Obama’s Unity Speech After the Election

Good afternoon, everybody. Yesterday, before votes were tallied, I shot a video that some of you may have seen in which I said to the American people: Regardless of which side you were on in the election, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost, the sun would come up in the morning.

And that is one bit of prognosticating that actually came true. The sun is up. And I know everybody had a long night. I did, as well. I had a chance to talk to President-elect Trump last night — about 3:30 in the morning, I think it was — to congratulate him on winning the election. And I had a chance to invite him to come to the White House tomorrow to talk about making sure that there is a successful transition between our presidencies.

Now, it is no secret that the President-elect and I have some pretty significant differences. But remember, eight years ago, President Bush and I had some pretty significant differences. But President Bush’s team could not have been more professional or more gracious in making sure we had a smooth transition so that we could hit the ground running. And one thing you realize quickly in this job is that the presidency, and the vice presidency, is bigger than any of us.

So I have instructed my team to follow the example that President Bush’s team set eight years ago, and work as hard as we can to make sure that this is a successful transition for the President-elect — because we are now all rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country. The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.

I also had a chance last night to speak with Secretary Clinton, and I just had a chance to hear her remarks. I could not be prouder of her. She has lived an extraordinary life of public service. She was a great First Lady. She was an outstanding senator for the state of New York. And she could not have been a better Secretary of State. I’m proud of her. A lot of Americans look up to her. Her candidacy and nomination was historic and sends a message to our daughters all across the country that they can achieve at the highest levels of politics. And I am absolutely confident that she and President Clinton will continue to do great work for people here in the United States and all around the world.

Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs — a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other. I hope that he maintains that spirit throughout this transition, and I certainly hope that’s how his presidency has a chance to begin.

I also told my team today to keep their heads up, because the remarkable work that they have done day in, day out — often without a lot of fanfare, often without a lot of attention — work in agencies, work in obscure areas of policy that make government run better and make it more responsive, and make it more efficient, and make it more service-friendly so that it’s actually helping more people — that remarkable work has left the next President with a stronger, better country than the one that existed eight years ago.

So win or lose in this election, that was always our mission. That was our mission from day one. And everyone on my team should be extraordinarily proud of everything that they have done, and so should all the Americans that I’ve had a chance to meet all across this country who do the hard work of building on that progress every single day. Teachers in schools, doctors in the ER clinic, small businesses putting their all into starting something up, making sure they’re treating their employees well. All the important work that’s done by moms and dads and families and congregations in every state. The work of perfecting this union.

So this was a long and hard-fought campaign. A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so. But that’s the nature of campaigns. That’s the nature of democracy. It is hard, and sometimes contentious and noisy, and it’s not always inspiring.

But to the young people who got into politics for the first time, and may be disappointed by the results, I just want you to know, you have to stay encouraged. Don’t get cynical. Don’t ever think you can’t make a difference. As Secretary Clinton said this morning, fighting for what is right is worth it.

Sometimes you lose an argument. Sometimes you lose an election. The path that this country has taken has never been a straight line. We zig and zag, and sometimes we move in ways that some people think is forward and others think is moving back. And that’s okay. I’ve lost elections before. Joe hasn’t. (Laughter.) But you know.

(The Vice President blesses himself.) (Laughter.)

So I’ve been sort of —

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Remember, you beat me badly. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: That’s the way politics works sometimes. We try really hard to persuade people that we’re right. And then people vote. And then if we lose, we learn from our mistakes, we do some reflection, we lick our wounds, we brush ourselves off, we get back in the arena. We go at it. We try even harder the next time.

The point, though, is, is that we all go forward, with a presumption of good faith in our fellow citizens — because that presumption of good faith is essential to a vibrant and functioning democracy. That’s how this country has moved forward for 240 years. It’s how we’ve pushed boundaries and promoted freedom around the world. That’s how we’ve expanded the rights of our founding to reach all of our citizens. It’s how we have come this far.

And that’s why I’m confident that this incredible journey that we’re on as Americans will go on. And I am looking forward to doing everything that I can to make sure that the next President is successful in that. I have said before, I think of this job as being a relay runner — you take the baton, you run your best race, and hopefully, by the time you hand it off you’re a little further ahead, you’ve made a little progress. And I can say that we’ve done that, and I want to make sure that hand off is well-executed, because ultimately we’re all on the same team.

All right? Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)

Rep. Elijah Cummings Inspires Voters and Volunteers in West Philadelphia

Pennsylvania is the keystone of the Clinton campaign’s legendary “fire wall” and maximizing the turnout in the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia is key to victory in Philadelphia. Accordingly, the city of brotherly love has been graced by a who’s-who’s of luminaries in the Democratic Party.

For example, yesterday singer Katy Perry performed to a packed house at the Mann Center and was accompanied by Hillary Clinton, Dwight Evans, Bob Brady, Bob Casey, Cory Booker and Madeleine Albright.

Tomorrow, it will be Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen’s turn to perform on Independence Mall, along with Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama.

Today, campaign volunteers canvassed neighborhoods all around Philadelphia, knocking on more doors than the rest of Pennsylvania combined. They were encouraged in this effort by Congressman Elijah Cummings, who represents parts of Baltimore and Howard County, Maryland. He dropped by the West Philadelphia Democratic Campaign Field Office at 1575 N. 52nd Street in West Philadelphia. After rallying the eager volunteers, he visited local churches to greet the congregants.

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice Pays Tribute to Elie Wiesel

Elie_Wiesel_2012_We at The Philadelphia Jewish Voice are profoundly saddened by the recent death of Elie Wiesel. Although Wiesel experienced the worst of mankind during the Holocaust, he transformed his experience into something extraordinary: He became, as President Obama said, “one of the great moral voices of our time, and in many ways, the conscience of the world.” [Read more…]

While Taking Out Bin Laden, Did We Create A New Enemy of America?

oA5zKuHiy7vlOn April 30, 2011, as Navy Seals were en route to take out Osama Bin Laden, the President helped ensure operational security by keeping to his pre-announced schedule and giving his speech at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Donald Trump was in the audience as a guest of the Washington Post and was ridiculed mercilessly by President Barack Obama and comedian Seth Meyers. Obama joked about Trump’s responsibilities on Celebrity Apprentice:

Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’ Jon or Meatloaf. (Laughter.) You fired Gary Busey. (Laughter.) And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. (Laughter and applause.) Well handled, sir. (Laughter.) Well handled.

Quite a contrast with the decisions which Obama would be faced with that very night in the Situation Room.

Donald Trump tried to be stoic, but from his expression it seems he was internally seething. Was this the moment that Trump decided that he would get the ultimate revenge against the political establishment and the mainstream media?

Obama Refutes Criticism of Iran Deal

Remarks by President Barack Obama at American University, August 5, 2015

Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should — for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.


[Read more…]

Extensive US-Israel Missile Defense Exercise

–by Jordan Rohde

The United States and Israel will participate in a large-scale joint military exercise in 2012 to strengthen the coordination between the two countries’ missile defense systems. The defense exercise, called Operation Juniper Cobra, will prove to be “one of the most complex and extensive yet” between the United States and Israel. The Obama Administration’s commitment to participate reinforces the already strong ties between the United States and Israel and reiterates to the world that the Obama Administration is fully behind Israel.

More after the jump.
The Jerusalem Post reported:

In the face of Iran’s continued pursuit of a nuclear weapon, Israel and the United States will hold a large-scale missile defense exercise in the beginning of next year aimed at improving operational coordination between both countries’ defense systems…

The purpose of the exercise is to create the necessary infrastructure that would enable interoperability between Israeli and American missile defense systems in case the US government decided to deploy these systems here in the event of a conflict with Iran, like it did ahead of the Gulf War in Iraq in 1991.

‘Juniper Cobra shows us how to defend not only with Israeli assets but also with American assets,’ Arieh Herzog, head of the Defense Ministry’s Homa Missile Defense Agency, said on Monday at the 2nd Annual Israel Multinational Missile Defense Conference near Tel Aviv.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Frank Rose discussed the continued partnership between the U.S. and Israel:

Together we can work to protect what our adversaries would put at risk, both now and in the future…. Our mutual commitment to cooperation on missile defense research and development, on deploying proven technologies and weapon systems such as the Arrow, and on gaining operational experience through joint exercises and training, will go far in enhancing Israeli security and our mutual interests, and in further cementing and expanding our partnership.

The Jerusalem Post continued:

Col. Shahar Shohat, commander of the Israel Air Force’s Wing, responsible for Israel’s missile defense systems, expressed hope that the country’s enemies will realize that their investment in rockets and missiles is not worthwhile due to the deployment of new defense systems.

