Stories indexed with the term ‘Barack Obama’

In It For The Money: Presidential Stinkburger

The President of the United States visited Ann Arbor on April 2. If you want to know what he said, you can read a faithful transcript right here, or just watch the unedited remarks.

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

But none of that puts you in the room with the PotUS. Hearing the same four presidential soundbites about Zingerman’s and minimum wage played over and over again on the radio certainly gives you the gist of what was said; none of it was earth shattering.

In fact, I’d wager that most Chronicle readers could generate a fairly accurate facsimile of the remarks made by the PotUS working strictly from First Principles. You know what politicians are like: Y’all a good looking crowd! God bless America! Handshake-babykiss-SMILE! You know what excites East Coasters about Ann Arbor: Zingerman’s! Sportsball! Wolverines! And you know how PotUS stands on the minimum wage: Raise it!

None of that puts you in the room.

And you’re likely inclined to say: So what? What’s the use of being in the room? What’s the bother of showing up in a specific time and place to see something that’ll be on YouTube ten minutes after it happens, to be watched at my leisure? Hell, Dave: Why did you bother wasting so many hours to be in that room? Don’t you have better things to do with your time?

And, while I do have better things (or at least better paid things) to do with my time, there’s always value in being in the room. In abstract, there’s value because being in the room is The Job. It’s what I’ve said I will do for you: I will show the hell up, and tell you what the hell I saw. This is the baseline contract any newspaper should have with its readers.

And specifically, on this occasion, there was value in being in the room because some things do not come across in articles and the op-eds and the clips and soundbites – not even in the unedited audio or video. There are intangibles – including all of the things that are outside the frame of the camera, too far away for the mics to pick up, or of little interest to the reporters on hand. [Full Story]

Packard & State

Hare Krishnas singing, chanting and dancing in front of R.U.B. BBQ on the corner of Packard & State, while President Obama is speechifying nearby in the intramural building on Hoover!

UM IM Sports Building

[As the president was passing,] I said I ran and won. Immediately Obama stopped, and started talking to me, congratulated me … it was just unbelievable. [photo] (Photo credit Daniel Wasserman)

Ann Arbor: Obama

Several media outlets reported on President Barack Obama’s speech in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, where he focused on efforts to raise the federal minimum wage $7.25 to $10.10 an hour by 2016. From CNN: “Speaking to a rowdy crowd at the University of Michigan, Obama used much of his remarks to lambast Republicans who oppose such a hike, saying it amounted to giving working-class Americans ‘the shaft.’” [Source] The Detroit Free Press quotes UM freshman Greg Lobel: “He’s been a great president for college kids. He’s a huge basketball fan. He’s hilarious. He relates to the kids.” [Source] Detroit’s NBC affiliate provides video of Obama’s lunch at Zingerman’s Deli – he ordered a Reuben. [Source]


Column: Reflections on Two Inaugurations

Editor’s note: Ann Arbor residents Laura Sky Brown and her son Henry attended the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. This year they returned to the nation’s capital, and filed periodic updates for The Chronicle along the way. This column contains their reflections on those trips, beginning with observations by Laura Sky Brown.

Laura Sky Brown, Jan. 21, 2013 on the occasion of the public  inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama.

Laura Sky Brown, Jan. 21, 2013 on the occasion of the public inauguration ceremony of President Barack Obama.

I was never the kind of person who went to mass events. I could not imagine lining up overnight for concert tickets, crowding in to Times Square to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, or sitting in the midst of thousands at a music festival.

So it’s a little bit amazing that I have now attended not one but two presidential inaugurations. Both times, I have been motivated almost entirely by the desire to give my middle son Henry a thrill. Henry is the guy among my four children who will sit down and watch “Hardball” and CNN with me, who has incisive commentary on political issues, and who understands how to listen to rhetoric and pull out the essential elements (and root out the crap buried inside). I harbor not-so-secret hopes that he will go into political life, although he is reserved and introverted – so as a strategist, not as a candidate.

At this inauguration – much as at the one in 2009 – the event for me was all about the people. We did get to see the President, we did get to be present at important national events, but what was most valuable was to see and interact with people from all over the country. We had our pictures taken by people from Florida, we stood in line behind people from Minnesota, and we sat across a cafe table from a New Yorker. We walked down the street behind a photographer from the White House press corps.

