Politics August 7, 2016: Obama arrives in Martha’s Vineyard for last presidential summer vacation

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Obama arrives in Martha’s Vineyard for last presidential summer vacation

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia(upperR) and Sasha step off Air Force One at Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts on August 6, 2016 as they arrive for a two-week holiday at nearby Martha's Vineyard. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia(upperR) and Sasha step off Air Force One at Cape Cod Air Force Station in Massachusetts on August 6, 2016 as they arrive for a two-week holiday at nearby Martha’s Vineyard. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Barack Obama is marking his last summer vacation as president. Obama along with First Lady Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha arrived Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts for their annual two-week vacation. The president will have no official engagements during his vacation.

The president and family in addition to dogs BO and Sunny flew on Air Force One to Cape Cod on Saturday. There the Obamas met with members of the military before continuing to Martha’s Vineyard flying on Marine One.

The president and his family vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard each year of his presidency except in 2012 when Obama ran for re-election. The Obamas again are renting a house on the island in the tony Chilmark. CNN is describing the house as a wooded compound far from the busier Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.

The Obamas usually stay out of the limelight on their vacations, the exception when they are sited at local shops or dining in town, biking or especially in the president’s case golfing. Last year President Obama made the rounds at all of the island’s golf courses playing at each one, often will high profile friends accompanying him.

This year youngest daughter Sasha, 15 will be particularly busy; the first daughter is working at local restaurant Nancy’s seafood restaurant heading the taking out the window. The Obama’s are friends with the owner and eat there often during their vacations.

Sasha has also been working busing tables. A fellow worker at the restaurant recounted to the Boston Herald “She’s been working downstairs at takeout. We were wondering why there were six people helping this girl, but then we found out who it was.” First Lady Michelle recently told Entertainment Tonight that she and the president are trying to “‘normalize’ their daughters’ lives “as much as possible.'”

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Politics August 7, 2016: Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

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Obama celebrates 55th birthday at star-studded bash

By Bonnie K. Goodman

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama make their way to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on August 6, 2016.  Obama and his family were headed to Martha's Vineyard for their summer vacation. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama make their way to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on August 6, 2016.
Obama and his family were headed to Martha’s Vineyard for their summer vacation. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama commenced his annual vacation in Martha’s Vineyard after partying the evening before on Aug. 5, 2016, at his 55th birthday bash. The star-studded party held at the White House included a bevy of celebrities and politicians deemed Obama’s closest friends.

On Friday evening, Obama celebrated his milestone and last birthday as president at a party paid for by the Obamas at the White House. Although the official guest list has not been made public, the news media has been able to piece together some of the attendees from social media post from party guests.

Among the celebrities in attendance were “Alfre Woodard, movie executive Harvey Weinstein and former basketball star Grant Hill,” “Ellen DeGeneres, Sarah Jessica Parker and husband actor Matthew Broderick, “Star Wars” producer George Lucas” and basketball star Magic Johnson and wife Cookie. Usher and Stevie Wonder provided the evening’s entertainment. It is believed that singer and rappers Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Kendrick Lamar also attended.

The party also included political friends “Interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee Donna Brazile, former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Reverend Al Sharpton. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was Obama’s former chief of staff and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Some news media personalities attended including, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts and ABC News correspondent Deborah Roberts and husband Al Roker.

A White House official said, “The guest list includes a large number of family members and friends to mark the occasion. The private event will be paid for with the family’s personal funds.” While a party attendee described it as “A real birthday bash with lots of old friends, cabinet officials, members of Congress, celebrities.” The party lasted past midnight.

Obama turned 55 on Thursday, Aug. 4. The president celebrated Thursday evening with his wife and children at a smaller intimidate dinner at the White House. The last time the Obamas celebrated with a big bash was Michelle’s 50th birthday party in January 2014. Michelle also gave a birthday shout out to her husband on Instagram writing, “55 years young and that smile still gets me every single day. Happy birthday, Barack. I love you. -mo”

Politics July 19, 2016: Melania Trump’s political plagiarism scandal is not the first, and not the last

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Melania Trump’s political plagiarism scandal is not the first, and not the last


Did Melania Trump really plagiarize Michelle Obamas 2008 Democratic convention speech?

