January 27, 2009

The late John Updike's insights into the Obama family

In my reader's guide to the President's autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, I point out the many parallels between the Obama family's history and the fictional life story of an African leader in the late John Updike's delightful 1978 novel about Africa, The Coup, in which the novelist ventured far from his Atlantic Seaboard comfort zone. It's testimony to Updike's powers that he could shed so much light on three people he had never heard of at the time: Barack Obama Jr. and his parents.

For example, Updike's African scholarship student Hakim Félix Ellelloû bigamously marries a white American coed after a pregnancy scare in 1959, much as Barack Obama Sr. bigamously married a pregnant white American coed in 1961.

From my chapter on "Obama as a Man of Letters:"

Because Obama is a literary man, this is a rather literary analysis of his life and works. I've been intermittently comparing the Obama family saga to its eerie analog in John Updike's 1978 novel The Coup. Written at the gleeful height of Updike's powers, The Coup consists of the verbally dazzling memoirs of a hyperliterate American-educated official in the fictitious African country of Kush. The Coup was based on Updike's prodigious research into the lives of post-colonial African elites very much like Barack Obama Sr.

Two of Updike's children have since married black Africans. Updike's 1989 essay “A Letter to My Grandsons” is addressed to his daughter’s half-African children. In it, Updike explains to them that there’s “a floating sexual curiosity and potential love between the races that in your parents has come to earth and borne fruit and that the blended shade of your dear brown skins will ever advertise.” (I'm not sure that Updike's children and grandchildren truly wanted to read that, but if Updike is to churn out a book a year, in his voracious search for material he must occasionally mortify his progeny.)

After four seemingly pleasant years at an American college, Updike's protagonist, Hakim Félix Ellelloû, returns to Africa, winds up with a total of four wives, including his white American college sweetheart, turns against America and capitalism in the Cold War, and (here is where the lives of Ellelloû and Obama Sr. diverge) deftly climbs the ladder of government, becoming dictator in the late Sixties.

Ellelloû attempts to impose upon his homeland of Kush the three ideologies he acquired while studying in America: Marxism, Black Muslimism, and Islam (all of which have interested Obama Jr. to some degree).

Written at the nadir of American power and prestige during the Carter years, Updike audaciously prophesied American victory in the Cold War for the hearts and minds of the Third World. Ellelloû's radicalism destroys what little economic activity Kush ever had, and he's overthrown by pro-American forces in the titular coup.

Thirty years later, The Coup can now be read as a kind of Obama Clan Alternative History. In our world, Obama Sr.'s career back home in decolonized Kenya got off to a fast start in the Sixties, then foundered. What if, however, like Ellelloû, Obama Sr. had instead possessed the abstemious, observant, and cautious personality of Obama Jr.? It would hardly have been surprising if the elder Obama, if blessed with his son’s self-disciplined character, had become president of Kenya.

The Coup has been one of my favorite books since I first read it in 1980. I always considered Updike's comedy, however, fundamentally preposterous. Politicians and literary men were simply breeds apart.

Updike recognizes that problem, having his protagonist narrator explain, unconvincingly: “… there are two selves: the one who acts, and the ‘I’ who experiences. This latter is passive even in a whirlwind of the former’s making, passive and guiltless and astonished.” The idea of a head of government with an overwhelmingly literary sensitivity and sensibility was an amusing conceit of Updike's, I thought, but not something we would ever see in the real world.

I'm not so sure anymore.

In America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance," I note that Updike's novel can sometimes help us put ourselves in the shoes of Obama's parents even better than can Obama's Dreams from My Father:

The Coup, Updike's novel about a brilliant African government official—one remarkably similar to Barack Obama Sr.—who acquired a white wife at an American college in 1959, offers some insight into what the Eisenhower Era campus romance of Barack Sr. and Ann might have been like. Fifteen years of unhappy polygamous marriage later, Candy (like Ann, the daughter of a Midwestern salesman), tells her African husband, Colonel Hakim Félix Ellelloû:

“You know what everybody at college used to say to me? They said I was crazy to put myself at the mercy of a Negro.”

“You needed to prove them right,” Ellelloû said, bothered by a certain poignant twist in her body, … implying … an ambivalent torque of the soul—in Candace’s case, between taunting and plea, a regret that even in her extremity of rage she should taunt her husband with the blackness that had made him fascinating and herself noble and the two of them together undergraduate stars…

It’s not clear when Ann discovered that Barack Sr. was already married. In the 1980s, she told her son: “And then there was a problem with your father’s first wife…he had told me they were separated, but it was a village wedding, so there was no legal document that could show a divorce….”

(As an anthropologist dedicated to cultural relativism, Ann could hardly dismiss the legitimacy of a “village wedding.”)

Did Barack Sr. marry Ann under false pretenses? Or did he warn her ahead of time of his prior encumbrance?

In Updike's alternative universe version of the Obama family saga in The Coup, the latter was true. Years later, Candy admits to Hakim that she paid no attention to his warnings. “I couldn’t believe it. When I met Kadongolimi here, when I saw she really existed, I nearly died. How could you do that to me?—have such a big fat wife. I thought you were making her up.”

