Sunday Open Thread

Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973) was a pioneering gospel singer, songwriter and recording artist who attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment. She became the first great recording star of gospel music in the late 1930s and also became known as the “original soul sister” of recorded music.

Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her inspirational music of ‘light’ in the ‘darkness’ of the nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, her witty, idiosyncratic style also left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists, such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the world of pop music, she never left gospel music.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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53 Responses to Sunday Open Thread

  1. Ametia says:

    Rikyraha, here’s the video from the Chris Matthews Show. on Mornons

    Norah O’Donnell: Republicans More Uncomfortable With Fox Commentator as Presidential Candidate Than Mormon
    By Noel Sheppard | June 19, 2011 | 19:09

    Video & transcript

    Read more:

  2. rikyrah says:

    hey everyone.

    went to a BBQ for Peanut’s Father for Father’s Day. Yes, Peanut is a Daddy’s Girl to the bottom of her soul :)

    it was fun.

    • Ametia says:

      Cool; I’ve been asking about precious lil Peaunut. It’s always great to hear you share the joy and wonder, Auntie, rikyrah! Glad y’all had a good time. :-)

  3. Ametia says:

  4. Ametia says:


  5. Ametia says:

    Axelrod: GOP candidate Jon Huntsman was ‘effusive’ about Obama
    By David

    June 19, 2011 12:30 PM

    Former Republican Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said last week that Barack Obama had “failed” as president.

    But Obama’s chief campaign strategist says that Huntsman praised the president in private while serving as the ambassador to China.

    “It was a little surprising to me because when we were in Shanghai we got a chance to talk,” David Axelrod told CNN’s Candy Crowley Sunday. “And he was very effusive, this was in the fall of 2009, about what the president was doing. He was encouraging on health care, he was encouraging on a whole range of issues. He was a little quizzical about what he was going on in his own party. And you got the strong sense that he was going to wait until 2016 for the storm to blow over.”

    “I understand that’s politics. He’s a politician. And he sees an opportunity. But it is — it’s a stark contrast to what he said when he wasn’t on your program.”

  6. The President’s Father’s Day e-mail:

    Good morning,

    I grew up without a father around. I was lucky enough to be raised by a wonderful mother who, like so many heroic single mothers, never allowed my father’s absence to be an excuse for me to slack off or not always do my best. But I often wonder what it would have been like if my father had a greater presence in my life.

    So as a father of two young girls, I’ve tried hard to be a good dad. I haven’t always been perfect – there have been times when work kept me away from my family too often, and most of the parenting duties fell to Michelle.

    I know many other fathers face similar challenges. Whether you’re a military dad returning from deployment or a father doing his best to make ends meet for his family in a tough economy, being a parent isn’t easy.

    That’s why my Administration is kicking off the Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families. We’re joining with dads across the country to do something about father absence. And we’re taking steps to offer men who want to be good fathers but are facing challenges in their lives a little extra support, while partnering with businesses to offer fun opportunities for fathers to spend time with their kids. For example, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Major League Baseball and the WNBA are offering discounts for fathers and their kids, and companies like Groupon and LivingSocial will be featuring special offers for activities fathers can do with their children.

    You can learn more and sign the Fatherhood Pledge at

    We know that every father has a personal responsibility to do right by their kids – to encourage them to turn off the video games and pick up a book; to teach them the difference between right and wrong; to show them through our own example the value in treating one another as we wish to be treated. And most of all, to play an active and engaged role in their lives.

    But all of us have a stake in forging stronger bonds between fathers and their children. All of us can support those who are willing to step up and be father figures to those children growing up without a dad. And that’s what the Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families is all about.

    So I hope the dads out there will take advantage of some of the opportunities Strong Fathers, Strong Families will offer. It’s one way of saying thank you to those who are doing the most important job of all: playing a part in our children’s lives.

    Happy Father’s Day.


