July 7, 2011

"The Other Barack:" New biography of Barack Obama Sr.

Sally Jacobs of the Boston Globe has a biography coming out of the President's dad, the father, such as he was, in Dreams from My Father.

Barack Jr. launched his national political image at the 2004 Democratic convention by making the opening of his keynote address about his parents: "My parents shared not only an improbable love, they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation."

The part about his parents' marriage being bigamous never seemed to register on the national press. 

Today's Globe has an excerpt about how Barack Sr., when questioned by immigration officials about his having two wives, one with two kids in Kenya, the other pregnant in Hawaii, replied that, in effect, the second one didn't really count because he was going to have his American wife give the future baby up for adoption:
“Subject got his USC wife ‘Hapai’ [Hawaiian for pregnant] and although they were married they do not live together and Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away,’’ according to a memo describing the conversation with Obama written by Lyle H. Dahling, an administrator in the Honolulu office of what was then called the US Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Jacobs' most interesting revelation came in the Boston Globe on September 21, 2008, and has gotten almost zero attention in the U.S.: that Barack Obama Sr. was a witness to the July 5, 1969 assassination of his own mentor, Tom Mboya, Luo favorite son, the likely next president of Kenya after the Kikuyu Jomo Kenyatta, and rumored CIA made man. This remains the great crime in modern Kenyan history. That's kind of like if the father of today's President of Kenya was a major witness to one of the Kennedy assassinations. Obama Jr. left out all reference to the historic crisis of his father's life in Dreams, except for a couple of cryptic references that suggest how much he and his Kenyan relatives loathe Kenyatta, the official father of the country. 

Jacobs' new book fleshes out her 2008 newspaper scoop that almost nobody noticed. At the trial of the gunman, according Jacobs's The Other Barack on Google Books:
The final prosecution witness was Barack H. Obama. According to newspaper accounts of his testimony, Obama said nothing incendiary. He testified only that he and Mboya chatted briefly and he related his own comments about Mboya's parking job. Mboya, he added, "did not say anything to me to indicate that he was frightened." These were hardly the kind of words that would mark a man. But in the politically inflammatory moment, just taking the stand in Njenga's trial was a highly precarious thing to do. Since his provocative remarks about Sessional Paper No. 10 and his liquor-laced public rants, Obama was already known as a critic. Testifying in Njenga's trial was to wave a scarlet flag of defiance in Kenyatta's face. ... 
Obama could easily have chosen not to testify. He could have remained silent and hoped that he would drift under the radar and his career would survive. But staying quiet had never been one of his strong suits. "I told him this was like suicide. If they killed Mboya, they can kill you," said Peter Aringo, shaking his head. "He said, 'No, I have to speak my mind.' He could not stand that Tom had been killed He knew that he might be killed himself if he testified. he knew that Kenyatta wanted that case to die. But he went ahead and did it."

Obviously, Obama Jr. must have discussed these events at some length with his Kenyan relatives during his five week visit to Kenya in the late 1980s. Obama Jr. could have various reasons for not mentioning them in the book, such as not wanting to endanger his relatives, not wanting to confuse nice liberal white people in America with unhelpful accounts of African politics, or not wanting to make his book more interesting. 

Although the Mboya assassination likely means a lot to the current President, I don't know what precisely it means. What lessons, for example, did Obama Jr. draw from his father's drama that would be relevant say to his current attempts to assassinate Col. Gadafi? 

But here's the thing: nobody, as far as I know, has ever asked him. We have a President who is treated by the press as if he were too fragile to be asked basic questions about his life story. Then the media complain when members of the public, rightly sensing how little we are told about Obama, starts getting worked up over birth certificates and the like.

41 comments:

Tran Phu said...

"Although the Mboya assassination likely means a lot to the current President..."

- Maybe it doesn't. After all, his father wasn't actually very involved with his life, he only took up his mantle when he started wanting to be "black enough" for convenient political gains.

Tran Phu said...

'"...Miss Dunham is making arrangements with the Salvation Army to give the baby away," '

- Now that would've made for a tougher president

Shouting Thomas said...

The real Barack Obama is a lot more interesting than the fictional Barack Obama.

He didn't really come out of nowhere, did he?

Polistra said...