Similarly, Ellelloû's fascination with the Black Muslim teachings of Elijah Muhammad in 1950s Chicago can help the reader understand the deep interest Obama took in the editorials of Louis Farrakhan in 1980s Chicago (see, among much else, pp. 195-204 of Obama's first memoir).

As I point out in America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance:"
The Black Muslims are, of course, those gentlemen in the bow ties who preach that, in prehistoric times, the vile Dr. Yacub genetically engineered Europeans to be a race of human wolves. In Updike’s The Coup, this creation story is explained to Ellelloû by a black Chicago student at his American college in the late 1950s:
It took, according to the Prophet Mr. Farrad Muhammad, two hundred years of regulated eugenics to create a brown race from the black, two hundred more to produce from that a red race, two hundred more to produce a race of yellow folk … and from this a final deuce of centuries to the ultimate generation and supreme insult to Allah, the blond, blue-eyed, hairy-assed devils…

Intrigued, Ellelloû attends Temple Two in Chicago to hear Elijah Muhammad himself speak: “The Messenger … was a frail little filament who burned with a pure hatred when he thought of white men and lit up our hearts.”

Obama’s long dialogue with the Black Muslims began in Hawaii. It started, according to Dreams' uncertain chronology, when “Ray” (one of Dreams’ half-fictional black militant characters; he was based on the actual half-Japanese non-militant Keith Kakugawa), whom Obama uses as a mouthpiece for his own anti-white feelings, opens Barry’s eyes to the reality of white supremacy in 1970s Hawaii: “It’s their world, all right? They own it, and we in it.”

The young Obama responds to Ray’s insight in his own bookish way:
I gathered up books from the library—Baldwin, Ellison, Hughes, Wright, DuBois. … I would sit and wrestle with words, locked in suddenly desperate argument, trying to reconcile the world as I'd found it with the terms of my birth. I kept finding the same anguish, the same doubt; a self-contempt that neither irony nor intellect seemed able to deflect. [pp. 85-86]

Fortunately, one of the classic African-American authors is different. He isn’t some loser litterateur. He projects power:
Only Malcolm X's autobiography seemed to offer something different. His repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me; the blunt poetry of his words, his unadorned insistence on respect, promised a new and uncompromising order, martial in its discipline, forged through sheer force of will. [p. 86]

The secular and self-absorbed young Obama isn’t interested in the Muslim part of the Black Muslims—just the Black part:
All the other stuff, the talk of blue-eyed devils and apocalypse, was incidental to that program, I decided, religious baggage that Malcolm himself seemed to have safely abandoned toward the end of his life. [p. 86]

Similarly, Updike's Ellelloû is less concerned with Dr. Yacub’s putative historicity than with what the Nation of Islam teachings mean for him. Elijah Muhammad informs Ellelloû “that the path to freedom is the path of abnegation. He taught me nationhood, purity, and hatred: for hatred is the source of all strengths, … so Ellelloû held to a desiccated, stylized version of the faith …”

One furious concern for the Black Muslims was the “problem” of mixed-race ancestry. Ellelloû recounts Elijah’s denunciation of how the white man, “through the agency of rape had so mongrelized the American black man that not a member of this audience was the true ebony color of his African fathers.”

In young Obama’s self-tortured mind, the Black Muslims represent both racial purity and a personal reproach. For years, they loom over Obama as the ultimate authorities on Black Enoughness. They symbolically cast doubt upon the career path his mother launched him upon. How can he become a black leader if he’s not all that black?
And yet, even as I imagined myself following Malcolm’s call, one line in the book stayed me. He spoke of a wish he’d once had, the wish that the white blood that ran through him, there by an act of violence, might somehow be expunged. I knew that, for Malcolm, that wish would never be incidental. I knew as well that traveling down the road to self-respect my own white blood would never recede into mere abstraction. I was left to wonder what else I would be severing if and when I left my mother and my grandparents at some uncharted border. [p. 86]

Obama’s mixed blood can’t as easily be wished away as Malcolm’s. His white grandfather didn’t rape his black grandmother; instead, his black father seduced and impregnated his white 17-year-old mother, then abandoned her and their child. Obama could try to make the issue disappear. (“I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.”) Nevertheless, it must have sometimes seemed a hopeless quest as he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X in his bedroom in his white grandparents' highrise apartment in their nice neighborhood within walking distance of his prep school.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X was hugely popular with white liberals in the 1960s because Malcolm ultimately disowns Elijah, and on a pilgrimage to Mecca, he sees whites and blacks walking together in Allah. In contrast, Obama’s enthusiasm for Malcolm’s celebrated change of heart away from black racism is restrained, to say the least: “If Malcolm’s discovery toward the end of his life, that some whites might live beside him as brothers in Islam, seemed to offer some hope of eventual reconciliation, that hope appeared in a distant future, in a far-off land.”

Moreover, Updike explains much about the temptations of playing the Big Man, an occupational hazard that Obama Sr. fell prey to:
Kenyan politics is a serious affair, because so much of the country’s wealth is at stake. As Updike‘s Ellelloû lectures his mistress, “The difficulty with government in Africa, my dear Kutunda, is that in the absence of any considerable mercantile or industrial development the government is the only concentration of riches and therefore is monopolized by men who seek riches.”

