July 27, 2011

Mickey Kaus thinks it's "odd" that people aren't connecting “Obama” and “Boehner Plan” and “briar patch.”

He's got an argument that he thinks is so good, he's surprised no one has made it using the term "briar patch":
[I]sn’t the Boehner Plan the President’s most promising route to the “grand bargain” (including revenue increases) he says he wants? It would set up a commission to propose $1.6-1.8 trillion in deficit closing measures–which could include tax increases and entitlement reforms. Then it would force an up or down vote under threat of default if Congress votes “no.” It almost seems like Obama’s dream bill, if you take what he says seriously. If you were cynical you would say that this is why he has semi-threatened to veto it.
So the threat of veto is like Brer Rabbit saying "don't fling me in dat brier-patch" in the old Uncle Remus story "How Mr. Rabbit Was Too Sharp for Mr. Fox."
"'Skin me, Brer Fox,' sez Brer Rabbit, sezee, 'snatch out my eyeballs, t'ar out my yeras by de roots, en cut off my legs,' sezee, 'but do please, Brer Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch,' sezee.

"Co'se Brer Fox wnater hurt Brer Rabbit bad ez he kin, so he cotch 'im by de behime legs en slung 'im right in de middle er de brierpatch. dar wuz a considerbul flutter whar Brer Rabbit struck de bushes, en Brer Fox sorter hang 'roun' fer ter see w'at wuz gwinter happen. Bimeby he hear somebody call im, en way up de hill he see Brer Rabbit settin' crosslegged on a chinkapin log koamin' de pitch outen his har wid a chip. Den Brer Fox know dat he bin swop off mighty bad. Brer Rabbit wuz bleedzed fer ter fling back some er his sass, en he holler out:

"'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!' en wid dat he skip out des ez lively as a cricket in de embers."
Brer Rabbit's problem, of course, was that he'd gotten stuck on the Tar Baby (in "The Wonderful Tar Baby Story"). I think no one's talking about the briar patch because everybody learned to stay away from the Tar Baby after John McCain caught hell for using the metaphor back in 2007:



You have to be forgetful or naive to deploy the old Brer Rabbit/Tar Baby/Briar Patch image these days. Whether it's actually inappropriately racial or not, mainstream political speakers have protected themselves from criticism by staying away from the Tar Baby. Maybe saying "briar patch" is different, but I suspect that, especially when you're talking about this President, it's getting too close to the Tar Baby.

ADDED: Animation.

71 comments:

Curious George said...

Well since simply disagreeing on policy is racist with this president...

bagoh20 said...

At least he didn't say "Chocolate Baby Jesus." That would clearly be wrong.

bagoh20 said...

It's Milk Chocolate.

bagoh20 said...

Are we ever gonna stop this silliness?

AllenS said...

Doesn't matter. Racial aspects about obama are true. He is the poster child of everything that is wrong with affirmative action. Michele also fits in that category.

Holmes said...

A page views seeking controversy touching on racial overtones? Don't throw Mickey Kaus in that briar patch.

Carol_Herman said...

There is a problem. And, it's actually Boehner's. Because he doesn't have the votes in the HOUSE!

He's short enough GOP'ers to mean he can't pass his plan. And, he went with a plan that's FULL OF GIMMICKS. It raises the debt ceiling ... enriches bankers. And, does crap for cutting.

I think Obama has taken this route because Boehner is in love with being on camera. And, he's not too bright. He got lost. And, he got lost because he thought he could play COMPROMISE.

The ball's in Reid's court. Where McConnell NEVER had the PEOPLE on his side! And, he's got at least 5 "lucy-goosey's. Who will vote with Reid: Brown. Murkowsky. McCain. And, probably a few others. Which will also cover the six democraps up for re-election ... because the GOP will be injured.

None of the politicians in DC want to give up the pork barrel.

And, the leadership that took over after election day last November ... always had in mind to send the "Tea Party" packing.

That's why you saw Karl Rove right away. And, you saw the Tea Party people getting comfortable with committee assignments ... and other baubles.

Is there good news? Yes. Both parties are starting to see some daylihgt. A "COMPROMISE" isn't what was wanted.

Boehner never led with his strength.