So many people brought little kids with them. You might say that is a crazy idea, perhaps even dangerous – taking a five-year-old or even a ten-year-old into a huge mass of people. You’d be wrong. Most of them had wide eyes that were taking it all in, and you could picture them in 50 years telling their grandchildren how they were there. What would I give, in retrospect, to have been dragged to the inauguration of Richard Nixon in the 1960s or to have seen the Carters get out of the car and walk in their inaugural parade when I was a teenager? [Full Story]

Inauguration 2013: Obama’s Second Term

Editor’s note: Four years ago, Laura Sky Brown and her son Henry Brown traveled from Ann Arbor to Washington D.C. for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.

Laura Sky Brown and Henry Brown in Washington D.C. in front of the Washington monument Jan. 20, 2013.

Laura Sky Brown and Henry Brown in Washington D.C. in front of the Washington monument Jan. 20, 2013.

This year they’ve headed back to our nation’s capital to watch the public inauguration ceremony on Jan. 21.  The 20th amendment to the U.S. Constitution set the end of each presidential term at noon on Jan. 20. So President Obama took the actual oath of office on Jan. 20 in a private ceremony.

Laura and Henry are filing brief updates along the way, in the spirit of The Chronicle’s traditional Election Day coverage of the polls. 

19 January 10:44 p.m. (Toledo, Ohio Amtrak Station): Henry and I are waiting inside a festive station full of travelers en route to the inauguration. Cameraman from Channel 13 Toledo is doing a little video reporting in the waiting area. Train will leave at 11:15 p.m.

20 January noon (Washington, D.C. Union Station): We came in by Amtrak train from Toledo, which left at 11:15 p.m. and arrived just past noon at Washington’s Union Station. Among the other passengers, most of whom were on their way here for the inauguration, there was a group of 28 people traveling together who were mostly older, very well-dressed African American women from Toledo. A news reporter from the Toledo ABC affiliate was there with a camera doing some interviews.

 20 January (Rayburn House Office Building, Dingell’s Office): On arrival at Union Station, we walked over to the Rayburn House Office Building. Along the way we passed other Congressional office buildings (they are behind the capitol in the Capitol Hill neighborhood), each with a small line of people waiting to go through metal detectors to go in and get Inauguration tickets, which are handed out by members of Congress to constituents.

I got our tickets, basically, by calling Rep. Dingell’s office nearly every day since November and e-mailing regularly. It paid off in that, when we walked in the door, two aides welcomed us with, “You must be Laura Sky Brown and her son Henry,” and they walked us in to Rep. Dingell’s office and let us sit in his chairs.  [Full Story]

In it for the Money: C.R.E.A.M.

Editor’s note: Nelson’s “In it for the Money” opinion column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. Nelson is sort of a long-winded son-of-a-gun. If you want to read very short things by Nelson, more frequently than once a month, you can follow him on Twitter, where he’s @SquiDaveo

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

I voted to re-elect Barack Obama. I doubt that’s a terrible shocker, but I want to explain why I did so – and why, regardless of how the economy looks on Jan. 1, or next summer, or in four years, I will still be proud of that decision.

In the run-up to Nov. 6 we kept hearing – and by extension kept telling each other – that this election was “about the economy, stupid!” I beef with that claim, but don’t reject it entirely – certainly not so long as I’m writing under the banner of being “In It for the Money.”

A lot of Americans frame the American Dream as one of economic security. While economic security is obviously a vital component of the Dream, to see that as the whole Dream is – as I’ve sorta harped on in the past – more than a little sad. When Jefferson cribbed Locke for the Declaration of Independence, he revised those original unalienable rights from “life, liberty, and estate” to the often ironically snarked “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I doubt that was a typo.

Call me a sucker, but like Honest Abe, I believe in the Declaration of Independence as the fundamental expression of what our Unfinished Work [1] is all about – now in its 236th year. And, while you may need to bank some Estate in order to pursue that Happiness, it’s a bit shallow to argue that acquiring the Estate is the same thing as acquiring Happiness.

When I stood at the flimsy little voting station – a plastic tray with telescoping metal legs, set up in Allen Elementary School – I wasn’t there to vote for a smaller national debt or expanded social programs or lower taxes or higher unemployment. I was there to vote to advance our Unfinished Work.

And that meant filling in the bubble next to Obama/Biden. Let me explain. [Full Story]

Photos: Local Faces in Obama’s UM Crowd

When the president of the United States comes to town to give a major speech on college affordability, it’s not something we’d want to miss.

Barack Obama

U.S. president Barack Obama, speaking at the University of Michigan’s Al Glick Fieldhouse on Friday morning, Jan. 27. His remarks focused on the issue of education and college affordability. (Photos by Mary Morgan.)