The outstanding feature of African politics is the Big Man, of whom Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya remains the archetype. In The Coup, Updike burlesques the species in the voice of Ellelloû, the puritanical Muslim Marxist who can’t abide his Kenyatta-like neighbor “Wamphumel Komomo, President-for-Life of Zanj: height six foot six, weight three hundred seventy pounds.”

Ellelloû gleefully snipes at The Coup’s stand-in for Kenyatta:
Not a tuck in his patriarchal robes ungarnished by private gain, which he extracted from the toubab [European] corporations as blithely as his forebears the cannibal chiefs extracted hongo from the Arab slavers …

(Obama's Kenyan family hated Kenyatta, a Kikuyu who withheld the blessings of crony capitalism from the Obamas' Luo tribe.)

Theodore Dalrymple, who practiced medicine in Africa in the 1970s, offers a more sympathetic appraisal of the burdens of being a Big Man:
The young black doctors who earned the same salary as we whites could not achieve the same standard of living for a very simple reason: they had an immense number of social obligations to fulfill. They were expected to provide for an ever expanding circle of family … and people from their village, tribe, and province.

... Similarly, when the dictator Ellelloû visits the French colonial villa that his first and most traditional wife, the equivalent of Obama Sr.‘s Kezia, had seized and which was now populated by an entire village of his extended family from the Salu tribe, Updike explains (in a couple of sentences more convoluted than even Obama can produce):
Nephews, daughters-in-law, totem brothers, sisters by second wives of half-uncles greeted Ellelloû, and all in that ironical jubilant voice implying what a fine rich joke, he, a Salu, had imposed upon the alien tribes in becoming the chief of this nation imagined by the white men, and thereby potentially appropriating all its spoils to their family use. For there lay no doubt, in the faces of these his relatives … that nothing the world could offer Ellelloû to drink, no nectar nor elixir, would compare with the love he had siphoned from their pool of common blood.

Dalrymple points out that the ever-increasing number of relatives a Big Man is supposed to support explains "… the paradox that strikes so many visitors to Africa: the evident decency, kindness, and dignity of the ordinary people, and the fathomless iniquity, dishonesty, and ruthlessness of the politicians and administrators."

“Dr.” Obama loved to play the Big Man. His son Sayid recounted to Barack Jr.: “You know, your father was very popular in these parts. Also in Alego. Whenever he came home, he would buy everyone drinks and stay out very late. The people here appreciated this. They would tell him, ‘You are a big man, but you have not forgotten us.’” [pp. 389-390]

When Obama Jr. finally visits Africa around his 27th birthday, his emotions, as described in his Dreams from My Father, are much like Ellelloû's:

Obama’s first trip to Kenya (apparently in 1988, before he began Harvard Law School) got off to an angry start, what with all the white people he kept running into.

Initially, he stopped off for a three-week tour of the cultural wonders of Europe that left him psychologically devastated: "And by the end of the first week or so, I realized that I'd made a mistake. It wasn’t that Europe wasn’t beautiful; everything was just as I'd imagined it. It just wasn’t mine." [pp. 301-302]

Then, on the flight to Nairobi, he sat next to a young English geologist who was continuing on to work in the mines of apartheid South Africa. The Englishman insulted Obama’s racial dignity by rationalizing his trip to that international pariah with this simple comparison: "The blacks in South Africa aren’t starving to death like they do in some of these Godforsaken countries. Don’t envy them, mind you, but compared to some poor bugger in Ethiopia—"

After his unwelcome seatmate falls asleep, Obama starts to read a book, most likely David Lamb‘s bestseller The Africans, the 1983 book by the Los Angeles Time's Nairobi correspondent, which Obama describes as “a portrait of several African countries written by a Western journalist who’d spent a decade in Africa; an old Africa hand, he would be called, someone who apparently prided himself on the balanced assessment.” But the picture that emerges of Africa freed from Europe’s control—“Famine, disease, the coups and countercoups led by illiterate young men wielding AK-47s …”—leaves Obama too irate and humiliated to read more of this white man’s book about the results of misrule by Obama’s black brethren.
"I set the book down, feeling a familiar anger flush through me, an anger all the more maddening for its lack of a clear target. Beside me the young Brit was snoring softly now … Was I angry at him? I wondered. Was it his fault that, for all my education, all the theories in my possession, I had had no ready answers to the questions he’d posed?" [pp. 300-301]

As always in Dreams, the central conundrum is his racial identity, “my own uneasy status: a Westerner not entirely at home in the West, an African on his way to a land full of strangers.” The quiet rage that flows through Dreams stems from Obama having invested his sense of self-worth in the identity his mother had chosen for him as a black race man, exacerbated by his gnawing suspicion that the multiculturalist conventional wisdom taught him by his mother, his professors, and his beloved Black History Month documentaries is increasingly obsolete. His inability to wholly exterminate the quiet voice of crimethink inside his head, to reassure himself that the failures of blacks in the late 20th Century can be blamed solely on white racism only spurs him to redouble his efforts to win personal political power to help in his people’s struggle.

