Tuesday, November 04, 2008


She said, "Love, Lord above,
now you're tryin' to trick me in love."

--Alright Now,

Oh what's love got to do

Got to do with it?

What's love but a second-hand emotion?

--What's Love Got to Do With It?,

Tina Turner


Our condolences to Mr. Obama on the death of his grandmother, but this piece does not concern that. Rather, it concerns the press, and our disappointment with biased reportage.

In today's AP story, by means of a family gloss we are told his mother's father, Stanley Dunham, settled in Hawaii in 1960, where it was "that Stanley Ann later
met and fell in love with Obama's father, a Kenyan named Barack Hussein Obama Sr. . . . Their son was born in August 1961, but the marriage didn't last long (Obama's Grandmother Dies a Day Before Election.)"

There is some imbalance and Oliver Stone-ish dreaminess here
The dream is that they "fell in love." Facts are that they had sex, and Obama's 17-year-old mother was three months pregnant when the marriage occurred (2/2/61). As to whether it was love, we cannot know. We do know Obama Sr. was already married at that time to a woman in Kenya (but Muslims are allowed four wives), and that he left mother and child for good after the first year, when he had finished his studies at the University of Hawaii.

imbalance comes in the way the press treats, say, Sarah Palin's unwed daughter six months preggers, to Obama's mother. They do not say 17-year-old Ms. Palin is enamored of her baby's father, and that is as it should be. Love doesn't enter into it. This is a news story, and facts are facts.

In Obama's mother's day, if you got knocked up you got married, even if it was not to the
baby daddy. Any willing male would do (and there is some interesting speculation that Obama's biological father was in fact married American communist Frank Marshall Davis, with whom Obama's mother was an associate and whom Obama closely resembles. Obama mentions him in his biography merely as "Frank.")

The communist parentage is not a big deal when you consider Mr. Obama Sr. was also communistic in his thinking and written policies. Again, Obama Jr. did not have a hand in any of this. He comes by his "spread the wealth around" ethos honestly. I am commenting on how the press is spinning him, and it is spin, and it need not be.

We have Sunshine Laws and journalism schools and better reporters than this. Bias is bias, regardless of who you favor.

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Anonymous Rick98c said...

I love you guys but I think you're losing it on this one.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 11:15:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Actually, I think it's worth a mention, not as a political issue but as an American "storytelling" issue.

We all - people, families, cultures - have "stories" we use to define ourselves, who we are, what we believe, what we value...stuff like the Coyote stories of the Americas, European fairy tales and folk tales, urban legends...that sort of thing.

What this tells me is that we as a people, and our public press as an organization, has bought into the popular fiction that people who rub their genitals together are "in love".

Meanwhile, the Palins are a throwback to an earlier era, as they are in many of their other social attitudes. As you point out, Lisa, they're not pretending that there was anything but horniness and poor planning in their daughter's marriage. Part of the reason they have to be up front about this is that in their worldview, "love" means that the young horndog "respects" his woman enough to wait to impregnate her until after the wedding (and, of course, in the conservative worldview as a good conservative Christian woman she's either too "good"...or too passive...to entice her man into the sack without a ring on her finger...). So no "respect"? = no "love". I'm sure that the national media would have made this into a "love story" if the Palins had been willing to pretend along with them. Their morality didn't let them play along, so the media had to call it a shotgun wedding.

OTOH, this Kenyan seed-spreading episode is being forced into the "love" mould by a press that demands fealty to their fables. Young man meets young woman, falls in love, gets married, baby results. The ugly realities; a lonely, horny guy, a young, horny girl, both making a foolish choices, get pushed out of the light so we don't see them.

