In 1982, the young Barack Obama published two poems
in a literary magazine
while an undergraduate at Occidental College
. Many years later, political and literary commentators looking for insight into the leader's inner workings unearthed the poems: The New Yorker
gave readers Harold Bloom's mixed reaction, Ian McMillan assessed the juvenile work in The Guardian
, the Times
(UK) tried to place the poems within the context of American presidents who published poems
, and even Huffington Post
took a crack at figuring what the poems tell us about the politician. A little later, the Blue Rose Arts Collective used the text of the poem "Underground" in a short video piece
. Obama maintains his interest in poetry: also in 2008 the president was photographed holding a copy
of Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott's Collected Poems
. (U.S. Presidents and poetry more generally, previously
FOX, Fox News, and The White House all used the ginormous television audience that comes with the Super Bowl to their advantage today when a 15 minute interview with the President by Bill O'Reilly
was aired as part of the pre-game show. Full video here.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Wednesday afternoon that the Obama administration will not allow offshore oil drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico or off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as part of the next five-year drilling plan, reversing two key policy changes President Obama announced in late March.
Drilling will continue
in other parts of the Gulf of Mexico under new safeguards. Previously.
During his campaign, skeptics warned that Barack Obama was nothing but a "beautiful loser," a progressive purist whose uncompromising idealism would derail his program for change. But as president, Obama has proved to be just the opposite — an ugly winner. Over and over, he has shown himself willing to strike unpalatable political bargains to secure progress, even at the cost of alienating his core supporters. This bloodless, if effective, approach to governance has created a perilous disconnect: By any rational measure, Obama is the most accomplished and progressive president in decades, yet the only Americans fired up by the changes he has delivered are Republicans and Tea Partiers hellbent on reversing them. Heading into the November elections, Obama's approval ratings are mired in the mid-40s, and polls reflect a stark enthusiasm gap: Half of all Republicans are "very" excited about voting this fall, compared to just a quarter of Democrats. But if the passions of Obama's base have been deflated by the compromises he made to secure historic gains like the Recovery Act, health care reform and Wall Street regulation, that gloom cannot obscure the essential point: This president has delivered more sweeping, progressive change in 20 months than the previous two Democratic administrations did in 12 years.
The Rolling Stone
's Tim Dickinson argues The Case for Obama
. [more inside]
To push through even one more victory on the order of healthcare, Obama will have to give up the posture of mediator that comes naturally to him. He will have to admit in his political practice that there are parties; that he is the leader of a party; that there is a worse and a better cause; that it feels like a fight because it really is a fight. This does not mean just the adoption of a new set of tactics. It will require almost the emergence of a new character.
BBC World Service has over 500 audio documentaries
you can download. The subject matter is incredibly wide ranging, for example, internet cafés
, the influence of Islamic art on William Morris
, South African female AIDS activist Thembi Ngubane
, the importance of cows
, novelist Chinua Achebe
, financial risk management
, Obama as an intellectual
, the physical and emotional effects of a car crash
and many, many more. If the quantity and variety are overwhelming, you can subscribe to a podcast
, which delivers a new documentary to you every single day.
It is not our role to take power. It is our role to make the powerful frightened of us. And that's what we've forgotten. Give up that dream!
Chris Hedges talks neoliberalism and neofeudalism, the civil rights movement, Camden, Obama, Clinton, Tea Parties, moral nihilism, inverted totalitarianism and corpocracy, NAFTA, welfare reform, health care, labor, poverty, Yugoslavia, post-industrial capitalism, economic crisis, imperial collapse, socialism, and democracy, among other things. [more inside]
A History of Obama Feigning Interest in Mundane Things
, slide show courtesy of New York magazine. Can be divided into two categories: with safety glasses, and without.