I can't blame the media for being uninterested in the events of Senior's life. He wasn't around long enough to exert any cultural influence on 'Miss Dunham', let alone her newborn baby.

The attempt to give the baby away is the interesting part. Adopting out was pretty much the default action in those circumstances, and keeping the baby required some special arrangements.

Kylie said...

"Obama Jr. could have various reasons for not mentioning them [political events in Kenya] in the book, such as not wanting to endanger his relatives, not wanting to confuse nice liberal white people in America with unhelpful accounts of African politics, or not wanting to make his book more interesting."

Or not wanting to make his book more interesting??

God, how I wish I could toss off gems like that.

DCThrowback said...

Way, way OT:
Jason Li (a/k/a Vancouver Canucks Rioting Asian Man) issues youtube
apology.

Anonymous said...

Obama's election is one of the strangest moments in American political history. He came from near-obscurity, little was REALLY known about him, and even less about his strange family and background. Years from now, people will scratch their heads in wonder at it all.

Matt said...

But here's the thing: nobody, as far as I know, has ever asked him. We have a President who is treated by the press as if he were too fragile to be asked basic questions about his life story.

Never go for a complex explanation when a simple one will do. Also, never trust an altruistic one when a self-interested one exists.

It seems more likely than not that reporters don't ask about Obama Sr. because they now almost nothing about Africa and they're afraid that their questions will make them look stupid. Journalists in this country are out of their depth and terrified of making unPC errors.

Anonymous said...

When I was a kid, late 70's, Houston, Haynes was interviewed on one of those morning shows that did the dialing for dollars promotions. Anyway, the inept reporter stupidly asked Haynes questions that the reporter clearly could not handle the answers for. Haynes was a clearly cocky bastard who seemed to be enjoying himself. The two questions I remember:

1) Where did you get the nickname "Racehorse"?

ans: I played the running back position on my school football team and was a fast runner.

follow up: You were really that fast?

ans: yeah, for a white boy.

reporter looks at his own feet and mumbles

2) Some say that many of your clients were guilty, what do you say?

ans: Yeah, they were guilty. Why do you think they were willing to give me everything they had to get off?

reporter befuddled for rest of interview.

I was probably 11-12 at the time but I still remember the body language and demeanor of the pathetic reporter dude and Haynes bold yet almost bored confidence dealing with such a fool and an amateur.

Auntie Analogue said...

Sometimes, Mr. Sailer, you write like a real good conspiracy theorist. It's your least flattering literary trait. One supposes that from time to time each one of us has his hyper-Hofstadter moments, but one oughtn't abuse the privilege.

Loved your comment, Tran Phu, but I'd reverse it: orphanhood, I have to consider, would have made for an more enthusiastically pro-entitlements president. But that would like carrying coal to Newcastle, wouldn't it?

For Shouting Thomas: Do you, really, Thomas? It seems to me that the real Barack Obama must be insufferably banal, like Stein's Oakland: "There's no there there."


Matt, I think your Occam's Razor slash on mainstream journalists' amour propre a wise one.

Max said...

Steve,
The president of the United States is not named Barack Hussein Obama Jr.
Have a look at the official document last released by the state of Hawaii. That baby was, and is, named Barack Hussein Obama II, NOT Jr.
I've done a little research on the difference and it is significant.
Naming a baby "II" is indicative that the child is being named for a person who is not his biological father. I have an ex-wife who's present husband has that exact circumstance. His son (from a previous marriage) is "II" instead of "Jr." because the child is not biologically his.
I have been unable to find any circumstance under which it is acceptable, in any country, to name your own biological son "II".
I did find a notation that Roy Campanella II (the baseball player)had an Italian father named Roy Campanella but that was long ago, far away and unexplained.
My gut says that there is some significance to the man being named "II" instead of "Jr."
The most obvious would be that Barack Hussein Obama Sr. is not the biological father of Barack Hussein Obama II.
How is it that everyone looks at "II" and says "Jr."!

Dennis Dale said...

"My parents...shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation."

Really? Sr. wanted to be a Big Man in Kenya, and Ann Dunham despised America.

Anonymous said...

Naming a baby "II" is indicative that the child is being named for a person who is not his biological father. --Max

Huh? Jr, II, etc., are not part of one's legal name, and have no precise meaning.

