"“A lot of our audiences are kids and teens, and they want to be in on the joke. And they’ll listen again. We’re just a little looser with this stuff than most traditional first ladies.”" -- Michelle Obama, interviewed by Variety.
A very nice collection of 55 photos taken by White House photographer Peter Souza. "Since 2009, Souza has compiled an annual “Year in Photos” gallery; a collection of 75-100 of his favorite photos from the previous 12 months. I went through all of the albums and have compiled 55 highlights. "
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.The Intercept: A series exploring how money from abroad has entered the 2016 presidential election thanks to Citizens United. [more inside]
The 2016 US general election is fully underway now. In 96 days, Americans will go to the polls. Current opinion polls show a significant bump for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton coming out of the major party conventions, and according to most polling aggregators she is currently on track to win the election. [more inside]
First Lady Michelle Obama joins James Corden for a drive around the White House grounds. [more inside]
One year out: On July 13, 2015, President Obama commuted the prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders. Here’s what their lives are like now. [The Washington Post] Few aspects of the Obama administration have been uncontroversial. Yet releasing 348 people from prison early provoked remarkably little criticism. To date, President Obama has commuted more sentences than his seven predecessors combined; when the president granted clemency to 46 nonviolent drug offenders last July, many of whom were sentenced under laws that no longer exist, critics mostly complained that he hadn’t let more people go free.
"In countries key to the president’s legacy, people express profound disappointment in a man from whom they expected great things." [more inside]
Interview with Barack Obama (NPR's Steve Inskeep). "And I believe that our politics — when our politics are at our best — is not based on identity politics, but it's based on a sense that everybody should have a fair shot and everybody should get a fair shake. Everybody should be responsible for doing their fair share, and you know, that theme you'll see in every speech that I've given since I was running for the state Senate, and it hasn't changed much now that I am nearing the end of my political career."
Obama addresses the Canadian Parliament. Includes remarks on Climate Change, Brexit, the US Election, and the War of 1812. [more inside]
This morning, the Obama administration sent a letter (PDF) to all public schools in the United States, signed by the Department of Justice and and Department of Education, issuing guidance (PDF) that discrimination against transgender students’ rights violates schools’ legal obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. All students must be allowed to use the restroom and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity, and "schools are prohibited from publicly disclosing a transgender student's birth name or biological sex, and are required to change the gender on school records and directories when asked." [more inside]
David Samuels profiles the White House's deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes, and finds "an only slightly updated version of what Holden Caulfield might have been like if he grew up to work in the West Wing." Although the comparison, and the rest of the profile, seem intended to frame Rhodes as a serious thinker and decision-maker, Rhodes's derision toward the press corps ("They literally know nothing"), jaundiced candor about the "spin" used in selling the Iran deal, and statements like “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends" have set the media establishment afire with hot takes and critiques.
President Obama Weighs His Economic Legacy by Andrew Ross Sorkin [The New York Times] Eight years after the financial crisis, unemployment is at 5 percent, deficits are down and G.D.P. is growing. Why do so many voters feel left behind? The president has a theory. [more inside]
An older man (Barack Obama, POTUS) provides a promising younger man (NBA MVP Steph Curry) some life lessons (YouTube). President Obama launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. This lighthearted promotion encourages participation in the program. Perhaps Obama's influence will persuade Steph to set aside distractions and complete his college degree.
In the Atlantic's April cover story, Jeffrey Goldberg interviews President Obama about his foreign policy philosophy and ultimately, its lasting legacy. [more inside]
At 11am Eastern time, President Obama will nominate Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, to the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is a centrist who was previously considered by the President for SCOTUS nomination in 2010, during the selection process which gave us Justice Sotomayor. He is reportedly "well known, well respected, and tremendously well liked in Washington legal circles; even Republicans have nice things to say about him." [more inside]
"Law enforcement must be legally able to collect information ..." – Barack Obama, at sxsw. (Full video of talk.) Contrary to the official change.gov agenda item of "Safeguard our right to Privacy," President Obama has come out in favor of law enforcement. This comes at the heels of an article stating that NSA intercepts will be shared with other intelligence agencies, bypassing parallel construction.
On Monday, the cast of Broadway's Hamilton will be going to the White House today to test a pilot version of its educational program as well as perform a concert of “Hamiltunes” for the kids and the First Family. [more inside]
President Obama announces his intent to nominate Dr. Carla Hayden as the next Librarian of Congress. Dr. Hayden would be the first-ever professional librarian in the position. She is currently CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, served as President of the American Library Association from 2003-2004, and she was the first African-American to receive the Library Journal's Librarian of the Year Award. She began her career with the Chicago Public Library in 1973. [more inside]
For the moment, the fate of the Clean Power Plan — and the question of just how capable the United States is of self-governance — remains uncertain. The Supreme Court ordered the Plan to be temporarily halted, most likely until the Court hands down an opinion on the legality of the Plan in June of 2017. If the Plan survives the next presidential election, and if it is ultimately upheld by the Court, then Tuesday’s order will only succeed in delaying the new rules. If the Court ultimately strikes down the Plan, however, the United States could be left impotent in the face of a looming catastrophe — and not just with respect to this particular catastrophe. The states challenging the Clean Power Plan call for sweeping changes to the balance of power between the regulator and the regulated. Indeed, if some of their most aggressive arguments succeed, it’s unclear that the federal government is permitted to do much of anything at all.-Ian Millhiser for ThinkProgress, "Inside The Most Important Supreme Court Case In Human History"
Tonight at 9 p.m. ET President Obama will give his final State of the Union address. (Barring unexpected developments.) He is expected to reflect on his legacy in office and also look towards the future with the same optimistic viewpoint which has always been a signature of his political identity. [more inside]
"Over the past seven years, Americans have heard an awful lot about Barack Obama and his presidency, but the actual substance of his domestic policies and their impact on the country remain poorly understood. He has engineered quite a few quiet revolutions—and some of his louder revolutions are shaking up the status quo in quiet ways. "
Obama as Literary Critic by Edward Mendelson [The New York Review of Books]
“Recently, while writing an essay on T.S. Eliot for The New York Review, I read or reread the work of many earlier critics, and was impressed most by two of them. One was Frank Kermode, who was ninety when he wrote, in 2010, one of his greatest essays, “Eliot and the Shudder,” [London Review of Books] a breathtakingly wide-ranging and sharply-focused piece about Eliot’s unique response to the common experience of shuddering. The other was a twenty-two-year-old college senior named Barack Obama, who wrote about Eliot in a letter to his girlfriend, Alexandra McNear, when she had been assigned to write a paper on The Waste Land for a college course.”[more inside]
Comedians in cars getting coffee. A great episode, 1963 Corvette Stingray. Oh, yeah...and the POTUS.
Aretha Franklin wows at the Kennedy Center Honors (SLYT) If you think the Queen of Soul has lost a step or two, let this two-minute video from the recent Kennedy Center Honors prove you wrong. The best part? As one Facebook poster declared, 'Mother was like "lemme slide through, put my purse down, keep my fur on and slay this real quick.' [more inside]
Here's the Deal: The Text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by Barack Obama - "In other words, the TPP means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century." (PDFs; previously) [more inside]
The Drone Papers-The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars. [more inside]
President Obama & Marilynne Robinson: A Conversation in Iowa. "It seems to me as if democracy is the logical, the inevitable consequence of this kind of religious humanism at its highest level. And it [applies] to everyone. It’s the human image. It’s not any loyalty or tradition or anything else; it’s being human that enlists the respect, the love of God being implied in it."
Multinational agreement reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty. Representatives of a dozen nations agreed on the TPP, a wide-ranging trade agreement for the Pacific region, excluding China. Years of discussion and months of intensive negotiating led to this consensus. Opposition continues, based on a wide range of issues. [more inside]
President Obama recently made a somewhat historical visit to the State of Alaska. While there, he posted a travelogue, met an adorable husky puppy, talked about the very real threat of climate change, but mostly just got jiggy with it.
Mount McKinley Will Again Be Called Denali [New York Times]
President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, restoring an Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance to the tallest mountain in North America. The move came on the eve of Mr. Obama’s trip to Alaska, where he will spend three days promoting aggressive action to combat climate change, and is part of a series of steps meant to address the concerns of Alaska Native tribes. The central Alaska mountain has been called Mount McKinley for more than a century. In announcing that Sally Jewell, the secretary of the interior, had used her power to rename it, Mr. Obama was paying tribute to the state’s Native population, which has referred to the site for generations as Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one.”
Britain built an empire on the slave trade. Germany perpetrated the greatest genocide in human history. Who says the Islamic State won’t be a U.S. ally someday?