Upon arrival, Obama tours Nairobi with his half-sister Auma, who teaches German at the university. At the marketplace, surrounded only by blacks, Obama finds a moment of peace, free at last from “white people’s scorn.” In this de facto segregated environment, Obama reflects,
You could see a man talking to himself as just plain crazy, or read about the criminal on the front page of the daily paper and ponder the corruption of the human heart, without having to think about whether the criminal or lunatic said something about your own fate. Here the world was black, and so you were just you; you could discover all those things that were unique to your life without living a lie or committing betrayal. [p. 311]

At the restaurant of the ritzy New Stanley Hotel, however, Obama Jr. experiences the same outrage as his father 23 years before, who complained in his anti-capitalist article, “when one goes to a good restaurant he mostly finds Asians and Europeans …” Obama Jr. writes, sounding very much like Updike's tourist-phobic Ellelloû:
They were everywhere—Germans, Japanese, British, Americans … In Hawaii, when we were still kids, my friends and I had laughed at tourists like these, with their sunburns and their pale, skinny legs, basking in the glow of our obvious superiority. Here in Africa, though, the tourists didn’t seem so funny. I felt them as an encroachment, somehow; I found their innocence vaguely insulting. It occurred to me that in their utter lack of self-consciousness, they were expressing a freedom that neither Auma nor I could ever experience, a bedrock confidence in their own parochialism, a confidence reserved for those born into imperial cultures. [p. 312]

Likewise, when Ellelloû discovers tour buses from Komomo's Zanj (Updike's fictionalized stand-in for Kenyatta's Kenya) are crossing the border into his xenophobic and impoverished Marxist Islamic state, he rants that Komomo "was flooding my purified, penniless but proud country with animalistic buses stuffed full of third-echelon Chou Shmoes, German shutterbugs, British spinsters, bargain-seeking Bulgarians, curious Danes, Italian archaeologists, and trip-crazed American collegians bribed by their soused and adulterous parents to get out of the house and let capitalism collapse in peace …”

Obama and his sister are outraged when the black waiter gives quicker service to the white Americans sitting nearby. Auma complains, “That’s why Kenya, no matter what its GNP, no matter how many things you can buy here, the rest of Africa laughs. It’s the whore of Africa, Barack. It opens its legs to anyone who can pay.” Auma's accusation is a less colorful version of Ellelloû's denunciation of Komomo's Zanj as “decked out in the transparent pantaloons of neo-colonialist harlotry.”

Obama reflects on his half-sister’s outburst:
I suspected she was right … Did our waiter know that black rule had come? Did it mean anything to him? Maybe once, I thought to myself. He would be old enough to remember independence, the shouts of “Uhuru!” and the raising of new flags. But such memories may seem almost fantastic to him now, distant and naive. He’s learned that the same people who controlled the land before independence still control the same land … And if you say to him that he’s serving the interests of neocolonialism or some other such thing, he will reply that yes, he will serve if that is what’s required. It is the lucky ones who serve; the unlucky ones drift into the murky tide of hustles and odd jobs; many will drown. [pp. 314-315]

Lamb points out in The Africans:
Under [Kenyatta] a generation grew up accepting peace and possible economic gain as a normal part of life. Its members had only to look across Kenya‘s border to what the alternatives were. Ethiopia and Uganda were wracked by bloody chaos, socialistic Tanzania was stagnating, and Marxist Somalia was slipping backward. Only Kenya had come close to fulfilling the promises of independence.

Crucially, Kenyatta and Mboya accepted a high level of white and Asian participation in the Kenyan economy. Lamb writes:
What had Kenyatta done differently than other African presidents? Almost everything. While Zaire’s Mobutu was chasing away the whites, expropriating their plantations and businesses, Kenyatta had been encouraging Kenya‘s whites to stay because they had the technical and managerial skills that Africans had not yet learned. The result was that Kenya operated far more efficiently than most African countries, and foreign investment and tourists from the West have poured into the country, providing great economic stimulus. ...

In Dreams, Obama cribs Lamb‘s assessment, but puts his own sour spin on it, sounding like Updike‘s Ellelloû on Valium:
[Kenyatta] had immediately assured whites who were busy packing their bags that businesses would not be nationalized, that landholdings would be kept intact, so long as the black man controlled the apparatus of government. Kenya became the West’s most stalwart pupil in Africa, a model of stability, a useful contrast to the chaos of Uganda, the failed socialism of Tanzania. [p. 312] ...

As far as I can tell, no reporter has ever asked Obama if he has read Updike's satire. It would be surprising if Obama hadn’t started it, considering that The Coup spent 15 weeks on the bestseller list when Obama was 17 and its subject matter is extraordinarily relevant to his life. He may not have finished The Coup, though, just as he found Lamb's The Africans too truthful to endure. In fact, Dreams sometimes reads like Obama’s response to The Coup: not so much a parody of a parody as a de-satirized satire. Dreams often seems like The Coup if Ellelloû didn’t have Updike's sense of humor.

You can click here to buy my America's Half-Blood Prince: Barack Obama's "Story of Race and Inheritance."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

37 comments:

LaDiDa said...

Outstanding blog entry, Steve. Who the hell else is talking about this fascinating subject. Thanks for connecting the dots and relentlessly mining Obama's own books for jaw dropping incite into his deeply ingrained racial power trip.