    President Barack Obama

  7. Ametia says:

  8. Happy Father’s Day! My heart to the hearts of all whose Dads have passed. Mine has been gone for many years, too. I hope no one minds if I say a few words about my Dad who was way ahead of his time in treating and believing women to be equal to men. There was no such thing as “women’s work” in my household. My Dad pitched in with laundry, cooking and childcare and so did my brothers. This was almost unheard of when I was growing up. I can remember people feeling shock to see him hanging laundry, even ironing or being cheerfully ordered around the kitchen by Mama and Granny like their own personal Sous Chef. I remember him telling my brothers more than once that: “If a man can’t cook a meal or wash and iron his own shirt, then he isn’t much of a man.”

    He was funny, irreverent often, opinionated, tough in discipline, especially with my brothers who felt his firm hand more than once (they richly deserved it!) but sweet, compassionate and a wonderful dancer. He adored my Mama with every fiber of his being and he loved all of us children with a fierce protectiveness that gave us security even when money was tight or the world outside our home got ugly. He was a rock.

    I think I somehow got really lucky because my own Hubby is so much like my Dad and he raised a good son just like him. The luck must have also passed down to my daughters because they also married wonderful men too. I’m grateful. ♥ to all the good men in my family and to Dads everywhere!

    I love you, Papi and I so wish you were here to see your grandchildren grown up and their children and the legacy you made. Viva, familia!

  9. Michelle Bachmann Lied About Raising 23 Foster Children

    If you were watching the Republican Presidential Candidates debate last week, you probably heard Michelle Bachmann state repeatedly that she personally has raised 23 foster children. This is more than just stretching the truth, it is an outright lie. Some of the foster children she took in were only in her care for a week.

    Via The Daily Beast;

    Bachmann often says she has “raised” 23 foster children. That may be a bit of a stretch. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Bachmann’s license, which she had for 7 1/2 years, allowed her to care for up to three children at a time. According to Kris Harvieux, a former senior social worker in the foster care system in Bachmann’s county, some placements were almost certainly short term. “Some of them you have for a week. Some of them you have for three years, some you have for six months,” says Harvieux, who also served as a foster parent herself. “She makes it sound like she got them at birth and raised them to adulthood, but that’s not true.”
    Yet Bachmann clearly had some of her foster children long enough to enroll them in local schools, and it was through them that she got involved in school politics. While she taught her own children at home before sending them to private Christian schools, state law required foster kids to go to public school. Seeing their curriculum, she became convinced that “politically correct attitudes, values, and beliefs” had supplanted objective education. She helped found a charter school but soon left the board amid allegations that she was trying to inject Christianity into the curriculum. Then, in 1999, she decided to run for the local school board.

    • rikyrah says:

      uh huh

      • Ametia says:

        Trust, Bachman took on all those foster kids, to collect the CHECK. and I know first hand that kids do not stay with foster parents from birth to death.My former, late, took in double the kids Bachman did spanning decades; they came and went like the seasons.

        And she got a pretty penny for them too. I take nothing away from the care she provided these chhildren. Soem of the kids stayed with her untill they graduated, arenow married and have kids of their own

      • opulent says:


        You said it all!!

  10. McCain blames some Arizona wildfires on illegal immigrants

    (CNN) — U.S. Sen. John McCain is blaming illegal immigrants for starting some of the wildfires that have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres in Arizona.

    “There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally,” McCain, R-Arizona, said Saturday at a press conference. “The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.”

    The Arizona senator, however, did not say what the evidence is, prompting a swift rebuke from Latino civil rights advocates.

    “It’s easier to fan the flames of intolerance, especially in Arizona,” said Randy Parraz, a civil rights advocate who ran unsuccessfully against McCain as a Democratic candidate in 2010.

    Parraz called McCain’s remarks “careless and reckless” but not entirely surprising given the political climate in Arizona. The Latino advocate is co-founder of Citizens for a Better Arizona, a group trying the recall the legislator who authored the state’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law.

    Parraz said McCain “should know better” than to make such an accusation without presenting any facts.

    McCain said that illegal immigrants set such fires either to send signals, keep warm or distract law enforcement agents. But he did not specify which fires allegedly had been started by illegal immigrants, nor did he identify his sources or provide details of the “substantial” evidence he cited.

