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Welcome to 44’D’s Happy Holiday’s Special

We here at The 44 Diaries would like to say Thank You for participating in our blog and we hope that you all have a happy holiday and a prosperous new year. We also hope that you get to spend plenty of time with the people you love the most…

Please note: We will be keeping this up all week in celebration, but will be posting political news in the top section next to ‘Home’.


History of Christmas




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Origins and Traditions of Hanukkah

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Celebrating Kwanzaa



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Santa Claus Through History



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Famous and Not-So Famous Christmas Movies List

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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

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Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos

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Christmas Around the World



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Fun Filled Christmas Facts



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Christmas in the Age of Dickens

Christmas in the Age of Dickens



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Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914



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Holiday Season at the White House with the Obama’s 2009




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The History of Christmas at the White House 1789-2009

Like any other Americans, the family living in the big white house on Pennsylvania avenue has traditions surrounding the holiday season as well. Sit back, and get comfortable, while we explore how Presidents have celebrated Christmas from President George Washington to President Barack Obama.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. ~ President Calvin Coolidge

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History of Christmas at the White House (1789-1849)



President George Washington and First Lady Martha (1789-1797)
President John Adams and First Lady Abigale (1797-1801)
President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809)
President James Madison (1809-1817)
President James Monroe and First Lady Elizabeth (1817-1825)
President John Quincy Adams and First Lady Louisa (1825-1829)
President Andrew Jackson and First Lady Rachel (1829-1837)
President Martin Van Buren (1837-1841)
President William Henry Harrison and First Lady Anna (1841-1841)
President John Tyler and First Ladies Lettitia and Julia (1841-1845)
President James K. Polk and First Lady Sarah (1845-1849)
President Zachary Taylor and First Lady Margaret (1849-1850)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1850-1901)

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President Millard Fillmore and First Ladies Abigail and Caroline (1850-1853)
President Franklin Pierce and First Lady Jane (1853-1857)
President James Buchanan (1857-1861)
President Abraham Lincoln and First Lady Mary (1861-1865)
President Andrew Johnson and First Lady Elizabeth (1865-1869)
President Ulysses S. Grant and First Lady Julia (1869-1877)
President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy (1877-1881)
President James A. Garfield and First Lady Lucretia (1881-1881)
President Chester A. Arthur and First Lady Ellen (1881-1885)
President Grover Cleveland and First Lady Francis (1885-1889, (1893-1897)
President Benjamin Harrison and First Lady Caroline and Mary (1889-1893)
President William McKinley and First Lady Ida (1897-1901)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1901-1953)

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President Theodore Roosevelt and First Ladies Alice and Edith (1901-1909)
President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen (1909-1913)
President Woodrow Wilson and First Ladies Ellen and Edith (1913-1921)
President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence (1921-1923)
President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace (1923-1929)
President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou (1929-1933)
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor (1933-1945)
President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess (1945-1953)


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History of Christmas at the White House (1953-1977)

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President Dwight Eisenhower and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower (1953-1961)
President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (1961-1963)
President Lyndon Johnson and First Lady Claudia (Lady Bird) (1963-1969)
President Richard Nixon and First Lady Patricia (1969-1974)
President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty (1974-1977)

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History of Christmas at the White House (1977-2009)

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President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalyn Carter (1977-1981)
President Ronald Regan and First Lady Nancy (1981-1989)
President George HW Bush and First Lady Barbara (1989-1993)
President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary (1993-2001)
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush (2001-2008)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (2009- )


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The History of Christmas at the White House (1901-1953)

President Theodore Roosevelt and First Ladies Alice and Edith 1901-1909

As the youngest man ever to take the oath of office, Theodore Roosevelt came to the White House with a large, vivacious young family. With him were his wife, Edith, and his six children aged three through seventeen. While there is no record of the 26th President sending any official White House Christmas cards, there is much written about how the Roosevelts would spend their holiday celebrations.

President Roosevelt posing for a portrait photograph with the entire Roosevelt clan

President Roosevelt posing for a portrait photograph with the entire Roosevelt clan

For the first couple and their children, Christmas would begin at seven in the morning, when all the children and their terrier would bound into their parents’ chamber to claim the gifts which filled each of their stockings. After a hearty Christmas breakfast, the family would move to the library, where the children’s larger gifts were set out on tables. The President reveled in the sheer joy on his younger children’s faces when the library doors were thrown open and all their newfound treasures were lain out before them, “like a materialized fairy land.”

2004 American President Collection Theodore Roosevelt Ornament

2004 American President Collection Theodore Roosevelt Ornament

The most frequently told story regarding President Roosevelt and Christmas deals with the infamous White House Christmas tree ban during the early years of his presidency. Roosevelt, a famed outdoorsman and environmentalist, took office at a time of growing public concern over the feared destruction of forests due to damaging lumbering practices. The cutting down and displaying of Christmas trees was viewed, in some quarters, as one of the more blatant examples of deforestation due to unnecessary commercial causes. Many newspapers of the day took to publishing articles denouncing the use of live trees and promoting the purchase of artificial “wire” trees, which could last a generation and spare these gifts of nature from a premature and inglorious end.

An ornament featuring former US President Theodore Roosevelt is hung on the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room in 2008

Burnishing his environmental credentials, Roosevelt refused to display a Christmas tree in the White House, fearing that to do so would be sending the wrong message to the public and be fodder for his political opponents. In 1901, the Roosevelt’s’ first treeless Christmas in Washington passed uneventfully. In 1902, however, Roosevelt’s two youngest sons, Archie and Quentin, cut down a small tree on the White House grounds and smuggled it into the closet of the room where the family opened gifts. The boys hung gifts for their parents from the branches and enlisted the help of the staff electrician in decorating the tree with tiny lights wired to a switch outside the closet.

