Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Obama Trump white house meet

(Pic: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo.)

When President Obama welcomed Trump to the White House, he said this to his successor: “Most of all, I want to emphasize to you, Mr. President-elect, that we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed — because if you succeed, then the country succeeds.”

Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said this in an interview in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Well, big difference. Reminds me of the saying: “What you say about other people reveals more about you than what you say about yourself.”

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Native American heritage

November is Native American Heritage Month, celebrating the culture and rich heritage of the first people of America.

“This month, we celebrate and honor the many ways American Indians and Alaska Natives have enriched our Nation, and we renew our commitment to respecting each tribe’s identity while ensuring equal opportunity to pursue the American dream.” – President Obama.

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Sticks and stones may break my bones...(Pic: AP)

Senator Jake Knotts seems to enjoy labeling people in a most distasteful way.

The  South Carolina state senator called a Republican gubernatorial candidate of Indian descent a “raghead”, on a political talk show. Then he went on to refer to Obama:

“We’ve already got a raghead in the White House, we don’t need another raghead in the governor’s mansion.”

He later apologized, saying that his slurs were meant as a joke. Well, not many people are buying his explanation. Seanna Adcox of AP (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37518532/ns/us_news/) writes:

“Joke or not, his comments echoed some of the racially tinged attacks on Obama by far-right ideologues who question his U.S. citizenship or his Christianity, by noting his father was Kenyan and he lived as a boy in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

“”Raghead” is a derogatory term used for people of Middle Eastern or Indian descent, or for Muslims, deriving from stereotypes about turbans and other national headwear.”

Knotts...lambasted for his remarks. (Pic:AP)

Sometimes, the mind boggles at the way some public officials conduct themselves. A holder of public office is expected to act with a certain decorum, and intelligence in public life.

Knotts’ defenders said that the senator is known for speaking his mind. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to speak your mind, or criticize, on policies and actions. But for a public official to call others, especially the President, by a racial slur is a new low.

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No laughing matter...it's a security breach. (AP Photo)

Fame, scandals and privacy are the buzzwords this week.

At the top of the news is the saga of Tareq and Michaele Salahi who gatecrashed a State Dinner at the White House, and even got up-close with President Obama.

It used to be that one has to be good at something to be famous. But the Salahis reflect the current trend of chasing or attracting fame at any cost. Some commentators blame reality TV for this. People are voyeurs. If you open up your life to the world, the good as well as the messy parts, you stand a good chance of becoming a famous celebrity.

Another interesting thing that I notice from this gatecrashing story is the initial reactions from the British and American press.

There were several headlines and comments in the British press, applauding the Salahis for staging the ‘gatecrash of the century’. “We need more pranksters like the White House gatecrashers,” said a writer in the United Kingdom daily, The Telegraph. The reception in the American has been more serious – raising worries about the serious breach of security and how an unauthorized guest can get so close to the president.

This difference could be due to the British fondness for pranks. Americans, on the other hand, carry the history of the assassination of two of the country’s great leaders, President John F Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King. It has been reported that Obama receives 30 death threats a day. Ed Rollins, CNN Senior Political Contributor and a leading Republican wrote a stern piece titled: “Prosecute the White House gate-crashers.” (http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/28/rollins.party.crashers.whitehouse/ )

Scandals and privacy also dogged Tiger Woods, one of the world’s most successful and popular golfers. It seems like his picture-perfect marriage wasn’t so perfect after all.

Tiger's plea for privacy will go unheeded. (Getty Images)

Amidst all the blaring news of his affairs with other women, Woods pleaded for privacy for his family. Sorry, Tiger, it doesn’t look like the media will heed your plea. Today, scandals sell. And even some of us who agree that Woods and his family should be given some privacy can be quite hypocritical. We still gobble up the scandalous details and the “breaking news” when we come across them.

The Woods episode also brings up the issue of athletes as “role models”. It’s fine that we consider them role models for their drive, passion and excellence in their sport. But should we also expect them to be role models free of marital complications or “transgressions” as Woods term them in his statement, when such episodes are a recurrent theme in the human experience?

Points to ponder, as these two stories continue to hog the news.

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Bayu Utomo's portraits convey a complex narrative of identity.

Bayu Utomo's portraits convey a complex narrative of identity.

As Malaysia’s Independence Day draws near on August 31, a group of Malaysian artists can reflect that this year, they reached a new milestone in their artistic journeys.

For the first time, the Matahati group of artists exhibited their works in the United States. The exhibition “Matahati ke Matadunia: Malaysian Contemporary Art to the World” was held in May through June in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles California. A forum and several workshops with American artists were also part of the whole event.

The event also marked a milestone for Fausin MdIsa, a Malaysian designer, artist and entrepreneur, based in California. His vision is to bring Malaysian contemporary art to the United States, and it took him two years of organization to finally put it all together.

Shukri's art reflects his concerns about the environment.

Shukri's art reflects his concerns about the environment.

The Matahati group is known in Malaysia and in the region as an influential group of artists whose technically accomplished works feature personal narratives, commentary on social issues, history and identity, often daring and thought-provoking. The artists who brought their works to the United States are Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Ahmad Fuad, Ahmad Shukri, Hamir Soib and Masnor Ramli Mahmod. Each has his own unique style.

Fausin considers the exhibition a success on several levels. “The art enthusiasts in California were pleasantly surprised to see not only the mastery of techniques by the artists, but also the themes and the global issues that they express in their paintings,” he adds.

At the opening, many of the guests were intrigued by Fuad’s “To Whom It May Concern”. In this painting, a crowd holds pictures of Obama facing a backdrop of historical figures, both inspiring and notorious, such as Ghandi, Churchill and Stalin. Fuad explained that people all over the world, not just in America, were excited at Obama’s election. At the same time, the backdrop of faces symbolizes the question which path of leadership will Obama take. History meets uncharted waters, and the world watches with hope or cynicism.

The guests were impressed by the depth’s of Fuad’s questioning and the historical sweep of the image.

Bayu’s portraits evoked this reaction from an art enthusiast: “As an artist who works with charcoal, I find his manner of using this medium to be very creative. There is a palpable sense of passion and an inward quest in his portraits.”

“At the same time, exposure works two way,” says Fausin. “Just by being in a different environment and getting feedback on your work contributes to the growth of an artist.”

The exhibition will be going to another American city next year, and onwards to other destinations. After all, Fausin and Matahati believes that art is a universal language, with the power to unite us globally.

Fuad's painting on Obama generated a great deal of interest.

Fuad's painting on Obama generated a great deal of interest.

Fausin (with microphone), gallerist Delia Cabral introduced the artists: from left, Fuad, Masnoor, Hamir and Bayu.

Fausin (with microphone), gallerist Delia Cabral introduced the artists: from left, Fuad, Masnoor, Hamir and Bayu.

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The baby that brings hope and change. (Pic from The Disney Blog)

The baby that brings hope and change. (Pic from The Disney Blog)

Everybody will love this baby Obama.

The first baby rhinoceros born in Uganda in almost 30 years has been named Obama, because his father is from Kenya and his mother was born in the US, The Telegraph reported recently. Obama’s mother was donated by Disney Animal Kingdom in Florida.

Researchers at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary, north of the capital Kampala, said that the calf was actually born at the end of June. But they have only recently been able to approach him as the mother was too aggressively protective earlier on. “He’s a real little scamp, running all over the place like crazy, his mum can barely keep up with him,” said Angie Genade, director of the sanctuary in The Telegraph report.

This special arrival delivers hope that the white rhino will thrive again in Uganda.

Some rhino facts:

  • The rhinos’ eyesight is poor but their senses of hearing and smell are extremely acute.
  • The calf does not live on its own until it is about three years old. After two to three years, the mother rhino drives her calf away to live life on its own.
  • The rhino’s horns are made out of keratin which is the same material found in our fingernails.
  • The rhino can sleep both standing as well as lying down.

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Obama 2008

According to the “birther” people, he was born in Kenya. They allege that as Obama was born outside of the US, he is not a “natural born citizen” eligible for the presidency. They also contend that Obama’s birth certificate showing that he was born in Hawaii is a fake.

Although these claims have been debunked, the doubters still believe that Obama is an illegal president. These claims made their rounds again last week, and received a lot of play and discussion in the media. It was partly brought about by the video clip of  a town hall meeting held by Representative Mike Castle, a Delaware Republican.

A woman held up her own birth certificate in a clear plastic bag and shouted that Obama was born in Kenya. When Castle responded that Obama “is a citizen of the United States”, he was booed by the audience. I find the clip quite amusing, listening to the woman’s conviction. At one point, she shouted: “I want my country back!” One might ask, from what, lady? ( Watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V1nmn2zRMc )

Some politicians seem to be agreeing with, or are listening to, the birthers. Ten Republican members of Congress co-sponsored a bill that would require presidential candidates to provide a copy of their birth certificate.

What I find puzzling is that I’m sure the birthers and the Congressmen are aware that the US government has its own intensive process of vetting presidential candidates. The Secret Service, FBI, the legal department and all the authorities have the means to search, verify and analysis every document and every lead, anywhere in the world. And, remember, Obama was a presidential candidate when the Republicans were in power. So, I’m sure they would not leave anything unchecked.

I suppose, as many people say, the birthers have chosen to believe that Obama is an illegal president, and no evidence will change their minds. And this is happening in one of the most advanced, high-tech countries in the world, in the 21st century. Strange, but true.

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memoHave you met someone who says the most ridiculous things, but thinks he or she is so smart and knows everything?

I’m sure most of us have. And, unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann fits the bill.

