Review of the Netflix series Thieves of the Wood

By John Ruberry

Are you missing some Robin Hood in your life? If you are a Netflix subscriber and you can stomach graphic violence, including torture, as well as gratuitous nudity, then you may want to take a look at the ten-episode Belgian series Thieves of the Wood, which began streaming earlier this month.

And you must be patient. Thieves of the Wood moves slowly, and if you don’t know about Jan de Lichte or Flanders of the 18th century, as I didn’t until a few days ago, you might get lost.

After watching the first episode I was indeed lost. So I got on my iPad where I learned that Jan de Lichte was a real person, a highway man, who of course robbed from the rich. After all, stealing from the poor is never very profitable. At the beginning of that first episode, de Lichte (Matteo Simoni) is being dragged on a sandy trail by mounted Austrian troops, he’s accused of murder and desertion. Now is the time to bring some historical perspective. Most of contemporary Flanders, a Dutch speaking region, lies in Belgium. But in the 1740s this region was then part of Austria although it was occupied by France. Historians call this conflict the War of Austrian Succession.

De Lichte escapes. He returns to his hometown of Aalst, which is run by corrupt Flemish aristocrats, led by Mayor Coffijn (Dirk Roofthooft). Just as de Lichte arrives in Aalst, so does the new bailiff, that is the chief of police, Jean-Phillipe Baru (Tom Van Dyck). Both learn that punishment is harsh in Aalst. Baru is horrified when he learns that a man and a woman are about to be flogged for the crime of stealing two rabbits from Coffijn’s estate, then branded–while their children watch. Now paperless, they are exiled from the city to live in a nearby forest.

Those woods are not the Nottingham Forest of Errol Flynn’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. The refuge is overrun by abject poverty, disease, prostitution, and opium smoking. De Lichte, aided by his half-brother Tincke (Stef Aerts), organize the downtrodden to fight back against the oppression, although it’s not until the fourth episode–I did say that Thieves of the Wood requires patience–that their plans bear fruit.

The loot is shared. Everyone wins in the forest. While Coffijn seethes

The scriptwriters are clearly hostile to the Catholic church. There is no Friar Tuck in this forest, in the town presides an imperious priest, Picke. He reminded me of the cruel Lutheran bishop in Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander. 

As the series played out to me I fully expected a Donald Trump reference or two, especially since America comes up in the dialogue a couple of times. Then it hit me. Two of the town council members, including Mayor Coffijn, wear orange, or I should of course say red, periwigs. Perhaps that’s only a coincidence. Perhaps not. 

Some of the good: The costumes of Thieves of the Wood, including those wigs, are first-rate and the cinematography is superb. 

And now some of the bad: There are no subtitles, the Dutch dialogue instead is dubbed by British actors. The American entertainment industry suffers from the false premise that we won’t watch subtitled offerings. But last night I saw the Korean film Parasite, which is subtitled. Not only is Parasite an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture (and Best International Feature Film), but it is also performing very well in the domestic box office. Deservedly so, I’d like to add. 

Thieves of the Wood is rated TV-MA for reasons I listed above. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Hello Iran: When people stop believing government lies they stop believing in the government

Latvian Popular Front Leader Mavricks Vulfsons. Signs read “Freedom” and “1940–Year of Stalinist Occupation Regime”

By John Ruberry

Regular readers of my posts here and at Marathon Pundit know that my wife, Mrs. Marathon Pundit, was born in the Soviet Union–in the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic. She emigrated to the United States in 1991.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was lied to regularly–just as citizens of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been fed untruths since 1979.

As with other members of her generation, Mrs. MP believed the lies pumped out by the government, and that includes the schools, whoppers such as Soviet citizens enjoyed an advanced standard of living, even though Mrs. Marathon Pundit grew up in a farmhouse with no running water that was heated by birch logs. And Latvia was considered better off than most other Soviet Republics. She believed the falsehood that Latvia, along with Estonia and Lithuania, asked to join the USSR in 1940. The reality is that as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact the Baltic States were occupied by the Red Army and promptly annexed; the leaders of Latvia and Estonia were exiled to remote corners of the Soviet Union. The fate of Estonian president Konstantin Päts was particularly sad, as he was tortured in psychiatric hospitals because of his “persistent claiming of being the president of Estonia.”