And, it was Obama who opted to go over the heads of Congress, to the people.

We are not, now, where we should be.

But there are lots of angry Americans out there ... and the speeches didn't sooth. The fake math is just disgusting.

And, the stupid party let itself be "led" by stupid people.

Something may give from the inside. But who can lead, now ... is not particularly obvious.

It's like watching Dubya CAVE! After spending us into the hole.

And, then after the elction we got Karl Rove!

Those people aren't ready to lead! Nobody's got talent. Not even enough chutzpah.

Trooper York said...

If you see a tar baby wandering around lost...by all means wait until you can find a black women to go talk to it. Just sayn'

E.M. Davis said...

Kaus is usually gold but this is a strange, dated analogy to make.

Trooper York said...

Old white guys can't be too careful these days.

madAsHell said...

Damn....that was over 18 hours without a peep from the Professor. I was beginning to think that maybe school was getting in the way of blogging.

Scott M said...

If you were cynical you would say that this is why he has semi-threatened to veto it.

I am cynical and did notice the language they used. Although, fair is fair, they usually couch it thus. Carney simply didn't have a good day yesterday. Being harangued by supposedly friendly press about POTUS' complete lack of concrete debt-plan details, the smacked around by Brett Baier about the language regarding veto or no veto.

I'm increasing concerned that Carney might not be up to the job.

madAsHell said...

Tar baby!

Yup, were stuck with him for another 18 months.

Triangle Man said...

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

X said...

well, Obama is trying to ream us.

chickenlittle said...

Gratuitous tarring of 2008 McCain fits Althouse's thesis of why she voted for Obama.

Next.

Tank said...

Without using this briar patch language, a number of radio hosts talked about this danger yesterday.

Really, the BS is never ending.

Tim said...

For whatever reason, Kaus thinks the president is smarter than experience indicates... Occam's razor: the president wants tax increases obvious to all with obscure cuts. He needs that for his base, which is even dumber than he is, and to defeat the rising power of the tea party caucus in Congress. He doesn't 'win' if his base doesn't think he 'won,' or if the tea party caucus think they won. Kaus is overthinking this.

Rialby said...

Can some enterprising reporter please ask the POTUS - "Have you ever taken a tax deduction? If so, why?" Now, that's a tar baby.

The Crack Emcee said...

"'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!' en wid dat he skip out des ez lively as a cricket in de embers."

Brer Rabbit's problem, of course, was that he'd gotten stuck on the Tar Baby,...


No, from the looks of things, Brer Rabbit's problem was he couldn't fucking spell,...

Sixty Grit said...
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Sixty Grit said...
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Rose said...

"Please don't throw me in that briar patch!" One of my all time favorites.

It's odd that racism has erased these tales of wisdom.

BAS said...

It' funny seeing the actual English for the story. My mother read it to me in Russian, I never made any racial connection. They're such good stories.

Scott M said...

It occurred to me that I have vivid memories of my parents reading me this story when I was 5 or 6, when we were stationed in Germany. I don't have any memory of them reading them to my brothers and I after we rotated back to the States. Interesting.

edutcher said...

Frankly, I don't think the Boehner Plan was ever intended to succeed; it's just something to counter Dingy Harry's plan - a tactical maneuver; all show, no go.

bagoh20 said...

Are we ever gonna stop this silliness?

Only when the Lefties can't milk one more drop of advantage out of it.

PS and very OT:

The story of George Soros announcing he's getting out of the hedge fund business was almost completely lost yesterday. He claimed the regulatory environment.

He owns the Democrat Party and probably the RINO wing of the Republican Party. He says, "Fix it", and it's done that day.

Anybody else think he knows something's getting ready to go thud?

Sixty Grit said...
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Sixty Grit said...
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Ann Althouse said...

"maybe school was getting in the way"

School? It's summer vacation baby. I'm a seasonal worker on a 9-month salary. DIdn't you know?

Quaestor said...

Leave it the PC crowd to impoverish our language of its color and passion, and to impose a washed out and bowdlerized New Speak full of circumlocutions, euphemisms and grammatical absurdities.