1902 Washington Post illustration depicting the famous “Teddy Bear” incident, coining the term for the popular Christmas gift

1902 Washington Post illustration depicting the famous “Teddy Bear” incident, coining the term for the popular Christmas gift

On Christmas morning, while the family opened gifts, Archie surprised his family by opening the closet door and throwing the switch. Amused by his boys’ ingenuity, Teddy nevertheless took them to his friend and environmental adviser (and later the first Chief of the United States Forest Service), Gifford Pinchot, to explain to them the negative effects of killing trees for decorative use. To his surprise, Pinchot went into a lengthy explanation regarding how sometimes, cutting down some larger trees was in the best interests of forests, as it allowed a larger number of smaller young trees to receive the sunlight they need to flourish. While there is no public record of any other Christmas tree being displayed in the White House during Roosevelt’s presidency, a number of environmental acts and reforestation laws had been passed by the end of his term, and the public controversy over the use of live trees for decorative and traditional use had subsided for the time being. While on a hunting expedition, he famously refused to shoot a bear cub, spurring a toy manufacturer to create the teddy bear, a fad which became one of the hot-selling Christmas gifts in 1902 and still echoes to the current day.

Teddy Roosevelt Visiting Neighbors on Christmas 1917

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President William Howard Taft and First Lady Helen 1909-1913

On the subject of William Howard Taft and Christmas, more than a few presidential historians have likened the large, jovial Taft to a Santa Claus-like figure. Few would deny that the burly Ohioan was a warm, generous and good man, but it was this very nature which made him a relatively ineffectual politician and led to a mostly forgettable presidency, which avoided any major catastrophies, other than the political ones inflicted on Taft’s party and his electoral career.

During his time in office, Taft’s famously generous nature was apparent in the scope and number of Christmas gifts he sent out. The president believed more in the act of giving than in the essential value of the gifts themselves. As did not limit his gifts to family and friends, his Christmas list often climbed into the hundreds. He would send out presidential Christmas cards to accompany the gifts. Oftentimes, his aides would have to scramble to acquire more White House cards as the list grew to ungainly lengths. Mr. Taft would usually devote several days of his own time to going Christmas shopping from store-to-store.

Flyer from the Election of 1908. Taft defeated opponent William Jennings Bryan in the election shortly before Christmas.

Flyer from the Election of 1908. Taft defeated opponent William Jennings Bryan in the election shortly before Christmas.

Among his favorite items to send were books and jewelry, and he always made his own selections. On each of the books he sent, he would write a personal sentiment inside the cover, lending these objects a lasting historical value. In addition to friends and relatives, President Taft presented Christmas gifts to all of the White House clerks. He also sent a Christmas turkey to all married White House employees – usually just over 100 turkeys for a total cost of $350 – $400. He would also give a personal holiday remembrance to each of the Secret Service men assigned to protect him.

The Taft’s were also the initial First Family to display the White House Christmas tree and hold the presidential Christmas party in the Blue Room, a location previously considered sacred to official entertaining.

President Woodrow Wilson and First Ladies Ellen and Edith 1913-1921

Woodrow Wilson had the first Christmas tree put up and decorated in the White House when he was President of the United States. Wilson was accustomed to having gatherings with the attendance of many intellectuals and family. As President he also wanted to have a national Christmas tree lighting ceremony and in 1913, the first year the president was in office, he was able to have a celebration with a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Christmas Eve at the Capital.

President Wilson and second wife Edith Galt, whom he married around Christmas of 1915

President Wilson and second wife Edith Galt, whom he married around Christmas of 1915

President Elect Wilson received a letter from a young eight-year-old correspondent, Charles Conroy, right before Christmas in 1912. Charles’ father told him that Mr. Wilson was Santa Claus, so he sent his letter to Governor Wilson at the state house in Trenton. Wilson told his stenographer to delay the typing of letters and go shopping and see that she got everything that Charles and a few other children had asked for. Thus Charles got his Christmas presents from President Santa Claus.

The White House also had its first Christmas tree that year, although it did not become a national tradition until Calvin Coolidge became president and First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission to put a tree on the Ellipse.

President Wilson asked that a community Christmas tree be placed at the Capitol in 1913, requesting a national tree lighting event to be started. A U.S. Marine Band, 1,000 singers, and a costumed group re-enacted the Nativity on Christmas Eve. Wilson also planted an elm tree outside the North Portico of the White House a few days before Christmas to symbolize peace and serenity. A night view of this tree would become a watercolor done by Robert H. Laessig that graced the 1966 White House Christmas cards of President Lyndon Johnson.

President Warren G. Harding and First Lady Florence 1921-1923

Warren G. Harding would only live to see two Christmas seasons after being elected the 29th President of the United States. President and Mrs. Harding were able to escape the stresses of Washington D.C. and their political and social obligations their first Christmas in the white house by traveling to North Carolina during the holidays.

President Harding passed away suddenly several months after celebrating what was to be his second and last Presidential Christmas in 1922. Unfortunately, Harding’s marital indiscretions were not his only shortcomings, many of which did not come to light until after he passed away.
The President sent a gift to his sister, Abigail, a former school teacher of one of Harding’s several known mistresses. Accompanying the gift was a Presidential Christmas card of sorts, a handwritten note on White House stationery. Dated December 23, 1922, the letter read:

Dear Sister Abigail, Enclosed find a little Christmas gift, a token of a brother’s loving regard. I shall think of you at Xmas time, and I shall have a real regret that I can not celebrate in the atmosphere of home and amid the surroundings of family and friends. My love and good wishes to you. Yours affectionately, Warren G. Harding

President Harding buying seals for his White House Christmas cards from a young girl with tuberculosis in 1923

President Harding buying seals for his White House Christmas cards from a young girl with tuberculosis in 1923

In addition, President Harding sent a Christmas gift of $250.00 to his mistress, his sister’s former student. His mistress purchased a diamond and sapphire bracelet with the money she received.

In the year of his death Harding was photographed buying Christmas seals from a young girl suffering with tuberculosis. The President would reach his untimely death prior to the holidays that year and would not be able to use the Christmas seals he had purchased for his official White House Christmas cards. Harding and John F. Kennedy are the only two presidents to have predeceased their fathers.