Mrs. Marathon Pundit’s parents knew better of course. They also knew it was best to keep quiet. They knew repercussions awaited those who talked about the wrong things. The silent survive. And while it was impossible to cover up the deportations to Siberia of the Joseph Stalin era, the extent of it was known only to a few.

There were big lies and little lies. Here’s one of the latter. Before swimming in one of the few public pools in Latvia, Mrs. Marathon Pundit and other bathers were warned that if they chose to urinate in the water, or if there was an accidental leak, the urine would be immediately turn red and the pee menace would be promptly identified and of course punished. Eventually–I don’t know how–she discovered the clear truth on urinating in swimming pools.

Then there were the omissions. My wife didn’t learn until I told her that the Red Army–two weeks after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939–seized eastern Poland. The same goes with the Soviet invasion of Finland later that year.

The “Throne of Lies” in the USSR began to collapse after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Ordinary Soviet citizens eventually learned that the state-controlled media reported on the severity of the catastrophe only after western governments noticed the spike in radioactivity in their lands. “The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month,” Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in 2006, “even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later.”

Those being lied to didn’t believe the lies any more.

A few years earlier the end of the junta era of Argentina came after the government had to admit their rosy reports on the Falklands War with Great Britain were wrong. It was the UK that was winning nearly every battle.

Now protests are breaking out across Iran after the mullahs were forced to admit that the crash of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, which took place on Wednesday shortly after Iran fired missiles at US troops in Iraq, was caused by a missile fired by the Iranian military, after first denying it. And there was a lie within the lie as the Iranians claimed that the passenger jet veered over a sensitive military area.

“They are lying that our enemy is America, our enemy is right here,” is one the chants heard in Tehran.

The people of Iran–or at least some of them–don’t believe the lies anymore.

Kimia Alizadeh, Iran’s only female Olympic medalist, defected last week. Yes, she did win a bronze in taekwando, that’s not a lie, but her state-created image was a sham. “Whatever they said, I wore,” Alizadeh wrote. “Every sentence they ordered, I repeated.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Republicans are handed a winning issue as Democrats call for and act on abolishment of cash bail

By John Ruberry

If your sole source of news is leftist media such as Slate, you’ll believe that there are “people who are in jail solely because they can’t afford to pay their way out.”

Nope.

There are people in jail awaiting trial because they are accused of serious crimes and they are deemed by a judge to be a threat to society.

Someone like Tiffany Harris of Brooklyn seemingly fits that bill. Late last month Harris allegedly slapped three Orthodox Jewish women as she said “F-U Jews” and was promptly arrested.

Courtesy of New York State’s new laws that eliminate most cash bails, Harris was back on the street a few days later. The next day Harris allegedly punched a woman and was arrested again–and was released.

A few days later, during a court-mandated meeting with a social worker, Harris was arrested again after allegedly pinching that worker. She went too far even for New York this time. Harris is now being held for psychiatric evaluations.

The Harris case is not an isolated one in the five days the Empire State’s new bail law has been in effect, as the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle tells us:

On Thursday, a man accused of manslaughter for choking and stabbing a woman to death in Albany was set to be released without bail under New York’s new criminal justice laws.

In Harlem, a man who allegedly hit and killed a pedestrian while driving drunk was released without bail because of the new state law that ends cash bail for misdemeanors and many non-violent felonies.

In Rochester, a man convicted a decade ago of shooting a Rochester police officer was released on new drug charges without bail.

And in Poughkeepsie, a man once convicted of manslaughter was set to be freed on new charges of felony aggravated DWI as he awaits trial, the district attorney said.

