August 10, 2012
The other night I finally buckled down, gritted my teeth and watched my pirated copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s Right-Wing hack job of President Obama entitled “Obama 2016: Obama’s America”. I don’t mind admitting I downloaded a pirated copy off the Internet because there was no way in Hell this film was getting a dime of my money. The movie had already been in theaters for over a month when I grabbed it, and was supposedly hitting all sorts of box-office records for a documentary, with many Conservatives reporting “Obama: 2016” was now “the second highest grossing documentary of all time” Uh, no. While at $33 million, “2016” might be the highest grossing “Conservative” documentary of all time (which isn’t saying much), it is well behind Disney’s “March of the Penguins” at $77 million, and FAR behind Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” at $222 million worldwide. Once again, a quick Google search reveals the truth.
(The scenes I describe here may not be in the order they appeared on film. D’Souza jumped around quite a bit, so please excuse me if this review seems just as difficult to follow. – Mugsy)
Like you, I had already seen the take-downs of D’Souza’s film by Bill Maher and Cenk Uygur, pointing out the fact that D’Souza repeatedly makes unsubstantiated claims, then make assumptions based on those claims without ever providing any facts to back them up. In fact, that’s the entire movie. D’Souza admits towards the end of the film that he personally had questions regarding the “framework” by which Obama views the world, and came to the conclusion that a deep & abiding “anti-colonialism” (hatred for white British-born Empires that occupy weaker nations) is the only thing that explains-away those questions in D’Souza’s mind. So “anti-colonialism” is the theme running throughout the entire film, and every assertion D’Souza makes about Obama is based on that deeply questionable premise.
From a strictly cinematic viewpoint, the film is well shot with quality camera work and acceptable sound. $2.5-million to make, which D’Souza claims was “raised from 25 wealthy friends“, it doesn’t look like something put together by hackers on their home PC and uploaded to YouTube. D’Souza even concedes that a few Right-Wing conspiracies are false, most notably pointing out at one point in the film that Barack Obama was “born in Hawaii. His birth was announced in two separate newspapers.” These concessions, along with the quality of the camera-work, probably go a long way to bolstering the film’s credibility where it otherwise deserves none.
The film starts out with D’Souza talking about himself and how different his life was growing up in his native India yet how differently he views the world today despite that. Then he proceeds to talk for the next 90 minutes about how life in Kenya… a country D’Souza admits Obama never lived in… must have shaped Obama’s attitudes about America. I find myself wondering, how is it that D’Souza can imagine himself to be so radically different despite having been raised in India (a former British colony), but President Obama’s entire world view is the product of a culture in which HE had never lived? Just one of the major inconsistencies in “Obama: 2016”.
D’Souza mentions that while at Dartmouth College, his life was transformed working for (quote) “a renegade Conservative newspaper” that existed “mainly for the purpose of causing trouble” [presumably for Democrats]. Anyone familiar with Watergate will recognize this. D’Souza was a “rat-fucker” (someone hired simply to create chaos for political opponents):
Am I the only one thinking at this point that that is EXACTLY what D’Souza is still doing with this film? Conservatives are NOTORIOUS provocateurs that get off on stirring up trouble.
D’Souza sees sinister alter meanings everywhere. It’s a very dark and paranoid place where he and Conservatives like him live. The fact Obama titled his autobiography “Dreams FROM My Father” instead of “Dreams OF My Father” he’s certain is a clue into the mind of the President. Since the elder Obama didn’t raise his son and they only met ONCE when he was ten, Barack’s “dreams” would be his father’s sole influence upon him. Now, no sane person would ever try to make any sweeping generalizations based on our own personal interpretation of one obscure turn-of-a-phrase, let alone use it as the basis of a 90-Minute documentary. But for D’Souza, it only adds further weight to his own wild assumption that Obama is a raging “anti-colonialist” that hates America, and therefor justifies the making of his film.
D’Souza starts right out of the box with a lie: The returning of a bust of Winston Churchill to Great Britain, as further evidence of President Obama’s latent “anti-colonialism”. He then follows with a torrent of lies and misinformation of Obama “blocking offshore drilling by U.S. companies” while simultaneously “giving billions to Brazil, Columbia & Mexico” to drill off the U.S. coast (a claim that took me all of two-seconds to debunk with a simple Google search. That should give you some idea of the level of “fact-checking” behind D’Souza’s film.)
