White House Decorator
This morning, Buzzfeed published excerpts from Dave Maraniss’ upcoming biography of Barack Obama that detail the president’s usage of marijuana in high school and his years at Occidental College. Mr. Maraniss revealed some of the common names for pot stains in Hawaii, the specific weed slang employed by President Obama and his buddies at Punahou high school and their preferred smoking soundtrack (Blue Oyster Cult, Stevie Wonder and Aerosmith).
Though the excerpts from Mr. Maraniss’ book have generated considerable excitement among the chattering classes, the president has admitted to youthful drug use for years now and, in the past, former classmates have described it as a relatively small part of his life.
We’re not sure which is worse, that a store like ABC Home & Carpet exists, or that it is where our nation’s president has chosen to hold a fundraiser tonight.
Best Laid Plans
It took long enough, but in the end, New York’s public school students won an important victory last week when the teachers union and Governor Cuomo came to an agreement on a new teacher-evaluation system.
The most immediate benefit is easy to measure: With an evaluation system in place, the state moved closer to qualifying for $700 million in federal aid through President Obama’s “Race to the Top” funding mechanism. The feds were threatening to withhold the money if New York did not implement a required evaluation system. While the state still may have to clear up other issues before qualifying for the aid, it’s clear that the evaluation system is a major step in the race to the top.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
Friday was Adolfo Carrion’s last day working for the Obama administration. He had been ensconced for the past two years in a corner office on the 35th floor of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building downtown, serving as director of HUD Region 2, which is where The Observer met him a few weeks ago to discuss the president‘s flagging urban agenda.
Bronx paraphernalia filled the glass-line space. Near the doorway was a green highway sign, WELCOME TO THE BRONX. On a bookshelf behind his desk, beside family photos, books (Sonia Sotomayor’s biography, Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat) and hardhats of special significance, rested a miniature subway sign for the 161st Street-Yankees Stadium stop. Along the wall stood a T.V. tuned to CNBC, framed newspaper clippings, and not one but two Yankees groundbreaking shovels, one of which had a bat for a handle. Pinstriped paraphernalia was everywhere, declaring the Manhattan-born, Bronx-bred politician’s on-field allegiance.
Mr. Carrion left the Bronx to go work for the administration, first on the campaign trail, then as the inaugural director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs. He left that position to come work at HUD, a move many saw as a demotion, though he insists it was always part of his plan.
Maybe we were wrong. Maybe 2012 will be different, President Obama will stand up to Congress, maybe he will even do the unthinkable and buck three decades of political trends, turning cities into a campaign issues once again (ever since Reagan won without taking a single major city, both parties have largely ignored urban issues).
That is at least the message coming out of the White House, in the face of the despised-on-all-sides House transportation bill, a program created by Reagan no less. On Tuesday (in response to The Observer‘s pending article, perhaps?), the administration released a statement declaring the president would veto the transit bill if it reached his desk.
So Rick Perry, President Barack Obama and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad walk into a bar… It’s not a joke; it’s a scenario we imagined as a real possibility as all three were descending upon Manhattan this week. (As long as they stay away from Miss Lily’s. It’s already crowded enough.)
We like to call this scenario “fantasy bar fight.”
Hurricane Irene played matchmaker for the political odd couple of President Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The potential 2012 rivals are unlikely allies in the debate over hurricane relief and they’re spending an awkward afternoon together tomorrow touring flood damage in Paterson.
Despite his repeated denials, Christie is viewed by many insiders as Read More
As Election Day 2008 approached, if you were an urban organic kale farmer, or a crochet enthusiast or a vaudevillian with a new song to sing, and you wanted to support Barack Obama for president, you were in luck.
The streets of New York were crowded with “Walks for Change,” “Bike4Barack” groups, “Karaoke We Can Believe In” sing-alongs, “Get Out the Laughs and Votes” comedy shows and “Art for Change” auctions. The days leading up to the election saw Pasties for Peace, a Cowboys for Barack Wild West Burlesque Show Fund-raiser, a Yo La Tengo fund-raiser at McCarren Pool, and a $1,000 fund-raiser in Dumbo featuring They Might Be Giants, which sold out.
Richie Fife, who helped lead the Obama effort in the run-up to the primary, estimated that 10,000 New Yorkers had contacted his office to get involved and that three times that many were out on the streets on their own initiative.
It would almost seem that the stars had finally aligned. After weeks of stalled talks and contentious meetings between House Republicans and Democrats that escalated into a public spat between Speaker John Boehner and President Obama, a bill finally made it through the House and into the Senate, where it was speedily approved Tuesday morning Read More
Two things tend to be givens in the modern-day 24-hour news cycle: One, that something sad and tragic will invariably happen; and two, that when something sad and tragic happens, someone with a large social media following will not hesitate to immediately crack an inappropriate joke about it. (Too Read More