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Saturday, April 08, 2006

John Kass: It's a Wonderful, Liberal Life
by Nicholas Stix


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--like 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 reinacarnated, 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.”)

It turns out I’d heard “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 by which 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 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. 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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