Posts Tagged ‘magnificent seven’

Official Merrick Garland portrait

By John Ruberry

America has endured some terrible attorneys general, Eric Holder, who served under Barack Obama and was held in contempt of Congress over the Fast and Furious scandal, John Mitchell, a Richard M. Nixon AG, who became the only the second US cabinet official to spend time in a federal prison, and Harry M. Daugherty, the leader of corrupt “Ohio Gang” during the administration of Warren G. Harding. 

And finally, there is Merrick Garland, once heralded as a moderate after Obama nominated him to succeed Antonin Scalia on the US Supreme Court in 2016. Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t hold confirmation hearings on Garland. Donald Trump was elected president later that year, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to the SCOTUS bench, where he is now part of the conservative majority. 

Garland is the worst US attorney general since Daugherty.

Who was Daughterty? He was a minor political figure in Ohio who gained power as a behind-the-scenes kingmaker. A drinker like Harding, hey, like most Americans in the early 20th century, Daugherty got involved in the prohibition movement for political expediency. And he’s the man who worked the famous “smoke-filled room” at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel to win Harding the Republican nomination for president in 1920. In Harding’s words about his successful election, “We drew a pair of deuces and filled.”

Although Harding’s cabinet had some magnificent choices, Charles Evans Hughes as secretary of State and Andrew Mellon as head of the Treasury Department, the Harding cabinet included Daugherty and Albert Fall, secretary of Interior. Fall accepted bribes as he sold cheap oil leases on federal land in what became known as the Teapot Dome Scandal, which led to a prison term for him, a first for a cabinet member. Daugherty, if he investigated it at all, barely looked into Teapot Dome. 

Daugherty’s assistant at Justice, and his roommate, was Jess Smith, who probably allowed alcohol owned by the federal government to be sold to bootleggers. Smith committed suicide a few months before Harding’s death in 1923.

Besides corruption, the Ohio Gang was known for its alcohol-fueled poker games at its de facto headquarters, “the Little House on K Street,” in Washington. Yes, there was a two-tiered justice system then.

And that’s been the charge against Garland’s Justice Department. No, not the poker games, but a two-tiered justice system. Don’t get me wrong, the January 6 rioters deserve punishment, even though most of them are probably guilty of nothing more than trespassing. 

Jim Banks, who Nancy Pelosi prevented from serving on the House January 6th Committee, summed up Garland’s hypocrisy perfectly. 

From the American Thinker:

Citing the Justice Department’s lenient treatment of left-wing rioters compared to the harsh treatment of Jan. 6, 2021 rioters at the Capitol, including many who “are not accused of entering the Capitol or committing violence,”

Rep. Jim Banks (R.-Ind.), in a two-page letter dated June 14, 2022, accused Attorney General Merrick Garland of leading “a two-tiered system of justice” at the Department of Justice. Congressman Banks asserted: “Violent rioters who are likely to vote Democrats [sic] are often released with a slap on the wrist, or less, while January 6th defendants are prosecuted to the harshest extent possible.”  

Asserting that “the unequal application of justice is an injustice,” Mr. Banks accused the attorney general of politicizing federal law, thereby assaulting “the basic American principle of equal justice under the law.” 

Then there is Hunter Biden, a Chicago-style influence-peddler. Garland is from the Chicago area; he surely knows a lot about mediocre people like Hunter throwing his weight around as he enriches himself and his family.

Just now on Fox Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo, US Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told the host, “We have a two-tiered justice system, one that will treat with kid gloves, or cover up for, Democrats and their powerful friends, the elite–and the rest of Americans. And I think we are seeing that big time with Hunter Biden and all of his very suspicious [financial] transactions.”

Ever since the Supreme Court draft on Dobbs v. Jackson was leaked, the case that overruled Roe v. Wade, there have been protests, in violation of federal law, in front of the homes of conservative justices. So far no one has been charged, even though there is voluminous video evidence that had been aired by news outlets and on YouTube that includes clearly recognizable faces. Announcements of protests are posted on social media.

Is Garland quietly cheering on these illegal protests? Don’t forget, it was Garland’s office that asked the FBI to investigate parents protesting school boards over the teaching of Critical Race Theory, citing unnamed threats.

Last month former Trump White House advisor Peter Navarro, who was 72 years old at the time, was put in leg irons by the FBI, after being indicted on contempt of Congress charges. “Who are these people? This is not America,” Navarro said during his first appearance in federal court. “I was a distinguished public servant for four years!”

