I don't think I'll be coming here much longer. The novelty has worn off and my humor seems too eclectic for the majority of posters here. As a gay man, I have always felt marginalized and I have often had that feeling here, even in the GLBTQ forum. A very few people have been welcoming to me and I commend them and wish them well.
I will continue to support Barack Obama because I have always known he is the best candidate for the presidency. I don't really feel a need anymore to discuss my feelings on this stance so I have been ignoring most of the bru-ha-ha posted in the GD-P. I hope he chooses Wesley Clark as his running mate but if he doesn't, I'll support the person he chooses. I'm not keen on Hillary Clinton but if it's her, so be it.
I think everyone is way off track with the marriage equality (legal union) issue and there is a better way, which may be what Obama proposes when he becomes President. My opinion can be found in the recent poll on the subject "gay marriage - for it or against it" where I spent too many hours responding to people who chose to stake me in the heart because of my position. I convinced a few to reconsider their stance. I guess it was worth it, I'm not sure.
I may continue to visit the front page occasionally and catch up on sensible topics of discussion but I'm weary of snarly people and juvenile posts in the forums that are meant to be serious. This does not include the lounge. I was dissappointed to read yesterday that there is a place here called 'the dungeon' which seems very un-democratic to me. There should be a comedic forum where people can let off steam. Lord knows in the current political climate this is sorely needed.
That is all. Bye bye-uh.
I can look out over my front yard a see Monticello mountain. I did a quick drive-by of the visitor's center at the foot of the mountain (2/3 of a mile from my house) at 4:45am this morning to see if there was any likelihood of me getting 2 tickets for the event on Friday. HOPELESS!!! I'm disabled so standing in the line that was already very long for two of the one thousand tickets available was not an option for me.
Some here may recall that Monticello is where Bill Clinton started his inaugural parade in January 1993. I was working for Monticello's Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation at the time so I received two tickets to that event as an employee. My partner and I braved the sub-zero weather that morning, arriving at the shuttle station around 4:00am. It was a wonderful event and I will always cherish the memory of seeing President Elect Clinton in the brilliant sunshine atop Jefferson's mountain that day.
If I'm not mistaken, a limited number of free public tickets were distributed for that event by lottery. None of this fighting the crowds and lines to eventually be turned down because all the tickets were gone. The July 4th event at Monticello is one of the longest running naturalization events in the nation. Generally it is open to the public free of charge without tickets.
This morning, the air space around Monticello is a buzz with military helicopters. So far, I have heard six fly over my house. I don't recall any of these pre- pre- event preparations for the Clinton event. I'm sure the day before and the day of the SS did their thing. I had to submit verification of my citizenship in advance for the Clinton event because I was to be seated third row back from the podium. But what are they worried about today? Also, we don't have any high speed internet this morning. I'm doing this on my notebook over dial-up.
Well, in closing I would appreciate knowing of any planned protests for the Friday event. I might be willing to help out if I can. I am disappointed I will not be able to confront mr. bush up close and personal but maybe I will find a way to exhibit my disgust at how this filth has ruined our country.
Posted by papapi in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Tue Jun 17th 2008, 12:05 AM
A FAMILY DIVIDED(usa)
Sex, race and the Jefferson feud. An inside look
By Anita Hamilton
27/6/2004- Late one afternoon in May, a large group of people wearing name tags gathered under the shade of a giant tulip poplar tree on the south terrace of Monticello. As the last of the day's tourists were taken by shuttle bus down the winding, single-lane road leading away from the hilltop home, this lingering band nibbled on cheese cubes and sipped red wine as they admired the building's imposing white columns and soaring rotunda. These lingerers were more than tourists, more than guests. They were Jefferson's family. Many breathed a sigh of relief that the 90°F midday heat was giving way to such a perfect spring evening. The good weather wasn't the only thing putting them at ease. This was the first time in six years that the Monticello Association, which comprises some 700 descendants of Jefferson, had held its annual reunion without a horde of reporters and photographers in attendance—or the extended family members who had triggered the controversy. The once obscure association, which administers the graveyard at Monticello, got caught in a media storm in 1998, after a DNA study confirmed to the satisfaction of many that a male member of Jefferson's family had fathered at least one child with a mulatto slave named Sally Hemings (she gave birth to at least six, and possibly seven, children in all). If that Jefferson was the third President, as many historians believe, it means at least some of Sally Hemings' descendants were Thomas Jefferson's too. After a very public invitation on The Oprah Winfrey Show in November 1998 by an association member, dozens of Hemings began attending the group's annual reunion, albeit as guests, not members. Getting invited, as it turned out, wasn't the same as being welcome. While a handful of association members supported the Hemings' inclusion, most did not. In 2002, the group voted 74 to 6 to deny them full membership. The already strained relations turned decidedly frigid last year when the association restricted the number of Hemings allowed to attend its reunion and attempted to bar them from setting foot inside the graveyard at Monticello. Paulie Abeles, the wife of the association's president at the time, even admitted to having secretly infiltrated an online discussion group that the Hemings had been using, in order to spy on their messages. "It was just an ugly, ugly situation," says Lucian Truscott IV, the Jefferson descendant and association member who originally invited the Hemings.
