But where is he finding the time to drill deep into these alt-country albums? At least one ToC writer would donate a week's pay to charity to get a look at his personal Spotify history, but for now, let's just ask the rest of these questions Dwight Schrute style:. Question : Who is informing Obama's musical diet? And from there, who introduced him to a something singer-songwriter from Mammoth Springs, Ark.? Question : If he watched her sing "Girl Goin' Nowhere" live, did he cry like most people?
Question : Does he relate? Where there people in his early life who held him back, and does he carry a chip on his shoulder still to this day? Question : So, if he's a fan of Anderson East, how much did he keep tabs on his love affair with Miranda Lambert that ended when she reportedly started dating Evan Felker, who had reportedly ditched his own wife for Lambert? We could go on for literally minutes. What does the president think of the women in country music issue? Does he have a favorite Top 40 country artist? If he tells us he's an Eric Church fan, we'll write him in in It's possible that Obama or his people may discover this list of SeriousJournalist inquiries, and should he want to answer a few, he can slide into our DMs at tasteofCountry on Twitter and Instagram or email us at staff tasteofcountry.
Crazier things have happened, right? January of is when you really needed to have started those investigations. But if you think back to what was going on at that time, you can see why they think it would have been insane to do so. We had just put hundreds of billions of dollars into the banks to keep them from failing! If it got out that the Department of Justice was now investigating those institutions, it could have been completely destabilizing, and you would have just undermined the entire bailout. Partly this might be because they think they got away with it.
We now have a banking system full of convicted felons. In the end, what was TARP supposed to do?
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Restore lending and help homeowners. I remember senior Treasury officials yelling at me about this. They said that if we were to ask the banks what they did with the money, then we would risk destroying the banking system. Do I blame Obama? I think it was born of a belief handed down from the titans of Wall Street: At the end of the day, the crisis was caused by a bunch of greedy homeowners, and they should hand the money over to the banks and it would all work out.
And it did work out, for the banks. Illustration by Lauren Tamaki. Nothing ages more quickly or brutally than a piece of entertainment that was revolutionary for its moment. The tart-tongued Kurt Hummel, played by actor Chris Colfer who astonishingly for TV was actually a teenager , was femme, high-voiced, fashion-obsessed, lonely, special. At least as significantly, Glee forced its largely non-gay, non-kid audience to confront the existence and the struggles of queer children in a sustained way.
In that, the show accomplished something television can do better than almost any other medium—it normalized a conversation. Savage understood that if one role of entertainment is to kick down a barrier, the job of activism is to make sure it never gets rebuilt. And in ten years, some of them will run for local, state, and national office. The first woman to argue a case before the Supreme Court did so in It would take another years for a woman to sit on that bench rather than stand before it.
Even then, progress was fitful. But there was something antiquated, practically mutton-choppy, about that portrait. Then President Obama proposed, for the first time in history, that a Latina help interpret the legal cases that flummoxed everyone else. Also like Obama, she was raised by a single mother. If you can watch the two Sotomayors embrace with dry eyes, you are doing better than nearly everyone else in that room.
Obama explained that he had been in the market for empathy, a word that to some ears sounded, will always sound, dangerously like activism. That would be, on one occasion or another, The jury remains out on whether there is such a creature as female jurisprudence; surely justice should be no more gendered than a shapeless black gown. It has, however, been argued that women tend to reason more holistically and with an increased tolerance for gray.
Whether or not they introduce more compromise into the courtroom, they necessarily introduce a different perspective. Here is a disorienting thought: What if someone who has actually had an abortion were called on to rule on the legality of one? How many female justices would be sufficient? Nine, says Justice Ginsburg, noting that no one ever raised an eyebrow at the idea of nine men. LB : But it was also the first huge celebrity death to happen in the age of social media, or at least the age of Twitter.
Frank Guan : In a lot of ways, the culture prefers the death of artists to their continuing to live. They run out of timely or groundbreaking material and the audience starts tuning out. At some point, their fame eclipses their art, and then the only way to get the general audience to appreciate them anew is for them to die. LB : People seem to like the grieving process so much that even lesser celebrities get the same treatment.
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In a secular society, we want to guarantee that at least someone will have an afterlife. Also, death is a one-time-only thing. There were enormous changes. For example, General Motors had something like different job classifications that the union had. And we wiped all that stuff out. We basically gave back management the freedom to manage, to hire, to fire. People stopped getting paid even when they were on layoff.