Junior originally referred to any nearby younger male with the same name-- son, grandson, nephew, cousin, unrelated neighbor. And even in a direct line, when the original Senior passed on, his Junior became the Senior and his III the new Junior.

Note that "Bill Gates, Sr" is the father of "Bill Gates III". That's not precise, but it's not meant to be.

Anonymous said...

I propose that all women who are approached for an intimate encounter/relationship by a man who is

-separated
-in an unhappy marriage
-or whose wife just doesn't give him what he wants

be allowed to deliver a small electric shock to his groin area with a taser or cattle prod.

Anonymous said...

"The most obvious would be that Barack Hussein Obama Sr. is not the biological father of Barack Hussein Obama II.
How is it that everyone looks at "II" and says "Jr."!"

I thought the designations of I and II came about once namesake number III was born so as to emphasize pride in one's lineage. That there is almost never a number IV suggests reversion to the average IQ of 100 by the 3rd generation.

Anonymous said...

"Son of Strelka, Son of God"

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3422981

dearieme said...

So when people refer to "Bush II" they mean .... oh say it ain't so!

Chicago said...

Shows how willing Obama is to just blatantly lie and mislead, in this case about his own family history.
He'll lie about anything, anytime, for his own personal benefit.

Harry Baldwin said...

Dennis Dale said..."My parents...shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation."

Really?


Yes, having listened to more of Obama's speeches than I care to admit, I get the impression that he writes a sentence like that, sits back, smiles with great self-satisfaction, and thinks, "That'll do the trick!" without a moment's concern that it is an absolute lie. Of course, that sort of indifference to the truth is what gets a guy elected president these days.

Piper said...

A bit of a tangent, but I love how back in 1961, foreigners on student visas were actively monitored and faced a real possibility that their visas would not be renewed if they misbehaved in the US. Moreover, in 1961 a foreigner without a visa actually had to consider that he might be deported back to his home country!

By contrast,the 9/11 hijackers and thousands of other likely terrorists and/or mere criminalscan now get student visas without scrutiny, even after they murder thousands of people. Once in the US they are never monitored, and face no meaningful possibility of deportation if they overstay their visas.

In 1961 you could fly commercial without getting strip-searched, you could pull a live rabbit out of your magician's hat without a Federal permit (HT: Jerry Pournelle), you could put a birdbath in your backyard without a Federal wetlands determination from the Corp of Engineers...

Imagine how much better American life would be in this century if today's US government kept jihadis out of the country so the rest of us could fly without letting the TSA grope our junk!

Mr. Knobs said...

"Huh? Jr, II, etc., are not part of one's legal name, and have no precise meaning."

Then explain why it's on the birth certificate,......and please don't say it's for "legal reasons"!

"And even in a direct line, when the original Senior passed on, his Junior became the Senior and his III the new Junior."

How in the world do you think that makes sense! My Grandfather was "Harry Sr.", his first-born son was "Harry Jr." and "Harry Jr.'s" son is "Harry III".
My Grandfather and Uncle are now deceased. Their having existed is a fact. All legal records pertaining to "Harry Sr." still exist. All legal records pertaining to "Harry Jr." still exist. How the hell does "Harry III" become "Harry Jr." the moment his Grandfather dies! REDICULOUS!
Your REASONING would have my cousin on his third name at this point,...and, to make it even sillier, had he had children carrying on the name, well......


"I thought the designations of I and II came about once namesake number III was born so as to emphasize pride in one's lineage."

Please site anyone named "I",...aside from European royalty.

Kylie said...

"I propose that all women who are approached for an intimate encounter/relationship by a man who is

-separated
-in an unhappy marriage
-or whose wife just doesn't give him what he wants

be allowed to deliver a small electric shock to his groin area with a taser or cattle prod."


And what do you propose men who are approached for the same reason by women in one or more of those same situations be allowed to do?

Kylie said...

'My parents...shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation.'

Really? Sr. wanted to be a Big Man in Kenya, and Ann Dunham despised America."


Obviously, both Obama Sr. and Stanley Ann saw the possibilities of our country in terms of "I got to get me some of that". Sr. apparently was willing to take advantage by fraudulent means of the superior education offered here while according to Jr., Stanley Ann loudly despised America and her white citizens but not the food stamps and other material benefits offered by same.

Too bad about Wife No.1. These two really deserved one another.

