Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

By John Ruberry

Five years after the fictional story of the Naperville, Illinois crime family, the Byrdes, began streaming on Netflix, Ozark has come to an end. 

Late last month the final seven episodes, comprising of Season 4 Part 2, were released. 

If you haven’t heard of the Byrdes, the family is headed by Marty Byrde (Jason Bateman), a financial planner whose firm makes the fatal mistake of laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel run by Omar Navarro (Felix Solis). Marty is married to Wendy (Laura Linney), a former Democratic Party operative, although the word “Democrat” hasn’t been mentioned for the past two seasons. Their children, Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz), and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), are reluctant partners in the family business, which is based in the Lake of the Ozarks region of Missouri. A riverboat casino is the centerpiece of their laundering operation.

Leaving an organized crime network is much harder than joining one. But that’s what the Byrdes continue to strive for, looking back at the Chicago area as a safe haven. For real. Clearly, the Byrdes haven’t been keeping an eye on the dramatic rise of violent crime here. 

The Byrdes have formed a shaky alliance with a member of a local small-time crime family, Ruth Langmore (Julia Garner). A two-time Prime Time Emmy winner for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for that role, Garner is simply fabulous. Marty and Wendy can’t protect and grow their operation, let alone leave it, without assistance from other villains, convenient and tired ones, including a former Republican US senator from Illinois, Randall Schafer (Bruce Davison), and the CEO of a Chicago-based pharmaceutical corporation, Clare Shaw (Katrina Lenk). Yawn. Republicans bad, pharmaceutical firms, also bad. The money laundering Brydes? Not so much, at least according to the scriptwriters. Wendy, to protect their rackets, finds herself a reluctant participant in a Midwestern vote-suppression scheme that Schafer is behind. 

In real life, between the release of Part 1 and Part 2 of Season 4 of Ozark, the decades-long Democratic boss of Illinois, Michael Madigan, was indicted. But never forget, in television land, the GOP is evil.

Oh, what was that about Netflix losing subscribers?

A character introduced in Season 4, a disgraced former Chicago Police detective with good intentions, Mel Sattem (Adam Rothenberg), confronts the Byrdes over their hubris gained from their power and money, equating them with the Kennedy family and the conservative Koch family from Wichita. Slow down there. There is no Koch-equivalent to the Kennedys using their influence to allow Ted Kennedy to walk away with only a hand slap after arguably murdering Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick

Okay, I’ve hit the things that I didn’t enjoy with Ozark. Back to the good stuff–and there is plenty of it. 

The Navarro family has its own struggles. Omar’s nephew, Javi Elizondro (Alfonso Herrera), has plans that don’t coincide with those of his uncle. One of the many appeals of Ozark is the shifting of alliances–and the betrayals that accompany them. And of course, so are the performances–led of course by Garner–of the major characters and minor ones. One of the minor characters, Rachel Garrison (Jordana Spiro), makes a surprise return.

The cinematography of Ozark is at a feature-movie level. 

While of course set in Missouri, Ozark except for some Chicago scenes in Season 1, is filmed in the Atlanta area. In Part 1 of Season 4 I noticed a light rail train in what was supposed to be downtown Chicago. What were called streetcars way back when haven’t been running in Chicago for decades. In Part 2 of the final season, I spotted what appears to be a cabbage palm tree in front of Ruth Langmore’s Lazy-O Motel. That tree cannot survive a Midwestern winter.

And what about Wendy and Marty Byrde? As I remarked in a previous review, they are the television version of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who in The Great Gatsby “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness.”

All four seasons are available for streaming on Netflix. The series is rated TV-MA for graphic violence, drug use, nudity, and obscene language.

Earlier post:

Review: Ozark Season 4 Part 1.

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

By John Ruberry

While calling public figures “Orwellian” goes back decades, usually it’s an exaggeration. 

Not so with the new Misinformation and Disinformation Governance Board, whose existence was revealed by the soulless hack Alejandro Mayorkas, Joe Biden’s secretary of Homeland Security. The board’s executive director is Nina Jankowicz, a misinformationist. 

Among other things, Jankowicz in 2020 called into question the veracity of the Hunter Biden laptop revelations.

George Orwell’s “Ministry of Truth” in 1984 of course propagandized lies. 

The Democrats’ Orwellian attacks on their opponents began during Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, when he created groups such as “The Truth Squad.” 

