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.

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

Blogger with Durbin in Chicago in 2020

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lausch needs to be kept on the job in Chicago. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detroit’s stillborn revival

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Story continues below photograph.

Diners last Monday in downtown Detroit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Republicans might need 53 percent of the vote to win elections

By John Ruberry

A post by Da Tech Guy himself last week got me thinking about Chicago’s legendary newspaper columnist Mike Rokyo. Yes, he was another of the greats in journalism who didn’t have a college degree. For most of his life Royko was a steadfast liberal, but his blue collar roots made him suspicious, for good reason I’d like to add, of left-wingers. Yet Royko was a harsh critic of the Boss of Chicago, the first Mayor Richard Daley, as well as the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization, better known as the Chicago Machine. Still, Rokyo understood why rank-and-file Chicagoans kept the Machine in power.

I’ll return to Royko in a bit.

The January 6 protest in Washington will forever be remembered as the Capitol Riot because of the 1,000 or so hooligans and loons who stormed the Capitol building. But the great majority of the protesters didn’t riot and they had valid reasons to question the vote count, and yes, to also be angry about those results.

News reports of the fraud allegations regarding the November election are typically partisan. The mainstream media calls claims of vote fraud “baseless,” conservative media, Newsmax for instance, is more forceful

President Joe Biden, before he went on his unprecedented flurry of executive orders pushing far-left causes such as cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline and banning new oil and gas leases on federal lands, was calling for healing. 

A good start for healing would be a bipartisan congressional committee investigating 2020 vote fraud allegations, such as dead people voting, abuse of mail-in voting, and the like. Here’s are few more: Were ballots in Georgia tallied after party observers left? Why were votes counted at Detroit’s TCF Center after people were told to depart and the windows of the building covered? Were election integrity standards sacrificed every place else to protect voters from COVID-19?

There may be plausible reasons for what occured in Georgia and Detroit and other places, such as Arizona, where some are crying foul. 

Maybe the 2020 vote count was quite accurate.

Or perhaps not. 

What’s the harm in finding out? After all the Democrats and a special prosecutor spent three years investigating Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Russia. They might have been better off tracking down post-death Elvis Presley sightings. It’d be worth a laugh at least to see crazy California Democratic congressman Adam Schiff analyzing the lyrics of Mojo Nixon’s novelty tune “Elvis Is Everywhere.” He’d wonder, “Did Elvis really build Stonehenge?”

Because there are only a few weeks for investigators to look into vote fraud charges before a winner is sworn in after an election, having an honest and secure ballot count is crucial. Scandals take a long time to be exposed. It took ten months for Watergate to break wide open and Richard M. Nixon, no relation to Mojo Nixon by the way, didn’t resign the presidency until two years after the Watergate break-in.

We’re not off to a good start with the 117th Congress. HR 1, which means that it is the first bill proposed the the new Congress, will broaden the use of mail-in voting and the vile practice of ballot harvesting if made law.

The latest snowstorm here in the Chicago area is winding down as I write this post which gets me thinking of Royko and the devastating winter of 1979. After Daley’s death in 1976 the Chicago City Council chose Michael Bilandic, the alderman in Daley’s ward, as his successor. It’s generally believed Bilandic was selected to be a placeholder for Richard M. Daley, the Boss’s son, who would then run in 1983. It’s a long story worth telling but not now, but Richie Daley would finally become mayor in 1989, serving until 2011, while destroying Chicago’s finances.

Bilandic, on Chicago standards, was a decent and hardworking man, whose character flaw was that he assumed everyone else was too. Snow removal after a major January snowstorm that came after a couple of smaller ones was not handled well by Bilandic, who was lied to and misled by other city officials when they told him everything was fine. Meanwhile Jane Byrne, a minor player at City Hall who was fired by Bilandic, challenged the incumbent in what was seen as a longshot bid in that year’s Democratic primary. Her initial core support was the Democrats’ progressive wing, then known as the Lakefront Liberals. Rage over the botched response in digging the city out of the snow gave Byrne her opportunity to pull off an upset and she ran with it.

I remember a Chicago Sun-Times Royko column from that year where he wrote somthing along the lines that Byrne wouldn’t beat Bilandic if she captured 50 percent of the vote plus one. Or if she collected 51 or 52 percent. Her magic percentage, Royko reasoned, was 53 percent. 

Really?

