Archive for the 'Articles' Category

30
Mar
17

Smarts. Class. Grace.

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Ariel Foxman: First Lady Michelle Obama On Style, Social Media, And The Biggest Challenges Facing Girls Today

“Sixty-two million girls around the world aren’t in school, and the first thing that comes to my mind is, ‘That could’ve been me.’ [I think about] how I would have felt at the age of 10 or 11 or 12 if somebody walked up and said, ‘That’s it. Your dreams are over! You’re going to have to leave school and get married to somebody twice your age and start having kids.'” “We can fool ourselves into thinking that everybody is still watching the evening news, but I live with Generation Z, and I know that their habits, the way they take in information in, is so different. And they’ve changed…

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We’ve got to meet our constituents where they are, and they’re on Snapchat.” For more from the First Lady, pick up the October issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Friday, September 16. Coming soon: InStyle’s super-chic designer tote collection to benefit the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. Sign up for an email alert and be first to shop the collection when it launches on Monday.

More here

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29
Mar
17

Paid Leave: A Necessity; Not A Luxury

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Noam Scheiber: U.S. Will Require Its Contractors To Provide Paid Sick Leave

The Obama administration, in its latest effort to update workplace policies it says have lagged far behind the realities of Americans’ lives, will require federal government contractors to provide paid sick leave to their workers. The rule, which was issued on Thursday and which the Labor Department estimates will directly affect more than 1.1 million people once fully in effect, enables workers to accrue up to seven days of paid sick leave a year. The move serves as a coda to the administration’s ongoing efforts to enhance rights and protections for workers, including making millions more eligible for overtime pay and expanding workers’ rights to sue over pay discrimination.  In recent years, more than 20 cities and states around the country have passed laws mandating paid sick leave,

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which voters generally support, polls show. New York City passed its own such law in 2013 and expanded it the next year. Republican-leaning Arizona appears on the verge of enacting such a measure by a ballot initiative this fall. But legislation that would mandate paid sick leave nationwide, notably the so-called Healthy Families Act, has stalled in Congress for years, prompting the administration to seek alternative ways of achieving the policy’s goals. The rule, which does not need additional approval, requires that workers in assignments related to many federal contracts receive one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, for up to 56 hours of leave a year. Workers will be able to use the days to receive medical attention, care for a relative or deal with complications arising from domestic violence or sexual assault. The rule affects only contracts solicited by the government beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.

More here

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20
Mar
17

The Boss In Chief

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Alyssa Mastromonaco: What I Learned From 10 Years Working With Barack Obama

After I became then-Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s adviser/ director of scheduling in late 2004, [chief of staff ] Pete Rouse became my spiritual guide and mentor. Pete had worked on Capitol Hill for about 40 years, many of those as chief of staff to Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, and was known as the “101st senator” and “mayor of Capitol Hill.” There is no one more thoughtful in the way he gives advice. He returns every e-mail, makes every connection, and does it all while being a wheeler and dealer. When we got to the Senate, Possum drafted one of his famous “strategic plans”—lengthy, painfully thorough memos about how to get something done.

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In this case, it was the strategic plan for Senator Obama’s first year, and it could be summed up as “workhorse, not show horse.” It included lots of time with constituents and in Illinois, and less time with D.C. insiders and celebrities. Obama was quite fine with that. Every decision we made had to stand up to the workhorse vs. show horse test. Obama had a political action committee called the Hope Fund that was right down the street from the Hart Senate Office Building. The Hope Fund ran initiatives for getting young adults from diverse backgrounds into community organizing and politics; it also managed Obama’s political engagements

More here

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10
Mar
17

The Always Stunning Obamas

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First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama out and about in New York

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04
Mar
17

Saving ACA

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WhatIsWorking

Good Saturday to you all

I wanted to ask for your help. While we all chase the Russia Story, Republicans are planning on repealing the ACA without a budget score, and without showing it to anyone until it is on the floor.

STRATEGY FOR AREAS with a R SENATOR or CONGRESSPERSON

Get on the phone and leave a message with their local office today and EVERDAY until we win this thing.