Law enforcement officials are understandably aghast over the new law, as are Republicans.

New York City’s left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, is now calling for a minor scaling back of the law, adding judicial discretion to keep those are the biggest threat to society either locked up or under the burden of a cash bail.

De Blasio is a former Democratic presidential candidate. Of the top tier Dems running for president, all of them, specifically Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders favor ending cash bail. So dropping it is not a fringe issue among the Democrats. Sanders has gone as far as sponsoring a Senate bill to abolish cash bail.

Anti-police rhetoric dominated liberaldom during the 2016 presidential race, which led President Trump to call himself “the law and order candidate.”

In a November Tweet, President Trump decried the New York bail law, “So sad to see what is happening in New York where Governor Cuomo & Mayor DeBlasio are letting out 900 Criminals, some hardened & bad, onto the sidewalks of our rapidly declining, because of them, city. The Radical Left Dems are killing our cities. NYPD Commissioner is resigning!”

Other Blue States are bowing to the criminals. As I noted here at Da Tech Guy, Cook County Illinois’ State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, best known for dropping the hate crime hoax charges against Jussie Smollett, is bringing additional misery to law-abiding citizens such as myself by refusing to prosecute shoplifters who steal merchandise worth less than $1,000. Probably not coincidentally, Chicago is now plagued with shoplifting mobs. Californians will vote later this year on an initiative to eliminate cash bail–a bill enacted in the former Golden State was blocked by a lawsuit. As I also noted in that DTG entry, the headline was “Welcome to the Age of Criminals,” San Francisco’s new prosecutor, Chesa Boudin, the son of two Weather Underground terrorists, who was raised by two others, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, wants to drop cash bail right now. He favors “restorative justice” as an alternative to imprisonment. New Jersey and one Red State, Alaska, has a weaker version of the New York cash bail law.

Abolishing cash bail for the GOP is what former Chicago White Sox announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson would call a “get-me-over-fastball.” In other words, it’s a gift basket of a pitch that ends up as a home run.

Trump should pursue maintaining cash bail as a campaign issue. But even more so, because law enforcement is primarily a local issue, down-ballot Republicans should do so too.

After all, as I’ve noted many times, the most important duty of any responsible government is to protect its citizens from invaders and criminals.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Feds have their net out for Illinois’ kraken monster, Boss Michael Madigan

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

By John Ruberry

The new year isn’t here yet but 2020 is shaping up to be the Year of Many Political Indictments in Illinois.

Three months and a day ago I posted this story at Da Tech Guy: Feds setting up a massive corruption net in Chicago area. In that entry I gave a summery of the recent raids on offices of several politicians, all with ties to Boss Michael Madigan, the kraken monster of Illinois. As I’ve explained numerous times in this space, Madigan is the most powerful pol in the Prairie State. He has been speaker of the state House for all but two years since 1983. He’s served as chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party since 1998. He’s been committeeman of Chicago’s 13th Ward since 1969. It was from that perch in 2007 that Madigan nominated Joseph Berrios to be the chairman of the Cook County Regular Democratic Organization, better known as “the Chicago Machine.” Three years later Madigan greatly assisted Berrios in his election of the seemingly obscure post of Cook County Assessor. That office determines how much your property is worth in Crook County–and therefore how much it will be taxed–and it’s a position that has long been associated with graft.

Like the legendary kraken, Madigan has very long tentacles and of course a large reach.

Among the updates I have for you today is that Berrios, who was–gasp!–ousted by a reformer last year in the Democratic primary for assessor, is now under federal investigation. With his power base gone, Berrios stepped down as party chairman shortly after his well -deserved defeat.

Madigan is the senior party in the tiny law firm Madigan and Getzendanner, which specializes in corporate property tax appeals.

Hmmm.

Also in that September DTG post I reported on the indictment of Ald. Ed Burke of Chicago. He represents a ward that borders Madigan’s. Burke has been an alderman since 1969 and is the longest serving Chicago alderman in history. Burke’s a lawyer too. His specialty? Property tax appeals. 

