Friday, 7 November 2008

A Better Future for America and the Rest of the World

Essay: Obama's transcendence is beyond race

By RON FOURNIER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The elevation of Barack Obama to the White House is a transcendent moment, for what this election says about a nation where blacks were once considered property.

And that might be the least of it.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime event. At odd intervals — 1800, 1860, 1932, 1980 — the nation reaches a "pivot point," an election that draws the line between the past and the future. And 2008 appears to be just such a line in the shifting sands of our convulsive times.

Reagan-style conservative supremacy? Over. The era of baby boomer leadership? Waning.

And maybe, just maybe, something new has arrived: a post-partisan approach to governing, founded on the Obama Coalition, fueled by young and minority voters, powered by the 21st century technologies that helped turn a first-term senator from Illinois into a historic lodestone.

From the beginning, Obama had his sights on something bigger than the "50 percent plus one" approach championed by Karl Rove. He wanted a larger statement.

"Even if other candidates are able to eke out a victory, I think they are less likely to pull in independents and Republicans and new people who are currently not voting," Obama told The Associated Press 15 months ago.

"I think what people are looking for right now is somebody who can bring the country together and maybe shape the kind of majority that will actually deliver on health care, that will actually deliver on a bold energy strategy, that can actually do something about serious education reform."

On Tuesday, he received the huge wave of support he sought. But will he be able to do all that he promised? Will his ecstatic supporters be satisfied with anything less?

And did Obama really receive a mandate, or was he the beneficiary of the nation's disgust with President Bush, and its unease with America's course?

These are the questions that will be answered over the next four years. But for the moment, some astounding things are certain:

Our next president will be a man who identifies himself as black, but was raised by his white mother — a man who reflects the multiracial society America has become.

He was born in the 1960s, and was too young to experience the Vietnam era that left scars on the nation's psyche for decades. And his lack of experience, central to his opponents' campaigns against him in the primaries and general election, means that he is not necessarily invested in the way things have always been done.

Exit polls indicated that Obama's triumph was built on his overwhelming success with blacks, Hispanics, 18-to-34-year-olds and new voters.

This is the future of the U.S. electorate.

History shows that once a young voter casts ballots twice for a given party, he or she is unlikely to ever turn away. Hispanics are the nation's fastest-growing voting bloc. Indeed, the government recently reported that white people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2042, eight years sooner than previous estimates.

About one in 10 voters said this was the first year they had cast ballots, and 70 percent of them backed Obama. To cap it off, Obama won the female vote.

"From this day forward," says historian John Baick of Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., "politics, politicians and the people they serve will never be the same."

Obama takes over after 16 years of leadership by presidents born in the thick of the baby boom. In this fast-moving society, the worlds in which George W. Bush and Bill Clinton governed are so out of date they seem almost quaint.

Consider this: There were just a few hundred Web sites when Clinton took office and virtually no blogs when Bush entered the White House in January 2001.

Obama, of course, raised millions of dollars via the Internet. He tried to announce his selection of Joe Biden as his running mate with a text message. One of his favorite platforms, YouTube, did not exist when Bush began his second term.

When Obama needs help on Capitol Hill, the world's largest lobbying shop — millions of supporters strong — is a mass e-mail away. His campaign Web site, a virtual community, could evolve into the 21st century version of a political headquarters — the place you go to help the party or ask it to help you.

To some degree, Obama succeeded by turning the concept of micro-politics on its head. Founded by Clinton and perfected by Bush, micro-politics relies on the dark arts of data mining, voter segmentation and polling.

Micro-politicians divide the country into like-minded groups, then peel off their rivals' votes — a few from here, a few more from there — to cobble together narrow victories. They divide — or polarize — and conquer.

While Obama borrowed micro-targeting tactics from Bush and Clinton, the Illinois senator used them to find and motivate unregistered voters rather than to slice and dice the traditional crop.

"This is a realigning election because folks who are going to vote from here on out are people who don't have a strong partisan connection," says political scientist Natalie Davis of Birmingham Southern College in Birmingham, Ala. "They don't see things in terms of red and blue. They see things more in terms of solving problems."

But parties still matter, and with gains in the House and the Senate, Obama takes office with more political capital than perhaps any president since Lyndon Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in 1964. That landslide produced a House with 295 Democrats and a Senate with 68 Democrats.

In addition, many Democrats who won seats in U.S. statehouses Tuesday night will play a role in drawing the next decade's political maps, a process that can cement the power of the ruling party.

Obama will need all the help he can get, as an inexperienced chief executive handed the burdens of a recession, a trillion-plus dollars in new government debt, an aging society, rising health care costs, failed energy policies and two foreign wars.

After a generation of politics based on promises of less government and lower taxes, Obama will ask Congress to expand government's reach and tackle the nation's massive problems. He even ran saying he would raise some people's taxes.

Again, those are tomorrow's tasks. For now, we can marvel at this moment, when we can look back and see the past, and look forward at a sharply drawn future.

Baick, the Western New England College historian, likens 2008 to 1960, and the victory of John F. Kennedy.

"He managed to convince Americans through popular memory and myth that we are good again," Baick says, "that we are different and young."

Echoes of Obama.

In 1960, the question that loomed over the campaign was whether a Catholic could get elected president. Voters answered yes. Nearly five decades later, that milestone is a mere footnote to the Kennedy presidency.

The question this time was whether a black man could win the presidency. Forty percent of all white Americans hold a negative view of blacks, according to polling by The Associated Press, and two-thirds of white Democrats express racial misgivings.

Yet on Election Day, Obama won more than four of every 10 white votes. Americans said yes, we can overcome our original sin.

Fifty years from now, President Obama will be remembered for more than the color of his skin.

And this moment will never be forgotten.


EDITOR'S NOTE: Ron Fournier is Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press.

Courtesy of Yahoo!News 11/5/2008

A Happy Friday Gift from Allah the Almighty: Most Popular Malaysian Social Reformist Raja Petra Released from Kamunting

From Malaysiakini Nov 7 2008

Court frees ISA detainee Raja Petra

Hafiz Yatim | Nov 7, 08 9:46am

Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin was released from his Internal Security Act (ISA) detention at 3.20pm.

The editor of the popular Malaysia Today website was brought to the Shah Alam High Court just five minutes earlier.

Expressing surprise with the decision, Raja Petra said: "Not many people have challenged the act (ISA) so much and I did not have much high hopes (of being released).

"This application allowed under Section 8 is a special prize. I am tired."

"This showed ISA cannot be used. I hope this is not a political decision. I don't want to be the prime minister. I want Anwar to be the PM," he said.

"We have to fight all-out and get the ISA abolished," he told reporters.

Raja Petra was greeted by his wife Marina Lee Abdullah and two daughters. Some 50 supporters and friends clapped and cheered when the blogger appeared.

He later left the courthouse with his family in a red Rolls-Royce.

Looking haggard and dressed in a brown T-shirt and jeans, Raja Petra was garlanded by dozens of supporters outside the court before stepping into the vehicle.

This morning, the Shah Alam High Court ruled that the detention of Raja Petra under the ISA was illegal and ordered his immediate release.

Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad said that Raja Petra's detention was unconstitutional.

He said the home minister had not followed proper procedure under Section 8 of the ISA to issue the detention order against Raja Petra.

The judge also ordered that Raja Petra be produced in court by 4pm today after which he should be immediately released.

Raja Petra was being held at the Kamunting detention camp in Perak.

"Now is about 10.30am, and I think there is enough time for Raja Petra to be released. I do not want this matter to be prolonged as the weekend starts tomorrow," said the judge.

"I thank the prosecution for their cooperation in handling this case and require your assistance to ensure that the order would be carried out."

Senior federal counsel Abdul Wahab Mohammad said he would make the necessary arrangements by 4pm.