Navarro, who has not faced prior legal troubles, is hardly a flight risk. 

Earlier this year, former Illinois House speaker Michael Madigan, who served in that role for four decades–and the former chairman of the Illinois Democratic Party–was indicted on a slew of corruption charges. 

Who wants to make a bet with me that Boss Madigan, also a septuagenarian, was not put in leg irons after his indictment?

Daughtery was later asked to resign as attorney general by Harding’s successor, Calvin Coolidge. He faced trial twice on unrelated charges. Both trials ended with hung juries. 

Garland will face tough questions next year, as congressional investigations led by Republicans will zoom in on the many debacles created by the Biden White House. Look for Garland to answer in the same fashion as Nixon’s Watergate co-conspirators did during the Watergate Senate hearings. “I don’t know” was a common response, as was “I don’t recall.”

Maybe, just maybe, Garland will answer questions about whether he plays poker at boozy parties in Washington.

John Ruberry regular blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

While I was a child at the time, I don’t recall much during the politically turbulent 1960s and early 1970s in regard to protests of July 4th, that is, America’s Independence Day. 

But of course, 21st-century leftists will take things too far. And the progressives never seem to be at a loss for anger. The most egregious attack on the 4th, and to be fair, America, comes from Tucson, Arizona and in a since-deleted Tweet, captured by Libs of Tik Tok, the Pima County Democratic Party wrote, “F*ck the Fourth,” along with a graphic that included this message for the Tucson Women’s Network, “Bring comfortable shoes, water, lawn chairs, posters, and your anger.” The other group’s graphic, as you can see, doesn’t use an asterisk in the F-word.

The “F*ck the 4th” protest is in response to last month’s US Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, in an expected ruling–courtesy of a leaked draft opinion–which overruled Roe v. Wade and returns the abortion ruling to the states. 

And in those states, besides Arizona, there are pro-abortion protests planned in conjunction with Independence Day. There’s a call to wear black, instead of red, white, and blue on July 4th, which is not a particularly wise idea if you plan to be outdoors a lot on the holiday. The high temperature where I live is expected to be 91 degrees on the 4th. 

Bans Off Our Bodies Florida is now in the middle of a weekend boycott on retail spending to protest Dobbs v. Jackson. Also in Florida, on the Space Coast, there’s a pro-abortion protest there, Gannett’s Florida Today reports. Here’s some irony: To reach the story I had to click through a July 4th subscription special pop-up ad, as I did for another Gannett publication, the MetroWest Daily News, to learn about a Framingham, Massachusetts anti-Dobbs protest. “Fourth of July is cancelled,” one of the organizers says.

I don’t feel compelled to mention each protest, you get the point. But here’s one more. Leave it to my state, goofy Illinois, to take thing a step farther. The owner of a Chicago children’s boutique is organizing, along with the Chicago Abortion Fund, a “Families for Abortion Access” march.

Of course, the right to free speech, which of course includes unpopular speech, doesn’t go away on July 4th, once again the far-left is being offensive and angering the persuadable center by calling for “F*ck the Fourth” and more.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. He plans to spend part of the 4th at the Morton Grove Days festival, watching fireworks there, wearing red, white, and blue.

By John Ruberry

Earlier this month Season Six of the BBC gangster drama, Peaky Blinders, began streaming on Netflix.

The show centers on a Birmingham Romani organized crime family, the Shelbys, and the leader of that gang, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). He’s a World War I veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, who manages to build a business empire, while getting elected to Parliament as a member of the Labour Party.

This will be the final season of Peaky Blinders, although a movie is said to be in the works.

The next two paragraphs contain some Season 5 and 6 spoilers.

During Season 5 a new major character, Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), a Birmingham member of Parliament like Tommy Shelby, is introduced. He’s the founder of a British fascist party–and Mosley was a real person. Shelby’s relationship with Mosley is complicated, which fits the show as the plot lines are anything but simplistic. Shelby’s plot to assassinate Mosley–the real Oswald died of natural causes in 1980–is foiled by the Irish Republican Army. The IRA kills the would-be assassin and other member of the Peaky Blinders, the “muscle” end of the Shelby operation.

