Posts Tagged ‘history’

Pro-Ukraine protest in downtown Chicago this spring

By John Ruberry

There is good news out of Ukraine, its forces have made gains in the Kharkiv region and they are near Russian border. There is much ground still to liberate, not only land that Russia has seized in the war that began early this year, but also the area that have been controlled by Russian separatists in the Donetsk region since 2014, as well as Crimea, which Vladimir Putin annexed the same year.

Ukraine has endured an unhappy history. World War II and the Holocaust devastated Ukraine. And in order to impose communism on wealthier peasants in Ukraine, Josef Stalin engineered a famine in the early 1930s, known there as the Holodomor, translating roughly into “man-made starvation.” Roughly four million people perished as a result of Stalin’s atrocities against the kulaks in Ukraine.

Even in a closed society, it’s difficult to coverup a famine. And news trickled out of Ukraine about the Holodomor. But a New York Times reporter, based in Moscow, Walter Duranty, dismissed such stories, instead of “famine” he wrote of “malnutrition” in Ukraine, for instance. 

For a series of 1931 articles about the Soviet Union, Duranty, for his “dispassionate interpretive reporting,” he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. 

While in Moscow, Duranty, was granted a rarity, interviews with Stalin; he also enjoyed another rarity, a luxury apartment in the Soviet capital. During the entire history of the USSR, housing of any kind was scarce. In Moscow Duranty had a mistress, whom he impregnated, and a chauffeur. Automobiles were also rare in Russia in the 1930s. 

In 1933, another journalist, or I should say, a real one, Gareth Jones, visited Ukraine and he was horrified by what he found. “If it is grave now and if millions are dying in the villages, as they are, for I did not visit a single village where many had not died, what will it be like in a month’s time?” Jones wrote for the London Evening Standard. “The potatoes left are being counted one by one, but in so many homes the potatoes have long run out.” 

Duranty’s response to Jones was a New York Times article, “Russians Hungry, But Not Starving.” That same year, Duranty wrote to a friend, “The famine is mostly bunk.”

Another shameful sentence from Duranty, about Stalin’s brutal policies as the Holodomor continued, “To put it brutally,” Duranty wrote for the Times, “you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

Since the war began attention has been brought to Duranty’s undeserved Pulitzer. Even NPR took notice. “He is the personification of evil in journalism,” Oksana Piaseckyj told NPR earlier this year of Duranty. She is a Ukrainian-American activist who emigrated here as a child over 70 years ago. “We think he was like the originator of fake news,” Piaseckyj added.

The New York Times admitted on its corporate website about Duranty’s work, “Since the 1980’s, the [Times] has been publicly acknowledging his failures.” But it has not returned the tainted Pulitzer. It also notes that twice, most recently in 2003, the Pulitzer board has decided not to revoke its award to Duranty. 

It’s time for them to reconsider.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Willie Wilson billboard in 2016 on Chicago’s West Side

By John Ruberry

“Since the 1930s the technique of buying votes with the voters’ own money has been expanded to an extent undreamed of by earlier politicians.” Milton Friedman.

“But it can also be said that the social largesse of the boss system, the food, coal, clothing, and jobs provided for the needy, was there when it counted–with no delay and no paperwork–for those loyal to the system.” David McCullough, at the opening of the PBS American Experience documentary, “The Last Boss.”

Democratic politics has gone from handing out free stuff, ploys used by machine politicians including James M. Curley of Boston and Richard J. Daley of Chicago, to handing out free stuff again. In between, the social programs created Franklin D. Roosevelt, proved to be a better and more popular distributor of goodies. Daley, unlike most of the other big city bosses, adopted to the times a bit; he was able to siphon a generous chunk of the funds from Lyndon B. Johnson’s Model Cities boondoggle, for instance. 

Last month President Joe Biden, like a Democratic boss of old, in a legally tenuous move, announced that he would forgive $10,000 to $20,000 in student loan debt. That debt of course won’t disappear, federal taxpayers will get stuck with the tab.

You’ve heard about Dr. Jill Biden. The first lady uses that title because she has doctorate in education. Chicago has millionaire businessman Dr. Willie Wilson, who according to ABC Chicago, “is the recipient of a Doctor of Divinity degree from Mt. Carmel Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Humane Letters from Chicago Baptist Institute International, Honorary Doctorate in Humanitarianism from Swisher Bible College and a Doctorate in Humanitarianism from Denver Institute of Urban Studies and Adult College.” I haven’t heard of those schools either.

Wilson is a political gadfly. He has run for mayor of Chicago three times, including his current attempt at the office, as well as for US senator and president. But he is best known as a man who gives away stuff, through his foundation, of groceries, PPE masks, groceries, and gasoline. The local media falls for his ploy–and to be fair, they have been placed in a trap, as their audience likes freebies. Who doesn’t?

Oh, Wilson favors slavery reparations.

