Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
BARACK OBAMA: THE INTELLECTUAL WITH AN EYE FOR JOVIALITY
June 3,2008: Barack Obama effectively clinched the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday, based on an Associated Press tally of convention delegates, becoming the first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House. The AP tally was based on public commitments from delegates as well as more than a dozen private commitments. It also included a minimum number of delegates Obama was guaranteed even if he lost the final two primaries in South Dakota and Montana later in the day.
Barack Hussein Obama (born August 4, 1961) is the junior United States Senator from Illinois and a Democrat. The U.S. Senate Historical Office lists him as the fifth African American Senator in U.S. history and the only African American currently serving in the U.S. Senate.
Born to a Kenyan father and an American mother, Obama grew up in culturally diverse surroundings. He spent most of his childhood in the majority-minority U.S. state of Hawaii and lived for four years in Indonesia. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama worked as a community organizer, university lecturer, and civil rights lawyer before entering politics. He served in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, launching his campaign for U.S. Senate in 2003.
Obama delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention while still an Illinois state legislator. Boosted by increased national standing, he went on to win election to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 with a landslide 70% of the vote in an election year marked by Republican gains. As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, Obama co-sponsored the enactment of conventional weapons control and transparency legislation, and made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
He is among the Democratic Party's leading candidates for nomination in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.Since announcing his candidacy in February 2007, Obama has emphasized ending the Iraq War and implementing universal health care as campaign themes. He married in 1992 and has two daughters. He has authored two bestselling books: a memoir of his youth entitled Dreams from My Father, and The Audacity of Hope, a personal commentary on U.S. politics.
Early life and career
Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to Barack Obama, Sr. (born in Nyanza Province, Kenya) and Ann Dunham (born in Wichita, Kansas). Obama's parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. The family moved to Jakarta in 1967, where Obama attended local schools from ages 6 to 10. He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents while attending Punahou School from 5th grade until his graduation in 1979. Obama's mother died of ovarian cancer a few months after the publication of his 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father.
After graduating from Punahou, Obama studied at Occidental College for two years, then transferred to Columbia University, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations. He received his B.A. degree in 1983, then worked for one year at Business International Corporation. In 1985, Obama moved to Chicago to direct a non-profit project assisting local churches to organize job training programs. He entered Harvard Law School in 1988. In 1990, The New York Times reported his election as the Harvard Law Review's "first black president in its 104-year history." He completed his J.D. degree magna cum laude in 1991. On returning to Chicago, Obama directed a voter registration drive. As an associate attorney with Miner, Barnhill & Gall and from 1993 to 1996, he represented community organizers, discrimination claims, and voting rights cases. He was a lecturer of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004.
Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996 from the state's 13th District in the south-side Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. In 2000, he made an unsuccessful Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives seat held by four-term incumbent candidate Bobby Rush. He was overwhelmingly reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998 and 2002, officially resigning in November 2004, following his election to the U.S. Senate. Among his major accomplishments as a state legislator, Obama's U.S. Senate web site lists: "creating programs like the state Earned Income Tax Credit"; "an expansion of early childhood education"; and "legislation requiring the videotaping of interrogations and confessions in all capital cases." Reviewing Obama's career in the Illinois Senate, a February 2007 article in the Washington Post noted his work with both Democrats and Republicans in drafting bipartisan legislation on ethics and health care reform. During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama won the endorsement of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, whose officials cited his "longtime support of gun control measures and his willingness to negotiate compromises," despite his support for some bills the police union had opposed. He was also criticized by a rival pro-choice candidate in the Democratic primary and by his Republican pro-life opponent in the general election for having voted either "present" or "no" on anti-abortion legislation.
Keynote address at 2004 Democratic National Convention
Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, while still serving as a state legislator. After describing his maternal grandfather's experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama said:
No, people don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.
Questioning the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War, Obama spoke of an enlisted Marine, Corporal Seamus Ahern from East Moline, Illinois, asking, "Are we serving Seamus as well as he is serving us?" He continued:
When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.
Finally, he spoke for national unity:
The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
The speech was Obama's introduction to most of America. Its enthusiastic reception at the convention and widespread coverage by national media gave him instant celebrity status.
Obama was sworn in as a Senator on January 4, 2005. He hired former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle's ex-chief of staff for the same position, and Karen Kornbluh, an economist who was deputy chief of staff to former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, as his policy adviser. In July 2005, Samantha Power, Pulitzer-winning author on human rights and genocide, joined Obama's team. Three months into his Senate career, and again in 2007, Time magazine named Obama one of "the world's most influential people."During his first two and a half years in the Senate, Obama received Honorary Doctorates of Law from Knox College, University of Massachusetts Boston, Northwestern University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and Southern New Hampshire University. He is a member of the Senate committees on Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; and Veterans' Affairs; and the Congressional Black Caucus.
Obama sponsored 152 bills and resolutions brought before the 109th Congress in 2005 and 2006, and cosponsored another 427. Obama took an active role in the Senate's drive for improved border security and immigration reform. Partnering first with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN), and then with Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Obama successfully introduced two initiatives bearing his name. "Lugar-Obama" expands the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and anti-personnel mines. On December 22, 2006, President Bush signed into law the "Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act," marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.
On the first day of the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress, in a column published in the Washington Post, Obama called for an end to "any and all practices that would lead a reasonable person to believe that a public servant has become indebted to a lobbyist." Obama's energy initiatives scored pluses and minuses with environmentalists. Also during the first month of the 110th Congress, Obama introduced the "Iraq War De-Escalation Act," a bill that caps troop levels in Iraq at January 10, 2007 levels, begins phased redeployment on May 1, 2007, and removes all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008
In February 2007, standing before the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, Obama announced his candidacy for the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Describing his working life in Illinois, and symbolically linking his presidential campaign to Abraham Lincoln's 1858 House Divided speech, Obama said: "That is why, in the shadow of the Old State Capitol, where Lincoln once called on a house divided to stand together, where common hopes and common dreams still live, I stand before you today to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America."
Obama's campaign reported raising US$25.8 million between January 1 and March 31 of 2007. The donations came from 104,000 individual donors, with US$6.9 million raised through the Internet from 50,000 of the donors. In early May 2007, the U.S. Secret Service announced that Obama had been placed under their protection. The protection was not in response to any specific threat, but the campaign had received "hate mail, calls and other 'threatening materials'" in the past, and officials felt that the large crowds and increased campaign activity warranted the order.
In 1988, while employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin, Obama met Michelle Robinson, who also worked there. They were married in 1992 and have two daughters, Malia, born in 1999, and Natasha ("Sasha"), born in 2001. The family moved from their Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to a nearby US$1.6-million home in 2005. Obama plays basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team.
The Audacity of HopeObama's 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, is a memoir of his youth and early career. The audio book edition earned Obama the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album. In December 2004, Obama signed a US$1.9 million contract for three books. The first, The Audacity of Hope, was published in October 2006. An Italian translation was published in April 2007, and a Spanish translation will be published in June 2007. It has remained on the New York Times Best Seller list for the 30 weeks since publication.
Cultural and political image
Supporters and critics have likened Obama's popular image to a cultural Rorschach test, a neutral persona on which people can project their personal histories and aspirations. Obama's own self-narrative reinforces what a May 2004 New Yorker magazine article described as his "everyman" image. In an October 2006 interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family: "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher. We've got it all."
Obama's rapid rise from Illinois state legislator to U.S. presidential candidate has attracted conflicting analyses among commentators challenged to align him with traditional social categories. In her January 2007 Salon article asserting that Obama "isn't black," columnist Debra Dickerson writes: "lumping us all together [with Obama] erases the significance of slavery and continuing racism while giving the appearance of progress." Expressing a similar view, New York Daily News columnist Stanley Crouch wrote: "When black Americans refer to Obama as 'one of us,' I do not know what they are talking about." But in an October 2006 article titled "Obama: Black Like Me," British columnist Gary Younge describes Obama as "a black man who does not scare white people." Film critic David Ehrenstein, writing in a March 2007 Los Angeles Times article, compares the cultural sources of candidate Obama's favorable polling among whites to those of "magical negro" roles played by black actors in Hollywood movies. Ehrenstein says these films are popular because they offer U.S. audiences a comfort for "white guilt.
Trivia regarding Obama:
· Many celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Macy Gray, and Halle Berry support Barack's 2008 presidential campaign.
· Because of his wife's suggestion, Barack quit smoking before his Democratic campaign began.
· Do The Right Thing was the movie Barack and his future wife Michelle Obama saw on their first date.
· In his free time, Barack likes to play poker and basketball.
· Barack's height is 6' 1½" (1.87m).
· Obama lived for several years as a child in Indonesia due to his mother remarrying an Indonesian. As a result, he now has a half sister that is both Canadian (due to the fact she married a Canadian and that is where she resides) and Indonesian. That is why his wife Michelle refers to their holidays as a miniature United Nations.
· A fundraiser organized by David Geffen raised $1,000,000 for his campaign for Presidency in February of 2007 in Hollywood, CA attended by many Hollywood Stars such as Oprah, George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg and many more.
· On Saturday, February 10, 2007, in Springfield, the state capital of Illinois, Barack Obama, U.S. Senator of Illinois announced his candidacy for the President of the United States.
· In 2004, Senator Barack Obama won the seat in the US Senate by getting 70% of the vote, beating out Alan Keyes.
· In December of 2004, Senator Barack Obama made a $1.9 million deal for three books.
· In 2006, Senator Barack Obama won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio book edition of his book Dreams from My Father.
· Barack Obama was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review.
· While living in Illinois, Barack Obama and his family lived on Chicago’s South Side and attended the Trinity United Church of Christ. (edit)
· Barack Obama wrote a book called "The Audacity of Hope."
· Senator Barack Obama is running for president as one of the few candidates who opposed the Iraq war from the beginning.
· Senator Barack Obama has two daughters named Malia and Sasha. (edit)
· In 1979, he graduated Punahou High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. (edit)
· In 1992, he married Michelle Robinson. (edit)
· He is the only African-American currently serving in the U.S. Senate. He is also the fifth African American to ever serve in the Senate.
PROMINENT QUOTES OF OBAMA:
Senator Barack Obama(in reference to the Rev. Wright scandal): I regret the efforts by the Republicans to politicize this matter, and I believe that if Sen. McCain were serious he would do more than just send a letter.
Senator Barack Obama: There's not a liberal America and a conservative America. There's the United States of America. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states. We coach Little League in the blue states, and have gay friends in the red states. There are patriots who opposed the war, and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the Stars and Stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
Senator Barack Obama: My first job is to say thank you to those who voted me. Those who didn't, I'm going to get your vote next time.
Senator Barack Obama: Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference.
Senator Barack Obama: It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today.
Senator Barack Obama: If you're walking down the right path and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress.