Whenever a liberal complains to you about gerrymandering, your reply needs to be, “What about Illinois?”

By John Ruberry

A month ago I wrote about Illinois General Assembly Democrats, behind closed doors, redrawing legislative maps. The Dems, thanks to their gerrymandering after the 2010 Census, already enjoy supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly.

There was hope, a quite naive one to be sure, that because Illinois’ Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, firmly promised, many times, that he would veto any partisan remap proposal, that fair maps could eventually emerge.

Shortly before Election Day in 2018, again as I noted last month, Pritzker had this to say to an NRP reporter, “I will not sign a bill that is gerrymandered, I have been for independent maps for a long time now.”

Well Pritzker isn’t for independent maps anymore even though, as the Wall Street Journal (paid subscription required) reported just two weeks ago, the Chicago billionaire promised to veto “an unfair map.”

Pritzker lied. On Friday he signed into law a hyperpartisan gerrymandered map. And going a step further, for the first time in five decades Illinois’ Supreme Court districts were redrawn. Do I have to tell you which party the new court districts will favor?

From the Wall Street Journal editorial board:

Illinois Democrats hold a statehouse supermajority, every statewide office and a state Supreme Court majority. That sounds like a monopoly on power. But with voters starting to revolt against the state’s fiscal woes and political corruption, Democrats are now working to further entrench their power.

Late last week Democrats jammed through new state legislative maps that combine 14 Republicans in the Illinois House into seven districts. That means seven GOP incumbents are guaranteed to lose in party primaries. Republicans will also lose their incumbent advantage in seven districts. No Democrats were combined in the same House districts.

Illinois’s maps were already heavily gerrymandered to favor Democrats, who control 73 of the 118 seats in the House and 41 of 59 in the Senate. But Democrats are worried a GOP wave in the 2022 midterm elections could defeat Gov. J.B. Pritzker. They want to shore up their supermajority to ensure they can override a new Republican Governor.

Apologists for the Democrats explain that according to the state constitution the General Assembly needs to have new legislative districts approved by June 30. What they leave out is that if no map is passed, again according to the state constitution, an eight-person bipartisan committee is appointed to redraw maps. Republicans would likely end up in a stronger position in such a scenario because don’t believe it’s possible to create an even more unfair map.

What’s worse about these new legislative districts is because of the COVID-19 epidemic, not all of the US Census numbers have been released. Illinois Democrats based their new state House and Senate districts on projections from American Community Survey, not hard numbers. 

When confronted about gerrymandering by Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery on this weekend’s Flannery Fired Up, Boss Michael Madigan’s slippery successor as state House Speaker, Chris Welch, explained to the host that Oklahoma, a red state, also based their remapping on ACS data. 

True–only that Welch neglected to mention that Oklahoma is committed to redraw its maps once the final Census numbers are in.

Illinois, because of population loss, will have one less congressional seat after the 2022 midterm elections. Federal guidelines on congressional districts are quite strict–so the new congressional maps have not been released as the Illinois Democrats await those hard numbers to crunch and torture. But speculation is that these maps will also punish the GOP. 

One-party Democratic rule has destroyed Illinois. I’ve noted these facts many times at Da Tech Guy. Illinois’ public-worker pension plans are among the worst-funded in the nation. The average percentage in state budgets dedicated to pensions is four percent. In Illinois, because its promises to these liberal public-sector unions were not properly funded, it is 25 percent. The state’s repupation for corruption is well known–in my lifetime four governors, three Democrats and one Republican, have served time in federal prison. Federal authorites have been investigating the inner circle of Boss Madigan for several years. And for the first time in history Illinois lost population between Censuses. 

Every state will be redrawing their maps. Former president Barack Obama and his first attorney general, Eric Holder founded a group, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, that opposes Republican gerrymandering. Look for the two of them to holler and scream when they declare new red state remaps to be unfair. Of course Obama and Holder will be mum on gerrymandering in blue states, such as what occurs every ten years in Obama’s home state. 

What do you do if a liberal moans to you about those red state district maps that they say are gerrymandered? I have a three word reply for you. 

“What about Illinois?”

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Update: (DTG) Welcome Liberty Daily readers. Take a peek around. See Jake Tapper’s Dilemma, read about Russia and the Arctic and find out what happens when people discover what everyone already knows.

Oh and don’t forget this month’s Indulgence Calendar or the latest podcast.

Review: Season Two of Ragnarok

By John Ruberry

Late last week Season Two of Ragnarok began streaming on Netflix. The Norwegian series presents a modern telling of the ultimate battle, Ragnarök, between the Norse gods and their enemies, the jötunn, evil deities who are usually called giants in English. It is set in the fictional small fjord town of Edda, which is being poisoned by the town’s largest employer, Jutul Industries. The company is run by Vidar Jutul (Gísli Örn Garðarsson), the head of the jötunn quasi-family. His wife, Ran (Synnøve Macody Lund), is the principal of Edda High School, which Magne Seier (David Stakson) and his brother, Laurits (Jonas Strand Gravli), attend. Also students there are two other Jutuls, Saxa (Theresa Frostad Eggesbø) and Fjor (Herman Tømmeraas).