While Tommy is the leader of the gang, his aunt, Elizabeth Pollyanna “Polly” Shelby Gray (Helen McCrory), was the glue of the enterprise, formally known as Shelby Family Limited. But McCrory died at 52 of lung cancer in 2021, just as production of this season started. Other than Tommy Shelby, Aunt Polly was the most important character in Peaky Blinders. Her off-screen death was a tough blow for the show. To compensate, the role of Tommy’s sister, Ada Thorne (Sophie Rundle), is elevated, but Rundle is placed in an impossible position. Meanwhile, Polly’s son, Michael Gray (Finn Cole), holds Tommy responsible for Polly’s murder.

Also back in Season 5, another new character Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy), Michael’s wife, makes her debut. We learn in the new season that Gina is the niece of South Boston gangster Jack Nelson (James Frecheville). He’s a not-too-thinly disguised characterization of Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. Like the patriarch of the Kennedy dynasty, Nelson has anti-Semitic and fascist leanings. Calm down my liberal friends, it’s true about Kennedy. With Prohibition over, Tommy and Nelson hope to offset the end of it by smuggling opium into Boston. 

Mosley has a new lover, Lady Diana Mitford (Amber Anderson). She declares herself to Ada, in cruder terms, as a bisexual but she also has her eyes on Tommy. The real Mitfort was the first cousin of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine. Unless this plotline is being saved for the Peaky Blinders movie, I am stupefied why this angle wasn’t developed into the storyline. The future wartime leader, amazingly is portrayed by three actors over the six seasons, makes a cameo appearance in Season 6. 

Season 5 ends and Season 6 begins with Tommy wallowing in mud. And mud is fitting metaphor for this season, while good, falls short of the greatness of Peaky Blinders, although I didn’t care for the Russian diversion in Season 3. The final episode of this last season, nearly 90 minutes long, is the best, as Tommy’s older brother, Arthur (Paul Anderson), emerges somewhat from his alcohol and drug induced haze as the Shelbys face a two-front war. A third front of sorts is there too as Tommy’s marriage with Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) faces challenges. 

In regard to Nelson, Season 6 would have been much more interesting if instead Joseph P. Kennedy was the Boston foil for Tommy.

Surprisingly, while the show continues with a dark and gothic soundtrack, the unofficial theme song, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Red Right Hand” is sadly missing. But arguably the worst song Bob Dylan ever recorded, “All The Tired Horses,” covered by Lisa O’Neill, is included.

All six seasons of Peaky Blinders are currently streaming on Netflix. It is rated TV-MA for nudity, drug use, foul language, and violence. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

After a long day at work earlier this month I clicked on the “Surprise Me” feature on Netflix. What popped up was Mike Myers’ new vehicle, The Pentaverate.

“Well,” I said to myself, “this might be pretty good.” 

In fact, The Pentaverate doesn’t even measure up to “pretty bad.” The six episode limited series is one of the worst shows I’ve suffered through. Oh, somehow I managed to view a couple episodes of The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer. I know about awful.

Warning: There are numerous spoilers and some rather disgusting things that I will mention in my review of this Netflix series.

The origin of The Pentaverate dates back to a throwaway line from Myers’ second film, So I Married an Axe Murderer, where the father of Myers’ lead character, also played by Myers, claims that a secret society, the Pentaverate, a five-man cabal, which at one time included Colonel Sanders as a member, rules the world. In this series narrator Jeremy Irons tells us, the original members of the Pentaverate discovered in 1347, contrary to the belief of the Catholic Church, it was fleas that spread the bubonic plague. 

As the first episode begins, the newest member of the group of five, Dr. Hobart Clark (Keegan-Michael Key), a scientist, is accepted into the Pentaverate after he is kidnapped. Apparently, he is the first non-white fellow of the all-male group, replacing a member who mysteriously died. The other members are played by Myers. Lord Lordington, an elderly Englishman, Bruce Baldwin, an Australian media mogul, who of course is based on Rupert Murdoch, Shep Gordon, a manager of various rock acts, a real person who is the subject of a documentary directed by Myers, and Mishu Ivanov, a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin crony.

Warning! Not-safe-for-work language in the trailer.

But Myers isn’t done with his roles. The lead character of The Pentaverate is Ken Scarborough, a television reporter who wears plaid sportscoats; he is a quirky throwback from the 1970s who does man-on-the-street interviews of other oddballs, while overshadowing them. Scarborough works for, wait for it, Toronto-based CACA news. Yep, caca. 

The other four Pentaverate members manufacture a story that Dr. Clark, who was invited into the secret society because they believe he can reverse climate change, is dead. Clark’s phony passing occurs while attempting to mimic an internet video fad–kissing your own anus. Clark’s room at Pentaverate headquarters is guarded by a sasquatch, who immediately defecates outside the scientist’s door. 