That’s because of vote thefts by the Machine, Royko surmised, amounted to three percent of the total each election. Four decades ago crooked Democratic tactics were different. Non-existent people were registered in vacant lots, roving bands of homeless people, which in mock Latin Rokyo labeled hobo floto voto, voted multiple times, and the seeds of ballot harvesting could be found, particularly in nursing homes, even then. Oh, dead people voted. An effective yet dishonest Chicago precinct captain kept a close eye on who passed away in the neighborhood. And when Election Day came–there wasn’t an “Election Season” like now–thousands of Lazurus voters exercised their franchise.

In short, Chicagoans, even those who supported the Machine, didn’t see election results as fair. Ironically back then it was the liberals who were calling for election integrity in Chcago.

Imagine a football game where the NFL commissioner is a Chicago Bears fan. And at kickoff Da Bears have a 7-0 lead. And the referees are Bears backers too.

Byrne won that primary and prevailed in the general election over a hapless Republican, but the Machine, with some new faces in power, had the last laugh over the Lakefront Liberals as she set herself up as a new Boss. Royko eventually called her “Mayor Bossy.” 

Back to the present. 

Has America reached the point where the Democrats, because of mail-in voting, ballot dropboxes, and ballot harveting, possess that three-percent advantage in elections? Let’s throw in non-citizens and illegal aliens voting. Will Republicans need 53 percent of the vote to win? 55 percent?

If HR 1 becomes law will we ever have another Republican president? Will the system perpetuate the permanent Democratic majority that the leftists dream of?

And if tens of millions of Americans don’t trust the results of elections our republic is in peril. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The Trump cadaver synod

By John Ruberry

Okay, I admit, the headline is provocative, and absolutely click-baity. But stay with me here. In two weeks the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump will begin. Presidents of course can be impeached by the House and removed from office for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

There’s just one obvious problem here. On Wednesday Joe Biden was sworn in as Trump’s successor.

Last year on his Cabinet of Curiousities podcast Aaron Mahnke spoke of a “particularly dark and corrupt moment in the church’s past,” the Catholic church that is. That moment was the trial of Pope Formosus in 897.

The Holy Father was accused of a grab bag of crimes, including perjury, seeking to be the bishop of more than one jurisdiction, and coveting the papacy. Because he was unable to speak in his defense, a deacon was appointed for that task. Formosus was found guilty, he had three middle fingers cut off–the fingers used for blessings–and buried in an obscure cemetery not befitting the Bishop of Rome. His body was quickly exhumed and then dumped in the Tiber River.

If the prior paragraph doesn’t make complete sense it’s because Formosus, after a five-year papacy, died in 896. His successor was pope for just two weeks, the next pope was Stephen VI, an enemy of Formosus. He called for what historians label the cadaver synod. Stephen ordered the first exhumation of Formosus. His corpse was then dressed in papal robes, propped on a chair, and the conviction process began as there was certainly no doubt of the verdict, despite an earthquake during the trial that might have elicited a few doubts among Vatican officials.

Just as the guilty verdict of Formosus was set twelve centuries ago, so was the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach Trump a second time, just one week before the end of his term. Trump’s chances for an acquittal in the Senate are much better. In essence, the second impeachment process against Trump is his cadaver synod. It’s about making a political statement and playing to the base.

The justifications for the second impeachment from Democrats vary, but the primary goal seems to be preventing the former president from seeking another term in 2024. Another reason for impeaching and removing Trump from office, now moot, was that he possessed the nuclear strike codes. After the first Trump impeachment, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, knowing that the odds of the Senate voting to convict Trump were remote, called the lower chamber’s vote “an impeachment that will last forever.” Presumably this will be a second impeachment that will last forever. Oh, and it’s a splendid way for Pelosi and the Democrats to tar the Republican brand.

A third run for the White House, in my opinion, is unlikely for Trump. The former president will be 78 in 2024; yes, that is the same age as Biden, who is clearly an old 78. Three years is a long time for people in their 70s. And in the last 100 years no president who was defeated in a reelection attempt has tried to regain the White House. Only one, Gerald Ford, has seriously considered it. And Trump, again in my opinion, damaged his brand in the last weeks of his presidency by his slowness to condede defeat, his hostile phone call to the Georgia secretary of state asking him to change the election results there, and the riot at the Capitol–which by the way the president did not incite. And the riot, the destructive work of about 1,000 conspirary theorists and other screwballs, was not an insurrection. While Trump is a clearly a unique politician, political moods change. In 1980 Americans weren’t clamoring for Gerald Ford–they wanted Ronald Reagan.

The Trump cadaver synod is a two-minute hate for Democrat politicians and a way, perhaps for the final time, to fill their campaign funds in the name of Trump, and a hate that is being cheered on by the anti-Trump media, who will soon see a drop in readers and viewers now that their enemy is out of office.

