As I wrote in this diary, Pearce has had a rough week: racist emails he wrote surfaced on the front pages, then his outrageous comments about the Aurora shooting played non-stop in the local media and the blogosphere, and to top it off Arizona's junior senator, Jon Kyl, endorsed Pearce's primary opponent. (Today Pearce released a sorta apology for his tasteless Aurora remarks, although he couldn't open his maw without spewing a big helping of NRA blather.) Good for you, Senator Kyl.
Well, that didn't last long.
Declaring that the use of the phrase "middle class" is "misguided and wrong and even dangerous," Kyl argued in a Senate floor speech that Obama is "spreading economic resentment [that] weakens American values" and ignoring "the uniquely meritocratic basis of our society." HuffPoThe use of "middle class" is dangerous? Excuse me, but haven't we heard since at least post-WWII that the thing that made America great was "the rise of the middle class"? Historically, we've taken great pride in creating a large and thriving middle class—the "American Dream." My Depression-era parents had little, joined the military, worked hard, bought a home—the whole deal, and there was nothing "dangerous" about those aspirations. And talking about them wasn't "resentment" of the rich, unless their gains were ill-gotten (as many are today). We've heard since grade school that the middle class is what most Americans aim for "so their children will have it better than they did." It's also what businesses want, since a prosperous middle class buys more shit, rather than socking it away in some island.
But now it's dangerous to even talk about the middle class because they're disappearing, because the GOP has forgotten about them, because Republican policies drive a dagger into the heart of many middle class programs, like Social Security and Medicare. But we can't say that, because it ignores the "uniquely meritocratic basis of our society." What bull! Talking about the middle class is precisely about our "uniquely meritocratic" society. Most people hoping to become middle class think they will do so based on merit and not, like Kyl's friends, because they inherited a shitload of cash or, like his greedhead pals on Wall Street, they screwed others to attain their homes, boats, and Swiss bank accounts.
"I just think the whole discussion of class is wrong. it's not what we do here in America," said Kyl, the Senate minority whip.Wrong. It is what "we do here in America," and we used to celebrate that conversation; it's what distinguished the U.S. from monarchies, oligarchies, dictatorships. I can't think of an economics class I've taken, a book about American history, or a social or political movement that does not in some way discuss and even embrace this thing Jon Kyl now thinks is dangerous.
He added, "I don't think there's anything called 'middle class values' that are different from the values of other people in this country. Tell me what's different about the values of someone who the president identifies as middle class?"That tells you how out of touch the retiring senator is. If he doesn't think middle class values are different from the values of his multi-millionaire donors, it's time for him to exit stage right. Sen. Kyl, who made a healthy chunk of change as a lawyer-lobbyist for rapacious energy companies before entering politics, has never been and probably doesn't know many in the middle class. Of course he doesn't know their values, of course he thinks they're the same as the one percenters'. But since he asked, here are a few ways middle class values differ from the Tiffany twerps whose balls he's been cuddling for decades. By and large people in the middle class
• keep their limited savings in the country
• don't ship their fellow citizens' jobs overseas for a quick buck
• think "work" is more than moving digital money around (or inheriting it)
• pay a higher percentage of their earnings to the federal government
• contribute more to charities
• help keep their family and friends secure by joining the military
• don't ride your ass in their friggin' black BMWs
• contribute to their community by becoming teachers, fire fighters, police, social workers and other jobs that won't make them a shitload of money
• believe in the democratic process, and chip in $25 or $100 to their favorite candidate, rather than try to buy one
• don't feel everyone owes them because they have 5 or 10 or even 100 large in the bank
And this is just mindfuckingly stupid:
"When Michael Jordan came, after he established how great he would be, he was given an enormous, almost unheard of salary. Did the other players say, 'That's not fair?' No, actually all the other players got big salary increases, too," Kyl said. "The whole franchise did well, the people selling popcorn, the people parking the cars ... made more money than they ever would have had Michael Jordan never came to the team."See, the people who sell popcorn and park cars should be grateful because Michael Jordon made a gazillion dollars. Just be satisfied, plebs, and don't ask for more, so your children don't have to sell popcorn. And in case Sen. Kyl forgot, the reason "all the other players got big salary increases" is because the players belong to a friggin' union! Remember unions, senator—the force that helped build the middle class? At one time basketball, baseball, and football players were the middle class, or even poor. I'm sure there was some asshole like Kyl telling them, "Now boys, don't complain about the obscene profits the team's owners are making from your talent. That only creates class resentment."
Clearly, Jon Kyl is auditioning for his post-senate career. You can bet the middle class won't factor in his choice, since it's dangerous to mention them.