Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Memo from NYC

From a native New Yorker to the undistinguished junior senator from Arizona Jon Kyl: you sir, are a hypocritical, dishonest scumbug.

I would call you nastier names if I hadn't been raised with such good manners.

As you may know, US Solicitor General and current US Supreme Court-designee Elena Kagan is sitting through her confirmation hearings this week. Like most Supreme Court hearings these days, it's basically dull political theater, with the Democrats and Republicans being faily predictable in their rhetoric towards her. But one comment by Senator Kyl really pissed me off.

This creepy senator with a creepy name (I can't trust anyone whose first and last name comprises a total of only six letters) said that Ms Kagan's background is "unusual" for a Supreme Court nominee (presumably because she's not a white conservative Republican WASP male like Jon Kyl) and that her life and career "draws from a world whose signposts are distant from most Americans."

Chief amongst these "distant signposts": the fact that Elena Kagan is from Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

As you might imagine, this snide, cynical "observation" drove me nuts. Not only is yet another unimaginative piece of divisive cultural warfare by Republicans but it also show what an anti-Semite Jon Kyl is. Because when the not-so-good Senator talks about the Upper West Side being "distant" from most Americans what he's really saying is "it's a place where a lot of Jews live. And, you know, those Jews aren't like most Americans unless, you know, they vote Republican."

What a douche.

Really, Senator Kyl, can't you do better than this? And whoever came up with the idea of "distant signposts" is really a moron (and the worst kind of moron too: a moron who thinks he or she is smart). What the hell does "distant signposts" mean anyway? Please!

Also, saying that Elena Kagan's experiences are somehow foreign from those of most Americans is dumb. Do you think it was easy being a short, homely Jewish woman trying to make it in legal profession in the 1980s? (Well, the bigoted Senator Kyl probably thinks it was easy for her but not most sensible people.) Struggling to attain your success is the most admirable American attribute there is. He should be praising her for it, not casting aspersions.

But here is where Senator Kyl's dishonesty and hypocrisy really gets to me: this man is, himself, a child of privilege and power -- he's the son of a former US Congressman. And Kyl spent his pre-political career as a high-powered lawyer and lobbyist.

Senator Kyl, is that actually the resume of "most Americans?" Do you think your life experiences have been a little bit, you know, less than ordinary?

Don't just take my word for it. Take it from the great state of Arizona itself. I just came across a wonderful blog out from out there called Random Musings by someone who writes with a maturity Mr NYC could only hope to attain. This blogger writes: "If Kyl's political blood was any bluer, he'd be getting ready to star in the sequel to Avatar." I'm glad to know that at least one of Senator Kyl's constituents doesn't buy his crap and I think it also shows you that my complaints aren't just those of a typical New York liberal.

And speaking for the Upper West Side itself, Joe Conason just wrote a great article in defense of the Upper West Side. Among the great Americans who lived there: "Scott Fitzgerald, Theodore Dreiser, J.D. Salinger, Saul Bellow, Humphrey Bogart, Harry Belafonte and George M. Cohan, an Irish Catholic who won the Congressional Gold Medal in 1936 for composing "You're a Grand Old Flag," among other achievements. (Rush Limbaugh used to live there, too. And Joe Scarborough says he "loves" living there with his family today.)" (I exclude Rush Limbaugh and Joe Scarborough from the great Americans roster, they're scum just like Senator Kyl, but it just shows you how tolerant and diverse the neighborhood is.)

Oh, and let's not forget that the Upper West Side is where the TV show Seinfeld took place -- you know, one of the most popular American shows ever?

I think the only one who's most "distant" from most Americans is Jon Kyl and not Elena Kagan.

So if there's any justice in this world than Elena Kagan will become a Justice. And hopefully, one day, Jon Kyl's political career will go down the ... jon.


  1. I really hate to drive a nail through the always reliable argument that xenophobia only exists outside of New York and only among white Christians. This ad hominem premise is really quite boring if not downright porous, logistically speaking. Not everything is about antisemitism and prejudice. I guess the pervasive anti-Jewish prejudice prevented no other Jews from becoming SPJs.

    I know you want it to be because it simplifies your world and it oversimplifies who you believe to be an isomorphic group clamoring to ruin what you perceive to be a cosmopolitan world.

    The comment about the UWS, just may have something to do with: an average monthly rent of roughly $2600.00 for a one bedroom apartment as compared to the average mortgage in the rest of the country of 750.00 for a house.

    Or 20-30k fees for nursery schools with a difficulty of gaining entrance higher than for high school seniors attempting to get into Harvard. Or a upper class parental culture that send away their kids to "camp" for 2 months each summer so they can vacation in France.

    Or the omnipresent upper middle class/upper class who can employ black nannies (here's some racist imagery) to raise their children at Museum Mile and in Central Park.

    Or a neighborhood that has more than double the median household income of the rest of the city and well over 30k more than the rest of the country.

    Or a neighborhood where well over 75% of all employed citizenry have white collar jobs.

    Or the fact that Jews still account for less than 25% of all people who live in the UWS...thereby making the argument that because Jews dominate the neighborhood they the neighborhood is thereby only identified as being a Jewish neighborhood and not a neighborhood with a grossly high percentage of EXTREMELY wealthy, privileged, and overindulgent people, that happens also to have a higher percentage of Jews than the rest of the country.

    I know it's easier to look beyond all these other correlations, because it's much simpler just to relegate it to the tried and true all Christians hate Jews and New York.

    To pull from a an extremely brilliant and influential Jew, feel free to read up on Freud's writings on narcissism. It may do you some good.

  2. Logistically? I assume you meant logically. Also, Museum Mile isn't on the UWS it's on the UES.

    And as for my having a simplistic world view or engaging in ad hominem attacks, that's something that Republicans specialize in (Socialism! Tax cuts fix everything!) so I starting to think about pots calling kettles black, etc.

    Also, it's true that anti-Semitism didn't keep other justices off the court just like racism didn't keep a black man out of the White House. But anti-Semitism and racism still exist and should be called out when it is exercised by the likes of a US Senator who should know better.

    As for your facts and statistics about the residents of the Upper West Side, this is the Upper West Side of today, not the one of the 1960s and 1970s that Elena Kagan grew up in (when it was quite the middle class bastion). But so what if she was a child of wealth (which she's not)? So is Jon Kyl! And so, btw, was the previous Republican president (who certainly demonstrated that being a child of wealth doesn't mean you can't also be the worst president in history).

    Also, how are residents of the UWS overindulgent? What do they overindulge in? Food? Sex? Faberge eggs? I have no idea! And as for spending two months in France, I'm afraid I've known many UWS, none of whom have the time or money to spend two months in France.

    And as for implying that I'm a narcissist - this is probably the most self-deprecating blog in cyberspace so I think your own ad hominem attack falls short.

    You drove no nail through my argument. In fact, you proved my point exactly -- people like you need to divide other people, need to stoke resentment and fear, need inflame jealousy and bigotry, need to make some Americans think of other Americans as somehow "un-American" so that the likes of Jon Kyl and George Bush can acquire power.

    And btw, I don't think employing black or Hispanic or Eastern European nannies is racist at all - giving someone a job is quite a nice thing to do.


Please keep it civil, intelligent, and expletive-free. Otherwise, opine away.