By John Ruberry

Deep in southwestern Germany in the Rhineland-Palatinate state lies the small village of Kallstadt, which has about 1,200 residents.

It is well-known for two reasons. It’s a stop on the German Wine Route and it’s the ancestral home of Henry J. Heinz, the founder of the H.J. Heinz Company, and President Donald J. Trump. In fact, Heinz and Trump’s grandfather, Kallstadt-born Friedrich Trump, were second cousins.

I was digging deep–very deep–on Netflix for something interesting to watch when I stumbled across Trump’s face on a movie poster for Kings of Kallstadt, a documentary by Simone Wendel, a Kallstadter. It was filmed in 2012 and released in 2014; her movie probably would have been forgotten outside of Rhineland-Palatinate had the Trump Train not steamrolled into Washington last year.

Much of the dialogue is in German–with subtitles of course.

There is a Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon feel within Kallstadt, because Wendel tells us that “the sun always shines and the wine never runs out.” And while Kallstadt has only 1,200 inhabitants it counts 1,600 members in its 27 clubs. “That amounts to 135 percent of love,” Wendel beams. Does Kallstadt have a Miss Kallstadt? No, it has a Wine Princess. No, make that two of them, which is a situation you might expect to find in the Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry. Kallstadt’s culinary delicacy is saumagen, that is, stuffed sow’s stomach.

Yummy!

Trump is interviewed here, along with the family historian, Trump’s cousin John Walter. If you ever imagined what our president would be like if he was a modest accountant–that’s Walter. Because he’s a modest, albeit retired, accountant.

Fascinatingly, even before he officially entered the political world, the man who was then simply known as the King of New York felt compelled to bring up his troubled relationship with the media.

“Okay, I think (there are) a lot of misconceptions about me,” Trump explains to Wendel in a Trump Tower conference room. “I’m a lot nicer person than the press would have you think. I don’t want to ruin my image by telling you that, but I believe that.”

Not discussed in the film is what Donald and his father, Frederick, said about their heritage–the Trumps were Swedish–which the legions Trump-haters jumped on during the presidential campaign. But the Swedish fib is an understandable distortion of the truth. During World War I it was quite common for German-Americans to hide their ethnicity. I regularly run into people who tell me stories of a grandfather or great-grandfather who changed his name from say Muller, to Miller, after being hounded out of a town as Americans fought the Kaiser’s army. After World War II Trump’s grandmother, Elizabeth, and Frederick rented many apartments and sold many houses to Jewish New Yorkers, who understandably had extremely uncomfortable feelings about Germans.

“He had thought, ‘Gee whiz, I’m not going to be able to sell these homes if there are all these Jewish people,'” Walter told the now-failing New York Times last year about the dilemma of Trump’s dad.

More on Grandma Elizabeth in a bit.

“After the war, he’s still Swedish,” Walter continued. “It was just going, going, going.”

As for the Swedish tale, Donald repeated it for his best-seller, The Art Of The Deal. Frederick was still alive then. But by 1990 the Swedish stuff was dead lutefisk.

Outside Chicago’s Trump Tower in 2017

Friedrich Trump left Kallstadt at age 16 for America where he enjoyed great success in Seattle, Yukon, Alaska, and then New York. Walter tells Wendel that Grandfather Trump married Elizabeth Christ, a Kallstadter. She demanded that he sell his American properties and return to Kallstadt, which, in a story Trump confides to Walter that he never heard, Prince Leopold of Bavaria deported Friedrich. Yes, a Trump was deported! Friedrich died in 1918 in Queens, likely an early victim of that year’s flu pandemic. Elizabeth and Frederick then founded Elizabeth Trump and Son Company, now known as the Trump Organization.

Back to the almost present: a group of Kallstadters are invited as guests of New York’s German-American Steuben Parade. Trump was the parade’s grand marshal in 1999. They also visit Pittsburgh and the Heinz History Center, where amazingly, no members of the Heinz family meet them. Say what you will about Donald J. Trump, but he earnestly tries to make himself accessible except to those who are openly hostile to him. Trump could have easily dismissed Wendel’s request for an interview for her quaint little film. But Trump has alway been a salesman.