Anonymous said...

The President seems inherently selective in his treatment of facts and seems to take license to rearrange the facts he does select.
This trait appears significantly present in his maternal grandfather and his paternal grandfather.

Anonymous said...

Polisgtra--" I cant blame the media for being uninterested in the events of Senior's life. He wasn't around long enough to exert any cultural influence"
********************
You hit the nail on the head in that most biographers seem to believe in your environmentalist assumption and eschew any genetic model of high heritability traits. A very scary feature of the genetic-trait pool that formed the "dice throw" creating the President's personality biological substratum is the presence of strong psychopathic components in the make-up of both his maternal grandfather and his putative father. Both were verbally "breezy"--Stan Dunham having his feet more firmly on firmer ground.
The known facts of life of Barack O'Bama, Sr. are strongly suggestive of a central psychopathic component that grew over time like cancer(?) Madelyn Payne Dunham was from a far sounder gene pool than that from which Stan arose. I have found that just "chalkboarding" a chart of known traits with significant heritability raises interesting hypotheses that seem to sustain their robustness as further information is uncovered about the President and his ancestors. I think there is reasonable ground to suggest a distinct bisexual disposition in both Ruth Lucille Armour and RWE Dunham ? I suspect this crops out also in Stanlee Ann/ Ann/ Dunham?

James Kabala said...

"Naming a baby "II" is indicative that the child is being named for a person who is not his biological father."

This is an authentic pattern sometimes - e.g., Joseph P. Kennedy II is the nephew of the late Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., after whom he was named (and also the grandson of Joseph P. Sr., who was apparently ignored for naming purposes), whereas his brother Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is, of course, the son of Robert F. Kennedy. Henry Cabot Lodge II was the grandson of Henry Cabot Lodge I. Charles Francis Adams III was the nephew of Charles Francis Adams II.

I don't know if an eighteen-year-old wife of a Kenyan polygamist in Hawaii is going to know or care about East Coast upper crust naming conventions, though - more likely she went with whichever sounded more euphonious to her at the time (or maybe the clerk thought II looked classier).

LBD said...

George IV of Britain was the son of George III who was the son of George II who was the son of George I.

You can style a person "So-and-so II" if his father or uncle is "So-and-so". Usually "So-and-so Jr." would be the son of "So-and-so". "So-and-so Jr."s son might be "So-and-so III".

The names must be identical, though to use either II or Jr. That's why George W. Bush was not a Junior, because his father was George Herbert Walker Bush.

In modern American usage the only reason to use Junior or Second or Third is to distinguish between persons whose names are otherwise identical.

Anonymasaurus Rex said...

"The part about his parents' marriage being bigamous never seemed to register on the national press."

During the 2008 primaries I did a Google search comparison of news references to the polygamy in Romney's past to that in Obama's. Obama's father was a polygamist (who abandoned Obama's mother, no less), while, so far as I could tell, Romney's most recent polygamous ancestor was his Romney great-great-grandfather. "Romney + polygamy" produced about 10x as many results. There was a remarkable urge by the press to bury the truth about our current president, his past, his beliefs.

"Obama's election is one of the strangest moments in American political history...Years from now, people will scratch their heads in wonder at it all."

Peer pressure, white guilt, mass delusion, and the conpsiracy of the anti-WASP leftist financial and media elite. But I'm also scratching my head at why the Republicans nominated McCain, and why the choices seem so...small. In a world where there's so much money to be made, I guess great talent isn't inclined to follow the ascetic route.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Jr. is the son of a Sr. while II is named for a grandfather or uncle.

Anonymasaurus Rex said...

"My parents...shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation."

"Really? Sr. wanted to be a Big Man in Kenya, and Ann Dunham despised America."

Well, ya, but they enjoyed thinking of the possibilities of an America that was much smaller (in spirit), weaker, poorer, less white, less "backwards," more socialist....

They certainly had faith in the possibilities of an America like that.

We've elected all kinds of scoundrels, incompetents, hypocrites, losers, cads, boobs and other assorted asshats to lead this country. Never before, however, have we elected a man who quite possibly hates this country to his very marrow the way Obama does. At the very least, Obama is entirely indifferent to what comes after him.

James Kabala said...