In May, federal authorities raided the home former Commonwealth Edison lobbyist Michael McClain. ComEd is the electrical utility for northern Illinois and the utility, which is owned by Exelon, seems to be a major focus of the corruption probe. And that’s a big problem for Madigan and other Illinois politicians. Exelon is a public corporation and it’s difficult for it to hide its dirty laundry. And ComEd is subject to local government regulation, which of course is why the utility cozied up to Madigan and other big shots. And customers, such as myself, have to pay a ComEd bill every month. And every ComEd user believes they are paying to much for electricity. Now they have another reason to hate ComEd.

Clearly the feds are in the midst of a far reaching corruption investigation in Illinois, its target appears to be our kraken, Madigan. But Madigan has been under federal investigation before and the tangible results of those probes were as elusive as those efforts by photographers trying to get a clear photograph of Bigfoot, or a real kraken. 

Madigan infrequently speaks to the media and he never uses email.

Let’s take a look at where one of those tentacles reached. The City Club of Chicago is a tweedy, or seemingly so, good government group, dismissed as “goo-goos” by the cynics. It’s known for its weekly luncheons featuring prominent public officials. For years its president was Jay Doherty, a lobbyist for ComEd. He resigned earlier as head of the group after the feds raided the City Club offices and he no longer lobbys for Commonwealth Edison. Among the speakers at the City Club during Doherty’s tenure were ComEd reps–and Lisa Madigan, Michael’s daughter, who spoke to them in 2009. At the time Lisa was the Illinois attorney general and her office was investigating Doherty and the City Club.

The focus of this part of federal probe appears to be handing out of ComEd jobs for the politically connected in exchange for state actions favorable to the utility.

Last year a study by the University of Illinois at Chicago named Illinois the second most corrupt state. Louisiana was tops. 

Man oh man, Louisiana must be horrible. Illinois surely is. 

Here at Da Tech Guy Pat Austin regularly reports on Louisiana.

John Ruberry blogs at Marathon Pundit from Illinois, where is not under federal investigation.

Review: The Two Popes

By John Ruberry

“I’m not familiar with this part of the garden,” Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) tells Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) as they enter an area overrun by brush and deadwood in The Two Popes. Benedict then asks the Argentinian, “Which way?”

That garden, at the Vatican’s Palace of Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, could rightly be called Benedict’s garden, as he was the Pope. Yet Benedict asks the man who ends up as his successor, Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013, for direction. Oops, I mean directions.

Clearly the scriptwriters and the director of The Two Popes favor the liberal leadership under Francis–the garden scene neatly ties up that sentiment in a bow.

Later, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio decries inequality, repeated images of ugly walls are shown.

The Two Popes is largely fictionalized story centered on the theological divide between the 265th and the 266th pontiffs. After a limited theatrical release, including a showing at the Chicago International Film Festival, which was sold out, preventing Mrs. Marathon Pundit from seeing it, the film debuted Friday on Netflix. The Two Popes is worth seeing, whether you are a Catholic or not, or a believer or not. The Welshmen in the lead roles, Hopkins and Pryce, provide superb performances. Of course Hopkins’ career has been justifiably rewarded, including gaining four Academy Award nominations, and winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Amazingly, despite stellar work in such movies as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Pryce has never been honored with an Academy Award nomination. He deserves it for his performance as Francis, but my guess is that the Academy will overlook Pryce again.

The interplay–and the arguing–is what keeps The Two Popes going.