‘This could happen if they understand that we have effective systems and they will not be able to attack what they want to attack,’ he said.

Shohat also praised the effectiveness of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which received crucial support from the Obama Administration. Shohat said:

The presence of the Iron Dome provided a response by intercepting the rockets and gave the leadership room to maneuver and make decisions…

JTA, WaPost, Conservative Blogger, And ThinkProgress Agree On Discredited Jewish Opinion Poll

–by David Streeter

We wanted to make sure that you saw the growing consensus — now from JTA’s Ron Kampeas, The Washington Post’s Polling Manager Peyton Craighill, conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, and ThinkProgress — regarding the discredited McLaughlin and Cadell poll that falsely claims American Jews are abandoning President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

JTA refers to this as “an expensive push poll;” the Post’s polling manager describes it as “a clear example of advocacy polling;” ThinkProgress http://thinkprogress.org/secur… a fascinating conflict of interest, in which the pollsters are themselves founders of the organization that commissioned the poll; and even conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin notes, “I share criticism that some of the questions in the recently released Caddell-McLaughlin poll were quite tilted, shedding doubt on the utility of the poll.”

JTA’s Ron Kampeas wrote about the poll:

[Q]uestions are almost as grievously skewed: ‘Should Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel or should the United States force Israel to give parts of Jerusalem, including Christian and Jewish holy sites, to the Palestinian Authority.’

Who has proposed that, precisely? Not Obama — not anyone serious.

That makes this an expensive push poll.

The other problem is this question:

Would you vote to re-elect Barack Obama as President or would you consider voting for someone else?

More after the jump.
Tevi Troy at National Review describes the 43-48 results as showing ‘that only 43 percent of Jews plan to vote to reelect Obama in 2012.’

Of course it shows nothing of the sort. First of all, incumbents always fare relatively poorly against generics of the opposing party. Except, this isn’t even a generic of the opposing party — it’s ‘someone else.’ It could be a Democrat in the primaries. It could be an independent.

And more critically, the respondents are saying they would ‘consider voting’ for someone else. I can’t see how every Independent responding, and not a few Democrats, would not ‘consider’ voting for another candidate.

Again, it’s meaningless.

The Washington Post’s Polling Manager Peyton Craighill said:

[The poll] ‘is a clear example of advocacy polling. They’ve generated leading questions to elicit a desired result to prove a point. In no way does this represent neutral, independent research.’

Conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, Craighill’s colleague at The Washington Post, agreed with him and offered her own criticism of the poll:

I share criticism that some of the questions in the recently released Caddell-McLaughlin poll were quite tilted, shedding doubt on the utility of the poll. But a fuller context for the effort to poll American Jews is long overdue.

Peyton Craighill, The Post’s polling manager, doesn’t merely take issue with this poll. He offers some important cautions about efforts to poll a very small segment of the electorate.

ThinkProgress uncovered a potential conflict of interest during its investigation of the poll:

ThinkProgress looked at the organization commissioning the poll – Secure America Now – and uncovered a potential conflict of interest for the pollsters….

ThinkProgress asked John McLaughlin about Secure America Now and he told us:

Pat [Caddell] and I worked with [Secure America Now] to do the survey. […] They paid for it.

A little research revealed an article on the conservative Big Peace website from February, discussing how Secure America Now was founded by John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell to ‘inject national security issues into the public dialogue.’

McLaughlin acknowledged his leadership role at Secure America Now in a phone conversation today…

The poll makes no mention of the fact that an organization Caddell described as ‘a grassroots place where people can join up and begin to do things to force [national security and foreign policy] issues into the debate,’ commissioned its own founders to conduct the poll.

Clearly, the McLaughlin and Cadell poll is simply too flawed to be taken seriously.

Keep in mind that Gallup found last week that American Jews are not only supportive of Obama, but that they remain the President’s strongest supporters. NJDC’s statement on the Gallup poll, as well as the full release from Gallup, can be viewed here.

Please let us know if you have any questions about this poll, or any of the other recently debunked polls.

