Daily Archives: April 7, 2010

Oh, Right, Slavery… My Bad

Posted by: BuellBoy

VA Gov: I Apologize For Leaving Slavery Out Of Confederate History Month

TPM~Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has apologized for not including any mention of slavery in his proclamation declaring April “Confederate History Month” and added an extra clause to the proclamation.

“The failure to include any reference to slavery was a mistake, and for that I apologize to any fellow Virginian who has been offended or disappointed,” McDonnell wrote in a statement. “The abomination of slavery divided our nation, deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights, and led to the Civil War. Slavery was an evil, vicious and inhumane practice which degraded human beings to property, and it has left a stain on the soul of this state and nation.”

He also added a clause to the proclamation that declares slavery “led to this war.”

WHEREAS, it is important for all Virginians to understand that the institution of slavery led to this war and was an evil and inhumane practice that deprived people of their God-given inalienable rights and all Virginians are thankful for its permanent eradication from our borders, and the study of this time period should reflect upon and learn from this painful part of our history.

McDonnell had taken heat from both critics, such as former governor and current DNC Chair Tim Kaine, and past supporters, such as BET co-founder Sheila Johnson.

In a statement to the Washington Post today, Johnson — who co-chaired McDonnell’s Inaugural Committee this year — condemned McDonnell’s decision to proclaim April as Confederate History Month, calling it an “insensitive disregard of Virginia’s complicated and painful history.”

“The complete omission of slavery from an official government document, which purports to be a call for Virginians to ‘understand’ and ‘study’ their history, is both academically flawed and personally offensive,” she wrote.

Kaine, who as McDonnell’s predecessor skipped issuing a declaration at all, released a statement blasting the governor.

Governor McDonnell’s decision to designate April as Confederate History Month without condemning, or even acknowledging, the pernicious stain of slavery or its role in the war disregards history, is insensitive to the extraordinary efforts of Americans to eliminate slavery and bind the nation’s wounds, and offends millions of Americans of all races and in all parts of our nation,” Kaine said.

A failure to acknowledge the central role of slavery in the Confederacy and deeming insignificant the reprehensible transgression of moral standards of liberty and equality that slavery represented is simply not acceptable in the America of the 21st century,” the DNC chairman added, noting Virginia’s work to elect Black officials in former Gov. Douglas Wilder (D) and casting its electoral votes for President Barack Obama.

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Virginia: Where History is Politics

Time Swampland/Adam Sorenson~Having grown up in the Commonwealth, I’m no stranger to the tensions that inevitably lie at the intersection of Southern history and Southern politics. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Virginia had a very awkward thing called Lee-Jackson-King Day. Believe it or not, the government decided it would be a good idea to combine the long-standing local holiday celebrating Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, with the new federal holiday honoring Civil Rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (If you’ve never seen a man dressed in full confederate army uniform belting out “We Shall Overcome,” I can tell you it’s quite the spectacle.) Governor Jim Gilmore mercifully split the holidays in 2000, placing a weekend between the two, but how and when to recognize Confederate history remains a divisive issue.

Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is now breaking from his two predecessors — Democrats Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — by reinstating April as Confederate History Month, this year recognizing the 149th anniversary of Virginia’s secession from the Union on April 17, 1861.

Originally established by George Allen and continued by Gilmore, Confederate History Month has already ignited its fair share of controversy in the Commonwealth. But McDonnell may be further inflaming existing tensions with the language of his official proclamation. His decision to omit any mention of slavery from the document — an issue Gilmore handled by acknowledging African-Americans killed in the war and decrying the practice of bondage — has drawn the ire of Virginia’s NAACP chapter, the legislature’s black caucus and Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first African-American elected governor, among others. McDonnell’s explanation did little to quiet criticism Tuesday when he remarked, “There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.” Many feel McDonnell is glossing over both an important historical element of the Civil War era and a deeply personal issue. Wilder calls the proclamation “mind-boggling to say the least” and The Richmond Times-Dispatch, which endorsed McDonnell and has a largely sympathetic editorial board, opines: “The inexcusable omission reduces the slaves and their descendants to invisibility once again.”

There has been a longstanding effort in Virginia to better tell the story of American slavery. Wilder first proposed a National Museum of Slavery in 1993, and the project found funding and a home in Fredericksburg amid growing support over the last ten years. But with the economic downturn drying up money, 38 acres of donated land standing mostly empty and a backlog of real estate taxes piling up, the museum’s future home, thought to be worth as much as $7.6 million, is now in danger of seizure and auction. Wilder, who sits on the board of directors and has been the museum’s biggest proponent, has decided to suspend the search for additional funding.

Richmond is a city of conflicting traditions. Not only is it home to today’s statehouse, but it is the former capital of the Confederate States of America and a city with a population that is more than 50 percent African-American. While McDonnell’s decision has drawn praise from some Old South conservatives and groups such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, it is ultimately a liability on the national scene. If he hopes to become a leading voice in the Republican party, McDonnell will have to better navigate the contradictions and tensions of Virginia politics.