She has said the strangest, most ridiculous things,  and some netizens have described Bachmann and her logic as a ‘gift that keeps on giving’ for the Democrats. In fact,there is now a website dedicated to her words.

The Politico reports on April 28: “Democrats just can’t get enough of Rep. Michele Bachmann, the always controversial, always quotable Minnesota Republican.

In fact, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has built a website — http://www.bachmannwatch.com — devoted entirely to Bachmann’s
rhetoric, slamming what they believe are overstatements or exaggerations about everything from ACORN to the stimulus.

“The same woman who once said Congress should be investigated for those with anti-American leanings and once argued that she couldn’t support the economic recovery act because America was ‘running out of rich people,’” the site blares.”

She has also alluded to a link between the swine flu and Democrats  “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” Bachmann said in an interview with PajamasTV.

Apparently, her facts are wrong. Several media have pointed out that it was Republican President Gerald Ford, and not Carter, who led the country during the last outbreak of the virus. And what is she trying to imply?

Does Ms Bachmann think before she speaks? If she represents the younger batch of Republican leaders, then, good luck GOP.

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(Photo from Huffington Post)

I’m not exactly a Bush fan , but I have to say that the Bush family have been gracious in helping The Obamas in their transition to their life in the White House.

The Bush twins, Barbara and Jenna, wrote a letter to Malia and Sasha Obama, advising them how to handle their new life in the White House. The letter was published in the Wall Street Journal.

They advise Malia and Sasha to :“Surround yourself with loyal friends… Cherish your animals because sometimes you’ll need the quiet comfort that only animals can provide… enjoy your childhood in such a magical place to live and play.”

The Bush girls wrote about their Dad: We still see him now as we did when we were seven: as our loving daddy. ..So here is our most important piece of advice: remember who your dad really is.”

One can sense their deep love for their father. Many of us go through the childhood phrases of first thinking that your parents are perfect, and then dealing with the complex emotions when you find out that they have faults, that they are human after all. Imagine how much harder it must have been when your father is scrutinized and criticized in the public view.

The “Today” show requested the Bush girls to read the letter to the viewers, accompanied by images of their life in the White House. I think the result is a moving piece. The video is shared below.

It is said that Malia and Sasha are just as popular as their parents. Thus, the important issue is how will we balance our fascination with them, while giving them space and privacy to grow up as normally as possible. Good luck, sugar and spice, and everything nice…to the Obama girls.

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obama2The day is here. We all have our own reasons for supporting Barack Obama.

It’s true that Obama’s message of “hope and change” has an emotive appeal for many.

But I think the most important thing for me was that I could identify with his narrative, although I grew up and spent much of my adult life in Asia.

The first thing is that I grew up as a minority in an Asian country. I think you have to live life as a member of a minority ethnic group to understand what is required of you to deal with inbuilt perceptions and racism .

We know how much it takes to be successful. I want to go back to history, as I was reminded by presidential historian Douglas Brinkley on the Larry King show that the world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali played a role in opening the door for global recognition for an African American.

I’m old enough to remember what Muhammad Ali meant to the world in the 1970s and 80s. At that time, there was no non-white role model for such huge success. He represented this shining, brave example all over the world. People everywhere would cut work and skipped school whenever his matches were televised. From the metropolis to the smallest village in Africa, for a long time, Muhammad Ali was the most recognized name in the world.

Today, we jumped to Obama. Whether one admires the United States or not, almost everybody agrees that to be the president of the US is to reach the pinnacle of success, and to helm the most powerful position in the world.

And we want to claim Obama as a part of our identity or as part of our dream, as we did with Muhammad Ali.

Obama also seems to embody or symbolize many of qualities that I identify with or admire. He is biracial, and having lived in different countries, is comfortable with many cultures. He is certainly not xenophobic, and we see in him in him someone who will not see any one people or race as being “lesser” than the other.

He is inclusive; always classy in his bearing and refused to play dirty politics or say nasty things about his opponents in the presidential race, though they threw all kinds of stones at him.

At the same time, in the back of our minds, we also know that to get this far in American politics, you have to have a measure of “killer instincts”. But for a while, it is good to know that a nice guy can still win.

We want to believe that the Obama administration heralds a post-racial era, a new foreign policy that will be fairer to countries and people that the Bush administration have labeled as “evil” and “rogue”.

But we know that there are tough task ahead for the new president. Criticism of his policies and management style is already forming a line in some people’s heads. And we know that oftentimes the position can change the man.

But for now, we bask in the glow of this historic inauguration. It’s incredible when you think that three years ago, nobody thought that a biracial, African-American man would be the President of the United States. Obama’s election says a lot not only about him, but also about all the people who voted for him.

Thank you, Obama, for giving us the belief that despite all the ugliness in the world, there is still enough idealism to try to change the status quo for the better. The world wants you to succeed.

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