By John Ruberry

Last night Feld Entertainment, the owner of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus since 1967, announced that it is pulling up stakes and shutting down the circus for good.

For a very brief period I was one of its center ring performers. More on that later.

Steeped in history more than any other American entertainment offering, the Greatest Show on Earth can be traced to the 1860s with a circus run by James Anthony Bailey. In 1881 he teamed up with P.T Barnum, a circus latecomer who made his name as an oddity museum and freak show operator, creating Barnum & Bailey Circus. Its first big attraction was Jumbo, purportedly the world’s largest elephant–and an unintended result was the adding of “jumbo” to the English language.

Three years after Barnum & Bailey was founded, the five Ringling brothers, entertainers from Baraboo, Wisconsin, started their circus.

Technology was at first kind to these circuses, trains allowed the shows to travel quickly from city to city, abandoning wagons except for the parades with wild animals that served as priceless publicity for drumming up ticket sales. Trains gave Barnum & Bailey the opportunity to travel outside of its base in the Northeast–and the Ringlings weren’t confined to the Midwest anymore.

The Ringling family purchased Barnum & Bailey in 1907 and the shows were consolidated in 1919.

An elephant helped establish Barnum & Bailey and the combined circus was partly brought down by elephants.

Sometime around 2000 animal rights organizations, notably PETA, began protesting circuses and the Greatest Show on Earth was of course its biggest target. The mud and dung started flying with animal cruelty accusations from these groups, particularly regarding elephants. But Feld Entertainment collected $25,2 million in a settlement from animal rights activist groups over their charges of cruelty to pachyderms.

The battle was over but the war was lost. Two years ago Ringling Brothers announced that its elephants would be retired from the circus in 2018, but that date was moved that up to May of last year, largely because of what Ringling CEO Kenneth Feld called “anti-circus” and “anti-elephant” local ordinances.

When he announced the shutdown of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Feld didn’t cite one item but offered, “The competitor in many ways is time.” People, particularly children, are less patient than ever in the age of smartphones, tablets, and YouTube–and the length of its shows has dropped by nearly an hour since Feld Entertainment purchased Ringling Brothers. Technology now worked against the circus.

But Feld’s daughter, Juliette, went in a different direction, stating “We know now that one of the major reasons people came to Ringling Brothers was getting to see elephants.” Ticket sales, which have been declining for a decade, dropped noticeably when the shows became elephant-free.

Of course it’s the goal of the animal rights activists to have all circuses to be strictly human affairs. They’ll never deny that. So the camels, alpacas, lions, and tigers that are part of the Ringling menagerie will be retired, likely ending up in reserves.

Mission accomplished.

Meanwhile, 500 Ringling employees will be out of work, and it’s my fear that it will be tough going for them, as circus life tends to be a multi-generational endeavor.

Interviewer: “So, what makes you think you can be a good fit at our big box store?”

Job seeker: “Well, I’ve worked at Ringling Brothers for thirty years and I’ve lived on circus trains all of that time. I was educated at circus schools because my parents worked for Ringling Brothers too.”

Thanks for hanging in there, I’m getting to my center ring moment now.

Twice I attended Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey shows. My dad took my brothers and I to a performance at Chicago’s International Amphitheater in 1967. It was a dazzling experience–and the hall was packed. Nearly forty years later I brought Little Marathon Pundit to the Ringling circus, this time at the Allstate Arena in suburban Rosemont. Yes, the show was shorter, there was a motorcycle daredevil act in addition to the animal performers, but there was no big band this time–a rock combo offered music and there were a lot of empty seats. Outside the auditorium there were protesters even though it was snowing.

John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Back inside, as David Larible, a clown, descended the stairs of the arena I snapped a photo of him with my then-exotic smartphone. He motioned me to follow him, brought me to the center ring, where I, along with a few other lucky attendees, participated in a musical instrument comedy skit, as my daughter heartily laughed. It was one of those unforgettable father-daughter moments.

Yes, I’m a former Ringling performer.

You can argue that Ringling Brothers was dying then–but certainly the animal rights radicals hastened its death. And when this venerable circus is dead–a part of America will have died with it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Smee: Money is the root of all evil

Blogg: Except for us, we’re professionals we can handle it

Smee & Blogg The Singing Executioners

Yesterday’s post on the Carriage Horses and PETA’s et/all’s attempt to hijack the #SaveNYCHorseCarriages hashtag and the related tweets I sent out concerning PETA’s own record of killing animals such as this one….

along with the image that comes from the site Peta Kills animals had an interesting effect.  It resulted in PETA responding in my twitter stream

with a link to the following Huffpo article by PETA’s co-founder

People who are shocked to learn how many healthy or adoptable animals have to be euthanized annually or are questioning PETA’s euthanasia record should ask themselves if they are spaying and neutering their own animal companions, helping people with a low income “fix” theirs, adopting from shelters instead of buying from breeders and pet stores, funding education campaigns about proper animal care and adoption (among other things), and demanding higher animal-protection standards in their own communities. They should also look carefully at the photographs of the animals who come out of the impoverished areas that PETA serves.

