Frank Marshall Davis, Jr.?
In Laughter and Forgetting, novelist Milan Kudera describes a photo taken of the leaders of the Czech Communist Party on a balcony in Prague. In the original picture, Vladimir Clementis stands next to Prime Minister Klement Gottwald. But after Clementis was purged from the Party, he was airbrushed out of the photo. However, he had given his hat to Gottwald, and in the new photo, widely reproduced, it sits on the PM's head. This is all that remains of Clementis.
In a photo on Barack Obama's Facebook page, his mother Ann Dunham stands with her father in what looks like the Honolulu Airport. Between them are a chubby Barry and his half-sister Maya. Tucked under Barry's arm is a hand. It is not Ann's hand. It appears to be that of a black male. There is additional evidence that someone was airbrushed out and replaced by Ann.
Who's the missing African-American male?
It's the same guy, Joel Gilbert believes, who is MIA in the audio version of Dreams from My Father recorded by Barack Obama himself in 2005. The man is Frank Marshall Davis, Communist (card number 47544), journalist, poet, and pornographer. "Frank" is mentioned twenty-two times in Dreams. Some 2,500 words are devoted to him. All were expunged by O in his reading.
Davis was the single most important influence in shaping the political beliefs of the young Obama, as Paul Kengor has documented at length. But the Stalinist was also, Gilbert believes, the president's real father.
Gilbert's long journey to this conclusion began, he says, while viewing endless clips of Obama's speeches for his earlier documentary, Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad's Coming War and Obama's Politics of Defeat (2010).
The producer noticed how animated the future president became when he discussed class warfare. Sometimes the transformation was quite startling.
Then there was the old birth certificate question. Why would someone with nothing to hide not release this? Why would someone pretending to want transparency in government waste five minutes and spend one dollar fighting this simple and reasonable request?
But like many others, Gilbert also wondered why an impoverished grad student and his bride would fly back to Kenya. Why would her parents permit her to give birth in a backward third-world country?
And how did a kid sent to an exclusive prep school in Hawaii at ten and raised by a grandfather who sold furniture and a grandmother who was a VP in a bank become an ardent Marxist before he arrived at Occidental College as a freshman?
What is Obama hiding?
After reading, he says, thirty books on Obama, Gilbert went off to Hawaii to find out. Two years later, and after a second trip, he's come up with some interesting evidence about the guy airbrushed out of the Facebook photo.
The most compelling case for Frank's paternity consists of two sets of photos shown early in Gilbert's Dreams from My Real Father.
The first is a comparison of Davis and the president. A series of photos of the two are juxtaposed. Gilbert points out similarities in the shape of the head, the eyes and brows, the mouth and nose. They have the same deep, resonant voice. Obama is beginning to show the age spots that speckle the face of the older Davis. The pair have strikingly similar bodies -- the identical height (6'2''), the same build.
Then there's the guy Gilbert calls "the Kenyan," Barack Hussein Obama, whose name was pronounced "Beer-ick." The African student has a very round head, a very black and shiny face with prominent cheekbones, and much fuller lips and a broader nose than the president's. He's only about 5'10" and wears thick glasses.
The second set of photos is of the Kenyan's putative wife, Stanley Ann Dunham. Here Gilbert has engaged in a little censorship of his own. Black bars cover Ann's breasts and buttocks. The president's mother is posing in the nude.
Gilbert carefully analyzes the photos. He closely compares features on the face with other photos of Ann.
Some of the pictures were taken shortly before Christmas, in a room with jazz records. Gilbert makes the case that this is Frank Davis's living room. In one photo, Dunham sits on a sofa identical to one Davis is seated on in an earlier picture. Ann, Gilbert says, was about five weeks pregnant when she posed, and the photographer was likely also her lover.
Davis was into photography. He started a club, called the Lens Camera Club. He especially enjoyed taking photos of nudes, and he had a large collection.
A young lover named "Anne" is also mentioned in a poem and appears, Gilbert believes, in Davis's pornographic memoir Sex Rebel: Black. Gilbert recently discovered letters by Davis in which he declared his "thoroughly erotic autobiography" to be "non-ficton." In Sex Rebel: Black, Davis writes:
I think we did her a favor, though the pleasure was mutual. I'm not one to go in for Lolitas. Usually I'd rather not bed a babe under twenty. But there are exceptions and I didn't want to disappoint the trusting child.
This is an embarrassment of riches. For a private detective hired to link a pair of suspected lovers, especially in pre-internet days, this kind of evidence would be a godsend.
By the way, the "fact-checking" site Snopes for some time ran a page debunking three pictures of Ann. They were, Snopes claimed, actually photos of a model named Marcy Moore. Unfortunately, those pesky right-wing bloggers came up with more photos of Moore, and it was quite clear that the woman in the original photos and Marcy were two different women. The "fact-checkers" at Snopes had apparently averted their eyes from Moore's breasts. An honest fact-checking site would then have alerted its readers to the fact that the rumor that Dunham was really Moore was FALSE, and that the woman in the pictures was indeed likely the president's mother. But of course Snopes did no such thing. The page was simply scrubbed.
The three photos of Dunham were already online when Gilbert began his research. He noticed an odd combination of characters at the bottom of two of them. These, he learned, were from a cataloguing system used by men's magazines. Looking through back issues of some of these publications -- Exotique, Battling Babes, Secret Pleasures -- Gilbert discovered a number of other photos in which Ann appeared to be posing. Davis was selling the pictures of his paramour.
A third critical piece in the puzzle has to do in part with photos as well -- in this case, a conspicuous lack of them. This piece is the sham marriage of Barack Obama and Ann Dunham, and no one shot the pair kissing at the altar or cutting the cake.
