Archive for the 'Articles' Category

25
Mar
18

‘An Extraordinary Young Man’

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Earlier this month, Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman received a letter. Their son, Scott Beigel, was a geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and on February 14, he reportedly unlocked the door to his classroom as an active shooter roamed the halls, allowing students to run inside and take cover. Before he could lock the door again, he was killed, along with 14 students and two other faculty members. He was 35 years old.

“Your son seemed like an extraordinary young man, and Michelle and I grieve alongside you,” the letter to Michael and Linda read. “We can only imagine the hardship you are going through; hopefully all the wonderful memories can help ease the pain. We’ll get the details about your fund in his honor. In the meantime, you are in our thoughts and prayers.” It was handwritten, and it was signed Barack Obama.

“Scott is a hero. Scott was a hero way before February 14,” Linda told me on Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C. “What Scott did — saving his students — doesn’t surprise me. I’m proud of him. Obviously, I wish he wasn’t murdered doing it, but I wouldn’t expect anything less of Scott.”

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23
Mar
18

Enjoying New Zealand

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23
Jan
18

President Obama: The Greatest Force For Equality In 50 Years

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Derek Thompson: Thanks, Obama

President Obama has cultivated a reputation for approaching politics with a kind of medical clinicism. But with the full panorama of his presidency coming into view, Obama’s economic legacy is impressive, even historic. First, the centerpiece of Obama’s anti-inequality legacy is the policy that bears his name. Obamacare, a.k.a., the Affordable Care Act, has reduced the uninsured rate from about 16 percent in 2010 to less than 9 percent today, the lowest level in U.S. history. Second, several subtle yet significant tax changes under Obama have made the tax code more progressive. The stimulus bill passed in 2009, a.k.a., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (or, simply, the Recovery Act), included the most important changes. The law created the Making Work Pay credit, expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and created new tax credits, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college attendees. The most significant change to the tax code since 2010 has been the eleventh-hour agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for all families except for an increase in the top tax rate for households making more than $450,000 and an increase in the estate tax rate to 40 percent.

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Third, the Obama administration has supported initiatives outside of the tax code and health care policy to help the poor and middle class. They have been advocates for higher minimum wages at the national level, which have arguably buoyed the state-by-state effort to raise minimum wages toward $15 in richer areas. They supported extended unemployment benefits while long-term unemployment was perhaps the country’s most insidious economic plague. Unemployment insurance kept more than 11 million people out of poverty in Obama’s first term, according to Census analysis. The president also expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (grants that states can use for a variety of measures including helping the poor). His Department of Education spent more than $60 billion to support states’ education budgets and prevent more layoffs of teachers and administrators. In sum, he grew anti-inequality spending more than any president, as a share of GDP. But at a time when both liberals and conservatives have become exquisitely aware of income inequality and its ills, the seemingly placid, cold, philosopher-in-chief did more to combat that inequity than any president in at least 50 years. For that, two words suffice: “Thanks, Obama.”

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01
Jan
18

A Well Rounded President

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President Barack Obama

During my presidency, I started a tradition of sharing my reading lists and playlists. It was a nice way to reflect on the works that resonated with me and lift up authors and artists from around the world. With some extra time on my hands this year to catch up, I wanted to share the books and music that I enjoyed most. From songs that got me moving to stories that inspired me, here’s my 2017 list — I hope you enjoy it and have a happy and healthy New Year.

The best books I read in 2017:
The Power by Naomi Alderman
Grant by Ron Chernow
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond
Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Five-Carat Soul by James McBride
Anything Is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
Dying: A Memoir by Cory Taylor
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
*Bonus for hoops fans: Coach Wooden and Me by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano

My favorite songs of 2017:
Mi Gente by J Balvin & Willy William
Havana by Camila Cabello (feat. Young Thug)
Blessed by Daniel Caesar
The Joke by Brandi Carlile
First World Problems by Chance The Rapper (feat. Daniel Caesar)
Rise Up by Andra Day
Wild Thoughts by DJ Khaled (feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller)
Family Feud by Jay-Z (feat. Beyoncé)
Humble by Kendrick Lamar
La Dame et Ses Valises by Les Amazones d’Afrique (feat. Nneka)
Unforgettable by French Montana (feat. Swae Lee)
The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness by The National
Chanel by Frank Ocean
Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man
Butterfly Effect by Travis Scott
Matter of Time by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

Little Bit by Mavis Staples
Millionaire by Chris Stapleton
Sign of the Times by Harry Styles
Broken Clocks by SZA
Ordinary Love (Extraordinary Mix) by U2
*Bonus: Born in the U.S.A. by Bruce Springsteen (not out yet, but the blues version in his Broadway show is the best!)