The Kallstadters attend a Pittsburgh Pirates game–big league baseball–but one cranky woman constantly complains that there is “no action” in the game.

But is there is a lot of action in a 0-0 soccer match, frau? Other than the brawls in the bleachers?

Then comes the Steuben Parade. As the Kallstadters–two of whom are carrying a giant model of a saumagen–and Walter gather on the route, an “Obama 2012” sign is seen from a window behind them.

Blogger in Washington State last year

Late in the film Wendel asks Trump if would like to visit Kallstadt. “When I’m over there I will certainly visit,” he replies. “Absolutely.”

The president will be in Germany next week for the G20 summit. No word of a Trump homecoming yet, along the lines of his visit to the birthplace of his mother in Scotland in 2008. Although Trump isn’t very popular in Kallstadt, at least according to media reports, since his political rise.

“Believe me,” Trump just might respond to such stories, “that’s just fake news, believe me.”

In addition to Netflix, Kings of Kallstadt is also available on Amazon. It’s an enjoyable, wunderbar, and yes, big league movie. Even if you hate Trump. Believe me.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

We are getting yet another threat from our Democrat Friends concerning the potential firing of the Special prosecutor:

Several Democrats in Congress warned President Trump on Friday that he will face consequences if he fires special counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“All Americans, regardless of party, agree on the fundamental principle that no one is above the law,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) told MSNBC Friday. “And if President Trump were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, and then [get] special counsel Mueller fired, I believe Congress would begin impeachment proceedings.”

Now normally I would not get in the way of the Democrats shooting themselves in the foot but if I was Donald Trump I would find Democrat threats to bring up impeachment in the house an incentive to fire the entire Special prosecutor team rather than a disincentive, in fact if I’m Donald Trump the thing I’d want most of all is a Democrat filing a resolution of impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives as soon as possible, maybe by the end of next week.

Now you might find this an odd thing to think, but there are two simple reasons for this, the first being that as I’ve already explained the people who actually buy all this impeachment nonsense are hyperpatrisian Democrats and such a move would not only politically hurt him with is base, it might actually help

But more importantly getting the Democrats to push impeachment now would be learning a lesson of Watergate, To Democrats and the left, that word is magic, but the reality is it was an actual political event and if President Trump studies that event he would know how the Democrat’s impeachment push would end.  Let me explain:

In 1973 Fr. Robert Drinan who was a member of congress from Massachusetts introduced an impeachment resolution in the house, primarily on the grounds of Nixon’s actions on Cambodia.  Tip O’Neill one of the savviest Democrats in the house understood that this had the potential to blow up in their faces, the evidence for impeachment was not there and once one vote failed it would be hard to get another passed.  O’Neill talked about the issue in his autobiography Man of the House

At (Speaker) Cal Albert’s request, I went to Drinan and tried to talk him out of it.  “The timing is wrong,” I said, “It’s premature.  Let’s wait a few months until the evidence is in and we get the votes we need.”

Drinan agreed not to press the issue, but by then the resolution had already been filed and could not be withdrawn.  According to the rules of the House, any resolution on impeachment is, by definition , a privileged resolution, which means that any member, at any time can call it up for an immediate vote.  We could certainly see to it that no Democrat would bring it up, but who knew what the Republicans might try?  If I had been in their shoes, I would have brought up Drinan’s resolution immediately, because an early vote on impeachment would have been an excellent insurance policy against having to vote on a similar resolution at a later date.

Tip O’Neill Man of the House pages 247-248

They were so concerned that Tip, then majority leader, and the two whips made it a point to make sure one of them was always on the floor to make sure such a resolution was tabled on the spot until finally he got assurances from minority leader and future President Gerald Ford that the GOP had no plans on bring it for a vote.

