Our trip to Georgia, or where Floridians spend their summer vacations

Blogger at the summit of Black Rock Mountain

By John Ruberry

As you may have noticed I haven’t posted here for a couple of weeks. Mrs. Marathon Pundit were on vacation. And we traveled to, at least if you live in the Chicago area, to an unlikely place, Georgia. 

After MLB’s spineless commissioner, Rob Manfred, pulled the annual All-Star Game out of Atlanta over Georgia’s voting integrity bill, my wife and I decided to “buy-in” to Georgia. 

MLB moved the Midsummer Classic to Denver, the capital of Colorado, even though that state has more more restrictive voting laws than Georgia. The switch cost Atlanta-area businesses millions. Don’t forget Atlanta is a majority-black city–Denver is majority-white. Of the Georgia election bill, Joe Biden said, “This makes Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.” 

If that comment makes sense to you, or if Manfred’s panicky substitution swap does, then you need to switch off CNN and MSNBC.

Georgia’s new election laws, by the way, are less restrictive than those in Biden’s home state of Delaware.

So on Independence Day Mrs. Marathon Pundit drove south to the Peach State to make up, in a very small way, for the tens-of-millions of dollars shipped off by Manfred to Colorado. There were some diversions. We spent the night of July 4th in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is just north of the Georgia state line. We did some sighteeing there the next day, including time on Lookout Mountain, where a pivotal battle of the Civil War Siege of Chattanooga occurred in late 1863. But the lion’s share of that day was spent on the site of the Battle of Chickamauga a few miles south in Georgia. The two battles are often presented as one, or part of a campaign, which is why the these two locations comprise the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Of our Civil War battles only Gettysburg, fought two months earlier in Pennsylvania, had more casualties than Chickamauga. Unlike Gettysburg, Chickamauga was a Confederate victory. After being routed in Georgia the Union army retreated to Chattanooga. The northern commanding general, William Rosecrans, was relieved of his duties and replaced by Ulysses S. Grant. His breaking of the siege set the stage for the army led by his close friend, General William Tecumseh Sherman, to capture the strategic city of Atlanta the next year. Sherman’s March to the Sea, where Union forces split the Confederacy a second time, ended with the capture of Savannah late in 1864. 

We eventually made it to Savannah too. 

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was stupefied by the sprawling expanse of the Chickamauga Battlefield and the hundreds of monuments there. Her hometown of Sece, Latvia, was the site of a World War I battle. With the exception of a German military cemetery, there are no commemorations of that battle there. C’mon Sece, at least erect an historical marker in town about the battle.

We wandered for the next two days in the luscious Blue Ridge Mountains, mostly hiking, in these state parks: Fort Mountain, Black Rock Mountain, Smithgall Woods, Unicoi, and Tallulah Gorge. The latter is where much of the classic but disturbing film Deliverance was filmed. Around the time that movie was shot Karl Wallenda crossed the gorge on a high-wire. In fact, the Great Wallenda accomplished that feat 51 years ago today. Our first night in the mountains we spent in Helen, Georgia. Its buildings are in a Bavarian style and it’s filled with German restaurants. While it only has about 500 residents, Helen is Georgia’s third-most visited town. And I encountered mobs of Floridians there.  

People often wonder where Florida residents go on vacation–after all the Sunshine State is of course one of America’s most popular vacation destinations. In the summer many Floridians head to the slightly cooler climes of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Yes, Tropical Storm Elsa, which passed through coastal Georgia after pummelling Florida during our trip, might have chased some people up north, but not all of them. 

I almost forgot–we hiked the Applachian Trail too.

After a couple of days in South Carolina–at Abbeville, Beaufort, and Hunting Island State Park, with a quick return to Georgia for a walking tour of Augusta and lunch with a high school friend in nearby Evans, we spent our last two days in Georgia in historic Savannah, an even better walking city than Augusta. Our own March to the Sea was over. Then it was time to drive home. 

On our way back, the day of the Home Run Derby of the MLB All-Star Game, we planned to visit Stone Mountain Park, site of “the Mount Rushmore of the South,” the largest bas-relief in the world, which is comprised of carvings of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. But the weather that day was horrible–heavy rain–so we kept driving, straight through, back to Illinois. Stacey Abrams, the defeated Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018, favors removal of the mountain carvings.

