Ruberry

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

The TV talking heads weren’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lie.

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

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

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.