GOP senators knock down walls of Biden’s Potemkin Village at the border

By John Ruberry

One of Joe Biden’s first acts as president was to end construction of the wall at the southern border, a project heartily championed by Donald Trump.

Instead a different kind of wall has replaced it.

The Trump of the late 18th-century, in regards to what we now call fake news, was Catherine the Great of Russia. Historical gossip has it that Catherine was killed as a horse was lowered on to her for carnal purposes. Not true, as is the milder version of her demise that claims she died of her wounds after her bulk–she indeed was quite heavy– forced the collapse of the outhouse she was using. 

A stroke is what killed the empress of Russia.

Besides the urban legend about the horse, Catherine is best-known for the term “Potemkin Village.” Her governor in southern Russia–and her onetime lover–Grigory Potemkin, supposedly built facades of prosperous villages that hid the reality behind the proto-Hollywood sets. One of abject poverty that Catherine otherwise would see as she toured Potemkin’s region.

Most modern historians believe that these Potemkin Villages were either a myth or a gross exaggeration.

What is not a myth is that the Biden-Harris administration is attempting to hide a crisis at the southern border. Not with wooden facades, yet there is a metaphorical Potemkin Village there. Those figurative walls were knocked down Friday when a group of Republican senators, led by Texans Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, visited a detention facility in Donna, Texas, one that Cruz said was built for 250 people but is now holding 4,000

Cruz brought his smartphone as you can see.

Joe Biden promised transparency as president. That’s not happening at the migrant facilities at the border, where the media is banned. “What is occurring here at the border is heartbreaking and it’s a tragedy,” Cruz said shortly after his visit. “It is striking that not a single one of these cameras is allowed in the Donna facility. We requested media to come inside and the Biden administration denied us.” 

A day earlier during his only press conference as president Biden was pressured, gently of course, about when the media would be allowed at the migrant facilities. He unsteadily answered, “This is being set up and you’ll have full access to everything once we get this thing moving.” Translation: The situation at these camps will embarrass the Biden-Harris administration and as soon as we clean it up–or we are able to hide the worst scenes at these facilities–we’ll let reporters in.

For now, as Kevin Bacon laughingly said during the riot at the end of the movie Animal House, “All is well.”

Expect four more years–whether Joe Biden or Kamala Harris is in charge–of such opaqueness. The lapdog media–which only bares its teeth when a Republican is president–will guarantee it. They are the contributing architects to the Biden-Harris Potemkin Village at the southern border–and others that are likely to come.

All will be well.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Review: Season One of Tribes of Europa

By John Ruberry

I guess I’m in an arts and culture mood of late so I’m reviewing my latest Netflix binge-watching adventure, Tribes of Europa, a six-episode series about a dystopian Europe centered on the former Germany in 2074. 

In December of 2029 the world’s power-grid fails–the cause of which is never explained, but it could be because of a cyberwar gone too far, along the lines of the biological warfare that precedes the Charlton Heston classic, The Omega Man.

Europe has devolved well past the European Union or even the nation-states that the borders of which–for the most part–have been resilient since the end of World War II. Microstate tribes have replaced the old order. One of those tribes is the Origines (rhymes with aborigines), a peaceful group of several dozen hunter-gatherers, wearing, presumably, scavenged clothes from before society’s collapse. Their community is destroyed after a B-1 type aircraft, belonging to the technologically advanced Atlantians, crashes near their village.

Three young Origine siblings, Liv (Henriette Confurius), Elja (David Ali Rashed), and Kiano (Emilio Sakraya), along with their father Jakob (Benjamin Sadler), are forced to scatter, the siblings carve three storylines, much like what the children of Ned Stark did in Game of Thrones. Yes, this show is derivative. Much of the mood and tone recalls another German series, the time-travel show Dark. The producers of that series also are behind this one. And there is a bit of the Star Wars franchise in Tribes of Europa. Moses (Oliver Masucci) is a fast-talking salvage merchant who is constantly trying to keep one step ahead of a powerful lender. Who does that remind you of? Moses takes Elja under his wing. Masucci is a gifted actor, he portyayed the brooding Ulrich in Dark, a cruel but ultimately tragic character, as well as Hitler in the comedy Look Who’s Back

Moses is only interested, at least initially, in Elja, the youngest of the Origine siblings, because he found an Atlantian cube, which, must like the Ring of Power in the Lord of the Rings, is sought after by other tribes, particularly the Crows. And in the early episodes, like the Ring, we are unsure of exactly what powers the cube possesses. As for the Crows, they are barbarians who party in discos and participate in gladiator duels.