Long live the Tar Baby! It's a beautiful, nay, lyrical metaphor for an all too familiar vexation of the common man, the intractable problem. As beautiful as anything from traditions of Hesiod, yet it is authentically African-American with roots deep in Ashanti mythology. Most African-Americans are descendants of people abducted into the slave trade, which took everything from its victims except their oral traditions, and often brutally punished those who tried to pass on the culture. The Tar baby is part of that inheritance, and those who condemn its use are either ignorant or contemptible, likely both.

Der Hahn said...

The more I watch this theater of the absurd the more I believe that O's team thinks they are re-running the Bill Clinton playbook but better, smarter, and faster. You saw it with Obamacare ('The difference is you have me'). They are now convinced that the government shutdown lead to WJC's re-election in 1996 after the 1994 Democrat debacle, and they *want* the Aug 2 deadline to pass with no bill. They just aren't counting on how everything Obama handles turns to sh*t.

Hagar said...

The Professor has spent too much time in the faculty lounge.

If Uncle remus is off limits, does Aesop go too? How about Asbjørnsen & Moe? Kokopelli?

Scott M said...

смолы ребенка

I'm not sure I have the accent right or the emphasis in the right places, but how's this?

se-moh-pi-bla pee-six-eh-kah

Close?

edutcher said...

madAsHell said...

Damn....that was over 18 hours without a peep from the Professor. I was beginning to think that maybe school was getting in the way of blogging.

She and Meade are out Looking For America, sleeping by the roadside.

Quaestor said...

смолы ребенка - now tell me how to pronounce that and we can return that story to the canon of English literature.

"Smauloo rebenka" is close. But that's "baby's tar" (a Russian euphemism for diaper poopie) not "baby made of tar".

Sixty Grit said...
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rhhardin said...

Then it would force an up or down vote under threat of default if Congress votes “no.”

The quote marks are wrong. It's indirect speech even when it's introduced with a direct speech idiom.

themightypuck said...

Abolish the debt ceiling. It is silly and has had zero impact on debt. As for the budget, raise social security age to 68. Get rid of medicare and replace with a stripped down version with vouchers for people who want to opt out. Nothing interesting is going to happen though. Each side is playing this for purely political ends and doesn't give a shit about actual policy.

Sixty Grit said...
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Seeing Red said...

смолы ребенка

smoxsxxxx gutteral bl

re?enka?


Been over a decade since I did that.


So the apparent 7 yo might not b as clueless as she "apparently" writes.

George said...

Oh, FFS.

How did using a story where Brer Rabbit outsmarts Brer Fox by using his mind--and where Brer Rabbit is a clear analogy for a black slave--get turned into racism?

rhhardin said...

I don't see anything wrong with the briar patch. It's the story for getting what you want by telling an enemy that you don't above all want it.

Another parable for it doesn't pop into my head offhand.

Kerrigan talked about preemptive non-offensiveness, in connection with trying to give a talk before a room of feminists. You lard every sentence with he/she's.

Scott M said...

How did using a story where Brer Rabbit outsmarts Brer Fox by using his mind--and where Brer Rabbit is a clear analogy for a black slave--get turned into racism?

Well, tar is black.

E.M. Davis said...

"Please don't throw me in that briar patch!" One of my all time favorites.

It's odd that racism has erased these tales of wisdom.


You can still ride Splash Mountain at Disney World.

Sixty Grit said...
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Geoff Matthews said...

Yes, because referencing african-american folklore is such a racist thing to do.
We shouldn't rest until the history of african-americans is a sterile, boring and colourless.

virgil xenophon said...

Well Obama IS a tar baby--'cause we're stuck with him.. (metaphorically speaking, of course)

sorepaw said...
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Michael said...

Tar baby is not a racial epithet except to idiots who would have you believe that the Uncle Remus stories were the exact opposite of what they were intended to be. McCain was foolish to apologize to these idiots and to thus further the rapid decline of our rapidly declining culture. Ditto briar patch.

Michael said...

Another thing. I would not be lectured to by poorly educated race hustlers on matters of literature regardless of the race of the writer in question. It is preposterous.

Gabriel Hanna said...