In addition to a Shrek cameo, Myers plays two other characters, internet personality Rex Smith, a stand-in for Alex Jones, and Anthony Lansdowne, a conspiracy theorist from New Hampshire. 

Besides being an assault on good taste, The Pentaverate is an attack on right-wingers, with the implied message that all conservatives are conspiracy whackos like Lansdowne. He is a believer, or has been a believer, in QAnon, Pizzagate, and the Illuminati. His last words as he falls to his death is, “But what about her emails?” 

Lansdowne, in his bumper-sticker laden van, which not surprisingly has a malfunctioning portable toilet, drives Scarborough and his pre-woke Doctor Who-like young female companion, Reilly Clayton (Lydia West) to New York City, which looks nothing like today’s NYC, but more like your standard Doctor Who “future metropolis.” Scarborough, recently fired by CACA, is convinced by Clayton and Lansdowne to infiltrate Pentaverate headquarters, and he does so after a painful penis tug initiation. 

Clark, following an intimate evening with the Pentaverate’s executive assistant Patty Davis (Debi Mazar) in the Moon Room studio–did the Pentaverate fake the moon landings?–suddenly dies, this time for real. He is promptly replaced by casino billionaire Skip Cho (Ken Jeong). Oh, I have never thought Jeong was funny. Jeong recently showed his true political colors after childishly storming off the set of The Masked Singer after Rudy Giuliani was revealed as a contestant.

Myers seemingly hasn’t emotionally moved on from being an 11-year-old. Flatulence jokes are among the things that ruined his cinema take on Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, a children’s film, by the way. Scatological so-called humor also undermined another Myers movie bomb, The Love Guru

Outside of Myers’ fading fame, why did Netflix greenlight this debacle? Could it be that woke Netflix executives fell in love with The Pentaverate’s snide attacks on conservatives, who they probably believe are personified by Smith and Lansdowne? I have liberal friends. Really, I do. And many of them insist that I take marching orders from Alex Jones.

Here’s a tip for Netflix and Myers: the first rule of comedy is that comedies need to be funny.

Netflix lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022. Its stock value plummeted 35-percent last month. Yes, when you go woke you go broke. And I can’t think of a single Netflix dramatic series that is aimed at conservatives. Longmire was the closest show I can think of, but production of it ended in 2017, and Longmire was originally an A&E offering. And as I wrote in last week’s review of Ozark, that otherwise quite enjoyable show contorted itself to find ways to attack Republicans.

Over 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump in 2020. That’s a lot of viewers, Netflix. We don’t live in vans with clogged toilets. We own televisions. 

Cloying use of easter eggs, that is, references to other works that do nothing to advance the story or add laughs–assuming of course there is even one laugh in The Pentaverate–is also another problem here. Winks to other Myers’ works, along with yet another tired replay of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, as well as Game of Thrones, are simply annoying. Rob Lowe, a veteran of several Myers movies, makes an unnecessary appearance.

Myers’ acting, outside of his sympathetic portrayal of Scarborough, is subpar. In his review of The Cat in the Hat, Roger Ebert noticed that at times Myers sounded a bit like his Linda Richman “Coffee Talk” character from SNL. The use of convincing accents is supposed to be one of Myers’ strengths, but his Lansdowne character’s accent, rather than sounding like what you’ll hear from a rustic New Englander, varies from a Canadian to a New Yorker style of speech–that is, when Lansdowne isn’t coming across like Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World.

Oh, when there is a crack within the five members of the Pentaverate, who do you think is behind it? Why of course! It’s the casino billionaire and the Murdoch stand-in. 

I hated The Pentaverate. Hated, hated, hated. If you have any sense of taste or decency, you will hate it too. 

You have been warned. 

Oh, if you think I am just a grumpy old man with a minority opinion on this actual sh*t show, as of May 15, the average critic score on Rotten Tomatoes is just 20 percent. Only once in the last week have I noticed The Pentaverate ranking as a top-ten most viewed program on Netflix. And based on the CGI and the A-List (to some people) cast, I imagine Netflix wasted a lot of money on this fiasco.

The Pentaverate is rated TV-MA for full frontal (possibly with use of prosthetics) nudity, animals engaged in sex, violence, suicide, adult situations, foul language, and scatological references. Well, at least no one smokes in it. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.