This morning on Twitter, former Democratic member of Congress and 2020 presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, pointed her finger at the instigator on the Dems’ obsession with “disinformation,” Joe Biden’s former ticket-mate.

“Biden is just a front man,” Gabbard Tweeted. “Obama, April 21: social media censors ‘don’t go far enough,’ so the government needs to step in to do the job. Six days later, Homeland Security rolls out the ‘Ministry of Truth’ (aka Disinformation Governance Board).”

Obama’s “Truth Squad” made its first appearance in during the 2008 Democratic primaries. It was ramped up for the general election. A KMOV-TV St. Louis anchor reported that fall, “Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading TV ad during the presidential campaign.”

“Prosecutors and sheriffs from across Missouri are joining ‘The Barack Obama Truth Squad,'” reporter John Mills added, he then named Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis circuit attorney, and Bob McCulloch, the prosecutor for St. Louis County, as members.

Mills continued, “They will be reminding voters that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year.” 

What about those prosecutors?

“If they’re not going to tell the truth,” McCulloch told KMOV, “somebody’s got to step up and say, ‘That’s not true. This is the truth.'”

Jim Geraghty of National Review summed up the Missouri threat concisely at the time, “While the report never quite comes out and says that anyone running an ad saying those things would be subject to prosecution, that certainly is the message implied.” 

Truth, like knowledge, is nearly never a settled construct, especially in the political arena. 

Leftists, like Barack Obama, undoubtedly disagree with me. Rather, under the cloak of “truth,” they now label criticism of their policies, as well as reports that harm their side, such as the revelations from the Hunter Biden laptop, as “misinformation” and “disinformation.” The Obama quote referenced earlier comes from a Stanford University conference about “misinformation” held in April. Earlier that month, longtime top Obama campaign aide, David Axelrod, was a co-host of the “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference at the University of Chicago.

Obama, ironically, was the recipient of PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” award in 2013. That’s the truth.

Informers are an integral part of any un-free society. In 2009, an Obama administration media flack, Macon Phillips, under the guise of–wait for it–fighting “disinformation,” asked Americans to rat out any who disparaged ObamaCare. “If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy,” he said, “send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.”

In 2012, the Obama-Biden campaign launched “the Truth Team.”

Never forget, the Democrats war on what they call “disinformation” began with Obama.

John Ruberry, and this is certainly the truth, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

I like Ike!

Posted: April 26, 2022 by chrisharper in politics
Tags: ,

By Christopher Harper

By many accounts, Dwight Eisenhower was a lazy caretaker of the U.S. presidency.

Again, these analysts missed the boat by a wide margin.

In my continuing deep drive in the presidency, I found that Eisenhower was one of the best presidents ever.

In his 2013 analysis of Eisenhower’s efforts as a general and president, the late Jean Edward Smith dismisses many of the criticisms of Ike’s time in the White House. See https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11958983-eisenhower-in-war-and-peace

Moreover, other historians are taking a more positive stance toward the 34th president, who served from 1953 to 1961. C-SPAN’s 2021 ratings of American presidents show that Eisenhower has moved up the ranks from 2000 to No. 5 in the 2021 survey.

In Eisenhower in War and Peace, Smith writes, “With the exception of Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower was the most successful president of the 20th century,” citing his avoidance of several military actions, creation of the interstate highway system, and the restoration of “the nation’s sanity” after McCarthyism.

In my opinion, FDR and cousin Teddy, who rank No. 3 and 4, should be put way down the list; Eisenhower should stand just behind Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, the top two on the C-SPAN list.

In 1952, Eisenhower entered the presidential race as a Republican to block the isolationist foreign policies of Senator Robert A. Taft, who opposed NATO and wanted no foreign entanglements. Eisenhower won that election and the 1956 election in landslides, both times defeating Adlai Stevenson II. 

Domestically, Eisenhower balanced the budget, lowered taxes, and reduced the country’s debt. He signed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and sent the 101st Airborne to enforce federal court orders to integrate schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

His lasting legacies include the Interstate Highway System and his warning about the “military-industrial complex,” which had become a dominant force in increasing defense spending for power and profit.

Internationally, Eisenhower, the soldier, knew the human price of war and kept the United States at peace for eight years. 

Ike got the United States out of the Korean War. He vetoed his adviser’s suggestions of using nuclear weapons to help the French in Vietnam and Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan. He forced the Israelis, French, and British out of the Suez Canal in 1956 when the three countries seized control of the critical transit route from Egypt. 

