I'm thankful. How ironic.

I posted a version of this last Thanksgiving, but I think it bears repeating this year.

I am thankful for my family. Which is ironic, because I only have one brother, I don’t have many aunts, uncles, or cousins (not nearly as many as my parents), one of my grandpas died before I was born (as did all of my great-grandparents), and I only have one surviving grandparent (I’m 21). Still, I know that some have never met their families, while others are in very tumultuous family situations.

I am thankful for my health. Which is ironic, because this Thanksgiving, I have a cough. Still, I don’t have cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, or any other life-threatening condition. What’s more, I am pretty able-bodied. Not everyone can say that.

I am thankful for my financial well-being. Which is ironic, because I’m nowhere near wealthy. Still, I am far more fortunate than most people in the world.

I am thankful that I have a job. Which is ironic because it’s only a part-time job that pays $7.40 an hour, and it’s only 8 hours per week. Still, I am more fortunate than the more than 9% of Michiganians on the unemployment rolls. And the many more who are unemployed, but aren’t counted as such. And the many who work more hours and get less in return.

I am thankful for my home. Which is ironic, because it’s no mansion. It has many of the amenities, but no dishwasher, fireplace, or dining room. I live in a suburb (Kentwood, Michigan), but you can’t accuse us of being as extravagant as suburbanites are stereotyped to be. Still, not everyone can even afford an apartment, much less a house. And a vast majority of the world's population lives in substandard housing.

I am thankful for my cell phone, digital camera, DVD player, computer, TV, and other technological gadgets. Which is ironic, since my phone isn’t fancy, my camera doesn’t have very good resolution, and I don’t watch as much TV as I used to. Still, so many in this world go without having a single one of these gadgets.

I am thankful that I am a student at Central Michigan University. Which is ironic, given that it’s no Ivy League school. Still, how many people can say they attend an eco-friendly and gay-friendly college? And that's barely the tip of the iceberg.

I am thankful for those who have consistently fought for racial minorities, women, the GLBT community, the mentally ill, the disabled, and others. Which is ironic, given that I am an able-bodied, white heterosexual male who is not classified as mentally ill. Still, I realize that the fight for equal justice marches on - and all of us have an important role to play in that march.

I am thankful for all the people who have had a positive impact on my life. Which is ironic, since they are too many to name and I have forgotten many of them. Many I have met in real life, some I have known only through the "series of tubes." But they have impacted me all the same. And yes, I am talking about the Daily Kos community and the overall lefty blogosphere, among many others.

I am thankful for him:

Finally, I am thankful that I am alive. Which is ironic, because I’m only 21, and most people expect to live a lot longer than I have. I am definitely younger than most of the people who read this post. Yet countless millions don’t even get the chance to live to half my age. I hope and pray that I will be inspired and encouraged to use the remainder of my life in a way so that, when I die, my family and friends will be able to truthfully and sincerely eulogize me by saying, "The world is a better place because Scott Urbanowski lived in it."

I am thankful for so many other things that I cannot name, lest this post be a several-hour-long read. Which is ironic, seeing as how I take them for granted so often.

You see, folks, so many of us want so much more than we have. And don't get me wrong, there are many things I want that I don't have. Yet I believe that knowing that we are so fortunate is key to contentment and happiness in life.

I bet you're a lot more fortunate than you realize.


How the late-night comedians celebrated Obama's win!

I've been so busy lately, but I wanted to make sure you had the chance to see what the various late-night comedians had to say about our historic election a few weeks ago! Thanks to Daniel Kurtzman at About.com for compiling these!