By Bonnie K. Goodman

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 18:  Melania Trump, wife of Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND, OH – JULY 18: Melania Trump, wife of Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, delivers a speech on the first day of the Republican National Convention on July 18, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Cleveland, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Republican National Convention kicks off on July 18. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It was supposed to be presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump’s wife, Melania’s big campaign debut, instead, it descended into controversy, as does everything in the Trump campaign. On Monday evening, July 18, 2016, Melania Trump gave the keynote address on the first night of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Introduced by her husband, Melania’s job was to humanize Trump, who has been caricatured for much of his career and the campaign. Instead, her big moment was overshadowed by the similarities of two paragraphs with First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic Convention speech and accusations of plagiarism.

Both Melania and Michelle’s passages in their speeches emphasized family values imbued by their parents and passing them to the next generation. The themes were similar and also common for the type of convention speech. Although the words were similar, the sentences were for the most part different with some similar points, and certain keywords, possibly invoking the paraphrasing or copying for verbatim debate. Only one phrase was copied verbatim, “your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” Plagiarism is described as “The practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.”

According to Harvard University‘s Faculty of Arts and Science “In academic writing, it is considered plagiarism to draw any idea or any language from someone else without adequately crediting that source in your paper. It doesn’t matter whether the source is a published author, another student, a Web site without clear authorship, a Web site that sells academic papers, or any other person: Taking credit for anyone else’s work is stealing, and it is unacceptable in all academic situations, whether you do it intentionally or by accident.” Harvard also lists different types of plagiarism, which include” “verbatim, mosaic, inadequate paraphrasing, uncited paraphrase, uncited quotations.” The only exception according to Harvard is “common knowledge.”

Melania’s speech excerpt read:

“My parents impressed on me the values: that you work hard for what you want in life. That your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise. That you treat people with respect. They taught me to show the values and morals in my daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to the many generations to follow. Because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

To compare here is Michelle’s speech from 2008:

“And Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them. And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Almost immediately, after Melania delivered her speech, a journalist specializing in interior design and not politics, Jarrett Hill called Melania out on Twitter accusing her of plagiarism. In his tweet, Hill wrote, “Melania must’ve liked Michelle Obama’s 2008 Convention speech since she plagiarized it.” Hill, who is African-American, has a history of Trump bashing and is a fan of the Obamas, already, had a biased view of the situation. Still, the news media picked up on the story, and it swept through a media who already negatively bashes Trump and his rhetoric and policy positions. Melania’s similar words just was another chance for criticism.

Just as quickly Trump’s campaign denied the accusation. Senior communications adviser Jason Miller issued a statement after the accusations, which read, “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking. Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success.”

According to the campaign, chairman Paul Manafort appearing on CNN’s “New Day” telling Chris Cuomo that the allegation is “just really absurd.” Manafort dismissed the claims, saying, “To think that she would do something like that knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night is just really absurd.” Continuing Manafort explained, “There’s no cribbing of Michelle Obama’s speech. These were common words and values. She cares about her family. To think that she’d be cribbing Michelle Obama’s words is crazy.”

Manafort then, in turn, blamed presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Trump campaign manager made his accusation, saying, “This is once again an example of when a woman threatens Hillary Clinton, she seeks out to demean her and take her down. It’s not going to work.”

According to a Republican close to the situation, recounted the process involved in crafting Melania’s speech. According to the “operative”, several aides edited the speech and gave suggestions to Melania. Manafort approved the speech in the end. The recount contradicts the account from Trump’s wife who claims to have a written the speech herself. Melania revealed to to NBC‘s Matt Lauer, “I read once over it, that’s all, because I wrote it … with (as) little help as possible.” Melania is not facing the brunt of the backlash but rather Trump’s speechwriters and even Manafort, although no one has been fired for the error.

President Obama’s former speechwriter, Jon Favreau, who was partly responsible for Michelle Obama’s speech, did not seem offended or upset by the possibility of plagiarism. After the accusations had started flying, Favreau tweeted and joked, “(To be honest), I was more offended by just about every other speech than Melania’s plagiarized paragraphs.”

The problem is writers, and academics and even students get away with plagiarism all the time. With the vast amount of information on the internet, many believe that it is fair game, especially if it is a blog or non-traditional source. Academics who plagiarize believe they will not be caught because they are taking ideas from someone they deem less educated and less well known. More often than not if someone does not bring the plagiarized passages up the one, who plagiarizes usually gets away with it.