Tell them – NO SECRET BILL, let us publicly debate what it will cost in $$ and in human suffering.

Show up at their local offices, be brave and be strong.

Then call 10 people you know and ask them to do the same thing

STRATEGY FOR BLUE DISTRICTS

Join a Virtual bank from home (where you use a tablet or computer to access names, phone # and a script) and call into TN, AZ, Maine, NV or AK.

Send me a note if you need links to make these calls. Everyone needs to do this

Here is our latest update on the Republican plan

REPUBLICAN PLAN TO RUSH THRU ACA REPEAL

There will be a bill released on Monday that will then go to markup in both Ways and Means and E&C on Wednesday/Thursday. It will more or less be what we saw in the earlier draft, with a few modifications for the worse. It will not be scored and there will probably not be amendments.

Presuming passage, it will go to the Budget Committee the following week and then to Rules on 3/20 or earlier–with the goal to have it to the Floor of the House on 3/23, which is the 7th anniversary of the passage of the ACA.

McConnell has committed to put the bill on the floor immediately, with no changes, following a Bryd bath, meaning it will be voted on before the Easter recess (4/7).

This is far more accelerated timeline than any of us were thinking, and we were assuming we would have process in the Senate (meaning it would go through Senate Committees however that is not the plan). We need to get as much done in the next 2 1/2 weeks as possible.

Thank you in advance for your help with this issue

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07
Feb
17

Living The Well Earned Good Life

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It was a huge honour to be able to invite President Barack and Michelle Obama down to the British Virgin Islands for a complete break after Barack finished his second term as President and the family left the White House. One of the first stories Barack told me when he and Michelle arrived on Moskito Island was how, just before he became President, he had been surfing on a dangerous break in Hawaii. When he came in from an exhilarating session, the new head of his security team turned to him and said: “This will be the last time you surf for eight years.” For the next eight years he didn’t have the chance to surf, enjoy watersports or do many of the things he loved. So it was tremendous to offer him the chance to learn to kitesurf.

More here

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20
Jan
17

What To Do On January 20th

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Our 2,922+ Days with Prez Obama

“The road ahead will be long,
Our climb will be steep,
We may not get there in one year, or even one term,
But America, I have never been more hopeful
Than I am tonight that we will get there.”… (Prez Barack Obama, 11/4/2008)

Put down the Kleenex. Tilt your head up high. Now shout at the top of your lungs. YES WE DID!!! We Obamacrats, Americans, and world citizens can proudly puff out our chests and say we got us a really fine gem of a president. He not only served us productively during his 8-year tenure, he did so without a whiff of scandal, his diligence razor sharp, his humility and empathy never in doubt, and lit up our dreary moments with that smile and quick wit.

How many of us young and young at heart, and even detractors, can say we’ve ever been so absorbed day in and day out with any President at such a granular level, as we have Prez Barack Hussein Obama? Sure, the technologies of our age simulate such high levels of intimacy with political leaders we may never meet. But the Obamas made us live vicariously in the warm embrace of their hugs.

Beyond policy convergence, we felt their human connection to us to be genuine. Not posturing. And prior to winning the presidency, candidate Obama himself opened the sluice gates to many of us to dive into political engagement through both electronic media and human to human contact in the streets

How many of you got connected politically with complete strangers for the first time by signing up on http://www.barackobama.com and eagerly awaited David Plouffe’s weekly map update? How many of you created “Dashboard” pages on that website to organize people you knew, to volunteer, donate, host house meetings and parties, make calls, register people in the streets, enter registration data, or even quit your jobs to go to “Summer organizing school”?

Be honest, how many of us of a certain age (wink, wink) would have gotten clued in to much of Social media — Twitter, Snapchat, etc. or programs consumed mostly by millennials such as Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis, and You Tube sensations like Ms. Glozell Green, Ingrid “Glamourazzi” Nilsen, Adande “sWoozie” Thorne…., and much of social media lingo, if not for Barack H. Obama?