In Season One, my DTG review is here, teenager Magne suspects he is the rebirth of Thor. Yes, he’s another “chosen one.” In the final episode of that season, while Laurits humiliates Ran in a public address, Magne confronts Vidar in a battle. 

The second season picks up where the first ends. Somewhat diminished this season is the teen love anxiety–while the Norse mythology is elevated. There are few scenes at the high school. So there is a bit less of a Twilight feel this time around.

Laurits is a prankster so if you know a little bit about the Norse gods, you should have suspected in the first season that he is a modern representation of Loki, the mischievous god. Reluctantly and by happenstance, as Jake and Elwood did in The Blues Brothers, Magne is “putting the back back together,” and that includes Wotan Wagner (Bjørn Sundquist), Edda’s Odin, and Harry (Benjamin Helstad) as the militaristic god Týr. Edda is multicultural, so it’s not surprising that an immigrant from Sri Lanka, Iman (Danu Sunth), achieves goddess status as Frigg, a clairvoyant.

The powers–and the alliances–of the gods and the jötunn as told in Norse mythology are complicated–as they are here. So are the romances, particularly the one with Fjor and a human, Gry (Emma Bones).

According to the myths Loki was a shape shifter–that is not shown here–and some of those tales of the trickster god involve gender fluidity. Laurits is unsure of his gender–but more certain of his sexuality. Oh, there is also a brief sensual scene with two women.

All through Season Two the government is investigating the environmental devestatation Jutul Industries brings to Edda–as well as the company’s financial improprieties. 

Magne and Laurits’ mother, Turid (Henriette Steenstrup), does her best in keeping the family together while struggling with poverty and of course, raising two teen sons who are conflicted gods. 

The final episode, the sixth–Season One is also consists just six entries–brings forth another climactic confrontation. The door is open for a third season of Ragnarok and I’ll be back if there is. Although to be honest I probably would have lost interest during Season One has their not been a mythological foundation for the series. As of this writing Ragnarok is a Top Ten series on Netflix.

The streaming service gives viewers the option of watching Ragnarok in dubbed English or in Norwegian with English subtitles. There are also some passages, dubbed of course, in Old Norse. 

Season Two of Ragnarok is rated TV-MA because of foul language (and gasp!) smoking. In reality the series is more like a PG-13 movie in regards to possibly objectionable content. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

A much different type of diversity in journalism is needed than what Lori Lightfoot is looking for

By John Ruberry

Last week, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, to mark the second anniversary of her inauguration, said that on that day she would only grant one-on-one interviews to black or brown journalists to protest the “overwhelmingly white” City Hall press corps. 

She was immediately attacked by journalists of all colors for this boneheaded move. And rather than backing down Lightfoot doubled down on her stupidity. A frog sitting in a polluted pond has more common sense she does.

Lightfoot wants more diversity among the members of the media who cover her. But the kind of diversity I have in mind is much different than what she envisions–but it is sorely needed. We need journalists who are regular people.

That’s a bold proposal, I know. But there are too many out-of-touch elitists telling us how they think the world is.

A leftist Democrat, Lightfoot is a special kind of awful for her to face such hostility from the local media, which, with the notable exception of John Kass of the Chicago Tribune, is overwhelmingly liberal. In the past two years Chicago’s murder rate has soared, it has been hit with two rounds of widespread looting and rioting, which that media has deemed instead “civil unrest,” and she hasn’t confronted Chicago’s millstone, the billions of unfunded public-worker pension obligations created largely by the indifference of longtime mayor Richard M. Daley. Her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, at least made baby-step efforts to tackle the pension problem.

Of course Lightfoot will blame the COVID-19 pandemic for most of these problems. Her overbearing and pedantic press conferences on COVID probably lead most people to tune her out, which is a sound idea. And as I noted last year at Da Tech Guy, Lightfoot ordered the closing of Montrose Beach on a toasty August morning because the day before a large group of people gathered there despite her lockdown orders.

Wow! That will show ’em who is boss! The beach is closed! Go to your and stay there without your dinner! Grrr!! Grrr!

Later that night and into the following morning that second round of looting and rioting, which Chicago police officers, probably following orders from above, mostly just contained, not confronted. 

Let’s get back to that diversity crisis.

On this weekend’s Flannery Fired Up on Fox Chicago the host, Mike Flannery, a fair journalist by the way and a white fella like me, twice asked a panel gathered on Zoom consisting of a black journalism professor, an Hispanic alderman, and an African-American state legislator if a lack of newsroom diversity has prevented the acurrate reporting of a story. 

