Obama holds town hall for an unscreened audience.

Former President Bush often remarked that he didn’t pay attention to public opinion polls, didn’t read newspapers, and his administration always made sure to screen the audiences of any public speaking events he undertook to try and ensure that only his supporters would be allowed in. Not only could you be denied entry to a speaking event for wearing the wrong kind of t-shirt or for having the wrong bumper sticker on your car, but even Bush supporters were sometimes kicked out. Woe to any actual protesters who managed to sneak in, though, as they were arrested for daring to criticize the President in public.

What a refreshing change a new President can make. Not only is Obama making the rounds doing Town Hall style events, but the audiences aren’t being screened to weed out dissenters:

Today, President Obama hosted a town hall meeting in Elkhart, IN — which faces the nation’s fastest-rising unemployment rate — to promote his recovery and reinvestment plan. As the Washington Post’s Dan Froomkin notes, Obama traveled to relatively unfriendly territory: Obama lost the county to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) 44 percent to 56 percent. Despite that fact, the White House did not screen its audience, who had the chance to ask the president questions:

    In a dramatic contrast to former President Bush’s town-hall meetings — which were held almost exclusively in party strongholds, with tickets distributed primarily to supporters — it was first-come, first-served in Elkhart on Saturday [when tickets were distributed]. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained on Friday: “I’ve watched the President do town halls from 2004 through 2008, and the audience has never been hand-picked, and neither have the questions. And we’re not going to start any of that on Monday.”

What’s more, Obama invited two critics of his package along for the Air Force One ride to Indiana: Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who both voted against the bill.

This is how it should be in a Democracy. When the President holds a town hall meeting it should be in front of ALL the people and not just the ones that think he’s doing a great job. He should be open to not only hearing, but considering criticisms by those who disagree. He should have the balls to stand up and defend his plans to the people he represents without trying to create a false illusion of overwhelming support by stacking the deck.

In short, he should be honest with the people. Bush was never honest during his entire time in office. He preferred to stay within his insular bubble protected from all dissent so he could continue to believe he could do no wrong.

Yes we can!

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery
Election Night
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Barack Obama appears to have won the Presidential election.

I never thought I’d live long enough to see a black man elected President of the United States, but that appears to be what has just happened this evening as most of the networks are calling it a done deal. I have never been more proud of my country than I am at this very moment. Regardless of what happens from here on out this is a monumental step forward and the door is now open for this to happen again in the future and as it becomes normalized there will eventually come a day when people will marvel that it was ever considered remarkable at one point in time.

As good as the polls have looked over the past few weeks I was still hesitant to allow myself to imagine this possibility coming to pass. The frustration of the last election when we reelected a clearly incompetent man to the most important position in the world because we let fear rule us kept me holding my breath until I saw it with my own eyes. My hope that we might see a brighter future here in America is renewed as I truly believe Obama is the man that can restore our reputation in the world and address the tremendous issues we’re facing both at home and abroad.

I thought it was quite striking as I sat down to watch the events unfold this evening the differences between the candidates as illustrated by their choice of celebratory venues. Obama chose a huge park in Chicago and invited anyone who wanted to attend to show up whereas McCain picked a smaller indoor venue that you specifically had to be invited to. It showed how one man is inclusive and the other exclusive in how they dealt with the American public.

John McCain as just taken the stage to make his concession speech. His supporters are booing every mention of Obama’s name. McCain is handling them well and the speech is pretty well considering the circumstances. Amazing. McCain is speaking of working together with Obama and encouraging his supporters to do the same. Some of them aren’t happy with that, but most of them seem to be listening. Whoops, mentioning Biden brought more boos and chants of “Sarah, Sarah.” Overall it was a surprisingly gracious speech. Still I’m quite glad he lost.

A big surprise here in Michigan was the vote to approve a Medical Marijuana law and the possibility that we may expand stem cell research in state looks like it might pass which would be a reversal of a law from the previous election. My state looks to becoming a little more progressive and I couldn’t be happier. This has definitely been one of the best election nights in my life time and I will sleep well tonight.

Obama hasn’t made his acceptance speech yet, but I’m going to end it here for now. It won’t be long before I need to pick Anne up from work so I’ll write more about it later when I’ve had time to gather my thoughts and hear what Obama has to say.

Another difference between the candidates: One fears rain and one doesn’t.