Stories aren't good or bad in themselves, except in this case the potential for other young women being fed this story as a deathless romance. I can't condemn the medieval Europeans (and western Christians) enough for trying to weld inseperately our hearts and our groins. You can love without lust. You can lust without love. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you lust where you love and love where you lust. But to try and make it seem like every pudendal itch is luuuuurrrrve? Stupid. And worse than stupid - an invitation for others to be stupid.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 3:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

they just don't make 'em like that anymore...... superman

the difference between the Palin coverage on the pregnancy and Obama's lineage is due to the fact that Palin is a Republican, and Obama is a Democrat.

self righteous, pseudo-religious, judgmental, narrow-minded Republican politicians get hammered on bedroom issues and family disarray. it is not surprising to find these types are often revealed to be the greatest hypocrites.

not so significant with a Liberal..... especially not on things there were far from being under his control or influence like his natural father's relationship with his mother. the larger story is how the family accepted and raised him.... very Liberal and tolerant.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 10:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


You have picked up on the implications of the fabulists and extended them more admirably than I.

"Story-telling" is the prerogative of whoever tells the tale -- even journalists, today. Because the news has become infotainment, an agenda is subtly incorporated by whomever tells the tale. In the Obama story, the press has a need to reassure anyone who might be ill at ease that indeed, cross racial love occurs. I do not doubt that it does.

However, all objective facts here point to mere expediency, as is so often the case in these unplanned pregnancies. Ergo, Miss Palin.

I very much like your deconstruction of the Palin story. No respect, no love. They will not enforce a charade, not six months on. Therefore, the press does not oblige. Plus, it is a bit of scadenfreude, as reader ghost dansing suggests.

The fairy tales joining hearts and groins serve to keep humanity going, even in the face of grave doubts ("What am I doing here?") How many divorced couples I've heard who actually question their own motives (perhaps via some kind of Freudian expiation): "Did I ever love her? What brought us together, and why did we stay?"

The truth may be too brutal; easier to say, "We must have loved each other at some point." When your groins were joined? Maybe not.

And yet, I have yet to meet the little girl who does not believe the fairy tale. I could write forever on that topic. Suffice to say, ill-grown egos and expectations usually meet rudely with the biological imperative. Control and immaturity morphs the resulting collision into love. And there remains many unhappy people.

End of story.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 10:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


It's slight, not heavy-duty, but I do feel it's a valid societal observation. If you oppose the p.o.v., I'd be interested as to why you do.

Glad you love us anyway.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008 at 10:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

I think there is alot of guys out there who in the throws of lust had to stutter out an answer to the question, first tell me, do you really love me?

I'll have to get the dictionary out to figure out what scandenfreude means but I do agree with ghost dansing. A bit off topic but I wonder what the press response would have been had this been Obama's daughter instead of Palins? What would the Republicans response been? I can just imagine what Rush and his like would have said.

I must say, the Democrats did take the high road in this election.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 3:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Ah yes, Paradise by the Dashboard Lights: "Do you love me?/
Will you love me forever?"

I am a skeptic, tw, far as the "high road" ever intersecting with politics. I do believe we are at a certain cultural moment where Sarah Palin's daughter's predicament was not necessarily a detriment.

Hers is Obama's mother's situation 48 years earlier, and via this instance, the pasty Republicans (via the unfortunate Miss Palin) were able to get down with the homies. Kinda. Ms. Palin's abysmal ordinariness was a brilliant move, in that sense.

Per your question: IMO, if an offspring of Obama's found herself in this position, it would not have reduced the 97% black vote. It would only have increased sympathy.

An allied observation of "human weakness" occurred during Clinton's Lewinsky imbroglio. I heard many black women sympathizing with Clinton because "that is what men do." More accepting? More loyal to the Democratic party?

Most democrats thought it was a whitewash anyway, but there are cultural as well as generational disparities which must be recognized.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008 at 7:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

Too deep for me, Lisa. Not sure where you're trying to go here.

And then there's FDChief: I'm not sure what he's saying, either, but I think it may have something to do with rumors about how some guys back in the day—not me, of course, but I heard about them—might have fallen in love at midnight and fallen out of love at dawn.

Is that what we're talking about?

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Lisa, Publius: Not quite. I mean, we all know about how we tell you we love you to get you to disrobe. And you disrobe because you hope we'll love you. That's a dog-bites-man-and-woman story

What I mean is that there's two ways to report news.