The release comes more than a month after Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar signed the ISA detention order on Sept 23, although Raja Petra was initially arrested under the Act on Sept 12 at his house in Sungai Buloh.

courtesy of Malaysiakini
© 2007 Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, 5 November 2008

The Happiest Moment In America's Race Relations and a moment of Great Hope for the rest of the World

Our heartiest congratulations to Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America and America's first African American President! May this victory bring America back to its senses and the great ideals of the American Declaration of Independence. Hopefully, with an African American President, America will focus more on its own internal problems. America had spent billions of dollars to launch wars on so many nations. Of what good or benefit have these wars been for America and the rest of the world. America had lost thousands of its precious sons to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Have the world become a much better place to live in after America (and Great Britain under America's lackey Tony Blair) managed to get rid of an Arab dictator by the name of Saddam Hussein? Have George Bush managed to introduce democracy in Iraq after he successfully pulled down Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad? Have both George Bush (and Tony Blair) managed to discover what both claimed to be "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that Saddam Hussein had built whilst he was alive?

So far America had never won any of its great wars against many poor countries and nations. In fact history had clearly shown that America had even failed to defeat and crush a poor Asian country like Vietnam that cleverly used indigenous tricks and weapons to defeat a far more superior fighting machine called America. Sadly America never learnt any valuable lesson from its bitter experience in Vietnam. Instead, after the fall of socialism in Europe, America started to create enemies amongst many Muslim countries. It spent billions of dollars just to ensure that Muslims do not become too serious with their religion, Islam. It spent millions to destroy madrassas in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It also spent millions of dollars to make sure that the traditional curiculla in Muslim schools from Indonesia right up to Saudi Arabia are modified and diluted in terms of its spiritual content. The world has never been told how much money America had spent in Iraq to get rid of their scholars and scientists immediately after the American-led illegaal invasion of the country.The world has also not been told of how much of Iraq's precious treasures had been illegally smuggled out of the war-torn country after the American invasion. The billions of dollars that America had spent in trying to check the growth and spread of Islam should be best spent to help the needy Americans in the United States. The money should be used to improve the life and welfare of the Blacks and other minorities in America. Unfortunately, America had used this money to kill or destroy more and more Muslims whom America had conveniently described or labelled either as "fundamentalists" or as "terrorists". For so many years America had spent billion of dollars to kill the poor Afghanistanis, Pakistanis, Iraqis or Syrians in their tents, huts, houses and madrassas.The world could not do anything to stop innocent Muslims from being bombed or destroyed by America. A simple experience in human interaction will tell a sober, humane and thinking American president that blowing and bombing innocent poor people and their countries is not the best way to win friends, human respect and precious loyalty. Hopefully, the killing and bombing of innocent Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria will end with departure of George Bush and his war mongering advisers. It is fervently hoped that with this historic change in America's leadership, the American perspective of the world will slowly improve. Under its previous presidents, America's perspective of the world was that of America's pre-civil war period. For hundred of years America had looked at itself and the rest of the world in terms of only two simple colours - Black and White. This vision of the world is clearly expressed in President Bush's infamous ultimatum to the world, "You are either with us or against us".

For so many years many people in the developing countries, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, have observed that America's understanding of the world is too naive and simplistic. It is a phenomenon which Malay-speaking Malaysians and Indonesians would describe as very juling - "squinted" or to be more precise extremely "prejudiced" and blinkered. It is an extension and projection of America's understanding of its own people who are sadly polarised into Whites and Blacks. This is a seriously simplistic and dangerously naive view of human beings either in America or in the rest of the world. It is hoped that with this change in American leadership and with the help of so many highly distinguished sociologists and anthropologists that America have produced, Barack Obama and the rest of his presedential team should hve a better grasp of the world inside and outside America in the years ahead. We sincerely hope that under its charismatic and blessed (Mubarak) Black president America will make more serious and sincere efforts to really understand and respect other societies and cultures so that the world can become a much better place to live in. We greatly hope that America's President elect Barack Obama will be the first American president who will have a human heart and sympathy for fellow human beings who live in countrues that are not as powerful and wealthy as America and who probably do not share America's creed or ideology. We sincerely hope that under its first Black president America will once again become a truly good and great friend of many nations - regardless of their size, colour and creed. Best wishes to the brave and patriotic people of America!

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