My thoughts on PETA’s reaction:

1. How necessary must it be for PETA to change the subject of their motives behind opposing Horse carriages in NY that they bring up and defend their own killing of animals.

2. Given that it’s not generally known that PETA supports or practices euthanasia how sensitive must they be to that suggestion to answer such statement directly on twitter from a person with a follower base of under 5000 (Full disclosure I’ve never made a priority of getting Twitter followers)

3. When I read PETA saying their support of Euthanasia as “doing what’s necessary.” I immediately thought of Smee & Blogg’s closing fundraising song  with special PETA lyrics. (sung to the tune of the Mickey Mouse club)

PETA Smee & Blogg:  Our funds are low, it’s time to show your generosity.  S-M-E…..

PETA Smee:  Killing animals is wrong!

PETA Smee & Blog:  Double LL

PETA Blogg:  Except for us,  we’re professionals,  we can handle it

PETA Blogg:  B-L-O-G-G!

Fyi, I don’t know why they sang “double LL” but that’s what they sung, and they’re so funny I’ve never cared.

If PETA & the anti Carriage Horse people are worried about me I guess Human Events covering the story nationally isn’t going to put a smile on their face:

Remember kids, the difference between “concerned citizens” and “special interests” is whether or not they support your campaign.  Granted that the groups leveling these accusations at de Blasio also have their own interests to protect – they’re carriage drivers trying to save their jobs, and carriage aficionados who wish to preserve a recreation they enjoy.  But it’s interesting how one side of this struggle enjoys a presumption of high-minded idealism that Big Media is extremely reluctant to puncture.

That’s how it always works when the media is ideologically sympathetic to a political cause.  Behind just about every compassionate, public-spirited save-the-world campaign to ban or regulate something, you can find big money interests who stand to make a bundle by crushing whatever the State has beneath its heel.  Ironically, liberals are usually trying to keep metaphorical horse-and-buggy industries alive with taxpayer subsidies.

and if Human Events is a problem for these guys Liam Neeson could make it worse if he involved again:

“These animal activists,” Neeson continued contemptuously. “You know, ‘the horses are being treated cruelly because they are pulling a carriage around half a mile.’ I mean, these are the fittest, well-fed, best kept horses I’ve ever seen. I’m a horse rider and lover for many, many years.”

“[T]hey are having a good life,” he said. “Have you been in these stables? I would move into them tomorrow. Seriously.”

Stewart tried to push back, suggesting that the horses would probably prefer to run in an open field. But the now-61-year-old actor would have none of it.

“Jon, everybody thinks that. Everybody thinks cows in the field want to be running wild and so forth,” he said. “That’s bullshit, Jon. Horses don’t either. These [horses have] been trained for thousands of years. They come from Amish farms. They come into this industry. They work 9 hours a day. Sometimes, they have a holiday for months on these Amish farms.”

I suspect the MSM will do all it can to ignore this story, the last thing they want after weeks of NYC and income inequality meme is to expose their guy as having feet of clay.

Sen Joseph Payne: Thirty years ago, I had your ideals. I was you. I had to make the same decision you were asked to make today and I made it, I compromised. Yes. So that I could sit in that Senate and serve the people in a thousand honest ways. You’ve gotta face facts. I’ve served our state well, haven’t I? We have the lowest unemployment and the highest federal grants, but well I’ve had to compromise, I’ve had to play ball. You can’t count on people voting. Half the time they don’t vote. That’s how states and empires have been built since time began.

Mr Smith goes to Washington 1939

There was all kinds of coverage of Bill DiBlasso’s inauguration how he was absolutely determined to make sure that “income equality” becomes an issue. How he would be the great progressive hope escorting in the era in NYC where the wealth and power of the rich will no longer drive the decision of the City administration…

…unless you have to repay a political donor who just might want a piece of land where the Central Park stables are located of course:

 An anti-carriage pamphlet Nislick circulated in 2008 made this interesting observation: “Currently, the stables consist of 64,000 square feet of valuable real estate on lots that could accomodate up to 150,000 square feet of development. These lots could be sold for new development.” Gross asked the obvious question: “What are the odds that good neighbor Nislick, the out-of-state real estate developer, simply covets those valuable, underdeveloped New York lots — and has teamed up with ambitious pols to use the emotions of animal rights activists as fuel for their own agendas?”

