The Mind of Russia & China

Once Senator Milton Young of North Dakoda said to him: “You people of the South are much more militarily minded than in the North.” “Milt”, Russell replied, “you’d be militarily minded too if Sherman had crossed North Dakoda

Robert A Caro: The Years of Lyndon Johnson , Master of the Senate 2003 page 180

There is no denying that both China and Russia (but especially China) has been our primary enemy for decades. I had military men during the height of the Cold War tell me that China was in fact our primary problem, but as we deal with what they are doing and why we have to keep two things in mind.

We look at all of these things through an American lens, but for a moment consider this lens that the Russians and Chinese use.

In each of the last two centuries Russia has been invaded by the premier military power of the age, Napoleon in 1812 and Hitler in 1941, and these invaders pushed deep into the country Napoleon even taking Moscow.

Driving them out took millions of lives and tons of treasure. While most ordinary Russians didn’t have a lot of use for the communists they knew what is was to be invaded and what it meant. This trauma was the single most unifying force within a country for a government that was oppressing its own people and was used to the hilt and I’m not even dealing with the trauma of losing wars to Poland and Japan AND Germany (remember before the Communist revolution Russia had surrendered to Germany) early in the last century.

Now the Russian empire is gone, the Soviet Union is gone and historic parts of even the pre-soviet empire are gone but you better damn well believe that Russia has not forgotten these things and that when Putin acts to subdue and compromise Europe the Russian people have in the back of their minds the idea that everything that slows them down means that much less of a chance that they will have do deal with this cycle again.

China is a tad different, you had the great attempt to carve up China in the late 19th and early 20th century which subordinated China for the sake of trade to foreign powers is an annoyance but like other colonial enterprises brought both technology and as evidenced by Hong Kong advancement, but if you want to find something that unites ethnic Chinese, both Communist and anti-communist its the memory of World War 2 and their occupation by Japan.

American and British POW can testify to the cruelty of the Japanese toward them during World War 2 but that pales compared to what China suffered during that time. Japan moved without mercy against and who stood against them or were even just in the way. This cruelty is in living memory and the Communist Party having murdered tens of millions of their own people has every reason to highlight these acts by Japan to keep their mind off of what they have done and are doing themselves. (This incidentally is why China’s move to threaten Japan, while foolish, is good PR internally because while Japan fell and was occupied, China didn’t get the revenge they wanted and I suspect will not forgive us for rebuilding them into one of the greatest technological powers of all time. You only have to look at their reaction to Japanese victories at the Olympics to see that this hatred is alive and well.

The Best part for both Russia and China is that what they suffered was so horrible that they don’t have to exaggerate it to sell it to the people. They’ve heard the stories from parents and grandparents and don’t need to state to color it.

Does any of this excuse the actions of Putin or Xi? Nope, but if you’re going to check their ambitions to surpass and subordinate us it’s useful to know what makes them tick and one of the things that makes them do so is the determination that NOBODY is ever going to do what the French, Nazis and Japanese ever did to them again.

I think half the battle for us is to (correctly) assure the people of both of those nations that nothing is farther from our mind.

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

Blogger at the summit of Black Rock Mountain

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We eventually made it to Savannah too. 

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

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

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

I almost forgot–we hiked the Applachian Trail too.

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

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

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

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

Abrams all but said to stay away from Georgia. 

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

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Chicago has a street gang problem not a gun problem

Gang temple in 2016 on Chicago’s South Side

By John Ruberry

Last week President Joe Biden and attorney general Merrick Garland announced the latest get-tough on illegal gun sales effort.

Unless I missed it, there was no mention from either men of the major underlying reason for most murders in big cities such as Chicago: out of control street gangs.