David Letterman

  • Attention passengers, the Straight Talk Express is no longer in service.
  • Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is our new president. And I think I speak for most Americans when I say, anybody mind if he starts a little early?
  • At the end of the evening, the electoral vote count was 349 for Obama, 148 for McCain. Or, as Fox News says, too close to call.
  • Last night's results mean one thing for John McCain. That is that Sunday's debate will be even more crucial. He's really up against the wall now.
  • But Republicans had a bad night all around. I mean, anywhere you look. Even the crooked voting machines in Florida broke down.
  • How about Sarah Palin, ladies and gentlemen. Right now on her way back to Alaska. And I'm thinking oh, I wouldn't want to be a moose now.
  • By the way, his concession speech last night was so effective, so positive that he shot up 4 points in the polls.
Jay Leno
  • You know, it's amazing, Barack Obama won in Florida and still became president. That never happens. In fact, today, Democrats are asking for a recount. They can't believe they won.
  • And, of course, it was a huge celebration over at Barack Obama headquarters, otherwise known as MSNBC.
  • Well, right after Barack Obama clinched the [nomination], did you see TV cameras caught Jesse Jackson standing at the celebration with tears in his eyes? Not because Barack won, because he makes more than $250 thousand a year.
  • President Bush said today that he watched the coverage on TV last night and he was amazed. He was amazed, he couldn't believe how many states there were. They're all over the place!
  • See, I got to admit, as a comedian, I'm gonna miss President Bush. Because Barack Obama is not easy to do jokes about. He doesn't give you a lot to go on. See, this is why God gave us Joe Biden.
  • You know who is really, really happy that John McCain did not win last night? The boyfriend of Sarah Palin's daughter. He doesn't have to get married now. 'Whew, thank God!'
  • A huge turnout in Hollywood. In fact, for the first time ever, there were more celebrities in voting booths than in rehab. That has never happened. They say this was most expensive election in history, costing over $1 billion. Do you realize that is the equivalent of three Wall Street CEO bonuses?
  • Anybody get a robo-call from Bill Clinton? They had those out there, too. See, I knew it was from Clinton right away, because if a man answers, it automatically hangs up.
Jimmy Kimmel
  • Obama thanked the President for his call and for all he did to help him get elected.
  • Hey if you think about it, President Bush is at least partially responsible for us having our first black president, so never let it be said he didn't accomplish anything. Maybe George Bush doesn't hate black people after all.
  • Bush invited Obama to come visit him at the White House, which was a nice thing to do. He wants to show him, I guess, the presidential tree house and teach him how to turn the Oval Office couch cushions into a fort. All the fun stuff.
  • The real challenge, though, is for Joe Biden because he's got to figure out how to get Dick Cheney out of the vice presidential mansion. As you know, Dick Cheney is armed and has a history of shooting old men.
Jon Stewart
  • Really, an historic night last night. You may have heard, Barack Obama will be the first black president of the United States of America. ... Obama is also the first Democrat to receive more than 50 percent of the vote since Jimmy Carter, the first senator to be elected since Jack Kennedy, the first Muslim to be ... I said too much.
  • As soon as the results were final, Barack Obama received a congratulatory call from still-President Bush, who told him, 'What an awesome night for you. I called to congratulate you and your good bride.' Why couldn't you just say wife? This being an official statement and all, I thought I would make it weird. Anyway, you all should come over to my family building at food eating time. We could hang out and word trade.
Craig Ferguson
  • I watched Obama's victory speech in Grant Park. I actually loved watching the shots of the crowd, which looked like a Benetton ad - different races, different ages, all different kinds of people. I thought it was fantastic. Meanwhile, over at McCain's speech, there were all different kinds of white people. They had tons of them -- yuppies, golfers, Osmonds.
  • Obama's victory would not have been not possible without the help of the leaders who came before him - Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson, and most importantly, President Bush, who has set the bar pretty low.
  • The stock market dropped over 400 points today, which is not a reflection on Obama. No, the brokers just realized they've still got three months of George Bush.


Bits of Tid: November 21, 2008

  • Remember this?

    Well, I bowled a 71 on Sunday! So there!
  • Speaking of Obama, he has started naming his cabinet! Eric Holder is set to become the nation's first black Attorney General, while Janet Napolitano and Tom Daschle have been chosen as the new secretaries of Homeland Security and HHS, respectively.
  • As for teh current Attorney General, it looks like Michael Mukasey will be okay after collapsing last night.
  • Benjamin Netanyahu's website looks a lot like Obama's.


My election recap, ten days later

I've been pretty busy over the last few days, and it's taken a while to collect all of my thoughts toward this election. But, here goes!

The biggest surprises of the election:

1. Diane Marie Hathaway unseating Cliff Taylor. It is considered all but impossible to lose a race for state Supreme Court when you're the incumbent. I figured Taylor had it in the bag - and quite handily, I might add.
2. Obama winning Kent County. I mean, hello!
3. Proposal 2 passing. In all honesty, I figured Prop 2 was toast. I saw a lot more organization from the "2 goes 2 far" folks.
4. The Democrats expanding their majority in the Michigan House. Just over a year ago, a small group of anti-tax conservatives launched recall campaigns against several Democrats (and a few Republicans) to punish them, if you will, for raising taxes. I had no clue that, a year later, Democrats would expand their majority in the state House by 9! Dems have gained 20 seats in the last three election cycles despite a Republican gerrymander, for a majority of 67-43.