By 2011 or so a lot more mainstream journalists will be coming out with Sailerian critiques of Obama. Maybe even by 2010 judging from the rocky start of this administration.

It's amusing to think of all the journalists who have theoretically perused both of the Obama autobiographies, and then yawned and declared "nothing to see here". Nope, not a single juicy quote to be found! And there's no evidence of the man's true inner thoughts and feelings either! He'll always be a man of deep, deep mystery! The only we can be sure of is that he's a great healer of differences!

The Obama Show is going to the Democratic Party's greatest disaster.

Anonymous said...

"Obama’s mixed blood can’t as easily be wished away as Malcolm’s. "

Malcolm Gladwell? Sorry I missed something.

Anyway, I'm also from Africa. I just cannot see all the romanticism that Obama and his ilk look for there. Basically the place sucks. The landscape and the animals are great, and the potential for wealth enormous. But the people f. it up. All.the.time. Ask any Afrikaner or Rhodesian. They spent the last 300 years trying to turn Southern Africa into modern nations. With lots of infrastructure development, agriculture, water systems, hospitals, schools etc. And they came close. What’s happening now, that the locals are in charge again? Zimbabwe has just gone through the complete cycle: prehistoric->colonial->independent on the way to a 2.-rate nation->”liberated”->pre-historic. It’s happened over and over. Also in Kenya. For example, the only connecting road between Nairobi and Ethiopia was built in colonial days. And never maintained since. Basically the level of civilisation in Africa is indirectly proportional to the time since the last colonial powers left. What’s so cool about that?

Anonymous said...

LaDiDa sed
"The Obama Show is going to the Democratic Party's greatest disaster."

Dunno, I'm sceptical. Bascially Dems, like socialists in most western countries, can get away with anything. Because the MSM leans Dem and will always cover for them. And where the MSM decides to look away, there is no scandal.

Anonymous said...

Obama will be a disaster because a nuclear bomb will take out New York City on his watch. Combine his inability to throw Israel to the wolves with his lackluster national security credentials, the result will be the literal destruction of a huge Democrat population.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding blog entry indeed, and it also has to be said, Obama is a superb stylist.

Anonymous said...

One thing Obama has going for him is competence, a trait which Bush Jr. and McCain both lack. His policies might be a joke now but his management skills so far are far above and beyond what the Republicans managed to put up.

Anonymous said...

"Obama will be a disaster because a nuclear bomb will take out New York City on his watch."

Sounds Sci-Fi to me. Or t99. But one thing you have to give Bush is that nothing more happened on his watch. It either proves 9/11 was an inside job, or that the Feds were [looking a little harder]/[not ignoring the obvious]. I still wonder how the US avoided another 9/11 given the porous border and globalism.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen such a disparity in quality between a blog post and comments that attempt to be supportive to it. Steve Sailer, you are your readership are unique. Sort of like if New York Review Of Books' readership was the people who attended Sarah Palin rallies.

Hopefully Anonymous

http://www.hopeanon.com

Anonymous said...

It is Obama's one insight, born of the admiration for his bigamous, corrupt father, that America can be governed as an African "republic." by a popular big man who punishes his enemies and rewards his friends. Obama recognized the similarities between corrupt African states and America: an anti-American, anti-Capitalist (and often anti-Semitic) academic class which lauded hierarchical, socialist rule by dictators; a corrupt business class interested in the common people of America in the way a tick is interested in a dog.

May we survive the age of Obama.

dorkus malorkus said...

Steve, I would like to know your thoughts on why so many foreign governments (China, Pakistan, Al-qaeda, et al) have not caught Obamania? Muslim jihadi groups especially.

albertosaurus said...

Another Obama insight that predated 2008 :Clip.

Anonymous said...

"I've never seen such a disparity in quality between a blog post and comments that attempt to be supportive to it. Steve Sailer, you are your readership are unique. Sort of like if New York Review Of Books' readership was the people who attended Sarah Palin rallies.

Hopefully Anonymous"

Okay. Who left open the screen door? A SWPL got in here. Somebody grab a flyswatter.

testing99 said...

Throwing Israel to the wolves will do nothing except destroy the "picket function" of Israel to soak up the Islamists attacks.

Russia, and China, suffer Jihad. So does India. No Jews there. It's not us, it's them. Muslims live in a polygamous Big Man society with a huge surplus of young men with no wives or hope for wives, and frozen tribal structures. The way for social peace is war on the infidel (preferred) or each other when the infidel is far away or too powerful.

Modern technology (cheap jet travel) and nuclear proliferation means the infidel is now both close and not very powerful. Aircraft carriers and all of America's might were nothing against determined jihadis crashing planes into buildings, killing more than at Pearl Harbor.

Israel, like the picket Destroyers spread out around the Aircraft Carriers in WWII, takes the kamikazes or jihadis suicide attacks first, sparing the more important capital ships. Without Israel the US would get the full attention of the jihadis, Russia having done deals plus brutality (leveling Chechnya) and China executing any who advocate Jihad.

The easiest path to power in a fractured, tribal and violent society is a successful attack on the US. The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright shows how in detail, Osama and Zawahari hit upon terror against the US because it got them men, money, and power -- lots of it. As opposed to their home countries.

