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Archive for the ‘Influence’ Category

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The most recent Gallup Poll indicates that Americans’ favorability rating of Michelle Obama is even higher than her husband’s.  According to the March 27-29 poll, the First Lady barely edges the President out with her 72% rating to his 69% rating. (Both of which are particularly high).

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Now, it’s not at all uncommon for the First Lady to have a higher favorability rating than the President.  In fact, while they were in the White House, both Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton were more popular than their husbands.  But what makes Mrs. Obama’s rating especially interesting is how far she’s come in the minds of the American people.  At one point during the presidential campaign people thought that she might actually be a hinderance to her husband being elected.  Check out the graph below to see how her favorability has progressed:

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It should also be noted that Presidential Favorability is different than Presidential Job Approval—favorability is likability, job approval is quite literal.  Either way, the Prez is doing well right now as has consistently ranked in the low 60s in the daily Gallup job approval poll since he took office. 

Thoughts?

 More pics of the Obama’s first trip to Europe after the jump.

—Travers

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I was saddened yesterday to hear of the death of Dr. John Hope Franklin, a great American historian.  The following is a brief, but fitting obituary via Gawker:

John Hope Franklin, the author of From Slavery to Freedom and possibly the greatest historian of the black American experience, died Wednesday at the age of 94. He lived well.

Franklin grew up in Oklahoma, and eventually made his way to Harvard and around the world as one of the leading scholars of America’s racial history. He wrote nearly 20 books, the most famous being the epic black history chronicle From Slavery to Freedom, called by one scholar “a landmark in the interpretation of American civilization.” If you go to college and take an African-American history class, you will read it.

He helped win the Brown v. Board of Education case. He went on to win the Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton, and taught at Duke up to the end. RIP, John Hope.

Rest in peace, indeed.

For a more thorough obituary, CLICK HERE to read the one from The New York Times.

—-Travers

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If you don’t already, you should really get to know Governor Piyush “Bobby” Jindal.  In 2007 Jindal became the first Indian American to be elected Governor of Louisiana and the first Indian American to ever be elected to a statewide political office in U.S. history.  He is the father of three young children with his wife Supriya, who is a chemical engineer and has an MBA.  In the 2008 presidential election, there was widespread speculation that Sen. John McCain was going to tap Jindal to be his running mate, but we all know how that turned out. 

But don’t you dare think that Jindal is through with national politics.  In fact, at age 37, it looks like he’s just getting started.  The Republicans are grooming him to be a serious contender to President Barack Obama in the next election, and you can already see “Jindal 2012” sites popping up all over the internet.  He is a pretty staunch conservative, has a good political history, and has an inspiring story.  Jindal as a human being is likeable and respected by non-Republicans in the same way that President Obama is likeable among non-Democrats and those who didn’t vote for him. (Well at least those who don’t think he’s a terrorist or the anti-Christ ). 

And the non-political similarities between Jindal and Obama are un-freaking-canny: both are young (although Jindal’s younger) and are relative political newcomers; both have beautiful, accomplished, professional wives; both have adorable young children; both have RIDICULOUSLY photographic families;  both are the “American Dream” personified. 

Jindal will be giving the official Republican response after President Obama’s first State of the Union address tonight. (This is a HUGE deal, and is usually a strong indicator of someone who has eyes on the presidency).  You may not agree with his political stances but you can’t deny that this guy is bringing MAJOR heat.  Keep your eyes on Bobby Jindal—he may be just what the Republicans need.

What do you think of Bobby Jindal?  Do you think he’ll be a presidential contender in 2012? Is this the younger, Republican, Indian-American version of Obama?  Let me know.

Keep reading for more facts about and photos of Jindal and his family.

—Travers

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I love books.  They are on of my biggest passions and are my biggest extravagance.  Even though I work around books all day long, I can still go into a Barnes and Noble and get lost for hours, just roaming the shelves.  I am amassing quite a collection of all types of books, and my Vanity Fair “Oscar Night” coffee table book is def one of my favorites.  I was at work one day, and this treasure (and I mean that in every sense of the word—the book costs $75) was sitting on one of our free book shelves.  Now you KNOW I couldn’t pass this one up!  With many of us still in a post Slumdogs, (oops, I mean post Oscars) hangover, I thought you might enjoy some of these amazing photos from this great book as much as I do.  Let me know what you think.