Demand Question Time
is a cross-partisan attempt
in the US to make sessions like the remarkable give and take between President Obama and House Republicans of January 29th
, which DQT calls "riveting and educational... substantive, civil and candid" a regular feature of American political discourse, like its parliamentary counterpart
. As the petition's profile grows, signer David Corn explains "Why Question Time Is Right for Obama, House GOPers and Washington
," and Peggy Noonan counters that "Question Time Isn't the Answer
Rapper Shaun Boothe
is now midway through his 12 part series of "unauthorized biographies", which showcase short history lessons about some of the major black figures of our time. Thus far, he's covered James Brown
, Bob Marley
(my favorite), Muhammed Ali
, Martin Luther King (and briefly, Barack Obama)
, Jimi Hendrix
, and Sean "Puffy" Combs
. He's gotten some play
and good press
from major underground hip-hop media, due next in the series is a biography of Oprah Winfrey.
An automobile dealership in Wheat Ridge, Colorado made the decision last Friday to post a billboard which asks if President Obama is a terrorist and if he's really an American citizen by birth
. Part of the sign also references the recent tragedy at Fort Hood. The brainchild of Phil Wolf, owner of Wolf Interstate Leasing and Sales
, the sign depicts a Bamboozled
-esque rendition of the PUSA, with and without a turban.
Protestors have gathered to display their dislike of the billboard, which even the shop's proprieter admits "may be a little scattered. It says several things. It brings us several questions and I think they got to be answered (sic)
Do you feel disappointed in government? Does Obama seem a little too meek for the Presidency? Do you wish he'd make larger structural reforms? Maybe, suggests Matt Taibbi, there's an answer
. [more inside]
MEMORANDUM FOR SELECTED UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS: As a general matter, pursuit of these priorities should not focus federal resources in your States on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana. For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.
This weekend the Obama family arrives on the Massachusetts' island of Martha's Vineyard
for a week-long vacation. While known as a summer colony/destination for New Englanders, tourists and the famous1
the island has a storied history
from its early pre-colonial days to today. The Obamas' visit highlights the island's proud connection
to its deep African-American heritage
as a "well integrated
" community (especially Oaks Bluff
from the days that freed slaves and retired black whalers settled and established homes and businesses on the island. [more inside]
All at once, they practically screamed, “We’ve got ten minutes with the President on Monday…do you wanna do the shoot?!!”
. Don’t let anyone tell ya photographing the President
ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! [more inside]
Tonight in Tempe, a forgiving, but not quite forgetful, President Obama gave
the commencement address
at Arizona State University. [more inside]
The writers for the Late Show with David Letterman have recently had some trouble
coming up with jokes about Obama. Perhaps they should take a lesson from the master of Obama jokes, the President himself. President Obama brought down the house at last night's White House Correspondents' Dinner, poking fun at himself
, his administration
, and everyone else within shouting distance. Host Wanda Sykes followed Obama's show stealing performance with a few
of her own. Unfortunately, it seems that Dick Cheney's prediction has come true since no one is safe when the Comedian-in-Chief steps up to the mic.
After one hundred days, the wait is over: Pete Souza's Gargantuan Presidential High-Definition Executive Flickrdump
. Warning: If you put it on fullscreen you won't get anything else done for a while.
Speaking in Tongues
is a terrific piece of writing by Zadie Smith
. It's a little bit about Barack Obama
. Mostly, though, it's about "world"-traveling and polyvocality.
The first stage in the evolution is contingent and cannot be contrived. In this first stage, the voice, by no fault of its own, finds itself trapped between two poles, two competing belief systems. And so this first stage necessitates the second: the voice learns to be flexible between these two fixed points, even to the point of equivocation. Then the third stage: this native flexibility leads to a sense of being able to "see a thing from both sides." And then the final stage, which I think of as the mark of a certain kind of genius: the voice relinquishes ownership of itself, develops a creative sense of disassociation in which the claims that are particular to it seem no stronger than anyone else's. There it is, my little theory—I'd rather call it a story. It is a story about a wonderful voice, occasionally used by citizens, rarely by men of power.
Is history repeating itself?