As for the fiction, there is plenty of it here. There were no long meetings between Benedict and Bergoglio; the catalyst for their movie summit was an offer of resignation from the cardinal, which is harshly rejected as a challenge to Benedict’s authority. The future Pope Francis turned 75 in 2011, it is customary for archbishops to retire at that age. It can be assumed that the pair never discussed the Beatles or their Abbey Road album. And it’s quite likely that Benedict’s favorite television show is not Kommisar Rex, an Austrian detective program where a German shepherd solves crimes. This sidetrack is probably a sly reference to Cardinal Ratzinger’s long term as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican under John Paul II, where he picked up the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

There are numerous flashback scenes involving Francis, including his early romance, his call to the priesthood, his muddled legacy from Argentina’s “Dirty War,” his rise, then fall, and his rise again within the Argentine Catholic Church. 

In the garden walk scene, Bergoglio condemns Benedict’s handling of the pedophile crisis within the priesthood, which included confession of the guilty–he calls it “magic words.” Benedict’s retort is harsh and telling, “Magic words, is that how you describe the sacrament?”

The Two Popes gives viewers plenty to think about. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Trump impeachment leads my list of recent legendary flops

By John Ruberry

Here’s a list of great flops in recent times. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

Here we go.

Trump impeachment.
Battlefield Earth movie.
The XFL. (Yes, a revival is planned.)
Jussie Smollett’s hate crime.
Joe Walsh’s Republican primary challenge against Trump, as well as those of William Weld and Mark Sanford.
New Coke.
Cop Rock TV show.
Watermelon-flavored Oreos.
Heaven’s Gate movie.
Bernie Madoff.
Jar Jar Binks.
The Cleveland Browns firing Bill Belichick.
ESPN becoming woke.
Theresa May’s call for a snap parliamentary election in 2017.
Cheetos lip balm.
Paris Hilton.
The Big Ten conference inviting Rutgers to join.
Anything related to Anna Nicole Smith.
Mars Needs Moms movie.
Manimal TV show.
Jeremy Corbin’s term as head of the Labour Party.
Pontiac Aztek.
The San Diego Chargers move to Los Angeles.
Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign, “I was born to be in it.”
Google Glass.
CNN’s decision to become the impeachment network.
Rosie O’Donnell on The View.
Michael Avenatti’s presidential run.
Enron.
Motorola Rokr phone. (I was given one of these by my employer at the time. It was truly a dreadful device.)
Heinz purple ketchup.

Now some of these debacles can also double as hoaxes, such as the “racist assault on Smollett. And of course the impeachment of Trump, which of course is stumbling along despite the lack of evidence that a crime was committed.

Witch-hunter in chief in the House, Adam Schiff, dabbles in screenplay writing. Perhaps a Schiff-scripted movie might make it on a future list.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Review of Who, the new album by the Who

By John Ruberry

Forty years ago Sunday I saw my first rock concert–and a great way to start out–it was my 18th birthday and it was the Who at the International Amphitheater in Chicago.

Sunday morning I was headed to another midwestern city on another birthday of course, this time headed for Milwaukee to run in the Santa Hustle 5K. And from my iPod I pressed “Play” to listen to the latest, and probably last, album by the Who, entitled, simply, Who.

The Who always had an attitude–and they still do. Lead singer Roger Daltrey, 75, now a baritone, barks out Pete Townshend’s lyrics on the opening track, “All This Music Must Fade.”

I don’t care. I know you’re gonna hate this song. And that’s it. We never really got along. It’s not new, not diverse. It won’t light up your parade. It’s just simple verse.

Townshend, 74, who wrote all but one of the songs for Who, the exception is “Break The News” by his brother Simon, looks back at the past, as is expected by any old man. Townshend once wrote on his iconic 1965 classic, “My Generation” this boast, “I hope I die before I get old.”

Chronologically only drummer Keith Moon,died young at 32, but years of drug and alcohol abuse aged him quickly–he was a physical wreck when he died in his sleep of a drug overdose. Drugs killed bassist John Entwistle at 58, also in his sleep, on the eve of a Who tour.