I found one II who was the son of a Sr. Astronaut Edward H. White II was the son of Edward H. White Sr.

http://www.cmgww.com/historic/white/about/biography.html

On the other issue: I think most Jrs. today do stay Jrs. for life even long after their fathers die, but I think in days when generation after generation might have the same first name, the more flexible system in which a III became a Jr. became a Sr. did sometimes prevail.

Anonymous said...

"And what do you propose men who are approached for the same reason by women in one or more of those same situations be allowed to do?"

The men would be allowed to use words such as harlot, slut, Jezebel, and whore without any fear of reprisal.

Anonymous said...

"Please site anyone named "I",...aside from European royalty."

People only use "the first" to clarify who they are talking about. Number 1 may even be dead before he gets this designation.

Brad M. said...

"In modern American usage the only reason to use Junior or Second or Third is to distinguish between persons whose names are otherwise identical."

Really! And when did this modern American change take place, after the Bush baby and before the Obama baby?
Jack Cashill called it (the man being "II" instead of "Jr.") "a curious locution".

NOTA said...

Anonymasaurus Rex:

I think politics also has a great deal of randomness in it. Obama was in the right place at the right time--he was running against a pretty weak field (similarly unqualified and unknown John Edwards was in third place), in a time when the Republicans under Bush had made such a mess of things that they had almost no chance of winning the election.

Kylie said...

"The men would be allowed to use words such as harlot, slut, Jezebel, and whore without any fear of reprisal."

Any man worthy of the name can do that already, hon.

jody said...

at this point i'm drifting into "who cares anymore" territory with regards to any analysis of obama. trying to decipher the psychology of this know nothing communist racialist, is such a waste of time. this guy literally know F-all about almost anything. basically all he knows is sorta what he wants the US to be changed into, and an extremely bare bones plan for how to change it to match his vision. his plan, barely fleshed out, is wildly wrong, like all "turn a functioning society upside down" plans. he's like a teenager who sees the world and it doesn't match up with what he would prefer, so he tries all these completely naive and ineffective ways to change it, things which can never work, since he has no experience and doesn't understand how anything works.

being half african was all he ever needed to be, to achieve any personal goal he wanted. until now. now, as president of the united states, he actually has to do something to achieve anything. since the real world does not take note of the race of the person shaking their fist at it, trying to bend it to meet their will. or, shaking their lawyer's wand at it, as the case may be.

he doesn't even know that much about things which are supposed to be his specialty. a constitutional law scholar who doesn't seem to understand the constitution that well. it's just ridiculous he holds the office that he does. who cares what's in this moron's head. sometimes it appears that even he doesn't know. all that matters is this guy is gone after the next election. the US can probably not recover from a second obama term.

steve, you're still writing carefully considered and nuanced articles about this guy, trying to tease out subtle distinctions here and there, trying to glean some predictive insight into his behavior. it's like doing a deep personality study into one of the backup quarterbacks on an NFL team or something. a hilarous mismatch of highly intelligent analysts delving into the mind of some unremarkable IQ 120 person and pretending his personality quirks are meaningful. many liberals, people ostensibly on his side, are highly confused by his behavior and have given up trying to understand. it's time for you to give up as well.

J said...

Obama's background is really pitiful: abandoned by his father, almost given up in adoption. That he went to Harvard and became President shows the greatness of America. Still the best country in the world and I am not American.

Anonymous said...

"Jr." is used pretty loosely. Frank and Nancy Sinatra named their first two kids after themselves, except they didn't. "Frank Sinatra Jr." is actually Franklin Emmanuel Sinatra, Little Nancy (the boots-are-made-for walkin' pop star imitated by Blondie and Madonna and Britney) has a different middle name.

Harry Baldwin said...

NOTA said...Obama was in the right place at the right time--he was running against a pretty weak field (similarly unqualified and unknown John Edwards was in third place)

John Edwards, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004, was unknown?

Anonymous said...

"The Other Barack" At first glance I assumed the commentary was contrasting the media image who ran for President in 2008 with the guy who is President in 2011.
A recent bumper sticker reportedly
hand made and appearing somewhere in very rural West Texas
IF YOU VOTED FOR OBAMA IN 2008 TO PROVE YOU'RE NOT A RACIST, YOU MIGHT VOTE FOR SOMEONE ELSE IN 2012 TO PROVE YOU'RE NOT AN IDIOT.