As a writer, I have experienced being plagiarized, from a woman posting an entire article of mine that was an excerpt from my thesis taken verbatim without any credit, with listing it as her own. To a former professor who for years continually liberally borrows my ideas, themes from my articles for his, even phrases but manages to get away with it because they have the doctorate and the professorship although according to Harvard’s definitions what they have done is considered plagiarism.

Just last week in the UK’s the Guardian Higher Education section a writer on the Academic Anonymous blog recounted finding a creative writing Ph.D. dissertation with 100 passages plagiarized verbatim. When the academic discovered the plagiarism reported it to the dissertation advisor at the British university, the professor protected their student by ensuring copies of the dissertation were removed from the university’s library and made unavailable in any other form to the public. Only a year later was the thesis put back on the shelves, but the Ph.D. graduate was never stripped of their degree or even reprimanded for the extensive and blatant plagiarism, in the most important capstone project of their university education.

Melania Trump’s plagiarism case is hardly the first involving politicians that rocked the political world. The most famous case is Vice President Joe Biden who in 1987, had to withdraw from the 1988 Democratic presidential race after it was discovered that he plagiarized a speech with passages from former Democratic candidates Hubert Humphrey, Robert Kennedy, and former President John F. Kennedy. Other notable political plagiarism scandals include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Montana Senator John Walsh, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson, and even President Barack Obama.

In 2007, then Democratic candidate Obama lifted some passages from then-Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s lines from a 2006 speech when he delivered a speech at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Wisconsin. Rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign revealed what Obama did. Obama dismissed it all as nothing much saying, “Deval and I do trade ideas all the time, and you know he’s occasionally used lines of mine. I would add I’ve noticed on occasion Sen. Clinton has used words of mine as well. As I said before, I really don’t think this is too big of a deal.”

Donald McCabe, a retired business professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, conducted a survey in 2010 and determined a prevalence of cheating and plagiarism among college undergraduate and graduate students.

The following are the results of his survey:

  • 36% of undergraduates and 24% of graduate students admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from Internet source without footnoting it.”
  • 38% of undergraduates and 25% of graduate students admit to “paraphrasing/copying few sentences from written source without footnoting it.”
  • 14% of undergraduates and 7% of graduate students admit to “fabricating/falsifying a bibliography.”
  • 7% of undergraduates 4% of graduate students and admit to copying materials “almost word for word from a written source without citation.”
  • 7% of undergraduates and 3% of graduate students admit to “turning in work done by another.” Finally, 3% of undergraduates and 2% of graduate students admit to “obtaining a paper from term paper mill.”

Another survey conducted in 2011 by the Pew Research Center and The Chronicle of Higher Education asked college presidents about plagiarism and cheating at their respective colleges among students. Of the 1,055 presidents asked, 55 percent said that there had been an increase in plagiarism in the ten preceding years, and they predominately, 89 percent, blamed the internet for rampant cheating.

In this case, Melania or most precisely her speechwriters used a common theme for conventions and wives’ of the running mates but made the mistake of staying too closely to a recent and famous speech from a beloved first lady. Viewed by millions, with enough people opposed to Trump, Melania’s first major foray was bound to be scrutinized.

The moment caught the press the Trump campaign wanted but not for the reasons they wanted. Trump, however, will survive the plagiarism scandal as the world can be forgiving just ask historian Doris Goodwin Kearns and even Joe Biden and Barack Obama, who plagiarized speeches once and still ended becoming a popular vice president and president.

Politics March 13, 2016: Malia and Sasha Obama the toasts at their state dinner debut

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Malia and Sasha Obama the toasts at their state dinner debut

By Bonnie K. Goodman

March 13, 2016 12:45 AM MST

 In a surprise to the public, Malia and Sasha Obama attended the state dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, their first, March 10, 2016
In a surprise to the public, Malia and Sasha Obama attended the state dinner in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, their first, March 10, 2016
White House Photo by Pete Souza

Politics December 26, 2014: Obamas celebrate Christmas marking the end of the War in Afghanistan

Obamas celebrate Christmas marking the end of the War in Afghanistan December 26, 2014

There was a definite theme and message President Barack Obama was trying to get across this Christmas, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014, that after 13 years the combat war in Afghanistan will officially be over on Dec. 31. The president and…