The Who have taken us from “The Music Must Change” on Who Are You, the last album with Moon, to “All This Music Must Fade.” Moon, who died a month after that album’s release, was unable to play drums on “The Music Must Change” because it was in the 6/8 time measure. He was once considered the worlds greatest rock drummer

The surviving Who members, aided on some tracks by unofficial bandmates Zak Starkey on drums and Pino Palladino on bass, don’t embarrass themselves. But they don’t exceed expectations. So if you’re looking for a septuagenarian anthem to match with “I Can See For Miles,” or “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” you will be disappointed. With few exceptions, the aforementioned “Break The News” is one, Who is formulaic, it’s got just enough synthesizers to recall Who Are You and the other Townshend/Daltrey Who album, Endless Wire, and the Townshend backup vocals seem scientifically placed. And that’s a problem as Townshend and Daltrey never appeared in the studio together for Who.

Other elements of the past on Who include the album artwork, designed by Peter Blake, who also created the Face Dances album cover, and the song “Detours.” Who scholars know that the earliest incarnation of the band was named the Detours.

“Ball and Chain” was the first song released from Who. It’s about the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Townshend opposes it, and that’s all you can extract from the pedestrian lyrics, that is, to reference “All This Music Must Fade,” only “just simple verse.”

As one ages death often becomes a common thought, and Townshend explores mortality in several songs here. If you are looking for intriguing albums about death, I recommend instead Magic and Loss by Lou Reed and the later albums of the American series by Johnny Cash. If you are prefer something less morbid from an older person looking back, the two Americana albums by Ray Davies, the Kinks mastermind, will provide a much better experience than Who for you.

Let me obscure. The most moving song about getting old and having regrets is “Ghosts” by Randy Newman, from his largely forgotten Born Again collection.

Back to the Who.

But does any of this discussion even matter to Daltrey and Townshend? I downloaded the deluxe version from Apple Music, which contains “Got Nothing To Prove.” An unexpected throwback to the mid-1960s, when the Who was a great singles band, it would have been one of the best tracks on the album, had it not been ruined by James Bond-theme styled orchestration.

Yes, the Who has nothing to prove anymore.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Evanston, Illinois’ use of weed taxes for reparations won’t solve deeper problems

By John Ruberry

If you want to immerse yourself with sanctimonious leftists then I suggest you drop everything you’re doing and head to Evanston, Illinois, which borders Chicago and is the home of Northwestern University. It’s located two towns from the suburb I live in.

I did so once at a meeting of the Evanston Democrats.

In 2016 Donald Trump gained just seven percent of the vote in Evanston.

Despite being run by liberals for decades, Evanston, the onetime home of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, will divert all of the sales tax revenue from soon-to-be-open legal marijuana shops for slavery and discrimination reparations.

Illinois of course was not a slave state. Ironically, one of my great grandfathers, Joseph Ruberry, a Civil War veteran who served on the Union side, is buried in Evanston. Also located six-feet under in Evanston is common sense.

In 2000, the African American population was 22 percent, now it’s about 17 percent. One goal of these reparation payments is to address this decline. About $500,000 to $750,000 is expected to be collected each year, which won’t be enough to pay for a stately home on Evanston’s lakefront.

In short, these reparation payments won’t make much of a difference.

As for the decline in Evanston’s black population, that’s in line with a similar fall off in Chicago. Other things are at work. While not as severe as its much larger neighbor, Evanston has a gang problem. Statewide, Illinois is becoming a difficult place to earn a living. Corruption, government incompetence, and unfunded public worker pension obligations are a millstone fighting prosperity.

While not as high as Chicago’s, suburban Cook County, where Evanston sits, has one of the steepest sales tax rates in the nation. Illinois just increased its income tax rate–many states have no state income tax. The Prairie State’s gasoline tax is the third-highest in America.

But liberal politicians love taxes–it gives them more power.

Here’s my prediction: In spite of these upcoming reparations payments, the black population of Evanston will continue to fall.