What Obama overcame
A partial list of things Barack Obama overcame in order to win this election:
  • Inexperience
  • Bill Ayers controversy
  • The Rev. Wright controversy
  • The front-runner status of a former President's wife
  • The Republican nomination of a war hero
  • The standard lies about Democrats wanting to raise your taxes
  • I could go on and on
America: A Socialist Country?
Not according to me. But if you ask some of Obama's fiercest critics, America would rather pay higher taxes and live under a socialist President who "pals around with terrorists" than have four years of Bush-lite. Hmm, something to think about.

Do we need 60 Senate seats?
What we need is for 60 Senators to vote to invoke cloture on a measure in order for it to pass. If the next Congress convenes with 56 Democrats, 42 Republicans, and 2 independents - which seems to be the most likely outcome at this point - cloture can still be achieved provided that a handful of Republicans cross over to vote for cloture. (Likewise, if the Dems did get 60 seats, cloture wouldn't have been certain on any bill.) And cloture votes generally receive more support than the final vote to pass a bill, the latter of which only requires 51 votes as you know.

So save for very divisive issues, the probability of Obama getting much of his agenda passed through the Senate in the next two years probably will not be hindered so much by the fact that there will only be 56 or 57 Democrats in the Senate instead of 60. No, it won't be easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But nothing is impossible.

My most famous professor
Congratulations to US Representative-elect Gary Peters on a ten-point thumping of Joe Knollenberg! I had the privilege of taking a class with Peters last semester. Also, congratulations to Mark Schauer for winning his race in the 7th District, despite the fact that he too voted for a much-needed tax increase in the state Senate!

2010 offers us the chance to defeat another Republican incumbent, Thaddeus McCotter, who won by only 20,567 votes over a little-known Democrat!

I cannot begin to thank all of you who helped make Barack Obama our next President! I thank all who took the brave step of running for office, the field directors I met (Ted in Mt. Pleasant, Aaron in Kentwood, and many others), the high schoolers who helped put stickers with voting location info on door hangers, and everyone else of whatever age, gender, or race who called, canvassed, entered data, provided food for volunteers, wrote letters to the editor, etc., etc.

Thanks to you, I will have many fond memories of this campaign. But more importantly, hope has triumphed over fear, and courage has been rewarded over cowardice. May I inspire others as much as you have inspired me!


Savor this moment

It hasn't sunk in yet.

My mind is not quite around the fact that Barack Obama will be President of the United States!

More than 48 hours after he was called the winner, I am still at a loss for words to describe my feelings toward this. Hope has triumphed over fear, judgment over temper. The conventional wisdom has been 

There will be plenty of time to think about the many daunting challenges that Obama will face. But now is a time to celebrate. We have worked too hard not to celebrate.

So, have a cake!!

And party like your country is changing for the better...

...because it is!


This Is Our Moment

The skies were getting darker - along with, it seemed, the future of my beloved country and the world.

It was Wednesday, November 3, 2004. Four years ago today. The day was marked by clear skies - but that didn't matter. Inside we were all gloomy.

24 hours earlier I had been preparing to celebrate a convincing victory by John Kerry. But what had unfolded in the intervening hours felt like a gradual yet powerful punch in my gut.

My mom told me she felt like she was at a funeral - a funeral for America. My aunt - who once volunteered for one of Dick Cheney's Congressional campaigns when she lived in Casper - wore black to work in Denver. This was six months to the day after my grandfather's funeral, so I understood what she was talking about.

That evening, as the Sun set, I felt a sense of hopelessness I hadn't felt in a long time before and can't say I've felt since. How could Democrats ever win again if an experienced Vietnam-veteran-turned-Senator couldn't beat, well, Dubya? What can we expect when the GOP nominates someone who can actually put together a coherent sentence? And we lost four more seats in the Senate for a 55-44 Republican majority; one of those seats was Tom Daschle's (part of whose Senate farewell speech I have on tape at home).

That Wednesday night, as I tried to make sense of what had happened, I turned my focus to the future. I was not looking forward to a 2006 election in which Dems would have to defend more seats and my beloved Governor Granholm and Senator Stabenow would have to fight hard to keep their jobs in battleground Michigan. I also wondered who would run in 2008. Govs. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Janet Napolitano (D-AZ)? Now-Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL)? Sens. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and George Allen (R-VA)? Jeb? Joe Biden and John McCain came to mind too, but it seemed unlikely that Barack Obama - elected to the Senate the day before - would be our nominee in the next election. And of course I had never heard of Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin.

