Tag Archives: Change

President Obama Selects Pete Rouse ~ First Asian-American Chief of Staff

Posted by: Audiegrl

WhoRunsGov~As White House staffers praise incoming chief of staff Pete Rouse as a fixer, Asian American bloggers are taking heart from his appointment for another reason: Rouse’s mother, born Mary Mikami, is the daughter of Japanese immigrants to America.

Blogger Jeff Yang at Asian culture and politics blog Original Spin praised Obama’s selection of Rouse as yet another example of the president’s “clear comfort with and respect for Asian Americans as colleagues and key team members.”

“While Rouse has not emphasized his Asian American roots during his political career, neither has he denied them — and given that his mother grew up speaking only Japanese, and his maternal grandparents were interned during the War, he certainly has critical narratives of the Asian American experience deeply embedded in his personal history,” wrote Yang.

Yang’s item was picked up by other Asian culture blogs, which also hailed the pick. “If I’m not mistaken, that makes Rouse the White House’s first Asian American chief of staff. All things considered, this is quite awesome,” wrote the blogger behind Angry Asian Man.

“I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty dang cool to see so many Asian Americans breaking through the political glass ceiling in Washington,” said Jenn Fang, who wrote for Asian Americans for Obama during the campaign, at her blog ReAppropriate.

Thursday’s Anchorage Daily News provides some background on Rouse’s family history:

The story of Alaska’s connection to Obama’s inner circle begins in 1915 with the arrival of Goro (George) and Mine Mikami in Seward, where construction of the Alaska Railroad was under way. Three years later the immigrants from Japan moved to Anchorage. Their daughter, Mary, entered school speaking only Japanese and went on to become valedictorian at Anchorage High School. In 1934, Mary graduated with honors from the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in Fairbanks (the year before it became the University of Alaska), then moved on to Yale, where she earned a Ph.D. and met her husband, Irving Rouse.

(George and Mine Mikami retired and moved to Los Angeles just before World War II, and were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during the war. A scholarship in their name, endowed by their four children, is given at the university in Fairbanks today.)

The Cook Inlet Historical Society, which tells the history of the Anchorage area, has a page devoted to the Mikami family:

Cook Inlet Historical Society portrait of The Mikami family, circa 1917, prior to moving to Anchorage. Father George, mother Mine, daughters Mary and Alice and son Harry

George Mikami was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1864 and immigrated to the United States in 1885, landing in San Francisco, California. In 1910 he returned to Japan to marry Mine Morioka, who was born in Tokyo in 1884. Together they returned to the United States in 1911. With two children, Mary, born in 1912 and Alice, born the following year, they moved to Seward, Alaska in 1915 and spent the next two years there.

In 1918 the family moved to Anchorage, and here George opened a tailor shop on 4th Avenue between B and C Streets. By then they had added two more children; Harry, born in Seward in 1915 and Flora, born in Anchorage in 1919. The four children all did their part in the family business, with George and Mine handling the heavy alterations and tailoring.

Daughter Mary Mikami Rouse had two children, Peter and David Rouse.

Other chiefs of staff also have been ethnic minorities. John Sununu, chief of staff to President George H. W. Bush, was of Lebanese descent on his father’s side, making him the first Arab American in the post. Kenneth Duberstein, who served as chief for President Ronald Reagan, was the first Jewish chief of staff. Joshua Bolten, who served under President George W. Bush, was the second and departing Obama chief Rahm Emanuel was the third.

There has yet to be a female or African American chief of staff in the White House.

Please check out Rouse’s WRG profile, for more information…

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Filed under Asian/Pacific Islander, Change, Obama Administration, Pres. Barack Obama

This is What Change Looks Like…


To the untold numbers who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up — this moment is possible because of you.

Organizing for America has put together a quick video that highlights the incredible work you did over the last year, to honor and thank you for the history you made.

Health care reform was a monumental achievement, and it would not have happened without you.

Check out the video, and pass it along to anyone else who is passionate about reform.

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President Barack Obama Signs Historic Health Care Reform Legislation

Posted by: Audiegrl

This is What Change Looks Like~President Barack Obama

More than a year’s worth of intense political haggling, legislative maneuvering and emotional debate reached its stirring conclusion Tuesday morning as President Barack Obama officially signed health care reform legislation into law.

