Update on the continuing Illinois Exodus

By John Ruberry

I’ve been writing here about the Illinois Exodus for several years. The COVID-19 outbreak, as it has many other societal trends, is accelerating the people drain. But two rounds of riots and looting, one after the homicide of George Floyd, and the second last month, after false rumors that Chicago Police had killed a man now charged with murder, are gut punches that the city will not quickly recover from. 

In my DTG post-second riot post about the decline and fall of the city, Welcome to Detroit, Chicago, I wrote, “But when Chicago’s downtown area is dominated by boarded up store-fronts with signs declaring ‘Move in now–lease rates reduced again–first month free!’ you’ll know the downtown descent is well under way.” The vacancy rate for luxury units in downtown Chicago are at their highest level ever recorded according to Mike Flannery (more on him in a bit).

I haven’t been downtown since that “Detroit” entry, but on my own blog, Marathon Pundit, an automated Google Ads banner from a downtown Chicago apartment building offered this promo, “First two months rent free.”

Decline and fall.

And keep in mind that over seventy percent of Chicago’s economic activity comes from the downtown area. And Chicago is of course Illinois’ largest and most important city.

Downstate things aren’t much better. AP is reporting on three towns in St. Clair County, which is across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, that are considering merging because of “severe population decline.” St. Clair County, like Chicago and Cook County, are Democratic strongholds where corruption is widespread.

Large swaths of downstate Illinois have been facing population losses for decades, for instance Iroquois County, an agricultural powerhouse that is just 55 miles from Chicago’s city limits, saw its population peak in 1900. Universities have allowed other downstate counties to buck that trend, but enrollment was struggling at many of these colleges before COVID-19 hit. Business Insider last week compiled a list of the “30 college towns that could face economic ruin if schools don’t reopen or have to close again this fall.” Two of them are in Illinois.

The Prairie State has lost population for six straight years. It’s a safe bet that when the counting is over for 2020 it will be seven.

On the usually-worth watching–Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up, three cheerleaders for the city and one moderate skeptic talked about its descent and for the most part, it’s quick bounce back. But this weekend’s episode was an aberration. The show sucked. It was up to the host, Mike Flannery, to bring up the two 800-pound gorillas in Chicago’s otherwise looted basement: rampant corruption and the worst-funded municipal pensions in the nation. 

Since 1973 over thirty members of Chicago City Council have been sentenced to prison. At one time he was the city’s most powerful alderman, but now Ed Burke is under indictment for allegedly shaking down a fast food franchisee. Do you want to bring your business to Chicago? You may have to endure having your pockets picked by a pol. Or by several of them.

Where do I sign up?

Burke has been an alderman since 1969. Chicago needs term limits. And so does Illinois. Boss Michael Madigan, who is from the same part of the city as Burke, has been speaker of the state House since 1983 except for two years in the 1990s when the Republicans had a majority in the lower chamber. Madigan is also a Chicago ward committeeman. He’s been chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1997. Illinois’ most powerful Dem is also currently under investigation as part of an evolving federal corruption probe that has already ended the careers of several Chicago and suburban politicians

There is no way out of Chicago’s pension bomb other than a municipal bankruptcy, one that may also force many city vendors to go under, or a federal bailout. Even if the the Democrats capture the Senate and the White House in November, such a rescue for irresponsible spending, a backhanded reward really, faces tall odds in Washington. But under current Illinois law, government bodies are prevented from declaring bankruptcy.

The “moderate skeptic” on Flannery Fired Up mentioned transportation as a city selling point. While O’Hare is one of the world’s busiest airports–it used to be ranked first in traffic–and Chicago is a rail hub and it has many miles of interstate highways, that “expert” needs to drive on Chicago’s streets. They are falling apart. 

And if you don’t own a car and you use your feet to get around? Watch out, walking on crumbling sidewalks often requires strong ankles and a steady balance. 

Violence in Chicago was declining over the last few years but shootings are way up since the pandemic was declared.

As I’ve mentioned before, like an alcoholic, Chicago’s cure won’t begin until it admits complete and utter defeat. 

That point has not been reached. But it’s probably coming soon.

As it is for the rest of Illinois. The state’s pension programs are almost as poorly funded as Chicago’s.

Decline and fall. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is wrong, there was a riot goin’ on in Kenosha

Car dealership last Sunday in Kenosha

By John Ruberry

The headline is a reference to the Sly and the Family Stone album from 1971, There’s a Riot Goin’ On. He’s largely forgotten now–although some his songs remain recognizable to the masses–but Sly Stone was the Prince of his day, a crossover artist, that is, he was very popular among blacks and whites. His band, unusual for the time, was multi-racial. Just like Prince and the Revolution.

The album title was a sarcastic reference to the riot that broke out when the band couldn’t, or Sly Stone wouldn’t, show up for a performance at Grant Park in downtown Chicago the prior year. Stone had a reputation for blowing off gigs, which added to the excitement, as well as the tension, of a Sly concert. Will the superstar show up?

Well on July 27, 1970 tension prevailed when Sly and the band were a no-show. Store windows were smashed, police cars were set on fire, rocks and bottles were thrown at cops, and three people were shot in what the contemporary media called a riot. Because it was one. The Chicago Sun-Times front page headline from the next day read “Rock fans in riot, 90 injured, 148 held.” Looking back to my own youth in the Chicago area I can now understand why my parents were horrified when I expressed my interest in going to rock concerts later that decade. The subhead of that Sun-Times article read, “Battle starts in Grant Park, spills over into Loop.” A look at the media images available on Google of the riot confirms the diverse spectrum of Sly Stone’s fan base.

Fifty years and a month later there was a riot goin’ on sixty miles north of Grant Park in a small Wisconsin city that has been devoured by Chicago and Milwaukee suburban sprawl, Kenosha.

Except Wisconsin’s largest newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, didn’t call it a riot, instead is chose such tame words as “unrest” and “disturbance.” Readers of the Journal Sentinel complained which led the paper to publish an article that explained the apologist tone (my words) of last month’s coverage of the Kenosha riots that broke out after Jacob Blake, a black man with an open warrant for his arrest, was shot seven times by a police officer in what is clearly a tragedy.

From that paper:

As we’ve seen in cities around the country this summer, protest participants and the activities surrounding them often change throughout the day and night. Peaceful protests can happen all day long and then fires can be set or violence occurs late at night by people not associated with the protesters. Would it be fair or accurate to label all that happened that day a “riot” — especially in a headline summing things up? We don’t think so.

And there are historical racial overtones in the use of that word in America.

As Dorothy Tucker, president of the National Association of Black Journalists, said on the PBS NewsHour in June, “There is concern that it is automatically labeled as a riot if it is African-Americans who are protesting, but it’s not labeled as a riot when you see the same kind of destruction after a concert or after a sporting event. So there are words that have that association.”

Of course the Journal Sentinel sent reporters down Interstate 41-94 to see Kenosha for themselves. There was vandalism, arson, and looting. In short, a riot. I visited Kenosha–after the riots were over–twice last week. My blog reports are here and here. Downtown every business was boarded up. So were the churches. Most horribly, an automobile dealership with about 100 cars in its inventory saw nearly every one of its cars set ablaze. Near that dealership Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois teen, allegedly shot two people and wounded a third during the, ahem, disturbance.

What occurred in Kenosha met the commonly accepted, unless you are woke, definition of a riot.

Yes there are peaceful protests and peaceful activists protesting the death of George Floyd and other outrages. But Antifa and the like, as I’ve remarked before, are using these protests as a Trojan horse to raise hell. See Portland. Even Chicago’s liberal mayor, Lori Lightfoot, admitted so, albeit in slightly more moderate language last month as I noted in this space before. “What we’ve seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests,” she told Face the Nation, “and have come for a fight.”

With such reporting on “facts” it’s easy to comprehend why readership of daily newspapers such as the Journal Sentinel continues to plummet as these publications are more concerned about appearing woke and satisfying the left-wing echo chamber they choose to inhabit.

In another Chicago reference, a Black Lives Matter organizer, Ariel Atkins, said of looting, “That is reparations.” A New York BLM leader supported her claims.

Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Best of the Web James Freeman said of such contorted reporting and the questions of why the Journal Sentinel purses such a strategy, “No doubt citizens nationwide have the same question for many politicians and members of the press corps who have lately been extremely creative in conjuring euphemisms for destruction and lawlessness.”

Thankfully one such mainstream media euphemism for riots, which dates back to the Occupy movement, “mostly peaceful,” has been for the most part placed into forced retirement, but only because of repeated ridicule on Twitter and other social media platforms. As Mark Levin quipped on his show a few months ago, “Mostly peaceful means mostly violent!” But as you’ll see “mostly peaceful” has not been completely eradicated.

As for Kenosha, as I mentioned before, every downtown business was hit by looters. Even on the edge of the city malls were struck by vandals and thieves. Those businesses of course employ people. Families are supported by them.

There was a riot in Kenosha last month. A three-day long one.

Even if Milwaukee Journal Sentinel refuses to say so.

It could be worse. A chyron graphic on CNN with the backdrop of the cars on fire in the dealership pictured on top read “Fiery but mostly peaceful protest after police shooting.” That image was so wrong even Brian Stelter of the network criticized it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Last week’s riot toll is three dead

By John Ruberry

The mainstream media has been downplaying the rioting and looting that has been occurring this summer across many large American cities–all run by Democrats.

Three people were shot last week in what the mainstream media often calls “unrest,” but are in fact riots.

Powerline has rightly called the downplaying by the media of last week’s looting in Minneapolis “journalistic malpractice.” 

One state over in Wisconsin, during the rioting and looting in Kenosha last week, a 17-year-old from nearby Antioch, Illinois, Kyle Rittenhouse, was charged with murdering three people. The media is focusing on how the riots started–anger over police shooting Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old with a criminal record, seven times. Fair enough.

The media is also exploring Rittenshouse’s possible connection with a local militia

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, responded to the mayhem by sending a small force of National Guard trips, 125 of them, on Monday, which was doubled the next day. After Tuesday’s shootings Evers doubled the deployment again and he’s since accepted Guard assistance from other states and from the federal government. 

But what if Evers dispatched 500 National Guard troops to Kenosha as soon as the rioting started Sunday night? Perhaps that militia would have stayed home and Rittenhouse, who appears to be a troubled cop-wannabe that got his hands on an AR-15 rifle despite being a minor, would have remained home in Illinois. 

Details are still coming in on the shooting death of a man during Saturday’s round of rioting in Portland, Oregon. Last night a pro-Trump group confronted Black Lives Matter in downtown Portland. In what the local police are calling a homicide–a man wearing clothing with a Patriot Prayer logo was shot to death in the middle of a street. The Oregonian is calling Patriot Prayer a far-right group. Of course the mainstream media never calls Antifa far-left, but that’s a subject for another post, of course. 