Stone Mountain Park is the most-visited attraction in the Peach State.

Abrams gave tacit support to a boycott of Georgia because of the voting reform bills, but she stealthily edited her USA Today op-ed call for one, but her disingenous act was later exposed. 

Abrams all but said to stay away from Georgia. 

So we visited. And and Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I had a wonderful time.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Opinions on Haiti, Woke Raytheon, A Matter of Honor, Catholics Demanding Refunds and a name for What’s been happening to my wife Under the Fedora

Saw this at Don Surber’s site this morning on the assignation of the president of Haiti:

Why do I get the feeling the Clintons and their fake foundation are entangled in this mess?

Maybe it wasn’t an assassination.

Maybe it was Arkancide.

My best friend at work is a 70 year old Hattian man who is a naturalized citizen. When I asked him about the assassination last week he offered a similar opinion on what happened over there.


My first employer out of college was Raytheon and I worked there with secret clearance for three years during the climax of the cold war (until I opened my comic book store). now I’m thinking that I might want to take that off my resume after this:

ATTENTION EMPLOYEES, MOVE OUT OF THE WAY BY GETTING ANOTHER JOB NOW:  Raytheon CRT Training: White Employees “must work on ‘recognizing [their] privilege’ and ‘step aside’ for minorities”.

The company will then go the way of every company that hires for reasons other than competence. And they deserve it.

As this is a defense contractor as long as the left has power their bottom line is not endangered but I’ll bet a lot of 80 year old Russian spies are wishing they had managed to pull this off 30 years earlier.


My favorite show when I was seven years old was the Richard Greene series The Adventures of Robin Hood which was televised on WMUR about 30 minutes before I had to wake up for school. While they had it on the air I never was late getting up.

I was reminded of the show or rather a particular line I saw this story out of Boston:

Judge William Young has just announced in court that he is withdrawing the Opinion he issued dismissing the case brought by a Boston parents group over the so-called Boston “Zip Code Quota Plan.” For background see our posts:

The key bit:

“This was my opinion, my signature’s on it, I was misled”

“The opinion is wrong, it’s wrong because the facts on which it was based … an opinion I issued under my signature is factually incorrect”

“I’m inclined to withdraw the opinion, I’ve never done that [before in 35 years]”

“I work very hard on my opinions, and this one’s no good.”

The clerk will enter the note: “The opinion entered in this case is withdrawn on the ground the court is satisfied it is factually inaccurate in certain material effects.”

Any judge appointed in Massachusetts over the last 35 years is likely a liberal but a person of that age might not like the idea of their personal honor being tarnished. In the old days even a villains didn’t want to be seen as breaking their word in public.

Give it a few years more and I’m sure the state with only those brought up woke to choose from will not have to worry about this problem again.


One of the things I constantly argue is that things will not change until there are consequences for the left, like this:

Anthony and Barbara Scarpo noted how the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa even named its auditorium “Scarpo Family Theatre” after their huge pledge in 2017, saying they were helping it raise $9 million in total.

But now the parents want their money back — including tuition paid for their two daughters — in outrage at how the school turned its back on Catholicism to go “woke,” their 13-count, 45-page lawsuit claims.

The Scarpos claim they were betrayed by the school suddenly “embracing the new, politically correct, divisive and ‘woke’ culture where gender identity, human sexuality, and pregnancy termination among other ‘hot-button issues,’ took center stage,” the lawsuit said.

I couldn’t help but remember when my oldest had been offered a big scholarship at the Anna Maria College but when we visited it it turned out to be “Catholic” in name and fundraising only (although the president in response to my letter to the bishop claimed otherwise. Which thanks to this story turned into yesterday’s lead post twelve years later.

A lot of catholic institutions make a lot of money off of donors who don’t know that their Catholic identity is only visible when asking them for checks.