Here’s how Flannery phrased his query the second time, “Give me an example of a story that was poorly covered because white journalists were covering it instead black or Hispanic journalists.” 

The trio responded only with vagueness–although the professor did mention crime in a general sense. But none of them could cite a specific example of bias, or even poor coverage, to answer Flannery’s question.

Crisis?

The host said there needs to be more minorities in newsrooms. I agree. But let’s make the local media even more diverse. How about some conservative voices? Or perhaps some individuals who can bring what diversity advocates call “real life experience” into the conversation?

Let’s talk about those riots. I have a client, an Indian-American man, whose parents own a convenience store on the city’s West Side. He still helps out there once in a while. Twice last summer during the riots the store was emptied of all but debris. What about them? Oh, sure, the helicopter media will do an interview here and there with a merchant after rioting, oops, “civil unrest,” but reporters primarily focus mainly on the issues they see a more important, such as why the riots started in the first place. Yes, root causes shouldn’t be overlooked.

People are creatures of habit in many ways of course, including shopping. When my client’s family store re-opened, not all of their customers returned. Their pattern was disrupted. Restaurants in that area are facing the same problem. Grand re-openings cause a big splash–but will the journalism school alums who as adults have only worked jobs in the field have the instinct to follow up six months or a year later to see if normalcy really returned? The Tribune’s Kass, whose father was a grocer, knows better.

Let’s talk about the real life experiences within my family. After many years as a limousine driver Mrs. Marathon Pundit was laid off when the COVID lockdown began. How many journalists have a spouse who drives a limo? Too many journalists are married to other journalists–they’re an inbred lot. Real life experience anyone? We quickly ascertained the chances of a call back to her old job were bleak. So Mrs. Marathon Pundit decided to work as an Uber driver again. But this time there was a problem. There was an outstanding $200 parking ticket from 2005 that hadn’t been paid on a car that I usually drove that was registered to both of us. Now to become an Uber operator in Chicago a driver, among other things, must have a clean driving record and no outstanding parking tickets. 

The two prior times Mrs. Marathon Pundit was approved as an Uber driver that parking violation, which let me remind you was 16-years old, didn’t come up. Why is that? Also, in Chicago, there is–wait for it–no statute of limitations on parking tickets, which places that attack on society on the same level as murder and arson. 

Among the issues that Lori Lightfoot successfully ran on was a promise that she would do away with “draconian ‘anti-scofflaw’ laws” that prevent people from driving a cab or working as a rideshare driver, or even being employed by the city.

Of course if I was a City Hall reporter I’d ask Lightfoot, without bringing up my ancient parking ticket of course, “What about your vow in regards to what you called the ‘draconian anti-scofflaw laws’ on parking tickets as well as banning the used of the ‘boot” for parking violators?”

Followed up with, “Why is there no statute of limititions on parking fines in Chicago?” 

We paid that $200 ticket, even though I don’t recall parking my car where the City said I did all those years ago. A keypunch error–someone could have transposed a licence place digit–could be why we were cited. In Chicago, like many other places, the law is upside down in regards to parking violations. It’s up to the accused to prove themselves innocent.

Chicago–and every place–needs journalists who hammer public figures on issues such as parking tickets. And omnipresent red light cameras. Do you know that minorities in Chicago are hit harder by parking and traffic fines? Who says? Lori Lightfoot said so two years ago. “We can longer ignore the documented existence of racial disparities in Chicago’s fines, fees and collection practices,” then-candidate Lightfoot told voters. Instead, Lightfoot has doubled down on the fines. Since March Chicago drivers captured by traffic cameras going as little as six-miles-per hour over the posted speed limit face fines.

Of course such issues aren’t as meaty as the Holy Grail that all journalists strive for, breaking the next Watergate Scandal. But I can assure you that most Chicagoans care a heck of a lot more about being burdened by oppessive traffic and parking fines–as opposed to Lightfoot’s opinion that the City Hall’s media corps isn’t diverse enough for her.

Do I really have to go into detail about how most Chicagoans are abhored by rioting and looting?

Diversity isn’t a color. It’s a mindset.

John Ruberry, who has been working in sales for years, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago aldermen making a wrong turn on proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive is between the skyscrapers and the lake

By John Ruberry

“And it starts up north from Hollywood, water on the driving side
Concrete mountains rearing up, throwing shadows just about five
Sometimes you can smell the green if your mind is feeling fine
There ain’t no finer place to be, than running Lake Shore Drive
And there’s no peace of mind, or place you see, than riding on Lake Shore Drive.”
Aliotta-Haynes-Jeremiah, “Lake Shore Drive.”

As I’ve stated many times before Chicago is a city in decline. Decades of rampant corruption and fiscal malfeasance, particularly with woefully unfunded public worker pension plans in regards to the latter, have placed Chicago in a bankrupty-in-name only status. The bleak future is now. Chicago can’t keep kicking the can down the road, whether that road is Michigan Avenue or Lake Shore Drive. 

