Happy May Day!

In honor of May Day, Sen. Joe Lieberman would like to remind you that it’s a “good question” whether Barack Obama is spending today contemplating the plight of the proletariat and listening to songs like this:


source file

;)

In other news, Pajamas Media asked me to elaborate on my Obama/Wright post in an article for their site, so I did. It’s not my best work, and both liberals and conservatives will find plenty to dislike in it. But I hope it’s at least food for thought.

29 Responses to “Happy May Day!”

  1. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Brendan-

    That sub-headline made me wince. I don’t disagree with the nature of your argument, but putting it in those terms doesn’t sound good. Also, while it may seem pretty innocuous now, you never know down the road when you will be interviewing with a law firm or with a potential client and this kind of thing will pop up.

  2. Angrier and Angrier says:

    That first comment was in reference to the Pajama Media item you wrote.

  3. dcl says:

    Lieberman is an out of touch jack ass… but what else is new.

  4. Angrier and Angrier says:

    I think Lieberman is hitting the “Zell Miller zone.”

  5. Brendan says:

    Well, I didn’t write the subhed. But I don’t think it’s objectionable unless one reads into it something that isn’t there. I.e., if you think I’m saying that all black leaders are “aging charlatans,” or that the “poisonous culture of blame-whitey victimization” permeates the entire black community, then that would be a problem. But neither the article nor the subhed say that, and in fact I specifically disclaimed both of those sentiments in the article, precisely because I’m aware of people’s tendency to misinterpret comments about race as being racist even when they’re clearly not.

    On the other hand, if it makes you “wince” that I’m calling specific black “leaders” (like Sharpton, Jackson and Wright) “aging charlatans,” or that I acknowledge the existence (though not all-encompassing prevalance) of the very same “blame-whitey victimization” culture that Bill Cosby and others in the black community have forcefully decried… well, it shouldn’t. Those are unremarkable statements.

    My main objection to the subhed would be that I’m not necessarily saying, on my own behalf, that a “young, strong black leader” has “finally” done what I describe. I’m saying that conservatives have long asserted that no such leader exists, and now one clearly does — and yet they don’t seem to care. If someone wants to contradict the conservative assertion that I’ve posited, and say, “Actually, so-and-so did this ten years ago” or whatever, I have no problem with that. It wouldn’t weaken my overall point; if anything, it would strengthen it, since that would be yet another example of conservatives failing to recognize that the thing they profess to hope for has in fact happened.

    Such nuance tends to get lost on the Internet, though, particularly in articles about race, and even my winding run-on sentences and numerous caveats can’t necessarily prevent people from misreading my intent. As such, I see your point about “you never know down the road.” But I refuse to do the John Roberts thing, and refrain from comment on any and all controversial issues that could potentially be twisted or taken out of context, just because I want to avoid hypothetical damage to my career. I think there are enough fair-minded people out there that something like this won’t make me radioactive. And, more importantly, a key aspect of the destructive culture I’m talking about is that it prevents us from having honest discussions about race. I’m not going to contribute to that sorry state of affairs by keeping my mouth shut just because someone might incorrectly infer that I meant something that I didn’t say and didn’t mean, in a perfectly defensible, not-in-any-way-racist article.

  6. Angrier and Angrier says:

    Unrelated, but the DC Madam committed suicide..

  7. Angrier and Angrier says:

    I’m not saying you are racist because I’m certain you are not. However, I’m saying people who could be hiring you some day may not give you the benefit of the doubt.

  8. Brendan says:

    I realize that. And I’m simply saying that, if they don’t give me the benefit of the doubt, they’re not being fair-minded, and they’re contributing to the culture that prevents us from having honest discussions about race, and I refuse as a matter of principle to let myself fall prey to that mentality.

    Believe me, this is something I thought about. But I think that speaking the truth about people like Jackson, Sharpton and Wright is worth any hypothetical consequences, because otherwise I’m not being intellectually honest.