Finally I just got this link via email concerning Long Haul COVID-19 Syndrome (LHCS) a sample:

The Long Haul COVID-19 Syndrome (LHCS) is an often debilitating syndrome characterized by a multitude of symptoms such as prolonged malaise, headaches, generalized fatigue, sleep difficulties, smell disorder, decreased appetite, painful joints, dyspnea, chest pain and cognitive dysfunction. The incidence of symptoms after COVID-19 varies from as low as 10% to as high as 80%. LHCS is not only seen after the COVID-19 infection but it is being observed in some people that have received vaccines (likely due to monocyte activation by the spike protein from the vaccine). A puzzling feature of the LHCS syndrome is that it is not predicted by initial disease severity; post-COVID-19 frequently affects mild-to-moderate cases and younger adults that did not require respiratory support or intensive care.

The symptom set of LHCS in the majority of cases is very similar to the chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS)/myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, although in LHCS, symptoms tend to improve slowly in the majority of the cases. Furthermore, the similarity between the mast cell activation syndrome and LHCS has been observed, and many consider post-COVID-19 to be a variant of the mast cell activation syndrome. LHCS is highly heterogenous and likely results from a variety of pathogenetic mechanisms. Furthermore, it is likely that delayed treatment (with ivermectin) in the early symptomatic phase will result in a high viral load, which increases the risk and severity of LHCS.

This describes what happened to my wife (who is still out of work since March and things are starting to get tight around here) perfectly. But I note that some people who have gotten this because of the vaccines.

Now I don’t blame the developers, these vaccines were done in a hurry because of the emergency and this was a new disease but it’s one more thing to consider when deciding if you want to get the shot or not.

Having already had COVID I don’t see the need myself, I’ve already got the antibodies.

Make Woke Toyota, Broke Toyota

So today’s headline: Toyota suspends donations to Republicans that questioned election results.

My response:

This will not end well.

Now, I already own two Toyota vehicles, and I like them because they drive well and just…work. I’m not boycotting Toyota anytime soon. But, I know what I am doing:

  1. I’m writing a letter to Toyota to point out their hypocrisy over this.
  2. I’m writing to my Representative (a Republican) to express my dismay.

Boycotting big corporations isn’t going to work long term, because at some point we will run out of places to do business. Instead, conservatives need to become increasingly vocal in these companies and remind them that nobody likes it when they pick sides arbitrarily. Toyota seems to think that going woke will appease the crowd.

Nope.

Going woke means going broke. If you’re a Toyota vehicle owner, you need to be really loud in your disapproval of their position. Let them know that you have choices for future vehicle purchases, and if they continue down this path, you’ll buy a Tesla instead. Plus, you can shift your car maintenance to another facility, which will deprive them of revenue in the long term. Remind them of that fact.

If you’re a stock owner, let them know your vote is now a solid ‘NO’ for anyone on the board. In fact, write a letter to each and every board member, reminding them that your vote matters. Most shareholders don’t show up for shareholder meetings, so even a tiny number of shareholders can have a decent influence on a company. Tell them that instead of selling stock, you’re going to hang onto your stock and vote them out of their office. If you’re feeling really saucy, remind them of the fact you follow voter ID laws to cast your shareholder votes, unlike some other people…

Congressmen and women need to remind large businesses that their employees are in many cases Republicans that questioned the stolen election. Looking at the Toyota USA plants, many are located in regions where Republicans win majorities. Hmmm, wouldn’t it be bad if Toyota employees and their representatives suddenly had “issues” at a plant? Maybe lots of employees should just not show up to work one day? Maybe all the kindness showed to big business when it comes to tax cuts and audits magically vaporizes?

Yes, these tactics sound scummy. I’d prefer to just leave businesses alone. But we are running out of options quickly. If conservatives don’t stand up and remind business that they have a voice too, then business will continue to toe whatever dumb line liberals draw on the ground. Boycotting is ceding ground. Do we want to be backed into a corner where we can’t use any business because we boycott everyone? That’s a loser strategy. We should instead stand our ground and remind Toyota that conservatives drive cars too.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Stockpiling gasoline

The gas cans in my garage, well before the Colonial Pipeline hack

When I first heard about the ransomware hack of the Colonial Pipeline, it popped up in my cyber news feed. After a bit of research, in which I realized quickly that my area of the world would run out of gasoline, my wife and I each filled up our vehicles and minimized travel during the week. We watched on the GasBuddy app as station after station ran out of gasoline, with the typical hoarders filling up gas cans like you see above. Luckily, the shortage is essentially over now and life is returning to normal.