Obama has done stupid things that will create disaster. He's killed European missile defense guaranteeing that every European state (which is most of them) that can will go nuclear, as fast as possible, to stop both the Russians coming in and Iranian threats to be the protector of Independent Muslim Republics inside Europe.

He's decided to live with Iranian Nukes without making Iran afraid of the US and unwilling to use them -- particularly the various factions that seek to undermine the other by provoking acts of war. Like Khomeni's endorsement of the US Embassy take-over. Obama has failed to intimidate Pakistani factions in a nation of more than 100 nukes (and growing) and brutal factionalism.

If talk is all you have (that's Obama) then eventually the hard boys call you on it. Of COURSE we will lose a major Western city soon, even guys like Sam Nunn agree on that.

As for Bush stopping further terrorist attacks -- it is no secret. Rove wrote about how it was done in the WSJ. Each high-level terrorist was questioned aggressively (likely with drugs) and revealed connections to other high-level guys who were snatched up, process repeated. Ultimately that led to high-value guys like Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the architect of 9/11 and uncle/mentor (all these guys are related and know each other -- it's a small world) of 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yusef. Which in turn led to the apprehension of the guys plotting to fly planes into LA's Library Towers, etc.

What was different? Unlike the Clinton era, no "Wall" preventing the FBI's intel and counter-terrorism divisions from talking to each other. Unlike Clinton era policies, no over-lawyering and restrictions on questioning, or sending the guys to Egypt for rendition where questions have to be put in writing (to avoid allegations of torture directly). Unlike Clinton era policies, no lawyer-directed requirements for non-allergenic tape to tie up bin Laden, restrictions on discomfort, etc. Unlike Clinton era policies, no CYA first, go after terrorists later. This included an aggressive attempt to Hellfire missile the key terrorist leaders, plotters, financiers, etc.

You can as a government CYA, with little criticism of the various NGO's, Human Rights people, and Muslim groups including lawyers paid out of Gulf money, or you can go after terrorists without much restriction, including I have no doubt use of drugs to make these guys talk.

With nuclear proliferation, the cost of CYA goes up and up and up. Literally we are talking about NYC here because now THEY have the Maxim Gun. Plus the will to use it.

It's just a question of will -- do we want to live as much as they want to kill us?

Obama, coming from the old ages of racial resentment (a luxury of pre-proliferation times) is like putting a Spanish-American War Admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet in WWII. The worst possible leader in the most dangerous moment.

Pons Seclorum said...

"why so many foreign governments (China, Pakistan, Al-qaeda, et al) have not caught Obamania? Muslim jihadi groups especially."--Dorkus

Muslims are reticent and testing the waters to probe just how much they will be able to wring from Obama. Should Obama happen to deviate from policies beneficial to them they will play on his obvious postcolonialist mindset and effortlessly gain concessions thereby. They can also play the apostasy card since technically Obama was born into Islam yet defected to Christianity. As the perpetrator of such a grievous sin and betrayal to the Islamic community, Obama could be as putty in the hands of Middle Eastern leaders.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Your post told me much more about Updike than I cared to know. I had no idea he had lived such an exotic life. Would reading his first Rabbit book have prepared anyone for this?

I downloaded your Obama book weeks ago, and feel guilty that I have yet to read it. After a while, I felt I couldn't stand to hear or see the name "Obama," and was just tuckered out from it all. From reading these excerpts in this post, I wonder if my immediate, initial notion about Obama's parents will change after reading the book.

That initial notion went something like this: Here is a guy who is going to be a model to black children, whose father resembles almost all the black males they've ever known. That is, Man boinks promiscuous woman, impregnates her, abandons her. Woman wanders from man to man, dropping more babies along the way.

Some of us blacks feel that Obama's life makes the now conventional black lifestyle official. All that's missing is a prison sentence.

You quote:
"I knew as well that traveling down the road to self-respect my own white blood would never recede into mere abstraction."

As someone has said so well, I do wish this guy would find his "identity" on his own time. He sounds downright tormented.

-- Victoria

d.c. watcher said...

"One thing Obama has going for him is competence, a trait which Bush Jr. and McCain both lack. His policies might be a joke now but his management skills so far are far above and beyond what the Republicans managed to put up.

Sometimes I hesitate to get worked up because I think it's a joke. But on the out chance you're serious...

Obot alert. BHO has given absolutely no evidence of "competence." Quite the contrary. He couldn't even take the Oath of Office properly, can't talk without a teleprompter, gives no evidence of being able to discuss economics in any detail and just had no HISTORY of management.
Soros, Brzezinski and a thousand little & big Obots did all that for him. All he is is a sock puppet trailing clouds of ... well, of what we really don't know since so much was locked away.

btw, are you Obots going to be on the payroll for the whole 4 years?

Anonymous said...

"cheap jet travel) and nuclear proliferation means the infidel is now both close and not very powerful"

Oh, poo. It's simple.

Close the borders and do not let members of enemy ideologies or countries board planes that are bound for U.S.

Just say YES to profiling.

Anonymous said...

Paul Theroux's book, Dark Star Safari and Keith Richburg's, A black man confronts Africa book are equally depressing but both are well worth reading.

