The Barack Obama Presidency: A Two Year Assessment

Presidency of Barack Obama
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It may be demographics, or baby boomers ageing out of the workforce; or it may be people simply giving up on finding suitable work. Much of the recovery in jobs has been in the service industry or healthcare; manufacturing jobs are still disappearing overseas or making way for robots. The US economy has avoided yet another cycle of boom and bust under Obama, but growth has been anemic. That said, the economy bounced back from the recession stronger and faster than its counterparts in Europe, after avoiding the austerity measures initially so popular across that continent.

Obama also saw off the possibility of another major crisis in the financial sector with tough new rules on Wall Street in the Dodd-Frank Act. Now that Trump is promising to free the forces of capitalism once more — axing Dodd-Frank and cutting regulations — faster times may be ahead. But we all know what follows boom. Dominic Rushe. His two election campaigns made scant mention of climate change, and yet he leaves the White House insisting the world faces no greater threat than it.

The final flurry of action was significant. The deal, while still imperfect, was signed and ratified within a year. The task remains daunting but the failures of Kyoto and Copenhagen have been banished. Domestically, Obama tried and failed to implement a cap-and-trade system to lower emissions and instead turned to direct regulation of coal-fired power plants. While the plan is tangled in the courts, other executive actions to limit methane leaks, improve vehicle fuel efficiency and get the vast federal bureaucracy to take climate change seriously have proved effective.

Ultimately, market forces have helped him — the plunging cost of solar, wind and gas has helped hasten the demise of coal. He also, just before Christmas, moved to permanently ban new oil and gas drilling in most US-owned waters in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, a last-ditch effort to lock in environmental protections before he hands over to Donald Trump.

Obama only half-joked that he, not Teddy Roosevelt, should be known as the conservationist president. Glaring problems remain. The Flint water crisis is just the thin edge of tolerated environmental pollution that has been allowed to fester due to years of neglect. American towns and cities are increasingly lashed by storms and floods and baked by drought due to climate change, yet there lacks a bipartisan plan to prepare the country or even admit the problem.

Health issues caused roughly half of bankruptcy filings. Cancer patients were dropped from insurance because of lifetime benefit caps. Catastrophic insurance seemed not to cover catastrophes. Financial ruin, for many, was one diagnosis away. What Congress instead approved was a compromise between government and industry: Americans would be required to buy health insurance , delivering new and healthy customers to the industry.

But the industry had to drop some of its most hated practices such as lifetime benefit caps, denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and selling shoddy insurance for catastrophic accidents. It was the first social safety net created in more than 50 years.

The law was a legacy-maker. Taxes on the rich improved Medicare , the government-run program for the elderly. And federally subsidized state marketplaces provided a transparency for individuals and small businesses to compare insurance, and purchase it at subsidized rates. Together, the changes provided health insurance to 22 million Americans. To pay for popular provisions, the law requires Americans to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty, and controversially expanded contraception coverage for women. All this, plus pushing the bill through a Democrat-controlled Congress, outraged Republicans.

Congressional opponents attempted to dismantle the law in the US supreme court , and passed dozens of repeal laws.

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But at no time have threats to the law been greater than now. As Obama leaves office, new data shows that people are signing up for insurance more than ever before, though the health system he helped create is still imperfect. An opioid epidemic leaves more than 30, dead each year; the public is outraged at prescription drug price hikes ; and companies can still shift thousands of dollars onto consumers in the forms of co-payments and deductibles.

But if Republicans make good on promises to repeal the ACA , Americans could be in for a fast, painful, health policy education. Jessica Glenza. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize nine months into his presidency, at a time when his main achievements had been aspirational speeches about the Middle East and nuclear proliferation. It was hard to escape the suspicion the new president was made a premature Nobel laureate chiefly for not being George W Bush.

It drew heavily on a lesson of the Iraq invasion — that US military interventions, fuelled by hubris and ignorance, can make fraught situations abroad far worse. 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.