The rioting, mercifully no longer called “mostly peaceful” by the media, has been a nightly event for three months in Oregon’s largest city. Portland’s ineffective mayor, Ted Wheeler, is deaf to the concern of law-abiding citizens of the Rose City. 

It’s a new week. Hopefully last week’s riot deaths will be the last ones. And perhaps these homicides will finally compel mayors like Wheeler to take back their cities in the names of the rank-and-file citizens they claim to represent. 

Never forget: The most important responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens. 

As for the mainstream media, I believe they are too far gone to save themselves. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Lori Lightfoot believes she deserves security on her block, but not Chicago’s peasants

North Michigan Avenue in June after Chicago’s first round of looting this summer

By John Ruberry

If you need more proof that America’s elite class feels that there are rules for them but not you, then take a look at Chicago’s floundering mayor, Lori Lightfoot.

America’s third-largest–for now–city isn’t at the abyss, it’s in it. Riots, looting shootings, unsustainable pension debt, and a declining population are what defines her Chicago. To be fair, the public worker pension bomb is largely the creation of Richard M. Daley, mayor of Chicago for all of the 1990s and 2000s.

Streets are regularly blocked off–not by police–but by protesters who don’t even bother apply for a rally permit. One march eight days ago, which was hampered by a poor turnout, had as its goal to close off off Interstate 90-94, known as the Dan Ryan Expressway, on the South Side. The right to peaceful assemble does not include blocking off an expressway, which, according to a police friend of mine, breaks a state law: unauthorized entry on to an interstate highway. I find it hard to believe that Chicago cops can’t find a law to allow them to arrest people who block traffic elsewhere in the city. 

That march was a Trojan horse for agitators. The protest migrated to downtown, where it ended violently–even Lightfoot has ascertained that fact, telling Face the Nation, “What we’ve seen is people who have embedded themselves in these seemingly peaceful protests [emphasis mine],” she admitted, “and have come for a fight.” Downtown Chicago and the Near North Side earlier that week was struck by widespread looting, and that round of mayhem delivered a blow that the city may never recover from because 70 percent of Chicago’s economic activity comes from the downtown area.

As I wrote in this space last Sunday, Welcome to Detroit, Chicago.

One popular rally site has been the block in Logan Square on the Northwest Side where Lightfoot lives. But backed by a heavy police presence, protests are now banned there.

“I think that residents of this city, understanding the nature of the threats that we are receiving on a daily basis, on a daily basis, understand I have a right to make sure that my home is secure,” Lightfoot said last week.

Public figures receive threats regularly. If you don’t like that then don’t run for political office. But Mayor Lightweight is clueless on this fact. She’s clueless on many other things, but that’s another matter.

“That’s not what my wife and my child signed up for,” she declared while defending her action. “It’s not what my neighbors signed up for. We have a right in our home to live in peace.”

Meanwhile, murders in Chicago are up 50 percent this year over 2019 and they were 139 percent higher in July alone. Many business owners and their employees are coping with two rounds of looting in a little over two months. They are dreading increases in their insurance coverage–some are considering closing their boarded-up doors for good. 

So much for the peasants’ right to “live in peace.”

Chicago police officers are working twelve-hour shifts to address the protests that often turn violent and the dramatic spike in shootings. There aren’t cops in Chicago sitting around looking for things to do. Duh! But Mayor Beetlejuice has her praetorian guard in front of here home, who last night arrested six protesters. All of them by the way, are from out of state, which belies the meme of the left that the protests are spontaneous outbursts by locals. 

What else is going on in Lightfoot’s home base in Logan Square? Earlier this month a 14-year-old was told, “You’re a racist and you ain’t gonna do sh*t,” by a man as he allegedly stole the kid’s bike. It’s too bad there wasn’t an army of cops there when that happened, although the suspect was arrested a half-hour later after he allegedly committed two more crimes

And of course there is no army of police officers on each block of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods on the West and South Sides. As for violent crimes in the city it’s not just about guns. Last week a serial stabber of sleeping homeless men was arrested. Will Lightfoot blame knives-from-Indiana for those attacks, one of which was fatal?

On Saturday Black Lives Matter is planning a march on North Michigan Avenue just north of downtown. The area is, for now, known as the Magnificent Mile. It is, for now, packed with many retail stores. Don’t forget, a Chicago Black Lives Matter organizer said of looting, “That is reparations.”  My guess is that the protest will be allowed tp proceed. Many people live on the Mag Mile too. My suggestion to them is to pool their funds and buy a condo for Lightfoot and pay her moving expenses. 

And then there will be no more protests on North Michigan Avenue.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit

Welcome to Detroit, Chicago

By John Ruberry

About twelve hours after I finished my DTG post last week about Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s get-tough policy on sunbathers in Chicago at Lake Michigan, Chicago became Detroit. That’s not to say that you can now drive for miles in America’s third-largest city–for now–and see nothing but a few lived-in homes among the vacant lots and abandoned houses. Just as you didn’t encounter that in Detroit after the destructive riots there a few days after the 1967 riots faded away.

The Motor City hit rock bottom in 2013 when it declared bankruptcy.

These things take time. Detroit is turning things around now. But its vacant lots will be there for many years.

“Seventy percent of Chicago’s economic activity takes place in and around downtown,” Mike Flannery said last night on his Flannery Fired Up program on Fox Chicago, “and it’s in more peril now than ever before.”