The Pakistani government report later said he was a civilian. The dead numbered around Some were apparently Taliban members, but none were major leaders. And none were Mehsud. Roughly nine people were killed and another four wounded. Their identities were never announced, though a Pakistani official said some of the dead had belonged to the Taliban. The commander died, along with at least four other inhabitants. As villagers recovered the bodies, CIA personnel dispatched their drones to the nearest town, anticipating that the funeral would be held the same afternoon.
Hours later, officials in Virginia watched on TV screens as mourners chanted around the burial site and the missiles began to fall, three altogether. In the end, dozens of bystanders were killed, perhaps as many as 86 — but not Mehsud. By one account, he was receiving an IV drip for his diabetes; by another, a woman was massaging his legs. CIA personnel, watching the video in real time, ordered a strike, and two Hellfire missiles from a Predator incinerated the house.
His wife, father-in-law and mother-in-law, a lieutenant, and seven bodyguards were also killed in the blast.
The hand-launched Raven surveillance drone, which flies at feet at 50 mph. The ScanEagle , also for surveillance, flies higher, at up to 19, feet, at 90 mph. The RQ-7B Shadow , which operates at 18, feet at mph. The armed MQ-1 Predator , which can travel to about 25, feet and fly at mph. The armed MQ-9 Reaper , which flies at 30, feet at mph. A Taliban attack in Kabul kills 17 people and injures 83; Cuban officials complain the U. The next morning, he will learn he has won the Nobel Peace Prize.
If I have to buy a pair of shoes, then I have to eat ramen noodles for dinner. I still apply. Every day is a gamble with my health. Struggling builds character. But at the end of the process, you feel that your voice was heard. For the surge in Afghanistan, there was an enormous amount of pressure to make a decision. There were all kinds of numbers being floated around in the press, lots of unfortunate leaks. This might have been a day or two before the election, but the point is: There is no doubt that we did not stay on top of that the way we needed to.
This underscored a failing in my first year, which was the sort of perverse faith in good policy leading to good politics. Is the auto industry going to collapse? Will layoffs accelerate? It was better to go ahead and push through and then show that we had gotten something done that was really important to the American people. But I give Nancy and Harry and a whole lot of Democrats enormous credit. It was one of those moments where a lot of people did the right thing even though the politics of it were bad. For all its warts and all the mistakes that any political party makes — including catering to the interest groups that help get people elected — the truth is that the ACA vote showed that when people had to do something they thought was right even if it was not going to be helpful to their reelection, the majority of Democrats were willing to do it.
Certainly Nancy and Harry were willing to do it. One thing that I had to learn fairly early on in the process is that you have to have a plan B. But we had begun to look at what other paths might be possible. Once we knew it was possible, then it was really just a matter of working Congress. A year later, when the left got irritated with me because of budget negotiations, there was always this contrast between Obama and LBJ, who really worked Congress.
But I tell you, those two weeks, that was full LBJ. Every day we were working Democrats, because at this point there was no prospect of us getting any Republicans. Poll numbers were rotten, people were angry. Good-government reforms have hamstrung an administration, which I think is for the most part for the best. The folks who I will always consider the real heroes of the ACA were the legislators, mostly younger and in swing districts, who had tough races and were just a great bunch of guys.
Three thousand years ago, confronted with the mysteries of the universe, the Greeks invented a pantheon of gods and assigned each of them power over the sky and ocean, over love and intelligence. To explain the unexplainable is the realm of mythology. So when America woke up to find that a black man from Planet Harvard with a Star Trek name was suddenly the president — the commander-in-chief! Thus the Obama Conspiracy Theory was born. Here are an even dozen:. The good news is the Obama-conspiracy period is unlikely to survive his presidency.
As Obama leaves office, one of the more painful memories is the recollection of all that talk of the post-racial society he was supposed to usher in. Now that was a real conspiracy theory. One small child wounded. Ah, damn. Oh, well. She needs to get evaced. We need your location, over. It was the first time where we learned how to work through that noise. Objectively, if you look back, we managed what was the largest environmental disaster in American history — at least on the continental United States — better than or as well as any administration ever has.
But in the midst of it there was this sense that things were completely out of control. The gap between the perception and the reality of what we were doing was stark. We were on top of this thing from the start. When it happened, we assigned all our best people from all our agencies to start working on it. What made it unique was that, to my chagrin and surprise, nobody had ever seen anything like this before. And we had to invent a way to solve it.