Chicago’s woke mayor, Lori Lightfoot, who is halfway into her first term, has made Chicago’s situation worse with her overreaching lockdown response to COVID-19 and her feeble response to two rounds of summer rioting in 2020. The city’s murder rate is high. The quality of education provided by Chicago Public Schools is low and has gotten worse because the Chicago Teachers Union keeps pushing more convenient, for the teachers of course, remote learning lessons.

Politicians, particularly liberals, are adept at adopting symbols, as author Tom Clancy pointed out to Bill O’Reilly in an interview shortly after the 9/11 attacks. “The general difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across,” Clancy said to O’Reilly. “And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down then people die, whereas the liberals figure, we can always build a nice memorial and make people forget it ever happened and was our fault. They’re very good at making people forget it was their fault.”

Okay, no bridges have collapsed in decline-and-fall Chicago. But some City Council members are lining up behind a proposal to rename Lake Shore Drive for Chicago’s first non-indigenous resident, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable. He opened a trading post at the mouth of the Chicago River at Lake Michigan around 1790.

About the Chicago City Council: Since 1973 over thirty-five of its members have been sentenced to federal prison.

Little is known about DuSable although it’s believed he was born in Haiti around 1750. In 1800 he sold his home and the land around it; the property ended up in the hands of John Kinzie, the first recorded European-American to live in what is now America’s third-largest city. One of Chicago’s first streets was named for him, but DuSable was forgotten, wrongly in my opinion, for many years. But his legacy caught up and surpassed Kinzie’s. There is the DuSable Museum of African American History on the city’s South Side, DuSable High School, a DuSable Park near the site of his former home, and a bust of DuSable on Michigan Avenue, even though because there are no known contemporary renderings of DuSable–no one knows what he looked like. Oh yeah, we were talking about bridges. The Michigan Avenue Bridge downtown was renamed for DuSable in 2010.

There are some urban streets that are iconic. Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, Fifth Avenue in New York, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. And Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. 

Lake Shore Drive–it has had that name since 1946–is a fantastic driving road. Fifth Avenue, for instance, is a better walking street. Chicago’s early leaders, post-Kinzie, made the wise decision to keep the Lake Michigan waterfront open, and most of it is park land–with Lake Shore Drive. When I have out-of-town guests I always make a point of taking them on a trip up and down Lake Shore Drive. The response I usually receive is from them, “I had no idea Chicago was so beautiful!”

Of course if the road is renamed for DuSable, the views will be just as pretty and Lake Michigan will be equally blue. But Lake Shore Drive is in essence a brand name. An iconic one. Why mess with that?

The Chicago Tribune editorial board has suggested a sound alternative–renaming Millennium Park, which abuts Lake Shore Drive, for DuSable and merging it with DuSable Park. Mayor Lightfoot has a good idea too, renaming the Chicago Riverwalk, which arguably has no name, for DuSable. But Lightfoot has gained, many say earned, a lot of enemies in her short time as mayor. They oppose the Lightfoot’s proposal because of their dislike for her. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, the only reason in my opinion to subscribe to that paper, offers a superb knockdown of the Lake Shore Drive renaming proposal, which brings up many of the same points I have mentioned. Also, Kass, as I have done, has excoriated Lightfoot’s woke Chicago Monuments Project, which has placed, among other items, five Abraham Lincoln statues “under review.” Yep, right here in the Land of Lincoln.

Destroying symbols is important to liberals too.

Those against the renaming Lake Shore Drive find themselves in a trap. In this cancel culture environment opponents of DuSable Drive will be called racist by the virtue signalers–even though they are not. Sears Tower, when it opened four decades ago, was the tallest building in the world. The naming rights of it were purchased by a British firm and it’s official name is now the Willis Tower

No one I know–and I have a large circle of relatives, friends, and acquaintances–calls this iconic structure anything but the Sears Tower. No one. A DuSable Drive faces the same fate. Except nobody has ever called a Willis Tower-denier a racist. 

I’m with the Tribune and Lightfoot on this controversy. Rename Millennium Park, which has only been open since 2004–because of delays and cost overruns it opened well after the millennium began–for DuSable. And rename the Riverwalk too for DuSable. It’s another relatively new city attraction, it opened in stages beginning in 2001.

And I have my own idea. The former Meigs Field, a small lakefront airport abruptly closed by the midwife of Chicago’s pension crisis, Richard M. Daley, is now known as Northerly Island Park. I suspect that Daley wanted that space named for him. If Millenium Park keeps its moniker–then rename Northerly Island Park for DuSable. Call it DuSable South–a twin of the other park.

Don’t mess with success Chicago. But the city, like the state of Illinois, has a habit of making bad decisions. Call it tradition.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Obama and Pritzker exposed as frauds on gerrymandering in Illinois

By John Ruberry

Last year former president Barack Obama called partisan gerrymandering “a sneaky way for politicians to consolidate as much power as they can. In the end, gerrymandering means that citizens’ voices are being diminished.” 