And that’s where the looting, likely directed by Antifa, was centered late last Sunday night and early Monday morning–in and around downtown. Flannery called it “Sad, organized-crime looting.”

So the simple story is that economically speaking, the heart of Chicago is the Loop and North Michigan Avenue, the latter has been known as the Magnificent Mile for decades. You kill that and Chicago dies. Welcome to Detroit.

Last Sunday afternoon a 20-year-old Englewood man was shot by Chicago police officers; he has since been charged with first-degree attempted murder. The accused allegedly shot at the police. A rumor spread online–or was it a manufactured lie?–that the cops shot instead shot an unarmed 15-year-old boy in the same impoverished Englewood neighborhood.

Then came the looting later that night.

The coordinated manner of the looting consisted of mobile criminals, a few of them armed, that quickly descended on the Mag Mile. Some of them came with specialized tools such as drills to hasten the break-ins. There were reports of U-Hauls being packed with stolen goods. The thieves were more organized, Flannery remarked, than the 400 police officers dispatched downtown to confront them.

Much like the people of Englewood, the residents of the downtown area–and the business owners–don’t feel safe there. That’s not to say the folks of the South Side–or the even-worse off West Side–don’t deserve to feel safe. They certainly do. Some of that 70-percent-of-Chicago’s-economic-activity makes its way to the city’s poverty-stricken areas. Should they receive more of it? Probably, but that discussion will belong to shoulda-happened-looking-back rants that you’ll find on Reddit soon.

A few days after the most recent round of looting it was reported that Macy’s is considering leaving the glitzy Water Tower Place mall on North Michigan Avenue, or just perhaps they’ll just downsize there. Under the Marshall Field’s name Macy’s was an original tenant of the mall. What of the smaller operations, the family-run retail outlets who have been devastated with two rounds of looting in just over two months? When they leave, because they don’t have the big names, it won’t make big news. But when Chicago’s downtown area is dominated by boarded up store-fronts with signs declaring “Move in now–lease rates reduced again–first month free!” you’ll know the downtown descent is well under way.

As for the residents of the Loop, the Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview, unlike those people in Englewood, they can afford to move and swallow selling their homes at a loss. A lot of them will. “Why should I stay here?” many will wonder, “there is so much crime, there are no good restaurants here, and there are no decent places to shop.”

You don’t believe me? Here’s what Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd), a Lightfoot opponent, said on that same Flannery Fired Up show. He decried “the economic devastation and the blow to our collective psyche,” as well as “the sense that people have that they can’t live here anymore, their safety is at risk if they try to live here.” Hopkins believes with the right actions Chicago can be saved. Lightfoot certainly knows that she is facing a severe crisis. But I suspect because she is an ideologue she is incapable of instituting meaningful policy changes.

Right now I believe that for Chicago it’s a matter of mitigating its decline and fall. The looting and riots are of course just a symptom. Chicago hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1931 but it’s best-known mayor–and possibly its best-ever–was machine boss Richard J. Daley, who ruled America’s then-second-largest city with an iron fist from 1955 until 1976. He was a New Deal Democrat–with a strong law-and-order bent. But Lori Lightfoot is Chicago’s first leftist mayor. After the spring round of looting and riots she seemed more interested in protecting the rights of protesters than protecting citizens and businesses. Sadly the line between rioters and protesters in 2020 is blurry and that sentiment was expressed by a Black Lives Matter organizer who said last week in front of a Chicago Police station about looting, “That is reparations.”

Yesterday a march on the South Side evolved in a violent confrontation downtown between protesters and the police. Cops were attacked with mace, one police officer was repeatedly struck with a skateboard.

Who brings mace to a “peaceful” protest?

The elected prosecutor of Cook County is another leftist, Kim Foxx, Jussie Smollett’s protector, who in one of her first acts in office announced that she would not prosecute shoplifters charged with stealing merchandise worth less than $1,000, even though state law gives a $300 threshold. For the last three years–Foxx was elected in 2016–retail strips have been hit by flash mobs of shoplifters, including some on the Magnificent Mile.

Many accounts of this latest round of looting mentioned that the criminals seemed emboldened. Of course they are.

Chicago has other serious problems. Its municipal pension programs are the worst-funded of any major city. Detroit’s fall was hastened by enacting a commuter and municipal income tax in 1963. Chicago doesn’t have either of those but it has its pension bomb. So does Cook County and the rest of Illinois. Lightfoot, to be fair, didn’t create the Chicago pension crisis. It was Boss Daley’s son, Richard M., another long-serving mayor, who bears most of the responsibility for that disaster.

Welcome to Detroit.

If there is a way out for Chicago, here it is. State law needs to be changed so municipalities and government agencies can declare bankruptcy. This move will in the short-term be painful as pensioners will receive a “haircut” and vendors will end up with ten-cents on the dollar or so for money owed to them. And the federal government needs to allow states to do the same.

Yep, just like Detroit.

I’m not gleeful about such a move. I have friends and relatives who are collecting those pensions. And as a man of the private-sector I don’t like seeing businesses getting short-changed. As a property owner living just five miles from the city limits I might get caught up in the financial tsunami too.

But the money wasn’t there for pensions in Chicago before COVID-19 and the riots. There’s less of it now.

I was born in Chicago and I’ve lived one-third of my life there. This story is tragic.

Agitators in Chicago complain of “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.” Perhaps. But then again perhaps not. Lightfoot, Foxx, as well as the Cook County president, Toni Preckwinkle, are African-American women. Chicago’s new police chief is a black man, he succeeded another African-American male. The chief judge of the Cook County Circuit Court is a black man too.