While it’s America’s third-largest city Chicago, with about 2.7 residents, has more gang members than any other–about 100,000

I’m having a heck of a time finding recent statistics on the percentage of shootings in Chicago that are gang-related–so my guess is that they are no longer being tabulated. Perhaps that has something to do with the monumentally stupid deciscion by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to eliminate Chicago’s gang crimes unit in 2012. His successor, leftist ideologue Lori Lightfoot, is unlikely to bring it back. Fortunately for decent Chicagoans there are less than two years left in her term.

However, while speaking of Chicago’s gang culture in 2015, then-Chicago Police superintendant Garry McCarthy said, “It’s very frustrating to know that it’s like seven percent of the population causes 80% of the violent crime.”

What about the shootings?

“Eighty-three percent of the shooting victims in Chicago are black,” Fox Chicago’s Mike Flannery said on his Flannery Fired Up show this weekend, “and about 96 percent are black and brown.” Of course not all shooting victims are gang members. Some are small children.

With such a small population committing so many violent crimes, it’s pretty easy to determine the most-direct way to attack violent crime in Chicago and other big cities. But big city mayors, all of whom are Democrats, don’t seem to be spoiling for this necessary fight against street gangs.

In Chicago it’s worse. Chicago magazine, in a 2011 article that has been sadly overlooked, “Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance,” exposed several job-fair type meetings between aldermanic candidates and people representing street gangs. The messsage the organizer of those meetings, Hal Baskin, a candidate for the City Council that year and a former gang leader who died in 2018, received was clear to him. “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”

Gangs not only are part of the criminal culture of Chicago, but they are part of the political one as well. Which partly explains why politicians in Chicago regulary decry “gun violence” but not gang violence. Gangs and politics go back decades, including the time when Chicago was overwhelmingly white. While not a gang in the modern sense, the Hamburg Athletic Club, which did not peddle drugs, was involved in politics. The “Hamburgers” were blamed for some of the violence of the bloody 1919 Race Riot in Chicago, part of the tragic “Red Summer” that year. Three years after the riot future Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley was the president of the Hamburg Athletic Club. 

In 1984 while running for president, Jesse Jackson publicly thanked the infamous El Rukn gang for their help in a voter registration drive. The gang’s founder, Jeff Fort, is now an inmate at the supermax prison in Florence, Colorado. Jackson’s half-brother, Noah Robinson, is serving a life sentence for murder and racketeering schemes that involved the El Rukns. 

In the 1990s the Gangster Disciples gang, which was started by Larry Hoover, now a lifer at the supermax, founded a political organization, 21st Century V.O.T.E. They were organizing a national gang summit at the Congress Hotel in Chicago, where I was working at the time. Man oh man, that was a wretched experience. Oh, Al Sharpton was there. Isn’t that special!

Back to 2011:

According to that Chicago magazine article there were similar gang-pol gatherings before 2011. 

I have no proof but I suspect such meetings still occur. After all we are discussing Chicago, one of the most corrupt cities in America. 

Chicago’s aldermen are notoriously crooked, since 1973 over thirty members have been sentenced to federal prison. Do the math, that’s one “public official” locked away every 18 months.

So, how many Chicago public figures have ties, however casual, with gangs? We’ll probably never know. 

One current Chicago alderman who sees the truth on gangs is Raymond Lopez of the Southwest Side’s 15th Ward. “If you really want to get to what is at the heart of a lot of this [the violence], it is gangs, and it is the borderline collapse of the family unit in many of our neighborhoods,” Lopez told the Washington Examiner in a recent interview. “Lightfoot] has avoided calling out gangs in our community as a source of violence in our city.”

In a Tweet, Lopez offered indirect support to the “broken windows” theory of policing. Big time criminals also commit petty crimes. “In less than 24 hours, a new gang ‘family’ moved onto a block, they immediately opened a fire hydrant after settling in, and just moments ago took to shooting at a passing vehicle.” Lopez Tweeted two weeks ago. “The property owner can expect a call from me tomorrow. I want them gone. Now!”

