Biden will visit a troubled Chicago on Wednesday

Blogger in front of an abandoned Chicago building

By John Ruberry

On Wednesday Joe Biden is expected to visit Chicago, a city where he won over eighty-percent of the vote and he prevailed in all of the city’s 50 wards.

Which makes today a good time to ask, “How are things going in Chicago?”

Not well. 

Chicago is on pace to suffer from more murders than any year since 1996, when 796 people were slain. Last year 774 people were murdered–but just 509 in 2019.

Rioting (excuse me liberals, I meant to say “civil unrest”) and looting hit Chicago in two waves in 2020. North Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, a significant cash cow for the city, was hit especially hard. The new year got off to a bad start when the flagship store of the ritzy Water Tower mall on the Mag Mile, Macy’s, announced it was leaving. The Gap pulled out in late 2020. This summer Disney announced it was leaving North Michigan Avenue as well as shuttering its other Illinois stores

Last week in her budget address the city’s embattled mayor, Lori Lightfoot, proposed aggressive spending fueled by a one-time injection of federal COVID-19 funds. Gimmick spending is a recent and unfortunate Chicago tradition. In 2008 Mayor Richard M. Daley, who inherited none of the financial smarts of his father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, sold the rights for all of the city parking meters for 75-years for $1.15 billion. Nearly all of the cash from that deal was spent in just two years. Thirteen years earlier the younger Daley sold the rights to the Chicago Skyway for $1.7 billion–that money was similarly squandered. Ten years later the Skyway rights were re-sold for $2.8 billion–and taxpayers collected none of that windfall.

Also part of the Lightfoot’s budget proposal is the monumentally stupid idea to send $500 to 5,000 random families, likely a starter plan for Chicago guaranteeing a universal income. Who would be paying for that? Since the cash comes from COVID-19 relief funds it will be American taxpayers. Don’t blame me because I voted for Donald Trump.

Meanwhile Chicago’s public worker pension plans remain the worst funded in America. Because of that alone Chicago is bankrupt-in-name-only. 

Redistricting of Chicago’s 50 wards is coming soon and that will ignite a firestorm. African-American leaders expect to keep their majority in 18 of those wards even though the black population decreased by nearly 10 percent between 2010 and 2020 according to the US Census. The white population increased slightly and the Hispanic and Asian populations went up by a bit more. Surprising everyone is that overall Chicago’s population increased by almost two percent between the most recent Census counts.

Meanwhile Chicago’s streets are in terrible shape and drivers have to struggle with seemingly omnipresent red-light cameras. Lightfoot has added a new twist to Chicago motorists’ misery. Drivers captured by cameras going just six miles over the speed limit are being fined. Of course that’s not as horrible as being carjacked. In 2019, according to Hey Jackass, there were 603 carjackings in the city, last year that number soared to 1,396. So far in 2021 there have been 1,070 carjackings in Chicago. As with shootings, the arrest rate for Chicago carjackings is abysmally low.

Don’t expect the largely compliant mainstream media, even if Biden takes questions during his Chicago visit, to query the president on Chicago’s myriad of problems. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The history of old and feeble men as head of state is a tragic one

Paul von Hindenburg

By John Ruberry

As president of the United States we have a man in the White House who has moved well-beyond his autumn years. That man of course is Joe Biden, who even when he was at his best was simply a mediocrity. 

Other men–no women that I can recall–who were just too old or sick to perform their duties have been heads of government. I’ll get to them in a bit. But the story usually ends bad for those countries. Sometimes, such as with the Soviet Union, that nation ceases to exist.

But back to Biden.

Much was said–but not on the Democratic protector networks CNN and MSNBC–about Joe Biden falsely claiming during a video conference last week with some Jewish leaders that he visited a Pittsburgh synagogue shortly after a deadly mass shooting in 2018. 

He did not. Biden merely called that synagogue’s rabbi the following year.

But as is often the case with Sleepy Joe, the story gets worse. In an attempt to bond with the participants on the call, Biden spoke of his daughter, who is married to a Jewish man, while–gasp!–off of the teleprompter. 

Imagine Superman after being buried in Kryponite–times 1000.

“There’s a psalm based – there’s a hymn – my favorite hymn in the Catholic Church based on a psalm, and it’s – it’s a psalm that talks about life. And – and so, I – I asked if that psalm – that hymn in the Catholic Church.

Biden then unsteadily recalled some lyrics but then he couldn’t remember the name of that song–or psalm–or hymn. Or whatever.

And then Great Grandpa rambled further into incoherence. 

You know the thing.

And they played – and I’m – my mind is going blank now.

What’s the song that is played where everybody is on the chair? 

Everybody, you know – what – what – I can’t remember it. 

Anyway. And that’s the song that was played. So, you know, I don’t know what the hell is going on here.

Yeah, Biden said, “So, you know, I don’t know what the hell is going on here.” And after exclaiming, “And I’m – my mind is going blank now.

You don’t believe it? Click here for the video.

I’ve heard enough. Biden has to go, and yes, that means Kamala Harris will be president. But I’ll take my chances–even though I may eat these words–with a cackling leftist over a faded mind in a frail body. Conservatives, even non-religious ones, believe in conversion. Although converting Harris into a moderate is the best outcome I can imagine. And yes, that’s a big stretch in the hope department. 