    • I’m trying not to get too crazy about this because it is so typical. My nephew is down there with his fire crew and he said that this is the meme being put forth without any real evidence. It’s too soon for the fire inspectors to do all of the investigations (and these guys are good) The truth will out just like it did with the Rodeo Fire but probably long after the nutsos blame the “illegals” and that gets stuck in people’s heads. I think that if Mexicans did set these fires it was done by drug cartels and gun runners who are popping back and forth across the border like fleas.

      Arizona is probably the last place any informal immigrant wants to “cross the wall” and supposedly the fire was set and then the “illegals” ran back to Mexico. I smell a big fat rat. I wonder just how many guns and drugs are being run across the border right now while people are searching for “Juan y Maria” and trying to put out the fires.

      Hard days ahead.

    • Ametia says:

      Really, John MCSHAME. You’re to BLAME for unleashing the IGNORANT, STUPID, AND UNEDUCATED GRIFTER Sarah Palin on AMERICA!

  11. Friendship of Justice and Magnate Puts Focus on Ethics


    The project throws a spotlight on an unusual, and ethically sensitive, friendship that appears to be markedly different from those of other justices on the nation’s highest court.

    The two men met in the mid-1990s, a few years after Justice Thomas joined the court. Since then, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group. They have also spent time together at gatherings of prominent Republicans and businesspeople at Mr. Crow’s Adirondacks estate and his camp in East Texas.

    In several instances, news reports of Mr. Crow’s largess provoked controversy and questions, adding fuel to a rising debate about Supreme Court ethics. But Mr. Crow’s financing of the museum, his largest such act of generosity, previously unreported, raises the sharpest questions yet — both about Justice Thomas’s extrajudicial activities and about the extent to which the justices should remain exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges.

    Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said they adhere to it. Legal ethicists differed on whether Justice Thomas’s dealings with Mr. Crow pose a problem under the code. But they agreed that one facet of the relationship was both unusual and important in weighing any ethical implications: Justice Thomas’s role in Mr. Crow’s donation for the museum.

    The code says judges “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors, out of concern that donors might feel pressured to give or entitled to favorable treatment from the judge. In addition, judges are not even supposed to know who donates to projects honoring them.


  12. rikyrah says:

    poor Mittens…can’t find no love from the GOP ‘true believers’.

    Here are the results from the RLC straw poll:

    Texas Rep. Ron Paul, riding the strength of his loyal, passionate — and mostly young — libertarian-minded enthusiasts, captured the presidential straw vote Saturday at the Republican Leadership Conference.

    Out of 1,542 votes cast, the Texas congressman and libertarian hero earned 618 of them — a decisive 39.7 percent in a field of 10. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who cancelled his scheduled appearance here due to a summer cold — and whose aggressive straw vote efforts took place beneath the radar and were rumored to include paying the way of his supporters to New Orleans — was second with 24.8 percent. Michele Bachmann came in third at 12.4 percent.

    Mitt Romney, who leads the GOP field in fundraising, name identification and national polling, finished a distant fifth, behind pizza magnate Herman Cain. Romney, who made a point of not signing a sweeping pro-life pledge offered by the Susan B. Anthony List because he thought it went too far, did not even reach 5 percent. The rest of the field, in order, was Newt Gingrich (4.5 percent), Sarah Palin (2.7 percent), Rick Santorum (2 percent), Tim Pawlenty (1.2 percent), and Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer with less than 1 percent each.

  13. rikyrah says:

    Thoughts on GOP Primaries

    by BooMan
    Sun Jun 19th, 2011 at 08:46:52 AM EST
    The unified consensus of the Netroots Nation panel on the 2012 election was that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republicans’ nominee. It’s a topic that was also credibly covered by Joe Klein in this week’s Time magazine. I think I do a pretty good job at political prognostication. I’m proud of my record. But, when I err, I always err in the same way. I consistently underestimate how radically the Republicans’ will behave. It’s gotten to the point where I’m at risk of overcompensating and not trusting my instincts.

    Take, for example, a second consensus opinion of the Netroots Nation panel: that the likeliest alternative to Romney is Michele Bachmann. I have to say that I don’t agree with either conclusion. I still see the Republican electorate as too radical for Romney and not radical enough for Bachmann. Could this be an example of me simply giving too much credit to the Republicans? Maybe, but then I think predicting that Romney will prevail is giving them much more credit. There has to be a middle ground between the two, and that’s why I still see room for Perry, Pawlenty or Hunstman to make a move.

