Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, February 24

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

The Mechanics
« Cook County Board Pres Contribution Maps, 2 Chicago Journal Covers the 5th, 9th, and 10th »

Media Thu Jan 21 2010

KassWatch: I'm Against Politicians!

Sometimes, John Kass can make you forget why you so dislike his column. He can write a piece of deep empathy and feeling, with genuine concern for human solidarity and understanding of the human condition.

Then he drops an editorial deuce on you like today's ridiculous piece trying to draw a parallel between Scott Brown's electoral victory in Massachusetts and Illinois' upcoming election.

Of course, Kass isn't stupid; he's got a problem: Republicans ruled Illinois for a generation on and off, with an unbroken string of governors for about 20 years. You remember their last one, he went to jail after selling fugazi drivers licenses for campaign money, and a family died behind that. Also, "Barack Obama's Senate seat" that would serve in Kass' piece as the analog to Ted Kennedy's was held by a Republican six years ago. Oops.

Instead, Kass tries to duck that problem by saying that Massachusetts represented the Tea Party's power, but, uh, we need it here in Illinois against Republicans, too. Actually, Kass's piece is wholly incomprehensible. In his unending quest for Royko-hood, he wants to be seen as being against "da bums", but its clear he's a conservative of the unprincipled kind. He doesn't want to make clear who The Powerful are, because The Powerful are the big business corporate interests that serve as paymasters for both Democrats (sorry, Kass readers: I mean "Dumbocrats") and Republicans.

Go ahead, punish yourself:

What amazes me is that for months after Blagojevich was kicked out of office, the national Republicans didn't want to see the whole picture. Almost every evening, the cable networks would run a snippet of videotape to introduce their three minutes of BlagoHate. The tape showed Blago led to a podium by a rumpled fellow who looked like a political aide. The rumpled guy walked with his head down, yet attentive. The rumpled fellow's name? Denny Hastert, former speaker of the U.S. House, a Republican. And the networks never mentioned it. Since Tuesday night, the Massachusetts debacle has given establishment politicians the ability to see the future with the clarity of the damned. Whether that clarity makes it to Illinois depends on the voters. So which taste sensation will prevail when Illinois primary voters go to the polls Feb. 2? Will it be the Tea Party of Massachusetts? Or will Illinois voters continue to sniff, as the political class salivates over all that meat a' cookin'?

So, what? Kass, like so many of his ilk, are blind to the fact that it is powerful corporate interests that are behind the corruption of both parties. No, for Kass, it's this amorphous group of "bums", and if only everybody were as clever as him, we could see it. Stupid voters, stop electing the "bums" and vote for the good guys! Because all the bums were born bums.

Also, are we supposed to believe that a state that went nearly 60% for Barack Obama a year ago, and which has a state-level universal health care plan that includes a shallow public option really sees "ObamaCare" the way Kass does? That Massachusetts is suddenly a Tea Party state?

(Also, somebody tell these Tea Partiers that the Boston Massacre was sparked by a fight between dock workers and rope makers guilds and British soldiers trying to provide scab labor to Loyalist--conservative--bosses).

Of course as with the rest of the media, when Tea Partiers take to the streets (organized by huge corporate media interests like Fox News, of course) that's People Power. When hundreds of thousands of people take to the street to protest the Iraq War, silence. When thousands of self-organized union members take to the street to defend their rights on the job, they're "union bosses" and "special interests", right? It only counts when the right-wing does it.

Kass, like so many conservatives, wants so badly for the Tea Party thing to be about "the people's" rage instead of "some people's" rage. Only a few years ago, the city's immigrant community, led by Mexican-Americans, staged what was essentially a one-day general strike of hundreds of thousands of people (without the help, by the way, of the New York City media establishment). They were joined by actual people-powered organizations: unions (funded by member dues) and small community groups who don't get a nickel from AHIP. Taking a look through Kass' archives there is exactly nothing written about any of this. Well, that wouldn't bring him the adoration of his normal Demmy'crat hating fan club, so why bother? So don't think Kass is some populist fighter for the people against entrenched interests. His distaste for powerful Republicans is only a function of their collaboration with Democrats--thus his obsession with "the Combine".

He can't help himself; he wants to pretend to be an Orwellian skeptic, but in reality he's just another selfish, petit conservative member of the White Flight who thinks that those damn lib'ruls in the government are trying to help "deadbeats" instead of letting everybody bootstrap themselves or whatever nonsense. Like the rest of the people in that coterie, nobody worked hard but him and his parents. Lo, they've lost the halcyon days of his parents' generation when men were men and minorities and women had to shut up, and if you can't get health care, it's because you're lazy.

Go read the whole thing and tell me what you believe Kass is suggesting here. Are people supposed to--what? Vote Green or Libertarian? Not vote at all? Vote only for the people who aren't politicians? Make sure the guy they're electing is a "bum"? Are we supposed to "throw the bums out" by...what? How? What, does he think Scott Brown is going to go to DC and reject the corporate special interest money that fully funds the GOP and much of the Democrats?

He says that the election was a signal to "establishment politicians". Really? Then why was Mitch McConnell crowing about it? I'm sorry, is he not establishment? Yes, the establishment is real rattled--I'm sure AHIP and PhRMA are quaking in their boots now that even pathetic health insurance reform isn't an option. However much Kass wants to play pretend like he's just folks sticking up for the little guy, it's phony. He wants conservative ascendancy and doesn't actually care about "the establishment": he just gets around it by only writing about "rattling the establishment" when it's bad news for those confounded lib'ruls. Conservatism has dominated establishment politics in America since 1980.

And please, spare me the partisan (Democratic or Republican) comments spinning the Brown win. I don't really care why he won or what it "means". You don't really believe that Massachusetts is suddenly going to become Texas policy-wise. If you thought Obama's honeymoon was short, wait until this guy actually has to start voting on things. This was the result of a combination of too many factors--including anger at the administration for various reasons--for it to have some transferable meaning. Guys like John Kass just can't conceal their "I Hate Demmy'crats" boner well enough to pretend to be thoughtful about it.

GB store
GB store


Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project
GB store

About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing,
Mechanics staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15