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John Kass: It’s a Wonderful, Liberal Life

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The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass was on fire Friday:

“At least taxpayers know something about taxes: Every time taxes are raised, a liberal gets his wings.”

That was in a column on the self-righteous, freshly convicted husband, Robert Creamer, of Illinois Democrat U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky. That would be Robert Creamer, “the noted champion of the poor and the downtrodden,” as Kass, dripping sarcasm, repeatedly reminds us, in “Schakowsky ire phony as kited checks” (free registration required).

(I was tipped off to Kass’ column by my Chicago-area journalist/blogger friend Jim Bowman, who not only publishes his observations on the Web, but delivers them to his readers’ virtual doorsteps.)

Creamer, a Democrat Party operative, was caught in a multimillion-dollar check kiting and tax evasion scam but got virtually no jail time (five months, which Kass called “a breath on the wrist”). Meanwhile, to hear the shameless Creamer and the missus tell it, he should be getting no jail time and the Congressional Medal of Freedom, in the bargain.

Kass: If you’re yourself, regular old you, a taxpayer who’s not married to a highly connected liberal Democrat who shrieks about how the little guy is always getting screwed by those evil Republican money grubbers, you’ll go to prison for a very long time.

At least taxpayers know something about taxes: Every time taxes are raised, a liberal gets his wings. It’s kind of like the bells for angels in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” only this one comes on April 15, and it doesn’t ring. It tolls. It tolls for thee.

And since you’re not Creamer, you probably won’t have scores of prominent Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and a host of other progressive politicians writing glowing letters to a federal judge about how wonderful you are.

Creamer’s judge was U.S. District Court Judge James Moran, the former Democratic state legislator from Evanston. Moran’s son-in-law is Democratic political consultant Peter Giangreco, who has worked politics with Creamer and Schakowsky and had a seat on the board of one of Creamer’s many organizations.

Judge Moran says he thought about recusing himself from the trial, but the defense and the prosecution didn’t ask him to leave. So he stayed. A federal judge with a conflict of interest as glaring as that shouldn’t wait to be asked. He should have walked away on his own. But he didn’t.

(I’ll remember Judge Moran, next time I hear a lefty claim that federal judges aren’t mere political hacks … as I remember about a hundred other hacks on the federal bench.)

This week, Moran gave Creamer 5 months in prison, which means he’ll do about 4 months and change. And another year of home confinement, which in Creamer’s case is a five-bedroom home in Evanston, said to be worth seven figures.

Kass, a working-class guy who did jobs like digging ditches when he was young, has been around a while. Like all good ink-stained kvetches from the Windy City (ever the Second City in my heart), he has been influenced by Mike Royko, though Kass, unlike Royko, who was wed to the Democrat Party, leans the opposite way. (If Royko were reincarnated, he wouldn’t be wed to the Democrats, either.) If memory serves, it was from Kass that I first heard the phrases “the Chicago way” and “The Combine.”

“The Chicago way” refers to the way every public project gets done by somebody greasing someone else’s palm, as well as to the way – in reference to the Supreme Court’s disastrous Kelo eminent domain decision last year – “in which business and real estate become dependent on politics and favors,” at the little guy’s expense. (Pat, at the blog Chicago Bungalow, called Kelo, “Property Rights, Chicago Style.”)

(P.S. In researching this column, it turns out I’d heard the phrase “the Chicago way” previously in the movie The Untouchables, but that version was more John Ford – as channeled by Brian de Palma – than what Chicagoans mean by it.)

“The Combine” refers to the corrupt, bipartisan system whereby Illinois Democrats and Republicans divvy up the state at taxpayers’ expense in every way you can imagine “expense.” Leading members of The Combine include disgraced, Republican former Gov. George Ryan, currently on trial in the drivers’ licenses-for-bribes scandal, which dates to his days as Illinois secretary of state; pro-abortion state Republican Party treasurer and gubernatorial nominee, Judy Baar Topinka; Democrat Chicago Mayor Rich Daley (son of Da Mayor); Republican Party chief Big Bob Kjellander; and of course, current Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich (aka Gov. Blago). According to conservative Republican activist David John Diersen, the editor of GOPUSA Illinois, The Combine is made up of the liberal (or perhaps just elite) wings of both parties and supports abortion, affirmative action, and illegal immigration.

Whether anti-abortion conservative Republican Jim Oberweis is a member of The Combine may depend on which day of the week it is, since he has been known in the past to suck up to leading Combine powers.

Before federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was called away to handle the Plame/Wilson Affair, he was The Combine’s nemesis; John Kass still is.

Four days a week, it’s a wonderful column.

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About Nicholas Stix

  • Arch Conservative

    Two quotes that I feel are appropriate……….

    “Conservatives believe every day is July 4th while liberals believe every day is April 15th.”

    -Ronald Reagan

    “Liberals and hypocrisy go together like peanut butter and jelly.”