BTW the EU wants Europe to accept 45-50 million African immigrants over the next twenty five years.

Richard - London

PRCalDude said...

No Jews there. It's not us, it's them. Muslims live in a polygamous Big Man society with a huge surplus of young men with no wives or hope for wives, and frozen tribal structures. The way for social peace is war on the infidel (preferred) or each other when the infidel is far away or too powerful.

There seems to be a distressing lack of interest in Islamic doctrine on this blog. No amount of Jews thrown under the bus will stop Islamic infidel hate. Read Surah 9:5, it's all you need to know.

Anonymous said...

Throwing Israel to the wolves will do nothing except destroy the "picket function" of Israel to soak up the Islamists attacks.

Oh please!

I thought Israel was the unsinkable (and unused) aircraft carrier, now its a form of composite armour.

Big Bill said...

"Throw Israel under the bus", you say?

My goodness, are all those nasty Christians after the Jews again? The "2000 year old hate" and all that?

The Israelis could decide to change things if they wanted to, of course.

They could, for example, petition the USA to make them the 51st state or a protectorate, like the Philippines or Puerto Rico.

Heck, Texas did just that 165 years ago and it worked out for them.

I do pray they quick-like-a-bunny grow a pair and do what has to be done with the 3rd or 4th largest nuke arsenal in the world. It is so embarrassing to see them dithering all the time.

I fear they are now too liberal and gutless to stand on their own hind legs, act like a man and take out the Arabs.

It really is a pity, but what can one do? Sell them a spine?

Anonymous said...

One thing Obama has going for him is competence, a trait which Bush Jr. and McCain both lack.

Competence in what? Politics? Well, Bush won two national elections, Obama has so far only pulled off one of those. Maybe you meant competence in fields other than politics? One can argue that Obama has shown competence as a writer. However, based on the style of what Steve quotes, I would never ever buy a book of his. And I love books. It's a complex, but boring style. Steve should be given a medal for slogging through hundreds of pages of such tripe. One could say that outside of politics McCain has shown competence as a pilot. Of course, we get into the same problem here as with Obama's writing - McCain was employed as a pilot for a while, but was he ever a GOOD pilot? 5 lost planes are kind of like 2 boring books here - they don't inspire confidence in the man's competence.

Looking back over last year's other candidates, I'm thinking that Romney was the most competent one, followed by Edwards. Edwards must have been a heck of a lawyer to have gotten so rich.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the infamous quote from Malcolm X about eliminating the "white blood" of his supposedly rapist maternal grandfather from his veins: Bruce Perry, author of Malcolm: The Life of the Man Who Changed Black America, went to Grenada (homeland of Louise Little, Malcolm X's mother)to investigate the charge. Louise's relatives told him that the relationship between her parents had been consensual. There was never any "rape."

We should remember that many blacks LIKE the idea of having a "white rapist" ancestor (as opposed to one who cared and provided for his family) because they hate whites but love white genes. White genes are viewed as the source of intelligence (Note that most people claimed as high-achieving "blacks" are really mulattoes)and beautiful women (Almost any "black" women described as a beauty is really a mulatto). Mulattoes and tarbrushed whites who REFUSE to submit to a forced "black" racial identity are demonized in the black/liberal media (Google names like Anatole Broyard, Capt. Michael Healy, James Augustine Healy, Francis Patrick Healy, Belle DaCosta Greene, Anita Hemmings).

Anonymous said...

"Paul Theroux's book, Dark Star Safari and Keith Richburg's, A black man confronts Africa book are equally depressing but both are well worth reading."

Speaking of Richburg, here's an excerpt:

Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa
http://issues-views.com/index.php?article=2072

-- Victoria

Anonymous said...

Regarding the infamous quote from Malcolm X about eliminating the "white blood" of his supposedly rapist maternal grandfather from his veins: Bruce Perry, author of Malcolm: The Life of the Man Who Changed Black America, went to Grenada (homeland of Louise Little, Malcolm X's mother)to investigate the charge. Louise's relatives told him that the relationship between her parents had been consensual. There was never any "rape."

We should remember that many blacks LIKE the idea of having a "white rapist" ancestor (as opposed to one who cared and provided for his family) because they hate whites but love white genes. White genes are viewed as the source of intelligence (Note that most people claimed as high-achieving "blacks" are really mulattoes)and beautiful women (Almost any "black" women described as a beauty is really a mulatto). Mulattoes and tarbrushed whites who REFUSE to submit to a forced "black" racial identity are demonized in the black/liberal media (Google names like Anatole Broyard, Capt. Michael Healy, James Augustine Healy, Francis Patrick Healy, Belle DaCosta Greene, Anita Hemmings).


Powell, So what if we world wide blacks like white genes? Yeah we like white genes, dammnit. The question should be "who doesn't like white genes / symmetry of the face or light skin in their women?" I think everyone likes "white" genes, even you. I think every ethnic group is "made pretty" with white (really Caucasian) genes. Asians (eurasians), Hispanics(mestizos), Middle Easterners who are pretty much Caucasian already. It's all about symmetry of the face.

Concerning the "hate" claim...
A majority of blacks don't hate anyone, let alone hate whites. And I'm sure a majority of whites don't hate anyone, let alone hate blacks. Some blacks hate whites. Some whites hate blacks. There is some of everything.