The fact is President Trump is much more like Tip than he is like Nixon, he has finger on the pulse of the working class of the nation and knows that an impeachment resolution would energize his base to no end, furthermore such a resolution would expose every Democrat in the place as the radical leftist they are and would have laudable effects on election 2018.

If I was President Trump I’d take careful note of this example and do all I could to bait one of the house radicals like Maxine Waters to introduce a resolution of impeachment as soon as possible, perhaps by baiting the very gullible radical left, particularly in Hollywood and in the black lives matter movement to demand such a resolution. It would take little effort to make it an internet cause celebe. In fact I would beat the bushes of the left to find a radical democrats on the state level demanding impeachment and quietly encouraging them to primary sitting democrat congressmen and bankrolling pacs backing them with the express purpose of pressuring a member of the Democrat caucus to introduce such a resolution.  Because those democrats would be a lot easier to beat in the general election in anything that isn’t a completely blue state.

Furthermore an impeachment vote now would put any republican in the house who might consider for one moment to vote for it on the spot.  Such a pro-impeach vote would guarantee a pro-trump primary challenge that would likely not end well for the sitting congressman, after all consider what Robert Costa discovered about GOP voters when he left his bubble.

The left lives in a bubble amplified by Culture, but Trump has actual power backed up by the law.  I suggest he use it.


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Olimometer 2.52

If you are not in the position to kick in we are happy to get your prayers.

Lt. Tom Keefer: Can’t you see what he’s doing? He’s re-enacting his big triumph, the cheese investigation. He wants to be as hot as the young Ensign Queeg.

The Caine Mutiny 1954

Norma Desmond:  All right,Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.”

Sunset Boulavard 1950

One of the advantages of age is perspective of having gone through things and having the experience of living through events. It’s even better when you study history is you get the perspective of people who have been dead for years, decades or even centuries because in the end, there really is nothing new under the sun.

That’s one of the reasons why the offensive against President Trump doesn’t surprise me, anyone who lived through that era would know the media had the same hatred and contempt for Ronald Reagan. I remember being in college and having my own history professor speak of his fears of Ronald Reagan. The main difference being in those days being that there was no conservative media to push back.  That’s why if you think that the disaster of the Comey hearing for the left would have humbled them, you’d think wrong as Byron York explains:

Fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee marked the full shift of the Trump-Russia investigation from a probe dedicated to discovering collusion to a probe dedicated to proving the president obstructed justice. (See “At this rate, it won’t matter if Trump colluded with Russia.”) Democrats at the Comey hearing barely touched on collusion, which appears to have turned out to be a dry hole. When it did come up in Comey’s appearance, it was during questioning from Republicans, who wanted to highlight their point that collusion — the core of the case and the reason everybody got so excited in the first place — has so far turned out to be nothing.

 

To Democrats, that no longer matters. Now, it’s all about obstruction of justice, or alleged obstruction of justice, or fantasized obstruction of justice, depending on your partisan perspective. Senate Democrats focused almost exclusively on obstruction in their questioning of Comey, and their House counterparts are sure to do the same. As far as the Justice Department investigation of the president is concerned, we know that as of the time Comey was fired on May 9, there was no investigation of the president concerning collusion, which strongly suggests that after 10 months of probing, authorities had nothing against him on that issue. Now, however, after the Comey memos and the Comey firing, it seems safe to predict that special counsel Robert Mueller will investigate Trump for obstruction. So it is a new game, even if Republicans keep trying to play the old one.

When I see the Democrats and their media allies going all Watergate on Trump that I see get what’s goign on.  I know and perhaps they know there is no there there, but it’s not about that,  to some degree it isnt’ even about power.

It’s about glory days., those wonderful days of yesteryear when the Democrats and the media were at their apex of respect and presteege in the eyes of the public, a press that spoke with only one liberal voice supporting a Democrat party that in congress was  practically unchallenged.

Unfortunately for the left the lessons of Watergate don’t apply mainly due the admidded lack of evidence of any crime, which is not a big surprise as there is also the lack of an actual crime to have evidence of unless of course you’re counting, as Don Surber puts it :  “James Comey’s multiple ethics and likely legal violations.”