My cans were full long before the gas shortage. I have a tractor, wood splitter and wood chipper, all of which required gasoline to run. They will run on regular gasoline, however, I have found that the ethanol in regular gasoline breaks down and damages small engines, particularly the carburetors, so I switched to using ethanol-free fuel. Since the only place that sells ethanol-free fuel near me is out in farm country, I fill up a lot of cans to make the trip worth it.

Probably the largest benefit to ethanol-free fuel is storage. I can easily store fuel for a year without it breaking down. At best with ethanol fuel, you’re looking at 30 days at most. When I saw the gas hoarders filling up, my hope is they realize that gas won’t be good by the end of the month. It’ll sort of still work in your car, but unless you add a stabilizer, it’s going to have water in it.

Which brings up a really good point: why on earth are we still using ethanol? Ethanol has some cleaning benefits for gasoline, in that is dissolves things that gasoline cannot, but with most gasolines having detergents in them anyways, the benefit is pretty minimal. Worse still, ethanol increases deposits on injectors and other components. It gives you plenty of problems, but hasn’t done much to reduce emissions nor wean us off Middle East Oil (only Trump policies do the latter).

Before someone chimes in with “Just use electric!”, let’s point out some flaws. Nobody makes a battery powered wood splitter or wood chipper. While we’re going back to electric garden tractors, they are still pretty pricey. The power in battery tools, while impressive, is not quite there yet. I have an electric and gas chainsaw, and if I’m cutting something over a foot in diameter, the gas chainsaw wins hands down. I have switched over to an electric weed whipper and pole saw, and they are both great. I bet in 5 years that electric outdoor tools will become the norm, but for now, if you need something powerful, you still need a gasoline engine.

If everyone had a 5 gallon gas can with ethanol-free gas, short term disruptions at the pump would cause less hysteria. You can’t do that with E10 gas unless you religiously use that fuel up and refill every month. By continuing to use ethanol, we continue to damage our engines and make us more susceptible to disruptions for little to no environmental gain. Perhaps as we recover from this gasoline shortage, someone will start asking the hard questions about why we’re handicapping ourselves.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

DaTechGuy off DaRadio Livestream Spontaneous Podcast the Civil War you don’t want and Cui Bono

Today I have some free time so it’s time for another spontaneous livestream

You can watch here

Topics will include

  1. The Civil war that you don’t want (or why people don’t understand why this is a bad thing.
  2. The Cold Civil war and what it means
  3. Cui Bono from the Biden Administration
  4. Stalling stalling stalling
  5. Reaping meeting sowing on police protection for Democrat cities

It will all start around 9:40 AM EST hope to see you here

What’s in YOUR wallet?

Most Americans are going to get a small influx of money in the next 60 days, due to two separate events. First, the 1.9 trillion dollar COVID-19 bill that is 90% about bailing out Democrat-supporting regions of the country will include some sort of stimulus checks, likely the $1400 per individual. Also, most people are filing their taxes between now and April, and most Americans will get some sort of refund on their taxes.

The thing is, most of this money gets spent without thinking about future consequences. The local used car dealerships always run “sales” this time of year that mention tax returns, and I’m seeing “stimulus check” sales advertisements popping up now. Yet we’re not going into happy times anytime soon. If you watch the stock market and references by the Fed that indicate inflation is going to come roaring back should give us pause.

If you’re not one to care about the Fed, then look more locally. Wood prices at Lowes and Home Depot are well double what they were a year ago, between the boom in home building due to low interest rates and COVID-19 shutting down the lumber mills for a time. Gas is more expensive now. I’ve had more Amazon packages getting delivered late than ever before. Stores are still running out of basic items, and while this is infrequent now, remember that is essentially never happened in the past.