Instead of “defunding the police” the far-left is now parsing their words, calling their approach “reimagining the police.” I’m calling for reimagining law enforcement. Federal authorities, to crush the gangs that have destroyed American cities, they need to aggressively utilize wiretaps, informants, and offering those who testify against gangs participation in the witness protection program.

Street gangs nation wide need to be neutered by the feds. Just like they did to the mafia.

It would take many years for such a crackdown to succeed but that should take care of the urban gun violence problem.

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.

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.

Corporations need to stay out of politics–or how my father got fired for wearing a JFK button at work

Image courtesy of the JFK Presidential Library

By John Ruberry

In 1960, shortly before I was born, my father briefly worked for the Quaker Oats Company. Sixty years ago many large companies and corporations had ethnic identities. For instance the first episode of Mad Men, coincidentally set in 1960, contains a plotline centered around the decision of a Jewish business owner to change advertising agencies and hire one that wasn’t “Jewish.” 

Big firms also had politial identities.

Quaker Oats was a Republican company. R. Douglas Stuart was the longtime CEO of the company when my dad worked there. In Stuart’s Wikipedia entry, and that of his son, it’s stated that they were “active in the Republican Party.” The younger Stuart also served as CEO of Quaker Oats.

My dad was hired by the Chicago-based company as a junior executive, an in-house farm club concept from that era.

It was a great time to be an Irish Catholic Democrat in 1960 and my dad was able to proudly check all three boxes. John F. Kennedy, who potrayed himself as a devout Catholic, was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. Unlike the doomed Al Smith, the first Catholic nominee for president of a major party, Kennedy’s chances for moving into the White House looked promising. But JFK’s Republican opponent, Richard M. Nixon, was the slight favorite early in the campaign. Kennedy, people like my father reasoned, needed every bit of assistance to nudge him over the goal line. So my dad placed a Kennedy poster in the front window of our Chicago bungalow and he wore a Kennedy campaign button everywhere he went.

Including at Quaker Oats. 

But my dad was a probationary hire–there was a three month period before a final decision was made on whether he would stay on. He didn’t make it–he was told at the end of those three months that he “wasn’t a fit for the Quaker Oats culture.”

Years later, after my father’s passing, I met a woman who worked closely with my father at Quaker Oats there and she confimed this story as it had exactly been told to me. She added that my dad was “a real blast” and a “breath of fresh air at that stuffy place.”

Later in the 1960s attitudes changed. Major corporations became less ethnic. One large company after another stopped being WASP, Jewish, or Catholic. The hiring doors for all positions were opened to minorities. And of course those were all good things. Politics was de-emphasized in the business world too.

But politics didn’t vanish from corporate America. Another legacy from the 1960s is that big corporations began envisioning themselves as being responsible for more than providing products and services and making money, explaining in annual reports and countless press releases that they had a “responsibility to the community” and the like. And over time, colleges and universities, even their business schools, drifted even further to the left. So did the political leanings of their graduates. A decade or so ago poltics made a roaring comeback in the boardroom and elsewhere in corporate America.

When there is a political controversy–such as the hasty anger about the new Georgia voting laws–which most people who hate them only do so because they saw Twitter comments or headlines on their smart phones that claim that Georgia has returned to the Jim Crow era–CEOs naturally, such as Delta Airlines’ CEO Ed Bastian, fall in line and echo the opinion of the left. Oh, the fear of a left-wing boycott is part of their rationale too. Coca-Cola, aka Woka-Cola, which went full-woke earlier this year, has also declared its opposition to the Georgia election law. And not just them.

Corporate politicking needs to end because it is an accessory to the dangerous dividing of America. The last time I bought airline tickets I needed to get someplace–and get flown home. That’s it. I don’t need the airline’s politics, I have my own already, thank you. The same goes if I need a beverage or anything else. Ed Bastian and Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey need to shut up and stick to keeping flights somewhat on time and ensuring beverages are tasty and safe. They need to avoid subjects they know little about.