In other words Impeachment Part Two is a waste of time.

As for Formosus, his body was recovered by a monk and buried–for the last time–in St Peter’s Basilica. His accuser, Stephen VI, was pope for little more than a year. After the cadaver synod Stephen was imprisoned and then strangled to death.

As for voters, a much more civil revenge will be to return the GOP to majorities in both houses of Congress.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The end of Boss Madigan, the man who destroyed Illinois

Madigan graphic courtesy of the Illinois Policy Institute

By John Ruberry

Had this event not occurred on the same day President Donald J. Trump was impeached a second time, the failure of Michael Madigan to win a 19th term as speaker of the Illinois House would have made national news. The luck of the Irish was somehow with him on his worst day in his 52 years in politics.

There is much to criticize with Madigan. While the one sentence summary of the Chicago Democrat’s career might be “Longest statehouse speaker tenure in American history,” it instead needs to be, “The man who destroyed Illinois.”

Here’s a graph created by the Illinois Policy Institute–which has been on the forefront of exposing Madigan to the masses for a decade–that shows the decline of Illinois’ credit rating. And the rating began its descent early in Madigan’s tenure as speaker. To be fair, it was Gov. Jim Thompson, a Republican, who in 1989 signed into law the annual compounded three-percent cost-of-living public pension raise for retired state employees, but that bill emerged from Madigan’s House. Nearly all state workers are members of public-sector unions, those unions have been an important cog for the Madigan Machine. Other GOP governors share some of the blame for the Illinois pension bomb. But for all but two years since 1983, Madigan was speaker and he had his hands on every budget since then. 

Illlinois’ credit rating now hovers slightly over junk status.

The Prairie State has lost population for seven straight years. People have wised up. After the 2020 reapportionment Illinois will once again lose a congressional district. Perhaps two.

Madigan’s political mentor was the first Mayor Daley, Richard J, the legendary boss of Chicago. Madigan was America’s last machine boss. As mayor Daley was also chairman of Cook County Democratic Party, since 1998 Madigan has been chairman of state party, a post that he, at least for now, retains. Like Daley, Madigan would reward his political supporters and their relatives with jobs, usually public-sector jobs. But recent scandals involving private-sector entities, including the Chicago area’s electrical utility, Commonwealth Edison, betrayed the burden of the pension bomb that is eating away at Illinois government. Allegedly ComEd was handing out jobs, as lowly as meter readers, to Madigan loyalists. The ComEd scandal has produced several indictments, including the company’s former CEO and some Madigan loyalists. A separate scandal centered around red-light cameras has bagged other Madigan cronies. These political brushfires, on top of allegations of sexual harrassment against a member of Madigan’s inner circle, finally made the Madigan name toxic. 

The result in 2020 was better-than expected results for the anemic Illinois Republican Party. Best of all, the so-called Fair Tax Amendment, would have replaced Illinois’ flat income tax with a graduated one, was resoundingly defeated. A majority of Illinoisans finally ascertained, as I quipped at the time, that if Illinois was given an unlimited budget, politicians here would still exceed it. 

Another sin against democracy committed by Madigan is gerrymandered legislative districts, unintended artwork that would make Jackson Pollock or Pablo Picasso proud. “The state’s legislative map looks like a Rorschach test on steroids,” Robert Reed wrote in 2019 for Chicago Magazine, “with districts of all squiggly sizes and shapes.” With a few exceptions, such as university towns, Republicans dominate downstate Illinois in gubernatorial and presidential races, but there are still plenty of central and Illinois Democratic members of the General Assembly. That is the power of Madigan’s gerrymandering. It also discourages challengers to the status quo; according to the Center Square, last year 44 percent of Illinois legislative races were uncontested. Why run? Because in most districts in Illinois the politicians choose their voters, not the other way around.

Illinoisans would have been better served if there was not a Madigan monoculture in power for years in Springfield.

Groups such as the Better Government Association of Illinois and the League of Women Voters have long called for a Fair Map Amendement, taking away the power of decennial legislative remapping away from the General Assembly and putting a non-partisan panel in charge of the task instead. Twice in the prior decade hundreds of thousands of signatures were collected to put such an amendment on the ballot for voters to decide the issue, twice a lawyer with ties to Madigan successfully sued to keep it off. Last year, for the first time ever, a state Supreme Court justice, Democrat Thomas Kilbride, who represented a downstate district, failed to win retention. His vote against the Fair Map Amendment was one of the issues that galvanized opposition from voters.