Besides substantial policy advances, he and First Lady Michelle Obama, made us all indulge in the hip and cool. We dropped the mic and sang soul and karaoke along with them. We ooohed and aaaahed the marshmallow cannon and others at the geeky WH science exhibits. We clutched our virtual passports, got aboard Airforce One on its 400 flights, and trekked all 50 states of America and around the world with them – Dublin, Myanmar, Moneygall, Moscow, Canberra, Strasbourg, Prague, Havana, Dakar, Accra, ……

But why did many of us suspend our cynicism during the Obama presidency? Why did we believe him? The historical track record of politicians has earned that species a well-deserved cynicism. But not Barack Obama. Why? Sure, policy disagreements and all for some, but few besides his virulent opposition and rabid racists doubted his integrity.

We checked our cynicism at the door because he invited us, as thinking people, to embark on the tough journey of making America a “more perfect union” with him, warts and all. He also welcomed us to peer into the depths of his humanity (not like GW Bush looking into Putin’s soul), and many of us felt comfortable, even inspired. He was more than family even if some never physically met him. He never patronized us. He never left us out in the cold. Never.

Some of us ached with anguish when the opposition slammed the political barricades hard in his face at a time when this country teetered on the brink of economic collapse, and we thought “surely, country first, right?” Wrong.

With President Obama, many of us were jolted to the harsh reality that Republicans cared more about raw power than America’s wellbeing. They dragged us through an orgy of vileness on every front imaginable. Worst of all, the electorate rewarded them up and down this country with more power to destroy all the pillars of democracy and human rights that had been fought for with blood and toil. What country is this!

As a naturalized American citizen, whose very first vote in this country was for candidate Obama during the 2008 Democratic primaries, I, along with many of you feel a certain sense of co-ownership of the Obama presidential journey. It was us at our very best! We chose well. Eight years, no scandals. NONE! Competence, class, dignity, vision, empathy, real accomplishments.

Barack Obama is the stuff legends are made of. And we were lucky to witness it, and co-write this chapter of America’s story. So yeah, tilt that chin up. Y’all did good.

“Hard things are hard,” is inscribed on a plaque in the Obama White House. Yep, they are. And once achieved they must be safeguarded with hawk eyes, else a Trump wrecking ball overruns us.

But as President Obama said, we’re just getting started. We’re not gonna turn him into a fossil to gaze at on a pedestal in a shrine. As CITIZENS our task, our vigilance shifts to second gear tomorrow. Foot to the pedal. Stay Woke.

P.S. Our gratitude knows no bounds for Chips and NerdyWonka, who captained this incredible electronic corner of bliss and sanity for our journey with the Obama Family, in a sea of venom. Thank you thank you, thank you.

And kudos to all you fellow travelers on this site. You made this Obama story possible. You made it fierce. Let’s ALL #staywoke.

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18
Nov
16

First Lady Michelle Obama: A Champion For The World

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Jonathan Van Meter: Michelle Obama: A Candid Conversation With America’s Champion And Mother in Chief

Once she got her daughters acclimated—she routinely referred to herself as “Mom in chief”—the Harvard-educated lawyer took on issues like support for military families and healthy eating. “It was pooh-poohed as a sort of soft swing at the ball,” she says. By the middle of the second term, she had become more ambitious—launching two education initiatives, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn—and over the past year and a half finding her métier, turning herself into the First Lady of Popular Culture, mastering social media (thanks to her proximity to a certain couple of teenage girls), appearing as herself on shows like NCIS and Parks and Recreation, singing karaoke with James Corden, and basically charming the pants off of everyone. Somewhere along the way, she became the greatest political communicator of our time—better than Bill Clinton, better than her husband—someone whose speeches actually start national conversations. And throughout all of this, she has remained one of the most glamorous women in the world—admired by teenagers and grandmothers alike—