A year earlier the governor of Obama’s home state of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, had this to say after the US Supreme Court decided not to get involved in partistan remaps. “As I’ve said since I was a candidate, I will veto any map that is unfair,” Pritzker said. “It’s the right thing to do. We’re going to have to make sure that here in Illinois we’re not gerrymandering, that we’re drawing maps that are fair and competitive. That’s what’s best for the voters of the state, that they have choices when they go to the ballot.” 

Obama and Pritzker are of course both Democrats. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, state Senate minority leader Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), pointed out that Obama, while at Illinois’ state capital late in his presidential term, denounced gerrymandering and called for reform. “And this needs to be done across the nation,” the 44th president said, “not just in a select few states. It should be done everywhere.”

Apparently not in Illinois becauses Obama has been silent about stacking the decks in favor of Democrats. The 2010 remap of Illinois congressional and state legislative districts was a travesty of democracy, as was the one after the 2000 Census, both of which were the work of longtime Illinois House speaker and Democratic party chairman Boss Michael Madigan, who was forced into retirement this year as scandals engulfed his inner circle. The state legislature, as mandated by the Illinois constitution, draws new General Assembly and US congressional district maps.

Late last month Pritzker appeared to be backtracking from his stance against gerrymandering.

The most blatant gerrymandering from the most recent remap is Illinois’ 4th congressional district, nicknamed “the earmuffs,” which is pictured above. 

But a quick look at maps won’t tell the whole story. Illinois three largest cities outside of Chicago, Rockford, Peoria, and Springfield, the aforementioned state capital, are each split between two congressional districts. This is not a case of these cities being too large for one district, the average size of a US congressional district is over 700,000, the largest of these municipalities is Rockford, with just under 150,000 residents. 

The current Illinois congressional delegation consists of thirteen Democrats and five Republicans. Mission accomplished, Democrats. That number will change because Illinois, again, will lose a congressional seat. As I’ve remarked before, Illinoisans are voting with their feet by moving out. They are fed up with rampant corruption, high taxes, and an unfunded public worker pension debt crisis that can be solved only by default or hyperinflation. Between the 2010 and 2020 Census counts Illinois lost population–the first time that has ever happened to the Prairie State.

The electoral results are predictable when politicians choose their constituents. Last year 52 of the 118 races for seats in the Illinois House had only one candidate. In the state Senate it was worse–10 of the 20 races had only one person running. The Democrats have veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. 

Twice in the prior decade Republicans led efforts to allow voters to decide to amend the state constitution by having a non-partisan committee draw maps instead of the legislature. Both times what was called the Fair Map Amendment was ruled unconstitutional in a party-line state Supreme Court decision. The lead attorney in the lawsuit to block the amendment had ties to Boss Madigan.

Back to the US Congress. Illinois’ Democratic delegation is lockstep behind House Bill 1, which if made into law, in the process of nationalizing local elections, will mandate independent committees, not state legislators, to take charge of the decennial remaps in all 50 states. But why aren’t Illinois 13 Democratic members of Congress decrying the current remap process here? Because they are phonies, that’s why. Just like Pritzker and Obama. 

The current remapping in Illinois is being performed behind closed doors by Democratic members of the General Assembly using preliminary Census data. Hey Pritzker! Are you aware of this news?

Yeah, I know, in 1990 Republicans drew gerrymandered districts. It was wrong then too.

On Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up this weekend, state Rep. Tom Demmer (R-Dixon) told the host, “We should draw fair, straightforward maps that use official [Census] data and give the people of Illinois a real choice in their elections so people are picking their elected officials and not the other way around.”

Tellingly, because Flannery strives to be fair, he had two Republicans on the gerrymandering segment of his program, but no Dems. I’m very confident that Flannery invited a Democrat to appear but they are either too ashamed to defend their non-transparent remapping–or they know it’s indefensible.

One more time for emphasis.

Six days before his election as governor a St. Louis NPR reporter, Jason Rosenbaum, asked Pritzker, “If you’re governor and they send you a map that is obvioulsy gerrymandered against Republicans would you veto it and why?”

Candidate Pritzker’s response? “I will not sign a bill that is gerrymandered,” adding, “I have been for independent maps for a long time.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

Remember Operation Warp Speed!

By Christopher Harper

As Joe Biden tries to take a victory lap over the vaccination program, he and the media have suppressed any praise for Operation Warp Speed, the Trump program that made the shots available far sooner than anyone expected. 

On May 15, 2020, President Trump announced the program to encourage private and public partnerships to enable faster approval and production of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The name came from the speed of travel from Star Trek

Here’s how constant Trump critic David Sanger of The New York Times greeted the program:

“President Trump is pressing his health officials to pursue a crash development program for a coronavirus vaccine that could be widely distributed by the beginning of next year, despite widespread skepticism that such an effort could succeed and considerable concern about the implications for safety.