Another way to cushion Chicago’s fall is its citizens to vote, regardless of party-affiliation, for leaders who are results-oriented and not ideologues.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

To leftists like Lori Lightfoot they are not people they are automatons

By John Ruberry

President Donald J. Trump isn’t the only public official prone to Twitter rants. Yesterday after a trip to Chicago’s lakefront on a hot and humid day, the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, let loose on her constituents.

“It’s called a pandemic, people,” she Tweeted. “This reckless behavior on Montrose Beach is what will cause us to shut down the parks and lakefront. Don’t make us take steps backwards.”

That “reckless behavior” consisted of people gathering at the beach. Chicago’s 18-miles of lakefront parks were closed–they were guarded by Chicago police officers for most of the spring and much of this summer. The cops remained posted at these parks during the riots and looting in May–by people presumably spreading the COVID-19 virus. Riots of course are now, by the liberals, viewed as free speech. After the Lake Michigan parks opened, Lightfoot dispatched an army of “social distance ambassadors” to enforce safe-distancing. I reckon that this snitch army took Saturday off.

Leftist mayors like Lightfoot, Bill de Blasio in New York, Ted Wheeler in Portland, Jenny Durkan in Seattle, and Ethan Berkowitz in Anchorage, they, as I’ve similarly remarked before, love “the people,” but not people. They believe they rule over automatons, faceless entities consisting of countless “Julias,” the void visage featured in the notorious and creepy “Life of Julia” Barack Obama campaign video from 2012. Of course these Julias need an enlightened being, blessed with the correct knowledge, the wisdom of liberalism.

Someone of course like Lightfoot.

At Montrose Beach yesterday Lightfoot saw, like a child in a bedroom, toy soldiers or Barbie dolls to be ordered about. “The people” not people.

Chicago is making national headlines of course for violence, or more specifically, people shooting other people, sometimes killing them.

Late last month a 9-year-old boy was shot to death while playing in a vacant lot. The next morning on Twitter Lightfoot blamed “a bullet,” not the alleged shooter.

“When a 9 year old’s life is ended by a bullet,” she said in that Tweet, “we must all be outraged. These deaths are not mere statistics. And prayers alone will not sooth a broken heart.”

The gang culture that dominates many Chicago neighborhoods is the city’s real problem. And many gang members think it is fine to indiscriminately fire guns at people. Such as the unidentified hoodlum who shot 15-mourners at a funeral home ten days before the 9-year-old was slain.

In a reply to her own Tweet about the murder of that child, Lightfoot added, “Gun violence is every bit a public health crisis as COVID-19.” When I saw that Tweet I thought she had come around, as I thought she Tweeted “gang violence” instead of “gun violence.” If you scanned the brain of Lightfoot you won’t find the words “individual responsibility” paired together.

And if you are from one of those states that Lightfoot labels as a coronavirus hot spot and you visit to Chicago, you may be subject to social media monitoring to ensure you are quarantining.

Thank you Big Sister.

The ultimate responsibility for Lightfoot are the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, most of whom, I hope, are not automatons, the ones who voted for Lightweight. She won all 50 of Chicago’s wards over Toni Preckwinkle, who is possibly even more left-wing than Lori, in a runoff election.

What was it that H.L. Mencken said about democracy? Ah yes, here it is, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

UPDATE 4:30pm EDT: The mayor also known as Beetlejuice today dispatched police officers to block off access to Montrose Beach. And snow fencing is also preventing access to the beach on this hot and humid Sunday.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just north of Chicago at Marathon Pundit.

Race, politics, and the English language

By John Ruberry

Last month the Chicago Tribune’s lead columnist, John Kass, penned a column about left-wing billionaire George Soros and his funding of campaigns of Democratic prosecutors such as Cook County’s Kim Foxx–who can rightly be called soft-on-crime. Despite a state of Illinois threshold of $300, Foxx won’t prosecute accused shoplifters unless they steal merchandise worth more than $1,000. Even before this spring’s rioting and looting in Chicago, shoplifting was on the rise.

Criminals appear to be emboldened in Chicago–as the consequences for illegal activities diminish, people believe they can get away with more crimes. Think of it as the opposite of the “broken windows” theory of law enforcement. While I admit it could be a leap to equate Foxx’s permissive attitude on prosecution of crimes to an even more violent Chicago, but shootings and murders for July, 2020 were up dramatically from the previous July. Still I believe Foxx bears some of the responsibility. While the suits in the Chicago Police Department are claiming overall crime is down, I suspect shell game chicanery or something even more troubling. It could be that fewer crimes are being reported because victims believe that it won’t make a difference. The victims know, with minor crimes, Foxx won’t prosecute.

And what about more serious crimes?

In that controversial piece, Kass opined, “And in many of the violent cities, the prosecutors have delivered on their promises not to keep the violent in jail but rather to let them out.”

Kass’ column brought about a fierce backlash by the Chicago Tribune Guild, a union that Kass does not belong to, calling that piece an “odious, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that billionaire George Soros is a puppet master controlling America’s big cities.”

That column led to a demotion of sorts from Kass. After over twenty years of his column being placed on Page 2, a halcyon spot once occupied by the legendary Mike Royko, Kass’ column has been moved, by the Trib’s editor-in-chief Colin McMahon to the opinion section, in order to, in his words “maintain credibility of news coverage.” That’s not a credible statement as I’m certain there are very few people who see Kass’ work as anything but opinion.