It came in very handy that I had a Nobel Prize—winning physicist as my Energy secretary. And he literally designed a little cap that essentially served as the specs for the construction of a mechanism to close the darn hole.
But that took three months. What you realized was the degree to which [it mattered that the] camera down there is showing the plume of oil coming out. We started having gallows humor about the pelican, that it seemed like they had one pelican that they showed over and over again, covered in oil. Staying focused and disciplined in moments where people — and certainly the press — are most likely to panic has overall served us well. Our hard-won reputation for good management took a well-deserved blow. That was dropping your left and getting socked in the jaw.
He likes to roll in style, comfort and convenience. His over-the-top idea in Paris that winter started as a limo timeshare service. I think his original pitch had me and him splitting the costs of a driver, a Mercedes S-Class, and a parking spot in a garage, so that I could use an iPhone app to get around San Francisco on-demand.
Tech bro lolz! And btw thanks for introducing surge pricing after the Chelsea bombing the other week. On a recent visit to Toronto, I was lucky enough to stay part of the week in a townhouse chosen through Airbnb, a quirky number in a surprising neighborhood that opened up the city in a way that three days at the DoubleTree by Hilton conspicuously failed to do.
Viewed through the lightest imaginative scrim we use to turn the quotidian into a kind of ongoing romantic-dramatic narrative, interactions with the so-called sharing economy have added value to my life in ways I never expected. The prevailing and largely correct narrative is about the isolation and dislocation wrought by the smartphone and social media, but societal trends inevitably provoke strong countertrends.
The explosion of DIY handcrafting of everything from beer to chocolate to butchering to the crap you find on Etsy likely would not have happened but as a back-to-the-farm reaction to the alienation of digital-only life. Likewise, the sharing economy has begun to allow us to grow back the connective social tissue that social media tore asunder. And the shift from communal work spaces like those offered by WeWork to communal, hostel-style living is already under way.
He was signing as a free agent with a team filled with really good friends, rather than the one that had criminally underpaid him and refused to sign any decent players to surround him with. Strange as it is to say, their careers ran in parallel. Before Obama gave his career-catapulting speech at the Democratic National Convention, reporter and later Obama biographer David Mendell asked if he was ready for his big moment. Obama smiled wide, Mendell later wrote.
I got some game. But at the time, LeBron was a year-old, still just a month out of his rookie season, figuring his way around a league that eyed the young phenom and all his hype warily. After all, if a skinny black kid with an awkward jumper could make it all the way to the White House, what else is possible? Is that too strong a word for you? BS : Reform would be to say that it is bad public policy when six financial institutions have assets equivalent to 57 percent of the GDP of the United States. That would be reform. In fact, the major banks are larger today than they were before Dodd-Frank.
FF : Okay, you like Obama. BS : This country is a lot better as a result of Obama, and he had to do that against fierce opposition. On the other hand, to my mind, the great issue of our time is the movement toward oligarchy. And that means the power of Wall Street, the power of corporate America, the power of the billionaire class to own the politics of this country. So we have made progress, but the fundamental issue of taking on the one percent and the greed of the billionaire class, that has not occurred.
Do you think that that misses the point? BS : The president appoints people. President Obama, in a big mistake, basically did what Republicans wanted and appointed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to chair a commission on the deficit crisis. So that tells you something. Still, the bottom line is: Today in America, the economy is in much better shape than when Obama first came in. He deserves credit. More people have health insurance, poverty is down. On the other hand, the angst of the moment is that people see this country moving into an oligarchic form of society — where we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality where the political system is being bought by Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers.
BS : Right. I think what the president had to do, which he chose not to do, is to make it clear that we have got to deal with the greed of the one percent of corporate America and Wall Street, that their practices cannot continue. That is an approach he has chosen not to take. In order to have real leverage going forward, he needed to scare the crap out of these guys on some level.
BS : In , he ran one of the great campaigns in the history of the United States. Brilliant campaign. Did he mobilize the energy and the coalition that he put together into a powerful political force which would have helped him fight for the change that this country needed? The answer is no. BS : Yeah, it is harder than you think to mobilize people. That is a true point.