  • zingzing

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.
    Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 – 1968)

    Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous, or when they are most luxurious. They are conservatives after dinner.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882), New England Reformers, 1844

    It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.
    Robert Anton Wilson

    I never dared to be radical when young
    For fear it would make me conservative when old.
    Robert Frost (1874 – 1963), ‘Ten Mills,’ A Further Range, 1936

    A conservative is a man who sits and thinks, mostly sits.
    Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924)

    A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.
    Alfred E. Wiggam

    A conservative government is an organized hypocrisy.
    Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881), Speech in the House of Commons, Mar. 3, 1845

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.
    Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945), radio address, Oct. 26, 1939

  • Arch Conservative:

    “Conservatives believe every day is July 4th while liberals believe every day is April 15th.”

    -Ronald Reagan

    Actually, conservatives have traditionally been a most pessimistic bunch. I think Reagan was confusing “conservatives” with optimists, or rather with his own personal brand of sunny conservatism. (Well, how in hell is a preternatural pessimist going to get elected president not once, but twice?) The line should have been, Optimists believe every day is July 4th while pessimists believe every day is April 15th.

  • Joey

    “A young man who isn’t a liberal, has no heart. An old man who isn’t conservative, has no brains.”
    –Winston Churchill

  • Dean

    “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.”–John Stuart Mill

    And comparing John Kass to Mike Royko is ridiculous. Take the phrase “the Combine,” that’s not a description of how things work, but a refusal to look deeply enough into how things work. Kass doesn’t understand, and what’s more he doesn’t seem to want to understand. He just wants to heap the same rhetoric into his column day after day.

    –a reader from Chicago

  • Thanks for the Churchill quote, Joey. It blasts away all the petty insults posing as cleverness.

  • Dean: “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.”–John Stuart Mill

    Whatever. Mill was a brilliant man, but not a great wit. Besides, he meant something different by “liberal” 150 years ago than you do.

    “And comparing John Kass to Mike Royko is ridiculous. Take the phrase “the Combine,” that’s not a description of how things work, but a refusal to look deeply enough into how things work. Kass doesn’t understand, and what’s more he doesn’t seem to want to understand. He just wants to heap the same rhetoric into his column day after day.

    –a reader from Chicago

    If it is so ridiculous to compare Royko to Kass, why did Kass co-author a Royko biography? As for your claim that “The Combine” is not a description of how things work, some of the most astute political observers in Illinois say it is dead on. And what is your alternative? Nothing.

    Your post just goes to show that just being from Chicago doesn’t make you an expert on Chicago or Illinois politics.

    All your post tells me is that you’re an orthodox Democrat, and despise Kass, because he isn’t.

  • spock


    This may not be the proper forum for this, but I will state my ‘idea’/’proposal’ anyway, and see if anyone is intrigued by my reasoning.

    I hold the opinion that it has been a very, very long time since we, the citizens of these United States, have truly and honestly been represented by our so-called ‘public servants’.

    While it can be said that a certain small percentage of any given area’s population is well and generously served by their elected officials,(at the financial and social expense of the area’s ‘common’, politically unconnected citizens),for the most part, our elected officials are motivated by three basic principles: get power, keep power and use that power to gain wealth, for themselves and for those of like mind.

    I assert that the vast majority of voters are poorly served by the ‘powers that be’, in all areas of their daily lives. It is obvious that many ‘public servants’ define themselves as being those individuals who are served BY the public.

    This sad state of affairs is the result of simple mathematics. If one determines, in any given area,(ie. city, county, state and federal),the total number of citizens who are qualified to cast a vote, one finds that perhaps 50%, more or less, of that number are actually registered to vote; further,in any given election, one finds that typically between 50% – 60% of those registered don’t even bother to make the effort to actually cast their vote(s).

    Thus, all that is required to win a 2 person race is 51% of the votes actually cast, effectively meaning that a mere 13% of the total number of citizens QUALIFIED to vote are determining who is elected to represent the interests of the remaining 87%!

    In a race of more than 2 contestants, the percentage needed to win becomes even lower than 13%.

    It is a puzzling mystery why the 2 major political parties, the Dumbocrats and the Retardicans, continue to strongly resist
    the establishment of additional political parties, though one sees occasional use of ‘shill’ candidates by both major parties.

    So, I propose a little experiment, to be conducted in both the smallest, local level elections, (ie. town, city, county, township, village,etc.), as well as in the larger level elections, (ie. state and federal), an experiment which is designed to accomplish several goals and answer several questions,(besides the obvious one, of seeing if enough people/voters will get off their butts and choose to participate in this experiment!).

    Basically, my question is this: what would happen if enough voters choose, in every election, both primary and general, to cast their votes by adhering to the following rules, completely disregarding all factors commonly used by voters to make their decisions on who to vote for, and simply casting their vote(s) by applying these rules/formula:

    * 1) Determine which candidates are the INCUMBENTS and DO NOT vote for any of them.

    * 2) If there are only two candidates running for any given office, all that the voter MUST know is which one is the INCUMBENT, then vote for the CHALLENGER candidate.