In that column about Soros, Kass did not mention the billionaire’s faith or ethnic origin. I’m going to be more direct. Kass didn’t say in that piece that Soros is Jewish.

On his Daily Herald blog about the Kass battle, Robert Feder, a longtime media reporter, referred to him as the “Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.”

Whoah. Let me repeat that, the “Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.”

I remarked on my own blog:

Replace “white” with black and “male” with female. And of course “conservative” with liberal. Do you think if Fraud Feder wrote that about an African-American writer at the Trib who is a woman that he would have gotten away with it?

Of course he wouldn’t have.

Which reminds me of something I read in high school from George Orwell. Not Animal Farm or 1984, but his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language.

This line stands out from that classic: “The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.'” Contemporary liberals, and especially leftists, reflexively label their critics as “fascists.”

I’m sure there is a Kass column over the years, none currently come to mind however, where in my opinion he was totally wrong. Any attacks on that theoretical opinion piece from me, correctly, should be on refuting his points with facts, or at least reasoned thoughts. Not, as some people might, retorting that Kass is wrong because he’s a white man, or that he benefits from “white privilege” and “systemic racism.”

Is white becoming, in Orwell’s words, “something not desirable?” Or worse, something that is inherently wrong?

Conveniently, at least for this post, Kass is of Greek descent. Much if not most of classical logic comes from the ancient Greeks. Oh, let’s say Kass is a Filipino-American. I’d still make the same points you’ll see next.

In college I took a logic course–and seriously–it may have held me back in the work force. I guess I’m too logical. There are a number of argumentative fallacies that the ancient Greeks identified, including the “fallacy of origins,” now generally called the “genetic fallacy.”

Here’s what Purdue’s Online Writing Lab offers on this subject:

Genetic Fallacy: This conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example:

The Volkswagen Beetle is an evil car because it was originally designed by Hitler’s army.

In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car. However, the two are not inherently related.

So, if the Chicago Tribune Guild wished to honestly attack Kass, they should have pointed out where they believe Kass is wrong about Soros and his funding of campaigns of Democratic prosecutors. They didn’t. They responded with another logical fallacy, the ad hominem attack, calling him anti-Semitic.

The Chicago Tribune Guild couldn’t, or was to lazy to, argue with Kass’ Soros column on its merits. Or lack of.

Feder in his blog post deemed it necessary to mention Kass’ race, gender, and political philosophy in explaining the columnist’s demotion.

That path angered me, so much so that for my Marathon Pundit post about Feder’s attack I used this headline, “Leftist Daily Herald blogger Robert Feder calls columnist John Kass ‘Chicago Tribune’s white male conservative standard-bearer.'” Okay, I admit, I don’t know if Feder is really a leftist but such a verbal assault is something leftists do now. Apparently stung, he accused me of “faux outrage” on Twitter.

But the outrage is real.

Using one’s race, faith, lack-of-faith, ethnic background, sexual identity and the like as a means of argumentative attack is something until recently I thought was a relic of a more ignorant era, or the denizen of crude online forums. Or the weapon of drunken barroom rants.

Our society is headed the wrong way. 

And if white people are today’s bogey man tomorrow it may another group. Movements with absolutist philosophies eventually eat their own. See the French Revolution. Or the Russian Revolution.

The “cancel culture” may be coming for you.

Kass is a brave man who is not backing down, as he explained in another column last week.

While Voltaire never said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” he should have. Because it’s a noble sentiment I believe in. And no one is always right. Yep, not even me. Not John Kass either. No political philosophy has the solution to every problem. We need each other.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

After the statues are gone the leftists will come for the parks

George Washington statue in Chicago’s Washington Park

By John Ruberry

Early Friday morning before sunrise Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s sneaky order to remove Chicago’s two Christopher Columbus statues, one just south of downtown at Grant Park and the other in Arrigo Park in the Little Italy neighborhood, was carried out.

A week earlier a riot, where 49 police officers were injured with 18 of them being hospitalized, broke out at the Grant Park Columbus statue, fireworks and frozen bottles of water were thrown at the cops by the rioters. Amazingly, the media, as far as I can tell, didn’t call this melee a “mostly peaceful protest.” So there is a bit of good news in this story.

Although removal of the statues was called “temporary” by Lightfoot mark my words: If these bronze monuments ever escape from the Raiders of the Lost Ark-type warehouse where they are hidden, they’ll end up indoors in a museum behind bullet-proof glass and proximity alarms.

At my own blog, Marathon Pundit, I called it a victory of the rioters’ veto. The anarchists won–law, order, and tradition were defeated.

Even before the riots and the overreaching COVID-19 lockdown, Chicago and Illinois were losing population. The trickle will become a flood.

Mayor Lightweight believes she has satiated the leftist beast–her base is the far-left by the way. But the regular protests outside her home by that base of hers should serve as a warning. Now that the Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other leftists have learned that riots bring results, they’ll push for more. Power gained, or I should stay seized, is not casually abandoned by usurpers.

City parks may be next.

This is not just a Chicago story. I’m only singling out America’s third-largest city because of my familiarity with it. They same battles will be coming to your woke city and town too.

There are over 600 parks within the Chicago Park District. One of them is named for Columbus. I’d be surprised if a year from now the great explorer’s name will be on it. There’s a Jackson Park on the South Side, where the Obama Presidential Library will be built. That park is named for Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder who forced Native Americans out of the southeast on the Trail of Tears. Chicago doesn’t have an Obama Park. It’s pretty easy to predict what Jackson Park’s new name will be.