By an odd coincidence Stacy McCain’s American Spectator Piece notes that Steve Nislick…

founded a 501(c)4 group called New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets (NYCLASS) that spent big money to elect de Blasio mayor

Amazing all of that evil big money to elect the great progressive hope isn’t it?

Strangely enough the media that has been celebrating the coming of the great liberal hope to NY has been oddly disinterested in the subject

Mayor de Blasio’s willingness to do the bidding of his anti-carriage backers has puzzled many observers, who can’t fathom why he would make the issue such a focus. “What makes him think this subject is important enough to occupy his first days in office?” asked New York Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal. Evidently, reporters at Rosenthal’s newspaper can’t be bothered to do the kind of “follow the money” investigative journalism that might provide an answer to that question.

I suspect that our progressive friends who have not been told this story of DiBlassio fighting against the middle class workers who drive those carriages on behalf of Steve Nislick & NYCLASS with PETA playing the Taylor machine doing their best to hijack the #SaveNYCHorseCarriages hashtag reading this will be having their Jimmy Stewart moment:

and wonder why the MSM isn’t even looking at this story?

Having been in this business for a few years now I suspect the liberal media is ignoring his story to maintain plausible deniability on their part.

The truth is they would be almost as shocked at the great progressive hope DiBlasso & PETA working at the behest of big money as they would be to discover there is gambling going on at Rick’s cafe in Casablanca.

And they can’t let the low information voters figure out uncomfortable truths such as this

Don’t let this “animal rights” talk deceive you. Starry-eyed idealist don’t have that kind of juice. The big money behind the anti-carriage effort is rumored to come from real-estate interests who covet the property currently occupied by carriage stables.

can they?

Update: Stacy McCain tweets that this isn’t new…

I’m no Bloomberg fan but there is one advantage to an insanely rich mayor, hard to buy him. Update 2: Not only has Stacy put up a follow up but the Lonely Conservative, Weasel Zippers, Dan Riehl, the Evil Blogger Lady & American Thinker have joined the fray. But the most interesting development as a tweet of mine produced a direct response from PETA


Can you say “over the target”.

Update: 3:  Interesting to note Buzzfeed took the time to mock several tweets defending the carriage owners but totally ducked the issue of the Mayor getting rid of the horses to reward a big money contributer.

I suspect that part of the story doesn’t serve a dishonest narrative.


Olimometer 2.52

It’s Monday of the first full week of the new year, the Feast of Epiphany the coming of the wise men and the day many cultures exchange gifts.

It’s also the 2nd day of my pay week and I find myself $27 on the way toward a $345 paycheck goal.

As always I’m grateful for any movement in the right direction but after failing to make the goal to start the year to be less that 10% of the way home to start the 2nd week is a tad worrysome.

But you can prove those worries to be unfounded by hitting DaTipJar below and moving the ball forward if 13 of you find $25 after looking at your Christmas Credit card bills that you can spare, this week will be all set and these requests will disappear till next Sunday.

Help me hit the ground running in an election year, hit DaTipJar below.

I won’t be so arrogant as to claim to be a “wise man” but if 58 1/4 of you kick in at $20 a month the greeting above can be reserved for special events and trips that have to be covered

In an election year that would seem a wise investment so consider subscribing.

That was the reaction of my 20-year-old son when I mentioned this visual at Stacy McCain’s site:

(the actual article from Teresa Koch in question is here)

The bottom line is that as a “mainstream” site, the PETA site is less likely to have viruses or spyware to hit your system, so why would a guy go to a pay porn site when they could go to PETA for free?

My thought was more along the lines of something that happened to a relative of mine. His left-leaning girl found him on a porn site and got very angry with him. I wonder if her reaction would have been different if he was on the PETA site, “Honey I’m not checking out Porn, I’m checking out PETA!”

It’s like the online version of Maxim magazine.

I asked a person I know who is engaged about this, and while she didn’t like the idea of her fiance on a porn site, she had no problem with PETA. Then when I posed the porn on PETA site question, she paused, saying “That’s just weird.”

I’m certain plenty of men will be thrilled to get free porn sans viruses and spyware, and PETA will be thrilled to get the numbers…

…but it’s not fooling anyone.

…are just so easy to annoy:

According to the Ada Evening News, the hometown newspaper of the Oklahoma-born singer (and avid hunter), Blake’s irreverent humor in his Twitter remarks ruffled a few PETA feathers. One PETA tweet which read: “Animal testing breaks hearts,” prompted Blake to respond: “Yeah, and bow hunting breaks their lungs!” Another PETA tweet which read: “There’s nothing funny about BBQing cats,” got this rapid reply from Blake: “Ha! Ha! Sorry but when you say it like that it, is damn funny! Ha!”

For a hunter like Mr. Shelton this is an incredibly easy shot.

Banned by PETA is going to sell a lot of extra country albums.