Also not wanting to miss Barack Obama’s appearance at the University of Michigan – a return visit after delivering the commencement address in May of 2010 – were dozens of other national, state and local media. Attention is heightened even more during this election year, and Friday morning’s speech was just one of many stops as Obama hit the road following Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

There will be countless reports and opinions offered on the Jan. 27 speech at UM, but we’d encourage you to approach it unfiltered, at least initially. You can watch the roughly 40-minute speech in its entirety online, or read a transcript of it here.

For Obama’s remarks almost two years ago at the 2010 UM commencement, we provided a bit of our own analysis, along with photos by Myra Klarman.

This time, we went with an eye for recording the community connections we could see at the event. And there were many – not surprisingly for a Democratic stronghold like Ann Arbor. Politicians were easy to spot, of course, but there were also educators, business owners, government workers and many others.

Over 3,000 people attended Friday morning’s speech. Here are a few of those we encountered there. [Full Story]

Column: Making Sushi of Obama’s Speech

Last weekend, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at the University of Michigan’s  spring commencement to an audience of more than 90,000 people, including more than 8,000 graduates.

The event also included national, regional, and local media organizations, who were eventually allowed into Michigan Stadium. But I don’t think most members of the media really listened to his address.

New York Times Headlines

The online New York Times ran at least four different headlines for the Obama speech. In this collage of screen shots, from the upper left, going clockwise: (1) "At a Graduation, Obama Defends Government"; (2) "President's Plea to Graduates: Be Civil"; (3) "At a Graduation, Obama Urges Openness and Defends Government"; (4) "Obama Assails Antigovernment Rhetoric." (Image links to higher resolution file.)

For example, I didn’t see any of these headlines, which could have been attached to an accurate account of Obama’s speech:

Obama Lambastes Media for Sound-Byte Coverage

Obama Takes Aim at Media for Stoking Conflicts

Obama Puts Blame for Coarse Discourse on Media

Obama Erupts But Does Not Confirm Ties to Volcano

The fourth alternative is based on a kindergartner’s question to the president, which Obama reported as part of his speech. That one is admittedly a stretch. It’s included for the benefit of an audience of two, perhaps three, local Ann Arbor readers who might crack a smile when they read it. [For those of you who don't know, Ann Arbor is building a "volcano" in the center of its downtown.]

The other three, however, are legitimate candidates for a headline that summarizes what the president’s speech was “about.” The venerable New York Times tried out at least four different headlines for a single online story on the Obama speech. But none of the NYT alternatives – nor those of any other media coverage I saw – identified as a significant theme of Obama’s speech the culpability of the media in the kind of “over the top” public debates that Obama said “coarsens our culture.”

That’s because I don’t think media organizations were paying attention to all of Obama’s speech the way they would have if they’d approached it like they were cutting up fish. [Full Story]

20th Monthly Milestone

Editor’s Note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication.

Chronicle publisher Mary Morgan

Definition of bedraggled: Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher Mary Morgan, with White House Press Pool credentials, after a long day at Michigan Stadium. (Photo by Julie Weatherbee)

On Saturday, along with more than 90,000 other people, I was in Michigan Stadium amid the spectacle of the University of Michigan commencement, with the heightened drama surrounding the presence of President Barack Obama.

Despite standing in the rain for two hours, I was glad to be part of the orchestrated pageantry – it’s a perk to living in a city that’s got the pull of a major university, while still being small enough to score access to something that draws national attention. As the day wore on, the event also helped further crystallize for me some aspects of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s journalistic mission. And because this is our publication’s 20th monthly milestone message, it seems a good occasion to reflect on that.

The most obvious point of clarity on Saturday was the difference between what The Chronicle typically does and what other media oranizations do – whether they are traditional or newly-emerging enterprises. The second observation is linked to some advice in Obama’s speech: Pay attention. [Full Story]

Obama, Graduation Through Klarman’s Lens

Local photographer Myra Klarman captured these images for The Chronicle of the May 1 University of Michigan commencement exercises at Michigan Stadium.

Jennifer Granholm, Barack Obama, Mary Sue Coleman

U.S. President Barack Obama, flanked by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm on the left and University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman on the right.

[Full Story]

Obama’s Michigan Commencement Speech

President Barack Obama delivered the main address at the University of Michigan’s May 1 spring commencement.

Analysis of Obama commencement address

Word cloud analysis of the Obama UM commencement address. Image links to higher resolution file. Analysis done at

The Chronicle has transcribed the speech as delivered and provided some annotation, in part by providing section and sub-section headings that reflect the organizational structure of the president’s remarks.

