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

Blogger at the summit of Black Rock Mountain

By John Ruberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We eventually made it to Savannah too. 

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

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

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

I almost forgot–we hiked the Applachian Trail too.

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

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

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

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

Abrams all but said to stay away from Georgia. 

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

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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.

The far-left wants a Year Zero

Woodrow Wilson Street in Detroit

By John Ruberry

Yesterday, on Messidor Duodi (2), 228, three statues were toppled by a leftist mob at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. One of Junípero Serra, the builder of the first Catholic missions in California, one of Francis Scott Key, the composer of Our National Anthem, and of Ulysses S. Grant.

I don’t want to get into a discussion of which statues of historical figures in this country should stay up and which should go because I believe nearly all of them should. Although I support the decision by the Dearborn Historical Museum to remove the statue of segregationist and virulent racist Orville Hubbard, a long time mayor of Dearborn, Michigan, from their grounds. It formerly stood at the Detroit suburb’s city hall.

Last week I wrote that statues of Abraham Lincoln, even in Illinois may not be safe. As far as I know, no Lincoln statues in the United States have been removed or vandalized. Although two, one in Boston and one in Washington, both with a freed slave, might go. The Great Emancipator’s greatest and best-known general, Grant, of course isn’t so lucky. The 18th president freed the only save he owned, at a time when he was suffering severe financial difficulties, was the commander of all Union forces during the Civil War, which of course saw to the ending of slavery in America. As president he pushed strongly for Reconstruction and he led the successful effort to destroy the first incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan.

Oh, the date yesterday wasn’t really Messidor Duodi (2) 228, unless you follow the French Republican calendar. Among the dementedness that came out of the French Revolution was dropping the seven-day week Gregorian calendar for a ten-day week calendar, think of the metric system only for time. That calendar began in 1792, but to the French revolutionaries it was Year One. Napoleon returned France to the Gregorian calendar in 1805 and except for 18 days during the Paris Commune of 1871, another leftist insurrection, the French have kept it since.

When the Khmer Rouge conquered Cambodia in 1975, the communists declared it Year Zero.

I’m sure you know where I’m heading in this discussion. The far-leftists who are pulling down and defacing statues–they even placed a burning US flag on a George Washington statue after toppling it–don’t want to reinterpret history, they want to destroy it.

Now that Grant can’t be protected–oh, where were the San Francisco police when his statue was removed from its pedestal?–is anyone safe? Franklin D. Roosevelt is a hero to the left. But Roosevelt ordered the internment of over 100,000 people of Japanese descent, many of them US citizens, during World War II.

What about Woodrow Wilson? To be fair, most white men 100 years ago were racist under contemporary definitions, but that makes Wilson an extreme racist. Wilson, another lion of the left, chose the ultra-racist Birth Of a Nation to be the first motion picture to be screened at the White House.

A quote from Wilson appears on a caption in that movie, “‘The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self preservation … until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.’ — Woodrow Wilson.”

Wilson also re-segregated the federal workforce. As for Birth Of A Nation, that movie brought on the second incarnation of the KKK.

Wilson is already under attack. Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, New Jersey will be renamed. Monmouth College in New Jersey–the Garden State was Wilson’s adopted home state–will remove his name from a building on its campus.

Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower had racist views. What about them?

What about everyone?

What about you?

The far-left wants their Year Zero.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.