    And I still see the potential for an almost unthinkable brokered convention.

    The primary and caucus schedule is still in flux, but under new rules adopted by the RNC, all contests held prior to April will assign delegates proportionately, A quick look at the present schedule shows that very few states will be left after March. There’s the Pennsylvania contest on April 24th, and then there are contests in a bunch of relatively low-population states in May and June. The biggest contests in terms of delegates will be in North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, and Oregon.

    How could a brokered convention become inevitable? Well, since way over half the delegates will be assigned proportionately, any three way split of delegates in the early contests could leave an outright majority of delegates out of the reach of any single candidate. Imagine, as Joe Klein does, that there is basically an insider and outsider battle represented by the winner of the Iowa caucuses and the winner of the New Hampshire primary. But, then imagine that a third faction opens up that is basically Southern. Here’s a scenario (and I’ll use Bachmann against my better judgment).

    Let’s say that Michele Bachmann wins the Iowa caucuses and then gets beat very badly by Mitt Romney in New Hampshire. Then, let’s say that both are rejected in South Carolina in favor of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Romney should have little difficulty winning the Nevada caucuses, owing to its large Mormon population. Then, on Super Tuesday, Perry sweeps the southern states while Romney picks up wins in New England and the Mountain West, and Bachmann takes a midwestern state or two. Because of proportional representation, all three candidates will have far fewer than 40% of the delegates. Bachmann will be under pressure to drop out, but she’ll be in a position to use her delegates as a negotiating ploy, especially to deny Romney the nomination. Perry and Romney will go on swapping states: Texas to Perry, Michigan and Illinois to Romney, but with their relative delegate ratio barely changing. By the time April comes and the winner-take-all contests arrive, even winning all of Pennsylvania’s delegates won’t be enough to put Romney over the top. Then Perry will win North Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky, effectively guaranteeing that no one enters the convention with an outright majority of the delegates.

    I’ve looked at these scenarios, and I just don’t think it is implausible at all that something along these lines will occur. The field is too weak for people to easily coalesce around a single candidate, but too strong for it to reliably break down to a two-person contest early on.

  14. Ametia says:

    Chris Matthews and panel is covering Mormons this morning on NBC.

    • rikyrah says:

      what are they saying?

      • Ametia says:

        basically Matthews and panel don’t think Mittens & Huntsman will have a problem with their Mormonism. There’re differendt factions of Mormons, according to Matthews, and t=he thinks the Kennedy was Catholic era will prevail for Mormonism.

      • rikyrah says:

        are they for real? have they talked to the Holy Rollers in the evangelicals?

        they are religious bigots

      • Ametia says:

        bwa ha ha ha Come on, rikyrah. you know these follks gotta pump up the GOP candidates for ratings.Neither Mittens nor Huntsman stand a snowball’s chance in HELL of getting votes from the racist bigots.

      • opulent says:

        @ Ametia,

        That is wishful thinking on Matthews part.

        Most white folks do not even believe that Mormonism is a Christian religion..i.e. they do not consider Mormons christians…they consider Mormonism a cult.

  15. rikyrah says:

    June 19, 2011 10:50 AM
    What Wallace considers evidence

    By Steve Benen

    I’ll have more on Jon Stewart’s appearance on “Fox News Sunday” after I can go through the transcript in more detail, but one quick thing jumped out at me.

    “The Daily Show” host argued that bias may exist in media, but it’s towards “sensationalism, conflict, and laziness.” His host didn’t see it that way.

    Host Chris Wallace pressed Stewart on why he didn’t consider the New York Times and the Washington Post biased for asking readers to help read Sarah Palin’s email trove.

    “They never said ‘help us go through the 2000 pages of the Obama health care bill,’” Wallace noted.

    “I think their bias is towards sensationalism and laziness. I wouldn’t say it’s towards a liberal agenda. It’s light fluff so it’s absolutely within the wheelhouse,” said Stewart.