“In more normal times, a vaccine can take upward of a decade to get through all the regulatory approvals. Some officials note the dangers of rushing: During the Ford administration, a rushed vaccine for swine flu caused several dozen deaths and damaging side effects.”

A photo cutline that accompanied the article said: “Dr. Anthony Fauci has warned the president and his team that a vaccine would take at least a year to develop and produce.”

I checked the article for a correction or a retraction and found none. 

That doesn’t surprise me. Neither does the absence of praise for what President Trump and his administration helped accomplish: a vaccine for the virus.

Only recently, a bevy of media hacks misrepresent Trump’s role in finding a solution.

CNN political analyst Gloria Borger falsely said Operational Warp Speed occurred under President Biden, and no one on CNN’s panel corrected her in real time. The correction to the falsehood came much later.

“Everybody understands that Operation Warp Speed happened under Joe Biden, but getting vaccines into arms was a Biden operation,” Borger said.

The Trump administration gave somewhat more than $12 billion for the development and testing of the vaccines. So far, two of the companies that got money, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, have effective shots. A third vaccine from Pfizer got substantial funds from the German government, and the Trump administration ordered 100 million doses for $2 billion. 

Without Operation Warp Speed, the vaccines would not have been available to stop the spread of the virus.

As Paul Harvey used to say: “And now you know…the rest of the story.” 

Thank you, President Trump!

Review: Season 1 of Shadow and Bone

By John Ruberry

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s there was the hope, egged on by the music media, that soon “the next Beatles” would arrive. The Bee Gees, Badfinger, and the Knack were among those acts who failed to match the hype. And no band could match the Beatles’ level because even when they were together they were already legends. 

In that same time period there were even more “next Bob Dylans” heralded.

No one can supercede a legend.

Late last month the first season of Shadow and Bone began streaming on Netflix. 

And many are wondering if Shadow and Bone is the next Game of Thrones

Short answer? No. Longer answer? Not even close. And as HBO’s Game of Thrones has entered the world of legend, Shadow and Bone doesn’t have a chance. 

Call me sadistic, but I knew in the first episode of GoT, “Winter Is Coming,” that here was a series that broke the mold when Jamie Lannister pushed young Bran Stark from a high window ledge so to hide his sexual relationship with his sister, Cersei.

With Shadow and Bone you are exposed to an eight-episode muddled mess. 

The show is based on a trilogy of high fantasy books by Leigh Bardugo, and there are elements from two of her other works thrown in too. To understand what is going on you it seems you have to read all of these books first. And I’ve read none of them.

“Students,” I can see a teacher announcing, “your assigment is to read five books and then, only then, watch Shadow and Bone.” Uh, no.

The alternate world of Shadow and Bone is largely based on Russia of the late 19th century. The costume designers make the most of it and they deserve an Emmy nomination for their efforts. Soldiers wear fur ushankas and papakhas. Women don ornate dresses, the heads of civilian males are often topped with bowlers. While GoT and Lord of the Rings is rooted in the Middle Ages of western Europe, viewers here find themselves in the Russia of the Industrial Revolution. There are guns and a train. But no sword battles.

Ravka (Russia) is in the center of the continent and it’s separated by the Fold, a thick cloud wall inhabited by human-eating volcra, who are a cross between griffins and pterodactyls. Spoiler alert: there are no dragons. The Fold was created years earlier by an evil grisha, that is, a magic maker of Ravka. Maybe I’m a dope but it wasn’t until the third episode that I ascertained that the grisha were magicians. They are particularly adept at fire-starting. The grishas make up one of two armies of Ravka.

The central character of Shadow and Bone is Alina Starkov (Jessie Mei Li), a woman in her late teens and a grisha who is half-Shu Han. The Shu Han nation, which we don’t encounter here, is the show’s version of China and they are enemies of Ravka. To the north is Fjerda, a stand-in for Scandinavia. We see the Fjerdans when they fight the Ravkans.

An orphan–just like Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins–Alina encounters racism because of her foreign looks. She has a puppy love relationship with a fellow orphan, military tracker Malyen “Mal” Oretsev (Archie Renaux), they’ve known each other since childhood. Alina is a mapmaker for the First Army, the non-magical one–and man oh man, could viewers use a decent map here to get a grip on the geography of Shadow and Bone. Only one is briefly shown. More time is devoted to Alina burning maps.

We quickly learn that Alina, like Harry Potter, is a Chosen One. The revelation brings her to a grisha leader, General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), and the capital city of Ravka, where she meets the king, who looks a lot like Czar Alexander III. Alina is declared a Sun Summoner, that’s a really big deal you see, and then begins her training to fully utilize her powers.