Politics December 21, 2014: Obamas celebrating Christmas and New Year’s holidays with 16-day Hawaii vacation

Obamas celebrating Christmas and New Year’s holidays with 16-day Hawaii vacation

December 21, 2014

This year as every year of his presidency President Barack Obama and the first family are spending their Christmas and New Year’s holiday in Kailua neighborhood of Oahu in Hawaii. The first family including the President, First Lady…

Politics December 10, 2014: First Lady Michelle delivers Toys for Tots with Santa Obama as the big Elf

First Lady Michelle delivers Toys for Tots with Santa Obama as the big Elf

By Bonnie K. Goodman

This year President Barack Obama joined his wife First Lady Michelle Obama, on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2014, to deliver and sort toys for the “Marine Corps’ annual Toys for Tots campaign” at the joint Base…READ MORE

Politics November 30, 2014: Elizabeth Lauten’s attack on Malia and Sasha Obama turns into Twitter partisan war on Jenna Bush

Lauten attack on the Obama girls turns into Twitter partisan war on Jenna Bush

November 30, 2014, 11:31 PM MST

Malia and Sasha Obama looked bored and embarassed as their father President Barack Obama conducts the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony in the White House, Nov. 26, 2014

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Malia and Sasha Obama looked bored and embarassed as their father President Barack Obama conducts the Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony in the White House, Nov. 26, 2014
Mark Wilson/Getty Images / The White House

Politics November 29, 2014: Obama family celebrates Thanksgiving begin Christmas season at the White House

Obama family celebrates Thanksgiving, begin Christmas season at the White House

November 29, 2014, 8:15 PM MST

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President Barack Obama delivers his Thanksgiving Weekly address entitled “Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family”

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

This past weekend President Barack Obama and his family celebrated Thanksgiving with all the White House traditions. First Obama pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in a White House ceremony, afterward the whole family volunteered at Bread for the City.

Then on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27, the Obamas had a big holiday dinner, but first the President released his Thanksgiving-themed weekly address and phoned members of the military. In the evening, the first couple appeared in a pre-recorded ABC interview.

On Friday, Nov. 28, Christmas decorating began with First Lady Michelle Obama receiving the official White House Christmas tree. Capping off their annual tradition on Saturday, Nov, 29, the president began his holiday shopping, buying books and supporting small businesses at Politics and Prose bookstore.

President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, daughters Malia and Sasha kick-off the Thanksgiving and Christmas season with annual family and White House traditions

Photo by Pool/Getty Images

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

First Obama conducted the annual Thanksgiving turkey pardon on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014 in a White House ceremony attended also by his daughters Malia, 16 and Sasha, 13. There were two birds competing in this latest round to be either the National Thanksgiving Turkey or the runner-up, Mac and his brother Cheese. The two birds were born and “raised on with Presidential Turkey Flock at Cooper Farms in Fort Recovery, Ohio.” Since 2012, voting for the official turkey has been done through Twitter, and the contest called “America’s Next Top Turkey,” with voters using the hashtags #TeamMac or #TeamCheese. Only the winner Cheese attended the official ceremony. Cheese is 20-weeks-old and 48 pounds. The two pardoned turkeys move on to Morven Park’s “Turkey Hill,” in Leesburg, Va., the home of pardoned turkeys since 2010, and former Virginia governor Westmoreland Davis.

President Obama’s speech was filled with jokes about executive actions and amnesty, referring to his immigration executive actions, granting amnesty, stopping deportations for 4.7 million illegal immigrants. The executive actions have not been going over too well with the American public in general; those affected think the president did not do enough to thwart deportations, while Republicans have threatened a government shutdown, impeachment, censure, or a lawsuit and have the GOP Congressional leadership promised to stop him.

The president joked, comparing his turkey pardoning to his immigration actions, “I am here to announce what I’m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month.” Continuing his gag, Obama stated; “Today, I’m taking an action fully within my legal authority — the same kind of action taken by Democrat and Republican presidents before me, to spare the lives of two turkeys, Mac and Cheese, from a terrible and delicious fate. Some will call this amnesty, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of turkey to go around.”