Yes, there is a bit of The Hunger Games in Tribes of Europa.

Liv falls in the the Crimson Army, which is led by General Cameron (James Faulkner). He’s the actor who portayed the stern Randyll Tarly in Game of Thrones. One of the Crimson Army’s goals is to seize the former Berlin, Brahtok, the Crow capital, where Kiano and Jakob are being held.

Cameron dreams of bringing back the old Europe. Liv asks the general, “Do you really think you can pull it off, unite the continent?” Cameron replies, “The European idea will never die.” According to numerous media sources the idea for Tribes of Europa came to show creator Philip Koch after the Brexit vote in 2016.

The German in Tribes of Europa is dubbed for Netflix. But in a key revelation, English is still the lingua franca in post-collapse Europe.

There are just six episodes in the first season and as this one ends with three cliffhangers, I imagine a second season of Tribes of Europa is planned. If there is I’ll tune in.

Netlix rates Tribes of Europa as TV-MA for graphic violence, foul language, nudity, and very uncomfortable sexual situations. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Well-deserved pushback against Chicago Monuments Project underway

Abraham Lincoln: The Head of State, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It is one of Chicago monuments “under review.”

By John Ruberry 

Last week in my DTG post I wrote about the Chicago Monuments Project, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s response to last summer’s riot surrounding the Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park south of downtown.

The committee for the project earlier this month identified 41 monuments, mostly statues but also plaques, reliefs, and one painting. Five of the monuments are statues of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, that guy, the one who led the Union during the Civil War, which led to ending slavery in America. Illinois is the Land of Lincoln, that slogan has been emblazoned on every Illinois license plate for decades. His face is on all standard Illinois license plates. On every Illinois driver’s license and state ID card is Lincoln’s countenance–and automobile titles too.

Other monuments “under review” by the project include statues of Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Leif Erikson, Ulysses S. Grant, William McKinley, several pieces honoring Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet, and works featuring anonymous Native Americans. 

But don’t worry! Really! In a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed published last week–on Washington’s birthday–three of the project’s members assured us:

Various accounts, especially on social media, have inaccurately described this project as an effort to tear it all down. This could not be further from the truth. It is a discussion.

I don’t believe them. The “discussion,” in my opinion, is a first step to, yes, “tear it all down.” Liberals work by way of incrementalism. Many left-wing politicians, probably most, want to ban private ownership of guns. They can’t express that sentiment because of the predictable outrage–and it could mean that they’ll be voted out of office. So they start with the easier targets, such as bans on semi-automatic rifles. If they succeed they’ll move on to other firearms, ending with the banning the type of handgun Mrs. Marathon Pundit purchased this year.

So the Chicago Monuments Project is beginning with “a discussion.” Without pushback that discussion very well may devolve into moving statues in the wee hours, which is what happened to two Christopher Columbus statues, including the one at the center of the riot, into storage. Both of those statues of the Italian Navigator are on the project’s “under review” status. 

It’s not just social media users and conservative news sources that have objected to the Chicago Monuments Project. In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, Lincoln biographers Sidney Blumenthal and Harold Holzer wrote, “The Orwellian idea of removing Lincoln from Chicago would be as vain as an attempt to erase the history of Chicago itself.”

The editoral board of the Chicago Tribune–paid subscription required–favors keeping the Lincoln stautes.

Lori Lightfoot even weighed in, “But let’s be clear, we’re in the Land of Lincoln, and that’s not going to change.”

But I’d like to explain to you that the other monuments are also worth keeping. Benjamin Franklin owned two slaves but he freed them and he later became an abolititionist. Ulysses S. Grant, when he was under tremendous financial hardship, freed the only slave he owned. Grant of course was the commander of all Union armies in the Civil War. George Washington’s slaves were freed after the death of Martha Washington. Yes, Washington is the Father of our Nation.

