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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 22, 2012/ 1 Sivan, 5772

When factoids are better than facts

By Wesley Pruden




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Who would have guessed that Barack Obama was the original birther, peddling the story that he was born in Kenya long before Donald Trump, Sheriff Joe and assorted nut jobs took it up as a crusade in fantasy and futility.

Mr. Obama's literary agent put together a little booklet with a biographical sketch in 1991, to promote a book he never finished, with a description of the author as "the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review . . born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

The literary agent now insists it was her mistake and Mr. Obama never saw the booklet until it was published. An unlikely story, but like everything else about him, it's an element in the portrait of a composite president, a man with composite ambitions, composite convictions and a composite past populated by girlfriends he now concedes were composites, too.

This new piece of his composite history was found by the Web site Breitbart.com, and disclosed not in support of the birther cult but as another factoid in the life of the composite president. Breitbart.com, in fact, takes pains to say that, like nearly everyone else in America, it's satisfied that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, while his mother's beating heart was still in Kenya, or Indonesia, or Upper Volta, or Lower Slobbovia, or some other pure and noble corner of the Third World.

The convenience of a composite past is that it is a past made up almost entirely of "factoids," a word coined by the novelist Norman Mailer to describe something that looks like a fact, sounds like a fact but is in fact not a fact. Factoids are easily adjusted and often make up the entire conversation in Washington. Factoids are the main ingredient in press agentry. Mr. Obama's biographical sketch describes Mr. Obama's mother as "an anthropologist" and his father as "a Kenyan finance minister," though his mother had only studied anthropology in university and his father was little more than a clerk in the Kenyan finance ministry. But this was no more fanciful than the factoid that Mr. Obama was "born inKenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii."

But in the circles where young Obama moved when he was just out of Harvard, a birth in a place closer to the equator was more to be desired than birth in capitalist, imperialist and racist America - even if in Hawaii, separated from the American mainstream by hundreds of miles of ocean and the centuries of tradition, sacrifice and westward migration that populated the continental states.

If young Barack nursed ambitions to one day run for president of the United States he probably didn't know that the Constitution requires the president to be a "natural-born" citizen. He was a graduate of Harvard Law, after all, and it's unfair to assume that he had been exposed to the Constitution by his professors there. For whatever reason, he did not correct his agent's literary confection and as late as 2007 his biographical sketch still boasted of a Kenyan birth.

The man who skillfully employs distraction and division in his campaign for re-election no doubt welcomes the resurrection of this old brochure, since he's the only one who profits by the "disclosure," such as it is. The red-hots on the right-most margin of the conservative movement, loosely defined, will be encouraged to distract attention from the discussion Mr. Obama fears most, a campaign on his competence and capacity to lead and govern.

A composite past is fashionable this year among Democratic candidates. Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat trying to unseat the Republican incumbent in Massachusetts, concocted a splendid past from her native Oklahoma, describing herself as 1/32 Cherokee Indian. (Polite folk call her 1/32d "Native American," of course, but that risks offending the Cherokees, a noble fighting race whose braves take considerable pride in the word "Indian.")

Her story unraveled, just as the president's boast of Kenyan birth unraveled, to considerable mirth and merriment. When Mrs. Warren contributed a Cherokee recipe for Oklahoma Crab Mayonnaise for a cookbook called "Pow Wow Chow," she invited skepticism that crabs were native to Oklahoma. Columnist Mark Steyn rose gallantly to her defense, observing that crabs are even celebrated in the state song ("Ooooooklahoma, where the crabs come sweepin' down the plain . . . "

Kenyan births and crabs from Oklahoma certainly seem like factoids. But those are their stories, and they're sticking to them.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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