So, what began as an extended-family reunion has disintegrated into a bitter family feud between Jefferson's white family and his black one. For the first time since the DNA results came out, not a single Hemings attended the association's annual reunion this past May. "Nobody wants to be where they aren't wanted. The environment felt stuffy and very formal," says Shannon Lanier, a Hemings who works as a TV production assistant in New York City and co-authored a book about the family called Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family. Instead, last year the Hemings began holding their own reunions at Monticello, complete with a sunrise graveyard service at the recently discovered slave burial site on the estate. It would be easy to chalk up the entire family squabble to racism. After all, a primary reason the Hemings liaison was widely doubted before the DNA results were published was that testimony from former black slaves was dismissed by white historians as unreliable gossip. Blacks were not the only ones who supported the story, however. Numerous white journalists in Jefferson's time reported the story and believed it to be true. Jefferson's fellow Founding Father John Adams, who had seen Hemings' beauty firsthand (she was known as "Dashing Sally"), also seemed to believe that Jefferson had had an affair with her and called it a "natural and almost unavoidable consequence of that foul contagion in the human character—Negro slavery." But even today, several Jefferson descendants interviewed by Time said they could not believe that he would become sexually involved with a slave, even one as young and beautiful as Hemings. "Jefferson could date any eligible woman in the world," says John Works, a white descendant. "Why would he have an affair with a 15-year-old slave?" While the standoff underscores America's continuing struggle to come to terms with the legacy of slavery, the controversy is as nuanced as the many shades of "black" that the present-day Hemings family embodies. In the end, the divisive reunions of the association actually helped create new family bonds among the very people it excluded—and motivated a few Jeffersons to cross the racial divide and embrace their once distant cousins.
Joining the club
According to the constitution of the monticello association, founded in 1913, one of its missions is "to protect and perpetuate the reputation and fame of Thomas Jefferson." Patrilineal pride runs high. Matthew Mackay-Smith, 71, a retired horse doctor from White Post, Va., who attended this year's reunion wearing a bright red tie imprinted with Jefferson's signature, declares, "I've never shied away from acknowledging and treasuring my connection to the great man." Nat Abeles, a former president of the group, says he proposed to his wife Paulie at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington. The association's primary task is to maintain the graveyard at Monticello. Located just down the hill from the mansion, the half-acre plot is enclosed by an ornate wrought-iron fence and dominated by a granite obelisk that marks the Founding Father's grave. A key benefit of membership is the chance to be buried within a stone's throw. Much of the battle between the Hemings and the Jeffersons has centered on that privilege. Several members of the association have become empathetic with the other side of the family. John Works' brother David Works is one of those converts. An eighth-generation descendant of Jefferson, he says of the connection, "I bragged about it as a kid." When the Hemings first showed up at an association meeting, in 1999, "I was really turned off by the press and what I perceived to be the Hemings' really pushy approach. We just gave them ugly looks and were generally surly and mean," says the computer-systems administrator from Denver. "Because of the nastiness of the fight, I never got back to the facts of the argument." Then two Christmases ago, he decided to sit down and research the facts by reading the DNA study by Dr. Eugene Foster in the scientific journal Nature as well as a report issued in 2000 by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which runs the Monticello estate. Works' conclusion: "When you put it all together, the simplest and most likely answer was that Thomas Jefferson fathered Hemings' children." Since then, Works has forged numerous friendships with the Hemings, communicating with them through an e-mail group that about 50 Hemings and 10 sympathetic Jeffersons use to broadcast everything from baby announcements to their views on George W. Bush. As someone who has observed the family dynamics of both clans, Works remarks, "On the Hemings side, everything is always friendly. It's a lot more fun on this side of the fence." But it's a difficult fence to cross. In fact, David Works' brother John, an investment banker in Denver, has been the most vocal opponent of the Hemings' quest to be acknowledged by the association. "They thought they could bulldoze their way into the family," says John Works, who admits that the disagreement with his brother over the Hemings has fractured an already strained relationship. Responding to charges that the association is excluding the Hemings for racial reasons, he says, "Absolutely not. Ninety-three percent of the family can't be racist," he says, referring to the portion who voted to exclude the Hemings. "It's impossible."
An academic point?
To explore the matter more deeply, John Works helped form a separate organization called the Thomas Jefferson Heritage Society, which commissioned a study by 13 university scholars to assess the likelihood that Thomas Jefferson fathered Hemings' children. In 2001 the group concluded, by a vote of 12 to 1, that his parentage was unlikely. One author of the study, Professor Lance Banning of the University of Kentucky, says, "The case for his paternity is not without its chinks and limitations." Chief among Banning's doubts is the fact that the DNA test was not a true paternity test, which would have required exhuming Jefferson's remains as well as those of Hemings' children to get DNA samples. The test that was done proves only that a Jefferson male, not necessarily Thomas, was the father, and there were other adult males in Jefferson's family who lived nearby. What's more, there are several documented denials of the relationship, by Jefferson's former overseer at Monticello and Jefferson's daughter, granddaughter and grandson. Jefferson himself never acknowledged the sexual relationship. Annette Gordon-Reed, a law professor at New York Law School, is one of many scholars who have concluded that there is enormous support for the case that Jefferson and Hemings were intimately involved. Her 1997 book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, provides a critical analysis of the historical evidence supporting the liaison (see box). In reviewing Jefferson biographies that dismissed the relationship, Gordon-Reed says, "I realized that a lot of what they said was based on prejudice, and they were not taking the words of black people seriously." One example is the skepticism with which historians assessed an interview with Madison Hemings, one of Sally's children, which was published in an Ohio newspaper in 1873. In the interview, Madison states that his mother was Jefferson's "concubine" and that Jefferson was the father of all her children. "We were the only children of his by a slave woman," he said. It was not until the DNA study was released in Nature in 1998 that the tide began to turn among historians. Although the article was misleadingly titled—the headline read "JEFFERSON FATHERED SLAVE'S LAST CHILD," when in fact the study concluded solely that a Jefferson male had fathered that child—it provided the missing link that many historians needed. And there was other evidence: records indicate that Jefferson was at Monticello at the time of the conception of all of Hemings' children; Israel Jefferson, another slave at Monticello, corroborated Madison Hemings' story that he was the son of Jefferson and Hemings; and John Hartwell Cocke, one of the founders of the University of Virginia, wrote in his diary in 1853 and 1859 that Jefferson had a slave mistress. "I feel a bit stupid that I felt otherwise," says Philip Morgan, a professor of early American history at Johns Hopkins University, who once doubted the relationship. "I should have picked up on it sooner."
A family reunited
Shannon Lanier, who is black, had a very personal reason to accept the story all along. His mother had told him as a child that he was related to the third President. Descended from Hemings' son Madison, Lanier recalls standing up in his first-grade class in Atlanta and announcing his presidential heritage: "I said, 'Thomas Jefferson was my great-great-great- great-great-great-grandfather.' The teacher told me to sit down and stop telling lies." Despite the chilly reception at the Monticello Association reunions, one person Lanier met there has turned out to be not just a relative but also a good friend. Julia Westerinen, 69, looks white, but she is descended from Sally Hemings' youngest son, Eston. Growing up in Madison, Wis., in the 1930s and '40s, Westerinen was not allowed to play with black children. "My parents told me to stick to my own kind," she says. Even as an adult, she realized that her friendships with blacks had been superficial. "I thought we were friends, but I never had them over to my house, and they never had me to theirs," she says. She never knew of her ancestor Eston. That is because Eston was light-skinned enough to pass for white. In order to hide his connection with his darker-skinned Hemings relatives, he changed his name to E.H. Jefferson and cut ties with his black family. Westerinen finally discovered her connection in 1974, after Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, a biography by Fawn Brodie, uncovered the details of the Hemings family. When Westerinen met her black cousins at the Hemings reunion in 1999 she was finally able to embrace her biracial heritage. "My life has changed a lot," says Westerinen, an artist, who lives with her husband, son, daughter-in-law and 11-year-old granddaughter in a gray-shingled house with white trim in Staten Island, N.Y. She organized the first Hemings reunion, in July 2003, and has joined up with Shay Banks-Young, who is black and descended from Madison Hemings, to give talks about race relations. "I have a new mission in life, which is to expose the fact that there is still a lot of work to be done. We want to heal the racial scars of this nation." As for the association members who still won't acknowledge the Hemings' heritage, she says, "If they want to hold on to their prejudices, then let them. We're moving on."