The GOP will need to broaden its coalition to keep pace with a changing national electorate, and many feel McDonnell’s positive and pragmatic campaign style could one day serve the party well on a larger stage. But proclaiming April Confederate History Month without acknowledging the painful and indelible legacy of bondage does him few favors to that end. “[McDonnell’s] failure to mention slavery was a moral and historical mistake.” Conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru writes. “It is also, I think, a political one.”

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Speaker Nancy Pelosi Threatened: California Man Arrested For Health Care Reform Threats

Posted by: TheLCster

AP~The FBI arrested a California man Wednesday for allegedly making threatening and harassing phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over health care reform, law enforcement officials said.

Gregory Lee Giusti, 48, was arrested at his San Francisco home shortly after noon, said Joseph Schadler, spokesman for the FBI’s San Francisco office.

Schadler did not disclose the charges against Giusti, but said he’s due before a federal magistrate Thursday morning.

Several federal officials said the man made dozens of calls to Pelosi’s homes in California and Washington, as well as to her husband’s business office. They said he recited her home address and said if she wanted to see it again, she would not support the health care overhaul bill that since has been enacted.

One official said the man is believed to have spoken directly with Pelosi at least once.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

A call to a Pelosi spokesman was not immediately returned.

On Monday, the House Speaker told a reporters in San Francisco that “people have been active in expressing their disagreement.”

Sometimes those expressions have risen “to the level of threats or violence,” Pelosi said, explaining that she was not allowed to comment on her own situation.

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden: Month of the Military Child

Supporting military families is a top Obama Administration priority. April is Month of the Military Child and gives the nation the opportunity to recognize the character, strength and sacrifices of America’s military children as well as the role they play in the armed forces community. Today, there are 1.7 million American children and youth under 18-years-old with a parent serving in the military and approximately 900,000 children and youth with one or both parents deployed multiple times. Learn more about the Month of the Military Child here.

Watch the video of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk about the important role military children play in the armed forces community:

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Delivering Change

This is the story of Becca and Karima, two OFA volunteers who joined David Plouffe in hand-delivering signatures of the more than 1.1 million people who co-signed health care reform directly to President Obama.

But it’s also the story of the millions of Americans, young and old, who knocked on doors, and called their neighbors, and made history together.

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s Brother Writes A Memoir

Posted by: Audiegrl

The eagerly anticipated inspirational memoir from Michelle Obama’s brother, celebrating the extraordinary family members and mentors who have shaped his life

LAT~Reporting from Washington – The news might have set off alarms in some past administrations: The president’s brother-in-law has written a book.

But you won’t find dirty laundry in a memoir from First Lady Michelle Obama’s brother, Oregon State basketball coach Craig Robinson.

The book, “A Game of Character,” which has a foreword by their mother, Marian Robinson, is due out April 20.

Craig Robinson writes that he and his parents didn’t think Barack Obama stood much of a chance with his sister when they met him.

He and his parents were out on their porch on a hot summer night in Chicago when the couple stopped by to say hello on their way to a movie.

Well, he’s tall,” Marian Robinson said while Obama was out of earshot.

Not a bad-looking guy, either,” said her husband, Fraser.

But even though the suitor struck the Robinsons as a self-possessed man with a nice smile and firm handshake, they figured he wasn’t a keeper. “Too bad,” Marian said. “Yep,” Fraser answered. “She’ll eat him alive.”

Miche, as he calls her, was a disciplined, scholarly girl who saved money fastidiously, who learned to box at their father’s behest and who once conspired with him, upset that their parents smoked, to destroy every last cigarette in the house.

Robinson writes mostly about basketball, even when describing how he introduced his sister before her prime-time address at the Democratic National Convention.

Michelle was being asked to sink a three-pointer at the buzzer in a do-or-die game at the start of the championship,” he writes. “Everything to come, victory or disappointment, would hinge on this one shot. And all I could do to help was simply pass her the ball. And believe.

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In A Game of Character, Robinson takes readers behind the scenes to meet his most important influences in his understanding of the winning traits that are part of his playbook for success. Central to his story are his parents, Marian and Fraser, two indefatigable individuals who showed their children how to believe in themselves and live their lives with conviction through love, discipline and respect. With insights into this exemplary family, we relive memories of how Marian sacrificed a career to be a full-time mom, how Fraser got up and went to work every day while confronting the challenges of multiple sclerosis, how Craig and Michelle strengthened their bond as they journeyed out of the Southside to Princeton University and eventually, the national stage.

Heartwarming, inspiring, and even transformational, A Game of Character comes just at the right time in an era of change, reminding readers of our opportunity to work together and embrace the character of our nation, to make a difference in the lives of others and to pave the way for the next generation.

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Auto-Tune the News #11: Pure Poppycock. (ft. Joel Madden)

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Photo of the Day: Neptune

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