Word spreads about Alina–all the way to the island nation of Kerch–which is Shadow and Bone’s version of the Netherlands, complete with its largest city, hedonistic Ketterdam, which parallels another city. Do I really need to spell out which one? We meet three underworld characters there, Kaz Brekker (Freddy Carter), Inej Ghafa (Amita Suman), and Jesper Fahey (Kit Young) who leave Ketterdam to kidnap Alina for a one-million kruge reward. The three criminals have an intriguing dynamic and they are more captivating characters than Alina and Mal. 

If you like elaborate clothes, eye-catching special effects, and being transporated to an alternative yet familiar civilization, then Shadow and Bone could be for you. But if you expect fully-developed characters and a coherent plot line, then stay away. 

If magic and the 19th-century interests you then instead I recommend streaming Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on Amazon. In this series, among other things, the Duke of Wellington is aided by a magician to fight the French during the Napoleonic Wars. 

As for the grisha–if they are so powerful how come they are captured with relative ease?

Shadow and Bone is rated TV-14 for violence, adult situations, and brief nudity.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

To reign, divide. This is the goal of critical race theory

By John Ruberry

I’d like to add my thoughts to Christopher F. Rufo’s superb piece in City Journal that attacks critical race theory. First an explanation of what that is. In short, critical race theory is the belief that America is systematically racist. Yes, you’ve heard that term before, systemic racism. White Americans created this nation, according to critical race theory, primarily to perpetuate white supremacy and they are doing so today.

Wrong on so many counts. 

While many of the Founding Fathers were slave holders some were abolitionists. A Civil War–two of my ancestors fought for the Union by the way–was fought to end slavery. But since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968 became law, it’s hard to argue that America is systemically racist. Yes, there is still racism among Americans but most of us live, work, and interact with people of other races without incident–even better, many think nothing of it.

When I was a child intermarriage among the races was rare. While Americans still are much more likely to marry within their own race, in 1967, when the US Supreme Court ruled that laws in some states that banned inter-racial marriage as unconstitutional, only three percent of Americans married someone outside their race. By 2015 those numbers had risen to 15 percent.

There is much progress to be made–there should be no racism. 

If America is truly “rigged” or “fixed” for the white man, then why is our southern border being overwhelmed by migrants from Mexico and Central America? Why do immigrants from Asia or Africa continue to settle in the United States?

Critical race theory, which is an offshoot of Marxism, is being taught at our schools. While there is some pushback against this indoctrination but there needs to be more, especially since the Biden administration supports critical race theory. Opponents who speak out against this toxicity should be prepared to be called racist if they are white–or naive fools if they are not. The use of kneejerk false accusations against those with other ideas is one of the many weapons of the left.

One goal of the practicioners of critical race theory is to divide us into oppressors (white) and oppressed (minority). Divide and rule is an ancient tactic of totalitarians. The next step for these self-righteous ones is to divide people into even more groups, making rule by one person, or one idealogy, an easier task. Those other groups could be rural, urban, suburban, southern, western, and more.

Left-handers versus right-handers, anyone?

The use of such tactics ironically mirrors who the “woke” persistently vilifies, the colonizers.

Speaking of the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s on NPR yesterday, former UN senior adviser Elizabeth Nyamayaro said, “And a lot of that also had to do with lots of colonial policies that – you know, I grew up in Zimbabwe, and we were colonized by Britain. And one of the devices that was used to control the massive population was to split us – you know, split us into different groups, give us different rights so that whilst we fought amongst ourselves, you know, those in power would continue to rule over all of us.”

Supposedly in the fifteen century, Louis XI of France said, “To reign, divide.” In the workplace I’ve had a few psychotic bosses who “managed” this way.

Is this the American we want to live in? Us versus them? You versus me?

Never forget, you are not automatically a racist if you oppose critical race theory. You simply are against that divisive poison.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Information on the Adam Toledo killing that the mainstream media is overlooking

By John Ruberry

If you receive your news only from mainstream media outlets then you probably don’t know that Adam Toledo, a thirteen-year-old Chicago seventh-grader, was likely a member of the Latin Kings gang, a criminial organization whose reach is worldwide.

Toledo was killed in a police shooting at 2:30am on March 29, It was a Monday, which is what my parents called “a school night.” That night the young teen was with a 21-year-old, Ruben Roman, who was on probation for gun crimes

Chicago’s former police superintendant, Garry McCarthy, places the blame on Toledo’s death on street gangs, not the cop shot who shot him. “They have the ‘shorties’ who they give the gun to,” McCarthy told WBBM-AM. Toledo apparently was one of those “shorties.” Youngsters such as Toledo, if caught, usually end up in the more lenient juvenile court system, although with Kim Foxx as Cook County’s prosector, the adult courts are quite lenient too.

Police officers were responding to a reports of gunfire in the Southwest Side Little Village neighborhood when they found Roman, who was quickly taken into custody, and Toledo, who ran. In a just-released police bodycam video, which is difficult to watch and contains profanity, it appears that about a second before he was fatally wounded, Toledo dropped his gun. 

