Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama’s ‘Dreams from His Father’ = My Worst Nightmares

Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance



Let me start by saying ‘Happy Father’s Day’ before I go right into main points of the title of this blog. Some of us have been blessed with being born into a family with a good father and mother together raising us. I was so blessed. My mother passed away in 1979 when I was 27, and my father passed away 10 years later when I was 38. I miss them both dearly today. Some are not so lucky, ie Sen. Obama and SC Justice Thomas. A big difference is that a 35 year old Obama writes proudly in a memoir book about the father who was never there for him as a child while an older Clarence writes proudly in his memoir book about a grandfather who was there for him as a child. On a 60 Minutes interview, I don’t recall his exact words, Clarence had nothing good to say about his father.

A brief family history of Barack H. Obama Sr. from this article by UK Guardian reporter Xan Rice. (In brackets my comments)
They had two daughters and a son, Barack Obama Sr. But Hussein's harsh, even abusive, manner - his grandchildren would later refer to him only half jokingly as "the Terror" - and his constant demands for a spotless house, drove Akumu to leave. Mama Sarah, Hussein's third wife and decades his junior, raised Akumu's children alongside her own. By then, Barack Obama Sr was nine, and already showing the same stubborn, independent streak.


"He refused to go to the local school, where the teacher was a woman," said Mama Sarah. "When the pupils were naughty, they would get spanked. He told me 'I'm not going to be spanked by a woman.'"
[Hillary supporters, does this sound familiar to you?]

Instead, Obama Sr enrolled at a primary school six miles away. He was soon expelled for bad behaviour.

Obama Sr moved to Nairobi, where he took a correspondence course to complete his schooling, studying at night while working as an office clerk by day. He wrote to dozens of US universities. The University of Hawaii replied, offering him a scholarship. Leaving behind his infant son, Roy, and his young wife, Kezia, who was pregnant with their daughter, Auma, he flew to America.

He married a white student from Kansas, Stanley Ann Dunham, and they had a son, who he gave his full name: Barack Hussein Obama. Obama Sr continued his studies at Harvard, but his marriage to Stanley Ann Dunham soon faltered. When he returned to Nairobi a few years later it was with a different white American woman, Ruth. Together, they had two children. But Obama Sr was still seeing his first wife, Kezia, on the side, and she bore him two more sons. Later as he increasingly turned to drink, he had an eighth child by another Kenyan woman.

Barack H Obama Sr. went from a career in the Kenyan governing class to "a small job at the Water Department," and then to unemployment and drink and eventually death driving while drunk in 1982 in Kenya.

Sen. Obama’s book does not go into the details of why his daddy’s career took such a tumble in Kenya, and when you include that information with the kind words that he does include in his book it’s a nightmare combination.

First, Barack’s kind words for his dad in his book include these excerpts:

All of my life, I carried a single image of my father, one that I .. tried to take as my own.
(p. 220)

It was into my father's image .. that I'd packed all the attributes I sought in myself."  And also that, "I did feel that there was something to prove .. to my father" in his efforts at political organizing.
(p. 230)

Second, Barack’s half-sister, Auma, describes political events and their consequences for Barack H Obama Sr in the book:

The Old Man [Obama], he left the American company to work in the government, for the Ministry of Tourism.  He may have had political ambitions, and at first he was doing well in the government.  But by 1966 or 1967, the divisions in Kenya had become more serious.  President Kenyatta was from the largest tribe, the Kikuyus .. The vice-president, Odinga, was a Luo [as was Obama], and he said the government was becoming corrupt.  That, instead of serving those who had fought for independence, Kenyan politicians had take the place of white colonials, buying businesses and land that should be redistributed to the people.  Odinga tried to start his own party, but was placed under house arrest as a Communist.  Another popular Luo minister, Tom M'boya, was killed by a Kikuyu gunman.  Luos began to protest in the streets, and the government police cracked down ..
Most of the Old Man's friends just kept quiet and learned to live with the situation.  But the Old Man began to speak up.  He would tell people that tribalism was going to ruin the country and that unqualified men were taking the best jobs.  His friends tried to warn him about saying such things in public, but he didn't care.  He always thought he know what was best, you see.[that has a familiar ring to it]  When he was passed up for a promotion, he complained loudly.  'How can you be my senior,' he would say to one of the ministers, 'and yet I am teaching you how to do your job properly?'  Word got back to Kenyatta that the Old Man was a troublemaker, and he was called in to see the president .. Kenyatta said to the Old Man that, because he could not keep his mouth shut, he would not work again until he had no shoes on his feet.[note the barefoot part]
I don't know how much of these details are true.  But I know that with the president as an enemy things became very bad for the Old Man.  He was banished from the government -- blacklisted.  None of the ministries would give him work.  When he went to foreign companies to look for a post, the companies were warned not to hire him .. Finally, he had to accept a small job with the Water Department.