President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace 1923-1929

As the 30th President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge was the first to truly extend a White House Christmas celebration to the American people. During his first Christmas in the White house in 1923, he initiated the tradition of the National Community Christmas Tree. A 48-foot Balsam Fir from his native state of Vermont was erected on The Ellipse, and an electric button enabled the President to light the tree on demand for the first ever National Community Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.

During the summer of 1924, Coolidge’s youngest son, Calvin, Jr., died of staphylococcus septicemia, an event that was said to have changed “Silent Cal” forever. That same year, the White House received a record setting 12,000 Christmas cards from the American public.

The Coolidge's 1927 Christmas tree

The Coolidge's 1927 Christmas tree

The Coolidges were known to send out Christmas cards, but only to family and close friends. Still mourning the loss of his son, Coolidge had told the American Forestry Association (AFA) that he was against cutting down a tree for the National Community Christmas Tree. However, the AFA managed to get Coolidge to accept a donation of a 35-foot live Norway spruce, which was planted in Sherman Plaza. The National Community Christmas Tree lighting ceremony officially became an annual celebration, but the donated tree would only last for five years due to wear and tear from decorating.

In 1925 after the National Community Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, 2,000 people were welcomed to the White House grounds for caroling led by the choir from the President’s church. And on New Year’s Day, almost 4,000 people were invited to line up and shake the hands of the President and First Lady.

Silent Cal” received his nickname from his stoic and serious demeanor. But in 1926, after receiving so many heartfelt gifts and Christmas cards from the American people, Coolidge was so emotionally affected that he gave a gift of a gold coin to all of the White House officials and staff members.

The Coolidges - 1927 signed  Christmas message

The Coolidges - 1927 signed Christmas message

1927 was a momentous year for Christmas in the White House. After receiving countless requests to address the American people with a Christmas message, Coolidge finally agreed. On Christmas morning, a short hand-written message from the President appeared in every major newspaper, making this the first Christmas greeting to be given to the American public from a president.

In 1928, Coolidge decided not to run for re-election, making this his last Christmas in the White House. At the National Community Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, Coolidge spoke to the large crowd of spectators and to the American people listening on their radios, “In token of the good-will and happiness of the holiday season and as an expression of the best wishes of the United States toward a Community Christmas Tree, in behalf of the city of Washington, I now turn on the current which will illuminate this tree.”

President Herbert Hoover and First Lady Lou 1929-1933

Herbert Hoover took office as the 31st President of the United States in March of 1929. Several months later on Tuesday, October 29, the stock market crashed triggering the onset of the Great Depression. Americans were reluctant to spend money on holiday gifts and Christmas cards, but this didn’t stop the President and First Lady Lou Henry from doing so. The First Lady had an impressive collection of old photographs of the White House and gave five different etchings of these photographs to over 200 White House staff members. Some were mounted and personalized with the greeting, “Best Wishes of Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry Hoover.” Additionally, President Hoover gave his personal staff a photo of himself on his horse, Billy, at his Rapidan Camp in Shenandoah Nation Park, Virginia.

The Hoovers - Christmas notecards from 1929

The Hoovers - Christmas notecards from 1929

Despite the poor economic climate, the White House received a surprising number of Christmas cards and gifts that year. In response to this overwhelming generosity, the President and First Lady sent out 3,100 engraved notecards with four variations of the following greeting: “The President and Mrs. Hoover cordially reciprocate your holiday greetings.

The Hoovers carried on the tradition set by the Coolidges of lighting the National Christmas Tree. The original living Norway spruce donated to Coolidge in 1924 by the AFA (American Forestry Association) had to be replaced due to wear and tear from decorating and trimming. Another living Norway spruce was donated by the AFA from Amawalk Nursery in Westchester County, New York and planted in Sherman Plaza. During the tree lighting ceremony, the President addressed the crowd and the listeners on their radios, “I want to have the privilege of wishing you all, and all the unseen audiences, a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Aftermath of the Christmas Eve fire in the old West Wing, 1929

Aftermath of the Christmas Eve fire in the old West Wing, 1929

On Christmas Eve of 1929, an electrical fire broke out in the West Wing of the White House…the third fire in the White House since 1814. The following year, the Hoovers had the building remodeled and the roof replaced. The remodel produced heaps of wood scraps, which the Hoovers had made into gifts for their staff members. Some of these items included bookends, ashtrays, paper cutters, and boxes. Each gift was accompanied by a poem written by the First Lady.

Additionally, each gift was accompanied by an engraved card with a personalized greeting that read, “The President and Mrs. Hoover take Christmas pleasure in presenting this historic bit of pinewood with their greetings.” Mrs. Hoover also had framed photograph prints distributed to additional staff members and aides.

The Hoovers - 1932 Christmas card featuring side-by-side photographs of the executive couple

The Hoovers - 1932 Christmas card featuring side-by-side photographs of the executive couple

For Christmas in 1931, the Hoovers gave out more prints to family, staff members, and aides. Some of these included photo etchings done by J.C. Claghorn of the Washington Monument, the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, and Mount Vernon. They also gave a etchings of the Capitol building done by well known etching artist Don Swann. All of the prints were either framed or matted. Additionally, the Hoovers gave out four different matted, framed, and signed photographs of the Washing Monument to White House staff members.

In 1932, for the Hoovers last Christmas at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they gave a gift of a leather folder that included photographs of the President and a separate photograph of the First Lady with two White House police dogs. A personal note accompanied the folder that read, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Herbert Hoover and from Lou Henry Hoover and Weegie and Pat 1932 – 33.”

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor 1933-1945

Franklin Delano Roosevelt began his first term as the 32nd President of the United States in 1933. That year, the White House received a record 40,000 Christmas and holiday cards from the American public; the number was so large that a staff had to be hired to handle the influx of mail. The Roosevelts sent Christmas cards to close family and friends. The card they ordered was single-sided and featured an etching of the White House, hand engraved by A.B. Tolly. That same year marked the 10th anniversary of the lighting of the National Christmas Tree. 5,000 people attended the ceremony, during which Roosevelt gave the longest speech to date. Roosevelt’s speech established the tradition of the president speaking directly to the American people during the tree lighting ceremony.