But all that doesn’t matter, to paraphrase River Song, the Democrats/Media will believe any story that they are the hero of and no matter what the reality, in their minds, they are the heros, as brave or braver than those who marched in Selma or fought in the getto of Warsaw.

After all they don’t call themsevles the resistance for nothing.

 

By John Ruberry

Last fall in my review of the first season of The Last Kingdom I wrote:

I’ll be back for season two, hoping for more. (More meaning better shows, not bare buttocks.) After all, the Doctor Who spinoff Torchwood didn’t hit its stride until season two and it didn’t achieve consistent greatness until The Children of Earth in season three.

And so I have returned for season two of the show, which is now a co-production of Netflix and the BBC. The series is based on books by Bernard Cornwell.

The Last Kingdom didn’t reach the stride that I was hoping to find, rather, it is just running in place.

Minor season one spoiler alerts in the following paragraph.

Uhtred the Godless (Alexander Dreymon), who was enslaved as a boy by Danes and robbed of his inheritance of Bebbanburg in Northumberland by a duplicitous uncle, becomes a chieftain for King Alfred (David Dawson). England’s “last kingdom” is Alfred’s Wessex, holding out in the 9th century against what historians later named the Great Heathen Army. Alfred prevails over the Danes in the Battle of Edington, preserving not only his kingdom but also his notion of an England. Havde danskerne vundet kampen, kan du læse denne sætning på dansk i stedet for engelsk. Oops, make that, had the Danes won the battle you might be reading this sentence in Danish instead of English. But for Uhtred the victory is bittersweet, his mistress, the sorceress Queen Iseult of Cornwall, is beheaded during the battle.

So that’s it, right? Alfred becomes Alfred the Great and the Danes are forced back to Denmark? No. Viking raids–oh, the word “viking” doesn’t appear in The Last Kingdom–continue until the auspicious year of 1066. Alfred and his successors merely push back against the Danes, who never leave, they become Anglicized. Although in 1016 Cnut the Great, a Dane, albeit a Christian, is crowned king of England.

And that’s the heart of the problem of the second edition of The Last Kingdom. Sure, the Saxons and the Danes are still slaughtering each other, but historically post-Edington is a less interesting time in England.

Minor season two spoiler alerts in the following paragraph.

A handsome warrior like Uhtred isn’t going to remain unattached for long, he marries the sister of the mild-mannered Guthred (Thure Lindhardt), a Christian Dane and former slave who becomes King of Northumberland as a result of a prophecy-dream of an abbot. But Guthred betrays Uhtred and as he sets matters straight, Uhtred proceeds to anger Alfred. But the king soon finds himself in a situation where he needs his chieftain’s aid.

As with first season the second one ends with a fierce battle.

My disappointment in the second season lies with the lack of character development. Perhaps you can argue that Uhtred’s strong mental fortitude is why the travails he suffers doesn’t alter his nature, but he’s essentially the same person since his appearance as an adult at the end of the first episode in series one. Alfred remains the pious king–despite his own sufferings. Only Uhtred’s priest friend, Father Beocca (Ian Hart) and Erik Thurgilson (Christian Hillborg), who does not appear in the first season, progress as characters.

There are a few other of annoyances. Each episode begins with a pompous “I am Uhtred son of Uhtred” proclaimed by Dreymon  which is followed by a summary of previous events, which are only sometimes helpful. When a town is shown in a wide-angle shot the old English name is displayed first, then the modern equivalent. But in the case of Benfleet, the site of much of the action in the second season, is it necessary to do so three times in the same episode? Are we that stupid? And until I receive solid proof otherwise, let’s assume that Alfred’s crown is plastic.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

So far The Last Kingdom hasn’t been renewed. So I’ll withhold my commitment to watching season three.

Oh, as for bare buttocks, yes there a couple of scenes with them, if you have to know.

And now you do.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

We’ve just passed the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I, which certainly is no cause for celebration.