  9. Angrier and Angrier says:

    I appreciate your having the courage of your convictions, but I’m not sure this is the petard you want to be hoisted on over semantics.

  10. JD says:

    Happy May Day and Happy SmartFix40 Day to you, too, Brendan. :-)

  11. Joe Loy says:

    ” It’s not my best work, and both liberals and conservatives will find plenty to dislike in it.”

    Well that’s One characteristic of your best work right there, so (with apologies to Carl Kolchak :) don’t Castigate yourself, Tony ;>.

    “But I hope it’s at least food for thought.”

    Sadly, not for most of the Pajamas Conservatives who are finding Plenty to Dislike per their comments to it ~ but some of them seem somewhat bulemic in relation to intellectual nutrition anyway so I suppose we must make allowances. / My favorite so far is the guy who says “The leopard did not change his spots, he only sings a new song, one of self serving, a duplicitous act to ‘right’ his sinking ship…”. Now I’ve heard Obama variously personified as (among other things) John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Fred Astaire, the smartass kid who’s Too Cool for School, and the first presidential candidate born not in a log cabin but a Manger; but the metaphor of a Singing Leopard Seacaptain piloting the vessel down to Davy Jones is Serious grog for contemplation. Arrr. Roarrr. [Blub blub blub ;]

    As for May Day: (1) Bad cess to Joe Lieberman for Those stupid remarks. Come Yom Kippur he needs to Atone to Barack. (2) A very nice commemoration :} but’s let’s not forget the more ancient & Nonpartisan aspects, e.g., from the linked Wikipedia page ~

    Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen and celebrations involving a Maypole…

    Padstow in Cornwall holds its annual ‘Obby-Oss’ day of festivities. This is believed to be one of the oldest fertility rites in the UK; revellers dance with the Oss through the streets of the town and even through the private gardens of the citizens, accompanied by accordion players and followers dressed in white with red or blue sashes who sing the traditional ‘May Day’ song…

    The May Day traditions of Cornwall, likely derive mainly from Celtic traditions.

    No sh**, Seamus :). [Morrisdancer to Mayqueen: “Nice Oss.” :]

  12. David K. says:

    More importantly, today is the birthday of one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time, Ray Parker Jr. without whom we wouldn’t know who we gonna call!

  13. YoYo says:

    Ghostbusters!!

  14. Leanna Loomer says:

    There’s another anthem worth including here. I know people who stand and sing all the verses (which they know by heart) at the end of every one of their gatherings. It is Di Shvue, The Oath, and is the anthem of the Jewish Labor Bund. An English translation of the first verse goes like this:

    Brothers and sisters of toil and poverty

    All who are dispersed everywhere

    Together, together, our flag is ready:

    Waving in wrath, stained red with blood

    An oath, an oath on life and death!

    Heaven and earth will hear us

    The bright stars will bear witness

    On our oath of blood and our oath of tears:

    We swear, we swear, we swear!

    You should hear it, in Yiddish, sung by true believers.

  15. Alasdair says:

    Leanna – for a Labor Union, Di Shvue certainly fits …

  16. Alasdair says:

    Brendan – the second thing that sprang to mind when I read your article was in response to this – “He may not be the fiercest warrior in this struggle — he hasn’t denounced Sharpton and Jackson, nor started talking like Bill Cosby — but at least he’s fighting for the right team.”

    Sadly, all that his words indicate on that score, at least so far, is that he has uttered the words … when he votes along the same lines, when he takes action rather than just talking about it, *then* he can be considered to have become the warrior you seek … until then, he’s the armchair quarterback …

    My first response was to “This is exactly the development that so many conservatives have supposedly been yearning for.” … conservatives have more than “supposedly” been yearning for those who feed on victimhood to be repudiated … conservatives and, indeed, other rational folk have long hoped that more than Bill Cosby and talk radio folk would recognise the harm done to the African-American community by the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of this world, strongly enough to repudiate them by actions, not just by words …