President Barack Obama's Legacy: 10 Historians Weigh In | Time

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. But to skeptics, the danger was that Lean In feminism would eclipse a movement for bigger alterations to our social and economic policies.

What we are not talking about in nearly enough detail, or agitating for with enough passion, are the government policies, such as mandatory paid maternity leave, that would truly equalize opportunity. We are still thinking individually, not collectively. But a funny thing happened while feminists were yelling at each other about Sheryl Sandberg: The United States started to make big, swift strides on economic policies favorable to women and families.

Since , five states — including New York in — have passed paid-family-leave bills, with campaigns active in 20 more states. In , Barack Obama talked about federally mandating paid leave in his State of the Union address and established paid sick leave for federal workers. The same year, California congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the EACH Woman Act , which would override the Hyde Amendment which prevents poor women from accessing abortions through federal insurance programs including Medicaid.

And in this election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supports paid sick leave, paid family leave, subsidized child care, and higher wages for child-caregivers, more-affordable education, expansion of the health-care system, a higher minimum wage, free community college, and the abolishment of Hyde. We have, as they say, come a long way, baby. But neither did her brand of feminism get in the way of those advances, as many seemed to fear it would. Perhaps it would even be fair to argue that the amplification of these discussions — thanks to Sandberg and, yes, her many critics — has helped to raise the volume and awareness of gendered inequities enough that we have managed to move forward faster than we thought possible.

Sometimes, attacking from all angles is the most effective strategy. The message that came out of Washington at that time is that Al Qaeda had been decapitated, that the group was on the run, that whatever was left of it were these isolated cells. At that point I was based in North Africa. I was just about to become a bureau chief for the AP.

The thing that was transformative for me was that in Timbuktu, in Mali, in a building that had been occupied by the jihadists, I was able to retrieve some of the pages of documents that they had left behind after the French pushed them back in Those documents were eye-opening. That to me was the first moment when I went, Oh, okay. I realized that I needed to very much question what was coming out of Washington.

The way these people would just light up when they were talking about it, you know, you felt like when you imagine a girl lighting up when she first sees Elvis or something. The skit spirals outward in ever more fantastical directions — all three read for the part of Mrs. Claus, but J. Lo snagged it! Vanity Fair ran an oral history of the sketch. It was hardly the first or the last time Schumer went viral with a feminist conceit: There was the time she skewered the difficulty women have in accepting compliments, the sketch about a link between football and rape, the send-up of male-gaze rap videos, and many more.

She became the walking embodiment of self-actualization feminism, circa ; that role became as important, or even more important, than her jokes. The jokes themselves, if you look a little closer, have a complicated, fairly specific relationship to the female experience. It became impossible for Amy Schumer to walk outside in sweatpants without its being labeled empowering. But we should be wise and restrained in how we use that power.

But do I think the critiques from the left, about drones, are fair or fully informed? Not always. Sometimes they are.

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He paid a steep political price for his failure. Obama became the 44th president, and the first African American to be elected to that office. Privatization efforts under Trump will be worse. Kathryn Olmsted is professor of history at the University of California, Davis. Our new issue is out now. He voted for a massive surveillance expansion, while his closest counterterrorism adviser was John Brennan, a senior CIA official at the dawn of the torture program. The economy's success or failure depends on much more than who sits in the Oval Office, but let's take a look at the facts here.

With bin Laden, we had the option — the less risky option — of just firing a missile into that compound. I made the decision not to do so primarily because I thought it was important, if in fact it was him, that we be able to identify him. But depending on how you define innocents, a couple people in that compound that were not bin Laden and might be considered innocent, including one of his wives, were killed. As a percentage, that could be counted as collateral damage that might have been higher than if we had just taken a shot when we knew that the compound was relatively empty.

I will say, though, that what prompted a lot of the internal reforms we put in place had less to do with what the left or Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International or other organizations were saying and had more to do with me looking at the way in which the number of drone strikes was going up and the routineness with which, early in my presidency, you were seeing DOD and CIA and our intelligence teams think about this.