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whose daring fashion instincts have won her near-universal accolades from an industry that had a champion in the White House for the first time in decades. When she wore that showstopping Atelier Versace rose-gold chain-mail column to her final state dinner in October, the Internet worked itself into a state of collective mourning over the fact that there will be no more Michelle Obama fashion moments to obsess about. The White House has changed quite a bit in the past eight years, becoming much warmer, far less formal, and distinctly more diverse. Obamalot, if you will. They have created an ecosystem that is so effortlessly inclusive that, for example, Joe Mahshie, a trip coordinator for the First Lady, and Brian Mosteller, director of Oval Office operations, were married by Joe Biden at his home just a few months ago. Mahshie, my minder today, tells me that he first met Mrs. Obama when his then boyfriend Mosteller took him to join the SoulCycle class that the First Lady goes to once a week with White House staffers. Mahshie and Mrs. Obama struck up a conversation; one of her staffers was taken aback by his forwardness: “Do you know her?” No, we just met, he replied. “Was I not supposed to talk to her? Should I have curtsied?” He laughs. “She creates that possibility.”

More here

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26
Oct
16

The Consequences Of Obama Derangement Syndrome

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Brian Beutler: Obama Was Right About Republican Extremism All Along

He has become the Democratic nominee’s most unvarnished and indispensable champion. the president clearly takes extra pleasure campaigning in battleground states against Republicans who didn’t consider Trump an affront to the conscience until the GOP nominee’s poll numbers tanked. Obama is repurposing a critique he’s been making for years, in public and in private, directed at Republican officeholders themselves. His retooled stump speech is crafted not just to fire up Democratic voters against Trump, but to overwhelm other Republican politicians with a sense of dread by making them recognize the huge mistake they made not listening to him. Some of these Republicans are only now realizing that Obama was right all along. But, as he’s now saying, it’s too late. Obama’s taking his argument to the voting public, and Trump is precisely the totem he needs to make it stick.

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 [T]here are a lot of politicians who knew better. There are a lot of senators who knew better. But they went along with these stories because they figured, you know what, this will help rile up the base, it will give us an excuse to obstruct what we’re trying to do, we won’t be able to appoint judges, we’ll gum up the works, we’ll create gridlock, it will give us a political advantage. So they just stood by and said nothing. And their base began to actually believe this crazy stuff. So Donald Trump did not start this. Donald Trump didn’t start it. He just did what he always did, which is slap his name on it, take credit for it, and promote it. That’s what he does. And so now when suddenly it’s not working, and people are saying, wow, this guy is kind of out of line, all of a sudden, these Republican politicians who were okay with all this crazy stuff up to a point, suddenly they’re all walking away. “Oh, this is too much.” … Well, what took you so long? What the heck?

More here

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17
Oct
16

President Obama: A Champion For Students

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Molly Hensley-Clancy: The Industry That Was Crushed By The Obama Administration

When Barack Obama took office, America’s seven largest publicly traded college operators were worth a combined $51 billion, with more than 815,000 students enrolled at campuses spread across the country. The schools were flooded with with people seeking shelter from the recession, returning to school to pick up new skills. Almost eight years later, the industry has been decimated. The seven largest listed operators are worth just over $6 billion, and the most valuable company in the sector has spent the last two years desperately trying to become a non-profit. Two of the largest companies in 2009 are now bankrupt, and two more are in the process of being taken private. A withering war on for-profit schools by federal and state authorities, combined with an improving economy that made trade schools less lucrative, has left the industry a shadow of its former self. It could be one of the defining legacies of the Obama era.

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The administration’s more aggressive approach hit its stride in its final two years, as the Education Department honed and expanded its power. It pushed through a set of strict new rules late in 2014, and is preparing to pass another that could have even more far-reaching impact. Last month, one of its long-standing foes, the ITT Tech chain of for-profit colleges — valued at $4.6 billion in early 2009 — filed for bankruptcy after an Education Department ruling effectively ended its viability as a business. The Education Department has begun to turn the tables on for-profit schools by using their almost total dependence on government money as an avenue for regulatory power. It is seeking to make access to federal dollars conditional on schools changing their practices — for example, by requiring schools to eliminate mandatory arbitration clauses from their enrollment contracts, giving students the right to sue.

More here

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