2004 American President Collection Franklin D. Roosevelt Ornament

2004 American President Collection Franklin D. Roosevelt Ornament

For the following holiday season, FDR gave to each executive staff member an autographed copy of his book, On Our Way, which explained his basic ideas and notions for reconstruction. The President and First Lady ordered 400 single-sided Christmas cards to be sent to family and friends, in which a photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt was inserted in a panel at the top of the card.

Tensions overseas continued to augment with the onset of the following year. Nazi forces invaded Czechoslovakia and Poland, and Germany created an alliance with Italy. France and Great Britain also created an alliance and declared war on Germany while the Soviets signed an armistice with Japan and removed all military support from China.

The Roosevelts - Christmas Card from 1935

The Roosevelts - Christmas Card from 1935

That same year, the national tree lighting ceremony was moved to Lafayette Square in order to accommodate more people. Two live Fraser firs from North Carolina were planted in the square; the trees were to be alternatively decorated each year to reduce wear and tear. 10,000 people gathered in the square for the ceremony. Roosevelt’s speech reflected the patriotism and courage of Andrew Jackson, whose statue stands at the center of the square.

In 1935, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt purchased gifts for White House staff members from Val-Kill Industries, a workshop she established with several lady friends to help low-income families supplement earnings by crafting furniture and metalware. Each pewter gift was accompanied by a single-sided Christmas card that featured a photograph of the President and First Lady. The White House that year received over 6,000 Christmas cards, and the Roosevelts sent out 400 Christmas cards to family and friends.

The following year, the First Lady again purchased metal gifts from The Forge for the White House staff. The card design featured a lithograph of a bucolic red farmhouse and barn flanked by two evergreen trees. At the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, 3,000 people were present to hear FDR’s annual speech, in which he discussed Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Scrooge’s renewed sense of self from the lessons he learned. With the reforms set into motion from the President’s First New Deal, the economy was on an up swing for the first time since the onset of the depression years.

1940 Christmas gift from the President was a key chain depicting his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala.

1940 Christmas gift from the President was a key chain depicting his beloved Scottish terrier, Fala.

Roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term during the election of 1940. Promising to keep America out of the fighting overseas, he received 55% of the popular vote. With the closing of The Forge, FDR’s secretary ordered over 200 Scottish terrier key chains from Hammacher Schlemmer. The key chains were very near and dear to the Roosevelts, as the gifts immortalized their own beloved Scottish terrier, Fala. FDR’s secretary also ordered money clips and key chains from Cartier to be gifted to White House staff and associates.

Once America was officially at war, the Treasury Department began promoting and encouraging Americans to purchase defense bonds and stamps. Appropriate for the occasion, the Roosevelts’ Christmas gift to their White House staff was a black leather stamp album. A copy of the previous year’s Christmas speeches by Churchill and the President were given to cabinet members, heads of the executive office, family, and friends.

FDR enjoyed receiving Christmas cards as much as he enjoyed sending them. He established his own private collection of Christmas cards, and by 1940, the collection contained over 3,000 designs. The National Christmas Tree was decorated sans lights that year because electric lights were being rationed while America was at war.

For the 1943 holiday season, it was recommended that the National Community Christmas Tree not be resurrected because of the continuation of war time rationing of electricity and other commodity resources. First Lady Roosevelt insisted that the tree lighting ceremony take place because it was the one thing that Americans needed during the war-causing lackluster holiday season. And so the 20th annual National Community Christmas Tree was decorated with ornaments made by children in local schools, but similar to the year prior, the tree was without lights.

1944 Christmas gift from the President - a copy of his D-Day Prayer

1944 Christmas gift from the President - a copy of his D-Day Prayer

On the evening of the invasion of Normandy, the President issued the D-Day prayer; a copy of the prayer was given to each member of the White House staff. For close friends, FDR has the prayer made into a slip cased limited edition book. The last Christmas cards that FDR sent out maintained the same single-sided design, featuring an etching of the White House and a holly leaf with the imprinted greeting:
With Christmas Greetings and our best wishes for a Happier Nineteen Forty-five, The President and Mrs. Roosevelt

The Roosevelts spent Christmas at their home in Hyde Park again. FDR delivered his Christmas message to the American people and the troops overseas via radio broadcast from his personal library.

In April of 1945, the President left for his retreat in Warm Springs, Georgia, where he sought comfort for his paralysis in the town’s warmed mineral springs. He died on April 12 at the age of 63. Although the war wasn’t over, peace was very near thanks to his efforts.

President Harry S. Truman and First Lady Bess 1945-1953

Harry S. Truman had been Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Vice President for only 82 days before Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. Just weeks after Truman took over the Executive office as the 33rd President of the United States, the Allied forces defeated the Axis Powers and World War II came to an end. May 8 was declared as V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day), which was also Truman’s 61st birthday. Writing to his mother, he remarked, “Isn’t that some birthday present?” He held a press conference announcing the victories in Germany and Italy and the end of World War II. For Christmas that year, he gave each White House staff member a scroll of his speech from the news conference. He also sent out official White House Christmas cards, which featured a lithograph design of holly and berries along with a standard gold imprint. The back of the envelope was also imprinted in gold with the Presidential Seal.

Official 1946 White House Christmas cards from the President and First Lady

Official 1946 White House Christmas cards from the President and First Lady

For the following Christmas, as a gift to all 575 members of the White House staff, Truman gave an autographed copy of a photograph of him and First Lady Bess boarding the President’s private plane, the Sacred Crow. “Christmas 1946” was etched into the bottom of each photograph. The Trumans also had 800 Christmas cards engraved from Brewood Engravers that featured an etching of a jeweled Christmas candelabra and standard Christmas imprint.