The White House released two Spotify playlists of songs on Friday morning, one for day and one for night, that were hand-picked by President Barack Obama. [more inside]
Mark Lawson Unpacks President Obama's Summer Reading Picks [The Guardian]
Barack Obama has reached the stage of his administration when plans are being made for the construction in Chicago of the Presidential library that former American leaders get to set up in their memory. But, before that, he – or his aides – have also had to think about a smaller library: the shelf of books that the American people are told their leader plans to read on his summer vacation.[more inside]
President Obama’s Letter to the Editor [New York Times]
For the cover story of our Aug. 2 issue, Jim Rutenberg wrote about efforts over the last 50 years to dismantle the protections in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [previously], the landmark piece of legislation that cleared barriers between black voters and the ballot. The story surveyed a broad sweep of history and characters, from United States Chief Justice John Roberts to ordinary citizens like 94-year-old Rosanell Eaton, a plaintiff in the current North Carolina case arguing to repeal voting restrictions enacted in 2013. The magazine received an unusual volume of responses to this article, most notably from President Barack Obama.
It will be Barack Obama’s first visit to the land of his father as American president and a far cry from a 1988 trip when his luggage got lost. Obama will be visiting only Kenya and Ethiopia. Yet each is the base for two Africa-wide trends. In Ethiopia, he will give a speech at the headquarters of the 54-nation African Union, the main body trying to lift the standards of governance among its members. But the White House appears more focused on Kenya, which is Africa’s center of innovation and host to a global “summit” of entrepreneurs.
President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, announces new overtime regulations. The rule change proposed by the Department of Labor would raise the salary threshold of workers covered by overtime to $50,400, from $23,660. [more inside]
Jim Obergefell and John Arthur had been together nearly two decades when John was stricken by terminal ALS. With their union unconstitutional in Ohio, the couple turned to friends and family to fund a medical flight to Maryland, where they wed, tearfully, on the tarmac [prev.]. After John's death, however, Jim found himself embroiled in an ugly legal battle with his native state over the right to survivor status on John's death certificate -- a fight he eventually took all the way to the Supreme Court. And that's how this morning -- two years after U.S. v. Windsor, a dozen after Lawrence v. Texas, and at the crest of an unprecedented wave of social change -- the heartbreaking case of Obergefell v. Hodges has at long last rendered same-sex marriage legal nationwide in a 5-4 decision lead by Justice Anthony Kennedy. [more inside]
Jennicet Gutiérrez writes for the Washington Blade on being removed from the White House last night after interrupting President Obama's speech during an LGBT Pride celebration. [more inside]
• 1.47 Gigapixel panorama of Barack Obama's 2009 Inaugural Address • 4-Gigapixel panorama of the surface of Mars • 34-Gigapixel panorama of Prague • 152-Gigapixel panorama of Rio de Janiero taken from Sugarloaf • 272-Gigapixel panorama of Shanghai • 320-Gigapixel panorama of London • Currently the largest: this 365-Gigapixel panorama of Mont Blanc. [story] • GigaPan has a wide variety of panoramas in their gallery. • Blakeway Gigapixel specializes in sports stadiums in full attendance (where you can tag people you recognize) and National Parks sites like the Grand Canyon
Key & Peele's Luther the Anger Translator juxtaposed Obama's calm demeanor with the stereotypical "angry black man." Not seen as much since the Romney debates, Luther is back. But Obama doesn't need Luther anymore.
"For the sake of argument, here are the best and most reasonable ways to improve [the White House Correspondent's Dinner]." [more inside]
Jessica T. Matthews reviews Henry Kissinger's "World Order" and Bret Stephen's "America In Retreat":
Almost from the beginning of its history, America has struggled to find a balance in its foreign policy between narrowly promoting its own security and idealistically serving the interests of others; between, as we’ve tended to see it in shorthand, Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick and the ideals of Woodrow Wilson. Just as consistently, the US has gone through periods of embracing a leading international role for itself and times when Americans have done all they could to turn their backs on the rest of the world. Two new books now join this never-ending debate.[more inside]
Obamacare turned 5 years old this week and the overall negative popular opinion on the legislation is starting to be replaced by positive experiences. GOP Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) found this out to her chagrin when she posted an image on her official Facebook page, slamming the Affordable Care Act and asking constituents to share their Obamacare nightmare stories. The response probably wasn't what she expected.