Did he do everything that he could have? I think the answer is no, he did not. Rather than making the Republicans an offer they could not refuse because millions of people were standing behind him, he chose to sit down with Republicans and negotiate. I think his politics are not the politics of taking on these people. Americans are addicted to hope.
We think the world is infinitely malleable and that with enough pluck and elbow grease anything is possible.
Watch, read, and listen like Barack Obama with his best-of-2018 lists
We believe that everything and everyone can be redeemed, that the movie will always end with the hero walking away from the wreckage or the town cheering. We believe in conversions and getting a new life. We scoff at the ancient Stoic lesson that recognizing limits and living within them is the key to happiness. Limits are undemocratic, reality a construct. And tomorrow is another day. We bring the same attitude to politics. That and a very short memory. We spend the next two years stewing and blaming Washington and the media, encouraged to do so by Washington and the media.
And then, as the debates and primaries and conventions come round again, we forget all that and convince ourselves that this time the messiah really is coming. We are a nation of children. Barack Obama understood the power of hope — he campaigned on it. Even Bill Clinton, who ran as the man from Hope, did not have the audacity to present himself as the man heading for Hope.
It appears that Obama genuinely believed his own rhetoric.
But once elected, Obama did what grown-up politicians do: He got to work. He learned and talked to experts; he read documents and stayed up late. He was responsible. For this, he was punished. He raised expectations he could not meet, which just infuriated the kids, who kept pouting until Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders offered them ice cream. Even Shepard Fairey, the artist who designed his famous hope campaign poster, abandoned Obama for Sanders.
When, he wonders, will they ever grow up? The answer is never. Because we treat bowing to reality as a punishable offense, we are stuck in this cycle. There is no exit. Once an anxious friend who read his stories asked him whether he thought there was any hope in the world at all. Under the radar, they and their donor group poured money into races all over the country. Many of the ugly lies and slurs you see now were first trotted out in those midterm races. The single most important item the Koch network has obstructed is congressional action on climate change.
They and their allies represent the combined force of the fossil-fuel industry, and they have funded contrarian science that denies the reality of climate change. By spending strategically, they successfully killed efforts to put a price on carbon pollution — the so-called cap-and-trade bill — as well as many other efforts to help the country move toward alternative energy. The president told the New York Times recently that climate change is the most terrifying issue we face. The story of the economy in the Obama years is in many ways a tale of loose money.
Back in the grim autumn of , Chair Ben Bernanke took the most important weapon in his arsenal, the Fed-funds target rate, and slashed it all the way to zero — an unprecedented move and a clear signal of just how seriously he was taking the economic emergency. That move, along with three rounds of so-called quantitative easing, or QE, where the Fed pumped money into the financial markets by buying bonds, constituted the biggest and mightiest monetary-policy experiment ever undertaken: an unorthodox attempt by the Fed, along with other leading central banks, to prevent the collapse of the global economy.
There was one minuscule rate hike, of one-quarter of one percent, in December The effects of ZIRP and QE were wide-ranging and mostly felt in the prices of financial assets, like stocks, bonds, and real estate. For financial investors, the Obama years turned out exceptionally well. But really they have the central bank to thank, much more than the president. What if we had the singularity and nobody noticed? In , Barack Obama had been on the trail for weeks, using a BlackBerry like all the cool campaigners, when the new thing went on sale and throngs lined up for it. The new thing had a silly name: iPhone.
The iPhone was a phone the way the Trojan horse was a horse. At the Rio Olympics you could see people, having flown thousands of miles to be in the arena with the athletes, watching the action through their smartphones. As though they needed the mediating lens to make it real. This device, this gadget — a billion have been made and we scarcely know what to call it.
Contact lenses have been rumored; implants are only a matter of time. Silicon passes carbon in the life-form sweepstakes. You may consider this an apocalypse or an awakening, according to taste. Machinery that takes over our biological functions may serve us, like prosthetics, expanding and amplifying our humanity, but not everyone feels expanded or amplified.
With every gain comes a loss — memory being the first to go. Amnesiacs with prosthetic memory.
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We become sidewalk zombies, downward facing, oblivious to our immediate fellows and the storefronts past which we glide. We resemble wraiths. Still, the zombies are often smiling — evidently chatting or texting with invisible spirits who are, after all, just other humans. Before, the internet was just a place we visited.