President Barack Obama’s remarks were filled not only with immigration analogies, but also with Thanksgiving holiday jokes, saying; “Let’s face it, if you’re a turkey and you’re named after a side dish — your chances of escaping Thanksgiving dinner are pretty low, so these guys are well ahead of the curve.” On a more serious note, Obama also thanked American service men and women in the military, expressing, “Remember the folks who can’t spend their holidays at home. Especially the brave men and women in uniform who help keep our country secure.”

Later in the afternoon he, First Lady Michelle and their two daughters donated two additional donated turkeys, and volunteered at Bread for the City, an agency that “provides vulnerable residents of Washington, DC, with comprehensive services, including food, clothing, medical care, and legal and social services, in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.” Each member of the Obama family handed out thanksgiving food to those in need. Obama handed-out “bags of sweet potatoes,” Mrs. Obama “turnips,” Malia “cranberry sauce and canned beans,” Sasha “canned mixed vegetables and White House Hershey kisses,” and the president’s mother-in-law, Marian Robinson gave out “fresh bread.” Volunteering at a food bank is part of the Obama’s annual tradition.

On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 27 the Obama family had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, earlier in the day, the president phoned the troops, and started the day by releasing his Thanksgiving-themed weekly address entitled “Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family.” In his address, the president wished the country holiday greetings and expressed that “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because, more than any other, it is uniquely American. Each of us brings our own traditions and cultures and recipes to the table – but we all share this day, united by the gratitude for the bounty of this nation.”

President Obama also thanked military service members for their sacrifices for the safety of the country; “To our service members who are away from home, we say an extra prayer for you and your loved ones, and we renew our commitment to take care of you as well as you’ve taken care of us.” The president made sure to remember volunteers at “soup kitchens and shelters” for their work “looking out for those who are less fortunate, and lifting up those who have fallen on hard times.” Obama pointed out that “This generosity, this compassion, this belief that we are each other’s keepers, is essential to who we are, not just on this day, but every day.”

Concluding his Thanksgiving address, the president asked the nation to instead of emphasizing the differences, “what separates us” politically and socially, American should as they “gather with loved ones on this Thanksgiving, let’s remember and be grateful for what binds us together. Our love of country. Our commitment to justice and equality. Our belief that America’s best days are ahead, and that her destiny is ours to shape – and that our inherited ideals must be the birthright of all of our children.”

The president also phoned “representatives of each of the five service branches: the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard.” According to the official readout of the calls, Obama expressed “his appreciation on Thanksgiving Day on behalf of a grateful nation,” thanking them for all they do for “the safety and security of the American people.” First Lady Michelle also thanked America’s troops with a Twitter post, “As we celebrate #Thanksgiving, let’s give thanks to our men and women in uniform serving our country far from their homes and families. -mo”

On Thanksgiving evening, a special interview with the president and first lady aired on ABC. The interview conducted by Robin Roberts focused on the meaning of the holiday and American troops, with some scoop on their favorite pie deserts. First Lady Michelle expressed; “I think this Thanksgiving time is a time for all of us to reflect on those military gold star families who are having dinner without a loved one there. It’s easy to get lost in the food and the fellowship, but Thanksgiving is a time for reflection.”

While President Obama discussed his Thanksgiving tradition to call to members of the military; “A lot of times during these holidays, I’ll actually make calls to folks who are deployed. We’ll just call ’em up and say, ‘thank you.’ It’s a great idea for every American, every day, but especially during the holiday season. You know, you see a service member — you just go up and say, ‘Thanks, we appreciate it.’ Because the sacrifices they make are extraordinary.”

The interview included a pie testing in the White House kitchen, where Obama complained that the first lady never shares her desserts. Michelle replied it is “Cause he eats it like that. Look, the crust is gone, everything that makes a pie delicious is gone in his one bite!” To which Obama joked “Do I have to, like, take a small bite because I’m on TV?” The president revealed his favorite Thanksgiving pie flavor is pumpkin, and described, “The proper way to eat your pie is you should have just a little whipped cream on top. We go all out on pies. We don’t play with pie.”

This year there were only six pies at the White House Thanksgiving dinner, down from nine last year. The menu included traditional thanksgiving fare, “thyme-roasted turkey” “honey-baked ham” as the main courses. As for the side dishes, there was “cornbread and oyster stuffings, braised winter greens, sweet potato gratin, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and dinner rolls,” and of course macaroni and cheese. Although there are fewer pie varieties this year, the selection was still diverse enough and included; “banana cream, coconut cream, pumpkin, apple, pecan and cherry pies.”