Of course leftists in Evanston a decade or so from now will argue they have another solution. And whatever that will be–it will involve more taxpayer money.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Welcome to the Age of Criminals

By John Ruberry

“Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints,” Mick Jagger first sang in 1968. The late 1960s were a period when many people believed that society, not individuals, was responsbible for crimes. There was a predictable backlash which led to the “Get Tough on Crime” movement that benefitted the political careers of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and countless other politicians. In 2016, Donald Trump once referred to himself as “the law and order candidate.” He should have stayed with that meme, in my opinion.

Clearly, at least in America’s big cities, the law enforcement philosophic pendulum is swinging back to the liberals. A big part of the reason is the left-wing political monoculture in cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco. The Democrats are the only effective political force in these places, and the two-party structure, such as it is, consists of the left and the far-left. It was the far-left, aided by the uninformed who only vote for candidates with “D” next to their names, who elected Kim Foxx the state’s attorney in Cook County, Illinois, where I live, as well as Larry Krasner as district attorney of Philadelphia, Rachael Rollins as district attorney in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, which is dominated by Boston, and earlier this month, Chesa Boudin as San Francisco’s district attorney.

Boudin takes us back to the 1960s. You probably haven’t heard of his parents, David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin. Both were members of the terrorist group the Weather Underground, which was founded in 1969. Dad is serving what is effectively a life sentence for murder for his role in a deadly 1981 suburban New York Brinks truck robbery, done in conjunction with the Black Liberation Army, one that saw a security guard and two Nyack police officers shot to death. One of those slain cops was the only African-American on the Nyack force. Mom was released from prison in 2003, she is now an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Getaway cars for the heist were rented using personal information taken from customers who shopped at a New York boutique, Broadway Baby. The manager of that store, using a phony name, was Bernardine Dorhn. She was also a member of the Weather Underground but was never charged in Brinks case.

Since Gilbert and Kathy Boudin were unable to raise Chesa, who was a toddler at the time of the heist, they chose their radical pals, Dohrn and her partner, Bill Ayers, who of course was another Weather Underground member, as his guardians. Dohrn and Ayers’ home in Chicago is where Barack Obama began his political career in 1995. Ayers and Dorhn, now retired professors, are rarely mentioned in the generally sympathetic mainstream media reports about Chesa. As for that younger Boudin, he did well by attending an elite private school, then Yale, then Oxford. Prior to becoming a public defender in San Francisco, Boudin worked as a translator for the Venezuelan government at the time Hugo Chavez was running that once-prosperous nation into the ground.

Next year voters in California will vote on an initiative to eliminate cash bail there. Boudin doesn’t want to wait that long. The district attorney-elect told NPR last week that his first act in office will be to tell his prosecutors never to ask for cash bail, “Because we shouldn’t be putting a price tag on freedom, because we shouldn’t be determining incarceration based on wealth, and it’s what I intend to implement as policy on day one.” In place of prison time, Boudin, with victims’ consent, supports something called “restorative justice,” even in cases involving murder, kidnapping, and rape.

Not surprisingly, the local police union opposed Boudin in the election, spending $700,000 and calling him “the No. 1 choice of criminals and gang members.” Boudin has called for the prosecution of cops and ICE officials for, wait for it, doing their jobs. 

Bernie Sanders endorsed Boudin in the DA race.

Back in Cook County, Illinois, where Boudin was raised, Kim Foxx is the top law enforcement official. She endorsed Chesa, as did those leftist district attorneys in Philadelphia and Boston. Nationally Foxx is best known for her bizarre–unless you are a leftist–decision to drop all of Jussie Smollett’s charges involving staging the phony “racist” attack on him in Chicago earlier this year. But there is more to dislike. The Illinois threshold for charging shoplifters with a felony is stealing items worth $300. Foxx, with the snap of her fingers, raised it to $1,000. Not surprisingly, retail theft is on the rise in Chicago. Who pays? The store owners? Not exactly. To recoup their losses, prices for their unstolen merchandise goes up. So honest people suffer. Now there are reports of roving bands of shoplifters in Chicago. Retail theft can be a career choice, it seems. Presumably the swiped goods are resold by these bandits on the black market, at a cheap price, undercutting the sales of legitimate merchants. And Chicago doesn’t collect its whopping 10 percent sales tax on these transactions. Crime is indeed expensive. Yet for some people it pays.