The majority of Americans, when they learn more about the Georgia bill, will likely see these reforms as reasonable. For instance already most states have voter ID laws, including Biden’s home state of Delaware. And signature verification as the sole tool to determine if a ballot mailed in was completed by that voter, isn’t a strong enough security measure, at least I think so.

Elections need to be free and fair. 

Did Quincey and Bastian cave to the left on Georgia only because they read an MSNBC or Daily Beast headline? 

I am also compelled to address the bad decision by Major League Baseball to move the 2021 All-Star Game, and the MLB Draft, out of Atlanta. Two days prior, while being interviewed by woke ESPN, President Joe Biden said he supported taking away that game from the Braves. MLB needs to stay out of politics too. Had MLB done a bit of research on the subject it would have learned that the woke Washington Post rated a key Biden claim about the law with Four Pinocchios

Instead of a leftist boycott now Delta, Coke, and MLB face boycotts from the right–and the loudest call comes from former President Donald Trump. Remember him? He received the votes of 75 million Americans five months ago.

My message to corporate America: Keep out of politics and stick to your products and services. It’s good for your business and best for America. And it’s great for your employees.

Oh, my dad learned his lesson. He never wore a political campaign button again. He enjoyed a happy and properous career at other places. After Chappaquidick my father was done with the Kennedy family. After Jimmy Carter’s election he was done with the Democrats.

Quaker Oats was acquired by Pepsico, Coca-Cola’s rival, in 2001.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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.

The leader of the American Gerontocracy trips and falls

By John Ruberry

Unless you tuned in at the right time and you get your news only from MSNBC or CNN you probably didn’t know that President Joe Biden, while climbing the stairs up to Air Force One, fell not once, not twice–but three times. Apparently he was not injured.

Biden, 78, is the oldest man to serve as US president. How old? The prior oldest commander-in-chief, Ronald Reagan was 77 years-old when he completed his second term. 

Biden has been president for 60 days–he has gone longer than any president without holding a press conference since Calvin Coolidge. But Biden will end that silence by holding an afternoon presser on Thursday. 

Many conservative commentators have made a similar observation. Joe Biden’s fastball, if he ever had one, has lost its spin. Biden’s tightly controlled appearances have gone beyond gaffes. In one appearance he clearly forgot the name of his Defense secretary and where he worked, referring to him as “the guy who runs that outfit over there.” Oh, his name is Lloyd Austin, “that outfit” is the US military and “over there” is the Pentagon.

What else?

He referred to his vice president as “President Harris.” Was Biden dropping a hint?

In Texas while discussing relief from the winter storm there Biden uttered, “What am I doing here?” He also botched the some names of dignitaries at that appearance.

An unsure Biden during a video feed said, “I’m happy to take questions if that’s what I’m supposed to do, Nance [Nancy Pelosi], whatever you want me to do.” But then the White House abruptly cut off that feed.

While Biden has been president for a brief time, I’m not cherry-picking these embarrasments. They have one thing in common. All occurred in the last four weeks.

Everyone knows of an elderly relative who one day just didn’t mentally have it anymore. There’s an unsteadiness in speech, in steps of too, the eyes aren’t focused, names are forgotten, or they are confused with others.

That’s Biden. 

It gets worse for America. Lots of other people in government leadership are really old. There’s speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who turns 81 this week, House majority whip James Clyburn, the kingmaker who arguably paved the way for Biden winning the Democratic nomination, is 80, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer is 70, his second-in-command, Dick Durbin, is 76, and Treasury secretary Janet Yellen is 74. Ah, but liberals cry out as they do about so many other political discussions. “What about Trump?”

Well, what about him?

True, until Biden’s win Trump was the oldest person elected to the presidency. But Trump regularly engaged the media in impromptu question-and-answer sessions. His energetic campaign rallies usually lasted more than an hour–where he spoke without notes–or a teleprompter.