About a mile away from Jackson Park is Washington Park, of course our first president. Up until a few months ago I would have told you that changing the name of this park was an absurd notion. In this era of wokeness, it’s not. On the edge of the park is a statue of General Washington on horseback, which was recently vandalized. Washington Park offers the leftists a two-for-one bargain. A park to be renamed and a statue to topple.

Last week Douglas Park, named for Abraham Lincoln’s Democratic rival Stephen A. Douglas, was renamed Douglass Park, in honor of civil rights pioneer Frederick Douglass. The legacy of “the Little Giant” is complicated, through his wife he was a slaveowner and his Kansas-Nebraska Act initiated the carnage of Bleeding Kansas, but as a US Senator he laid the foundation that transformed his adopted hometown of Chicago into the major city it is now. Douglas was a fervent supporter of the Union and Lincoln after the Civil War broke out, which is forgotten because he died in the summer of 1861. Last month I wrote that the Lincoln and Douglas statues on the sites of their famous 1858 debates could be endangered. So far they are safe. But Michael Madigan, the longtime state House speaker and state Democratic chairman, though a statement (Boss Madigan rarely communicates directly with the media), has called for the removal of the Douglas statue on the state capitol grounds.

Douglas is buried in a tomb on the grounds of his former Chicago estate on the South Side. No one, so far, is calling for him to be exhumed but three state legislators want to take down the statue of him, which rests on a 30-foot high obelisk.

Today, I join with my colleagues @RepTarver@LamontJRobinson to implore @GovPritzker to remove the Stephen Douglas statue from the Neighborhood that I live in & rep. Douglas looked down on black people during his life. We shouldn’t allow it in his death. pic.twitter.com/qDu7n1b5le

— Kam Buckner (@RepKamBuckner) July 14, 2020

Back to the parks. Chicago has two parks honoring Thomas Jefferson, and a Battle of Fort Dearborn Park. That last one refers to what was called the Fort Dearborn Massacre when I was a kid. The battle was between soldiers and Chicago settlers with the Potawatomi.

Will those park names vanish?

When the leftists win the park wars they’ll move on to street names. A tougher fight, yes, as businesses and even run-of-the-mill residents balk at such name changes. But those conflicts are coming to Chicago and many other cities and towns.

Unless ordinary folks stand up, that is. A few have already did so in Chicago Saturday’s Back the Blue march.

That’s a start.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just north of Chicago at Marathon Pundit.

Feds strike at Democratic corruption in Illinois on two fronts

By John Ruberry

As WIND-AM radio host Dan Proft says, “Illinois isn’t broken, it’s fixed.”

And the biggest fixer of all in Illinois is Boss Michael Madigan, the chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1997, speaker of the Illinois House, except for two years, since 1983, and Democratic committeman of the 13th Ward since 1969.

As I’ve mentioned many times before in this space, Madigan, among many other things, is a walking advertisement for term limits. I didn’t call him a walking-and-talking advertisement for term limits, because Illinois’ most powerful politician infrequently speaks to the media.

On Friday Boss Madigan was implicated in a bribery scheme involving Illinois’ largest utility, Commonwealth Edison, part of the Exelon Corporation. ComEd, in a deferred prosecution agreement, is charged with one count of bribery. ComEd, according to the filing, admitted that it gained $150 million in rate structuring over the last eight years. Which means that Illinoisans like me have to pay more for electricity.

ComEd has to pay a $200 million fine. If the utility behaves over the next three years the bribery charge will be dropped.

The bribe scheme involves the utility rewarding contracts and jobs–some of them allegedly little-or-no-work—to Madigan cronies. Madigan is not named by the feds but he is widely believed to be the person labeled Public Official A in their paperwork.

Illinois’ weaselly Democratic governor, JB Pritzker, the state’s second-most powerful pol, had this to say later on Friday about the man whose political machine arguably gained him the Democratic nomination in 2018, and hence the governor’s office in the general election, “If these allegations of wrongdoing by the speaker are true, there is no question that he will have betrayed the public trust and he must resign therefore.”

But Pritzker has his own legal problem. The aggressive U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John Lausch, in an investigation involving the former Cook County assessor, Joseph Berrios, is believed to be looking at Pritzker. Berrios is the former chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization, better known as the Chicago Machine. Berrios has long ties to Madigan and it’s generally believed that Madigan was the impetus for Berrios’ unanimous election as chairman of the Cook County Dems in 2007.

A billionaire, Pritzker and his wife, MK, had the toilets removed from a Chicago Gold Coast mansion that he owns and that is adjacent to the one he lives in. Allegedly the commodes were removed so JB’s residence could receive a $330,000 property tax break because the mansion next door was “uninhabitable.” Also on Friday, news broke about the investigation of the Cook County assessor’s office involving other 100 properties. Many of the tax appeals filed were handled by a small law firm where Boss Madigan is a name partner. A law firm where Chicago alderman Ed Burke is a partner–he is under indictment for racketeering–handled some of the other appeals.

The Pritzkers later paid the county back the $330,000 he saved. JB and MK deny any wrongdoing. However, the Cook County inspector general called the toilet removal appeal a “scheme to defraud” taxpayers such as myself.

Back to Madigan.