Now we seem to have moved in. That is the true purpose of the magic box. So, sure, call it a fancy phone. A mini-camera. An electronic commodity, a status object, a bit of bling. But in a short few years, it has changed what it means to be human. ADAM PLATT: Many things in Foodlandia, these days, have a political element to them, and if you want to emblazon a flag to be carried into battle, you could do worse than a bristly, semi-digestible bunch of locally grown kale.
AP: The idea of kale is much more powerful than kale itself. In short order it went from being discovered, to appreciated, to being something that was parodied. AS: The same thing happened to pork. Remember bacon peanut brittle? Bacon-fat cocktails? AP: Ahhh, bacon versus kale. The two great, competing forces of our time. AS: Do you think one gave way to the other? Bacon is the great symbol in the comfort-food, farm-fresh-dining movement, a kind of merry, unbridled pulchritude.
AS: But pork has an advantage: People like the way it tastes. All the bridesmaids have come to the fancy bridal shop to see Maya Rudolph try on wedding dresses. This should be a familiar scene: The bride emerges from the changing room and … This is the dress! The friends clap. The mother cries. Everyone is a princess. Go ahead and twirl! But when the bride emerges in Bridesmaids, almost all of her friends have started to feel sick. Sweat coats their skin.
Red splotches creep over their faces. It starts with a gag from Melissa McCarthy, followed by another gag. Then a gag that comes simultaneously with a tiny wet fart. We breathe a sigh of relief. Then sweet Ellie Kemper gags, and the sound effect is surprisingly nasty. They look bad.
They are embarrassed. How far is this going to go? Wendi McLendon-Covey wet-farts quietly, and the manager is horrified. Now we get another fart from Melissa. This one is deeper and darker. Kristen Wiig stares at Rose Byrne, as both women realize how serious this could be. Wendi tells everyone she has to get off the white carpet. She runs to the bathroom. The bridesmaids follow. This must be where it ends.
Suddenly, we are in the bathroom, running alongside Wendi as she races for the toilet. We barely have time to react, when Melissa runs in after her. The camera pans up fast to see her desperation. We are watching a war now. I need the toilet! It will be funny, and then it will be over. That is the limit of our imagination. We cut wide again to see the bathroom. Why are we in such a wide shot? Melissa knocks the Kleenexes and towels off the bathroom counter. And then … she starts to hike up her dress.
This is the moment. Change for women in this country has come in many forms. Some change is big and loud and hard-won and can be put in writing. Some change is as small and simple as a handshake. Melissa McCarthy starts to hike up her dress. She hoists her body up onto the sink. She is fully on top of the sink now. The kicker. The cherry on top. The camera cuts. We are above now.
We look down from a safe perch as the release we have been anticipating and dreading begins. A woman has just pooped in a sink. The revolution has begun. I think they both shared a belief in the art of the possible, and they both did not think compromise was a dirty word. When our cover was blown — a Wall Street Journal editorial came out saying that Boehner and Obama were working on this and attacking the whole premise — that was devastating.
It resulted in Cantor being a part of the talks. Paul Ryan said if we do this deal, it will guarantee your reelection. If we agree with Barack Obama on spending and taxes, that takes away one of our big weapons. That conversation was quite illuminating. Both parties like their daggers. That was the dance. There was a moment in time where they had the outlines of an agreement and we went off to fill in some additional details between the two staffs pursuant to a meeting that had occurred on a Sunday morning at the White House. We shipped them some paperwork Sunday night.
Monday — nothing. I literally probably had a couple hundred hours of private meetings at my home with them. One of the problems, though, is that old bad joke: What happens when the dog catches the bus? Well, they caught the bus in But we spent an awful lot of time in detailed, detailed discussions about how to deal with everything from the potential for a government shutdown in to the budget deal in to the fiscal cliff in and beyond.
Not a single thing leaked out of those discussions, and we went through the budget literally line by line — where would they be willing to raise revenue? Could they, for example, raise revenue by eliminating the tax cuts for small aircraft that are not taxed the same as commercial airlines? It got that detailed. We would shake hands and have a deal. Illustrations by Lauren Tamaki. And the very next year, I was one of the most hated men in America.
What I remember from my show is the fact that I did get an opportunity to warn people of what could be over the horizon. I was trying to teach them the history of our country and the Founding Fathers. They would be horrified by his policies and by everything he says.