One way is the hard way; actually digging to find out the facts about the people and the places and the motives involved. It's usually expensive and difficult, often inconclusive, and even worse, results in a news story that asks more questions than it answers.

The other way is to figure out how to fit the story into one of the neat little boxes we use when we're lazy and just want to huck our thoughts into a bin for easy storage. "Poor but honest". "Hooker with a heart of gold". "Bloated plutocrat". "Canny old veteran". "Enthusiastic kid".

So the Obama "story" is Romeo and Juliet: young people from different worlds meet, "fall in love", have baby. Never mind the inconvenient brevity of the marriage, the wife back in the Old Country...just make a pretty frame for it - it'll sell papers!

The Palin story, OTOH, didn't play because the Palins wouldn't play. They could have tried to make it a Love Story, too; impetuous kids, "engaged to be engaged", night of turbulent passion, breasts heaving, bodices ripping...

But they didn't, because in their world, that don't happen. Girl gets pregnant, girl marries babydaddy. Period. Do not pass go, etc. They wouldn't spin it as a love story, so the press (whom I'm sure, given the love of all things Palin we were getting at that point, would have LOVED to spin it as Deathless Love) had to just report it as is, bump, nothing to see here, let's move on.

The press loves a love story, so do most of us. Which is fine, except when there's more to it than that and the press just gives it to us as a "love story".

Just like they give us the March to Baghdad as a "war story". Or the Hunt for the Missing WMDs as a "spy story". Or the lies of the Right versus the facts of the Left as a "he said/she said" story.

Stories are SO easy and sleek and quick to digest. But they can be SO much less useful than the facts, no?

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 12:16:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

Good response, Chief, but, hypothetically speaking, how about if we just don't give a shit about any of this? If we just don't care about other peoples' love lives?

Maybe Oprah cares, but I don't. The only sex life I care about is mine. And, frankly, and just between me and the whole worldwide Internet audience, I think I've never gotten as much of it as I should have, splendid fellow that I am. I believe I've been seriously wronged, and I would like to know where I can lodge an official complaint.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 1:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Yep, I think you've caught the gist of it. You are a very clever man, but perhaps, like most, I think possibly it may be that you wish to skirt the emotional topics? Well, you have come to RAW.

Jim, like you, finds my forays into emotions quite wearing and confusing. Guns, guitars and military items he can do backwards and forwards. SO, it is Chief and I into the sunset. . .

Jim says he'll see you at Pig Night at the club (whatever that means. . .)

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 9:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Yes, my point exactly. I do not wish to enter into the muckracking -- I just don't my wire stories to be talking about the players being "in love," or stating any other unprovable supposition as fact.

It is facile and callow to impose these frame stories upon us; that is the realm of literature, often juvenile, and certainly melodramatic. I think your reading of the Palin story is spot-on. To puff that one up (literally) would have been indigestion-causing, and thank god they didn't.

Obama's mama wasn't around to confirm or deny the love story. Therefore: just the facts, ma'am.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 9:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


I just read your last one :) That is indeed a grievous injury thou hast sustained, good fellow that you are. I don't know the appropriate agency for relief; maybe they only have that office in France.

When Jim returns, I'll ask him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 9:16:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


What an analysis from FDChief. I would have expected that from an MI guy, not a combat arms type. I must say, I'm in complete agreement with him.

As to your sexual complaint: Could it be that you are sublimating your sexual urge inappropriately by puting little white balls in holes in the ground, rather than the appropriate objective? (Strictly my schoolhouse training kicking in.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 9:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous podunk paul said...

Hi,guys. I really like your blog and read it almost daily. Ranger writes with the authority that comes from experience deeply mediated upon.

But your speculation about events surrounding Obama's conception strikes me as, well, silly. Neither of us knew his parents nor what happened between them 48 years ago. And, if we did, it would be none of our business.

The connection you make to some sort of Communist godfather is bizarre.