    I had no idea the Palin email thing was seen as evidence of a “liberal media” in Republican circles. I thought it was evidence of “ridiculous media,” and certainly “lazy media,” not to mention “a misguided media lacking in editorial judgment and a sense of priorities,” but not “liberal.”

    Indeed, the very idea strikes me self-defeating. If major news outlets are obsessed with combing through emails of a former half-term governor turned right-wing media personality, it’s that evidence that the media isn’t liberal? Wouldn’t an actually liberal media be more inclined to ignore the emails?

    As for fact that major outlets didn’t try to crowd-source the Affordable Care Act’s legislative language, the comparison seems bizarre. For one thing, the bill had far fewer pages, and had been scrutinized over the course of months as it worked its way through the committee process. For another, legislation and emails aren’t similar — filled with technical and legal jargon, bills aren’t written in a way to be read by a general lay audience.

    If Wallace is looking for evidence of media “bias,” he’ll need to come up with some far better examples.

  16. rikyrah says:

    Netroots Straw Poll Shows Obama Still Strong

    By Christina Bellantoni
    Roll Call Staff
    June 19, 2011, 9:16 a.m.
    Despite their grousing about the administration during the Netroots Nation conference, liberal activists and bloggers are relatively happy with President Barack Obama’s performance.

    A straw poll conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showed that 80 percent either approve or strongly approve of the president more than a year before voters head to the polls to decide whether he deserves a second term. The results broke down to 27 percent strongly approving of Obama and 53 percent approving “somewhat.” Thirteen percent said they “somewhat disapprove,” and 7 percent strongly disapprove of the president.

    The poll of 519 people was conducted via iPad in the Minneapolis Convention Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

    Two-thirds of the respondents said they want Obama to focus on job growth. “Protecting health care” was the distant runner-up, with 9 percent of respondents saying that should be Obama’s top priority.

  17. rikyrah says:

    June 19, 2011 10:00 AM
    The ethically-challenged Clarence Thomas

    By Steve Benen

    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hasn’t had a good year. With a stream of new evidence that puts the far-right jurist in an even more negative light, 2011 appears to be getting worse for Thomas.

    We learned in January, for example, that Thomas was required to report his wife’s income on his financial disclosure forms, but for several years, for reasons that remain unclear, he chose not to. A month later, reports surfaced that Thomas may have lied about his role at a political retreat for wealthy conservatives, organized by the right-wing Koch Brothers, where participants discussed legal strategies for overturning campaign finance laws — laws that Thomas later ruled on. His wife’s bizarre right-wing activism and lobbying efforts have also raised eyebrows.

    And today, the New York Times has a fascinating report on Thomas’ “ethically sensitive friendship” with Dallas real estate magnate and right-wing financier Harlan Crow.

    The two men met in the mid-1990s, a few years after Justice Thomas joined the court. Since then, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group. They have also spent time together at gatherings of prominent Republicans and businesspeople at Mr. Crow’s Adirondacks estate and his camp in East Texas.

    In several instances, news reports of Mr. Crow’s largess provoked controversy and questions, adding fuel to a rising debate about Supreme Court ethics. But Mr. Crow’s financing of the museum, his largest such act of generosity, previously unreported, raises the sharpest questions yet — both about Justice Thomas’s extrajudicial activities and about the extent to which the justices should remain exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges.

    Although the Supreme Court is not bound by the code, justices have said they adhere to it. Legal ethicists differed on whether Justice Thomas’s dealings with Mr. Crow pose a problem under the code.

    The museum, in this case, is in Pin Point, Georgia, home to a seafood cannery where Thomas’ mother worked. The justice ran into the owner of the old cannery site a few years ago, and asked what was to become of the deteriorating facilities. The owner hoped to see the buildings preserved, and Thomas connected the owner to “a friend” the owner was urged not to identify.

    The friend, of course, was Crow, who financed the multimillion-dollar purchase and restoration of the cannery, and helped build a museum about the culture and history of the community, in the process giving a major boost to one of the jurist’s pet projects.

    The code of conduct for federal judges says jurists “should not personally participate” in raising money for charitable endeavors, and Thomas certainly appears to have done exactly that.

