27 July 2012

John Kass, Dilettante

A friend of mine, who happens to be very liberal, was discussing the dismal state of affairs in Illinois. He knows I'm conservative and asked me what I thought of Tribune columnist John Kass. "Fickle," was my reply. He laughed. "You know," he said."I'm convinced that Kass is simply a shill put in place at the Tribune in order to pretend that its still a conservative paper." The more I thought about it the more it congealed into a clear picture. Could one of my liberal friends actually be right for a change? And sadly - the answer is yes.

Kass The Dabbler

Kass comes off as "the lone voice in the wilderness" at the Tribune. Greek by heritage and a lover of good homecooked meal, he seems like Mr. Every Man. And maybe he is because many admire and love Mr. Kass for his down-to-earth writing, humorous quips, and ability to give amusing names to despicable figures like Rod "Dead Meat" Blogojevich, Rep. "How you doin'?" Deleo, deriding Obama's Hope and Change absurdity as "Smoking the Hopium" and the ubiquitous Pay-to-Play quid pro quo politics within the "Illinois Combine." You don't get a column on page A2 at the Tribune four days a week if you're not a solid talent, and a skilled writer with a large base of followers. John Kass is good at that. It is his political and ideological under-pinnings that bother me. He's a dabbler, a conservative Dilettante. One week he's good, defending Sarah Palin (though I still can't figure out why he thinks she's a goof)

(June 2011) Excited reporters rummaged desperately through more than 24,000 emails of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in the hopes of finding her saying something stupid. So frantic were the New York Times and Washington Post that they went so far as to solicit readers to help them dig up the dirt on the conservative Palin.

It was what it was a liberal media witch hunt. About the only thing they forgot to do was shriek, "Burn her! Burn her!"

Though I'm a conservative, the charismatic and optimistic Palin isn't exactly my cup of tea. I preferred the charismatically challenged and much more pessimistic Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who's no longer running for president because his wife said so.

Isn't it time we just abandon the pretense of objectivity in news-gathering when Palin is involved? The public surely picks up on the snarky tone in the coverage, that coiled seething media rage against Palin. But for what, exactly? Her fertility? Her femininity? Her pro-life views? Her ability to shoot and pray?

And I've also seen seasoned journalists get as wiggly as puppies when President Barack Obama comes around. Their faces glow. Some even leave wet spots on the carpet.

So I can't imagine major news organizations asking readers to help their reporters dig up political dirt on Obama from his days as a Chicago politician. Yes, I know it's not fashionable to say so, but Obama is a Chicago politician. All you've got to do is see his chief of staff, Billy Daley, crouching in the Oval Office like some gargoyle. But you wouldn't know it from the national media.

The next week he's bad - sitting down to discuss the NATO protests with Police-Hater-extraordinaire Andy Thayer:

"It's absurd," said Andy Thayer, NATO protest organizer. "I don't even think absurd is the right word."

He attended Northwestern University, and he's now an office manager in a Chicago law firm that handles Chicago police brutality cases. As the face and voice of the Occupy crowd in Chicago, he's the one you'll see interviewed most often.

We sat together Thursday along the Chicago River, near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Wabash Avenue and Wacker Drive. If you saw us there, you might have thought we were some kind of political odd couple.

While we don't agree on politics, we do agree on the right of the American people to have their say.

As Chicago prepares for this weekend's NATO summit, and the protests that are part of the package, we talked of great men who spoke their minds long ago. Americans name lagers after them, and honor them on July 4, grilling meat and drinking beer in their names, lighting fireworks and waving flags.

And the nation tries to remember what it was they did exactly.

Here's what they didn't do. They didn't ask the government for license to stand in so-called protest zones.

or this back-hand to the face of Michele Bachmann:

Is President Barack Obama on the verge of being attacked by a bunny wabbit? Absolutely. All the signs suggest that Obama is in immediate danger of a rabbit attack. It would ruin what's left of his presidency. And it would horrify Democrats by ushering in, say, a President Bachmann.

It might happen while he's on that ridiculous vacation of his. Obama is chilling at some exclusive multimillion-dollar estate on Martha's Vineyard, even as thousands more Americans hit the unemployment lines, and as Republicans like Michele Bachmann make wild-eyed, crazed claims about bringing back $2 per gallon gas.

Or this diss to Bachmann and Santorum from December 2011:

Michele Bachmann had her troubles with American history, and Rick Santorum seems ready to punch anyone who won't let him attack Iran tomorrow morning.

Or this Passive-Aggressive Obama endorsement from January of this year:

As the Republican presidential candidates and their mouthpieces prattle on the TV from sunny South Carolina, I look up from the screen and out the window and sigh, a conservative heretic at rest, staring at all that cold Midwestern snow.

There's a yellowed sketch tacked to the wall of my work space, a cowboy Ronald Reagan smiling in eternal optimism. And on a bookshelf is a dusty, dog-eared copy of Russell Kirk's "The Conservative Mind."

Surrounded as I am by such dry artifacts of forgotten times, I sometimes wonder why I keep them. It could be self-mockery, or something like the way an amputee decides to keep the unused boot in the closet, out of sight, but near.

