Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Grandma Chronicles

Sarah Obama told a ''minister of the Gospel'' that her grandson was born in Kenya.

This is the urban legend that the author of this piece is talking about when he writes:
Birthers excel at perpetuating groundless rumors, launching them from blogs or attaching them to links copied and pasted to posts with titles like "Obama's COLB a Forgery!" or "Obama Born in Kenya!". And when a rumor like the one about Sarah Onyango Obama telling an American clergyman that her grandson was born in Kenya is shown to be false, the typical Birther asks, "Well, if she didn't say it, who did?" For the Birther, one answer always leads to the same question ("Who are the Real Conspirators?").

The origin of this rumor is an audio recording of a long-distance phone conversation between Mrs. Obama and an American clergyman (Bishop Ron McRae) overlaid with a translation, wherein Mrs. Obama purportedly states that Obama Jr. was born in Kenya and that she was present at the time and place of his birth.

Attorney Philip J. Berg, a democratic friend and supporter of Hillary Clinton, filed an affidavit containing an abbreviated version of that conversation. Naturally, Berg only attached the incomplete version to his petition for an injunction since the context of the entire recording clearly demonstrates that in the beginning of the conversation Mrs. Obama was, at best, affirming that the birth of her stepson Barack Obama Senior took place in Kenya—but not present-day Mombasa, Kenya, mind you. (Listen carefully to that portion of the conversation.) Mrs. Obama was not in Mombasa in 1936 when her stepson was born, just as she was not there in 1961, the year Obama Jr. was born. She was in Nyanza, Kenya—one-thousand miles west of Mombassa—at the time of these occasions. And as we all know now, there was no such place as Mombasa, Kenya before 1963.  Again. Some things just bear repeating.

(By the way, on that point, does Berg or do any of the other charlatans and crackpots ever bother to provide any evidence attesting to Mrs. Obama's whereabouts on August 4, 1961, the day of Obama Jr.'s birth? Of course not.)

In the recording, what precisely did she say "yes" to?
"Was she present when he was born in Kenya?" Bishop Ron McRae asks with a leading question.

"She says 'yes' she was. She was present when Obama was born," says the translator.

The tape ends abruptly.

A better explanation, one later given by Mrs. Obama herself, was that she understood this line of questioning to be whether or not she was in Kenya at the time of Obama Jr.'s birth. Or was she in Kenya when apprised of his birth. And the answer to that question is ''yes''.

What follows after that in response to McRae's inquiry in the full conversation—"Was it Mombasa?"—was not others warning or shushing Mrs. Obama (see below), but genuine confusion.

The account of the conversation submitted to the Court by Berg abruptly ends after Mrs. Obama allegedly states that Obama Jr. was born in Kenya.

But wait, there's more!

In response to a point of clarification, this time, unlike before, understanding that McRae is talking about the future President, not Obama Sr., the translator, Rev. Kweli Shuhubia, states: "Uh, no. Obama was not born in Mombasa. He was born in America." (McRae is obsessed with Mombasa.) The translator repeats, this time in the reverse order: "He was born in America, not Mombasa." And again: "She says he was born in Hawaii." The translator even goes on to say, making it abundantly clear, that Obama was born in Hawaii while his father Obama Sr. was a student in Hawaii. This is all very obvious from listening to the entire conversation. There's no mistaking what happened here. Mrs. Obama never said that Senator Obama was born in Mombasa, let alone in Kenya. Berg's version of the conversion is an obvious deception. It's not even close to the truth.

And there's no mistaking the unsuspecting innocence in the voices and words of Mrs. Obama and the translator, just as there is no mistaking what McRae is trying to elicit from them. And from the affidavit contained in the petition, it is obvious that the abbreviated account of the conversation was presented as being an entire account to the Court. And that ''Minister of the Gospel'' Bishop McRae put his name to that account on the affidavit.

If you haven't heard this before, get ready to pick your jaw off the floor:  "Here's the truth: 'Birther' claims are just plain nuts";1 "Obama’s Grandmother says he was born . . ."

(The one embedded in the comments at the other end of the second link is of the best quality. Scroll about one-third of the way down and drill into "recording itself", but listen to the recordings in the order the links are listed, starting at the top.  That way you'll have a transcript of the entire conversation.)

I tried to find the old link for the recording of the entire conversation as I know that some might doubt the authenticity of these recordings based on their suspicions of unfamiliar sites, but apparently its gone now. But I assure you that these recordings are identical to the ones I listened to almost a year ago, including the one that used to be embedded on's site. Also, there are several other sites reporting the entire conversation featuring the very same recording every time.

Wikipedia also has an account of how the rumor about this conversation was fabricated and spread. Search under "Obama conspiracy theories—wikipedia". Also, you may verify that portion of the entire recording that is contained in the abbreviated version of the affidavit Berg attached to his petition Berg v. Obama et al. They are identical up to that point. It appears that McRae is the transcriber of that affidavit: read plausible deniability for Berg, an attorney at law, that he never heard the entire recording. Of course, the courts never bothered to take any of Berg's petitions seriously anyway, so he needn't have bothered with such technicalities.

Please, by all means, compare the entire conversation with the abbreviated version favored by Birthers:

And then check out this obviously doctored piece of trash:


No comments: