Let Us Talk

October 16, 2010

Vote 2010: United We Stand; Divided We ALL Fall!

When you are the leader in anything (even on Dancing with the Stars!) there is only one way to go – down.  And there are always many happily waiting to take you top spot.  America is the world leader and there are many ‘vultures’ who want us to slip so that they can be the world leader – number one.  As the lyricist Des’ree said, “You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger, you gotta be calm and you gotta stay together!”

America – we MUST stay together.  We MUST unite or divided we will all fall.  The rest of the world is uniting against us. Wake up! Unite!!! Did you hear or read the news report on Thursday that Russia is helping to build a nuclear power station?!  Read the following articles for details:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20101015/wl_nm/us_russia_venezuela_nuclear

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/10/15/russia.venezuela/

Most Americans want what’s good for America – we just have different ways we believe we should go about making America successful.  What we seem to forget is that there are more than one way to skin a cat, a deer or a gator.

If we continue to fight amongst ourselves as we are doing now, NONE of us will benefit.  Right now we are like a nation at a four way traffic intersection and we all moved at the same time. We are all in the middle of the intersection and no one wants to back up so we are all stuck. And everyone behind us is stuck and we’re backed up for miles without a solution in sight.

The top 10% of America has 90% of our wealth.  That 10% is receiving tax breaks from our government so that they will create good jobs in America and put us back to work.  But that’s not what they are doing.  They are taking the tax breaks and shipping tens of thousands of good paying jobs overseas.  This means that the top 10% are getting our tax monies from the government and they are getting more money by shipping our jobs abroad and saving millions. Why do the 10% wealthiest get to have their billion dollar cake and eat it too?  Why aren’t we screaming at them?

We have to look at who the real culprits are and rebel against THEM.  President Obama is giving these big businesses the tools they need to hire Americans.  These businesses have accepted the tools but they refuse to use it to help the middle class Americans they are suppose to help.  They are lining their pockets and sitting on their money eggs while we lose our jobs. 

America we have to unite against big business and we have to unite as a country before we drop from number one to number three or four.

We have to be smart citizen politicians.  We have to make decisions that help us; not the 10%.  We have to realize that the only way to rebuild America is for all of us to work together and get America out of the hole we’re in.  When we’re out of the hole we can debate our doctrines and personal preferences.

If we do not remain united, foreign powers will have a real opportunity to slip in and take bits and pieces of our country and businesses until they own America. Is that what we want to happen?

We can only point the fingers at ourselves if this great country collapses. 

This is not the time to snicker, bicker and point fingers.  Know is the time to set America right so we can continue to live in this great country as Americans and not become foreigners in our country.

So, what are you going to do?  Are you going to vote and unite America on November 2, 2010 and continue the work already started so we can all get jobs again?  Or are you going to vote to further divide the country and we will all fall?

United we stand. Divided we fall.

What are you going to do?

If America fails, which country do you want to rule America?  Which new language do you want to have to learn to speak?  Chinese, Russian, French?

United we stand. Divided we fall.

What are you going to do?

Peace, Love and Understanding!

October 7, 2009

Michelle Obama’s Roots — A Complex Path From Slavery

Fraser and Marian Robinson with Craig and Michelle

In First Lady’s Roots, a Complex Path From Slavery

By RACHEL L. SWARNS and JODI KANTOR

WASHINGTON — In 1850, the elderly master of a South Carolina estate took pen in hand and painstakingly divided up his possessions. Among the spinning wheels, scythes, tablecloths and cattle that he bequeathed to his far-flung heirs was a 6-year-old slave girl valued soon afterward at $475.

In his will, she is described simply as the “negro girl Melvinia.” After his death, she was torn away from the people and places she knew and shipped to Georgia. While she was still a teenager, a white man would father her first-born son under circumstances lost in the passage of time.

In the annals of American slavery, this painful story would be utterly unremarkable, save for one reason: This union, consummated some two years before the Civil War, marked the origins of a family line that would extend from rural Georgia, to Birmingham, Ala., to Chicago and, finally, to the White House.

Melvinia Shields, the enslaved and illiterate young girl, and the unknown white man who impregnated her are the great-great-great-grandparents of Michelle Obama, the first lady.

Viewed by many as a powerful symbol of black advancement, Mrs. Obama grew up with only a vague sense of her ancestry, aides and relatives said. During the presidential campaign, the family learned about one paternal great-great-grandfather, a former slave from South Carolina, but the rest of Mrs. Obama’s roots were a mystery.

Now the more complete map of Mrs. Obama’s ancestors — including the slave mother, white father and their biracial son, Dolphus T. Shields — for the first time fully connects the first African-American first lady to the history of slavery, tracing their five-generation journey from bondage to a front-row seat to the presidency.

The findings — uncovered by Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist, and The New York Times — substantiate what Mrs. Obama has called longstanding family rumors about a white forebear.

While President Obama’s biracial background has drawn considerable attention, his wife’s pedigree, which includes American Indian strands, highlights the complicated history of racial intermingling, sometimes born of violence or coercion, that lingers in the bloodlines of many African-Americans. Mrs. Obama and her family declined to comment for this article, aides said, in part because of the personal nature of the subject.

“She is representative of how we have evolved and who we are,” said Edward Ball, a historian who discovered that he had black relatives — the descendants of his white slave-owning ancestors — when he researched his memoir, “Slaves in the Family.”

“We are not separate tribes of Latinos and whites and blacks in America,” Mr. Ball said. “We’ve all mingled, and we have done so for generations.”

The outlines of Mrs. Obama’s family history unfolded from 19th century probate records, yellowing marriage licenses, fading photographs and the recollections of elderly women who remember the family. Ms. Smolenyak, who has traced the ancestry of many prominent figures, began studying the first lady’s roots in earnest after conducting some preliminary research into Mrs. Obama’s ancestry for an article published in The New York Times earlier this year.

Of the dozens of relatives she identified, Ms. Smolenyak said, it was the slave girl who seemed to call out most clearly.

“Out of all Michelle’s roots, it’s Melvinia who is screaming to be found,” she said.

When her owner, David Patterson, died in 1852, Melvinia soon found herself on a 200-acre farm with new masters, Mr. Patterson’s daughter and son-in law, Christianne and Henry Shields. It was a strange and unfamiliar world.

In South Carolina, she had lived on an estate with 21 slaves. In Georgia, she was one of only three slaves on property that is now part of a neat subdivision in Rex, near Atlanta.

Whether Melvinia labored in the house or in the fields, there was no shortage of work: wheat, corn, sweet potatoes and cotton to plant and harvest, and 3 horses, 5 cows, 17 pigs and 20 sheep to care for, according to an 1860 agricultural survey.

It is difficult to say who might have impregnated Melvinia, who gave birth to Dolphus around 1859, when she was perhaps as young as 15. At the time, Henry Shields was in his late 40s and had four sons ages 19 to 24, but other men may have spent time on the farm as well.

“No one should be surprised anymore to hear about the number of rapes and the amount of sexual exploitation that took place under slavery; it was an everyday experience, “ said Jason A. Gillmer, a law professor at Texas Wesleyan University, who has researched liaisons between slave owners and slaves. “But we do find that some of these relationships can be very complex.”

In 1870, three of Melvinia’s four children, including Dolphus, were listed on the census as mulatto. One was born four years after emancipation, suggesting that the liaison that produced those children endured after slavery. She gave her children the Shields name, which may have hinted at their paternity or simply been the custom of former slaves taking their master’s surnames.

Even after she was freed, Melvinia stayed put, working as a farm laborer on land adjacent to that of Charles Shields, one of Henry’s sons.

But sometime in her 30s or 40s, census records show, Melvinia broke away and managed to reunite with former slaves from her childhood on the Patterson estate: Mariah and Bolus Easley, who settled with Melvinia in Bartow County, near the Alabama border. Dolphus married one of the Easleys’ daughters, Alice, who is Mrs. Obama’s great-great-grandmother.

A community “that had been ripped apart was somehow pulling itself back together,” Ms. Smolenyak said of the group in Bartow County.

Still, Melvinia appears to have lived with the unresolved legacy of her childhood in slavery until the very end. Her 1938 death certificate, signed by a relative, says “don’t know” in the space for the names of her parents, suggesting that Melvinia, then in her 90s, may never have known herself.

Sometime before 1888, Dolphus and Alice Shields continued the migration, heading to Birmingham, a boomtown with a rumbling railroad, an iron and steel industry and factories that attracted former slaves and their children from across the South.

Dolphus Shields was in his 30s and very light skinned — some say he looked like a white man — a church-going carpenter who could read, write and advance in an industrializing town. By 1900, he owned his own home, census records show. By 1911, he had opened his own carpentry and tool sharpening business.

A co-founder of First Ebenezer Baptist Church and Trinity Baptist Church, which later became active in the civil rights movement, he supervised Sunday schools at both churches, which still exist today, and at Regular Missionary Baptist Church.

“He was the dean of the deacons in Birmingham,” said Helen Heath, 88, who attended church with him. “He was a serious man. He was about business.”

He carried his family into the working-class, moving into a segregated neighborhood of striving black homeowners and renters. In his home, there was no smoking, no cursing, no gum chewing, no lipstick or trousers for ladies and absolutely no blues on the radio, which was reserved for hymns, remembered Bobbie Holt, 73, who was raised by Mr. Shields and his fourth wife, Lucy. She said the family went to church “every night of the week, it seemed like.”

He carried peppermints for neighborhood children, Mrs. Holt said, and told funny stories about his escapades as a boy. But his family struggled.

His first wife, Alice Easley Shields, moved around after they split up, working as a seamstress and a maid, and two of their sons stumbled.

Robert Lee Shields, Mrs. Obama’s great-grandfather, married Annie Lawson in 1906 and worked as a laborer and a railroad porter, but disappeared from the public record sometime around his 32nd birthday.

Willie Arthur Shields, an inventor who obtained patents for improving dry cleaning operations, ended up working as a maintenance man, Mrs. Holt said.

As for his ancestry, Dolphus Shields didn’t talk about it.

“We got to the place where we didn’t want anybody to know we knew slaves; people didn’t want to talk about that,” said Mrs. Heath, who said she assumed he had white relatives because his skin color and hair texture “told you he had to be near white.”

At a time when blacks despaired at the intransigence and violence of whites who barred them from voting, from most city jobs, from whites-only restaurants and from owning property in white neighborhoods, Dolphus Shields served as a rare link between the deeply divided communities.

His carpentry shop stood in the white section of town, and he mixed easily and often with whites. “They would come to his shop and sit and talk,” Mrs. Holt said.

Dolphus Shields firmly believed race relations would improve. “It’s going to come together one day,” he often said, Mrs. Holt recalled.

By the time he died in 1950 at age 91, change was on the way. On June 9, 1950, the day that his obituary appeared on the front page of The Birmingham World, the black newspaper also ran a banner headline that read, “U.S. Court Bans Segregation in Diners and Higher Education.” The Supreme Court had outlawed separate but equal accommodations on railway cars and in universities in Texas and Oklahoma.

Up North, his grandson, a painter named Purnell Shields, Mrs. Obama’s grandfather, was positioning his family to seize the widening opportunities in Chicago.

But as his descendants moved forward, they lost touch with the past. Today, Dolphus Shields lies in a neglected black cemetery, where patches of grass grow knee-high and many tombstones have toppled.

Mrs. Holt, a retired nursing assistant, said he came to her in a dream last month. She dug up his photograph, never guessing that she would soon learn that Dolphus Shields was a great-great-grandfather of the first lady.

“Oh my God,” said Mrs. Holt, gasping at the news. “I always looked up to him, but I would never have imagined something like this. Praise God, we’ve come a long way.”

Jim Sherling contributed reporting from Rex, Ga. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

This article can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/us/politics/08genealogy.html

 

September 11, 2009

Healthcare: Senator Edward (Teddy) Kennedy’s Letter To President Obama

Please read the Honorable Edward Kennedy’s letter to President Obama below.  The letter was delivered to our President after Senator Kennedy died.  Senator Kennedy said it all in his letter.

Let’s get this bill signed for Uncle Teddy.  It’s simple, click on the link below, plug in your zip code and the list of all your elected officials that you should call will pop up with their phone number.  Call each of your elected official’s office and simply say, “I am calling to express my support for President Obama’s healthcare reform plan” or something like that.  They’ll ask for your zip code – that’s it.  They won’t ask for any personal information — and if they do you don’t have to share it.  They are logging calls to keep count of  support for healthcare reform- you can also call more than once. 

When I worked in news and we got calls because a story impacted the public in some profound way each call was calculated as 100 people because they figure for every call they receive from the public 100 people were thinking of making that call.   We are trying to get 5,000 individual calls to every elected official.  Please call and encourage your friends to call as well…please.  Pass this information on.  Let’s get this done.

Let’s be able to look back one year from now and marvel at our tremendous accomplishment.  

Democracy is not a spectator sport – we all have to participate for it to work. Please participate today.

Let’s do this for the late and great Senator Edward M. Kennedy.  Click the link below.

Add your voice: Ask your representatives to support my plan for real health reform in 2009.

 

Edward M. Kennedy

May 12, 2009

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me – and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me-and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles – there always have been – and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat – that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve, I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth. And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will – yes, we will – fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign- and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend- and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,

Ted

September 8, 2009

President Obama To American Students: “I expect great things from each of you.”

“Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.”

 “You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.”

Minutes ago President Barack Obama addressed students from kindergarten to 12th grade all across America.  His speech had the right tenure and was uplifting and inspiring.  I was inspired and I am many, many years removed from college.  I know many people who are 20, 30 and 40 year old that needed to hear this speech. 🙂

I have to say that people who decided against having their children listen to this moving and encouraging speech are simply stupid – I am being polite.

How can a parent not want their child(ren) to be inspired?  You never know what’s going to inspire a young person and as a responsible parent you have to expose them to all possible positive influences. But some of these same parents allow their children to listen to Pitbull, Miley Cyrus, New Boyz, etc who offer nothing remotely encouraging in their lyrics.

Education is important and this was a great and motivating way for students to start the school year.

What Sarah thought about President Obama’s speech:

Below is our President’s prepared speech which was delivered beautifully:

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today. 

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.   

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year. 

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. 

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox. 

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve. 

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. 

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. 

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. 

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. 

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy. 

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. 

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in. 

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. 

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right. 

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying. 

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. 

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America. 

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall. 

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same. 

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. 

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things. 

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” 

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. 

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals. 

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. 

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?  

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

August 4, 2009

Happy 48th Number 44!

 

 

 

Happy Birthday Barack

In honor of President Obama’s 48th (doesn’t he look GREAT!!!) Domino’s Pizza locations in Washington, DC are offering FREE CAKE!

Domino’s is launching a new dessert — the Chocolate Lava Crunch Cake and if you stop by any Domino’s location in Washington D.C. and say “Happy Birthday” to the President, you will get a free sample.

The promotion runs between 11 am and 9 pm today while supplies last.

Happy Birthday Mr. President!

Grandpa Dunham

April 30, 2009

The Obamas Have Shed Their Campaign Vulnerabilities

Missing in the tsunami of coverage of the First 100 Days—if it’s possible that anything has been left unwritten or unsaid—is that both President and Michelle Obama have largely shed what appeared to be their greatest vulnerabilities in the final months of the campaign.

For the would-be president, it was his lack of experience. Exasperated Republicans tried their damnedest to sound the alarms. He’s never actually done anything, the argument went. Do you really want him in the Oval Office when crisis strikes? Nervous Democrats fretted, mostly in private, and wondered if maybe John McCain wasn’t better suited to the job.

For the potential First Lady, her alleged Achilles’ heel was her “anger.” Her “for the first time in my adult life I’m proud of my country” moment became a catch-all for the country’s unresolved feelings about working moms, opinionated political spouses, and African Americans romping on the lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. How can this possibly work? people wondered.

Fast-forward just three months past Inauguration Day, and those concerns have all but disappeared.

To be sure, the critics make other arguments, especially about him. He’s doing too much. (Or he’s not doing enough.) He’s moving too fast. (Or he’s not moving fast enough.) His misguided policies will bankrupt the country. He’s arrogant, an apologist, a socialist. But what they aren’t saying is that he’s unprepared, in over his head, or not up to the job. Already, he’s faced at least two crises, one foreign and one domestic, in addition to the ongoing economic disaster and the daily demands of the job: the hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates and the outbreak of the swine flu, a potential global pandemic. In the first, the president calmly ordered American snipers to take out the ragtag pirates if the ship captain’s life appeared to be in danger. It was—and they did. And praise for the president’s steady hand was virtually universal. The second crisis is still unfolding, but again, the president’s response has been swift and steady, as he and his team have worked to calm and inform a worried public.  

People have responded by showing confidence in the president’s leadership. His job approval numbers are in the mid-to-high 60s, his personal approval numbers are higher yet, and a sizable majority see him as a strong leader and able commander in chief. John who?

As for Michelle Obama, her reversal of fortune has been so swift and so complete that the only criticism she’s faced, if you can call it that, has been answered in the same breath it was uttered. She touched the Queen! But the Queen touched her first! Or She wears too many sleeveless dresses! But her arms look great! Meanwhile, she hosted a reception for women’s-rights icon Lily Ledbetter after her husband signed the Fair Pay Act; began her outreach to military families; oversaw the planting of an organic garden on the White House grounds; became a fashion icon; engineered the adoption of a new dog; and helped her two unspeakably cute daughters adjust to their new circumstances (where they set their alarm clocks, get themselves ready for school, and make their beds every day). Gone is the stereotypical angry black woman. Front and center is an accomplished American mom, the center of gravity in her admirable American family.

How did our impressions of these two change so quickly? Mostly, it seems, because of the exceptional personal qualities of both Obamas. Ideology aside, they are honest, hard-working, disciplined—the kind of “family values” folks that have always loomed large in America’s image of itself. Perhaps those qualities were harder to see when we knew the Obamas less well. Perhaps they were a bit obscured by well-worn stereotypes of ambitious politicians, career women, and African Americans. And maybe, when all is said and done, those early vulnerabilities will in fact loom larger than they do right now.

But at least for the moment, Barack and Michelle Obama have filled out their own portraits, making them more complete, more complex, and more appealing than they were a hundred days ago. Even if the milestone is as fabricated as the Easter eggs on the White House lawn, that’s an impressive accomplishment.

This absolutely great article was written by Dee Dee Myers, a Vanity Fair Contributing Editor

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/politics/2009/04/100-days-obamas-shed-campaign-vulnerability.html?printable=true&currentPage=all

 

April 29, 2009

President Barack Obama: Strong First 100 Days!

 When President Bill Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd President of the United States on January 20, 1993 he went straight to work.  On January 22, 1993 he signed orders overturning Reagan and Bush era restrictions on abortions. On February 5, 1993 he signed his first law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, which still allows workers at large companies to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to attend to family concerns.  On April 19, 1993 his Attorney General, Janet Reno, authorized a federal raid to end a standoff at a compound of a Waco, Texas, cult, resulting in a fire and dozens of deaths.

Bill Clinton was working hard but his transition period and the first few weeks of his Administration in the White House White was not as successful as it could have been because it was full of all sorts of personal and White House drama plus many Washington insiders did not like Bill and Hill.

Sometimes there was a particular kind of drama at the White House and one night there was a fight in the wee hours between Bill and Hillary Clinton. The fight got nasty and Hillary threw a lamp at the President.  Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story and confirmed that this story was not a rumor; it was true and had been “totally confirmed by two high-level White House aides.”  He even said that he was “very confident in his sources.”

The drama at the White House was made more complicated because Hillary Rodham Clinton was not a traditional First Lady – she was the Chairwoman of the National Health Care Task Force, she was directly involved in selecting Administration staff members and directly involved in advising the President on nearly every aspect of social policy.  Hillary Clinton wasn’t just First Lady, she was co-President and Washington, DC didn’t like it and didn’t like her so there wasn’t much good will extended to the Clintons by Washington insiders and they only received the obligatory social invitations.

 

APTOPIX  Democratic Convention  In vast contrast President and Michelle Obama are the toast of Washington.  It shows that being likeable is an important asset for leaders even for our President and First lady. 

Obama 100 Days First Lady  Everyone wants to invite the Obamas somewhere or wants to be invited by them to the White House — even Malia and Sasha are now celebrities in their own right; so is Bo. 

obamas-gardening-kenilworth-aquatic-gardens-4-21-09  Where ever our President goes, if announced, he still draws a campaign like crowd — so does Michelle.

A NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday, confirms that President Obama is liked by 81% of all Americans and 51% of all Americans like his policies and only 12% of Americans (most likely Republicans) say they don’t like our President. 

Historically, we would have to go back to 1953 when our 34th President — Dwight Eisenhower — and 1961 when our 35th President — John F. Kennedy — were Presidents to find a Commander-in-Chief with such high approval ratings after 100 days on the job.

Americans trust President Obama and he is his own best political weapon.  Simply by being himself and working hard for the people, President Barack Obama makes Americans feel more optimistic and good about where America is headed.

white-house-fireworks  Today marks our President’s 100th day in office and our President has been working hard and has had to deal with things expected and unexpected things like pirates, pigs and plane fly-overs and he always has the right demeanor and is always appropriate.

President Obama took office with our country in the middle of an extreme financial crisis and acted quickly to restore confidence and stability to our economy and he has taken the steps necessary for building a new foundation for America’s prosperity so that we never go back to the system that led us to this awful crisis in the first place.

In just one hundred days President Obama and his Administration have made crucial investments to create jobs and improve education, energy, and health care. All of this is a down payment for a new economic vision. A vision where skilled Americans will be gainfully employed and their employment will fuel our economy; a vision where American leadership on clean energy will fuel 21st century innovation; and a vision where families and businesses are no longer weighed down by crushing health care costs.

View some of President Obama first 100 day accomplishments at:
http://my.barackobama.com/100days

Explore this interactive map to learn about the progress we’ve made in the last 100 days and the stories of real Americans whose lives have already been touched. Then spread the word by passing it along to your friends and family.

Let us continue to support our President so we can make the United States better for all Americans!

Stay connected to your government, visit www.whitehouse.gov

Peace and Hope!

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