Renew efforts at reconciliation, emotional Obama urges Americans during his farewell speech

Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn’t abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats.

His voice at moments catching with emotion, Obama recounted a presidency that saw setbacks as well as successes. Admitting candidly that political discourse has soured under his watch, Obama demanded that Americans renew efforts at reconciliation.
“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy,” the President said. “To embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.”
Obama also stressed solidarity despite a presidency sometimes at odds with Congress.
“Democracy does not require uniformity,” Obama said. “Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”
In a concession that, for now, his brand of progressive politics is stalled in Washington, Obama admitted “for every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back.”
He implored his backers to be vigilant in protecting basic American values he warned could come under siege.
“Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear,” he said. “So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”
And he warned against turning inward, telling Democrats that only by involving themselves in a real political discourse could they hope to renew the hopeful vision he brought to the White House eight years ago.
“After eight years as your President, I still believe that,” he went on. “And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.”
-CNN

As Michelle graces Vogue cover for the third time, Obama can’t help but express his pride

First Lady Michelle Obama has achieved so much in her eight-year tenure in the White House: She’s assisted veterans and their families, given knockout speeches (including one at the Democratic National Convention this summer) on topics she feels passionately about, transformed the way that kids think about healthy eating and being active, seen her eldest daughter get into Harvard and done all of that while achieving fashion icon status. And now she has one more accomplishment to add to her list: a third Vogue cover within seven years.

Obama is (understandably) proud of her legacy, telling the magazine, “I could have spent eight years doing anything, and at some level, it would have been fine. I could have focused on flowers. I could have focused on décor. I could have focused on entertainment. Because any First Lady, rightfully, gets to define her role. There’s no legislative authority; you’re not elected. And that’s a wonderful gift of freedom.”

Her husband, President Barack Obama, also shares his pride about his wife’s role in the White House, writing, “Michelle never asked to be First Lady … Like a lot of political spouses, the role was thrust upon her. But I always knew she’d be incredible at it, and put her own unique stamp on the job. That’s because who you see is who she is— the brilliant, funny, generous woman who, for whatever reason, agreed to marry me. I think people gravitate to her because they see themselves in her— a dedicated mom, a good friend, and someone who’s not afraid to poke a little fun at herself from time to time.”

She poses in Carolina Herrera on the cover and Atelier Versace in an inside photo (the same designer she wore to her final state dinner, to much acclaim), and she opens up about the role fashion has had for her over the past eight years in the public eye — and why she often chose surprising or up-and-coming designers. “It all boils down to comfort level: If I’m going to make you comfortable, than I have to be comfortable first,” she says.” So my first reaction isn’t ‘Who made this?’ But ‘Let’s try it on. What does it look like? Oooh, that’s cute. Oh, wow. I never thought of wearing something like this. Let’s put a belt on it. I feel gooood in this’.”

She continues, “There are definitely designers that I love, people I love to work with. And who they are as people matters. Are they good people? Do they treat their staff well? Do they treat my staff well? Are they young? Can I give them a boost? But! When all of that is equal…is it cute?!”

So will she miss it all when she leaves the White House in January? “You know, there are little moments … Looking out on the South Lawn and the Washington Monument … It’s soooo beautiful. And for that moment I thought, I’m going to miss waking up to this, having access to this anytime I want,” she says. “But on the flip side . . . it’s time. I think our democracy has it exactly right: two terms, eight years. It’s enough. Because it’s important to have one foot in reality when you have access to this kind of power. The nature of living in the White House is isolating. And I think Barack and I—because we’re kind of stubborn—we’ve maintained some normalcy, mostly because of the age of our kids. I go out to dinner with my girlfriends; I go to Sasha’s games; Barack has coached a little basketball with Sasha’s team. But at the same time, when you can’t walk into CVS?”

For Obama’s first cover, shortly after Inauguration in 2009, she wore a pink dress by Jason Wu, who also designed her Inauguration gown. She talked about hoping to give her children a sense of normalcy, but Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour already knew things would be very different, writing: “Change was the clarion call of Barack Obama’s election campaign, though I don’t think any of us at Vogue initially realized that would include the difference that was going to be made by First Lady Michelle Obama’s wardrobe … It’s inspiring to see our first lady so serene and secure in her personal style.”

The First Lady’s second cover was more fashion-forward, with piecey bangs and a sculptural sheath dress. “I always say that women should wear whatever makes them feel good about themselves,” she said at the time. “That’s what I always try to do.”

 

 

 

 

-People

Obama talks about his favorite rappers reminding us why he is a cool president

It’s no secret that President Barack Obama’s super cool — especially as far as presidents go. And his coolness factor just went even higher when we heard that he revealed some of his favorite rappers.


“I think the young guys, Kendrick and Chance, are doing amazing work,” the President said on the radio show. “I love Drake and the girls love Drake, so he’s commercially just doing great, and unbelievably talented. Jay Z’s still the king. I mean he’s got a track record. Same with Kanye so there’s a lot of talent out there, but when I look at who’s breaking new ground, Kendrick and Chance, those guys are doing just amazing work.” ~Obama


Fun fact: Obama has known Chance the Rapper since Chance was eight years old (!), “so we’ve been family for a while,” the President said, reported the SiriusXM Blog.