Back to the USSR:

In the last years of his life Leonid Brezhnev was clearly physically unwell. Since Soviet leaders didn’t do press conferences or give impromptu speeches, we don’t know about his mental health. His doctors, who probably are all dead now, didn’t talk. Brezhnev died in 1982, he was replaced by Yuri Andropov, who spent half of his 15 months as Soviet leader living in a hospital while he was being treated for kidney disease. Andropov’s successor, Konstantin Chernenko, a mediocrity like Biden, albeit without the jocularity or the gaffes, barely made it past a year in the Kremlin before dying of emphysema and heart disease. 

C’mon man! Who chooses a man suffering from emphysema to lead a government?

In 1985, the healthy Mikhail Gorbachev, took over. But the rot had set in and the USSR collapsed six years later. 

Here are some other sad examples of ill men in power. Paul von Hindenburg, a German World War I hero, wanted to retire after his term of office as president of Germany was winding down in the early 1930s. He was 84. But after Hindenburg ascertained that “the Bohemian corporal,” Adolf Hitler, would be elected as his successor, he ran again and defeated Hitler in a runoff race. A year later Hindenburg appointed Hitler as chancellor. You know the rest of the tragedy. Some historians believe Hindenburg, who died of lung cancer in 1934, was senile late in his life. 

His titles varied but another World War I hero, Philippe Pétain, was the head of government of Vichy France. Pétain was 84–the same age as Hindenburg when he was reelected–when he took control of the Nazi puppet state. After the Nazi defeat Pétain was diagnosed as senile, which today is not considered a medical term. But was Pétain senile earlier? 

There’s a tragic example in American history of a man who was too ill to serve. As he was running for his fourth term as president in 1944, those close to Franklin D. Roosevelt knew he was a sick man and strongly suspected he would die before his next term in office expired. That is why Democrat leaders pressured FDR into dumping his leftist vice president, Henry A. Wallace, for someone more centrist. Good for them! Harry S. Truman was chosen.

Roosevelt died three months after his fourth inauguration at the relatively youthful age of 63. But not before getting swindled into condemning most of eastern Europe to communist totalitarianism for over four decades at the Yalta conference by a healthy Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin. While no Americans were left behind millions of Poles were. Remember, Britain and France declared war on Germany to save Poland from tyranny.

It was an ailing Brezhnev who made the disastrous decision to invade Afghanistan.

Joe Biden never should have run for president in 2020. And those close to him, such as his wife, should have said convinced him to ride out the rest of his life as a has-been.

Biden needs to resign. Or the 25th Amendment must be utilized to remove him from office. 

And why am I the only person wondering if Biden’s doctor, Kevin C. O’Connor, who is now the White House physician, was being honest when he said in 2019 that Biden is “a healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” 

John Ruberry 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.

When a bomb is about to explode in your neighborhood do you call the ACLU, Antifa, or Black Lives Matter?

Broadway in Nashville in 2018. AT&T Building in background.

By John Ruberry

The defund the police looks pretty irrelevant now. As you know on Christmas morning an explosives-laded recreational vehicle devestated a business district in downtown Nashville.

“This vehicle has a bomb, if you can hear this message, you need to evacuate” was the loop recording that played before the bomb detonated at sunrise in Music City.

Someone, or more likely more than one person, called not Black Lives Matter, Antifa (true, I don’t believe they have a listed phone number), or the ACLU–all of them who are proponents of the defund the police movement–about the warning. Instead the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department was called.

And six MNPD police officers cleared the area, most likely minimizing injuries and possibly fatalities. These hero cops appear to be pretty young, they may have had children at home. They were on the streets on the one day when most people don’t want to work.

There are a couple of theories on what motivated the bomber–or bombers. I’ve been to Nashville and 2nd Avenue, where the explosion happened, is just a block from the popular and generally crowded entertainment and bar district on Broadway. If human carnage was the goal then Christmas Eve around sunset would have been a much better time for that. Or last night, the day after Christmas. One theory is that the recording was meant to frighten away pedestrians and residents so there would only be cops on 2nd Avenue when the bomb went off. Another hypothesis is that because the rigged RV was parked adjacent to the AT&T Building, the explosion was the work of anti-5G paranoids. AT&T mobile and internet service in Nasvhille has been severely disrupted by the bombing, as has 911 service as far away as Kentucky.

As for the first theory, when that RV exploded that would mean only cops would be killed. Back to the Nashville hero police officers: These six appear to be ordinary beat cops, not specialists that you’ll find on the bomb squad. All but one, the sergeant, have been on the job for less than five years. It’s beat cops that the defund the police activists have their eyes on; “moderates” within that movement admit cops with advanced skills, such as bomb experts, are still needed. But you’re not going to find the specialists, with all due respect to them, patrolling the streets at dawn on Christmas morning.

“Call a friend, call a cop,” was the slogan of PSAs back in the 1970s. Alright, perhaps you don’t need to have cops as your pals. But police officers sure come in handy when all hell is about to break loose.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.