MEDIA WATCH: John Kass, the Tribune's scab pundit, is in high Tea Party dudgeon against pensions of cops, firefighters and teachers

It should have been no surprise to anyone reading the Sunday October 5, 2014 Chicago Tribune that the Trib was again attacking the pensions of public workers. After all, that's what the voice of the one percent says regularly. What was more interesting to some readers was that the loudest and most dishonest voice repeatedly attacking the retirement benefits of cops, firefighters and teachers was pundit John Kass, who at times pretends to be a guy of the people. But those with a longer memory kow John Kass as a scab who saved his own job by crossing the picket lines when the Tribune broke the CTU strike more than a quarter century ago.

Tribune pundit John Kass in a recent photograph.The "CTU" in that case was not Chicago Teachers Union Local 1, but Chicago Typographic Union. And Kass marched through the picket line and assured his future in the "news" business, first as a propagandist at the Trib's City Hall desk, and for the past several years as the paper's Page Two pundit in the Mike Royko spot.

The October 5 attack on public worker pensions is masked behind some of the usual sleight of hand that goes with the current right wing stuff, Tea Party style. After reminding (some) readers that they won't be getting pensions, Kass then plays on the fact that a tiny minority of public worker pensions are "six figure" (without saying who). The cutesy terminologies (chumbalonies is part of Kass's lexicon, invented by Kass) and the "us versus them" style is nouveau Fox News, ALEC, and Tea Party, but Kass is trying to bring it off with the brazen balls of a guy who is "one of us" (the working class) rather than "one of them" (the privileged public worker class). Notice that Kass talks in the column as if his retiree years (Kass is now about 58 years old, born into the middle of the Baby Boom) will be spent in destitution (eating dog food) because of those greedy cops, firefighters and teachers who gobbled down all those fat pensions.

If Kass's annual income (which he has no more interest in discussing, any more than Bruce Rauner or any other Plutocrat does) is less than a quarter billion dollars a year, I'll pay for a lifetime of the sauce Kass is using as an additional part of his US VERSUS THEM trickery in this piece of writing.

But what about the man we are reading in this piece of slick plutocratic propaganda?

John Kass often plays the MAN OF THE PEOPLE and plays up to cops, firefighters and even teachers in his punditry. And so, Kass can't mention the fact that the average teacher, cop or firefighter is making a lot less than a "six figure" pension when he or she retires. These facts don't matter, because Kass's line of attack is that the average guy in Illinois (and Kass's pose at his very hefty six-figure Tribune salary is as an average guy like Mike Royko was) will be living without a pension after getting too old to work -- but that the public workers will be sunning on "six figure" pensions. But instead of writing about why that average guy won't have a defined benefit pension (most will be getting Social Security and Medicare, two programs that fit into the bad socialist stuff Kass attacks in his propaganda tirades), Kass pulls the usual Fox News trick and blames public workers.

Unionized public workers.

So it's important to remember that John Kass kept his job about 30 years ago by genuflecting and becoming one of the scabs who helped keep the Chicago Tribune open during its longest and most bitter strike. John Kass the man of the people and friends of the starving geezers is actually John Kass the scab and slavish altar boy for the plutocrats who own and operate the largest newspaper between the two oceans.

Readers need to be reminded that Kass knew long ago which side of the toast his butter was one, and when he was ordered to by his bosses at the Tribune, he crossed the CTU picket lines and made himself a career, first misreporting news as the Trib's City Hall reporter, and lately as the Page Two Pundit.

But a scab is a scab, not matter how long ago those nimble feet marched proudly across that union picket line.


If you're an Illinoisan who isn't on a political payroll meaning you won't have a fat six-figure pension like many of our public officials you'll likely spend this last month before the Illinois governor's election in deep contemplation.

Democratic incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and businessman Bruce Rauner, the Republican, are in a daily knife fight, but if you're wise, you might also spend this time asking yourself these eternal questions:

Since I don't have a government pension, what kind of sauce will I put on my dry dog food to make it tasty when I'm old?

Would bottled Worcestershire do the trick, or should I use something spicy, like a dash or two of Sriracha?