Bonus fun fact: Chance’s dad was Obama’s state director when he was a senator in Illinois. Who knew?!

Of course, we already loved the Spotify playlists that the POTUS made, like this year’s and last year’s. And Chance the Rapper and Jay Z both made this year’s list.

-Helogiggles

Obama not amused by Trump’s “wacky ideas” , calls upon Americans to challenge them

President Barack Obama warned Thursday against becoming immune to Donald Trump’s more outlandish statements, arguing that the stakes of the US presidential contest were too high for Americans to tune out.

“People start thinking behavior that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable and outrageous becomes normalized,” Obama said during a news conference at the tail end of his visit to Laos.
“People start thinking that we should be grading on a curve,” he said. “But I can tell you from the interactions I have had over the last eight or nine days with foreign leaders that this is serious business.”
Obama has repeatedly warned against the perils of the Trump presidency, suggesting the Republican nominee would be woefully unprepared to take office should he win in November.
When he’s abroad, Obama has relayed fears from foreign leaders, who he says question him often about the state of the US presidential contest.
“You actually have to know what you are talking about and you actually have to have done your homework,” Obama said Thursday. “When you speak, it should actually reflect thought-out policy you can implement.”
Obama was speaking just before boarding Air Force One for a long return journey to Washington.
One of his first events when he returns is a solo campaign stop for Hillary Clinton, the second time he’s hit the campaign trail for the Democratic candidate.
Obama declared last month that Trump was unqualified to succeed him as commander in chief, and reiterated his view Thursday.
“Every time he speaks that opinion is confirmed,” Obama said.
“I think the most important thing for the public and the press is to just listen to what he says and follow-up and ask questions about what appear to be either contradictory or uninformed or outright wacky ideas.”
-CNN

Obama reminds America of Unity, bashes Trump in his DNC speech

The Democratic A-list on Wednesday cast Donald Trump as a threat to the American dream — and Hillary Clinton as the nation’s only chance to save it.

President Barack Obama called Trump a “homegrown demagogue.” Michael Bloomberg dismissed him as a “con.” And Vice President Joe Biden, in rejecting Trump, declared that “Americans have never, ever, ever, ever let their country down.”
They set the frame for the Democratic National Convention’s most important moment: Clinton’s speech Thursday night.
Here are six takeaways from the third night in Philadelphia:

Obama: ‘the America I know’

Obama cast the 2016 election as a choice between two visions for the country: The one he described on the Democratic convention stage when he rocketed to stardom 12 years ago in Boston against a dark and dystopian view from Trump that Obama said doesn’t match “the America I know.”
“It’s not just a choice between parties or policies; the usual debates between left and right,” he said. “This is a more fundamental choice — about who we are as a people, and whether we stay true to this great American experiment in self-government.”
In a direct shot at Trump, Obama said: “Our power doesn’t come from some self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way.”
If Democrats wanted to frame the election as their optimism against Trump’s darkness, the Republican nominee was eager to help. As Obama spoke, Trump’s campaign emailed reporters a statement with the subject line: “OWNING THE 3RD TERM: VIOLENT CRIME RISING ACROSS THE COUNTRY.”

Obama passes the baton

Obama sought to lend Clinton every ounce of credibility he has, telling delegates that no man or woman has ever been better-qualified for the presidency than his former secretary of state.
“Not me, not Bill, not nobody,” he said.
Bill Clinton stood and applauded — two Democratic icons at once saying: This is Hillary Clinton’s party now.
From a video introduction that focused on the work left to do to achieve Obama’s vision, the President made clear that Clinton is the only person capable of solidifying his legacy.
“I have confidence, as I leave this stage tonight, that the Democratic Party is in good hands,” Obama said as he closed.
Even Obama’s final line was designed to underscore his vision of Clinton as his heir. “Thank you for this incredible journey,” he said. “Let’s keep it going.”
Obama got as close to a literal hand-off as possible, with Clinton joining him on-stage as soon as he finished his speech. The two held hands and waved, and then both Clintons and Obama met privately off-stage.
-CNN

Obama dines with adventurous eater Anthony Bourdain at a basic restaurant

Imagine the president of America eating at your Mama Junior’s toninyira? Well, the people of Vietnam are no longer imagining because it happened in reality.

According to CNN, President Barack Obama took a detour on his Asia trip Monday when he dined with celebrity chef and adventurous eater Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam.

Their meal and conversation will be featured in a September episode of CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.”
After finishing up at Hanoi restaurant Bún chả Hương Liên, Bourdain tweeted that he had picked up the $6 tab on a shared “bun Cha dinner.”
Obama arrived in Vietnam on Sunday, kicking off his tenth Asian trip since entering the White House. After Hanoi, the President heads for Ho Chi Minh City, before making his way to Japan. He concludes his trip later this week in Hiroshima, where the U.S. in 1945 dropped the first of two atomic bombs during World War II.
Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit the site.
His meal with Bourdain offered a brief break from an emotionally and politically weighty schedule that began with the announcement that the U.S would lift a decades-old lethal arms embargo on Vietnam.