Posted by papapi in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Wed Jun 04th 2008, 03:15 AM
Well it IS possible. Obama has three good Democrats backing him in Virginia.
Governor Tim Kaine, Former Governor Mark Warner and Senator Jim Webb.
From the very first time I heard him speak on an Oprah Winfrey show sometime back in late 2005, I knew Barack Obama was going to be our next President. I had heard the name before when he upset the race in Illinois. Unfortunately I missed his speech at the National Convention in 2004. I only caught the tail end of the Oprah show but what little bit I heard inspired something in me that has never been inspired by a politician before.
Here he was telling me that what this country needs is real change. Yeah, I had heard that line through the years from other politicians - yet here was someone convincing me that it was actually possible. Not the same old political rhetoric, but brave new ideas about everyone helping each other to achieve the American dream. And I actually believed him.
When my friend walked into the room I pointed at the TV screen and said, "That's gonna be the next President of the United States." Then a few months later Obama's name starts popping up in conversation between political pundits and I thought to myself each time I heard it "Yep, he's our man."
Of course the low hum of an Obama campaign over time became a gentle rumble and eventually grew into a loud roar. I realized, "Everyone is starting to catch on. Well good 'cause I knew this was going to happen all along."
Now tonight, after months and months of grueling battle, I sat transfixed, listening again to those inspiring words I had heard so many months before. Hope. Change. Belief. Patriotism. Family. I am so happy that Senator Barack Obama has become the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. The Party from which I have never wavered since I first voted for George McGovern in 1972, when I was eighteen years old. Now At fifty-four years young, the candidate that I have no doubt will be our next President has cleared one last hurdle and is being propelled by a grassroots initiative into the position where he will be able to help us all achieve a better future for every individual and their children.
Go Obama '08!
Posted by papapi in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Sat May 24th 2008, 01:33 AM
I may be just an ordinary citizen. I may be just a working class white male. I am able to forgive simple unintentional gaffes by a politician. But I CANNOT forgive the cold and calculated manner Hillary Clinton has adopted in order to advance her personal agenda.
As a child of the 60s, as Hillary was, I lived through the horrifying political assassinations of our nation's leaders. I remember the voice of the Principal of my grade school as it broke over the loudspeaker in my classroom.
"Can I have your attention. Early today in Dallas, Texas the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was wounded in an attempt on his life. He has been transported to the hospital. The situation is grave. Please keep him in your prayers. Classes are canceled and students will be boarding their busses in fifteen minutes."
When I arrived home, my father, a veteran of two wars, was sitting silently in front of the black and white television. Tears were running down his cheeks.
"I think it's over" he said. "I think he might be dead."
Here he was absorbed in the despair of what was happening to his Commander in Chief. A man who had witnessed untold horrors during his early life as he helped remove the fallen from the battlefields in Europe and Korea. He never carried a weapon during his years of military service. He was a conscientious objector. Yet he enlisted and became part of the medic corp, assisting in the field and in the military hospitals - caring for wounded and dying soldiers. I can still vividly recall that image to my mind. And this was only the beginning. Our nation lost so much in the succeeding years.
Hillary Clinton is no ordinary citizen. She is not of ordinary intelligence. She has occupied the premier house of our nation. She has attended the best schools our nation has to offer. She has served in the highest legislative body in our country. Her comment today in reference to the Bobby Kennedy tragedy is no coincidence. It is no witless gaffe. It is the cold and calculated planting of a disgusting and reprehensible idea in the minds of madmen and fools. An invitation to social miscreants to hoist something foul and evil upon this nation. Until this point her dirty politics have been excused away by her supporters as misrepresentation or volley. Not this one. There is no excuse whatsoever for her to think we are this ignorant or uninformed. Her plan is a failure and her campaign for the nomination is over. Anyone who can support this kind of deliberate plotting has absolutely no moral scruples.
I call for Hillary Clinton's resignation from this primary. And if she has one ounce of honor left in her, she will publicly admit her crime and ask us all for our forgiveness. I doubt she'll do this. So far she hasn't even shown that she has the courage to offer an acceptable apology.
Beyond the pale only begins to describe her folly.
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