At one point in the film, D’Souza travels to Indonesia to get an idea of what life was like for young Obama. D’Souza notes how much it reminds him of his own life growing up in India under British rule, and how many grew up “hating & fearing the whites”. Funny, I wasn’t aware that every person that grew up in India was a raging “anti-colonialist” that hates & fears white-people. Even if that were true (it’s not), that would be INDIA, not necessarily Indonesia. (That’s a bit like saying there are a lot of racists in Texas, therefore, Ohioans are likely racists too.)
D’Souza twice claims Obama “wants to turn the Falkland Islands over to Argentina”, but a Google search turns up nothing other than President Obama choosing to “remain neutral on the subject of Falkland sovereignty, irking Great Britain.” I’m not even sure why this is suddenly an issue. But clearly, it’s just one more sign of President Obama’s deep hatred of anything connected to Great Britain. It’s not like the Falklands were ever involved in a war or anything, right?
For some odd reason, D’Souza suddenly concedes that Obama: “Increased NASA’s budget”, but “lowered their horizons from ‘a return to the moon’ to ‘reconciling with Muslims’.” (huh??? Yeah, read that as many times as you like, I promise it won’t make any more sense.) He returns to this point later towards the end of the film. See below. Here, D’Souza is clearly blaming Obama for the discontinuation of the Shuttle program, which was actually discontinued under the Bush Administration. In fact, the Obama Administration EXTENDED the Shuttle program by two missions [ibid].
D’Souza then travels to Hawaii and talks to “Willie Kauai”, a man he describes only as “an activist” (hope you caught his name the one time D’Souza mentions it because he never identifies “Willie” again, neither on screen nor in the credits. I had to search Google for the spelling). According to what little I could find out about “Willie” online, Kauai is “a PhD candidate in Political Science” and “Hawaiian Studies lecturer from UH-Manoa”. This otherwise unidentified man tells D’Souza about a (supposedly) still present visceral dislike among many native Hawaiians for the way America “annexed” Hawaii against the will of the indigenous people:
Might I point out the obvious here: Obama is NOT a “native Hawaiian”, nor was his mother or father. Irrelevant. D’Sousa suggests that many of young Obama’s teachers & friends were almost certainly native Hawaiians who likely instilled their own latent hatred for America into him. What does D’Souza base this assumption on? Nothing. He did not interview ANY of Obama’s childhood friends and the only teacher he interviewed was his mother’s UofH anthropology professor, Alice Dewey, who is not a native Hawaiian and had nothing but nice things to say about Ann & her son, both of whom she had met. Yet, we are to believe Obama was taught to hate America by the native Hawaiians he associated with w/o a single example of even one person that held those views. This same thought process of D’Souza’s was also seen in his assumption how his father, having been raised in Kenya, passed on his “anti-Colonial” animosity towards America (D’Souza interviews three men in Kenya that claimed to have known the elder Obama quite well, one of whom was openly anti-Semitic, upset by the way “Whites” have pilfered his country for its oil & precious metals.)
A popular cinematic technique of D’Souza (or his co-director John Sullivan) is for D’Souza to interview his subjects over the phone WHILE a camera crew films the interviewee taking the call in their home, with shots flipping between D’Souza asking them questions on his iPhone followed by footage of the person he’s talking to answering those questions. I’m not quite sure why he does this (I suppose it gives the impression we are getting a hidden-peek inside the authority-figure’s inner sanctum), and there is no consistency to it, half the time interviewing people in person, and other times conversing by phone even though the film crew obviously made the trek to their home to film them. But I digress.