 

Obama drops mic at his last White House correspondent’s Dinner

For the final time, President Barack Obama delivered one-liners and laughs at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, lampooning himself, Congress, and his upcoming status as a lame duck.

“Last week Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe,” Obama said. “That was a slap in the face.”

Obama pretended to be wrapping up his remarks with no mention of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

“Well let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want to thank the Washington press corps,” Obama said. “The free press is central to our democracy and … nah! I’m just kidding! You know I’m gonna talk about Trump! Come on!,” he said.

“And it is surprising: You’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras — and he says no,” Obama continued.

“Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doing?”

Obama joked about Trump’s foreign policy experience, saying, “There’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”

Obama did not spare Hillary Clinton. He began by apologizing for a delay in a quip that turned on the former Secretary of State.

“I know I was a little late tonight,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “I was running on CPT — which stands for jokes that white people should not make.”

The joke referred to a recent gaffe made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton who spoke about “C.P. time,” a racially insensitive term that stands for “colored people’s time.”

Obama also told the crowd in his opening: “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans.” The new version of the $20 bill will feature escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front.

Obama made a not-so-subtle prediction of his successor.

“Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be,” Obama said.

 Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, was in the crowd. “Bernie, you look like a million bucks,” Obama said. “Or to put it in terms you understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.”

Obama also had fun with his age and looked back at his time in office, reflecting on the message he brought to the White House when he was first elected. “Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific,” Obama said.

“Eight years ago I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor,” Obama said. “And look at me now: I am grey and grizzled, and just counting down the days ’till my death panel.”

Obama ended his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner with a sincere thank you to the press corps.

“I just have two more words to say,” the president said. “Obama out.”

 

-NBC

The Obamas brave the rain to tour old Harvana in historic visit to Cuba

He is the first sitting US president to visit since the 1959 revolution, which heralded decades of hostility.

Speaking at the reopened US embassy in Havana, he called the visit “historic”. He also spent time in the old city.

Mr Obama will meet President Raul Castro, but not retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, and the pair will discuss trade and political reform.

The US president emerged smiling from Air Force One with First Lady Michelle and their daughters Sasha and Malia.

Holding umbrellas, the party walked in light drizzle along a red carpet to be greeted by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

Two hours after landing, Mr Obama greeted staff from the US embassy with the words: “It is wonderful to be here”.

“Back in 1928, President [Calvin] Coolidge came on a battleship. It took him three days to get here, it only took me three hours. For the first time ever, Air Force One has landed in Cuba and this is our very first stop.”

He added the trip was a chance to for him to lay out a “vision for a future that is brighter than our past”.

The Obamas later began a walkabout in historic Old Havana.

The tour was meant to see them interacting with ordinary Cubans on the streets, but this part of the itinerary was marred by a tropical storm.

They huddled under umbrellas before visiting the national cathedral.

 

 

-URN

 

Obama wont be speaking at Malia’s Graduation, he will get emotional

When it comes to his daughter Malia’s upcoming high school graduation, President Obama is already preparing to shed a few tears.

While lunching at the Jolly Pumpkin Brewery in Detroit today, Obama told his lunch companions that he turned down a request to speak at Malia’s graduation, saying he will be too emotional.

“Malia’s school asked if I wanted to speak at commencement and I said no,” the president said. “I’m going to be wearing dark glasses … and I’m going to cry.”

The entirety of President Obama’s comments could not be overheard as his exchange was caught only sporadically on audio.

Malia, the president’s elder daughter, is currently in her senior year of high school and is set to graduate this spring.

 

 

 

 

 

-ABC

 

 

 

 

Obama’s 2015 Favourite song is by Kendrick Lamar

Asked by People what song he’s been listening to most over the past year, he not only didn’t say “’Hello’ by Adele” like every other sucker on this planet, but named once-in-a-generation talent Kendrick Lamar and his track ‘How Much a Dollar Cost’.

You’d have thought the president might have gone for ‘Alright’, it being the main single from K-Dot’s new album and something of a rallying cry for the US, but I like the idea that Obama sat there soaking up the whole of To Pimp A Butterfly.

‘How Much a Dollar Cost’ sees Kendrick tell the story of a with meeting a homeless man begging him for change who turns out to be Jesus Christ reincarnated.

I just wonder what Obama made of the previous track, ‘Hood Politics’, which pivots on the line “Obama say, ‘what it do?’”, an apparent assertion that despite being black, the president could and should have done more for the black community.

Obama told the magazine for their Campaign 2016 special that his favourite film of the year was Ridley Scott’s The Martian, his favourite book Fates and Furies by Lauren Goff.

The FLOTUS’s favourite track meanwhile was Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’.

 

 

Source: Independent