Illinois’ Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, finally the state’s most powerful politician now that Madigan is no longer speaker, has vowed only to sign only a fair map into law. 

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Madigan’s successor is Chris Welch, a suburban Chicagoan who was once a member of the Madigan Machine. He’ll be the Land of Lincoln’s first black speaker. But there is already a cloud over him. In 2002 he allegedly slammed the head of his girfriend repeatedly on to a kitchen countertop. Eight years later another woman claimed that she lost her job at a high school because Welch, then a school board president, broke up with her. 

Still there is reason to have at least a glimmer for hope in Illinois. But barring a change in federal law that would allow states to declare bankruptcy, Illinois will remain in its financial sewer for many years. A different amendment to the Illinois constitution, one that will allow pension reform and remove the pension guarantee clause, is desperetely needed. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs in Illinois at Marathon Pundit.

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

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

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mission accomplished. 

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

Not a nothing-burger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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

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

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

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

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

Conservatives need to defend others in free speech battle

By John Ruberry

Free speech is under harsh attack in America courtesy of wokeism. Such warnings about free speech are nothing new–but in the past much of the danger has been imagined. For instance I was in college when The Clash released Combat Rock. On the opening track, “Know Your Rights,” Joe Strummer sings of those rights, “all three of them.” The third right is “free speech,” with a caveat. That right could be used if “you’re not dumb enough to actually try it.” Assuming that Strummer was addressing his core audience, American and British youths of the early 1980s, what he said was at best a gross exaggeration.

Not so in 2021.

I received the inspiration for this post by listenening to Ben Shapiro’s December 24 podcast, Goodbye, 2020.

Shapiro is among the many commentators who predict a purge–my word, not his–of dissident voices, meaning conservative ones, on social media such as Twitter, beginning with Donald Trump as soon as he’s not president.

Absurdly, people like Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, still claim that social media is a neutral conduit of information. Twitter for a while prevented the posting and distribution of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story on the microblogging platform claiming that the laptop details were hacked and illegally obtained. Wrong on both counts. Twitter had no problem with Tweets linking to the New York Times story about Trump’s income tax returns–those returns may have been obtained by hacking. Regardless how those returns were accessed the person who did so broke the law.

What to do?

Forge alliances.

“Well first of all we’re going to have to rely on people, believe or not, who are moderate liberals,” Shapiro said in that podcast, “who are sick of watching the Overton window shut.”

And that means conservative have to defend those liberals who cross the cancel culture.

An incident on Twitter comes to mind. Three years ago in this space I reviewed the documentary XTC-This Is Pop, which was about the spectacular rock back that emerged in England in the late 1970s. That post got a lot of retweets, including one from the XTC Fans Twitter page, run by the now-dissolved group’s former leader, Andy Partridge. A committed liberal, Partridge’s Tweets, although often sarcastic, were entertaining and usually well-thought out, whether it was about music, religion, or politics.

In 2019 some people with too much time on their hands accused Partridge of anti-Semitism after a series of Tweets–not well-thought out this time–about American Middle East policy that devolved into an online shouting match about Israel and religion. Partridge, a strident atheist, went a little too far, I admit, but taken into context with his overall sardonic attitude, those Tweets weren’t a big deal to me. I planned to write a blog post on Marathon Pundit defending him, but then Partridge cancelled himself on Twitter by deleting the XTC Fans account and I moved on to other things.

One of those Twitter accounts Partridge engaged with was “Jon Devin Nunes’ Prostate.”

You know, some people take Twitter too seriously.

Back to Partridge. No one knows why he deleted his account–perhaps he decided that he was spending too much time on social media. He certainly broke a Twitter rule of mine: Never feed online trolls.

I believe if Partridge wasn’t an older white male a Twitter mob would not have bothered to object to those controversial Tweets. For instance the media, with a few exceptions, have not called to task Georgia US Senate candidate Raphael Warnock for his anti-Israel comments.

There will be other efforts to silence dissidents on social media. Mostly against conservatives. But against liberals too.

Conservatism must embrace free speech. And that means relying on for allies, not just the moderate liberals that Shapiro spoke of, but also center-line liberals too in order to fight this crucial battle. And keep in mind no political ideology is always correct.

As for the fundamentalist far-left, the tiny tail wagging the cultural dog these days, I believe they’ve already isolated themselves, as Isaac Asimov said of the 1960s radicals, into a “no-man’s land of the spirit.” Think of the bleating sheep in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

But right now in the culture wars the far-left is winning.

Fight back.

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.