    And as part of the larger context, it’s worth noting that Crow, whose business has several cases pending in federal courts, has been extremely generous, not only to prominent GOP causes, but also to Thomas directly. “In addition to giving him the Douglass Bible, valued 10 years ago at $19,000, Mr. Crow has hosted the justice aboard his private jet and his 161-foot yacht, at the exclusive Bohemian Grove retreat in California and at his grand Adirondacks summer estate called Topridge, a 105-acre spread that once belonged to Marjorie Merriweather Post, the cereal heiress.”

    I’m curious, if Thomas were a liberal justice appointed by a Democratic president, just how loud would the calls for his resignation be? How many hearings would Senate Republicans hold? How many “special reports” would Fox News run?

    • opulent says:

      Clarence should have never been confirmed as a SCOTUS justice

      He hates himself. He hates life. He will never be happy until he owns up to the heritage of AA culture.

      Nasty, nasty, chauvinistic, pornwatching pervert.

  18. rikyrah says:

    June 19, 2011 8:30 AM
    AFP and the politics of gas prices

    By Steve Benen

    The Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity sponsored this year’s RightOnline conference in Minneapolis, and organizers and attendees were certainly on message. Dave Weigel noted the introductory remarks from Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, who continues to insist that President Obama “systematically” wants “higher prices on gasoline

    The third quote was a reminder of just how wired these activists are into the narrative about Barack Obama. Phillips referred, without naming the source, to a 2008 interview Obama gave the San Francisco Chronicle.

    “What did he say about energy prices under his plan?” asked Phillips. “They will, what?

    “Necessarily skyrocket!” yelled the crowd.

    “That’s right! Necessarily skyrocket. It’s now part of liberal orthodoxy to want Americans to pay higher prices on energy.”

    Oh, good. The talking points have been hammered home enough so that far-right activists can bark them like trained seals.

    There are, however, two main problems with this. First, the notion that the Obama administration would want higher gas prices on purpose is deeply foolish. The right keeps pushing this line, and it continues to be ridiculous. Just consider a little common sense: if voters don’t want to pay more at the pump, and the president doesn’t want to make voters angry in advance of his re-election bid, why would he deliberately pursue this?

    Second, Tim Phillips appears to have a bit of a credibility problem — Americans for Prosperity just so happens to be financed by oil industry money.

    In other words, energy companies are financing a right-wing outfit to blame Obama for gas prices.

    It’s quite a con job. Of course, this seems to work on the RightOnline crowd, but here’s hoping the American mainstream is at least a little wiser.

  19. rikyrah says:

    Dear Mrs. Obama …’
    A peek at the first lady’s mailbag reveals stories of hardship, pleas for play dates

    Volunteer Sally Latchford reviews mail sent to first lady Michelle Obama. Obama receives about 500 to 700 messages a week, including letters, emails and faxes, and it takes two staff members, about 60 part-time volunteers and a few interns to go through it all.

    By Katherine Skiba, Tribune reporter

    June 18, 2011
    WASHINGTON — With hundreds of letters arriving each week, first lady Michelle Obama’s mailbag is intriguing more for its variety than its volume.

    She hears from all sorts of people, from first-graders to foreign first ladies. Among their messages:

    They ask her to get McDonald’s to bring back the 99-cent Filet-O-Fish.

    They seek play dates with first dog Bo and their pet.

    They promise to cut back on potato chips.

    They implore her to save the wolf.

    They share photos of gardens they have planted because of hers.

    They confide painful secrets, such as sexual abuse.

    Obama gets about 500 to 700 messages a week, including letters, emails and faxes, said Howli Ledbetter, her correspondence director.

    Whether serious or silly, heartbreaking or heartwarming, every word in every communication is read, though only a minority by the first lady, Ledbetter said. Correspondents often hear back on elegant, ivory stationery engraved “The White House,” though emailers tend to get back only an email.

    Army wife Amanda Freds, 34, reached out in January when another Army spouse was battling a rare form of breast cancer and undergoing surgery to have her breasts and ovaries removed. The operation was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

    Freds, in an interview, said she has been impressed by Obama’s bid to drum up support for military families who endure wartime deployments, frequent moves and other stresses. But Freds wanted to make sure the first lady understood that military families also deal with the same kinds of problems as anyone else: autism, diabetes and miscarriage, for example.