Other than being white, I can’t astertain why Marquette and Jolliet, or Leif Erikson, are “under review” in Chicago.

The source of the rage against Lincoln likely comes from his approving the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors in 1862. But Abe commuted 264 Dakota War executions. There were atrocities in that conflict committed by both sides. Here’s what a Norwegian immigrant described in a letter at that time, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society:

The Indians have begun attacking the farmers. They have already killed a great many people, and many are mutilated in the cruelest manner. Tomahawks and knives have already claimed many victims. Children, less able to defend themselves, are usually burned alive or hanged in the trees, and destruction moves from house to house.

If the Chicago Monuments Project is about education, then it probably means that Lightfoot sorely needs one. “In time, our team will determine there are no monuments to African Americans in this city,” Lightfoot said last summer while announcing what has become the Chicago Monuments Project. “There are no monuments to women. There are no monuments that reflect the contributions of people in the city of Chicago who contributed to the greatness of this city.”

But in her namesake park on the South Side stands a Gwendolyn Brooks statue. Brooks was the first African-American to serve as Illinois’ Poet Laureate. A couple miles north of that statue is the beautiful Victory Monument, which honors a World War I African American regiment, and a bit north of that one is the Monument to the Great Northern Migration. I believe each of these are on city of Chicago or Chicago Park District property.

Does Chicago need more monuments featuring women and minorities? Absolutely. It can also benefit with a Ronald Reagan statue. The Gipper is the only president who was born in Illinois and the first to live in Chicago, although the apartment where he lived as a child was razed by the University of Chicago in 2013.

Click here to view the monuments in question. To express your comments about the Chicago Monuments Project please click here. Please be courteous. And if you Tweet this blog post–please do!–use the #ChicagoMonuments hashtag.

Make your voice heard. They’ve begun to listen.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.


Where did the Capitol protest anger come from? What to do about it?

Kenosha, Wisconsin, after what CNN deemed “a fiery but mostly peaceful protests.”

By John Ruberry

Wednesday was a dark day in American history. Most of the blame for the riot at the US Capitol deservedly goes to the hooligans, about 1,500 of them, who broke through blockades and defied law enforcement and entered the Capitol building–the first such mass hostile group to do so since British forces marched in during the War of 1812 before setting it ablaze.

Many of the thugs who illegally entered the Capitol have been arrested and they deserve, if found guilty, to face the full brunt of the law.

This was not, as the media deemed last year’s many instances of “unrest” in American cities, “a mostly peaceful protest.”

President Donald J. Trump is by no means blameless. He should have conceded his loss to Joe Biden weeks ago. I support Trump’s fight for free and fair elections. But even in states where the vote count was the most questionable, Pennsylvania and Georgia, had their electoral votes magically gone to the president, Trump still would have lost. And while I disagree with the mainstream media blowhards and Democratic politicians who said Trump incited the crowd to riot, he gave some of the protesters hope. Normally hope is a good thing to spread but he gave some people the belief that their protest might have compelled Congress to ignore the Electoral College and keep Trump in the White House. That was never going to happen.

On Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Thursday night he asked that we look at why the protesters–not just the rioters–attended the rally. They were angry.

Why?

In November a Rasmussen poll found that 75 percent of Republican voters believed the presidential election was stolen. Even many Democrats agreed. As for myself I don’t believe the election was stolen. My view is that the weak standards with mail-in voting, put in place on a widespread basis for the first time in many states because of the COVID-19 epidemic, has something to do with that. Mail-in voting, without safeguards, makes such crimes as voting twice or more, dead people voting, and voting in a jurisdiction when you live someplace else more likely. 

While elections need to continue to be run at the state level Congress should, if such a thing is possible, have an open mind in regards to exploring new nationwide election standards, such as what was done after the Florida recount debacle of 2000. Banning ballot harvesting is a good place to start, as well as replacing early voting, that is “election season,” with–and this is an idea that comes from the liberals–making the day of a general election a work holiday. And photo ID should be required for voting too.

If millions of Americans don’t have faith in the election process then democracy rests on a flimsy leaf.

Now let’s look at the mainstream media and Big Tech. I’ll be brief only for the sake of not overwhelming you. I could bring up dozens of examples of media bias but I won’t for now.