For the 1949 Christmas gift to their White House staff (or rather the Blair House staff), the Trumans gave a leather key holder. Each holder contained a snap closure and was imprinted with a brief Christmas greeting. To a small few of the President’s closest executive team members, he gave the same paperweight from the year prior, and to his Cabinet members, he gave the bound book, Selected Speeches and Statements on Foreign Affairs by Harry S. Truman.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the south lawn of the White House in 1947

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on the south lawn of the White House in 1947

On June 25, 1950, the North Korean Army invaded South Korea, triggering the onset of the Korean War. Only five years after the end of World War II, global peace had been disrupted again. For Christmas that year as a gift to his White House staff, the President gave frameable copies of his Christmas Greetings 1950 message, which reflected upon his appreciation for those who whole-heartedly cared for his needs while he tended to the needs of the country. For his Cabinet members, Truman gave a set of six crystal glasses engraved with the Presidential Coat of Arms.

Christmas gift print from Truman to his staff given in 1952

Christmas gift print from Truman to his staff given in 1952

For Christmas of 1952, having decided to not run for re-election, Truman opted to spend his last holiday season as our country’s President in Washington. With renovations to the White House finally complete, the President and First Lady gave to each member of their staff a reproduction of a photograph of the White House. Each reproduction contained a gold Presidential Seal along with the greeting, “Christmas Greetings from the President and Mrs. Truman, 1952”. For the first time since 1947, the President was physically present to light the National Community Christmas Tree.

2004 American President Collection Harry S. Truman Ornament

2004 American President Collection Harry S. Truman Ornament

In his Christmas greeting to the American people, he spoke of the Korean War and re-establishing peace worldwide: “Our efforts to establish low and order in the world are not directed against any nation or any people. We seek only a universal peace, where all nations shall be free and all peoples shall enjoy their inalienable human rights.”

Harry S. Truman went back to Independence, Missouri in January of 1953 to enjoy a simpler life that didn’t involve the heaviness of politics he experienced while in Washington.

A special note of thanks goes to our friends at White House Christmas Cards, for allowing us to use some of their outstanding research material as part of this presentation. If you are interested in a more in-depth study of Christmas in the White House, we highly recommend you visit their site.

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Filed under Art, Children, Christmas, Christmas at the White House, Culture, Dancing, Entertainment, First Daughters, First Sons, Hanukkah, History, Holidays, Kwanzaa, Media and Entertainment, Military, Music, Politics, Pop Culture, Presidents, Toys for Tots, Uncategorized, United States, US, Video/YouTube, Washington, DC, Women's Issues

Sotomayor’s Opinion Marks the Supreme Court’s First Use of the Term ‘undocumented immigrant.’

Posted by Audiegrl

ThinkProgress.org/Amanda Terkel—Yesterday, the Supreme Court “released its first four decisions in argued cases this term,” including one marking Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s debut.

In an otherwise dry opinion, Justice Sotomayor did introduce one new and politically charged term into the Supreme Court lexicon.

Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in the case, Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term “undocumented immigrant,” according to a legal database. The term “illegal immigrant” has appeared in a dozen decisions.

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Sotomayor Draws Retort From Fellow Justice Clarance Thomas

New York Times/Adam Liptak—The Supreme Court released its first four decisions in argued cases this term on Tuesday. They were all minor, but one was notable for being Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court debut and for prompting a testy concurrence from Justice Clarence Thomas.

The case concerned whether federal trial-court rulings concerning the lawyer-client privilege may be appealed right away. Justice Sotomayor, with methodical reasoning and a formal writing style, said no.

Justice Sotomayor said that result was dictated by sound policy and was consistent with a law governing appeals.

The decision was unanimous, but Justice Clarence Thomas declined to join the part of Justice Sotomayor’s opinion discussing why the cost of allowing immediate appeals outweighs the possibility that candid communications between lawyers and their clients might be chilled.

In a concurrence, Justice Thomas took a swipe at his new colleague, saying she had “with a sweep of the court’s pen” substituted “value judgments” and “what the court thinks is a good idea” for the text of a federal law.

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Newsman Lou Dobbs Mulls Run for White House, Senate

Posted by Audiegrl

Reuters/Tim Gaynor—A week after abruptly quitting his longtime job as a CNN television news host and commentator, Lou Dobbs said on Thursday he is considering career options including possible runs for the White House or U.S. Senate.

Right now I feel exhilaration at the wide range of choices before me as to what I do next,” Dobbs, whose outspoken views on immigration and other topics often angered liberals, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York on Thursday.

Dobbs, 64, a veteran CNN anchor who had become one of the most divisive figures in U.S. broadcast journalism, announced last Wednesday he was leaving CNN after spending the better part of 30 years at the 24-hour cable news network.

He still hosts a daily radio show.

Protesters In Lou Dobbs Masks

Protesters In Lou Dobbs Masks

A Texas native, Dobbs has drawn fire from Latino leaders and civil rights groups for frequent on-air remarks about U.S. border control and immigration that critics saw as demonizing illegal immigrants.

He was also seen as lending credence to the “birther” conspiracy theory, whose adherents believe President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate was faked to hide a Kenyan birthplace that would make the first black U.S. president ineligible for his office.

Dobbs acknowledged his commentary also stirred friction with CNN executives.

–snip–

Dobbs vowed to carry on expressing his views “fully and straightforwardly in the public arena no matter what I decide to do next.”

Since his departure, some have speculated he might run as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New Jersey, where he has a home, or even run as a third-party candidate in the 2012 U.S. presidential elections — options he says remain on the table.

I am ruling nothing out. … I have come to no conclusions and no decisions,” he said. “Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely. And I will.”

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The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart Interviews Lou Dobbs

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Racial Re-thinking as President Obama Visits China

Increasing diversity, born out of boom, forces Chinese to confront old prejudices

Lou JingWashington Post/Keith B. Richburg—As a mixed-race girl growing up in this most cosmopolitan of mainland Chinese cities, 20-year-old Lou Jing said she never experienced much discrimination — curiosity and questions, but never hostility.

So nothing prepared Lou, whose father is a African American, for the furor that erupted in late August when she beat out thousands of other young women on “Go! Oriental Angel,” a televised talent show. Angry Internet posters called her a “black chimpanzee” and worse. One called for all blacks in China to be deported.

As the country gets ready to welcome the first African American U.S. president, whose first official visit here starts Sunday, the Chinese are confronting their attitudes toward race, including some deeply held prejudices about black people. Many appeared stunned that Americans had elected a black man, and President Obama’s visit has underscored Chinese ambivalence about the growing numbers of blacks living here.

As China has expanded its economic ties with Africa — trade between them reached $107 billion last year — the number of Africans living here has exploded. Tens of thousands have flocked to the south, where they are putting down roots, establishing communities, marrying Chinese women and having children.

In the process, they are making tiny pockets of urban China more racially diverse — and forcing the Chinese to deal with issues of racial discrimination. In the southern city of Guangzhou, where residents refer to one downtown neighborhood as Chocolate City, local newspapers have been filled in recent months with stories detailing discrimination and alleging police harassment against the African community.

Lou sees similarities between her life and Obama’s: She also grew up without her father, whom she never knew. obamachinaUN-Climate-change-meeting-002-300x180 She read Obama’s autobiography and watched his campaign speeches on television. She learned how to chant “Yes, we can!” in English and calls Obama “my idol.

Reading the withering online criticisms of her talent-show appearance, she recalled, she came across one post that asked: “Now that Obama is president, does that mean a new day for black people has arrived?

“I think the answer is yes,” she said. “Some Chinese people’s perceptions of black people here have been transformed.”

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Oriental Angel‘ Triggers China Race Row

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theage.com.au—An instructor at Shanghai Drama Academy, where Lou studies broadcasting, put forward the mixed-race beauty and a handful of classmates to appear on the television talent show, without asking first.

She was selected for the top 30 nationwide, but was not among the 12 contestants chosen by judges for the next round.

Lou said she was not surprised by the judges’ decision, but was shocked by the thousands of web postings that followed, most of them negative and many of them expressing racist views.

I couldn’t help crying. I felt hurt. I never meant to offend anyone,” she said.

Although Lou is still working towards her dream of being a television presenter, she said the episode had left her less optimistic about whether she can find a place on China’s airwaves.

They want a TV host who is considered traditionally beautiful,” she said.

Ever since I appeared on TV, I realized that maybe I don’t fit the image of a TV host. Many believe a TV host should have white skin, high nose and big eyes.”

Lou said she would follow Obama’s visit to China, listing the US president — himself of mixed-race descent — as one of her heroes alongside her mother and Oprah Winfrey, whose show she watches over the Internet.

She said Obama’s autobiography had inspired her, but added that she was unconvinced she could change people’s minds about race.

He convinced people that he has the capacity to change what people thought of African-Americans. Compared to him, I don’t have that capacity for change because the Chinese media is too powerful,” she said.

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Lou Dobbs headed to Fox News … for an interview with Bill O’Reilly

Posted by Audiegrl

dobbs-oreillyDaily Finance/Jeff Bercovici—Lou Dobbs knows the world is watching him closely now for clues that might explain his sudden resignation from CNN. So it’s probably safe to read some meaning into the choice of the anchorman’s venue for his first big post-CNN interview: He’s going on Fox News.

The network is set to announce that Dobbs will be a guest on Monday night’s edition of Bill O’Reilly’s show, DailyFinance has learned. Warm feelings between the two men goes back to last summer, when O’Reilly publicly defended Dobbs against critics who wanted him fired for repeatedly showcasing the claims of “birthers” who allege President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S. Dobbs offered to be interviewed on The O’Reilly Factor then, but quickly backed out, prompting speculation that CNN had ordered him not to appear on a competing network.

Monday’s appearance could be a make-good for that…or it could be a not-so-subtle signal that Dobbs is inclined to sign on with Rupert Murdoch’s legions, as many believe he will. (On his radio show today, callers were reportedly urging Dobbs to do just that.)

One unknown is whether Dobbs has the contractual freedom to become a Fox Newser. CNN president Jon Klein has said he let Dobbs out of his contract early — it was supposed to run through 2011 — but declined to say whether he did so on the condition that the anchor not go to work for a competitor. It’s possible that Dobbs could join Fox Business Network, which doesn’t compete with CNN or other Turner Broadcasting properties, and then expand into a role with Fox News once any exclusivity period that may exist runs out. (A Fox spokeswoman says there have been no discussions with Dobbs about working at either channel.)

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Justicia Poetica: Dobbs Rises and Then Falls Thanks to Immigrants

Op-ed by Roberto Lovato

robertolovatoofficial-picAs I watched the sad eyes of Lou Dobbs last night while he bade an abrupt farewell to his long career at CNN, I shed the tears that he apparently couldn’t. I cried in part because, regardless of the Basta Dobbs campaign’s — and my own — constitutional differences with his brand of anti-immigrant, anti-Latino propaganda disguised as news, one couldn’t help but be moved by the fast and fiery demise of a media titan. It really was sad to watch the aging Dobbs go out without the slow grace and good will that characterized Walter Cronkite’s departure in a previous media era.

Yet, while slightly moved by Dobbs’ personal drama, I cried primarily because, as a member, relative and friend of the groups most vilified by Dobbs for so many years — Latinos and immigrants — I was inspired by the power of the movement to oust him, a movement that these same groups and their allies led. In the words of many a jubilant Twitterer and Facebook friend celebrating Dobbs’transition as a victory,”Si Se Pudo” (Yes We Could).

At one level, Dobbs’ departure was influenced by internal dynamics at CNN, a network in need of rapid changes required by the economic, political and demographic shifts transforming media. But at another level, the victory over Dobbs shows that our community is mobilized like never before. It reflects how we have taken important strides since the immigrants rights marches of 2006, and are now using the latest technology and organizing tactics to make our voices heard. Lou Dobbs led us to march with our feet — and with our fingers.