Although the U.S. formally declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917 — unlike the speedy action after Pearl Harbor, it took Congress four days to concur with Woodrow Wilson’s request for action — American troops didn’t actually engage in combat until a year later.

By the time the guns fell silent on Nov. 11, 1918, nearly 117,000 members of the American Expeditionary Forces had died. While that figure pales in comparison to U.S. casualties in the Civil War and World War II, it’s a horrendous total for just over six months of fighting.

The man responsible for the war’s worldwide death toll of 38 million is someone you’ve probably never heard of : Gavrilo Princip, a young Bosnian Serb fanatically dedicated to ending Austria-Hungary’s rule of his homeland.

On June 28, 1914, Princip and five co-conspirators set out to assassinate Austria’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand on his visit to Bosnia. A planned attack on the archduke’s motorcade in Sarajevo failed. One conspirator chickened out and didn’t throw his bomb when he had the chance. Another tossed a grenade, but it exploded under another car, seriously injuring two members of Franz Ferdinand’s entourage.

The opportunity for assassination seemed lost, but Princip was lucky — unluckily for the rest of the world. Franz Ferdinand wanted to visit his friends wounded in the grenade attack, but his driver made a wrong turn en route to the hospital.  When the driver put the car in reverse to get back on course, it stalled — right in front of Princip, who had stopped at a cafe for a meal.

Princip seized his chance, stepping forward and firing two shots into the car. One bullet fatally wounded the archduke, and the other killed his wife, Countess Sophie. Thanks to monumental stupidity by Europe’s monarchs, the murders ignited the fuse for the carnival of carnage that came to be known as the Great War.

The assassination led Austria-Hungary to declare war on Serbia, which was thought to be behind the murder plot. When Serbian ally Russia mobilized for an attack on the Habsburg empire, Germany demanded Russia to stand down. On Aug. 1, Germany declared war on Russia, then promptly invaded neutral Belgium as the launching pad for an invasion of France. Within days, what had been a dispute between Austria-Hungary and Serbia grew into a continental conflagration.

By the time the United States entered the fray, millions had died on the battlefields and in the trenches. Although Russia essentially gave up the fight after the Bolshevik revolution, freeing up German armies from the Eastern Front, the infusion of American doughboys played a key role in forcing the Central Powers to accept an armistice.

To understand how the civilized Western world collapsed into murderous madness, you have to know Europe at the start of the 20th century. For almost 100 years after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Europe had enjoyed unprecedented peace, progress and prosperity (outside of the Balkans, a string of unsuccessful revolutions in 1848 and two conflicts involving Prussia).

But nationalism still percolated in the fat and happy countries. Africa sated much of the ambitions, as Britain, France, Germany and lesser powers grabbed colonies, but the continent was pretty much divvied up by 1900. Meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution had brought bright, shiny weapons to large armies that had nothing to do. All it took was Princip to fire his pistol to bring down empires and forever change the world.

Perhaps war still would have come without the assassin, but it probably wouldn’t have been the same war on the same fronts with the same results. But think about what Princip did set in motion.

Without Princip, there would have been no World War II because Germany would not have been seething over unsettled grievances. There would have been no Hitler, no Holocaust.

Without Princip, there would have been no Russian Revolution, no Lenin, no Stalin, no gulag. As a result, you can erase, Mao, Fidel and other Red revolutionaries from the history books.

Without Princip, the German, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires might still exist, leaving many ethnic groups under imperial control. The dissolution of the Turkish empire is at the heart of today’s troubles in the Middle East, as the British and French made a total mess overseeing Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Without Princip, the lives of at least 150 million people would not have been snuffed out on the battlefield or by their own totalitarian governments.

As the year 2000 approached, a number of groups hailed Albert Einstein as the Man of the 20th Century. Without doubt, the physicist was a remarkable genius whose revelations changed the course of science and will reverberate for generations to come.

But if the Man of the Century is the one who had the biggest effect on the world, for better or worse, the title has to go a 19-year-old killer from Bosnia, Gavrilo Princip.