Anyway, at another point, D’Souza claims Obama’s grandfather… for no apparent reason… actively sought out someone to “mentor” his grandson (why?), and settled on “Frank Marshall Davis” (a poet/activist who was labeled a “Communist sympathizer” during the McCarthy era.) For more information, D’Souza calls “Cold War historian Paul Kengor“, author of “The Communist: Frank Marshal Davis”, to explain just who Davis was (anyone who would title a book that way hardly seems like an unbiased source. A list of Kengor’s other books read like a neoconservative wish list) and his influence on Obama. D’Souza creates a long & detailed narrative about Davis’ influence on Obama based solely on the fact that Obama refers to Davis as simply “Frank” 22 times in his book. Kengor claims Davis was “a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of America, card number #47544”. I searched online for a photo of that card or ANY CPUSA ID card to see if “47544” might even be in the right format and found nothing. I could find no example of what a CPUSA ID looks like nor if the CPUSA even issues ID cards at all. The CPUSA is a very small organization today, so there’s no way of confirming whether or not Davis was a member. Simply typing “47544” into Google returns only links to D’Souza’s film and Kengor’s book. No photo of any “ID card” is ever shown despite the fact Kengor’s hand gesture implies he has a copy right there on his desk:
I don’t know about you, but if I’m making a film claiming the President of the United States was mentored by a member of the Communist Party, and that guy claims to have proof, I’m not going to interview him over the phone while my crew flies down simply to film him talking to me on the phone. D’Souza then shows the FBI document declaring Davis a Communist threat. It is clearly dated 1950… eleven years before Obama was born and another eleven years before Obama and Davis would meet for the first time:
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See that stamp fading in of a guy waving a flag that says, “Toward Soviet America”? D’Souza added that (as well as the red “CPUSA” logo). That above still photo was the best I could capture of all the text with date because, as you can see in the Kengor clip above, different portions of the document fade in & out to show different information. And in this image, you can plainly see the stamp now with text under it. That makes it a separate image that was added later.
During the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950/60’s, Hoover and the FBI frequently flagged protesters as “Communist sympathizers” as an excuse to track them.
Then D’Souza learns of the existence of Barack’s distant half-brother George (born between ’68-’70). Searching online to see if it’s true, D’Souza finds an old photo of a 20-something George Obama living in a tin-roofed shack “that looks like something out of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.”
He travels to Africa to interview George and tries desperately to get him to say he feels slighted by his successful half-brother and should expect some assistance from him:
This is an incredibly revealing exchange… not of the President but of D’Souza, as he tries over & over again to get George to say he feels abandoned by his half-brother:
And despite George’s total lack of animosity towards his half-brother, Right-Wing blogs raged about how George had been “abandoned” by his heartless brother, President Obama, and left to “live in squalor”. But notice, George doesn’t appear to be suffering. He’s dressed nicely in a bright white shirt and Khakis. And D’Souza acknowledges during the interview that George has written a book about his famous relative, which has probably made him reasonably well-off compared to most other Africans. While D’Souza kept trying to push George into suggesting he somehow feels slighted or neglected by his brother, George tells him, “what Barack does for the world, helps me.” “Like fighting global warming?” asks D’Souza. “Yes”, says George. Finally, clearly getting nowhere, D’Souza moves on.
Also of note in the clip, D’Souza cites quotes from George’s own book back to George… PRO-colonialist statements… of how Kenya might be better off today if “the whites” had stayed longer and industrialized their nation the way they did in South Africa, then tries to contrast this with Barack’s own mythical “anti-colonialist” views. Funny how living in Indonesia & Hawaii made Barack an “anti-colonialist”, but growing up in Africa made his brother PRO-colonialist.
When the story reaches the death of Barack Sr in a car accident in Kenya in 1982, D’Souza states, again without evidence, that the young Barack decides at that moment (after flying to Kenya to visit his father’s grave) to “carry on where his father left off” (“left off” from doing what? D’Souza never says.) He interviews an old man that claims to have known the father “very well” (which we must take on faith is true because he produces no photos or documentation) and tells D’Souza that the elder Obama and his son (whom he has never met) are “like that” (holding two fingers together). The “friend” never explains what he means by this. Was he referring to a similarity in speech, looks or mannerisms? Was it the way they both talk about America? Obama doesn’t speak ill of America (except in the wild mechanizations of the Far-Right.) Was his father angry with America? Did he hold ANY animosity towards America? Seems unlikely since he went there to go to school and married an American woman. The old man never explains what he means by “like this”, and D’Souza never bothers to ask him. He simply leaves the implication that the two share “anti-colonialist” views and moves on.