All this indicates we’re in for a bumpy ride for at least two years, if not four. I’m not going to get caught unprepared for this, and you shouldn’t either. I suggest you prioritize spending this way:

  1. Debt. Get rid of any debt you can. Car almost paid off? Pay it off now. Credit card debts? Pay them off or work a forgiveness plan, an especially good idea now since card companies are also taking advantage of low interest rates.
    I would also refinance your house if you haven’t done so. Most people can’t simply pay off their mortgage, but you can make a principle payment to pay it off earlier, and shifting to bi-weekly payments (if your company allows you to) will cut years off the back end.
  2. Build up supplies. COVID-19 taught us that everything from toilet paper to sweet potatoes will be in short supply. It’s going to happen again. Rather than fight lines at a store, build up a 1-3 month supply of basics that don’t really ever go bad: bottled water, paper products, disposable eating utensils, soap and cleaning supplies. You should also keep about 2 weeks of meals in reserve. I have things like spaghetti and frozen foods that can keep for a long time just hanging out. They occasionally save me when dinner decides to catch on fire, and when the stores were swamped in the initial stages of pandemic, this food let me stretch our groceries further.
  3. Fix what you can. Americans are pretty handy people, but we also can be lazy. Plenty of homes and vehicles have little things that need repair. Get those done now. Don’t wait forever on car maintenance. The pandemic backed our local dealership up by a month for appointments. Same goes for home maintenance, even if you do it yourself, you may not get the supplies when people buy out the stores.
  4. Set your investing on automatic. Unless you’re smart on the stock market, you’re best off making long term investments on mutual funds. Whatever your investing strategy, put it on automatic through automatic funds transfers and investments. Too many people get scared when the market comes down and sell, which is the worst time to do that. Putting it on cruise control helps you take advantage of the down market over time.
  5. Build up your local network. This may not cost much money, but its critical. Do you know your neighbors? Do you know a local electrician, plumber, car mechanic and veterinarian? Remember how even routine house calls for minor issues became a major problem in the pandemic? You avoid this by knowing local people. Now is the time to get to know them and be on good terms, so when you need their help in a pinch, you can get it.

Don’t throw your stimulus to the wind! Set yourself up now to get through the trying times ahead.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Don’t worry, Facebook will cancel you next

Facebook is everywhere. Our kids dance studio uses it to communicate with us. The Submarine Base in Groton uses it to let you know when the base is closed due to snow. The military’s Airlift Command uses it to notify people of upcoming flights. Facebook’s ease of use caused many places to use Facebook in place of email, website and texting notifications and updates.

All that dependency comes with a price, because Facebook is too big to care. Instead of being a neutral platform, Facebook took sides on issues. At first, it was non-controversial, like when Facebook would remove suicide videos or obviously pornographic images. But it became too much of a temptation, and it wasn’t long before Facebook was manipulating news feeds and canceling whomever it willed.

President Trump was an obvious canceling choice. But Law Enforcement Today? That’s a bit weird. Or plenty of other folks like Ron Paul. The latest one is Australia, which tried to cash in on Facebook sharing its content. Instead of sharing, Facebook banned all Australian news sources from being shared on its platform. If your news revenue relied on social media sharing, a move like this is devastating to your business.

BTW, the EU assures us it “can’t happen to them.” Don’t hold your breath.

If your small business or club relies on Facebook for communication, you’re vulnerable. Whenever the military invades an area, the first thing they destroy is enemy communication platforms. If you can’t communicate, you can’t organize, and you certainly can’t get anything useful done.

To illustrate this point, I once spoke with firefighters that rescued people in the aftermath of the Twin Towers attack on 9/11. One of the things not discussed is that there are a lot of cell and radio towers on the Twin Towers. When they came down, it crippled cellular communications in the area. Firefighters and police resorted to runners to pass messages while pulling people out of rubble.

You are much better off, and much safer, with a good email system, blog and website, plus a social media platform that respects you, like MeWe. Because if Facebook can cancel Australia, what stops them from canceling you?

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

John Lausch needs to stay as US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois

Blogger with Durbin in Chicago in 2020

By John Ruberry

Last Monday the Justice Department asked 56 U.S. attorneys to resign. There were two exceptions, John Durham, the U.S. Attorney for Connecticut, will stay on as the special counsel for the investigation of the Russian collusion hoax, and David Weiss, the prosecutor for Delaware, who is pursuing the probe into Hunter Biden’s taxes, and presumably, more.