The main themes were the role of government in our lives and the keys to preservation of democracy. One of those keys to the preservation of democracy, Obama told the graduates, is to “contribute part of your life to the life of this country.” [Full Story]

Obama Dolls It Up for Ann Arbor Dems

A cutout of Barack Obama

Barack Obama holds a quilt of his family at the White House, made by Susan Walen. It was part of a folk art exhibit for the Ann Arbor Democratic Party's Labor Day picnic at the Elks Pratt Lodge. (Photo by the writer.)

The Chronicle first heard about Doug Kelley’s collection of Obama folk art when we met him at a health care forum last month, so when we learned that he’d be exhibiting part of it at the annual Ann Arbor Democratic Party‘s Labor Day picnic, we headed to the Elks Pratt Lodge on Monday to check it out.

The collection – two pairs of dolls, a quilted hanging, a hook rug, a walking stick, and several other items – includes original, somewhat eccentric work by artists from Ann Arbor and across the country.

Kelley gives frequent exhibits from his extensive Democratic Party archive – on Oct. 3, he’ll be displaying a collection of items related to voting rights at the annual meeting of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party. That meeting will feature civil rights activist John Lewis as guest speaker. But the Labor Day display was unique in at least one way: “It’s the first exhibit I’ve ever done that offers free peanuts,” Kelley said, pointing to a plastic dish filled with nuts for the taking.

So as rank-and-file Dems noshed and mingled with elected officials on the wraparound porch of the Elks lodge, we chatted with Kelley about some of the more unusual pieces he’s acquired. [Full Story]

A House of Support for Health Care Reform

Doug Kelley

Doug Kelley's wife made this shirt out of material that has pictures of all U.S. presidents, except for Obama. So Kelley wears his Obama T-shirt underneath. He was also selling the T-shirts at Saturday's meeting of the Obama Caucus of Ann Arbor. (Photo by the writer.)

The 16 people who gathered in Judy Dooley’s living room on Saturday came by different paths. Some had talked to Dooley or other volunteers with the Obama Caucus of Ann Arbor at a table they man each week at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Some had received a flyer about the event, distributed by volunteers who regularly canvas city neighborhoods. Three of the people there – Dooley, Gus Teschke and Daniela Gobetti – are coordinators for the local Obama group.

We’re pretty sure U.S. Rep. John Dingell didn’t hear about the meeting from a flyer in his door, but he showed up too. He’s using the August recess in Congress the same way other legislators are – returning to their districts to mobilize support or opposition to the health care reform bill that both the House and Senate will tackle in the fall.

The focus of Saturday’s small neighborhood gathering was President Barack Obama’s health care reform efforts, including legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced by Dingell that proposes a public health insurance option. People attending the two-hour meeting raised a lot of questions about what the proposal entailed, and many shared their own experiences with problems they’ve encountered under the nation’s current health care system. [Full Story]

Column: On the Road

Rob Cleveland

Rob Cleveland

I held back submitting this monthly column until the end of March to see what latest theatrics would wash over the auto industry. I wasn’t disappointed. The Obama administration looked over the homework submitted by GM and Chrysler – homework designed to demonstrate how they were going to get out of their collective messes – and sent them back to detention to do it over again.

On top of it all, long-time CEO at GM Rick Wagoner was summarily dismissed, as if one lone auto executive had been responsible for creating an unworkable fiscal structure and a corporate culture developed over decades of booms and busts in the auto business. And just for good measure, the government is insisting that Chrysler and Fiat hook up – something they were bound to do anyway – making this requirement the equivalent of forcing children to eat dessert. [Full Story]

Inauguration: Pics and Poetry

We round out our local coverage of the inauguration of Barack Obama with some poetry and pictures. The pictures come from Sabra Briere, who phoned in two phone reports [inauguration report 1, inauguration report 2] from Washington D.C. The poetry is provided by local attorney David Cahill, Briere’s husband, who made the trip as well, and who left some verse in a comment on another article. We  include it here for readers who don’t follow comments left on articles. Poetry and pics after the jump. [Full Story]

Where Were You?

A gathering at Marsha Chamberlin's apartment toasts the new president.

Toasting President Barack Obama at a gathering at Marsha Chamberlin's downtown Ann Arbor home just after the swearing-in ceremony.

When people ask “Where were you when Barack Obama was inaugurated?” The Chronicle will say “At Marsha Chamberlin’s home.”

Chamberlin, president of the Ann Arbor Art Center, hosted a small gathering at her Liberty Lofts condo to watch Obama’s inauguration on CNN. [Full Story]