At another point in the film, D’Souza interviews former Bush comptroller, David Walker, as an expert on “the crisis” of our soaring Debt (I can hear you now: “He should know! He created most of it!”) Walker tells D’Souza that “since 2007, Americans have lost 40% of their wealth.” Anyone else notice that this is two full years before Obama takes office and prior to the collapse of Wall Street that also took place under Bush? I also couldn’t help but notice that neither Walker nor D’Souza bother to mention that the Deficit when Bush took over was a mere $18-Billion dollars and falling. D’Souza then puts up the following graph of the annual Deficits under Bush and Obama:
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Notice how the graph is arranged, stacking each years deficit upon the other so even small increases look large. In this format, even the Clinton era deficits would look huge. And unfortunately for the average slack-jawed Obama-hater that shelled out $8.50 to see this piece of garbage, the graph isn’t on screen long enough to notice the figures I’ve pointed out with arrows. Bush’s last Deficit… according to D’Souza’s own graph… was $1.4-Trillion dollars (and all seven prior Deficits are WAY below their actual values. Anyone here believe Bush’s 2006 deficit was nearly the same as his 2001 deficit?) ALL FOUR of Obama’s deficits are less than Bush’s final deficit, with the last and most recent one the smallest of all at just UNDER $1-Trillion. Obama’s deficits are now getting SMALLER where Bush’s deficits exploded year after year (Rachel Maddow also pointed out on her Oct 15th show that the ONLY two presidents to cut the deficit in the past 40 years are Clinton & Obama). Of course, in the few seconds this graph appeared on the big screen, I doubt most people in the audience had time to scrutinize it the way I just did.
Twice D’Souza interviews authors who claim “many people only voted for Obama simply so they could claim they were a part of history”, “Something they could tell their children” and “cite as evidence they’re not racist.” D’Souza asks the second writer why… if that’s true… did Jessie Jackson (and Al Sharpton) fail in their presidential bids, to which author #2 gives this long & rambling answer that (AFAICT) never actually answers the question.
Author #1, Dr. Shelby Steele of the Hoover Institute, paints Obama as having a Messianic complex, which prompts D’Souza to insert this clip of Hillary Clinton seemingly trash-talking her rival during the 2008 campaign (it’s in square format, leading me to think he stole it off YouTube):
Funny thing though. Just minutes after I finished watching this movie, “Frontline” on PBS ran their biography of Romney and Obama, “The Choice 2012”, and wouldn’t you know it, the same clip of Hillary was in there, only we find out she wasn’t talking about Obama at all but about “Republican hyper-partisanship” and how she had no misconceptions that the radical-Right that hounded her husband for eight years would be any less ferocious towards HER should she be elected:
Isn’t that interesting. D’Souza used a totally out-of-context clip to suggest something that never happened. I’m sure it was just an accident.
Getting back to that bizarre statement about NASA earlier in the film, D’Souza injects a clip of NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden that (as you can see from the station logo) was broadcast on Al Jazera to a Muslim audience, telling them how Obama asked him to “expand our international relationships” including an “outreach to the Muslim world to help them feel good about their historic contributions to science & engineering.” To D’Souza, this is evidence of something sinister rather than just an attempt at diplomacy, hoping to quell Middle Eastern animosity towards the U.S. (you know, the kind Obama supposedly harbors) to help make the world a safer place. Clearly, Obama thinks the route to pleasing his Muslim brothers is dismantling the U.S. space program. (Yeah, I’m not too clear on the logic of that either.)
D’Souza then goes on to talk about Obama’s “support for the Occupy Wall Street movement” (which I’m sure will come as a shock to the Occupy Wall Street movement) while showing on screen news footage of police in riot gear, angry mobs throwing things, clouds of tear gas and police cars on fire:
…none of the violent footage came from actual OWS protests (it seems to me many of the young people in these clips appear to be wearing hockey jerseys.) Most OWS protests have been completely peaceful here in the U.S.. I did find one report of an unmarked police car being set ablaze during an OWS protest in Oakland, and OWS-sympathizing riots in Rome being put down with teargas, but neither incidents were the source of the footage in D’Souza’s film. A clear and deliberate attempt to paint OWS as a bunch of out-of-control teenagers committing mayhem & violence… supported by the president.