The wedding took place on Maui rather than Honololu, Obama says in Dreams, presumably to avoid awkward questions from friends who knew that the Kenyan was already married. But no marriage license was issued -- at least none that has survived.
We know the heart-warming story from Barack and his sympathetic biographers: the couple fell in love in a Russian class, Ann got pregnant, and they got married and lived together for two years. Then the bright and genial bigamist was offered a fellowship to Harvard. He accepted it even though it didn't provide enough to bring his wife and son with him. The self-sacrificing Ann didn't want to stand in the way of a Harvard degree. Eventually the couple divorced.
There is in fact no evidence of Ann's and Barack's meeting, dating, or living together. The Kenyan was never seen at the address on the online version of the president's birth certificate, that of Ann's parents. Within a couple of weeks of our Barack's birth, in August 1961, Ann flew to Seattle, where she was enrolled at University of Washington. She took classes for a year and returned to Hawaii, one and a half years after leaving and some six months after the Kenyan had departed.
Ann did meet her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, in a Russian class at the East-West Institute. Presumably, infatuated with Obama, she'd flunked the earlier class.
The final evidence for Davis's paternity, for Gilbert, is Obama's being sent back to Hawaii at age ten, and the multiple meetings he had afterward with the guy he came to call "Pop." David Maraniss reports ten to fifteen. Kengor and Gilbert believe that there were many more.
The reason Obama offers in Dreams is plausible. He'd been given a chance to enroll in the exclusive Honolulu prep school Punahou. Young Barack was sent off to get a coveted degree. Like father, like son. Ann in fact followed a year later with her daughter but then returned to Indonesia.
Gilbert believes that Pop's proximity had something to do with the decision. Pop, as mentioned, is referred to twenty-two times, with affection and reverence. At one point Obama writes about his gut feeling that there was a secret understanding between his grandfather and his mentor.
Why would Stanley Dunham repeatedly take his grandson to visit the disreputable Communist poet and pornographer, then age sixty-six?
Pop was the subject of an interesting poem Obama published in the Occidental literary magazine -- much too interesting to have been written by him, Jack Cashill has argued. It was, he believes, a parting gift from Davis himself.
And in 1987 Obama returned to Hawaii for Pop's funeral.
Gilbert makes the case that Gramps worked for the CIA. After World War II, Dunham didn't enroll at U.C. Berkeley under the G.I. Bill, as Obama claims, but studied there only for a year, taking intensive French and government classes. Gilbert believes that Gramps was in Air Force intelligence. The various small towns he moved the family to were located next to AF bases. None was noted for its furniture stores.
The family then went to Lebanon. Gilbert deduced this from the uniform Ann wears in a photo taken from this period. It's from a Beirut Catholic school catering to families of Westerners. Dunham was then sent to Seattle to monitor Communist infiltration of Boeing, Gilbert believes, and was in turn monitored by the FBI, who resented the interlopers. Then he relocated to Hawaii to help indoctrinate African exchange students. Barack Obama was the first of these.
When Ann realized she was pregnant, early in 1961, she faced some unenviable choices. Abortion was illegal and dangerous. But the fifty-six-year-old Davis was already married with kids and not about to divorce his wife. Besides, he was a well-known Communist and had a thick FBI file. A family link with him would likely end Stanley's career. And a daughter with an illegitimate black baby was not an attractive alternative.
Gilbert speculates that Davis suggested a sham marriage. Dunham immediately thought of his Kenyan protégé.
The documentary goes on to explore the results of Obama's indoctrination at the feet of Pop. The film follows him from Occidental to Columbia University to Chicago to Harvard Law School and back to Chicago. It takes a close look at O's community organizer days and exposes a neat segue in Obama's career: from illegally registering voters in the Project Vote drive he headed (only 40% were valid) to successfully challenging Alice Palmer's signatures when she decided to run for her old state senate seat after offering it to Obama. The community organizer had intimate knowledge about election fraud on the South Side. Collecting fraudulent signatures was his métier.
Along the way, we get plenty of sound bites from the acolytes of the religion of leftism, always arrogant and self-righteous. There's no intellectual curiosity on the part of the enragés, and no acquaintance with economics and history.
The coverage of the Ayerses, père and fils, is particularly thorough.
There are also choice moments from the repertoire of Obama and Michelle, O's "bitter half." ("For the first time in my life, I am proud of my country[.]") When he's asked to explain relations with Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko, it's not difficult to see that Obama is lying. The evasiveness, the stammering, the shifty eyes give him away.
Because the mainstream media won't cover his findings, in addition to selling the DVD, Gilbert plans to give away millions of copies in mass bulk mailings.
The truth will eventually come out, perhaps in 2013, but maybe not for many more years. When it does, historians will ask why the media was complicit in deceiving the American public about the career of the man who was called Barack Hussein Obama II.
They may express some gratitude toward Joel Gilbert.
The forty-eight-year-old filmmaker from Oak Ridge, Tennessee got interested in Islamic culture and politics after spending six months in Israel, and he studied under Eli Kedouri at the LSE and at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. The circuitous route to Atomic Jihad included a stint in the finance department of Paramount, after Gilbert got an MBA, and then producing films on Bob Dylan.
Listening to Obama's Cairo speech in 2009, Gilbert was amazed at how the president parroted tropes from mythologies about the West that circulate widely in the Middle East -- the notion that all European inventions were stolen from the Arabs, etc. He decided to do a film about Obama's appeasement of a power dedicated to the destruction of the United States. And then, watching clips, the class-warfare rhetoric hit him, and he began to wonder where it had come from -- and from whom.