In their search for the right frame for the story, many have commented that ours was a struggle against the kind of hatred promoted by Dobbs and his many guests. But for those working daily to defeat Dobbs, the guiding force of our movement was not hate but love — the love that we show ourselves when, in the face of daily attacks, we stand up and say “Basta,” “Enough.

More than the media or technology or organizing capabilities of Presente.org, Drop Dobbs, DemocraciaUSA, NDN, America’s Voice, NALACC or any other organization, the will of the many to push the powerful few has again reminded us of the centrality of spirituality to social change. I cried mostly because I saw in Dobbs’ departure some of the same intense desire for change that made many of us cry at the election of Barack Obama.

Dobbs himself said it best when, during his farewell, he linked his rapid departure to how “strong winds of change have begun buffeting this country and affecting all of us.” I was touched by these same winds during my travels throughout the country, where I met some of the more than 100,000 people who signed our Basta Dobbs petition. I heard it from the septuagenarian Tejano who, from his hospital bed had a family member text message to tell me, “I’m getting ready to leave the hospital and will be ready to help you get Dobbs out soon.” I saw it in the youthful optimism of the troop of Latina Girl Scouts from south Georgia, who said they wanted to go to Atlanta to protest CNN’s headquarters. And I felt it among the tens of thousands of non-Latinos who responded quickly to our call to demand Dobbs’ removal. Taken together, these people and others are the embodiment of the “strong winds of change” that buffeted Dobbs and CNN.

While on the surface, the anti-Dobbs movement appears as a recent development, its roots go as far back as the beginning of Dobbs attacks on immigrants. Many of the grassroots groups and bloggers allied with our campaign as well as national groups like the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Media Matters have a long and distinguished history of challenging and checking Dobbs. Without their efforts, there would be no movement.

But for me, the most moving, poetic aspect of the entire Dobbs drama is that it begins and ends with immigrants, including undocumented immigrants. In this sense, the victory reinvigorates the important work of immigration reform. Hopefully Republicans and Democrats are taking note of the power of immigrants and the immigrant rights movement that mobilized to defeat Dobbs. But that’s for tomorrow. For now, let us commemorate this historic event by saying along with immigrants, “Justicia Poetica.”

Roberto Lovato, Co-founder http://www.presente.org

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***Breaking News***BastaDobbs.com Announces Victory: Lou Dobbs to Leave CNN

UPDATE: John King to take over Dobbs’s slot at CNN

CNN announced Thursday that John King, the Sunday morning host best known for his magic wall, is taking over the 7 p.m. slot left vacant by the abrupt resignation of Lou Dobbs.

more here:

BREAKING: U.S. Deports Lou Dobbs
CNN Host Had Been Living Illegally In Country Since 1961 see below

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BYE BYE LOU!!

Responding to the news Wednesday that Lou Dobbs will leave his post as a longtime anchor on CNN, the leaders of BastaDobbs.com – a national Latino-led coalition that had been advocating for his ouster – released the following statement:

“Our contention all along was that Lou Dobbs – who has a long record of spreading lies and conspiracy theories about immigrants and Latinos – does not belong on the ‘Most Trusted Name in News,'” said Roberto Lovato, co-founder of Presente.org, a national online advocacy organization coordinating the BastaDobbs.com campaign in conjunction with more than 40 local and regional Latino organizations from across the country. “We are thrilled that Dobbs no longer has this legitimate platform from which to incite fear and hate.”

The BastaDobbs.com campaign launched in mid-September, and included online petitions, a viral YouTube video, text-message campaign, radio PSAs and a series of events in 18 cities – organized in conjunction with the CNN special Latino in America. The message to CNN was that courting Latino viewers while keeping Dobbs on the network would not with them favor with the fastest-growing demographic in the country. Since then, more than 100,000 people have joined the effort. The events and the campaign garnered significant press coverage in both Spanish-language and mainstream media.

Lovato said the BastaDobbs.com victory marks a key turning point for the Latino community, as it moved from marching in the streets in 2006 to mounting a successful, high-tech campaign against one of the biggest and strongest media voices against common-sense immigration reform.

BREAKING: U.S. Deports Lou Dobbs
CNN Host Had Been Living Illegally In Country Since 1961

Luis Miguel Salvador Aguila Dominguez, alias "Lou Dobbs," is escorted by DHS agents to the airport to be sent back to Mexico.

WANTAGE, NJ—Acting on anonymous tips from within the Hispanic-American community, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on Wednesday deported Luis Miguel Salvador Aguila Dominguez, who for the last 48 years had been living illegally in the United States under the name Lou Dobbs.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, federal agents stormed the undocumented immigrant’s home in an evening raid just hours after the 64-year-old newscaster suddenly announced that he was resigning from CNN, and immediately placed him on an Aeromexico flight departing from Newark Liberty Airport.

Read the whole enchilada here:

loudobbsforgovernorSo it begins…the folks at American’s Voice already has a Dobbs parody site up. It will be interesting to see what Dobbs’ next “contribution” to public life might be.

Previous Lou Dobbs Coverage

Lou Dobbs Returns to His Planet; ‘My Work Here is Done

CNN Can’t Have It Both Ways — Lou Dobbs vs. Latino In America

The Ad CNN Refuses to Air: Drop Dobbs

Drop Dobbs Campaign: CNN Pressured to Fire Lou Dobbs

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CNN Can’t Have It Both Ways — Lou Dobbs vs. Latino In America

Posted by Audiegrl

Basta Lou Dobbs: Enough is Enough!

Translation:  Hypocrisy: CNN releases documentary "Latino in America" while Hispanics around the country protest against the anti-Latino propaganda of Lou Dobbs

Translation: Hypocrisy: CNN releases documentary "Latino in America" while Hispanics around the country protest against the anti-Latino propaganda of Lou Dobbs

New York Times/Brian Stelter—Instead of being simply a draw for Hispanic viewers, CNN’s four-hour documentary, “Latino in America,” turned into a political rallying cry for activist groups who are calling on the cable news channel to fire Lou Dobbs, a veteran anchor with well-known views on immigration.