Laura Washington, a far-left columnist for the Chicago Tribune, rightly condemned the “Willie Wilsonization of politics” in a column ironically published two days before Biden announced his student loan debt forgiveness plan. And she didn’t stop with Wilson. First up was Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

From that Trib column, paid registration may by required:

Thanks to an “avalanche” of federal stimulus funds, Lightfoot is “running for reelection armed with a seemingly bottomless gift bag of giveaways that includes everything from gas cards, Ventra cards, bicycles, locks and helmets to more than $1,000-per-household in rebates to defray the cost of security cameras, outdoor motion sensor lighting, cloud storage and GPS trackers to hunt down vehicles in the event of an auto theft or carjacking,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported in June. 

Lightfoot’s “Chicago Moves,” is the city’s $12 million transit response to skyrocketing fuel costs and inflation. It will distribute up to 50,000 prepaid $150 gas cards and 100,000 prepaid $50 transit cards to Chicago residents. 

Earlier this year, Lightfoot pushed through a controversial guaranteed income program for low-income families. The pilot program will provide no-strings-attached $500 payments to 5,000 Chicago families per month for a year. The recipients were chosen through a lottery system.

For months, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who is running for reelection in the Nov. 8 election, has ballyhooed a $1.8 billion tax relief plan in his campaign ads. It provides short-term tax reductions and freezes on purchases of gas, groceries and school supplies.

Pritzker’s “tax cuts” are quite dishonest. His gasoline tax reduction only delays a mandated tax hike–Illinoisans pay the second-highest gas taxes in the nation–until, how convenient, after Election Day. Gas station owners are required to post signs touting Pritzker’s tax “cut.” Those who refuse face a $500-a-day fine. The grocery tax “cut,” which also comes with a requirement that grocers post signage about it, although non-compliant grocers don’t face face a fine for refusing to obey. Next year, when presumably Pritzker has been sworn in for a second term, the grocery taxes return.

Because of unfunded public worker pension debt, both Chicago and Illinois face enormous fiscal challenges. In regards to those pensions, Lightfoot and Pritzker are doing what their predecessors have done worst–kicking the can down the road.

Amazingly, Pritzker is considering a presidential run. His chances of winning are dismal, I offer the reasons why here. But if Pritzker somehow succeeds in 2024, imagine all of the vote-buying possibilities for him! He already has the physique of Santa Claus. On the other hand, Christmas comes just once a year. The federal government is with us every day.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Father Marquette monument on Chicago’s Southwest Side

By John Ruberry

As I’ve stated many times before in this space, Chicago’s best days are behind it. Seemingly random and numbing violence is everywhere. Yes, shootings and murders are down from 2020 and 2021, but remain much higher than in 2019, the year its embattled mayor, Lori Lightfoot, was sworn into office. 

However, theft, burglary, and automobile theft are dramatically higher compared to 2021–overall crime is up 36 percent. Since two waves of riots in 2020, major retailers such as Macy’s, the Gap, and the Disney Store have closed their massive stores on Chicago’s premier shopping district, North Michigan Avenue, for now at least, known as the Magnificent Mile. 

Boeing is moving its headquarters out of Chicago, as is investment firm Citadel, which is headed by Ken Griffin, a prominent donor to Illinois Republican candidates. Griffin mentioned Chicago crime as a reason for departing for Miami. 

Chicago’s CTA public transportation system includes its sprawling el train lines. Violent assaults and murders have become common on the el. The criminal descendants of Jesse James aren’t attacking trains from the outside, they are paying, well…maybe paying, customers. I suspect most of the creeps are turnstile jumpers.

Click here for my confrontation with a CTA thug, from my most recent, and perhaps last, ride on a Chicago el train.

In 2020, soon after the violent riot outside a Christopher Columbus statue in Grant Park, in the middle of the night Lightfoot had the statue removed for “temporary” storage. She was too much of a coward to do so during daytime, and too much of a financially reckless liberal to care about the expense, as it is likely the workers removing the Columbus statue were being paid doubletime wages. Illinois, the home of Abraham Lincoln and a solid Union state, has no Confederate monuments, but the always-angry left chose an old “favorite,” Christopher Columbus, both a brilliant and flawed man, to vent its rage. 

Two other Columbus statues were also placed into storage around that time. 

Another response by Lightfoot formed the Chicago Monuments Project. One of Chicago’s last remaining honest journalists, John Kass, called it in his Chicago Way podcast, “Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s Woke Committee on Problematic Statuary.

Since then, a former city of Chicago attorney claimed in a lawsuit that not only did Lightfoot, who is up for reelection early next year, prevent an agreement with a local Italian-American group to return the Columbus statues for public view, but she had this to say, “My d— is bigger than yours and the Italians, I have the biggest d— in Chicago.”

To be fair, in March, Lightfoot said she “fully expects” the Columbus statues to return to their former locations.