By John Ruberry

Barack Obama’s Model United Nations style foreign policy of be-nice-to-rogue-nations-and-they’ll-be-nice-to-you is a failure.

Five years ago Syria’s thug president, Bashar al-Assad, crossed Barack Obama’s red line by using chemical weapons against his own people.

Obama did not retaliate.

Last Tuesday the brute crossed that red line–and on Thursday President Donald J. Trump fired 59 cruise missiles at the Syrian base from where those chemical weapons were launched. This happened the day after an emergency session of the UN Security Council called in response to this cruel attack predictably achieved nothing.

The spoiled fat boy who savagely rules the starving nation of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, keeps firing missiles in tests, those weapons violate numerous United Nations resolutions. For years the rogue state has been building a nuclear weapons program, one that can possibly be used to attack the United States.

Trump is responding to the aggressiveness of the Norks by dispatching an aircraft carrier to Korean waters. He’s reportedly considering deploying nuclear missiles in South Korea.

Obama did nothing of consequence in regards to the North Korean threat.

Trump understands the lessons of the playground that Obama and his fellow leftists never learned. Bullies only back down when confronted with force, or a credible threat of force. For bullies weakness is an opportunity to be exploited. The historical examples of strongmen attacking their own people and more powerful nations plundering weaker ones are so plentiful that I won’t insult the intelligence of my readers by listing them. And if you need examples, then you are too far gone, my friend.

There is some good news–America’s eight-year long vacation from reality is over.

Oh, is there any hope for the UN? No. Add me to the list of people who believe that the United States and other freedom-loving nations, such as Great Britain, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, and lets say Chile, need to band together and form a League of Democracies.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.


By John Ruberry

Most of the main characters in Hell on Wheels, my last Netflix binge-watching adventure, were shaped, and scarred, by the American Civil War.

In this BBC 2 television show, Peaky Blinders, set in Birmingham, England beginning in 1919, World War I casts its shadow over the lead characters.

Three seasons have been released so far. The action–and the violence–is centered upon the Anglo-Gypsy Shelby family, led by Thomas “Tommy” Shelby (Cillian Murphy), a decorated Great War tunneller who returns home a new man–and a better suited one to run the family business, Shelby Brothers, Ltd, a bookmaking operation set in the grimy and noisy Small Heath section of Birmingham. But the gang is generally called the Peaky Blinders by members and their enemies. His oldest brother, Arthur (Paul Anderson) is clearly more psychologically damaged from the war than Tommy, but he’s better suited to serve as the enforcer for the family. “I think, Arthur. That’s what I do,” Tommy explains to him. “I think. So that you don’t have to.” Third son John (Joe Cole), another World War I veteran, is also employed in the muscle side of the operation, while Finn, the youngest Shelby, is only 11-years-old when the series begins.

Tommy has a sister, Ada Thorne (Sophie Rundle), who is married to communist agitator. But she’s still loyal to the family.

While the Shelby men were fighting in France–the family business was run by Elizabeth “Aunt Polly” Gray (Helen McCrory), a kind of a Rosie the Riveter of the underworld. Tommy quickly takes over from Polly, who serves as his senior advisor. Like Edward G. Robinson’s legendary Rico character in Little Caesar, Tommy becomes a small-time-hood-makes-good-by-being-bad by playing one gang faction against the other, first in Birmingham then in London, while largely ignoring Aunt Polly’s warnings.

When the Peaky Blinders stumble upon a large machine gun shipment in an otherwise routine heist, that gets the attention of Secretary of State for War Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman in the first season, Richard McCabe in the second), who dispatches Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) from Belfast to find the machine guns. Those guns give Tommy power and respect–and enemies. Not only do Churchill and Campbell want those weapons, but so does the Irish Republican Army.

Campbell sends in an Irish domestic spy, Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), to work at the neighborhood pub owned by Arthur, appropriately named The Garrison. She quickly becomes its de facto manager.