It troubled me, because I think you could see, over the horizon, a situation which, without Congress showing much interest in restraining actions, you end up with a president who can carry on perpetual wars all over the world, a lot of them covert, without any accountability or democratic debate. And that work has continued over the course of years now, such that this year, for example, after a lot of interagency wrestling, we were able to start our estimates of civilians who may have been killed by some of these actions.

But by the time I leave here, the American people are going to have a better sense of what their president is doing. Their president is going to have to be more accountable than he or she otherwise would have been. And I think all of that will serve the American people well in the future. In which case the best thing for me to do is to try to figure out what the right thing to do is and just do it, and worry later about how Washington is grading me. And that was a valuable lesson. It was a valuable lesson in two ways.

One, because it taught me to trust my judgment. You take the case of Syria, which has been chewed on a lot. But it continues to puzzle me, the degree to which people seem to forget that we actually got the chemical weapons out of Syria. My decision was to see if we could broker a deal without a strike to get those chemical weapons out, and to go to Congress to ask for authorization, because nowhere has Congress been more incoherent than when it comes to the powers I have. Maybe both.

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A doctor inserted a catheter that morning. I had a real scare. After an hour, I started getting really uncomfortable. I realized nothing was draining into the bag. Literally minutes before I was supposed to be on the floor, the nurse practitioner came in and realized there was a stopper in the tube. As soon as she removed it, everything was fine. What was different on that day was that for the first time ever, the Texas Tribune had been granted [the right] to use its technology to livestream from the Senate floor. I did not know people were watching to the extent that they were, not even close.

I expected the gallery to be full, but I could hear them out on the lawn, I could hear them roar in the halls and in the rotunda, and from time to time I could literally feel the vibration of their voices beneath my feet on the Senate floor. My Republican colleagues were going to treat this filibuster very differently. In the past, there has been a lot of leeway — senators can read names out of the phone book under the idea that everyone will be affected by the bill.

And then I knew that they had plotted to call three strikes — that they were going to do everything they could to bring it to an end. My back was hurting, and I got another strike when a colleague helped me put a back brace on. But then I started getting mad, and when I got mad it was really great, because it kept me sharp and then time just flew, it really did.

Within a few hours we received 16, stories. The hardest part of the day, for me, was when I came to a story from a woman named Carol M. I felt as though I was reading my own story. She and her husband discovered that the child she was carrying suffered from a severe fetal abnormality, and ultimately they made the decision they felt was in the best interest of this baby that they loved and had wanted very, very much. At around or so, the final, third strike was called — again, absurdly. But then my Democratic Senate colleagues began to argue points of order, masterfully eating up the clock.

Finally, at about a quarter till, the filibuster was officially called to an end. At that point my sister, [then-]Senator Leticia Van de Putte, who was not expected to be in the Senate that day — she had just buried her father — but made a decision to drive the one and a half hours to the capitol, came in. She immediately sized up what was going on and of course became very upset. So she was shouting to be heard, and when she was finally recognized, she had the most perfect, poignant question. President], at what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over the male colleagues in the room?

Their upset spilled out in that moment. They were screaming at the top of their lungs, in the hallways, in the rotunda, and outside on the capitol lawn. I did communicate with the White House counsel on occasion about high-profile cases, but it was much more in the nature of just giving them a heads-up, to calm any nervous feelings they might have. Perry case in We were contemplating coming in and arguing that it was unconstitutional for California to refuse to recognize the legal validity of same-sex marriages. I wanted to make sure the president had a chance to thoroughly consider what we should do before we did it.

It was really one of the high points of my tenure.

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It was a wide-ranging conversation about doctrinal analysis, about where society was now, about social change and whether it should go through the courts or through the majoritarian process, about the pace of social change, about the significance of the right at stake. He was incredibly impressive. We made the judgment to take a position on marriage equality, and the position we took two years later in the Obergefell v.