Among the others are John R. Lausch Jr., the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, which of course includes that cesspool of corruption, Chicago and suburban Cook County. Appointed in 2017, Lausch has been methodically hacking away at the blighted forest that is Illinois government ever since. Among those indicted under Lausch’s term are a Chicago alderman, two suburban mayors (one of them was also Cook County commissioner), and two members of the Illinois General Assembly. They have one thing in common–all are Democrats. Lausch has chipped away at the political machine of state Representative Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who until last month had been state House speaker for all but two years since 1983. Lausch uncovered an alleged scam involving Commonwealth Edison, Illinois’ largest electric utility, that has led to the indictment of four senior executives at that company, as well as a longtime lobbyist with decades-long ties to Boss Madigan. 

Madigan is the midwife of the Illinois pension debacle and he is the man who destroyed Illinois. Sadly, those aren’t crimes.

Lausch seems to be closing the ring on Madigan, who remains as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party, a post he’s held since 1998. Madigan maintains his innocence and he has not been charged with any crimes. But he’s a tough one to investigate–Madigan doesn’t use email and he doesn’t own a cell phone. There’s a lot of smoke surrounding the 78-year-old legislator–but so far no fire has been discovered. 

It took a lot longer than it should have but Illinois’ insipid Republican Party, the Washington Generals to the Democrats’ Harlem Globetrotters, finally pursued tying other Democratic candidates to Madigan, which led to a pretty good, but not great, general election for conservatives last autumn. The best result was the resounding defeat of the so-called Fair Tax Amendent, which would have replaced Illinois’ flat rate income tax with one with graduated rates. As I’ve quipped a few times before, Illinoisans finally figured out that if the Democrats were given an unlimited budget they would exceed it. 

After the general election Illinois’ two Democratic US Senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, called for Madigan’s resignation as party chairman. No, they didn’t suddenly realize that Madigan is toxic to Illinois; Durbin and Duckworth didn’t like the general election results here. 

The state House took care of the speakership problem, the Democrats ousted Madigan last month but replaced him with a longtime ally of the Boss. 

The day after the Justice Department announced those federal prosecutor resignations, in what the Chicago Tribune called “a lame news release,”  those two party-line hack senators called on Biden to keep Lausch on the job. I am very suspicious of their motives. Duckworth is up for reelection next year and if the federal investigation into Chicago area corruption stalls she might get the blunt of the blame for not convincing Biden to keep Lausch in place. 

Durbin is the new Senate Justice Committee chairman and prefers not to be accused of keeping corrupt Dems in power in his home state. Back to gerrymandering and Madigan: Aftet the 2010 census the state congressional map was redrawn to be much more favorable to Democrats. The 8th congressional district was transformed from a competitive one to a layout favoring Democrats. In 2012 Duckworth ousted the Republican incumbent, future never-Trumper Joe Walsh.

Remember, for many Democrats Madigan has been very good to them. His skills at gerrymandering have produced supermajorities in the General Assembly and have bolstered Democratic numbers among the Illinois US House delegation. There may have never been a Senator Duckworth had she not won that House race in 2012. Through government and compliant corporations like Commonwealth Edison, Madigan has been able to hand out contracts, favors, and jobs to those loyal to him–as well as their relatives.

Lausch needs to be kept on the job in Chicago. 

Biden’s nominee for Attorney General is Merrick Garland, a Chicago area native who was nominated by Barack Obama to the US Supreme Court seat that eventually went to Neil Gorsuch. But he hasn’t lived here in decades. Yet my guess is that Garland has kept his eyes on the fetid muck in Illinois. Perhaps he can put in a good word for Lausch to Biden or whoever is making the calls in the White House on federal prosecutors.

Sorry to be repetitive, but I have to keep mentioning this fact. Illinois has lost population every year since 2014. 

People have wised up. But not me. Not yet.

UPDATE February 23: Last night Michael Madigan resigned his post as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Last week Madigan gave up his House seat after 50 years in the General Assembly. Term limits anyone?