When Foxx took office three years ago, shoplifting was the second-most prosecuted crime in Cook County. Now it’s the eighth-most prosecuted one. The long term implications for society are dire as shoplifting is viewed by some as a gateway crime to more serious offenses.

In her video regarding announcing her run for reelection in 2020, Foxx admitted she botched the Smollett case, but she also attacked Chicago’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, which in a spring protest outside of her office called on her to resign. In a July letter to Foxx, the FOP cited that a “deep mistrust now exists between your office and ours. We no longer believe that your office will treat our members fairly either in the arrests they make or when they are victims of crimes.”

It appears that the Age of Criminals, at least in some big cities and their inner suburbs, is upon us. Supporting law abiding folks are the cops. Leftist prosecutors are on the other side.

The crime gateway is open.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Profiles in cowardice: The Democrats’ push to impeach Trump

Andrew Johnson statue on the grounds of the Tennessee state capitol

By John Ruberry

One of the heroes in the Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, which was credited to John F. Kennedy but largely written by Ted Sorensen, was Edmund G. Ross, a Radical Republican senator from Kansas who is credited as the deciding vote against the removal from office of President Andrew Johnson, who had been impeached by the House of Representatives.

Ross was appointed to the Senate in 1866, when, Sorensen wrote, “the two branches of government were at each other’s throats.” Such as it is now between the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives and President Donald J. Trump.

Johnson, like the man he succeeded, Abraham Lincoln, favored a quick readmission of the former Confederate states into the Union. But Johnson had few of the political skills of the Great Emancipator, and compared to the Radical Republicans, Johnson was very weak on the Civil Rights. Johnson was impeached in 1868–an election year–for violating the recently enacted Tenure of Office Act for firing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. The president deemed that law as unconstitutional, it was repealed a few years later and the courts later proved Johnson correct.

Ross, along with six other Republican senators voted to acquit Johnson. Sorensen, in Profiles in Courage notes Ross’ words, written years after the impeachment trial.

In a large sense, the independence of the executive office as a coordinate branch of the government was on trial…If…the president must step down…a disgraced man and a political outcast…upon insufficient proofs and from partisan considerations…the office of the president would be degraded, cease to be a coordinate branch of the government, and ever after subordinated to the legislative will.

If Johnson had been removed from office America would have seen a weakened office of the presidency. One subject to the whims of an emboldened Congress.

Trump’s crimes in regards to the Ukraine call, if any–and I don’t believe there are any–are subject to interpretation. Say what you will about the only other president to be impeached, Bill Clinton, but he clearly perjured himself when testifying about Monica Lewinsky.

If Trump is impeached by the House, the likelihood of his being convicted by the Senate and removed from office is remote. But a precedent could be set by future Congresses to impeach presidents, well, simply because member of the “loyal opposition” opposes him. Or her, of course.

As Wikipedia writes about the Johnson impeachment:

The impeachment and trial of Andrew Johnson had important political implications for the balance of federal legislative–executive power. It maintained the principle that Congress should not remove the President from office simply because its members disagreed with him over policy, style, and administration of the office. It also resulted in diminished presidential influence on public policy and overall governing power, fostering a system of governance which Woodrow Wilson referred to in the 1870s as “Congressional Government”.

But most of the current crop of Democrat members of the House don’t care about history. They simply want to, in the crass words of freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, “Impeach the motherf—er.”

When impeachment comes to a full vote in the House, will any Democrats–and not just those from districts that are overwhelmingly pro-Trump–offer a profile in courage?

It seems right now that most House Democrats have profiles in cowardice–they answer only to the MSNBC–incited mob who fill their campaign coffers. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.