Well, things sure as heck change!

I graduated from high school almost seven months after the election. Just three days before I graduated the Senate had reached a deal to avoid coming to blows over the 'nuclear option' controversy. My first day of class at Central Michigan University was August 28, 2008. While it was hot and sunny in Mt. Pleasant, Hurricane Katrina was making its presence felt in New Orleans. The ensuing mismanagement of the situation by the Bush Administration helped to begin the push Bush's approval ratings down.

Then came the indictments of such figures as Tom DeLay and Scooter Libby. Then, in a show of backbone that I didn't expect from Harry Reid (and in all honesty would like to see more of), Harry Reid forced the Senate into a closed session to discuss intelligence failures in Iraq. November came, and with it two Democrats - Jon Corzine and Tim Kaine - were elected Governors of New Jersey and Virginia, respectively. Kaine appeared on Obama's shortlist for the Vice Presidency this year.

The following month, the day before I left CMU to end my first semester here, pur College Democrats faculty advisor hosted a house party for Governor Granholm's re-election campaign. I still remember being in great company that night with not only other College Dems (whom I met during the second week of the semester), but a few members of the Isabella County Democratic Party. That was the night I met the Barkers, who are active in Isabella Democratic circles, as well as Peggy, the wife of the College Dems' advisor. Our College Dems VP made the announcement that he would run for State House the following year, while one of the Barkers announced a run for County Commission. Neither was elected, but still it was great to be in the presence of people who were willing to step up and take responsibility for the future of their community.

I have enjoyed being a part of the Isabella Democrats. Pete, who is running for Township Clerk, was the one who introduced me to Michigan Liberal, which became a gateway of sorts into my blogging. ;-) Another friend, Rob, asked me to run for Precinct Delegate, which I've done twice, winning both times (by one vote this year)!

Then came November of 2006. After being down by several points in the polls that summer, Jennifer M. Granholm was resoundingly given a fresh mandate, winning 56-42%. The Democrats, long seen as underdogs for control of Congress, won the House, and as we found out the next day, they also grabbed the Senate. The fears I had in 2004 ended up being for naught! I was delighted to see important legislation passed in Congress - legislation to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, to raise the minimum wage, to

Then... Presidential Campaign Time! I researched the candidates and told myself I'd be much more careful about picking one to support. I went from supporting Kerry, to Dean, to Graham, to Kucinich, to Clark, to Dean, to Edwards, and back to Kerry in 2002-2004. This time, it took me until September to pick Obama. But I stuck with him. Primary season was an adventure, to say the least - except that i live in Michigan. Enough said. But that's another story.

I have been waiting for this since November 3, 2004.
I have been waiting for this since I graduated from high school.
I have been waiting for this since CAFTA.
I have been waiting for this since Katrina.
I have been waiting for this since I first attended a College Democrats meeting.
I have been waiting for this since Roberts and Alito joined the High Court.
I have been waiting for this since the floodgate of scandals opened on the GOP.
I have been waiting for this since that night at the professor's house.
I have been waiting for this since I cast my first-ever vote - a 'Yes' vote to renew a school district sinking fund millage!
I have been waiting for this since that wonderful Election Night of November 7, 2006.
I have been waiting for this since the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress convened.
I have been waiting for this since the first of many attempts by Congress to bring our troops home - attempts that were routinely followed by capitulation.
I have been waiting for this since this campaign began at the end of 2006.
I have been waiting for this since attending a meeting of the Democratic State Central Committee here on my campus.
I have been waiting for this since my influence in the primary process was stolen. And there's plenty of blame to go around for that.
I have been waiting for this since that Saturday in April when, for the first time during this campaign, I exclaimed the words "Yes We Can!"
I have been waiting for this since I saw Obama speak in person in Grand Rapids.
I have been waiting for this since Obama clinched the nomination.
I have been waiting for this since my aunt lost her job in June.
I have been waiting for this since July 4, 2008.
I have been waiting for this since Joe Biden was introduced as our candidate for Vice President.
I have been waiting for this since the Convention.
I have been waiting for this for so long.

And now, it is here.

We have all waited for so long. We have dealt with so much. But it all leads up to this.

This is our moment.

Are you ready to change the course of human history?