And still, I can't ditch this feeling that I might be boiled in oil for the heresy I'm about to spout:

President Barack Obama will win re-election in 2012.

The reason he'll win?

He knows who he is. And the Republican politicians don't know who they are. They've forgotten what they're about, or perhaps like some isolated tribe, they've lost the language necessary to explain it to themselves.

In the same article he says:

There are, of course, legitimate conservative critiques of the creative destruction so favored by Wall Street. Capitalism creates freedom, but it also destroys. It breaks families, associations; it leads to what some call radical individualism in the extreme, and unrestrained appetites and overindulgence.

The late Kirk or William F. Buckley could have made such arguments, but can the current crop of so-called conservatives?

I just don't think Kass is a committed conservative. He claims to have a "dog-eared copy" of Kirk's book but did he ever read it? Maybe his grandfather dog-eared the corners, or maybe Kass used it to prop open a window and it dog-eared itself. Who knows. What he does is wrap himself in the cloak of Kirk, Goldwater and Reagan but he dabbles in it. He's a "Cafeteria Conservative".

The Midwest Academy and the Tribune

J-schoolers are indoctrinated in the machinations of Marxism, but because Chicago is a fetid One-Party swamp of "pay to play" Democrats, the newspapers figure it is in their fiscal best interest to play along. Don't get me wrong - they'll put up some "special investigation" once in a great while to show that they're "intrepid" reporters but let's be honest. We haven't been able to put "intrepid" in front of a reporter's name since Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet. Tribune reporter Kate Thayer (related to Chicago Cop-Watch, Anti-War radicals Andy and Spencer Thayer perchance?) tied herself into a pretzel in order to slam Newt Gingrich and to claim that Saul Alinsky was not really a "radical" but simply "a community organizer". She also claims that Ayers and Alinsky couldn't have any ties since Alinsky died in 1972. Nancy Thorner does a great job breaking down Thayer's ridiculous contentions here. The Midwest Academy, founded by Heather Booth in 1973, claims to have trained 30,000 people. How many of those 30K ended up working at the Chicago Tribune, Sun-Times or Chicago Defender? Well the Tribune is smart enough to not say. (Here's a great breakdown on what the MA is all about.) Frankly, when the Tribune endorsed Obama for president, they lost me. I'd been a subscriber to them since the early '90s but in February of 2011 I called them and canceled my subscription. Surprisingly (or not so) I continue to receive daily deliveries to this day. I wonder how much money the federal government contributes to rags like the Sun-Times and Tribune to bolster their subscription numbers. Everyone knows that the print media is dying but maybe Obama thinks Leftist papers are "too big to fail." Or maybe he's just buying the support of his alleged "home town" newspaper. When owner Sam Zell was planning on selling the Cubs to help get the financially troubled Tribune out of bankruptcy, the Rezko trial showed that Blagojevich tried to exploit the paper's financial trouble in an effort to have several editors fired. Remember that convicted felon Blagojevich is on tape saying that Obama is more "Tony'd up than me" - implying that the major Chicago papers and media were ignoring Obama's involvement in the Rezko deal. It's not a shock if you've lived in this city for any length of time. Rezko got the Obama's a sweet-heart deal on a plot of land in Hyde park for a song. John Kass treated it with kid gloves, not quite going along with it, but not really get worked up about it. He did criticize Obama for being guilty of being "boneheaded" but not for willfully engaging in a criminal act. That's kind of a big difference.

Rezko was of the old broken politics, which is the same as the new, hopeful politics. Human nature doesn't change and politics has always been about leverage, about stacking government boards and commissions with your allies to direct the spending of billions if not trillions of public dollars. The rest is pixie dust. It is the great game of who gets what, and how much. The larger the government, the greater the prize.

Obama is at the top of that heap. Rezko is at bottom,

I know you're thinking,"Rue - why are you wasting your time writing about Kass and not the election?" Because it needs to be said and it's been bugging me for a long time. Kass can't have it both ways. Either you're a conservative, or you're somewhere along the plane of totalitarianism (ie. Statism). I believe Kass, in his heart-of-hearts, believes in the fruits of having a conservative running the ship - he just doesn't buy into all the tough minded principles that go into growing that tree. Principles like Nature's Law, a civil society, a restrained federal government, a sovereign individual citizen, sovereign private property and judicial restraint. In a sea of Mary Mitchells, it is easy to look like a Ronald Reagan. Conservatives in Chicago aren't going to take accept bumper sticker slogans from reporters any more because we love this country too much, and conservative philosophy is now becoming mainstream. So when we read Kass talking about having a Kirk book on his shelf, it rings hollow.

1 comment:

Rue St. Michel said...

"The cut from a friend is the cruelest cut of all" is why I wrote this piece.

I expect someone who self-identifies as a "conservative" to act and write like it.

I wouldn't waste my time writing about Mary Schmidt, or Mary Mitchell or Richard Roeper because we all know they're Liberals and they'll say anything to advance the ball toward Utopia.

You may not agree with my musings but I sincerely don't care what you think; it won't effect where I'm coming from. If you don't like it, then go get your own blog (they're free) and put your own opinions into the blogosphere.