For over four years most of the media flogged a dead horse of a story in Russian collusion. There was no Trump-Russia collusion. Zero. Robert Mueller’s exhaustive investigation found none. That didn’t stop the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC from hawking it, not so subtly, as the way to oust Trump from power for nearly four years nearly every day.

Meanwhile the Hunter Biden laptop story was minimized by that same mainstream media during the 2020 campaign. The younger Biden’s alleged influence peddling activities are not a nothing-burger. And Facebook and Twitter for a while blocked the posting the New York Post story about the deeply troubling news that the former vice president’s son might be compromised by foreign governments, including our greatest rival, China. Twitter, in a preview of 2021’s ongoing purge of conservatives that includes Trump, from the microblogging platform, locked the Post out of its account for nearly two weeks. Free press anyone? The suppression worked. Many people I spoke with, folks who only get their news from Facebook, never heard about the Hunter laptop scandal until I told them about it. 

Mission accomplished. 

After the election Hunter Biden revealed that he has been under federal investigation for two years. He says its for tax reasons but Hunter does not come across to me as a man who can be trusted.

Not a nothing-burger.

Trump’s core base of supporters are voracious consumers of news–and yes, to be fair of course some of their news stories come from Facebook and Twitter, unless of course they’ve been purged from those sites. And the double-standard of most of the media on those two stories seethes the Trump base.

After the riot the media continued its dismissive attitude of Trump supporters. 

Anderson Cooper of CNN, a scion of the Vanderbilt family that got filthy rich during the Gilded Age, said of the protesters after the riot. “And they’re going to go back to the Olive Garden and to the Holiday Inn they’re staying at, or the Garden Marriott, and they’re going to have some drinks and talk about the great day they had in Washington … They stood up for nothing other than mayhem.”

Clearly Cooper dines at what he deems are better restaurants than the Olive Garden. And he can afford to stay at the finest hotels, places that are beyond my financial reach. And yes, I’ve stayed at those hotels Cooper denigrated. I’ve eaten at the Olive Garden a few times.

Another cruel irony of the mainstream media coverage of the Capitol riot is that they deemed it one, while they went to great pains to call the many urban riots of 2020–which occurred almost exclusively in Democrat-run cities–anything but that. While storming the Capitol is clearly a much different dimension than looting and arson, and yes, a very disturbing one, the hypocrisy of the media is apparent to a 10-year-old. 

More than ever we need new media. If you agree with my post, especially if you dine at the Olive Garden, stop seething. Start your own blog. WordPress and Blogger.com are good places to start. Even if you have just ten readers a day–my own blog has many more than that in case you are wondering–you will be making a difference. Besides, much of the mainstream media, particularly daily newspapers, are endangered species. Warren Buffett, no conservative, expects only a few of them to survive and he made that prediction before the COVID-19 outbreak that has devastated their ad revenue. Those papers, for the most part, take their lead in reporting news from the aforementioned Washington Post and the New York Times. It’s where they learn not to use words like “riot” unless it involves conservatives. They invent terms like “mostly peaceful” or sugarcoat the carnage by saying it is “unrest.” Those last two newspapers aren’t going anyhere but we can fight back with reality. An army of mosquitoes can make a difference.

There’s a void coming. Fill it. Bite back.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Update (DTG) I put something like this in as a comment but figured it belonged as a post update as this has gotten instalanched. (Thanks Ed)

John is one one my original magnificent seven bloggers/ He produces quality work and I’m proud to have him here.

I believe he is completely wrong about the election not being stolen, both math, the actions of the left and common sense in my opinion scream it to be the case, but he has the right to his opinion and I respect that he comes by it honestly and have no problem with him expressing it here.

If anyone has problem with him expressing that opinion on my site and want him off for having & expressing it, well that’s too bad.

This isn’t twitter and my name’s not Jack

Not Judging The Media / Social Elite Who Fear Henry Hill’s Fate

Apathy in the face of tyranny turns out not to be a German or Russian characteristic. I just never thought it could happen in America.

Denis Prager

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’

Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets;

Jesus Christ, Matthew 23:29-31

In the sermon on the Mount one of the hardest but most important charges Christ give is this:

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.

Now this command refers to the state of one’s soul and in accompanied by the injunction in the Our Father (also known as the Lord’s Prayer) to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Or to put it simply, if you want to be forgiven, forgive.