There have been scattered local media reports about Toledo’s reputed membership in the Latin Kings. A British newspaper, News Corp’s The Sun, has been quite direct. Of the national media that has spoken up, left-leaning “fact-checking” site Snopes classifies such speculation as “Research in progress.”  But for the most part the big-time national media hasn’t reported about Toledo and his apparent Latin Kings ties.

To be fair the Chicago Sun-Times reported a few days after the shooting, “Chicago police leaders warned their cops that factions of the Latin Kings planned to retaliate following the fatal police shooting of a 13-year-old. Gang members were instructed to ‘shoot at unmarked Chicago police vehicles,’ CPD warned.”

The national mainstream media clearly has another of their narratives to protect, in regards to this one, it’s that racist police officers are indiscrimanetly shooting members of the minority community, particularly young ones. Meanwhile, the Hey Jackass! site says as of today, 165 people have been shot to death in Chicago so far this year–and 759 others have been wounded. Of those killed in 2021, again according to Hey Jackass, over 90 percent of the victims were minorites. And finally, yet again according to the same source, there have been only eight police shootings in Chicago so far this year–three of them fatal. 

Some people are unfairly blaming Toledo’s parents for his death. Good people sometimes raise kids who end up bad. Toledo was reporting missing by his mother on March 26, three days before his death, but he returned home the next day.

At 13 there was plenty of time for Toledo to turn his life around. 

The Chicago Teachers Union, which for months has stubbornyl blocked school re-openings despite the fact that children are the least harmed age group by COVID-19, said in a statement, “Adam Toledo was loved. He was one of ours.” While students have been truant since the first schools took in kids, remote learning leads to even more of it. Chicago’s elementary schools only opened, part time, for in-class learning a few weeks before Toledo’s killing. The high schools re-open in a similar fashion only tomorrow.  In February, the Centers for Disease Control, declared with safeguards, it was safe to re-open schools, even without vaccination.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

School lockdowns lead to urban carjacking spike

By John Ruberry

The COVID-19 school lockdown continues in America’s biggest cities, despite clear evidence that children are unlikely to become seriously ill from that virus.

One unintended consquence of the closing of public schools to all but remote learning is more crime–and especially more carjackings. 

It is no longer just conservative media calling attention to the link to the school lockdowns and carjackings in big cities. Although CBS was artful in its report in a story last week. “Investigators say the trend is driven by 12 to 15 year olds with time on their hands during the pandemic,” CBS News said. These kids have more time on their hands because their schooling consists of Zoom instruction something CBS omitted in its story.

Last month a 66-year-old UberEats driver, Mohammad Anwar, a Pakistani immigrant, died while clinging to his vehicle in Washington DC after being tased in a carjacking by two girls, a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old. A bystander took video of the crime–which has gone viral. 

“You know, idle minds are the devil’s playground. And a lot of these kids, they’ve been idle for a year and a half now without going to school. And that’s been a big problem,” Miami Police Chief Art Acevedo told Fox News last week.

In that CBS story referenced earlier it was also reported, “The number of carjackings has exploded during the pandemic. Carjackings have increased by more than 100% in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Minneapolis. They are up more than 343% in Washington, D.C.”

Let’s look at Chicago. The pusillanimous nature of the local media creates an opening for straightforward sources. One of those news sites is Hey Jackass! and it reports the raw numbers of carjackings. Well sort of. Stick with me on this one. In 2019 there were 603 reported carjackings and 1,396 last year. So far in 2021 there have been 404. But here’s the kicker. “Carjacking data comes directly from the CPD’s own data set,” Hey Jackass! warns, “so add 20% to obtain the true number.” 

There’s a lot of speculation about why carjackers commit their crimes. Thrill is probably one of them, but also often vehicles are carjacked to aid other crimes. Perhaps it’s a mix of the two. Just last night, another great local crime site, CWB Chicago, told us of a 55-year-old woman who was pushed to the ground inside a Target parking lot as her Audi was carjacked. The criminals drove away with her car and the one they arrived in, a Kia, which was likely carjacked near the University of Chicago a couple of hours prior. Percentage-wise since 2017 the arrest rate for Chicago carjackings has been in the single digits, according to Hey Jackass!

On April 19 Chicago’s public high schools are scheduled to re-open, although how that occurs varies from school to school. Of course the recalcitrant Chicago Teachers Union, citing new COVID-19 numbers, is opposed.

Mental health among students has suffered during the lockdown

Once the school lockdowns end–and I believe they will one day–don’t expect the carjackers to give up their horrible hobby. 

Businesses in Chicago, already suffering from 13 months of lockdowns, rioting, and looting, are receiving another hit. Suburbanites, for good reason, are afraid to travel to the city. And the carjackings occur in all neighborhoods, rich, poor, and in between.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.