A profile of Dan Choi, a gay Iraq combat veteran who became a media star after his public push to repeal "don't ask, don't tell." Since the victory, Choi has found it difficult to figure out what to do next:
In late August, I was on my way to interview Dan at his apartment when he messaged me that a big protest was shaping up at the White House. President Barack Obama had just announced that he would ask Congress for authorization to use force in Syria. I raced to meet him at the north entrance, but all I found were tourists snapping photos and Dan circling around on his bike. He hung out for a while, texting a friend to ask for an update. She didn’t respond. After 20 minutes of scouring his contacts for people who might have more information, he looked up from his phone and gave me a sideways grin. He was being a good sport, but he looked crestfallen. I sensed—or maybe I just imagined it—he was asking himself the same question I had been: Who is Dan Choi without “don’t ask, don’t tell”?
PUBLISHED: Dec. 2, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7175 words)
"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.
"It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 21, 2013
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2116 words)
A critical look at the political newspaper and website Politico:
"One classic method of unleashing irresistible Drudge bait on the Internet is to boil another outlet’s story down to a couple salacious-sounding excerpts, or (failing an effective condensing strategy) to simply reinterpret the material to fit a Drudge-friendly narrative. This past May, for example, Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Maraniss’s biography of Barack Obama. (The liberal media vetting blackout continued apace, in other words.) Politico’s Dylan Byers took the excerpt and turned it into a little micro-news story: Obama admitted to Maraniss that certain figures in his first memoir were 'compressions'—i.e., composite characters. Byers completely missed that Obama explicitly said at the outset of his own book that some characters were composites, but Drudge didn’t care. 'Obama Admits Fabricating Girlfriend in Memoir,' went his headline, with a link to Politico instead of Vanity Fair—and another false right-wing meme got its wings."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 5, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6530 words)
A look at a struggling diner in northeastern Ohio. This is the first of five columns by Dan Barry about Elyria, Ohio, a town which is "the kind of place where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each hope that his promise of a restored American dream will resonate":
"'Is she O.K.?' a customer asks one difficult day.
"'My mom?' asks Kristy, the waitress.
"'Yes,' the customer replies.
"Sometimes you can see why, as Donna hunches into the desk space she has carved from the back-room clutter and works through the mound of mail. 'I’m looking for shut-off notices,' she says, half-joking."
PUBLISHED: Oct. 13, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4084 words)
In the first four years as the first black president, Obama has largely avoided addressing race directly. Some historical context:
"Thus the myth of 'twice as good' that makes Barack Obama possible also smothers him. It holds that African Americans—enslaved, tortured, raped, discriminated against, and subjected to the most lethal homegrown terrorist movement in American history—feel no anger toward their tormentors. Of course, very little in our history argues that those who seek to tell bold truths about race will be rewarded. But it was Obama himself, as a presidential candidate in 2008, who called for such truths to be spoken. 'Race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now,' he said in his 'More Perfect Union' speech, which he delivered after a furor erupted over Reverend Wright’s 'God Damn America' remarks. And yet, since taking office, Obama has virtually ignored race.
"Whatever the political intelligence of this calculus, it has broad and deep consequences. The most obvious result is that it prevents Obama from directly addressing America’s racial history, or saying anything meaningful about present issues tinged by race, such as mass incarceration or the drug war. There have been calls for Obama to take a softer line on state-level legalization of marijuana or even to stand for legalization himself. Indeed, there is no small amount of inconsistency in our black president’s either ignoring or upholding harsh drug laws that every day injure the prospects of young black men—laws that could have ended his own, had he been of another social class and arrested for the marijuana use he openly discusses. But the intellectual argument doubles as the counterargument. If the fact of a black president is enough to racialize the wonkish world of health-care reform, what havoc would the Obama touch wreak upon the already racialized world of drug policy?"
PUBLISHED: Aug. 23, 2012
LENGTH: 38 minutes (9709 words)
A look at the Oglala Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and how they've preserved their identity and customs after more than a 100 years of a tenuous relationship with the U.S.:
"Buried deep within the pages of the 2010 Defense appropriations bill, signed by President Barack Obama in December 2009, is an official apology 'to all Native Peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on Native Peoples by citizens of the United States.' The resolution commends those states 'that have begun reconciliation efforts with recognized Indian tribes,' but there is no mention of reparations, nor of honoring long-broken treaties.
"White Plume lit one of his rolled-up cigarettes and squinted at me through a ribbon of smoke. 'Do you know what saved me from becoming a cold-blooded murderer? My language saved me. There is no way for me to be hateful in my language. It’s such a beautiful, gentle language. It’s so peaceful.' Then White Plume started to speak in Lakota, and there was no denying the words came softly."
PUBLISHED: Aug. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4082 words)
[Not single-page] The origins and consequences of the Obama administration's focus on drone strikes to kill enemy combatants:
"Of course, the danger of the Lethal Presidency is that the precedent you establish is hardly ever the precedent you think you are establishing, and whenever you seem to be describing a program that is limited and temporary, you are really describing a program that is expansive and permanent. You are a very controlled man, and as Lethal President, it's natural for you to think that you can control the Lethal Presidency. It's even natural for you to think that you can control the Lethal Presidencies of other countries, simply by the power of your example. But the Lethal Presidency incorporates not just drone technology but a way ofthinking about drone technology, and this way of thinking will be your ultimate export. You have anticipated the problem of proliferation. But an arms race involving drones would be very different from an arms race involving nuclear arms, because the message that spread with nuclear arms was that these weapons must never be used. The message that you are spreading with drones is that they must be — that using them amounts to nothing less than our moral duty."
PUBLISHED: July 9, 2012
LENGTH: 41 minutes (10371 words)
How Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina is using technology and advice from high-profile mentors to prepare for November:
"The day after Jim Messina quit his job as White House deputy chief of staff last January, he caught a plane to Los Angeles, paid a brief visit to his girlfriend, and then commenced what may be the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken. He was about to begin a new job as Barack Obama’s campaign manager, and being a diligent student with access to some very smart people, he arranged a rolling series of personal seminars with the CEOs and senior executives of companies that included Apple, Facebook, Zynga, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and DreamWorks. 'I went around the country for literally a month of my life interviewing these companies and just talking about organizational growth, emerging technologies, marketing,' he says at Obama’s campaign headquarters in Chicago."
PUBLISHED: June 14, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3746 words)
Excerpt from Maraniss's new biography of the president
. A look at Obama's early twenties in New York, from the perspective of his girlfriend at the time:
"Genevieve was out of her mother’s Upper East Side apartment by then. Earlier that spring she had moved and was sharing the top floor of a brownstone at 640 Second Street in Park Slope. The routine with Barack was now back and forth, mostly his place, sometimes hers. When she told him that she loved him, his response was not 'I love you, too' but 'thank you'—as though he appreciated that someone loved him. The relationship still existed in its own little private world. They spent time cooking. Barack loved to make a ginger beef dish that he had picked up from his friend Sohale Siddiqi. He was also big on tuna-fish sandwiches made the way his grandfather had taught him, with finely chopped dill pickles. For a present, Genevieve bought him an early edition of The Joy of Cooking. They read books together and talked about what they had read. For a time they concentrated on black literature, the writers Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Toni Cade Bambara, and Ntozake Shange."
PUBLISHED: May 3, 2012
LENGTH: 34 minutes (8593 words)