    When Senator Obama votes to do away with quotas, and when he puts forward legislation so that Affirmative Action can mean providing mentoring and tutoring so that disadvantaged K-12 students of any colour/creed/etc can be brought UP to the levels where they will succeed at Universities, rather than meaning the forcing of quota levels at those same Universities to where the presumption is that some students only got there through quotas, *then* he can be considered to have become a warrior such as you describe …

    Until then, he’s just another Hillary in just-as-elitist drag, just another John Kerry “reporting for duty” with his “I support the troops” …

  17. Andrew says:

    May Day is perhaps my least favorite “holiday”, followed closely by Labor Day, which also tends to represent the misplaced, destructive ideals of socialism and communism. We need more “STFU and get back to work!” days. We’re such a nation of whiners, and pretty soon we’ll be playing third fiddle to China and India because we’re too damn lazy and would rather sit around and demand our “rights” of free health care, cheap food, cheap gas, paid vacation, mandatory sick leave, and so on and so forth.

    Regarding your article, it was much more well-developed than your blog post, and you at least tried to address some of the obvious criticisms. Nevertheless, I think you got the metaphor back-asswards: You are stuck on the Wright tree, while conservatives are considering the presidential forest. As Creole said,

    Will conservatives give Obama a pass as Loy suggests, knowing that this gives the Democratic Party – and blacks voting as virtually a monolith – the extra oomph necessary to win in November? Because, as it is, Obama is getting a lift to office largely based on race.

    Is the prospective racial healing envisioned by Loy a sufficiently important benefit to accept the downsides of electing what would be the most Liberal president in America’s history, creating its own long-term disasters (like on the SCOTUS, controlling all three branches, etc.).

    To give Obama a pass is to overlook the underlying issues, of Obama’s judgment and experience and mental-model. It is also dishonest, as he is being dishonest.

    The price is too high.

    Other commentators have focused on the judgment-sincerity axis of criticism — also a very valid point, since it’s obvious he denounced Wright because he saw his poll numbers plummeting — but the pragmatic picture of what an Obama presidency would actually look like makes it very clear that the most logical position for conservatives to take is to see Obama defeated, whatever the issue or narrative that eventually is cited in history books as his downfall.

  18. Becky says:

    Andrew, that’s no-shit-Sherlock analysis right there. You don’t say? Conservatives would rather have a conservative president instead of a liberal one? Damn. I wish I could’ve thought of that.

    If the case for McCain is so weak that conservatives have to cling to the Wright controversy instead of attacking Obama’s other myriad and I would argue far more significant weaknesses, that, to me, is reason right there to vote for Obama.

  19. Becky says:

    Damn. That sounded super bitchy. Sorry.

  20. Andrew says:

    Andrew, that’s no-shit-Sherlock analysis right there. You don’t say? Conservatives would rather have a conservative president instead of a liberal one? Damn. I wish I could’ve thought of that.

    If Brendan would’ve factored that kind of common-sense logic into his article, maybe he wouldn’t have proposed this silly notion that conservatives should be cheering Obama here and hoping for his success against the racial charlatans (as Brendan referred to them). If Obama voted like Sen. Lieberman, Brendan’s analysis might have made sense, but Obama is as liberal as they come, thus Brendan’s “Watson” thesis was in dire need of some “no-shit-Sherlock analysis”.

    If the case for McCain is so weak that conservatives have to cling to the Wright controversy instead of attacking Obama’s other myriad and I would argue far more significant weaknesses, that, to me, is reason right there to vote for Obama.

    It’s not a matter of what we “have to cling to”. The Wright controversy hurts Obama; ergo, make the most out of it to politically damage Obama as much as possible. There’ll be future opportunities to damage him in the general election, but every little cut helps him bleed. The race is not a snapshot — like the SEC, “it’s a war” — and different cards get played at different times. Most likely, voters will be tired of the Wright controversy after a few more weeks and there’ll be focus on his other weaknesses, but for now, anything that helps HRC and drags out this Democratic nomination battle is gravy for Republicans.