Speaking in the East Room of the White House, with roughly 200 lawmakers seated before him as well as Vicky Kennedy, the widow of the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), the president called the moment a “new season in America.”

Today, after almost a century of trying, today, after over a year of debate, today, after all the votes have been tallied, health insurance reform becomes law in the United States of America. In a few moments when I sign this bill, all of the overheated rhetoric of reform will finally confront the reality of reform.”

We are not a nation that scales back its aspirations,” Obama said. “We don’t fall prey to fear. We are not a nation that does what’s easy. That is not who we are, that’s not how we got here. We are a nation that faces its challenges and accepts its responsibilities.”

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Patrick Kennedy's note on his father's grave: Dad, the unfinished business is done. (Photo: John Dicker)

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Filed under (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid, (Speaker of the House) Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Change, Democrats, Health Care Reform, Obama Administration, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Uncategorized, Vice-President Joe Biden

President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 02/20/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.govPremiums, Profits, and the Need for Health Reform ~ The President points to outrageous premium hikes from health insurance companies, especially those already making massive profits, as further proof of the need for reform. Looking ahead to the coming bipartisan meeting on reform, the President urges members of Congress to come to the table in good faith to address the issue.

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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 01/30/10

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WhiteHouse.govReining in Budget Deficits~~The President pledges to rein the deficit, citing three specific steps to this end. He praises the Senate for restoring the pay-as-you-go law, discusses his proposal for a freeze in discretionary spending, and calls for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission to hammer out further concrete deficit reduction proposals.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address: Fighting for the Public Against Special Interests

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WhiteHouse.govPresident Obama Addresses This Week’s Supreme Court Decision~~In this week’s address, President Barack Obama addresses the Supreme Court decision to further empower corporations to use their financial clout to directly influence elections and vows that “as long as I’m your President, I’ll never stop fighting to make sure that the most powerful voice in Washington belongs to you.”
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MSNBC Premieres Hope and Fear in Obama’s America with Hosts Chris Mathews and Tom Joyner

Posted by: Audiegrl

A Two Hour Special Event on Race Relations in America On Martin Luther King Day

Tom Joyner and Chris MatthewsOne year after the inauguration of the first African-American President, MSNBC will present “Hope and Fear in Obama’s America,” January 18, 2010, 10 p.m. ET, an extended discussion surrounding race and post-racial identity in America. Moderated by “Hardball’s” Chris Matthews and featuring syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, live from Texas Southern University, a historically Black university in Houston, Texas. The two-hour special event on Martin Luther King Day will explore some of the most pressing and provocative issues connected to race and race relations in the U.S.

Hope and Fear in Obama’s America” will discuss the progress we’ve made in the United States and the challenges we continue to face around racial equality, addressing issues ranging from whether there is such a thing as generational colorblindness, to the “burdens of the first,” and whether there are a unique set of expectations and challenges attached to being the first to break a racial barrier. Panelists and guests will be announced at a later date.

MSNBC.com will soon feature additional information on the special and its guests and will also allow viewers to participate in live votes and continue the discussion online.

In a message to his audience of 8 million listeners, Joyner said, “This is an important story because it will give me and you a rare opportunity to participate in a much needed discussion about whether racism is still a relevant topic now that President Obama has been elected.” Joyner added, “It’s a crucial thing when mainstream America wants to know what’s on our minds. Together, we can give provide honest questions and answers about racism in this country. ”

Joyner reassured his listeners, that “of course, the traditional, easy way to tackle these topics is to get the same old people to say the same old things. Not knocking any of the people who have sat on panel after panel after panel to talk about race in America in past years. But it’s almost impossible to get any new perspectives on issues unless we solicit information from varied sources, and from what I can see, at this point, that’s what this MSNBC town hall Meeting will attempt to do. Chris Matthews and I will not talk to a panel of your “usual suspects” about hopes and fears in Obama’s America.”

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Filed under African-Americans, Barack Obama, Change, Chris Mathews, Culture, Elections, Entertainment, First Lady Michelle Obama, Hardball w/Chris Matthews, HBCU, History, Houston, TX, Media and Entertainment, MSNBC, News, Obama Administration, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Pundits (television), Racism, Texas, Tom Joyner, TV Shows, Uncategorized, United States