This came to mind as I finished my piece on courage and freedom being the exception and not the norm and it got me thinking about something.

There was a time I had thoughts of being able to earn a living as a blogger commentator perhaps even breaking into media. I had one local Fox appearance, a NY Post Op Ed. Had been credentialed press for several events, the tip jar was rocking and things were on the rise.

All of it seemed to crash and at once, it took years to get me back to where I am today and I recognized that I’d likely never be able to much more than I am today. That’s fine, I’ve done things and seen things that most people in their lifetime have not and it’s been a great thing to share my thoughts with you who have kept the bills paid around here with perhaps a little extra to spare each year.

But what if I had made it, broken into media with a good paying gig or as I considered back in my twenties, gotten into government and perhaps even as far as congress. What if I was in the place those in the state legislagtures, or the courts or the congress or the media are today when the axe is falling down and the choice is being made?

Robert Ingersoll once said of Abe Lincoln:

“If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity. It is the glory of Abraham Lincoln that he never abused power only on the side of mercy.”

There are a lot of folks in media who are making six figures or more, who have comfortable lives, who have children who have a chance to live in comfort because of their jobs.

There are a lot of folks in politics who are making good money, who have the potential to make a lot more when they leave, who have the chance to see that they and theirs are comfortable for the rest of their days.

There are a lot of folks in entertainment and academia who are in the same boat. They are comfortable, they are honored, they are given deference.

And for every one of those people who have made it there are hundreds perhaps thousands of those who are striving for that brass ring.

Now comes the day of testing. They are being told that unless they play ball, unless they tow the line giving exactly the message that is desired by the deep state all of those things are going to be taken from them, and any secrets they have will be exposed. They will go from having the potential for anything they want at any time to being at best a regular nobody or at worst a criminal to be punished.

Cue Henry Hill

It’s the last line in that speech that says it all.

I’d like to think that given the choice of doing the right thing or protecting my prerogatives and my family’s prerogatives I like to think that the way I was raised and the way I raised my children and that I could do this and my family would be willing to endure the loss of income, of position, prestige and the scorn of those around me, but thanks to a merciful God to whom I daily ask “Lead me not into temptation” I don’t have that choice, or to put it another way, all I’m risking by speaking the truth is to remain the average working still that I am while being online by people who don’t know me and will never meet me and perhaps treated in a condescending way by some folks I know.

I’m likely old enough and grounded enough to handle that.

But would I with money in the bank, a bigger mortgage than I have now, with kids going to expensive schools and a chance for them to be set for life, would I have the courage and character to risk all that for the truth to face the fate of Henry Hill who ended his speech saying:

Henry Hill: I’m an average nobody. I get to live the rest of my live like a snook.

Good Fellas 1993

Would my faith and trust in God be enough if I had that much to lose? Remember there’s a reason why Christ said how hard it was for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

That’s why I’m going to do my best not to judge those who did not come through on any level. I suspect many of them in their own minds and hearts are already judging themselves because cowardice is as C. S. Lewis said:

Cowardice, alone of all the vices, is purely painful – horrible to anticipate, horrible to feel, horrible to remember

So instead I will try to take to heart these words from Our Lord:

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy

Matthew 5:7

As a person who needs God’s mercy may I take that command to heart

DaTimes admits it published ‘fake news’

By Christopher Harper

The New York Times finally admitted that it published fake news over the past few years.

The admission wasn’t about the coverage of the Trump administration, but the errors stabbed at the very heart of what DaTimes considers its influence: international reporting.

You shouldn’t be surprised that you haven’t heard much about the massive editorial issues because DaTimes dumped the findings on the weekend before Christmas.

Reporter Rukmini Callimachi has been at the center of the publication’s coverage of terrorism, particularly the Islamic State.

In December 2014, Callimachi unearthed what appeared to be an important discovery. Syrian journalist Louai Abo Aljoud, Callimachi reported, said he had seen three American hostages while he was being held at an Islamic State facility in 2013. Upon further inspection, however, key details failed to bear out the “news,” resulting in an editor’s note affixed to the story on Friday.

“After the article was published, The Times learned that Mr. Aljoud had given inconsistent accounts of key elements of the episode to Times journalists and others,” the note reads in part.