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22
Dec
17

A Letter From The 44th President

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Thank you for writing. I hear your concerns and I want you to know I’m listening.

Our country’s progress has never followed a straight line-for every two steps forward it often feels like we take one step back. But I hope you’ll remember that the long sweep of America is defined by forward motion, and the course we chart from here depends on no one person alone. Rather, our destiny will be decided the same way it always has been: by all of us; by we the people; by selfless and engaged citizens who step forward and speak out to guard the values that make us who we are – not just when there’s an election, but every day.

Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted, and change only happens when people get involved. As long as folks like you keep looking out for others and working to defend America’s promise, I’m confident our future will be bright. Please know Michelle and I will continue standing alongside you, and we wish you the very best.

Sincerely,

Barack Obama

16
Dec
17

Straight Flames!

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I don’t burn bridges, yo, I keep the haters’ running for em’
I ain’t one of ya’ll peers, I’m the sum of all fears

Somebody stronger than me? Who that? I’m all ears

Like Obama, I wish he had another four years

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Full lyrics here

12
Nov
17

Brotherhood

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Philip Galanes: Joe Biden Talks About His New Memoir, ‘Promise Me, Dad’

PG: Several times, Beau says: Don’t look at me sad, Dad. Or: Promise me you’ll be O.K., Dad. Did he ever let you comfort him?

JB: One night, when it was clear that the odds weren’t good, he asked me to stay after dinner at his house, about a mile from here. He said: “Dad, I know you love me more than anyone in the world. But promise me you’ll be O.K. I’ll be O.K., Dad.” He had come face to face with his mortality. He watched me go through the loss of his mother and sister. And he didn’t want me to turn inward. He didn’t want me to give up on the robustness of life.

PG: You were reluctant to confide in President Obama about Beau.

JB: It was complex. I didn’t want him to carry the burden of feeling sorry for me. Several times, when we talked about Beau, he started sobbing, and I had to console him. I didn’t want to put him through that, not with all the responsibility he had on his back.

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08
Nov
17

Jury Duty

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Steve Schmadeke and Elvia Malagon: Obama Arrives At Daley Center To Report For Jury Duty

The former leader of the free world reported for for Cook County jury duty this morning at the downtown Daley Center. Barack Obama, who was spotted leaving his South Side home in the Kenwood neighborhood just before 9:30 a.m., and was seen arriving at the court building around 10 a.m. A media scrum was on hand for the event, but there were plenty of others who caught a glimpse of him: “He’s gorgeous,” said a clerk who works at the building.

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27
Oct
17

CaddyShacking In Virginia

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Emily Heil: Barack Obama And Charleston’s Bill Murray Golf Together Again In Va.

Hey, isn’t that … former president Barack Obama and comedian Bill Murray, hitting the links together at Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va., on Tuesday? The “Caddyshack” star and Charleston resident was in Washington for the Sunday-night Mark Twain awards at the Kennedy Center honoring fellow funnyman Dave Letterman, and apparently found time during his visit to reunite with an old golfing buddy. Obama and Murray famously practiced putting in the Oval Office in a video the White House released in December urging people to sign up for health insurance.

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23
Oct
17

‘Chasing Light’

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Lauren Sher and Danielle Genet: Behind The Lens: Michelle Obama’s White House Photographer Shares Candid Stories

Photographer Amanda Lucidon had a front-row seat to the events in the Obama White House. For four years, Lucidon was the only female photographer on the White House staff and tasked with covering first lady Michelle Obama. “To be one of the few female photographers in [White House] history was really special. But on top of that, just to work for the administration that had appointed more women and minorities than any other administration; that was a real special thing,” Lucidon said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts for “Good Morning America.”

Lucidon, 38, is stepping out from behind the lens for the first time and sharing her personal reflections in a new book, “Chasing Light.” The book is a collection of her candid photographs of the first family and is filled with the lessons she learned along the way.  “What the first lady has traveled around the country and the world saying candidly, which I learned from her, is that you can be anything; how you grew up and your circumstances do not define you,” Lucidon told Roberts. “Working at the White House was a very transformative time for me. I found confidence. I learned about myself. I learned about pushing boundaries. I learned about embracing my own story and my own background. … The first lady always taught us the challenges that you’ve encountered in your life are actually your strengths. They’re not your weaknesses. They’re the things that teach you resilience.”

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