But because he has an R after his name, they suddenly accept it and hold him up as the great savior. And I was worried our country was hurtling toward a disastrous, self-inflicted economic crisis. That morning, when it became clear the vote was going to be close, my husband, Mark, and I knew we needed to get to Washington quickly. I went straight from my rehabilitation appointment to the airport, and Mark was at our house in Houston packing our bags so he could meet us at the plane.
That night, I remember seeing the Capitol for the first time since I was injured and feeling so grateful to be at work. I will never forget the reception I received on the floor of the House from my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats. And then, like I had so many times before, I voted.
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After I resigned from Congress to continue my recovery, and Mark retired from the U. Navy and NASA, we hoped to have a second chance at service. We wondered what our path might be.
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The tragedy at Sandy Hook gave us the answer. There is a sea change happening in the movement to prevent gun tragedies. Groups like ours are finally helping to bring some balance back to the politics of this issue; no longer does the gun lobby have the playing field to itself. I worked so hard to get my speech back, and honestly, talking to people who share my determination helped me find my words again. Best of all, I got back on my bike. Riding my bike once seemed like such a huge challenge. It seemed impossible. It was a nice tactic on their part—they set up a meeting in the Great Hall of the People with more press than I thought lived in China.
All the financial reporters came too because Biden was going to get his comeuppance: Man, the United States was downgraded for the first time. I walked in, and Hu was being very smart. He looked at me and said he thought America would come back and that they wanted to be able to help, but he wanted to be sure their investments in our Treasury bills were secure.
I went and saw him in midst of that at the White House. We went down to the basketball court. He went off on vacation shortly after that and he spent a lot of time thinking about how to come out of this and fight his way back. On September 17, , three years after the financial crisis and the dawn of the Great Recession, there was every reason to believe that public attention to bank fraud, massive foreclosures, executive wealth, and middle-class debt had come to an end — if it had ever really begun.
While the city and the current owners bickered over who should eject the unwanted public, they built a library, a free canteen, a sleeping village, a drum corps, and a media center, and held a twice-daily town meeting to deliberate the running and political purpose of their Occupation. It was, more or less, a working model of real democracy, steps from where the Bill of Rights had been adopted, in the heart of the financialized fake Manhattan that had paved democracy over.
The sitting and talking of a few hundred, then many thousands, of people, in Manhattan and then at sites across the United States and Europe, for about two months accomplished several things. It pushed media, not very skillful with abstractions, to focus on long-known truths about the redistribution of wealth upward to the richest one percent.
Historians are obligated to use positive data: unemployment reports, foreclosure peaks, homicides eyewitnessed and livestreamed. But those of us who lived through it can insist on the importance of mood, of atmosphere, and of silence. There was the belief, at the election in and after, that even though Obama propped up the big banks in the Great Recession, he was going to save the rest of us, too. He would prosecute wrongdoers, at least, or halt foreclosures and fraud. A three-year lag. And there was a belief in that Obama, in his second term, would now have the political safety to launch measures to save African-Americans specifically — to deliver the country from the era that threw people in jail for practically nothing and shot them for black skin and a justified fear of the cops.
A two-year lag. Yet its curious effect was primarily to set the stage, through caution and blocked action, for an upsurge of genuine social movements that began from his absences. Perhaps the old community organizer knew that for a real democracy, citizens must do things for themselves. That winter and going into , we began raising rounds pretty quickly. At one point, we were growing at new people every two weeks in the Chicago office.
So you would come in and not only would your desk be gone, but that entire wall would be missing. We did pranks for our own employees, just so they were excited to come to work every day. We got accustomed to things like that. You were wondering what fun, crazy things happened. Every day we would share by email different success stories of merchants whose businesses we had saved. I remember there was one about us saving a zoo, where this woman had a llama farm and she was going out of business.
We put her on Groupon, and suddenly she was booked for six months. I would wake up ina cold sweat and think: Oh, maybe I have a cold. Oh my God, it was difficult for me to go into a crowd. I isolated myself. After I left work I stayed in my condo. Total-shutdown mode. I was angry at everything. It could have been ants walking across my coffee table. I was angry because my dog Rocsi was wagging her tail. Of course I was angry that — why was I chosen to go back the second time? I mean, you got me in , then you sent me again in ?
When I got home, I was back working in a hospital. For years, I thought I was doing well. I was still functioning as a mom. Then, in , my daughters were gone and I had nobody else to worry about. Graduating from a liberal-arts college in meant finding yourself cast in a bleak comedy and realizing quickly that no one felt all that sorry for you. She was also someone with an HBO series, as opposed to a self-involved intern with a half-finished manuscript.