Note quite 2000 years ago, the Roman hegemony got its first black leader - a former senator whose father was African and mother was white. Septimius Severus
inherited a failed military campaign in Iraq and an ailing economy. He first resolves the situation in Iraq
, undertakes a number of new building projects
, stamps out governmental corruption, raises taxes to pay for wage increases (and kicks British arse a few times)
. Ultimately though, it all might have only hastened the Empire's decline
In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges
, will have to learn to say "No we can't"
, Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield
, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye
, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees
, we will judge our commitment to sustainability
, scientists should research the causes of religion
, we will all be potential online paparazzi
, English will have more words than any other language
(but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops
, Iran will continue its nuclear quest
while diplomacy lies in shambles
, the sea floor is the new frontier
, we should rethink aging
, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project
-- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it
-- though it has some unfinished business to attend to
, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom
.The Economist: The World in 2009
. [more inside]
Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama
, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.
Is there no end to the shady associations of Barack Obama? Crack journalist Dave Barry has published photographic proof that the president-elect is a Lawn Ranger
. What's a Lawn Ranger? Glad you asked. Dave Barry has written about this nefarious organization not once
, but twice
and their strange and eldritch rites have been profiled on WILL public television
of Central Illinois, where the organization has its headquarters, in the town of Arcola, where they parade
It's only 73 days before Inauguration Day 2009. Planning has been going on for a while. Beyonce
wants to perform and the Boss
plans to release an album on the day. Be sure to call your Congressperson to get your tickets
. Make your plans
right away, everybody wants to go.
If you go, don't forget to say a rousing good-bye to you know who
It was a dark and stormy campaign...
A film theorist's thoughts on the narratives of Barack Obama and John McCain. [more inside]
“I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.” William Ayers speaks
Meet Andy Martin
, aka Anthony R. Martin-Trigona, perennial losing candidate for public office and
one of the truly great vexatious litigators. [more inside]
"As he walks past I am struck by the way, from his default gloomy expression, he constantly flashes his rictus grin at people, like a doomed and slightly out of control belisha beacon"
- The Guardian's cartoonist Steve Bell
on drawing Gordon 'Gordy' Brown
(video). He's in the process of producing a number of sketchbooks
covering the conference season - Liberal Democrat
, Labour 1
, Labour 2
. And he covered this year's Democrat and Republican conventions
and also visited 'Manifest Hope
' (video), an art exhibition based around images of Barack Obama. Previously
On the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech
, Barack Obama
accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party to be their Presidential candidate with a speech so well-crafted that Pat bloody Buchanan couldn't stop raving about it
, and had to be cut off by his fellow broadcasters. It was an occasion so historic that McCain chose to release an ad congratulating his opponent
(because someone’s got to do it)
just confirmed that the Obama Campaign
has chosen Delaware’s 65-year-old Senator Joe Biden
as the presumptive nominee’s Vice Presidential running mate. With decades of foreign policy experience
(including a recent stint
in war-torn Georgia
), and as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
, can Biden help pull the ticket out of a neck
tie with Senator John McCain [more inside]
Can you pass a Barack Obama's final
? [more inside]
, in which a young, black, upstart politician rises through the Chicago political scene by having his opposition stricken from the ballot, turning against his endorser, and redistricting himself into a fundraising monster. [more inside]
"The New Yorker says it's satire. It certainly will be candy for cable news
." The cover illustration
(by Barry Blitt) of the magazine's July 21st. issue
depicts Barack Obama
in tribal African dress, fist-bumping his wife "in full revolutionary garb, an enormous afro making her look like a millennial Angela Davis, holding an automatic weapon and wearing military pants" in the Oval Office. On the wall -- a portrait of Osama bin Laden; in the fireplace a burning American flag. [more inside]
Obama, telecoms and the Beltway system.
Georgia Rep. John Barrow
ran ads accusing his party of wanting to "cut and run in Iraq," and was one of the Blue Dogs
to send a letter to Pelosi
asking to be allowed to vote to give the President warrantless eavesdropping powers and to give lawbreaking telecoms amnesty (previously)
. Barrow faces a July primary challenge from State Senator Regina Thomas
, whose policy positions more closely match Obama's views and the views of the Democratic base in that district. Despite this, Obama has taped a radio ad in support of Barrow