I'm left with a question. What was your motive in denigrating the man's dead parents? The media said they were in love. Would it have been more truthful to say they shacked up? Who knows and who, at this late date, cares?

So you guys please go back to writing about things that are knowable and worth thinking about.

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 1:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Publius: "hypothetically speaking, how about if we just don't give a shit about any of this? If we just don't care about other peoples' love lives?"

I'm with you, Publius - generally, my feeling regarding all this venereal chatter is: I'd rather do it than watch it and I'd rather watch it than talk about it. But, like war, lechery and love are two topics that it seems like most everyone wants to talk about, or at least that's what the news media seems to think.

I'm really sick and tired of the amount of energy we and in particular our public press expend on this crap. What the hell difference does it make to me what Obama's parents did back in the day. I have a modicum of interest in the people just because to an extent our family and emtional past is part of our public person. But speculation and storytelling about a forty-year-old booty call?

Not so much.

To me, this is all part and parcel of the entirely-too-curious and/or censorious attitude that WAY too many people have about what other people are doing with their naughty bits. California's Prop 8 was an example - the embryo-as-legal-person measures were another. For dog's sake, folks, we're expending blood and treasure bombing weddings in the Hindu Kush and offshoring jobs and standing around with our collective thumbs up our backsides as our highway bridges think about collapsing.

And yet, ten thousand Mormons seem to have nothing more pressing than ensuring that legally fornicating homosexuals don't make Baby Jesus cry.

Or newspapers speculating about the President-elect's parent's love life.


It's only 11:30 but I already want a drink...

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 2:43:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Having said the above, I should say that I still see Lisa's original point in posting this: not as "denigrating the man's dead parents" but as an observation on the generally messed-up prediliction of our press to inject their speculation, interpretation and prejudice (in this case, on "love") into what should really be a straightforward news story.

Or, as Publius put it - who gives a rip whether they were "in love"? And why insult us by wasting our time blathering on about it?

Thursday, November 6, 2008 at 2:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

P. Paul,

If you re-read my piece, you will see that we are saying the same thing. The woman is not here to verify whether she "fell in love." When reading a press story, I reject such obvious pap.

The fact that Obama's mother married when she was 3 months pregnant, or her decision to marry whomever she did, is not my concern. To overlay violins on the facts makes it that much worse.

You say, "The media said they were in love. Would it have been more truthful to say they shacked up? Who knows and who, at this late date, cares?" Exactly my point.

Are the writers 48 years hence privy to this most personal emotion? No, and they have no business overlaying it upon (or subtracting it from) what should be a simple news brief.

I resent this pandering -- everything is not "Entertainment Tonight." And you may extend this idea beyond the human interest story. Where else is your press overlaying their opinion?

Opinion is not the business the straight news writer. Taking anything less than a disinterested position of pure objectivity is inappropriate for him.

Friday, November 7, 2008 at 1:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Publius said...

Ranger, WRT putting the little white ball into the hole, well, all I've got to say is, if you've ain't tried it, don't knock it. Golf is a lot of fun, plus there is a great body of evidence indicating that there are tons of women on the links. And I've heard that some of them get all weak-kneed while watching a guy drain a birdy putt. It may be that there are other ways to reach the objective than being:

"Fighting soldiers from the sky, men who jump, and men who die," and having all those ribbons on the chest.

Another potential advantage to going out and hitting that little white ball is that the women one might meet might actually have more money than those one might meet at a "pig night."

You do understand that all of the above is merely what I've heard, right? I have no personal knowledge of these things.

BTW, Ranger, isn't there a regulation somewhere prohibiting officers from participating in "pig night" festivities?

Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 7:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


"the women one might meet might actually have more money..."

You wouldn't be a shameless materialist, would you?

Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 10:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

This was not my essay -but here we are. Watch for my reply in a post re. emotions and love from Rangers perspective. Then you can hammer me personally.

I used to attend Pig nite in the NCO clubs , the trick is getting one with lipstick. jim

Sunday, November 9, 2008 at 1:22:00 PM GMT-5  

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