After the publication of the editor’s note, Karam Shoumali, a Syrian journalist who worked with Callimachi, tweeted that he told the reporter about errors in the story. But she refused to change the details.

The tweet stands as evidence that as early as late 2014, less than a year after Callimachi jumped from the Associated Press to DaTimes, colleagues expressed concerns about her methods and conclusions.

But there’s a lot more. A key figure in DaTimes’ podcast, “The Caliphate,” which Callimachi created, was a fraud. Last September, Canadian authorities charged Shehroze Chaudhry for carrying out a terrorism hoax. Chaudhry was a key figure in “The Caliphate,” a 12-part series created in 2018. 

On Friday, DaTimes finally came clean. An editor’s note atop “Caliphate” admitted the collapse of key episodes. “In the absence of firmer evidence, ‘Caliphate’ should have been substantially revised to exclude the material related to Mr. Chaudhry. The podcast as a whole should not have been produced with Mr. Chaudhry as a central narrative character,” the note reads in part.

DaTimes failed to listen to various reporters from the news organization itself. This frequent problem has existed at the publication in past misadventures, such as Jason Blair and Judith Miller. 

Last week top editors who worked with Callimachi admitted their errors. But some reporters were not assuaged. C.J. Chivers, a former foreign correspondent and now a staff writer for the New York Times Magazine, was among the first Times reporters to complain to editors. 

“You discouraged people from using the fire alarm, and when some of us did use the fire alarm anyhow, we found the alarm was not connected to anything,” Chivers reportedly told the group. 

But there is a more fundamental question that runs through these problems at DaTimes, mainly since it is far from the first time that such egregious errors have happened. 

I gave up on DaTimes a few years ago. But it would seem its loyal readers should be asking a fundamental question: If someone got away with making stuff up for six years, shouldn’t the news organization take a harder look at all other aspects of the publication?   

Social Media Exodus: MeWe

For anyone that remembers Google Plus, it was actually a fairly slick setup for social media. You could have different circles of people, which made it easy to segregate the sections of your life. Maybe you have some super liberal friends, so you put them in one circle and don’t share your news feed with them. Or maybe your brother is a complete moron and loves to comment about your parenting. In that case, you cut him out of the family picture sharing but don’t mind letting him see your posts about deer hunting.

When Google Plus shut down, most of the members went to MeWe. MeWe brags of inherent security, not selling your information and not censoring. I signed up, not even needing an email (I just used my phone number), and blam, I was in.

And it was really empty.

Like, I didn’t know what to do next.

On of MeWe’s biggest downsides is that it is so privacy conscious that it forgets that it forget that people were willing to give up some privacy to get easily connected with their friends. Facebook loves suggesting friends, groups and everything else based on location, contacts and browsing history. MeWe doesn’t do that, and that’s not a bad thing, but the Mewe walkthrough (seemingly run by a chatbot) doesn’t tell you what to do next.

After a lot of frustration, I figured out how to search for groups. Soon I was on a sous vide group, a chainsaw group, and some news media groups. Now my news feed was full of something. Then I found a few friends and added them. I also created a church group so people could have discussions without feeling like Facebook was hanging in the shadows, ready to classify them as a hate group.

After about 2 weeks of use, I did find some great meme groups, which to be honest, was a large reason that I scan Facebook. I’m also on a non-conspiracy theorist conservative group, which is decently uplifting and better than Facebook discussions ever were. But there are a lot of gaps. I can’t livestream or even call anyone (like you can with Messenger) unless you pay money.

To be frank, I’m not jazzed about MeWe. I think its most compelling feature is having a private group that is truly private, so you can talk openly and not worry about being thrown to the angry pitchfork mob of social justice warriors. But as a Facebook replacement? Not in its current form. It would need a way better introduction for new users and more features that I used in Facebook like livestreaming. Until then, MeWe might make temporary gains, but its not going to be a full Facebook competitor.

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.

An appreciation of The Divine Comedy band

By John Ruberry

Listening to music is a serendipitous adventure. And it was on one of those journeys I uncovered another great band that you’ve probably never heard of, The Divine Comedy. Last year before the post was swallowed up by a memory hole at Da Tech Guy, I profiled another undeservedly unknown band, the Rainmakers. Only I first encountered the Rainmakers on a local radio station years ago.