From the beginning, the volume of analysis the show generated threatened to overwhelm the show itself. What did Girls mean for millennials? Why was the cast on the first season so white, and so populated by the children of famous people? Dunham went through the ringer of creating pop culture in the era of social media as few others had before: Girls gave her a platform just as more people than ever could publicly question who got such platforms, and why, and how they used them.
She knew that daytime calls signaled an emergency. The worst one had come the previous year, when her sister told her ICE agents had placed their father in federal custody. Garcia was attending Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, when her father was marched out of her childhood home. But this call was different. Undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the United States as children could apply for Social Security numbers and work permits. Garcia qualified: Her parents had brought her to this country when she was 7 years old. DACA transformed her into a premed student who could actually become a doctor.
And those hundreds of thousands of immigrants are outnumbered by the approximately 2. The daughter is poised to join the U. The father was caught up in a policy that has expelled almost as many immigrants as the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations combined. At first, President Obama saw this as a necessary first step to immigration reform. He came to the attention of ICE agents after they combed through the personnel records at the carpet factory where he worked. He is required to periodically check in with ICE authorities, however, and had to wear an ankle bracelet for several months.
His deportation is still a live possibility. There were moments during the Obama years when the Garcias thought they might be able to come out of the shadows, just like their daughter. After the election, the administration pushed hard for immigration reform; it passed the Senate but never received a vote in the House.
In , Obama tried to expand the DACA program to include undocumented parents of children who are citizens. The Garcias would have qualified, because their youngest daughter was born in the U. The Supreme Court deadlocked on its constitutionality this past June. A man told me that he had a son with multiple sclerosis, and he and his wife were always worried that if something happened to them, and they no longer could use their health insurance to cover him, what would happen to their son? And now they could rest easy. I also felt extremely privileged to have the opportunity to play this role in history.
Some of the political folks in the White House were wary because it was in the spring of an election year — and their concern was that Obamacare could be parodied or tarred as just a big tax. But the president made a judgment back then that we ought to include an argument about the tax power, and he basically never looked back. When I became the solicitor general, I increased the focus and attention on the tax argument. It became a bigger part of our briefs. We argued it in more detail.
We added some important precedents into the analysis, and we just gave it more emphasis, more oomph, in the Supreme Court, than when it was in the lower courts. It took a lot of work to get it on the table, but eventually I did. It was an example of trying to craft legal arguments in the recognition that in order to prevail, we needed to secure the votes of one or more justices who were jurisprudentially conservative and who were skeptical about the broad exercise of federal-government power. The border of West Virginia and Ohio is full Appalachia, deep football country.
In the back of the car and at that party, they pushed a penis in her mouth, forced their fingers inside her, ripped off her shirt. And they took photos and videos of it all, which made their way from texts to Twitter and to Facebook and soon to the national media.
Hormones and alcohol and all that! The football team went undefeated last season. It was the same education agenda that had proliferated across the country since Undoubtedly, in the years that followed, the teachers have won the PR war. From Brooklyn to Baton Rouge, battalions of teachers and parents have since joined forces against so-called corporate school reform.
Perhaps the only area of agreement among rural tea-partyers and gentrifying urban hipsters — both on their respective upswings in the s — is the venality of the Obama-backed Common Core standards. If Obama lost public opinion, though, he and his supporters won the policy war. For all the red solidarity T-shirts, charter schools in urban areas continue to proliferate, traditional public schools continue to be closed, and standardized tests live on. The Common Core? Once upon a time, a willingness to look for love online was considered a sign of insanity or desperation.
But internet dating never really lost its stigma as a last recourse for loners and crazy perverts until it migrated from computers to phones and got rebranded as the kind of game you could play with friends at a bar. Sort of like Erotic Photo Hunt, but with the possibility of actual sex. We had armed him with a joke — it was his 20th anniversary, and he addressed Michelle — and it turns out Romney was expecting just such a line and had a really great comeback.
Obama looked like he was at a press conference. When we went down to Williamsburg, Virginia, for the next debate camp, he seemed really eager to engage in the prep. We had a decent first night. That was on Saturday. On Sunday night, [John] Kerry, playing Romney, got a little more aggressive and Obama a little less so; it looked very much like what we had seen in Denver.