An array of minorities held small protests in New York and other cities on Wednesday, the first night of CNN’s presentation. They are trying to highlight what they say are years of lies about immigration by Mr. Dobbs, who anchors the 7 p.m. hour on CNN.

Civil Rights Lawyer Isabel Garcia

Civil Rights Lawyer Isabel Garcia

CNN, a unit of Time Warner, has not commented on the protests or covered them on its news programs. Isabel Garcia, one of the activists featured in the documentary said she tried to raise what she called Mr. Dobbs’s “hatred” on one of the channel’s news programs Wednesday, but her remarks were cut from the interview.

The hypocrisy, critics say, lies in CNN’s decision to woo Hispanic viewers with a prime-time documentary while still giving Mr. Dobbs a nightly forum. Roberto Lovato, a founding member of Presente.org, a Latino advocacy group, said in a statement, “We won’t allow the network to court us as viewers while, at the same time, they allow Dobbs to spread lies and misinformation about us each night.”

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Latino In America” Not The Ratings Hit “Black In America” Was

Soledad O'Brian and Eva Longoria Parker

Soledad O'Brian and Eva Longoria Parker

Huffington Post/Danny Shea—CNN’s “Latino in America” received a lot of attention, particularly from observers interested in the discord between the special and Lou Dobbs’ perceived anti-immigration stance.

The attention wasn’t enough to make it a ratings hit, however.

The two-part special, which aired Wednesday and Thursday nights from 9-11 PM, drew significantly fewer viewers than the summer’s “Black in America,” and led the network to third place in both total viewers and the A25-54 demographic both nights.

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In his piece, The Dobbs Factor, blogger Matt Yglesias writes:

Immigrants Rally In Lou Dobbs Masks

Immigrants Rally In Lou Dobbs Masks

“Dobbs has a long history of spreading hate and paranoia. He has routinely discussed the North American Union conspiracy theory, incorrectly claimed that undocumented immigrants drain social services and don’t pay taxes, and repeatedly amplified the falsehood that undocumented immigrants are disproportionately violent. He has been an unrepentant purveyor of hateful attacks, fraudulently claiming, for example, that immigrants are spreading leprosy and seek to reconquer the southwestern United States.

For all that, if CNN wants to stand by Dobbs then, fine, they should stand by Dobbs. But if they want to stand by Dobbs then they should stand by Dobbs and feature him prominently in their four-hour “Latino in America” documentary. After all, from what you can see watching the network day-to-day the executives at CNN think Dobbs has a credible and important perspective on this issue. Instead, they just kind of want to sweep the crazy uncle under the rug for the purposes of a big special, and then trot him back out again when everything’s back to normal.”

Lou Dobbs and his wife Debi, in the kitchen of their New Jersey farmhouse.

Lou Dobbs and his wife Debi, in the kitchen of their New Jersey farmhouse.

In a 2007 60 Minutes interview, Leslie Stahl got a chance to talk to both Lou and Debi Dobbs who have been married for over 25 years:

Lesley, I have worked with migrant workers in the fields. I’m probably one of the few people in the debate who actually has. I’ve got the greatest respect for those folks. Hard-working, decent, and back-breaking work,” Dobbs tells Stahl.

If that pat on the back is surprising, given the tone of his show, there’s something even more surprising, something he never brings up: the fact that his wife Debi is Mexican-American.

When he is criticized, as he has been, and even accused of being racist as he has been, what goes on inside of you?” Stahl asks Debi Dobbs.

It used to bother me. But now, it doesn’t bother me at all. I know he’s not. People that know him know he’s not. Sometimes I find it amusing,” she replies.

Who Is BastaDobbs.com?

bastadobbsphoto1BastaDobbs.com exists to change how the media reports on Latinos and immigrants in the United States, starting with the worst offenders: Lou Dobbs and his network, CNN. We focus on Lou Dobbs because he, more than any other media personality, has obsessed about and given voice to the most extreme views about immigrants and Latinos. And yet, because CNN refuses to translate Dobbs into Spanish, too few Latinos and immigrants are even aware of the role he plays in spreading fear and hatred in our communities.

***Update***

NJ Law Enforcement Appear to Contradict Dobbs’ Version of Gunfire Incident

New Jersey state police seem to be contradicting CNN Host Lou Dobbs’ account of a gunfire incident near his Sussex County, New Jersey, house.

lou-dobbsOn Monday on his radio show, Dobbs stated that “my wife has now been and I have been shot at.” The alleged incident, which Dobbs had reported to the New Jersey State Police, took place three weeks prior to the October 26 broadcast of the Lou Dobbs Show, and Dobbs told his listeners that it had “followed weeks and weeks of threatening phone calls.” Dobbs’ discussion of the incident during his radio show also included mention of both longtime critic and FOX host Geraldo Rivera and the immigrant advocacy organizations calling for his removal from CNN including the National Council of La Raza, America’s Voice and other “ethnocentric interest groups.”

Without specifying who he suspects of making the alleged threats, he also said on his radio show that “They’ve threatened my wife, they’ve now fired a shot at my house while my wife was standing next to the car.” Concluding with a call for “truth, justice and the American way,” Dobbs cautioned “if anybody thinks that we’re not engaged in the battle for the soul of this country right now, you’re sorely mistaken.” And during an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Thursday, Dobbs spoke again about the gunfire incident, linking it to “threatening phone calls tied to the positions I’ve taken on illegal immigration.”

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BastaDobbs.com teamed with award-winning filmmaker Arturo Perez to make a powerful new video

Laura Flanders of GRIT TV interviews Roberto Lovato of Presente.org and New America Media, Erica Gonzalez of El Diario/La Prensa, and Cathy Areu of Catalina magazine and the Washington Post magazine. The panel discusses ignored Latino issues, from the 2010 Census to the general strike in Puerto Rico, the continued standoff in Honduras and the way the mainstream media equates “Latino” with “immigrant.”

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