The jobs Madigan allegedly pressured ComEd to hand out allegedly include a real plum, a board of directors seat at ComEd. That person, not named by the feds, got the seat but he is no longer on the board. Some students who live in Madigan’s Chicago ward received internships from ComEd. While internships may not involve a paycheck, job offers can follow. Madigan’s office even directed the utility to hire meter readers for ComEd.

According to someone prosecutors named Individual A, “We hire these guys because [Madigan] came to us. It’s just that simple.”

Boss Madigan is widely considered to the man behind the fiscal crisis that has destroyed Illinois. The Prairie State is burdened unsustainable public-worker pension debt. Public-sector unions have been a loyal cog for Democrats in Illinois for decades. Madigan’s fingerprints are on every Illinois budget since the early 1980s. Yet Madigan somehow finds the time to tell which meter readers ComEd should hire.

Illinois has $4.8 billion in unpaid bills, the lowest amount since 2015. But a $1.2 billion federal loan designed for COVID-19 relief deserved the credit. Loans, by the way, are supposed to be paid back.

Illinois has been annually losing population since 2014.

As for alleged Madigan strong-arming, the feds aren’t just looking at Commonwealth Edison. Madigan’s state office was subpoenaed on Friday, allegedly authorities were seeking records involving AT&T (disclosure, I worked for them for 11 years), Walgreens, Rush University–and a whole lot more.

Through a spokesperson Madigan denies any wrongdoing.

While Donald Trump’s chances of winning Illinois this fall are miniscule–part of that reason is the Illinois conservatives are demoralized because of Madigan’s obscene gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional districts–reelecting Trump may be the best way to ensure a thorough prosecution of Democratic corruption in Illinois. Americans, we’re all in the same boat. A Joe Biden pick for the Chicago area’s chief federal prosecutor might be less enthusiastic about going after Madigan and the Illinois culture of corruption.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

In Lady A music battle big crushes little when white privilege meets wokeness

By John Ruberry

Up until a few weeks ago the country trio Lady Antebellum barely registered on my radar. While I do enjoy country music my interest is mostly focused on the Americana genre. As for the country music you hear on most FM radio stations, most of it is formulaic garbage, mediocre pop tunes delivered with a drawl. And that is the type of drivel Lady Antebellum delivers. And it’s not just me who feels that way. In 2010–that year will come back soon in this story–a sub-headline on Slate named Lady Antebellum “the world’s dullest band.”

But their name caught my attention. Even before wokeness became a political movement I thought “Lady Antebellum” was an odd choice of a moniker, as it refers to what some Lost Cause of the Confederacy propagandists viewed as the good old days of the pre-Civil War South. On those infrequent occasions when word came up, until very recently, it referred to plantation manor homes, which of course were staffed by slaves and were financed by agricultural goods produced by slaves. Those good old says weren’t good at all.

According to the band they decided on Lady Antebellum after a photo shoot at one of those mansions.

But after the killing of George Floyd and the protests, some of them of violent, Lady Antebellum announced they were now Lady A.

But as you probably heard there is already a Lady A, Seattle blues artist Anita White, who has been using the name for decades. But she isn’t a superstar or even a star. When White spoke up–that should have been the coda of the new name for the artists-formerly-known-as-Lady Antebellum. Their wokeness compelled the name change. They are white and Anita White is black. Their wokeness should have compelled them to brainstorm for yet another name. Now the former Lady Antebellum is suing White to prevent her performing as Lady A.

There was briefly an informal co-existence agreement between the two Lady As after the group’s name change. But that’s not working out. If you type “Lady A” into the search box on iTunes and Spotify, it’s the new Lady A who appears, not the blue singer. The same result comes at at YouTube.

White now wants $10 million from the Lady A trio–with half going to Black Lives Matter and some charities. The ex-Lady Antebellum calls that demand “exorbitant.” The band has possessed the trademark for “Lady A” since 2010. While I’m not going to pretend, as a non-lawyer, to completely understand the legal side of this dispute, the law appears to favor the band.

Even if the law didn’t, the band has significant financial resources that White doesn’t. For her part, she told Entertainment Weekly that she offered a compromise, “I had suggested on the Zoom call [between the band and her] that they go by the Band Lady A, or Lady A the Band, and I could be Lady A the Artist, but they didn’t want to do that.”

There are a number of lessons in this story that exemplify why our society is so messed up.

There has not been heavy coverage of this suit outside of the entertainment media and Seattle news sources despite the race angle. Conservative websites have been reporting on this story. Now imagine if Lady A the Band were conservative Republicans. This battle would be the lead story on CNN and MSNBC. There would be a constant drumbeat of stories from them–and of course the New York Times and the rest of the legacy media, which of course takes its cue from the Times.

Lady A the Artist told Rolling Stone, “They claim to be allies and that they wanted to change their name out of the racist connotation, and then they sue a black woman for the new name.”

So here is more proof for you that the mainstream media is not interested so much in reporting the news but instead advancing their narrative that America is systemically racist–and conservative Republicans even more so.

Let’s talk common sense. Just because something is legal that doesn’t make it moral. Charles Dickens’ character Mr. Bumble phrased it best in Oliver Twist, “If the law supposes that, the law is a ass–a idiot.” Well maybe that’s an overreach, but there are three idiots in Band Lady A.

I support Peter Sagal’s idea. He hosts NPR’s quiz show Wait…Wait…Don’t Tell Me! “There is a simple solution to this problem, though,” he said. “Lady A the Band should just go by Lady A-Hole.”

That works for me.

I just typed “Lady A-Hole” into the iTunes search box. Nothing relevant comes up.

Go for it.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.