I'm not going to cede "tar baby", or "niggardly", or "picnic", or "black hole", or "water buffalo", or any other English word that has been given a bogus racist etymology by the Perpetually Offended.

George said...

As an aside, while Althouse has really learned a lot about the true nature of the left over the last few years, she still has a ton of blind spots, as her final comment on this post suggests. Avoiding usages like "tar baby" due to a fear of being called a racist only strengthens the forces of PC that are destroying our culture (as does apologies like McCain's). The proper action is to use the language as appropriate and to attack, attack, attack if some SOB tries to throw the "racist" tag on you. The PC people wither when they are confronted directly.

Gabriel Hanna said...

There's simply no end to it. Once you embrace the tar baby of political correctness, it gets stickier and stickier, drawing previously harmless terms to itself like ants to a picnic.

Many of today's pejoratives started out as euphemisms. Moron, retarded. Colored people, black, people of color.

Like a black hole, the Perpetually Offended draw more and more words, once thought harmless, into their orbit. This niggardly behavior will one day leave us as bereft of language as water buffaloes.

Paco Wové said...

"...a seasonal worker on a 9-month salary."

Salt of the earth. Wizened and bleached, toiling in her field. Working class, baby!

Ann Althouse said...

Since Mitt Romney and John McCain have already been publicly taken to task and have responded by *apologizing*, it's a little late for statements like most of what I'm seeing here.

Yes, yes... political correctness... I'm not going to cede... blah blah blah.

This is a post about living in the real political world in America today. Mickey Kaus wanted to know why no one is saying "briar patch." I'm saying people avoid saying that these days.

That's my point.

Why would you want to hand Obama's supporters anything they could try to play as a race card. It would be a simple political error. A distraction.

Easy call.

The only reason not to refrain from using the tar baby story is that you forgot or you are naive.

Scott M said...

The only reason not to refrain from using the tar baby story is that you forgot or you are naive.

...or you were just sworn in to your second term as POTUS by the Chief Justices of the SCOTUS.

n.n said...

That's right, "black hole" is also considered a racial epithet. At least by the for-profit NAACP.

At this rate, we will be clicking and whistling our way to extinction.

Maybe we should just resign ourselves to accepting the general classifications made by progressive interests. It's clear that we are, in fact, little more than the incidental features which describe us.

With the degenerate left-wing philosophers and sociologists that are found globally, can anyone truly be surprised by America's progressive denial of enlightenment (i.e., rejection of superior or exceptional dignity)?

In many ways, America's left is far worse than the communists I left behind. The tactics they employ to consolidate wealth and power are truly despicable and are made worse by their often insidious nature.

Does anyone still not understand that left-wing ideologues are merely another competing interest, which prefers to establish and retain a monopoly through authoritarian institutions? They prefer involuntary exploitation to capitalism. They prefer monopolies to competition. They denigrate individual dignity (e.g., classification and discrimination of individuals by their incidental features). They devalue human life (e.g., normalizing the abortion of human life through the justification offered by arbitrary criteria). They defend a selective rule of law in order to fill their ranks. Their policies sabotage character development and promote progressive corruption of individuals and society. The premise for their chosen compromises are fundamentally flawed.

They are reviving the policies which ruled the primitive world and still rule most of the world today.

The moment Obama uttered: "redistributive change", that was sufficient for anyone to understand that he does not respect individual dignity. With this fundamental flaw, he is incapable of leading a free people. He would be better served dictating the lives of individuals who have already rejected their dignity and submitted to the delusions of mortal gods.

Scott M said...

merely another competing interest, which prefers to establish and retain a monopoly through authoritarian institutions

I don't think it can be boiled down any more precisely. Well-crafted.

Michael said...

Professor: I would think that today's political environment is the perfect time to praise the African American stories which contained such wonderful tricks as the briar patch and the tar baby. I think people of all races would be delighted to hear someone that knows what they are talking about and stands their ground. The point could be made that these stories have greatly enriched the American imagination and they should not be squelched because they are told by white people.

EDH said...

Word Association.

George said...