    * 3) If there are MORE than two candidates vying for a given office, determine if the incumbent is listed FIRST, and IF THIS IS SO, then vote for the challenger candidate who is listed LAST.

    * 4) If the incumbent is NOT listed FIRST, then vote for the challenger candidate who IS listed FIRST.

    * 5) If no incumbent is running for office, always vote for the LAST candidate listed.

    Remember to COMPLETELY DISREGARD all impulses to concern yourself with the specific persons who you are voting for and/or the specific persons you are not voting for and/or the specific incumbents who will, should enough voters in any given election participate in this experiment, be losing their jobs. Remember,also,that the issues don’t matter, policies don’t matter, individual candidates’ personal charm/attractiveness does not matter ……. nothing matters other than adhering to the 5 rules stated above.

    If enough voters in any given election participate in this experiment, the result should be that a whole lot of incumbents will be voted out of office.
    What reaction(s), on the part of politicians and their cronies, will this stimulate?

    If enough voters CONTINUE to participate in this experiment during the next several election cycles, thus keeping any specific person from holding office for more than a single term, will those non-politically connected individuals who would like to
    sincerely serve their fellow citizens by holding public office, but have determined that their chances of being elected are slim-to-none, now find that they have a reasonably decent chance of succeeding in holding public office?

    Will the ‘professional politicians’ eventually find other lines of work and abandon trying to gain and hold power over their fellow citizens, (since it’s difficult to establish power,influence and control in just a single term in office)?

    Will the majority of those citizens who do gain public office now be honest, ethical, hard-working and intelligent individuals, who seek office to actually serve the electorate, (since the traditional motivations of power, influence and wealth will effectively no longer be available)?

    Will these new, honest candidates, now encouraged to run for office, alter the usual dynamics of ‘campaigning’? And in what ways?

    As the reader may surmise, this experiment is designed to disrupt the decades-old flow of bullshit, which has passed for so long as democracy; bullshit both by the politicians and bullshit by the voting public’s failure to effectively participate in their own governing.

    The above experiment should be conducted in all political contests; Administrative, Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

    The rule to remember is: WHEN IN DOUBT, VOTE THEM OUT.

    The 5 rules above are designed to mathematically ensure that the maximum number of votes are cast in such a way as to be effective in denying all elected officials more than one term in office; to prove, by the only means those smugly in power ever understand, that the voters actually determine who holds public office, and that those presently holding said office(s) have, for way too long, held the vast majority of their constituents in contempt, evidenced not by their words, but by their deeds.

    Keep in mind that this experiment I am proposing is not meant to be a solution to our present social, economic and political disparities, but more as a catalyst for positive change in the attitudes of those who claim to represent ALL citizens’ best interests, instead of the present predominance of their representing only the interests of the chosen few.

    To paraphrase one of our past presidents, who once said:

    * You may fool SOME of the people ALL of the time

    * You may fool ALL of the people SOME of the time

    * But you cannot fool ALL of the people, ALL of the time

    The sad reality is that you need only to fool just the right number of people, at
    just the right time, to attain power and control over the many.

  • Da Maya’

    Da Chicago Way
    March 21st – 12:53 p.m.

    Let’s step back a bit, and look at things from an historical perspective.

    Immense wealth can be gained from the manipulation of real estate values.

    Here’s how it’s been done in Chicago:

    1) determine which areas have the potential of being attractive to those blessed with high incomes and ample financial resources.
    (Transportation facilities, classic architecture, established parks and recreation facilities, proximity to the Loop, etc. are all pluses.)

    2) Neglect the chosen target areas for as long as possible, for the purpose of depreciating property values by, among other means, decreasing safety related activities, (or encourage the perception of same), neglecting the infrastructure, pandering to prejudices, harassing individual, cloutless homeowners thru punitive building code citations, etc..

    3) Buy up, thru dummy corporations and such, properties of those fleeing the neglected area, then neglect and milk said properties or demolish same.

    4) Continue accumulating properties, with or without buildings on them and continue to neglect the areas’ remaining residents’ basic needs, as property prices drop even further.

    5) Entice the ever optomistic and gutsy ‘urban pioneers’, with dirt cheap rentals and a few reasonably priced building sales, (tho still making you double to triple on what you paid for them)

    6) Watch and Wait, while the ‘urban pioneers’ do all your work for you.

    7) As the time to cash in approaches, stimulate the progress of the process by beginning the work of repairing and improving those past neglected infrastructures and increasing the activities effective in increasing the safety of residents, or the perception of same.

    8) Raise rents on all your previously neglected and milked properties, thus forcing out any remaining ‘undesirables’. (and remember NOT to thank them for their past contributions relative to depressing property values)

    9) Cash in, BIG TIME, when those previously mentioned individuals with high incomes and ample resources now flock to the new ‘hot’ neighborhood.

    10) Oh, don’t forget to juice the builders and contractors who’ll also be gathering at your doorstep, begging for the chance to build on those vacant lots you’ve been sitting on or buy them for 20 to 50 times what you got them for.