Hodges case followed from that. We ground both our arguments in this concept of equal dignity under the Equal Protection Clause. The difference is that in Perry , we were trying to offer the court a stepping-stone on the way to full marriage equality — because of a concern that the court might not be ready yet, in , to take the step all the way. So we took an intermediate position: that in states that already recognized domestic partnerships, there was no valid justification left for denying marriage equality.

This is a place where the concept of dignity really matters. His most ardent admirers and nemeses alike invoke the now-familiar litany: , dead and nearly 5 million refugees, whose flight northward has shaken the European Union and may yet sink it. They cite the snuff-film horrors of ISIS and its remorseless spread around the globe. And they pointedly compare it with Sarajevo, where similar war crimes came to an end during the s thanks to American power. But even his most loyal defenders concede that he was too slow to make up his mind about Syria.

He seemed almost to resent it — as if the conflict were, like the American project in Iraq, an unwanted inheritance from his predecessor. And in fact, his impatience to get free of Iraq played a role in spawning the Syrian nightmare. As the U. But Syria was different. Decades of minority rule had built up enormous pressures, and the regime was more cunning and better prepared than those that fell in the Arab Spring. Obama resisted but, after a round of strong lobbying by Israel and Jordan, eventually signed a secret order for the CIA to arm and train rebel groups.

Obama continued to send mixed signals for more than a year. It was not until late August that events finally focused his mind. A poison-gas attack near Damascus left hundreds of Syrian civilians dead. But then, with his finger on the trigger, he backed away under the guise of seeking authorization from a Congress he knew to be opposed. To domestic critics, including some in his own administration, it was an embarrassing flip-flop that would surely embolden dictators the world over. But most observers agree that it came about largely through luck.

In the years since, the Syrian war has continued to absorb new players and damage everything in its path. The Obama administration is in deeper, though only to fight isis. The Russians are fighting for Assad, the Turks against him; the Kurds are in the middle. One of his favorite foreign leaders, Angela Merkel, has shared his concerns about intervention all along. But she has balanced her wariness with a much more generous embrace of Syrian refugees. It is not too late for him to follow her example. The video is later seen by a friend of the victim. I meant what I said.

But this was not a gaffe. Where are there opportunities to think big? So I had already assigned our team to start exploring what that might look like and how we might structure it. And then it started late and it was pouring rain and security issues were a challenge. And so the handshake with Castro was actually pretty spontaneous. For me not to shake his hand would have been an inappropriate gesture at a funeral. So I shook his hand. It was me shaking the hand of an older man who was sitting on the stage when I was doing a eulogy.

At that point we had already begun to have some contact with the Cuban government and were thinking about what might happen. They interpreted that handshake and my willingness to do that on the world stage as a signal of greater seriousness. And so it did, I think, facilitate the series of negotiations that took place. On the day his political career died, Eric Cantor was busy tending to what he still believed was its bright future.

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He was there to host a fund-raiser for three of his congressional colleagues — something he did every month, just another part of the long game he was playing, which, he believed, would eventually culminate in his becoming Speaker of the House. The preceding five years had brought Cantor tantalizingly closer to that goal. It never occurred to him that the wave he was trying to ride might crash on him instead. Cantor and his political team never took Brat, a little-known economics professor, as a serious threat.

But by , it was clear Cantor had been defeated. More than two years later, the two have still not spoken. In the two years since Mike Brown was fatally shot by the police in Ferguson, and the video footage of his dead body in the street went viral, we have seen the emergence of a perverse dichotomy on our screens and in our public discourse: irrefutable evidence of grotesquely persistent racism, and irrefutable evidence of increasing black cultural and political power.

In fact, it is all of these things, not least two terms with a black president. In the same way that black skin signals danger to the police and to more white people than anyone is willing to admit , his black skin, to black people, signaled black cultural preservation. Black people are reinventing mainstream vernacular and setting the tone for cultural dialogue. All of this in parallel to viral video after viral video of black bodies young and old, shot and killed, beaten or pinned to the ground with a knee in the back, knocked out of a school desk.