Late in the film, D’Souza plays clips of Liberals and White House officials criticizing D’Souza’s book (the basis for the film), followed by footage of a smiling D’Souza defending his book on talk shows as “simply trying to provide a framework” for how (he believes) Obama thinks, and how “anti-colonialism explains that framework”. He cites “three predictions” he supposedly made at the start of the Obama presidency: that Obama would “do nothing significant to stop Iran from getting nuclear bombs” (D’Souza doesn’t consider sanctions… which Reagan and both Bush’s also used… to be “significant”. And Iran doesn’t have “nuclear bombs”, nor are they even close, as Biden pointed out in his debate); that Obama would “spend money as if the Deficit doesn’t matter” (remember when Cheney said, “Deficits don’t matter”? And as I pointed out earlier, Obama’s spending is actually DOWN from Bush); and if Obama were forced to tackle the deficit, “would cut the military and seek to raise taxes” (hardly a “prediction” for any Conservative to make regarding ANY Democrat, let alone evidence of “anti-colonialism” by Obama). D’Souza believes he got all three right, which therefor gives him credibility that his claims about Obama must also be true.
He then plays the infamous “open-mic” footage that made the news a few months back of President Obama telling Russian PM Medvedev that there were “some issues he couldn’t confront in the middle of an election” and would “have more flexibility after the election”, as PROOF that Obama is “hiding” his secret agenda until his second term, at which point I’m guessing he’s going to let his pro-Commie freak-flag fly, push more Socialist legislation like “ObamaCare” onto the American people, and give Iran the green-light to build a nuclear bomb.
D’Souza criticizes Obama for stating (on video) that he’d someday like to see a “nuclear free world” (you know, the way Reagan did) “while our enemies are not reducing THEIR nuclear stockpiles”, says D’Souza. He is implying here that Obama would leave America defenseless against “Russia & China” by the end of 2016. D’Souza notes how the START Treaty (which began under Carter and renewed by Reagan) was already on track to cut our nuclear stockpiles in half to 1,500, then claims Obama “wants to reduce that number even further to just 300 warheads.” CBS News reports that the suggestion of eventually cutting our stockpile down to just 300 warheads was “part of a paper written by The RAND National Defense Project“, citing that arms reductions were feasible only if it included “strong anti-cheating provisions” in agreement with Russia. They themselves came up with the “300” figure as one of SIX possibilities ranging from as high as 1,100 nukes. Dinesh himself simply chose the bottom “300” number because it’s the most extreme. The NDP stated that a 300-missile arsenal “was sufficient” in a world where our greatest threat is no longer nations with nuclear bombs, it’s rogue terrorist groups with IEDs. The U.S.’s already planned reduction to just 1,550 nukes won’t be achieved until 2018, so the idea Obama by himself could take us down to just 300 bombs by 2016 is absurd.
D’Souza gets a lucky break, turning up a clip of President Obama himself using the term “colonialism” in an address from Cairo to the Egyptian people (“Middle Eastern anger fed by colonialism”). I’m sure Dinesh can hardly believe his luck, finding an actual clip of Obama using the word “colonialism” in negative terms (JACKPOT!), which I’m sure D’Souza takes as further evidence Obama hates America… even though earlier in the film D’Souza admits “America was founded on anti-colonialism” as America rejected British rule.
Next, our tour guide through Neoconland puts up a map of Northern Africa and Middle Eastern nations, turning green and forming “The United States of Islam”:
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…emboldened by a President that’s weakening America’s military might. Again, his basis for this wild-eyed scenario? Wouldn’t YOU like to know! We ALL would.
D’Souza kept trying to read some deep dark meaning into every innocuous event in Obama’s life, frequently using “guilt by association” (no matter how tenuous that connection might be) listing “Bill Ayers” and “Reverend Wright” as two of Obama’s (five) “Founding Fathers” (men that shaped his life), or trying to coerce people into saying something negative about Obama, but no one in the film that has actually MET Obama has anything negative to say about him… to which D’Souza implies is part of a cover-up by people seeking to “protect” Obama (yeah, from the likes of people like D’Souza). If Obama were really this stealth anti-American Manchurian candidate, why would all these people (including PRO-colonialist George Obama) be so eager to “protect him”?
Conservatives live in a world of constant paranoia, believing anyone that does not live in that world is putting the rest of us in mortal jeopardy, endangering our very survival by their ignorance and lack of information about the man they’re supporting for president. If only we were just as paranoid and lived in the same fact-free “state of constant fear of the outside world” as people like D’Souza, the world would be a much safer place and America would be great again.
THERE! I just saved you from throwing away $8 bucks.