Both Obama and McCain were scheduled to give outdoor rallies in Pennsylvania yesterday. The weather turned nasty with a cold rain that caused one of the two candidates to cancel his rally:

CHESTER, PA – Dressed in blue jeans and a black jacket, Barack Obama braved the cold rain falling in Pennsylvania, and held his scheduled rally – outdoors. “A little bit of rain never hurt anybody,” he quipped to the 9,000 who showed up in ponchos and futilely holding umbrellas.

Just an hour away in Quakertown, the rival ticket cancelled their own outdoor rally due to inclement weather. Unfazed, Obama incorporated the conditions into his speech.

“I just want all of you to know if we see this kind of dedication on election day – there is no way that we’re not going to bring change to America,” he said as the soggy crowd cheered.

Who do you think is more committed to his cause? The one who braves the rain so as not to disappoint the people who took the time to show up? Or the one who lets a little inclement weather get in the way of his plans? When Wall Street melted down one of these two men tried to suspend his campaign and delay a debate because he couldn’t handle the job of dealing with the crisis at the same time as trying to explain why you should vote for him. Sure these are mostly symbolic differences, but they also say a lot about the dedication of the men in question as well as their character in the face of adversity.

One of them lets a little rain bother them and one of them doesn’t.

I’m voting for the one who doesn’t mind a little rain.

Meanwhile the Obamas discuss their status as Fashion Icons.

In light of the entry I posted yesterday in which I bitched about how Sarah “I’m Just Like You” Palin puts the lie to her nickname by having the RNC spend $150,000 on her wardrobe, the following video clip from Access Hollywood about the Obama’s status as fashion icons stands in stark contrast:

Michelle Obama does a lot of her shopping at the GAP. The dress she’s wearing in the interview cost a mere $30. Barack resoles his shoes and is wearing pants he’s had for 10 years. Who do you think is going to be more fiscally responsible?

Found over at The Huffington Post.

Holy crap! Chicago Tribune endorses Barack Obama for president!

This is a big fucking deal. Do you know why it’s a big fucking deal? I’ll let the folks at the Chicago Tribune explain it:

This endorsement makes some history for the Chicago Tribune. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party’s nominee for president.

That paper, by the way, has been around for some 167 years. Not that they’ve always endorsed the Republicans:

The Tribune in its earliest days took up the abolition of slavery and linked itself to a powerful force for that cause—the Republican Party. The Tribune’s first great leader, Joseph Medill, was a founder of the GOP. The editorial page has been a proponent of conservative principles. It believes that government has to serve people honestly and efficiently.

With that in mind, in 1872 we endorsed Horace Greeley, who ran as an independent against the corrupt administration of Republican President Ulysses S. Grant. (Greeley was later endorsed by the Democrats.) In 1912 we endorsed Theodore Roosevelt, who ran as the Progressive Party candidate against Republican President William Howard Taft.

The Tribune’s decisions then were driven by outrage at inept and corrupt business and political leaders.

We see parallels today.

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office—and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

The Chicago Tribune is obviously Old School Republican and not the Neocons that currently have control of the White House. Still, it’s a stunning moment to see them endorse a Democrat for the first time. I also find it amazing that, like me, they like the old John McCain and are disappointed with what he’s turned himself into in order to become President:

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party’s course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.

It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush’s tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.

McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate—but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin’s exposure to the public. But it’s clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment’s notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

They’re not entirely thrilled with Obama, but they’ve watched him long enough as an Illinois politician to feel he’d be the best choice:

McCain calls Obama a typical liberal politician. Granted, it’s disappointing that Obama’s mix of tax cuts for most people and increases for the wealthy would create an estimated $2.9 trillion in federal debt. He has made more promises on spending than McCain has. We wish one of these candidates had given good, hard specific information on how he would bring the federal budget into line. Neither one has.

We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.

We know first-hand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He was most effective in the Illinois legislature when he worked with Republicans on welfare, ethics and criminal justice reform.

He worked to expand the number of charter schools in Illinois—not popular with some Democratic constituencies.

He took up ethics reform in the U.S. Senate—not popular with Washington politicians.

His economic policy team is peppered with advisers who support free trade. He has been called a “University of Chicago Democrat”—a reference to the famed free-market Chicago school of economics, which puts faith in markets.

Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.

He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.

When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren’t a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.

It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation’s most powerful office, he will prove it wasn’t so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama’s name to Lincoln’s in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.

Wow, just.. wow! That’s one hell of an endorsement. That’s GOTTA put a spring into Obama’s step. It’s certainly doing wonders for mine.