    Obviously if Obama wrapped this up two months ago and the media fellation of Obama continued without all these controversies popping out (Wright, Ayers, et al), Obama would be killing McCain in the polls. Yet that’s not what we see today. I mean, think of it: Everyone’s pissed about the economy and the real estate market, everyone’s upset about the war in Iraq, Bush’s numbers are the lowest of any president ever, and yet the best the Dems can do is produce a candidate who is tied in polling with John McCain? McCain should be losing by 10-15 percentage points!

    So yes, Rev. Wright is a gift, I hope it keeps on giving, and frankly, I’d be happy to trade your vote for Obama for the dozens more who will go to McCain because of what they hear about Rev. Wright.

  21. Becky says:

    Ah, but how far do you want to push? I mean, if Wright tosses the nomination to HRC and she somehow manages to beat McCain, I will mail you a bag of cat crap. I’d rather have Obama than HRC any day. Obama or McCain. That’s the choice I want.

  22. Andrew says:

    If HRC wins the nomination fair and square (i.e. she comes from behind and gets more pledged delegates than Obama), and then she turns around and beats McCain in November, I will personally challenge Robbie to see who can eat more cat poop out of your litter box.

  23. Brendan says:

    Andrew, are you — you! — suggesting that it’s ipso facto illegitimate to win the nomination without a pledged-delegate plurality? I.e., have you adopted the Nancy Pelosi position that the superdelegates are ethically obligated to vote for the pledged-delegate winner, even though that would seem to contradict the whole purpose of superdelegates?

    Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be a pretty big travesty if the supers overturn the public’s verdict without a really, REALLY good reason for doing so — and I think the pledged delegates are the proper metric for measuring the “public’s verdict,” since that’s the way the system works — but I wouldn’t expect you, of all people, Mr. Machiavellian Machinations, to share that view. :)

  24. Leanna Loomer says:

    I miss that old Soviet National Anthem at the Olympics.

  25. Alasdair says:

    Hang on, Brendan – what purpose do Democratic Party superdelegates have except to ensure that the True Powers-That-Be in the Democratic Party make the decisions, rather an allowing the mere Democratic Parrty electorate to get their unsupervised (and thus patently insufficiently-informed) choice ?

  26. Andrew says:

    Andrew, are you — you! — suggesting that it’s ipso facto illegitimate to win the nomination without a pledged-delegate plurality? I.e., have you adopted the Nancy Pelosi position that the superdelegates are ethically obligated to vote for the pledged-delegate winner, even though that would seem to contradict the whole purpose of superdelegates?

    You read too much into my words — I should have put “fair and square” in quotations.

    I believe that, since the superdelegates must cast the final deciding votes in either case, the end result is bound to be tainted. However, what I am suggesting in general is that whichever candidate gains the most pledged delegates has the best claim to legitimacy. Who the superdelegates actually select for the Democratic Party presidential nomination is tangential to my equation (IOW, if HRC finishes with less pledged delegates than Obama, but the superdelegates give her the nomination, the cat poop bet is off).

    That said, I’m not sure what I have stated anywhere in this thread goes against my Machiavellian reflexes. I think you’re just having a wet dream that I developed a political conscience somehow. ;-)

  27. Brendan says:

    Andrew, I can assure you that I have never had a wet dream that involves you. :) I was just poking fun at you because it seemed like you were adopting a very un-Andrew-like theory of “legitimacy” in order to ensure that you’ll win the bet. :) After all, you know perfectly well that it’s, for all practical intents and purposes, mathematically impossible for Hillary to get a plurality of the pledged delegates…

    Not that I can blame you. I wouldn’t want to eat cat poop either. Now, on the other hand, my arm is still in jeopardy.

  28. Andrew says:

    I wouldn’t want to eat cat poop either.

    Ah, I am smarter than that, Brendan: I only promised to challenge Robbie, I didn’t promise to actually eat the cat poop and try to win the challenge. I may not be all lawyerly trained and all, but I can employ subterfuge with the best of ’em. ;-)