Anonymous said...

Hello Victoria,

Fresh insight into black feelings, thanks. I'm a white from South Africa. I also notice the massive disconnect between plastic Obama and traditional African life, with all its warts but also its built-in strengths. Of course I'm bitter that Afrikaners are being driven from South Africa. But really, the ideology behind the ANC is more in tune with the US black caucus and their anger than local traditional blacks in South Africa, or the local problems. Unfortunately it’s a foreign import but we are all choking on it, both Afrikaner and normal blacks. Just like Zimbabweans are choking on the fix Carter and Young had for Rhodesia. Man I wish Americans could keep their ideas for themselves and try out their pet theories at home instead of always looking for a new laboratory in Africa or the ME.

Reading your post reminds me again of the positive relations I had with traditional blacks in South Africa. Long ago.

Rain And said...

Steve,

Where did Updike get his ideas and inspiration for The Coup. Do you know? Have you read interviews?

My assumption would have to be that Obama's story isn't entirely unique, and there were news stories or cases known to Updike that heavily inspired his book.

Anonymous said...

"As Updike‘s Ellelloû lectures his mistress, “The difficulty with government in Africa, my dear Kutunda, is that in the absence of any considerable mercantile or industrial development the government is the only concentration of riches and therefore is monopolized by men who seek riches.”"

Even if there is a "considerable mercantile or industrial development", like in South Africa, the big men make sure they get it under government control, through schemes such as BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) and radical AA. Because then the big boys in government can just dig deep into government coffers, and presto, the money once owned by whites is now magically theirs.

Robert said...

This was one of the most interesting articles that I have read in some time! I just wished that I owned a newspaper that I could publish this in!

Anonymous said...

"in the absence of any considerable mercantile or industrial development the government is the only concentration of riches"

Is this the direction we are headed in the US?

Dogmatic Ricardoism (ie unilateral economic surrender in the name of 'free trade'), and other trends, promoted by academic and 'think tank' 'economists', who identify with and are financed by those who also benefit from Ricardoism and those other trends, leads us to offshoring, de-industrialization, a 'third world' society and the end of widespread prosperity.

And doesn't it ("government is the only concentration of riches") make access to government contracts (with the AA implications) even more so the goal of all politics.

Does this make sense, are any of these terms or concepts useful, and can anyone rephrase this into a more friendly paragraph. Thanks

Anonymous said...

many blacks LIKE the idea of having a "white rapist" ancestor (as opposed to one who cared and provided for his family)

Accounts of Bob Marley often take care to point out that his father was a white British Army officer who had nothing to do with him (or presumably his mother) after he was born. Its not claimed that it was not consensual btw.

But I kind of feel that the abandonment gets quite a lot of play given the routine nature of white mother-mixed child-runaway black father. We are asked to share Bob's resentment of this abandonment yet not that of other examples. You know, that reminds me of someone quite famous right now...

Anonymous said...

We are asked to share Bob's resentment of this abandonment yet not that of other examples.

Maybe not quite a counterexample, but black neocon pundit Amy Holmes had a Zambian father who abandoned her white mother when Amy was three. Don't know whether she resents her father, but she certainly doesn't resent her white mother. Amy's being female might have something to do with that.

Interestingly, the stunning Ms. Holmes seems to have a thing for short Jewish men. (Wonder how that came about.) Hey, maybe T99 has a shot at her.

Truth said...

Amy Holmes likes short OLD Jewish guys. Now that Larry King's wife has found a Mandigo, she must be blowing up his phone.

BTW, I had never heard of Belle DaCosta Greene. I looked her up and it says that she spent her life passing as white, giving herself a Portugese name and all. I looked at her picture and this is probably the greatest evidence of the Flynn efect there ever was!

Since she lived a hundred years ago, the average white person had an IQ of about 70; this would probably have been necessary for anyone to believe that this was not a black person.

d.c. watcher said...

"Since she lived a hundred years ago, the average white person had an IQ of about 70; this would probably have been necessary for anyone to"

Whites never scored that low. That's the african average, as you know. Rural whites with little literacy were scoring about 88-90. Literacy and urban life raises the innate IQ about 10 points.
god,where do you pull this stuff from? Take a look at the 8th grade final exam for 1890. The kind they gave to school kids in Kansas one-rooms. Few university grads of today could pass it.

Anonymous said...

I had never heard of Belle DaCosta Greene. I looked her up and it says that she spent her life passing as white, giving herself a Portugese name and all. I looked at her picture and this is probably the greatest evidence of the Flynn efect there ever was!

Since she lived a hundred years ago, the average white person had an IQ of about 70; this would probably have been necessary for anyone to believe that this was not a black person.


I this comment and this is probably the greatest evidence that Truth is taking the wrong lessons away from the Flynn effect there ever was!

Anonymous said...

Truth said...
Amy Holmes likes short OLD Jewish guys.


You're not suggesting that adorable little Amy Holmes is just a smarter, darker Anna Nicole, are you?

Truth said...

"Whites never scored that low. That's the african average, as you know."

My understanding of the Flynn effect is that it raises group IQ 15 points every 50 years.