But what is not described in this book is what Barack H Obama Sr. being a troublemaker really means. Blogger Greg Ransom helps fill in the blanks here. Obama was challenging the policies of Kenyatta's government from the left in the most prestigious forum possible, the East Africa Journal, at exactly the same moment when Vice President Odinga was challenging the Kenyatta government from the left.  What is more, Obama did so in openly arrogant and condescending fashion, almost as if saying to Kenyatta and his government, 'How can you be in charge of the economy, when I am teaching you how to do your job properly?"[sound familiar.]

Now some might say that Barack H. Obama Sr. wrote a criticizing cutting attack on Kenyatta government official Tom Mboya's historically important policy paper "African Socialism and Its Applicability to Planning in Kenya." But here is the problem, Barack Obama's father, a Harvard trained economist, attacked the economic proposals of pro-Western 'third way" leader Tom Mboya from the socialist left, siding with communist-allied leader Oginga Odinga. The debates [over economic policy] pitted .. Mboya against .. Oginga Odinga and radical economists Dharam Ghai and Barrack Obama, who critiqued the document for being neither African nor socialist enough.

I encouraging reading the entire article from the East African Journal, and here are 7 key points from it that make blood spurt from my eyes.

1.   Obama advocated the communal ownership of land and the forced confiscation of privately controlled land, as part of a forced "development plan", an important element of his attack on the government's advocacy of private ownership, land titles, and property registration. (p. 29)


2.  Obama advocated the nationalization of "European" and "Asian" owned enterprises, including hotels, with the control of these operations handed over to the "indigenous" black population. (pp. 32 -33)

3.  Obama advocated dramatically increasing taxation on "the rich" even up to the 100% level, arguing that, "there is no limit to taxation if the benefits derived from public services by society measure up to the cost in taxation which they have to pay" (p. 30) and that, "Theoretically, there is nothing that can stop the government from taxing 100% of income so long as the people get benefits from the government commensurate with their income which is taxed." (p. 31)

4.  Obama contrasts the ill-defined and weak-tea notion of "African Socialism" negatively with the well-defined ideology of "scientific socialism", i.e. communism.  Obama views "African Socialism" pioneers like Nkrumah, Nyerere, and Toure as having diverted only "a little" from the capitalist system. (p. 26)

5.  Obama advocates an "active" rather than a "passive" program to achieve a classless society through the removal of economic disparities between black Africans and Asian and Europeans. (p. 28)  "While we welcome the idea of a prevention [of class problems], we should try to cure what has slipped in .. we .. need to eliminate power structures that have been built through excessive accumulation so that not only a few individuals shall control a vast magnitude of resources as is the case now .. so long as we maintain free enterprise one cannot deny that some will accumulate more than others .. "  (pp. 29-30)

6.  Obama advocates price controls on hotels and the tourist industry, so that the middle class and not only the rich can afford to come to Kenya as tourists.  (p. 33)

7.  Obama advocates government owned and operated "model farms" as a means of teaching modern farming techniques to farmers.  (p. 33)


The last lines of Obama's EAJ paper capture the tone of the whole,
Despite my remarks, it is laudable that the government came out with the paper.  But this is not to deny that fact that it could have been a better paper if the government were to look into priorities and see them clearly within their context so that their implementation could have had a basis on which to rely.  Maybe it is better to have something perfunctorily done than none at all!


That last sentence is the ONLY thing Sen. Obama believes is the attitude adjustment problem of his daddy.

Also I direct your attention to an article in a June 11, 1965 TIME magazine of a speech given at the time in public by Kenya’s Pres. Jomo Kenyatta. (my editorial comments in brackets.)

Like many other leaders of new African nations, President Jomo Kenyatta has not found it easy to steer a middle course between East and West. His job has not been made easier by the activities of his own Vice President, Oginga Odinga, who admits that "Communism is like food to me" and has been traveling through the countryside heaping Red-tinged scorn on Kenyatta's ties with the West.

Let me say it quite plainly today that Kenya shall not exchange one master for a new master," Kenyatta declared. "We welcome cooperation and assistance, but we shall not be bought or blackmailed. We may be underdeveloped and our people may walk barefoot,[remember what he privately told Obama Sr. earlier] but we are a proud people, proud of our heritage, our traditions and ancestry.
"Some people deliberately try to exploit the colonial hangover for their own selfish purposes, or in order to serve some external force. We must reject such people publicly. It is naive to think that there is no danger of imperialism from the East. In world power politics, the East has as many designs on us as the West. This is why we reject Communism. To us, Communism is as bad as imperialism. What we want is Kenya nationalism. There is no place for leaders who hope to build a nation of slogans.


So the fathers Barack H. Obama Sr. and Oginga Odinga have passed on, but their sons Barack H Obama Jr. and Railla Odinga are still here. They so much want to continue to fight to accomplish what their daddys could not. The Kenyans said NO to Railla for Pres. in 2007, and I hope We the People of the United States of America say NO to Barack for Pres. in 2008.

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