Contrast Trump with Biden, with his shoulders slumped, squinting into a teleprompter as he struggles through his speeches. Yes, medical technology and healthier living habits have allowed people to live longer than ever. Age was a major issue for Reagan, who was 68 when he won his first presidential election in 1980 as it was for him four years later. But science–which of course we must follow at all times–has had less success battling cognitive decline and dementia.

Being old should not be a disqualifier to be president. Konrad Adenauer, 74, became chancellor of West Germany in 1949, a key reason he was chosen is that he was seen as a transitional leader for the new nation because of his age. But he served capably until he was 87. In 2003, German television viewers selected Adenauer as the greatest German of all time.

Coincidentally last spring, when he had clinched the Democratic nomination, Biden declared himself a “transition” candidate. Sorry, Joe, but you are no Konrad Adenauer. 

Biden is the head of state of the American Gerontocracy. That’s not a good thing.

In the 1970s and early 1980s the Soviet politburo was dominated by old men. After the long-ailing Leonid Brezhnev died in 1981, he was succeeded by Yuri Andropov, then Konstantin Chernenko, two sick old men. Finally a vigorous and relatively young Mikhail Gorbachev took the helm at the Kremlin in 1985. But by 1991 the Soviet Union was no more.

Back to Germany.

Paul von Hindenburg, a World War I hero, wanted to retire as president of Germany in 1932. He reluctantly ran for reelection after being warned that if he didn’t to so then Adolf Hitler would win the presidency. Hindenburg prevailed, but the next year he appointed Hitler as chancellor. Hindenburg died in 1934 at the age of 86; historians disagree whether he suffered from cognitive decline late in his life.

Hold on! I’m not saying, or even hinting, that because of Biden and the Gerontacracy that the United States faces imminent dissolution or a dictatorship. American democracy is still very robust. But a weaker America is already here. Whether by choice, inacation, or by incompetence, our southern border is no longer secure. At last week’s disastrous summit with China in Anchorage, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was lectured by our adversary over our human rights record. Yep, this is the same China that has concentration camps for Uyghurs and is stifling democracy in Hong Kong. Biden’s sole legislative achievement, the $1.9 billion stimulus, may bring back 1970s-style inflation. As I wrote last week there are winners and losers with inflation. The latter won’t keep quiet. 

Biden is already the weakest American president since Jimmy Carter, who was just 56 when he left office. Yes, age isn’t everything.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was an ill man in the last year of his life. Shortly before his death he was duped by Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference, eastern Europe was gift-wrapped for the communists.

A weaker America means a more unstable world. 

Right now the symbol of America to the rest of the world is a frail Biden falling on a set of stairs.

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.


Lincoln statues under attack in the largest city in the Land of Lincoln

Lincoln: The Man in 2008

By John Ruberry

On Wednesday, in response to the summer riot in Chicago that nearly toppled a Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park last month–it and another Columbus statue have been since placed in storage–Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Chicago Monument Project revealed 41 monuments that “have been identified for public discussion.” 

The project’s web site cautions, in bold print no less, “No decisions have been made about the following monuments.”

Yeah, right. BS! Imagine that you work at a company where the annual reviews are conducted each December. But in June you are informed that you’ll soon have a mid-year review but then are told, “Don’t worry, nothing is wrong.” At that point a wise person will begin the process of résumé updating. 

The statues, reliefs, and plaques include monuments honoring four presidents, several memorials recalling the first Europeans to visit Chicago, Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette, as well as generals, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and many public art pieces with Native American themes. And yes of course those two Columbus statues. Oh, if you are one of those people who believe Leif Ericsson was the real European discoverer of America don’t be smug. He’s on Lightfoot commission’s list too.

This not a list of shame. It’s a tragic shame that there is such a list.