This afternoon, according to multiple media reports, Lausch will keep his job as US attorney until a replacement is found and presumably confirmed.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from the Chicago area at Marathon Pundit.

Detroit’s stillborn revival

By John Ruberry

I hit the road last week–to a regular stop for me–Detroit–my fourth visit there. Coincidentally last Monday, when I arrived, was the first day that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lifting of Michigan’s ban on indoor dining, replaced by low-capacity dining, took effect.

Yet central Detroit was still nearly void of people last week.

During my first visit, in 2015, while I noticed a fair amount of bustle on the streets and sidewalks downtown, I also walked past empty skyscrapers. On my next trip, two years later, most of those same buildings were occupied or being rehabbed. And the city’s light rail line, the QLine, an expensive and impressive showpiece, had just opened. As I noted at the time on my own blog, these trolley cars ironically echo Detroit’s monorail, the People Mover, the 1980s Stalinist boondoggle championed by Coleman Young, the five-term mayor of Detroit who may have been a closet communist. Both the QLine and the People Mover serve only the downtown area. They look stunning though.

Also in 2017 Little Caesars Arena opened in the adjacent Midown part of the city. It brought the Detroit’s NBA team, the Pistons, back to the city for the first time in nearly four decades. The NHL team, the Red Wings, made the short jump from downtown’s Joe Louis Arena to Little Caesars too. Since the early 2000s the NFL entry, the Lions, and its MLB team, the Tigers, have been playing downtown. Which made the many gamedays in central Detroit a magnet for hungry and thirsty people with fat wallets. Now the teams play in front of no fans.

Quicken Loans has been based in Detroit since 2009 and is now America’s largest mortgage lender. While Detroit is still the Motor City it is the Mortgage City now too.

But meanwhile in the neighborhoods the decline of Detroit continued. For urban explorers like myself, that is, people who photograph or shoot videos of abandoned homes, factories, offices, churches—am I leaving anything out?–oh yeah, schools, there is no shortage of material to work with.

Things looked even better for Detroit when I spent a day there in 2019.

Then COVID-19 hit. Whitmer’s statewide lockdowns have been among the nation’s most restrictive. As I witnessed in Chicago last year, the streets were also eerily empty in Detroit in 2020 according to media reports, such as this one from AP in October:

Downtown Detroit was returning to its roots as a vibrant city center, motoring away from its past as the model of urban ruin. 

Then the pandemic showed up, emptying once-bustling streets and forcing many office workers to flee to their suburban homes.

And if you work for Quicken and its Rocket Mortgage wing, many of your job responsibilities, perhaps all of them, can be done from a suburban home, as Quicken performs most of its transactions online.

But lets say you need to come downtown for your annual review. What else is there to do? On Day 1 of the partial-lifting of the indoor dining lockdown, it looked to me that about half of the restaurants there were still closed. Most retail outlets were shuttered. And all of the shops and eateries were closed at the Little Caesars Arena, where I hoped to buy a hockey souvenir for Mrs. Marathon Pundit. But of course there is always Amazon to fall back on for that. Oh, Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit restaurant at Little Caesars closed last spring, although that departure had nothing to do with COVID.

So in downtown Detroit last week you still had to struggle to find a place to eat. Yes, there were a few of those ludicrous tents outside some eateries–by the way temperatures were in the 30s all last week during our visit.

Story continues below photograph.

Diners last Monday in downtown Detroit

Part of the allure of big-city centers has been the array of shopping and cultural choices offfered. That’s mostly gone now in Detroit. Sure, New York, Chicago and other large cities are facing similar challenges under COVID lockdowns, but many of their eateries and shops have been operating for decades. And yes, such businesses usually have narrow profit margins but being a going concern for many years means there will be an established customer base that might remember you a few years later. What if you are a Detroit boutique that has been open only for a couple of years?

The QLine and the People Mover haven’t run since last spring. There aren’t a lot of people in downtown Detroit to well, move. Buses are still running, however.