Enjoy,

Travers

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Angela Bassett and Oprah Winfrey react to Halle Berry's Best Actress win in 2002

 

Halle Berry and then-husband, Eric Benet, celebrate after her Best Actress win in 2002

Halle Berry and then-husband, Eric Benet, celebrate after her Best Actress win in 2002

Michael Jackson was Madonna's date to the Oscars in 1991

Michael Jackson was Madonna's date to the Oscars in 1991

11 years earlier, in 1980, the King of Pop was Diana Ross' date to the Academy Awards

11 years earlier, in 1980, the King of Pop was Diana Ross' date to the Academy Awards

Former "it" couples, (left) Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt (right) Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, in happier times

Former "it" couples, (left) Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt (right) Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, in happier times

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon after winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Good Will Hunting" in 1997

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon after winning the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for "Good Will Hunting" in 1997

Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta after winning the Best Supporting Actor in 1989

Denzel Washington and wife Pauletta after winning the Best Supporting Actor in 1989

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Forget the Oscars—THIS is the Red Carpet you should care about.  While millions of people across the globe were tuned in to the 81st Annual Academy Awards last night, President and First Lady Obama hosted a dinner for the nation’s Governors in the State Dining Room of the White House.  This was the first formal dinner that the President and First Lady have hosted since being in office. 

The governors are in town for the The National Governors Association meeting.  Well, most of the governors.  Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was not in attendance.  Hmm.

Get into the pics below.  But before you do, let me just say this:  NO ONE (at the Oscars or the White House) could touch the First Lady last night!  She killed it as only she can!

Enjoy,

Travers

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

New York Governor David Paterson and wife Michelle

New York Governor David Paterson and wife Michelle

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and wife Supriya

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and wife Supriya

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and wife Maria Shriver

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Last night, I attended a phenomenal screening at Columbia Law School for a documentary film called “Strength of a Woman.”   Produced and directed by filmmaker (and friend) Allison Caviness, the documentary is about “the experiences, resilience and strength of formerly incarcerated domestic violence survivors and the devastating impact the criminal justice system has on women’s lives.”  To make a huge understatement—-the film blew me away.

I first met Allison in October when we were participants in the NBPC New Media Institute and worked together to co-produce a website for PBS Kids (pbskids.org/speakout/). Since then, I’ve been consistently inspired by Allison the filmmaker and Allison the friend.  I am very proud to be able to say that I know Allison Caviness, and I think you should know her too.  Here’s why:

1.  She’s a Woman for All Seasons

Allison is best known as a filmmaker, but she wears many different hats—art director, stage and film actor, teacher, sculptor, photographer, community organizer, and model.

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2.  Her films are equally well-rounded

Allison’s work goes from serious (“Strength of a Woman”) to informative (her documentary on conflict diamonds in Africa) to info-taining (her HIV awareness PSA “Cuidate” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfGCtFTQQgs) to simply FLY AS A MOTHA (see video below).

3.  She directs a youth film workshop center

Allison is the director of the Lesidi Film Center which is “a comprehensive learning center for high school aged students (13-19) to learn the skill, discipline and professionalism of film production through a series of after-school workshops.”  lesidifilm.org

4.  When she walks into a room, you notice

Grace, beauty, charm, presence, intelligence.  Allison proves that a woman doesn’t have to choose.  She can be powerful, driven, and respected while still being…well, a woman.

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Allison and me at the screening of "Strength of a Woman"

If you didn’t know, now you know. To get to know Allison even better, visit her blog at allisoncaviness.wordpress.com.  And to learn more about “Strength of a Woman” and the Coalition for Women Prisoners visit www.correctionalassociation.org

–Travers

img_2031Allison speaking during the screening’s panel discussion 

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Love Birds

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On May 26, 1996 photographer Mariana Cook photographed Barack and Michelle Obama when they were less than 4 years into their marriage for a project she was doing on couples in America.  This was well before they were the President-elect and future First Lady.  This was before they were U.S. Senator and Senator’s Wife/hospital executive.  This was even before they were Illinois State Representative and Wife/non-profit organization attorney.  This was before the world was watching.

Barack on Michelle in ’96:

What sustains our relationship is I’m extremely happy with her, and part of it has to do with the fact that she is at once completely familiar to me, so that I can be myself and she knows me very well and I trust her completely, but at the same time she is also a complete mystery to me in some ways. And there are times when we are lying in bed and I look over and sort of have a start. Because I realize here is this other person who is separate and different and has different memories and backgrounds and thoughts and feelings. It’s that tension between familiarity and mystery that makes for something strong, because, even as you build a life of trust and comfort and mutual support, you retain some sense of surprise or wonder about the other person.

Michelle on Barack in ’96:

There is a strong possibility that Barack will pursue a political career, although it’s unclear. There is a little tension with that. I’m very wary of politics. I think he’s too much of a good guy for the kind of brutality, the skepticism…Barack has helped me loosen up and feel comfortable with taking risks, not doing things the traditional way and sort of testing it out, because that is how he grew up. I’m more traditional; he’s the one in the couple that, I think, is the less traditional individual.

Mariana Cook on Barack:090119_obama1996_p233_cropHe really had a vision of what this country needed…there’s a depth to him, you can see it in his eyes.

The photos along with the rest of Cook’s interview with the Obamas will run in next week’s issue of The New Yorker.

–TJ

 

Click here for video.

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