The spectrum of anti-black racism is extreme — from microaggression to monkey memes to murder. But so is the spectrum of black achievement. In the past few years, black America has harnessed centuries of pent-up capacity and shot it out of a cannon. I remember speaking with the president about how the administration should respond. So we made the determination that I would go.

It was high risk because we were, in essence, putting the prestige of the Justice Department, the attorney general, and potentially the administration on the line, and if the trip proved to be unsuccessful, if the protests continued in a violent way, that would have been very problematic. I had to be visible. We took Air Force Two, the plane normally used by the vice-president. I remember there was a TV on the plane. It had a picture of the plane that I was on landing in Ferguson. CNN was covering the landing of the plane, and we landed and people from my staff were getting off.

What struck me about the day was there was consistency from the residents there, young and old, black and white. When the report was done by folks in our civil-rights division, they found that the police department or the criminal-justice system was being used as a way to generate money for the local government. I remember at the community meeting, there was a woman who was expressing concerns about whether we would conduct a really fair, impartial, independent investigation, and I assured her that we would.

But I think it was the right thing to do. The decision to go was one that I made with the president. We always talk about the value of diversity, and the fact that you had two black men looking at that situation and being impacted in the way that we were, as both public officials and black men — I think that might have impacted the final determination that I should go. I think it certainly was part of the calculus, never spoken, never said, between us.

But I think it was something that had an influence on me, on him. It was not something we ever talked about since then, but I suspect that at some level, it was a factor. That was the Obama years: when pop became a kind of politics and used that assertive power to reconquer a music world that had not so long ago pushed it to the margins. Eight years can be an eternity or an instant in music. This class restored a sense of artistic autonomy following the producer-Svengali era of the mid-aughts with Timbaland, the Neptunes, Irv Gotti, and the like.

But it was more than just new musical auteurism: A different kind of pop star was forged in the Obama years, one that attempts to juggle the spectacle of song and dance with internet savvy and caring advocacy. Many stars effortlessly nail two of the three. The Hive can build and nurture, but dissidents get stung, and hard. But the brilliance of Black-ish was that, as much as its timeliness made it a cultural landmark, it was also pretty timeless. Black America has always needed Black-ish, just as white America has always needed Seinfeld or Sex and the City ; like its s predecessor, The Cosby Show, Black-ish is essentially about the ordinariness of black family life, even if that ordinariness occasionally means staring down race-specific quandaries: What do you teach your black children about use of the N-word?

How do you straddle multiple roles in society and navigate a shaky proximity to blackness and whiteness that threatens to erase facets of your own cultural identity? Or post-class America, for that matter. Tom Frieden, the head of CDC, briefed us with a chart that basically blew all of our minds and predicted that by January , we could have up to 1. We needed to surge treatment facilities. We needed to surge logistics support. We needed to surge health-care workers. And to do all of that, we concluded that [we would need] the deployment of U.

The president felt that it was his job to be the voice of reason. Every plane that came from West Africa or every person who might be from West Africa was potentially carrying Ebola. There were calls to shut the borders and to prevent all West Africans from coming to the United States. There were calls in Congress for the same, and it was really kind of getting crazy and overheated.

By the end of November, we had bent the curve. And rather than 1.

His death is the latest killing of an unarmed black man — or, in this case, a child — to fuel a national outrage, as well as private pain for the friends and families left behind. In the age of the hacker, privacy is a thing of the past. Because even though we know these things are none of our business, were illegally obtained, and are flat-out unethical to view, it can still be hard to resist.

After all, what good does it do? This is the unexpected, chilling reality of the information age: The second some intriguing bit of content hits the internet, it is distributed exponentially and will live on indefinitely. Not only will every word from the Sony hack of , the Ashley Madison hack of , and the Colin Powell email hack from this summer be accessible for years to come, but any of the personal information hacked from corporate and government databases Anthem, the IRS, the Federal Office of Personnel Management, Swift, and Yahoo could wind up online, too.