A few of us basically had an intervention the next morning, and he was very, very candid. I have to prepare in a different way. After that conversation, he came back and just worked really hard, question by question. He did what he hates to do, which is to kind of script himself. And when we got up the next morning and we were getting ready to go, he had outlined 14 of the most likely questions on one sheet of paper, front and back, with his own notes of how he was going to handle it.
When we went to see him in his locker room before the second debate at Hofstra University, he was sitting, and on the table was this sheet of paper. Again, we knew within the first ten minutes that he was right. He just completely absorbed what he wanted to do, and he nailed it. It was really the first time that I worked closely with him that he experienced failure on a large stage. On the way to the third debate, when he was really very confident, he reflected on what happened in Denver and he said the hardest thing about it was traveling around after and seeing all these young volunteers who were keeping a stiff upper lip to encourage him.
In , no state allowed for the legal sale of weed. Now four do, and after November, another five could well join them. The number of states allowing medical marijuana has doubled, from 12 to So has the percentage of adults who say they smoke marijuana, from 7 to 13 percent, just in the last three years alone. In the early s, it was a tiny-minority position within a tiny minority. In the s, when support for gay marriage was a mere 27 percent, a Democratic president signed the Defense of Marriage Act.
When Obama became president, only two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, allowed same-sex couples to marry. But by , that had increased to five, including Iowa. By , it was By , it was 36 — and then, a year later, Over 60 percent of the country now supports marriage equality — and 40 percent of Republicans do. Why were these two issues different from all the others?
Notably, Obama never openly campaigned for either. He dismissed legalization of marijuana with a condescending chuckle in his reelection campaign. This year, in a classic Obama straddle, his DEA continued to insist that cannabis remain a Schedule I drug — more dangerous than many of the addictive opioids devastating America — but simultaneously opened up marijuana research.
That crucial element of federalism allowed Republicans to acquiesce in something they would otherwise ferociously oppose at a national level. But most important, both issues could be seen as both conservative measures as well as liberal ones. Conservatives who believe in individual freedom already had one foot in the legal-weed camp, and those who had spent the previous few decades lauding the social benefits of civil marriage found it somewhat awkward to suddenly insist that those same values did not apply to gays.
Neither measure required government itself to do much or spend anything ; government just had to get out of the way. Support for both phenomena also transcended the usual demographic polarities. And with gays, every family, red and blue, turns out to have them. Fazio Sr. Kennison Jr. Montgomery Sr. Depayne V. Daniel Simmons Sr. Rios Jr. Next one! But binge-watching as an alternate method of consuming culture truly came of age a year later, on February 1, It made little sense — for starters, no one had seen even a single episode, so who, exactly, was clamoring for instant access to all 13?
Not to mention that, while viewers no longer tended to watch everything at the same time, they did tend to gravitate to social media to buzz about their favorite episodes every week. How could anyone buzz when everyone is watching a different episode? The tactic seemed not only nonsensical but counterintuitive. Instead, it was revolutionary. Netflix based the choice largely on internal data about how people watched old shows on Netflix. So why not offer the same option for a brand-new show?
As often happens with technical innovation, creative repercussions followed. TV creators can now assume a different kind of attention from their audience. The way-before-its-time show Arrested Development , stuffed full of inside jokes and Easter eggs that thwarted weekly network audiences, turned out to be perfectly suited to the streaming environment. The coy weekly striptease of network TV now seems quaintly anachronistic, and TV as a whole feels less like an all-you-can-eat buffet of delights than like the overkill of the apocryphal Roman vomitoria.
Of course, as in every feminist golden age, there has also been dissent: furious clashes over the direction and quality of the discourse, especially as the movement has become increasingly trendy, shiny, and celebrity-backed. Perhaps the most public feminist conflagration of the Obama years came at the nexus of policy and celebrity, of politics and pop power. The book, which tackled the variety of social and psychological traps laid for women in the contemporary workplace, was an instant best seller. But the critical resistance, both to the often misunderstood messages Sandberg was sending and to her unlikely perch as a feminist spokesperson, was loud and fierce.
Sandberg, many noted, was a wildly wealthy woman, and in urging women to reform themselves rather than the systems — from the gendered and racial pay gap to the lack of paid leave and subsidized child care — that left them with less power than their male counterparts, she was simply adding to the pressures they faced, blaming them in some way for their own inequitable predicament.