I discovered The Divine Comedy when I downloaded the “Inspired by the Kinks” compilation on Apple iTunes. A great collection, yes, and easily the standout cut for me was “The National Express,” a satirical look at a ride on the eponymous company’s bus line.

Unknown? As this is an American blog with, I believe, a predominately American readership, that’s true. But The Divine Comedy has scored hits in Europe, particularly in Great Britain and Ireland, which is understandable as the band’s only constant member is Neil Hannon, who is from Northern Ireland.

As great as “The National Express” is, there’s just one small issue in my opinion. I’m a huge Kinks fan, but unless you count that British band’s last big hit, “Come Dancing,” it doesn’t sound like any other Kinks tune.

Listen for yourself!

The Divine Comedy’s first album, since cancelled by Hannon, was the R.E.M. inspired Fanfare for the Comic Muse, which was released in 1990. The only place it seems to be available is on YouTube. If you somehow find a copy of it at a rummage sale or used record store, grab it if it’s priced cheap, as it is probably a collector’s item.

The band then “regenerated” three years later into a chamber pop, or if you prefer Britpop band, for Liberation. Actually I prefer the moniker baroque pop. Regardless of the name, what kind of music am I talking about? Think along the lines of “Penny Lane” by the Beatles, “Senses Working Overtime” or “Easter Theatre” by XTC, or “Never My Love” by The Association, the glimmering song that was used with such beautiful yet chilling effect in the final episode of the most recent season of Outlander. Oh, throw in a bit of Cole Porter too. Back to Liberation: My favorite song from that collection is “The Pop Singer’s Fear of the Pollen Count,” which is cleary inspired by the Beach Boys. Yes, I suffer from allergies too so I can commiserate.

Hannon, who writes nearly all of the band’s songs, is a clever lyricist who brings wit and even snarkiness to many of his songs. The Divine Comedy’s melodies are striking and the musicianship is superb.

Here’s a snippet from “Catherine the Great.”

With her military might
She could defeat anyone that she liked
And she looked so bloody good on a horse
They couldn’t wait
For her to invade
Catherine the Great.

Yes, there is a sly reference here to the historical gossip that the Empress of Russia died from a mishap during carnal relations with a stallion.

“The Frog Princess” incorporates strains of “La Marseillaise” into it.

One more Divine Comedy favorite of mine is “Gin Soaked Boy” from the 1999 compilation A Secret History…The Best of the Divine Comedy, which might be good place for you to see if The Divine Comedy is for you. Or you can begin as I did on Apple Music with their “Essentials” and “Next Steps” collections.

Of the band’s dozen studio albums Fin de Siècle, which contains “The National Express,” is my favorite. If you prefer to see what the Divine Comedy is up to now, its latest album is Office Politics. The track I enjoy the most on this collection is “Philip and Steve’s Furniture Removal Company.” It’s about a proposed sitcom and its theme song, both devised by Hannon, in which minimalist classical composers, Philip Glass and Steve Reich, operate a furniture removal business in the 1960s in New York.

Silly? Of course. Brilliant? Definitely.

Oh yes, I said “regenerated” earlier. Regeneration is the title of the Divine Comedy’s 2001 album. Perhaps not coincidentally Hannon contributed a couple of solo tracks, “Song for Ten” and “Love Don’t Roam” to Doctor Who: Original Television Soundtrack from 2006.

In addition to Apple Music works by The Divine Comedy are also available on Amazon.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Social Media Exodus: Nextdoor review

Nextdoor’s icon. Kind of like a Monopoly piece

After getting tired of the Facebook, and now YouTube, censorship of anything remotely conservative, I decided to plot my social media exodus. If you read anything online, anyone contemplating leaving Facebook is an idiot, but since I don’t trust the media anyway, I wanted to try it myself. Over the next few Saturdays, I’m going to outline alternatives to Facebook, YouTube and Google, give each the pluses and minuses, and give you a guide on how to transition successfully.

My view of Twitter, even before the election

But I won’t help you with Twitter. Twitter has always been hot garbage. You’re on your own there.