Unfortunately, he chose Earl Warren as chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He also allowed the CIA to expand its reach by overthrowing the leadership of Iran and Guatemala and agreed to the U-2 overflights of Russia, which soured the relationship with the Soviet Union.

Since I was only nine when Eisenhower left office, I didn’t realize what an exceptional president he was. I now understand why so many liked Ike.  

Blogger in Big Bend Ranch State Park last week

By John Ruberry

After a ten-day vacation I’ve returned home to Illinois, which should be renamed ILL-inois.

Since I was born–let’s just say for the same of humility it was a really long time ago–Illinois and Texas had roughly the same population. The Land of Lincoln had slightly more than 10 million residents then, while the Lone Star State had about half-a-million fewer people. According to the 2020 Census, Texas was the home of 29 million people, with Illinois at just under 13 million. Overall, in the same time period the overall US population soared from 179 million to 329 million. 

Texas has prospered and continues to do so; Illinois has gone from stagnation to decline. The Prairie State has been losing population every year since 2014.

I know of many Illinoisans who have bailed on this state and moved to Texas. The most noted departure was that of Roger Keats, a former Republican state senator and onetime candidate for Crook County–oops I meant Cook County–board president. In his 2011 farewell letter to suckers like my wife and I, who remain here, titled “Goodbye and Good Luck,” Keats wrote, “I am tired of subsidizing crooks.”

Since I was born four Illinois governors, three Democrats and one Republican, have served time in federal prison. No Texas governors have suffered that indignity. Last month, Michael Madigan, who was Illinois’ most powerful politician until he was ousted as Illinois speaker of the House in 2021, was indicted on a whole slew of racketeering charges. Madigan, except for two years in the 1990s, served as House speaker beginning in 1981. From 1998 until 2021 Madigan was also chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party. Overlooked in the rundown of Boss Madigan’s career by journalists after his indictment is this ironic nugget: his predecessor as speaker was George H. Ryan, a Republican, who is one of Illinois’ felon governors. 

While the numbers might be slightly different today, here are more highlights from Keats’ Parthian shot: 

Illinois is ranked 50th for fiscal policy; 47th in job creation; first in unfunded pension liabilities; second largest budget deficit; first in failing schools; first in bonded indebtedness; highest sales tax in the nation; most judges indicted; and five of our last nine elected governors have been indicted. That is more than the other 49 states added together!… “We are moving to Texas where there is no income tax while Illinois’ just went up 67%. Texas’ sales tax is half of ours, which is the highest in the nation. Southern states are supportive of job producers, taxpayers and folks who offer opportunities to their residents. Illinois shakes them down for every penny that can be extorted from them.

While flying into Dallas Fort-Worth Airport I saw numerous suburban subdivisions under construction. I remember those halcyon home building days in Illinois. But the biggest boom I saw was in the oil industry towns of Odessa and Midland on the Permian Basin. Homes, office buildings, and hotels are popping up there like dandelions in spring. Or like Illinois politicians in prison.

Southern Illinois could be a lucrative area for oil fracking. But our state’s Democratic governor, J.B. Pritzker, says he supports “clean energy” and it’s believed he opposes fracking. He’s up for reelection this year. Why aren’t his Republican opponents calling for fracking in Illinois?

No place is perfect, not even Texas. It has its own power grid, heavily dependent on wind power, which works great, until it doesn’t, as was the case after a large ice storm last year. Millions of Texans were without power for several days after that storm. But twice in the last decade, I was without electricity for several days, as were hundreds-of-thousands of others in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Unlike the Texas outages in 2021, this was not a national news story. My provider for electricity is Commonwealth Edison, which has been implicated in the Michael Madigan scandals.

Illinois is misruled by con-artists like Professor Henry Hill, the scoundrel from the play and the movie The Music Man, only our grifters are bereft of Hill’s charm.

We may not end up relocating in Texas, but Mrs. Marathon Pundit and I will leave Illinois. My family roots here reach back to 1850. When my great-great grandfather, another John Ruberry, arrived in Illinois from Ireland, this state was the land of opportunity. Illinois is now the land of corruption, high taxes, and decline. 

Like Keats, my wife and I are sick of subsidizing these crooks.

John Ruberry regularly blogs from Morton Grove, Illinois at Marathon Pundit.