In season three, which is set in 1924, Tommy, at Churchill’s request, gets involved in another armaments caper, this time with members of the Whites faction who haven’t ascertained that the Communists have won the Russian Civil War. Arthur warns Tommy to stay out of “this Russian business.” It’s too bad the script writers didn’t take their own creation’s advice. As was the case with season four of Sherlock, what follows is a collection of tangled and confusing plot lines. Possibly realizing their mistake, the writers include quite a bit of gratuitous nudity to accompany the Russian adventure, including a bizarre orgy scene which does nothing to advance the storyline.

On the other hand, the Russian diversion is loosely based on a 1924 scandal that brought down Great Britain’s first socialist-led government.

At least two more seasons are coming.

The cinematography of Peaky Blinders is masterful. Imagine Tim Burton creating a remake of The Untouchables television show and setting it in 1920s Birmingham. And this is an ugly Birmingham. J.R.R Tolkien lived in the city before the Great War and his reaction against it was his creation of Mordor for The Lord of the Rings. Just as the Eye of Sauron looked upon that evil realm–the sparks and the ashes of the foundries oversee the Midlands metropolis here. And the industrial roar is always there too.

Blogger in his flat cap

Without getting into spoilers it’s a challenge to bring a description of Jewish gangster Alfie Solomons into this review, but his portrayal by Tom Hardy is too good to overlook.

Oh, the name. Peaky Blinders? There was a Birmingham gang by the same name who gained that moniker because its members supposedly sewed razor blades into the peaks of their flat caps. And in fights the hoodlums went for the eyes.

And finally, the music deserves special mention too. Anachronistic goth rock dominates, the unofficial theme song is Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand.” You’ll find selections from PJ Harvey, Tom Waits, and the White Stripes too.

And Johnny Cash sings “Danny Boy.”

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.

I have a lot of interviews still uploading and several that I intend to post today as time permits but the interview worth being the lead post today come from what would seem an unlikely source & situation.

I ran into Joe at an informal event called #rinocon that Cynthia Yockey & I briefly attended to mix with a few CPAC blogger friends some old some new. We got there early seeing Jeff Dunetz (yid with lid now the lid) and Erik Svane (No Pasaran) but the big names Didn’t show while we were there so we didn’t stay long, but I was there long enough for Erik to re-introduce me to Joe who in the course of conversation informed me that he lived in East Berlin while going to school in West Berlin (his father was a diplomat) and thus daily crossed the wall that meant death for other who might consider trying to do so.

I had never heard of such a thing and considered it so unique that I interviewed him on the spot to hear the story and also to ask about the comparison the left is constantly making between the border wall that President Trump will build and the wall in Berlin.

This interview is important because it demonstrates the nonsense here.

In East Berlin you had a wall illegally put up by a soviet controlled government looking to keep people who wished to leave in, much in the same way that the same Soviets that the anti-trump folks revere divided Germany and kept people enslaved in the east.

Meanwhile in Mexico a bunch of people are leaving their country, which is apparently not a place they want to live, and head into the United States which for all of the faults that our friends on the left claim it has, is apparently where the rest of the world wants to be.

However they aren’t willing to bother with the business of coming in legally like hundreds of thousands of others from all over the world.

The left should be ashamed of themselves for comparing those risking their lives to escape illegal imprisonment to freedom to those violating ours laws to enter our country because they don’t like their own. However that shame would involve learning the actual history of Communism in general and East Germany and I suspect that’s a bridge too far.

So they will remain screaming ignorant outrage and comparing themselves to actual heroes without being heroic because it’s so much easier. Kinda sad really.

DaTechGuy at CPAC 2017

2/22

Voices at CPAC 2017 Liz a Cook County Republican (and Kasich delegate)
CPAC 2017 First Interviews Theresa an Attendee and Rob Eno of Conservative Review

2/21
Some Quick pre-cpac video and thoughts


2016 Fabulous 50 Blog AwardsCPAC is paid for but the emergency room and surgical bills for DaWife’s operation will start coming in soon and our insurance is not what it once was (thanks Democrats and Obamacare!) so if are so inclined and in a position to do so please consider hitting DaTipJar




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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.