Other questions abound. Unfortunately, we opinionists have a lousy habit of demanding that voters Pay Attention To The Issues, meaning revenues and expenditures and unfunded pension liabilities for government workers who, as always, will be getting the vote out for Quinn and the bosses.

But the sad truth is, compared with viral videos involving animals or entertainers, many find such dry stuff rather boring. Besides, we already know two important things: We don't have government pensions. And the state's fiscal crisis worries the businesses that remain, and some are itchy to leave and take their jobs with them.

So to help voters get in the mood, I've come up some proper questions Illinois voters might ask themselves, such as:


@valwayne I'm with you. Let Quinn win. Let the Chicago Dems show the world what they produce, Detroit.


AT 2:26 PM OCTOBER 06, 2014


Will I have to crush my dry dog food with a spoon, add water and heat it on a hot plate in my dingy single-room occupancy hotel?

Will my Obamacare dentures be strong enough to grind my dog food into submissive mush, so that I may find nourishment while watching state-sponsored news on my Obamaphone, even as the drunks fight out on the fire escape?

Will I be forced to hand over some of my dry dog food to the state to help Illinois pay its bills and obligations?

And perhaps the most important question of all:

Will I be able to escape Illinois before it is domed, like the glass dome in the Simpsons movie, preventing potential refugees from leaving to find real work?

Of course, by real work, I don't mean standing in line outside some ridiculous sausage stand and earning a few coppers by holding a place for some geezer hoping to stuff his face with the famed duck-fat fries.

Standing in line for nostalgic geezers who treat hot dog stands like church isn't work. It's doff-the-cap-peasant-servitude. But apparently, it passes for work here in Illinois.

Politics is the eternal game of who gets what, when and how much. And this election doesn't merely involve the governor's mansion. The bosses, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Madiganistan, and state Senate President John Cullerton, D-Upper Cullertonia, don't want to give up a good thing. But they will lie low in the coming days, as they elect Democrats in the state House and Senate to hold their majorities and run the state.

I'm probably going to be damned as a heretic, but I can't really fault the government union workers. The bipartisan political class who've run things made the deals, and the workers would have been fools not to take it.

There are other fools though. They're the ones who really pay. They don't have public pensions, and many can't find real work. They're told that the economy is improving as they juggle part-time jobs and their kids run off like Bulgarian refugees of old to find new lives elsewhere.

Do you know anyone like that, my fellow chumbolone?

Quinn can't run on his record, so he's campaigning on the fact that Rauner has money and is therefore evil. Quinn must demonize Rauner. Based on how Rauner is portrayed in the news, it seems to be working.

My own newspaper had a story the other day about Rauner investing $1 million in an South Side credit union, and the implication was that he was trying to buy black votes. I won't imply it. I'll say it outright.

Rauner was trying to get votes by investing the cash. But here's the odd thing. It was his own cash, from his own pocket. He didn't spend our tax dollars for his politics.

Quinn's administration is under federal investigation for spending $55 million of public money on a gang violence reduction program before his last election. That wasn't Quinn's money. That was our money. But Quinn won that election. And this time around, the theme is depressingly simple.

Democrats with money are Democrats, and Republicans with money are the spawn of evil.

Democrats have another superpower. They can play the class warfare card without penalty. Just the other day, President Barack Obama came into town for a Quinn fundraiser. Quinn apparently tried to get his presidential bro-hug, and he leaned in whispering into the president's ear, rubbing his chubby cheek right up against POTUS.

At that Quinn fundraiser, each plate cost donors $50,000 apiece. A short time afterward, Obama thrilled Northwestern University students by playing the class-war card. The Tribune headline read:

"Obama decries income inequality in speech after $50,000-a-person fundraiser for Quinn."

It was a brilliant headline. Some readers told me they thought they'd been reading The Onion, but there it was, the $50K plates for rich Democrats and class envy for dessert, without even a blush of shame.

And that's where we are a month out from deciding the future of Illinois.

I think I'm leaning toward Worcestershire sauce on my dry dog food. It might remind me of meat someday.


October 13, 2014 at 2:40 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Kass the Imposter

Every once in a while I forget who Kass really is and fall for the charming patter that purports to make him a regular all-round fellow. Thanks, George, for reminding me of the shyster opportunist in Kass.

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