Back to those cultural choices: The Detroit Institute of Arts is one of America’s premier art museums. I wanted to attend Wednesday but the DIA was sold out that day. I was able to purchase tickets, online of course, for myself and my traveling companion the following day for one of the available time slots. And do you know what? Outside of employees there couldn’t have been more than 50 people inside the sprawling museum when we were there. I’m confident that Wednesday’s “sold out” day wasn’t much different. On the positive side I was able to stand and stare in front of the DIA’s four Vincent van Gogh paintings as long as I wished–there was no one to push me aside and tell me, “You’re done, now it’s my turn.” Yes, we were forced to wear masks and we had our temperature taken at the museum’s entrance. Precautions were taken.

My companion visited Dearborn’s Henry Ford museum on Tuesday–a fabulous place that I experiended in 2015–and it was nearly empty too, I was told. 

The Motown Musuem in New Center remains closed, it re-opens February 18. Man, oh man, we really wanted to see that place.

Will COVID-19 and Michigan’s lockdowns kill Detroit’s revival?

Many people have their life savings and their mortages invested in small businesses that have been closed for months in Detroit and other large cities.

The dominos will start falling.  Which is something most Detroiters know a lot about.

Meanwhile in Florida, life and business continues, with masks, but without the lockdowns. The Florida COVID death rate is lower than that of Michigan.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Five advantages of using Microsoft Dynamics AX for Your Business

It does not matter what industry you belong to; if your company is not following the latest industry trends, you will be left behind. In this modern age, where businesses have access to so many technologies, it is crucial for them to choose the right options to get ahead of the competition. By investing in the right tools and software, you can strengthen your business’s position and can manage tasks more efficiently. One of these tools is Microsoft Dynamics AX, an excellent ERP solution for companies to organize, optimize, at automating their processes. It provides you with solutions that can save you time and can improve your ROI significantly.

Microsoft Dynamics AX allows you to automate your processes; you wouldn’t have to spend time and resources on development and training. It also has a simple, user-friendly interface that allows you to access information without complicating things. That way, you can get detailed insights into your processes whenever necessary. Microsoft Dynamics AX is a complete solution for any enterprise as it also strengthens the bond between teams and individuals of the company with its advanced communication tools. Overall it is a tool that will benefit all departments of your company. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the main benefits you can enjoy from Microsoft Dynamics AX:

Quick and Smart Decision Making

One of the major benefits of using Microsoft Dynamics AX is that I allow you to make a quick and smart decision. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive market, you will have to get innovative, and this software helps you do that. The software collects raw data and turns it into numbers that can help you with decision making. You can define KPI’s and can run detailed analyses to get the latest reports. These reports not only speeds up the decision-making process but also helps you make more accurate decisions.

Cost-Effective

In the past few years, the way small and big industries used to manage their businesses has changed dramatically. Because of the constantly evolving market, a flexible ERP solution has become vital for businesses. You need a system that allows you to modify, add, delete, and mold certain things within your company whenever necessary. When you choose Microsoft Dynamics AX, you get access to plenty of great products that can prove valuable for your business. This can reduce the company’s cost of operations dramatically and can help you improve your ROI significantly. In the long run, it can help you save a lot of money.

Improve Productivity and Team Collaboration

Another great benefit of using Microsoft Dynamics AX is that it improves team collaboration within your company and makes everyone more productive. Unlike other complicated ERP software out there, Microsoft Dynamics AX won’t take much of your employees’ time. The software has an interface similar to Microsoft Word, and your organization will get the hang of it very quickly. It also helps you automate a lot of processes, which gives your employees more time to focus on important things. A centralized data system will also allow you to improve transparency and make it easier for your employees to share critical information.

Improves Sales

Microsoft Dynamics AX gives you a whole new way of approaching your customers. You will have access to raw data and real-time insights, which will help you market your business smartly. It will also allow you to identify the right people so you can only target the chunk of the population that is interested. With enhanced logistics, smooth workflows, and timely delivery, you can quickly recognize opportunities and capitalize on them. All these details also help you understand your target audience, which allows you to offer them much better services.

Security

All the data you will feed to Microsoft Dynamics AX will always be secure. The software has advanced security features and a cloud-based infrastructure that is impenetrable. No one from the outside will be able to take a peek into your company’s data as long as the software protects it. Microsoft Dynamics AX also allows you to customize the security settings so you can manage your privacy manually. It also helps create different access levels for different teams.