"This is a post about living in the real political world in America today. Mickey Kaus wanted to know why no one is saying "briar patch." I'm saying people avoid saying that these days. "

I absolutely disagree with this. In fact, there is political hay to be made by using one of those terms intentionally to draw out the NAACPs and Jesse Jacksons of the world and then going on the attack against them. Go after them, pummell them on your own terms. That when when they try and play the race card on their own terms (as they most assuredly will) the candidate is able to, well, throw a tar baby of their previous manufactured outrage back onto them.

It boils down to this: no persuadable voter will be influenced negatively by Jackson or his types howling about a "tar baby." Core Republican voters and Republican leaners, on the other hand, will get het up about this nonsense.

The world is not Madison, Ann--that's why you have a blind spot about this. The fact that people who will never vote for a Republican get "outraged" is of no account--in fact, it can be turned into a positive.

Hagar said...

Well, Professor, in other posts I think you have indicated that life is a lot less complicated if you call BS when you see it.

Saint Croix said...

I loved Song of the South when I was a kid. Disney has censored it in North America for over 30 years. Toupee-wearing midget fascists.

Gabriel Hanna said...

This observation is not original to me. The "slippery slope fallacy" is a fallacy in theory, but not in practice.

The gradual conversion of euphemism to dysphemism that I noted above is an example.

It may well be that it draws needless trouble on a politician to say "tar baby", or "niggardly", or "picnic". But if we don't as a society start pushing this back up the slope, we'll keep sliding down it.

"Macaca" wasn't even a real word; George Allen's opponents managed somehow to turn it into a racial slur anyway. Fat lot of good it did him to avoid racially charged terms. Much like the "water buffalo" incident at University of Pennsylvania, the Perpetually Offended MADE it an offense; as they did at UW-Madison when a professor used "niggardly". "It's not up to the rest of the class to decide whether my feelings are valid."

chickenlittle said...

Splash Mountain is not my favorite Disneyland attraction. Frontierland has always been my favorite--especially the Mark Twain.

Sixty Grit said...
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sorepaw said...
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BAS said...

 Also Aesop's Tales, Baron Munchhausen (sp?) was very good. Grimm Fairy Tales are international, and Russian Fairy Tales, where the stupid youngest brother always outsmarts everyone.

It is very interesting to read stories because that are translated because the new language can bring new ideas and accentuate ideas not noticed in the mother tongue.

Did anyone see 12 chairs by Mel Brooks? It is translated from Russian, but it is a sad book in Russian.

Minicapt said...

"Why would you want to hand Obama's supporters anything they could try to play as a race card."
Because it's like chumming for the fish of your choice. Once hooked, you take them to the woodpile and beat them over the head with their egregious stupidity, and racial presumptions. And then call them names like "Uncle Al" or "Uncle Jesse".

Cheers

n.n said...

Scott M, not everything they teach Americans is edited. The truth of left-wing ideology and the corruption that it engenders is corroborated by personal experience with the Soviet communists and is further confirmed through historical and present incarnations of progressive totalitarian regimes throughout the world.

That said, would it be racist to talk about black Africans, who till this day, continue to enslave black Africans and persecute others? And, in light of the rise of imperial Islam, would it be racist to talk about Muslims reign of terror that continues today and whose tyranny has exceed over 1000 years (order by the Koran)? Would it be racist to talk about factions of Obama's Luo tribe conspiring with Muslims to enslave their own people? In fact, the slave economy in Africa existed long before the arrival of white Europeans. Would it be racist to talk about America's left exploiting a selective history (and obfuscating their own) in order to suppress and eviscerate their competing interests?

Yes, let's talk about it. It's long past time that we had a review of issues of merit, free from intimidation and threats of violence, including the denigration of individual dignity, to which left-wing ideologues are by design predisposed to.

Gabriel Hanna said...

@Sixty Grit:What the fuck is wrong with "picnic"? That's the first I have heard that word is a problem.


http://www.snopes.com/language/offense/picnic.asp

According to the Perpetually Offended, "picnic" derives from lynchings, when families would go out and "pick a n****r" to lynch. Needless to say, this is totally bogus and easily checked in any dictionary that has etymologies.

But, because it's a "racially charged" word NOW, according to a FEW people, Ann would have us not use it if we are running for office.

And since the "niggardly" incident happened at UW-Madison I imagine she doesn't use that word in class.