On Friday, Nov. 28, the White House Christmas tree was delivered. First Lady Michelle, Malia and Sasha, and first dogs Bo and Sunny were there to meet is as it arrived at the North Portico in a carriage drawn by four Clydesdale horses. This year’s tree is an 18.5-foot-tall Douglas Fir from the Crystal Spring Tree Farm in Leighton, Pennsylvania, and owner Chris Botek was on hand to present the tree that will reside this holiday season in the White House Blue Room. The First Lady will unveil the Christmas decoration in a reception for military families on Dec. 3.

The last annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition that Obama does each year is going shopping on Small Business Saturday, on Nov. 29 which supports small businesses, and buying books at Washington, D.C.’s Politics and Prose bookstore. Obama purchased 17 books at the store with his daughters. The president joked with the shoppers and “picked up a baby,” then asked, “Do I get a discount for that?” to which the clerk said he only get a “neighbor’s discount.” Obama was also confronted with a serious question when a shopper asked when he would be “clos[ing] the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, to which he answered, “We’re working on it.” The White House released the full list of books the president purchased, which include the following:

“Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande
“Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus” (Junie B. Jones Series #1) by Barbara Park
“Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business” (Junie B. Jones Series #2) by Barbara Park
“A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More” by Doreen Cronin
“I Spy Sticker Book and Picture Riddles” by Jean Marzollo
“Nuts to You” by Lynn Rae Perkins
“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson
“Redwall” (Redwall Series #1) by Brian Jacques
“Mossflower” (Redwall Series #2) by Brian Jacques
“Mattimeo” by Brian Jacques (Redwall Series #3)
“Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms” by Katherine Rundell
“The Narrow Road to the Deep North” by Richard Flanagan
“The Laughing Monsters” by Denis Johnson
“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr
“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad
“Nora Webster” by Colm Toibin
“Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China” by Evan Osnos

RELATED LINKS

The 2014 White House Christmas Tree Arrives, Nov. 28, 2014

President Barack Obama’s Weekly Address: Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family, Nov. 27, 2014

Weekly Address: Happy Thanksgiving from the Obama Family, Nov. 27, 2014

The First Family Participates in a Service Project, Nov. 26, 2014

Remarks by President Barack Obama at Pardoning of the National Turkey, Nov. 26, 2014

President Obama Pardons the National Turkey, Nov. 26, 2014

Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.

Politics November 3, 2014: History proves Michelle, Barack Obama divorce talk is probably just that rumors

Politics November 1, 2014: Just a rumor Michelle Obama will not run for California Senate seat in 2018

Politics August 10, 2014: Obama facing criticism left and right for 12-day vacation as world crises rage

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Obama facing criticism left and right for 12-day vacation as world crises rage

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, August 10, 2014, 4:17 PM MST

President Barack Obama and the first family are vacationing in Martha's Vineyard, Aug. 9-24; Obama is facing criticism for the expensive break as crisis loom both at home and abroad
President Barack Obama and the first family are vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Aug. 9-24; Obama is facing criticism for the expensive break as crisis loom both at home and abroad
Matthew Healey-Pool/Getty Images

Politics May 27, 2014: Obama overcompensates Memorial Day honors as Veterans Affairs scandal heats up

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Obama overcompensates Memorial Day honors as Veterans Affairs scandal heats up

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, May 27, 2014, 5:55 AM MST

President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the annual Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, May 26, 2014; Obama avoided discussing the Veterans Affairs scandal

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the annual Memorial Day wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, May 26, 2014; Obama avoided discussing the Veterans Affairs scandal
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Universities February 6, 2014: Princeton Review releases list of best value public and private colleges

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Princeton Review releases list of best value public and private colleges

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Examiner.com, February 6, 2014, 10:36 PM MST

The Princeton Review's The Best Value Colleges 2014 featured on NBC's the Today Show, a ranking of the top 10 public and private colleges and a list of 150 colleges that give the best financial aid opportunities to their students, released, Jan. 28, 2014

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The Princeton Review’s The Best Value Colleges 2014 featured on NBC’s the Today Show, a ranking of the top 10 public and private colleges and a list of 150 colleges that give the best financial aid opportunities to their students, released, Jan. 28, 2014
The Princeton Review / Random House