On Friday afternoon, in an old-school “news dump,” Lightfoot’s committee revealed its recommendations. It’s hard to believe, but Chicago’s Lincoln statues were on the committee’s hit list. Honest Abe survived, as did the other US presidents on the committee’s woke naughty list. But a whole bunch of others, including the Columbus statues, a Roman column monument to Italian aviator Italo Balbo, a Mussolini cohort, monuments to French explorers Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette–they were the first recorded Europeans to visit what is now Chicago–and a statue of General Phil Sheridan on horseback at the southern end of Sheridan Road, are recommended for removal. In regards to Marquette and Jolliet, semblances of “white supremacy” is the reason. Some monuments that have been in storage for years will not be returned to public view.

The full report from the “woke committee” can be found here.

Sheridan’s prominent role in the Indian Wars is why he may be toppled from Chicago. Few people know these facts, but Sheridan, one of the North’s ablest generals in the Civil War, had a home in Chicago and “Fightin’ Phil” was present during the Chicago Fire. When the city’s mayor placed Chicago under martial law, Sheridan was in charge. 

Three statues, including ones of George Washington and William McKinley, should have “artistic prioritized interventions,” the committee says. My guess is that signs will be placed next to them, pointing out the honored ones flaws. Who among us is flawless? Liberals can’t imagine the non-enlightened ones thinking for themselves, or using their smartphones to Google “President McKinley.” And yes, slavery is the worst scourge in American history, but how many Americans don’t know Washington owned slaves?

For now, Abraham Lincoln’s statues will be spared these “artistic prioritized interventions,” but the committee warns, “such measures may be employed in the future through ongoing program investments.” Illinois, of course, is known as “the Land of Lincoln.”

Lightfoot’s monument committee is recommending new monuments, mostly “red meat” ones appealing to the left, although I support a statue of Chicago’s gospel legend, Mahalia Jackson. But why not one for Muddy Waters too?

What about a Ronald Reagan statue? The Gipper was the first president to live in Chicago and the only one born in Illinois.

There is no monument recommended for Lightfoot, “Triple Threat” is not only an African-American, but she is Chicago’s second female mayor and its first lesbian one. 

If a Lightfoot statue is ever erected, I’m sure I won’t be the only one focusing on her crotch. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

Monday is the first anniversary of the fall of Kabul, the second-most ignominious event America endured in my lifetime, only the fall of Saigon was worse.

A month prior the more recent debacle, Joe Biden had this to say, “There’s going to be no circumstance where you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.” That did happen–and of course the two black eyes for America are quite comparable.

Biden did what he, well, sort of, does best. He blamed Donald Trump for the Taliban victory. True, Biden inherited the agreement engineered by Trump–not a treaty, but an agreement–for the United States military to depart Afghanistan last year. And Biden didn’t even hold to Trump’s agreement, he postponed the withdrawal of US troops from May 1 to the ominous date of September 11. Because of the rout of the Afghan government forces by the Taliban, we were gone in late August–but after the tragic murder by terrorists of 13 members our military. 

What a mess. 

Who was fired after Afghanistan fell? Not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley (a Trump appointee), not secretary of State Anthony Blinken, not secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. 

No one.

A humiliation.

Milley, in a closed door meeting shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, testified that Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, could fall within three days after hostilities broke out

Yes, he’s really a general.

As the Taliban mopped up in Afghanistan, Biden assured Americans that al Qaeda was gone from there. But a few weeks ago the leader of the terror group, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was living in Kabul. That is, until an American drone strike killed him.

Last year there was a supply-chain crisis. What member of the Biden cabinet should have been answerable for that? Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of Transportation, who we learned–only after the media came looking for him–was on paternity leave as the supply-chain crisis unfolded

To be fair, Biden’s Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, recently admitted she was wrong when she said last year that inflation was “transitory.” But like Buttigieg, she’s still on the job. 

Alejandro Mayorkas, the Homeland Secretary, claims our southern border is secure. (Insert the Kevin Bacon Animal House “all is well” meme here.) Mayorkas is a DC swamp critter that Biden seemingly found by looking for him under rocks. Yeah, I know, Mayorkas is simply following Biden’s far-left policy of open borders. And Jennifer Granholm, leading the Department of Energy, is kowtowing to the anti-energy zealotry of the extreme left. They are still on the job too.

Trump was a great steward of the American economy and he didn’t involve America in any new wars. And as a businessman he knew sometimes people have fired, his most prominent dismissals were his secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and James Comey, the director of the FBI. Sadly, Trump botched the appointment of Comey’s replacement by naming Christopher Wray to that post.

Last month in this space I wrote that Biden’s attorney, general, Merrick Garland, was America’s worst AG since Harry M. Daugherty, a prominent member of Warren G. Harding’s corrupt “Ohio Gang.” I was wrong. After last week’s unprecedented raid on the home of a former president, Garland, the progenitor of our politicized two-tiered justice system, is worse. 

Then again, “Moderate Merrick,” like Mayorkas and Granholm, is another clerk just taking orders. 

Biden, a failed president who is clearly suffering from cognitive decline, can turn things around, a little bit, with one big firing.

Himself.

His vice president, Kamala Harris, could be a slightly better president. Biden dramatically lowered the standard.

Perhaps Harris can write some pink slips.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.