The first platform that you should try is Nextdoor. I found this gem on a list of alternative social media sites, and it does not disappoint. Nextdoor connects you with your neighbors. When you register, you put in your address, which then places you in a pre-defined neighborhood. You then get dropped right into a well-designed home page that shows you posts from your neighbors plus nearby neighborhoods.

The first big difference from Facebook is that there isn’t a friends list to maintain. Nextdoor lets you see only the people in your neighborhood. When you go to post something, you can only post in a number of categories: for sale, safety, general, lost and found and recommendations. When you look at the general feed, its not at all like Facebook. There aren’t annoying Vox articles linked by your liberal friends, or anti-vax memes from that crazy mom down the street. Nope, its just local news.

Which is not a bad thing. I found a city council meeting I had missed, so I got updates on nearby construction projects. I also found out our water metering people were hacked by ransomware, which is why they haven’t sent us a bill. I never saw any of that on Facebook, and those things actually affect me a lot more than most of the things I read on Facebook.

For your interest areas, there are local groups, although not nearly as many as Facebook. It didn’t take long to find a conservative group that was working to support local people running for office. I also quickly found a gardening group and pawpaw (the fruit) group. I had to start a group for dads, but there were a million mom groups already. Although it doesn’t have the number of groups of Facebook, the fact that I can make a group with people in the area only is kind of nice.

The other great feature is the “for sale” section. One of the big benefits of Facebook is the Marketplace section, where you can find a ton of items for sale, or sell your items quickly. I’ve made a killing selling firewood through Marketplace, and that was something I didn’t want to lose. Nextdoor has similar functionality. Even better, I’m not wasting my time looking at items that are hundreds of miles away but offer “free shipping.”

Overall, Nextdoor has about 75% of what I want in social media. I get local things that matter to me, local groups that I care about, and can sell to my neighbors. I miss out on out of area relatives and friends, which is why Nextdoor can’t replicate Facebook. To be fair, they don’t claim to do that, and if you live near most of your family, maybe you won’t mind.

I now find myself checking Nextdoor a lot more than Facebook, and certainly enjoying it more. Maybe you will too, I’d recommend giving it a try.

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.

‘Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one’

By Christopher Harper

Sixty years ago, famed columnist A. J. Liebling wrote: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

Liebling was describing the powerful media families: Sulzberger, Graham, Scripps, Chandler, and others.

Twenty years ago, it was hoped that the inexpensive transition to ones and zeroes would break the corporate hold on the press.

Instead, the media magnates of old have been pushed aside by the tech giants: Facebook, Google, Twitter, and others.

As a result, freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own a portal.

In a critical essay in the Wall Street Journal, journalist Alex Berenson writes: “Information has never been more plentiful or easier to distribute. Yet we are sliding into a new age of censorship and suppression.”

Berenson has been writing about the problems with lockdowns, mask-wearing, and other government policies that he argues are not based on science.

He’s not a conspiracy theorist. He’s a well-known writer who worked for The New York Times. But Amazon has suppressed his self-published articles that questioned the measures used to control COVID-19.

“Google-owned YouTube censors even more aggressively,” Berenson notes. “The company disclosed in October that it had pulled more than 200,000 videos about the epidemic—including one from Scott Atlas, a physician who was advising President Trump. Facebook has not only censored videos and attached warning labels or ‘fact checks’ to news articles but removed groups that oppose lockdowns and other restrictions.”

I can attest that one of my columns here ran afoul of the Facebook “fact-checkers,” and there was no way to remove the “fact check” other than by deleting the entire column.

Here is the way to end the censorship and control of the tech companies over content.

You may have heard that President Trump wants to eliminate what’s known as Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. On this subject, Trump and Joe Biden agree.

Originally, Section 230 was designed to help websites moderate online porn. But that’s not what’s happening now.

Section 230 guarantees that websites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube cannot be sued in U.S. courts because of what users post. The law states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Alternatively, the tech giants cannot be sued for moderating the posts, which they do continually. Without the law’s liability protection, all of these U.S.-based platforms could be subject to massive lawsuits.

With the massive interference and editing of materials posted on the websites, however, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have become publishers and should be treated as such. 

But the considerable clout of the tech giants has stalled the elimination of the protection. Liebling should be rolling over in his grave.