As we approach America's peaceful transfer of power, let's take a look back at the Obama years with a nine-part oral history. It starts with the president reflecting on his own election: "My favorite memory of that day is actually driving with our daughters down Lakeshore Drive. This was the first time we had full Secret Service and Malia, who was 10, and Sasha, who was 7, were in the backseat. And Malia says, 'Daddy, you won right?' And I said, 'Well, we don't know yet. We're still counting the votes.' And she says, 'There's supposed to be a big party downtown where everybody's going to celebrate if you win?' And I said, 'Yeah, that's right.' So she says, 'Daddy, I'm not sure people are coming because the roads are empty.' It was the first time they'd cleared the roads for us, and it was true, it was a little spooky, but it gave you some indication that this was now different. So that by the time you walk on stage the enormity of it hits you. You understand that it's game time and you have to meet the moment as best you can." From History: The Obama Years.
+ "This also gives the Internet one last chance to talk about our bromance." In a surprise ceremony, Obama awarded Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Instead of writing memoirs, these guys should do a buddy film.)
+ "We saw both the light and wariness in your eyes as you gazed at your new home." The Bush sisters wrote a letter to Malia and Sasha Obama, eight years after welcoming them to the White House.
+ The LA Times looks at Obama's track record as Commander in Chief, from his very aggressive drone, airstrike, and special forces campaigns ("U.S. military forces have been at war for all eight years of Obama's tenure, the first two-term president with that distinction.") to his decision to keep America away from the front lines as Syria descended towards tragedy. And from BBC: "Despite the pressing moral imperative, Obama remained convinced a military intervention would be a costly failure."
"The failure to effectively investigate officers' use of force or discipline police 'has helped create a culture in which officers expect to use force and not be questioned about the need for or propriety of that use.'" The Justice Department has released its review of the Chicago Police Department. It is not a good review.
What to Binge: After it won a few top Golden Globe trophies, I decided to start binge-watching The Night Manager staring Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. It's an interesting and photogenic thriller about the seemingly unlikely intersection between a hotel manager and an international arms trader. Worth a watch for sure (as long as you don't get irritated by the endless close-ups of Tom Hiddleston, which I'm fine with, because I'm totally secure when it comes to my own appearance...)
+ What to Book: This seems like a good time to join me in reading Jennifer Haigh's Heat & Light. From fracking, to big oil, to a decaying Appalachian town, this book touches on many issues that we'll be discussing a lot over the next few years. And it's also an excellent novel.
+ What to Watch: I've been lucky enough to hang out with the remarkable Norman Lear a fews of times, and a couple years ago he told me about plans to do a remake of One Day at a Time (but this time, it would be about a Latino family). Well, the show is now on Netflix and it's getting very good reviews. (It's a long and unusual story, but in a weird twist, I sort of auditioned for the part of Schneider. This seems like as good a place as any to apologize to any producers or casting directors who were forced to look -- however briefly -- at my tape.)
+ What to Dave: And if you missed it yesterday, my post on the danger of our many divides seems to have resonated with a lot of readers: This is Why You Hate Me. (Of course, some folks took the opportunity to counter with the many other reasons why they hate me. After all, it's the Internet...)
From the MIT Tech Review: Questionable "Young Blood" Transfusions Offered in U.S. as Anti-Aging Remedy. "Just off a winding highway along the Pacific coast in Monterey, California, is a private clinic where people can pay $8,000 to have their veins pumped with blood plasma from teenagers and young adults." (My kids offered my the same amount of blood for 50 bucks and an extra thirty minutes of iPad time.)
The Feds are getting aggressive with the car industry these days. A few days after indicting VW execs over the emissions-cheating scandal, the US has indicted three Takata executives, and fined the company $1 billion over faulty air bags. The emissions thing was troubling, but the Takata charges are much worse, as the execs "were indicted on charges of concealing safety data from automakers to continue selling products they knew failed safety tests."
As Marijuana becomes legalized in many states, researchers looked at thousands of reports and studies to find out what we know about the medical benefits of pot. "There was only enough evidence to support treatment for three therapeutic uses, the study found: to reduce nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, to treat chronic pain and to reduce spasms from multiple sclerosis."
Along with part or all of the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood is in serious danger of being defunded. Here's Vox with an explainer on the crusade to defund Planned Parenthood.
+ What happens when reproductive health care is defunded? Let's visit Texas to find out. From The Guardian: Texas has highest maternal mortality rate in developed world, study finds.
+ The abortion battle is raging at the state level. From Vice: At least 46 anti-abortion bills have been introduced or are pending in 14 states as of Thursday morning.
"It was the final week of football in the Arab Muslim capital of America. Michigan was in the Orange Bowl. The Lions had one more shot to win the division title in front of a national audience, and they might make the playoffs anyway. The faithful were smoking Nakhla double apple out of Khalil Mamoon hookahs in hooked-up garages all over Dearborn, just southwest of Detroit." These Muslims love America. They just hate the Cowboys.
+ This NYC sports bar was struggling, until it went kosher.
From the NYT Mag: "No one understands our new era of reality-TV populism better than the man who turned The Real Housewives into an empire." Whether you watch his shows or not (and I sometimes do ... I figure it's better you hear it from me first), we're all living in Andy Cohen's America.
I'm not superstitious about such things, but you've got to give some extra credit to the passengers who, on Friday the 13th, boarded Flight 666 to HEL.
+ This is the last weekend to score a NextDraft Read Real News T-Shirt. Wear your colors proudly!
+ Vicente Fox is experiencing a second career on Twitter.
+ A car thief suspect in Pittsburgh was arrested after witnesses recognized his man bun. (I'm usually against the death penalty, but...)