But then, sometimes playing dumb is the guiltiest pleasure of all. Google has a biotech company that aims to beat death at its game. Technological optimism in California is a natural resource, like oil in the Middle East, seemingly inexhaustible, a motive force of the economy, and not a little bad for the environment. They tend toward a sunny libertarianism, they read relatively few novels, they love productivity tips, and they occasionally propose — so valuable are its pearls — that California secede from the Union, the better to disrupt the world.

Pitch an app and a venture capitalist yawns. What they want is the market, the whole shebang. Google launched its own trading floor in , you know? The media tends to make this whole digital revolution a battle between Silicon Valley and, well, the media. Typical narcissism.

The implosion of the media industry is really just collateral damage. Silicon Valley wants to be the fun Wall Street, the market where all must come, taking a few pennies with every transaction. The idea that Silicon Valley could mint currency was almost pornographically exciting. To seduce a VC, whisper the word arbitrage into his pink, pink ear.

To them, bitcoin was like a catchy earworm; once they heard it, they had to hear it again and again. You make the money yourself … with the computer? You mint cash … with computation? You no longer had to find a link between ever-faster central processing units and the global economy? The fast computer is the economy and things are looking uuuuuuuup. And predictably, they lost their minds. African-American women have been burdened with a reputation for anger, aggression, masculinity, and inhuman strength since their arrival in the Colonial United States.

The stereotype was used to explain why enslaved African women, unlike the delicate moneyed white women they served, were able to endure the lash, grueling work, rape, and sexual exploitation. It was more complicated to saddle the biracial candidate Barack Obama, son of a bohemian white mother from Kansas, raised in Hawaii by white grandparents, with being a source of simmering racial resentment. Though plenty certainly tried.

That was on the nice end of things. And she has challenged Fallon to a push-up contest, embracing her strength in defiance of those who question her femininity. She is, according to Gallup, a First Lady with favorability ratings that, on average, have exceeded those of her predecessors. For every person who endorses a stereotypical characterization of Michelle Obama, many more have been moved by her obvious humanity to walk away from broken narratives about her and all black women.

When I started my last book in the early aughts, people to whom I mentioned the trans kids I was writing about were astonished that they existed; some were appalled by what they took to be a precocious sexual perversion. It is now accepted that you are who you say you are. Trans and gay are not the same thing experientially, but they have been amalgamated politically under the now-dominant LGBTQ banner — a necessity given the much larger number of gay people than trans people. The policies they carry out, in conjunction with Congress, matter a great deal. In times of acute danger, Presidents can give the economy a much-needed boost.

Or they can prolong the agony.

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Anybody who doubts this needs to read up on the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt or of Ronald Reagan. The scale of the financial panic of and the extent of the job losses that occurred in the first months of should never be forgotten. But the Obama Administration finished the job, continuing the crisis measures that had been introduced, pushing through the rescue of the auto industry that Paulson had set in motion, and carrying out a set of stress tests that restored confidence in the big banks.

Obama's legacy: the promises, shortcomings and fights to come

The new Administration also boosted the over-all level of demand in the economy with an eight-hundred-and-forty-billion-dollar stimulus package, which featured temporary tax cuts and more federal spending. By the second half of , the gross domestic product was growing again. By October, , the unemployment rate had peaked, at ten per cent.

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Exploring the 'promise' and 'peril' associated with the opening two years of the presidency of Barack Obama, this book is a comparative look at the various. Former U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with youth book bills itself as “a first historical assessment” of the Obama presidency. . and “too cautious” and notes that, “In Obama's last two years in office.

If other policy decisions had been made, things could have been very different, and much worse. At seven and a half years long, the Obama recovery now is one of the longest on record. In terms of annual G.

These Adorable Moments Between Barack Obama & Kids Will Melt Your Heart

During the Bill Clinton recovery , G. Bush recovery , it averaged 2. But that ignores at least a couple of important measures. It was an old-fashioned financial bust, and it always takes economies a long time to recover fully from those—if they ever do. Japan took two decades to rebound from a financial bust in the early nineteen-nineties. In addition, if you look at employment rather than at G.

Since the start of , the U.