Over A Quarter Of U.S. Presidents Were Involved In Slavery

Over a quarter of U.S. presidents were involved in slavery

“Slave sale, Charleston, South Carolina,” wood engraving, by an unknown engraver, page taken from the Illustrated London News, 1856. Courtesy of the British Museum, London. Wikimedia Commons (public domain)

President Obama recently invited French President Francois Hollande on a tour of Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s plantation estate in Virginia.

Jefferson—No. 3—was not the only slaveowning president.

As Clarence Lusane, professor of political science at American University writes in his book The Black History of the White House and talks about in this interview with Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow!, six of twelve slave-owning presidents kept slaves in the White House.

Read more:

Missing From Presidents Day: The People They Enslaved.” (Clarence Lusane, The Zinn Education Project, Huffington Post, 2014/02/13)

House Republicans Announce On Twitter To Vote Against Obamacare For The 37th Time

House Republicans Announce On Twitter To Vote Against Obamacare For The 37th Time

The politics of obstructionism continued (Episode 37)

Because opposing the Obama administration’s Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as Obamacare for thirty-six times was not enough for House Republicans, they recently announced that they would vote to repeal it for the thirty-seventh (!) time.

Twitter battles as a new normal form of political communication

So far, so predictable. But here is where it gets interesting. In this age of ubiquitous social media technologies, leading politicians in the US—years ahead in this regard to, let’s say, German politicians— feel the need to engage in Twitter battles. Sometimes hilarity ensues.

As the Huffington Post reports, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tweeted on May 8, 2013:

“The House will vote next week for a full repeal of #Obamacare.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) then attempted to hype it up a little more with the hashtag #ObamaCareInThreeWords

To which the White House replied:

“It’s. The. Law.”

Well-played, sir. Well-played.

But the fact that large parts of the Affordable Care Act are right now being implemented is not clear to everybody at the moment. According to NPR, a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of Americans do not currently know that the Affordable Healthcare Act is the law of the land.

Symbolic politics versus the 113th Congress in numbers

Unless Republicans in the Senate can convince a substantial number of Democrats to join them in voting against the Affordable Healthcare Act, the repeal they seek will not happen any time soon. As of May 2013, the distribution of seats in the 113th Congress is as follows: House: 233 (R), 201 (D); Senate: 55 (D) (53 (D)+ 2 (I)), 45 (R)

Maybe in the end, this is much ado about nothing. Still, it gives us an insight into how the new social media technologies are now being put to use for symbolic politics. In a way, they have joined their older peers of AM talk radio and cable television in the US.



President Obama’s Statement On The Tenth Anniversary Of The Iraq War

President Obama’s Statement On The Tenth Anniversary Of The Iraq War

On March 19, 2013, the White House published a press release commemorating the tenth anniversary of the US-lead invasion of Iraq. You can read it in full here.

Obama thanks the US military and their families for their sacrifices, and argues for a “strong Post 9/11 GI Bill” to take care of military veterans, especially those suffering from brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But a certain sacrifice is carefully left out of the White House statement: that of Iraqi civilians. There is no mention of the civilian deaths caused by the war, no mention of civilian deaths by drone strikes, especially so-called signature strikes.

Certainly, Obama as the Commander in Chief and has responsibilities towards US military members, but their experiences alone constitute but a part of the whole story of the Iraq War in the past decade.