    Her friend, Jody DeBos, 40, who with her husband is based at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was undergoing post-surgical radiation treatments in March when the mail carrier handed her a 9-by-13-inch manila envelope containing a letter suitable for framing.

    “Dear Jody,” the letter from Obama began, “I understand you are going through a difficult time right now, and I want you to know my thoughts are with you as you continue your recovery.”

    “It was short, but very genuine,” said DeBos, who just received a clean bill of health. “I was very touched by her kind words.” She said her spouse, Maj. Chad DeBos, was so moved that he wrote to thank the first lady that night.

    Michelle Obama’s mail is dwarfed by that of President Barack Obama, who gets tens of thousands of weekly messages.

    Ledbetter, 28, a former Obama campaign aide from Fremont, Calif., said many of the first lady’s letters relate to “Joining Forces,” her push on behalf of military families, and “Let’s Move,” her campaign against childhood obesity.

    But a trip to her mailroom, in a downtown Washington office building whose location is not made public, shows the first lady also gets letters on policy issues and expressions of support, plus enough amateur artwork to fill a small museum.

    “Hardship letters” describing economic troubles come in, too, as well as letters indicating someone’s life is in danger. A young girl who wrote about being sexually abused fell into the latter category. Aides to Michelle Obama said when the mail describes an urgent problem, they act immediately; sometimes that means alerting the federal Administration for Children and Families or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

    People write on frayed paper pulled from ringed binders, pricey stationery and plain white sheets. Some classrooms turn to butcher paper for giant-size shout-outs. One such greeting read, “Let’s Tell Michelle,” with kids reporting how many hops or jumps they could do: Liam (8), Eva (27), Claudia (31) and Parker (78).

    Mail first undergoes security inspections. “All White House mail is processed and sorted through an off-site mail handling facility,” said Max Milien, a Secret Service spokesman. “Once it’s received at this facility, it undergoes a series of inspections.”

    Then the mail is scanned into a computer and read to decide whether a general reply or a custom response is warranted. Ledbetter is helped by another staff member, about 60 part-time volunteers and a few interns.

    Volunteer Juliette McNeil, 59, a retired employee of the Environmental Protection Agency from Alexandria, Va., said of the letters: “Some make me laugh, some make me sad, so it’s the full range of emotions. Some I may even go home and pray for.”

    Obama sees little of the mail, Ledbetter said, but some letters end up in the hand of her policy team and speechwriters. Poignant ones may make their way into her speeches, aides said.

    Laura Barajas, 13, of Cicero, with her classmates wrote the first lady last year. Laura pledged to give up chips, except for a small bag on Sundays. The pledge didn’t last long, the girl said, but Obama’s letter has. “I thought it was cool,” Laura said. “I didn’t think she was going to write back.”

    Aides to the first lady also respond to mail sent to her daughters, Malia and Sasha; her live-in mother, Marian Robinson; and the family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo.

    Meagan Moeggenborg, 10, of St. Johns, Mich., wrote Bo last fall saying her two cats don’t like dogs, but her brother, Reese, does. “If he was with you, I bet he would pet you to death,” she wrote.

    Her reward? A letter from the first lady and a postcard of Bo with such facts as his origins (born in 2008 in Texas), what he likes to eat (tomatoes or toys) and what he hopes to achieve (“make friends with foreign dignitaries”).

    Meagan read the letter to her fourth-grade class. “People were, like, wide-eyed,” she said. “I felt proud and excited.”

    The missive is now kept in her “memory box,” a blue plastic storage container relegated to the basement.,0,5582187,full.story

  20. Ametia says:

  21. Ametia says:

    Rest in peace Big Man

  22. Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful Dads!

    My Dad and my good friend Ametia’s Dad have passed on. This is for 3 Chics, Friends & Visitors whose Dads have passed on…

    Good Morning Scraps

    If roses grow in heaven Lord, then pick a bunch for me. Place them in my dads arms and tell him they’re from me. Tell him that I love and miss him, and when he turns to smile, place a kiss upon his cheek and hold him for awhile…

    ♥ Miss and Love you so much Daddy! Happy Father’s Day!

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