Five of the 41 monuments are Abraham Lincoln statues–and there are five Lincoln statues in Chicago. Hmm. Widely considered by liberals and conservatives as the greatest American president, the Great Emancipator’s presence in Illinois is profound and inescapable. “Land of Lincoln” is emblazoned on every Illinois license plate as is Honest Abe’s visage. 

I live on Lincoln Avenue in a Chicago suburb–that street winds its way south into Chicago and Lincoln Park, where you’ll encounter what Andrew Ferguson in his book Land of Lincoln: Adventures in Abe’s America says is “what is generally thought to be the greatest Lincoln statue of the nineteenth century, a towering figure by Augustus Saint-Gaudens.” That makes this statue, generally referred to as Lincoln Standing although its formal name is Lincoln: The Man, a masterpiece. Yep, a masterpiece. So much so that it has been recast several times, and those Lincoln: The Man reproductions can be found in Parque Lincoln in Mexico City, Parliament Square in London, Forest Lawn Cemetery–Hollywood Hills, and the Lincoln Tomb in Springfield. Earlier this month Little Marathon Pundit and I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, where we found one of the many miniatures of Lincoln: The Man

Of course back in Chicago the original artistic triumph is “under public discussion.” In Grant Park sits another targeted Saint-Gaudens work, Abraham Lincoln: Head of State.

Also troubling is the aforementioned Marquette and Jolliet memorials on this list. Jolliet, while crossing the Chicago Portage in what is now southwestern suburban Cook County, noted that it would be an excellent location for a canal, one that would connect the watersheds of the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Lincoln, while a member of the Illinois legislature, was a proponent of the Illinois-Michigan Canal, which opened 17 decades after the Marquette-Jolliet expedition. While that canal very well may have been built without either men, if it hadn’t, Chicago may have ended up like many other small cities on Lake Michigan, like Sheboygan, Wisconin. (Oh, I’ve been there–it’s a lovely place by the way.)

George Washington has two “nominations” from the Chicago Monuments Project, including his horseback statue in his namesake park. McKinley Park’s statue of William McKinley is in peril too. Does that mean their park names will be next? While Grant Park doesn’t have a Ulysses S. Grant statue–Lincoln Park does. He has a nomination too, as do his fellow union generals Phil Sheridan, on Sheridan Road no less, and John Logan, whose statue stands in Grant Park.  

Lori Lightfoot is a failed mayor in a city that is in clear decline. Failed mayor? She’s up for reelection in a little more than two years and already there is speculation as to who her opponents will be. Since I declared Chicago a city in decline last summer its retail cash cow, North Michigan Avenue, has been hit by the announment of two closings, a massive Gap store and Macy’s at Water Tower Place. Chicago’s streets are potholed disasters, there are omnipresent red-light cameras to contend with, the murder rate is soaring, as are the number of car jackings. Taxes are oppresive, and its financial millstone, the worst-funded municipal pension progam in the nation, has never been properly addressed. Oh, this appears to be a little thing but graffiti is no longer routinely cleaned up along Chicago’s expressways. The proliferation of kudzu-like graffiti foreshadowed New York City’s descent in the 1970s.

Instead Lightfoot zooms in on statues and monuments to pander to her leftist base. 

The ultimate responsibility for this real-life dystopia of course goes to Chicago’s misguided voters. What was it that H.L Mencken said of democracy? Ah yes, here it is, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”

Chicago voters are a special kind of common people it seems

That being said there has been surprisingly little anger here in the Chicago area about these possible monument removals, as coverage has been modest and a major snowstorm earlier last week, on top of another one, had people focused on more immediate needs. 

But that needs to change. Click here on the Chicago Monuments Project web site to offer your thoughts. As always, please be polite–but be firm too. The form asks for a ZIP code. A Chicago one will make you more acceptable to those reading the replies; choose any 606 ZIP code between 60601 and 60661. Just saying.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. He has visited Lincoln’s birthplace, his Springfield home, Ford’s Theatre, and the Peterson House, where our 16th president passed away.