President’s Reported Willingness to Cut Social Security Benefits a Danger to Seniors

–by Sharon Bender

B’nai B’rith International is deeply disappointed by a White House willingness, as reported by The Washington Post among other news organizations, to include cuts to Social Security benefits in addition to potentially devastating cuts to Medicare and other programs in deficit reduction efforts. Social Security does not contribute to the federal deficit-by law, it simply cannot. Social Security benefits come from payroll contributions. By law, it’s a self-funding program which cannot touch general revenue or, therefore, drive the deficit up. Including it in these deficit talks could make an already disturbing set of options even worse.

Social Security is a vital, irreplaceable safety net for seniors and people with disabilities. Benefits are already slim, with the average beneficiary receiving just $13,000 a year. By reducing the already badly calculated and insufficient cost of living adjustment (COLA), the program would be less effective even for current beneficiaries. And the damage would be compounded annually, hurting future retirees and the very elderly even more.

“That these rumored COLA cuts would be piled on top of expected changes to Medicare that could shift costs to seniors is especially worrisome,” Allan J. Jacobs, B’nai B’rith International President said. “Eventually middle class retirees could find their most reliable income stream consumed by their rising health care costs.”

More after the jump.
The reported White House plan would recalculate the COLA using a mechanism chosen because it reduces the size of the increase. This COLA cut would accumulate over time, eventually leaving social security benefits far behind inflation and smaller for each successive generation.

B’nai B’rith International understands that the president feels obliged to “put everything on the table” in order to avoid being accused of being unwilling to compromise and to increase the chance for a responsible deal.  But as the president’s spokesperson reiterated today, Social Security is not part of the federal deficit and is funded outside the budget. It is difficult to believe that the government could justify collecting the same rate of taxes from today’s workers while agreeing to erode their benefits into the future.

“This plan makes no sense,” B’nai B’rith Director of Aging Policy Rachel Goldberg, Ph.D., said. “Social Security has no impact on the deficit. To include cuts to beneficiaries as part of a deficit reduction deal flies in the face of sound fiscal policy and disregards a population segment in most need of assistance. And in the face of the possible cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or other critical programs on which seniors and the disabled rely, Social Security cuts could be disastrous.”

Remarks by the President on the Status of Efforts to Find a Balanced Approach to Deficit Reduction

1:02 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  I’m going to make a very brief statement.

    I just completed a meeting with all the congressional leaders from both chambers, from both parties, and I have to say that I thought it was a very constructive meeting.  People were frank.  We discussed the various options available to us.  Everybody reconfirmed the importance of completing our work and raising the debt limit ceiling so that the full faith and credit of the United States of America is not impaired.

    What we decided was that staffs, as well as leadership, will be working during the weekend, and that I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that, at that point, the parties will at least know where each other’s bottom lines are and will hopefully be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that’s necessary to get a deal done.

More after the jump.
  I want to emphasize that nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.  And the parties are still far apart on a wide range of issues.  But, again, I thought that all the leaders here came in a spirit of compromise, in a spirit of wanting to solve problems on behalf of the American people.  Everybody acknowledged that the issue of our debt and our deficit is something that needs to be tackled now.  Everybody acknowledged that in order to do that, Democrats and Republicans are going to be required in each chamber.  Everybody acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of August 2nd to make sure that America does not default for the first time on its obligations.  And everybody acknowledged that there’s going to be pain involved politically on all sides, but our biggest obligation is to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by the American people, creating an environment in which we can grow the economy and make sure that more and more people are being put back to work.

    So I want to thank all the leaders.  I thought it was a very constructive meeting.  And I will be seeing them back here on Sunday.  A lot of work will be done between now and then.

                       END           1:05 P.M. EDT

NJDC President and CEO David Harris Responds to Gallup Poll of American Jews

–by David Harris

This Gallup poll demonstrates definitively that the American Jewish community is not being fooled by the disturbing smear campaign being waged against President Obama and his outstanding pro-Israel record. Not only was Jewish approval of the President statistically unchanged during the six-week period in which his opponents engaged in an organized effort to distort Administration policies for political gain, but the +14% favor shown to him by American Jews overall has remained virtually constant since he took office in January, 2009.

“When it comes to everything this President has done to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship — as with every issue — facts are our friends. And the more American Jews learn the facts, and cut through the virulent smear campaigns, the more and more they will support this President. In the meantime, enough is enough. The time has come, once and for all, for those who continue using Israel as a political wedge issue for partisan political gain — including far too many GOP presidential candidates — to cease and desist. It’s profoundly damaging to the bipartisan U.S.-Israel relationship, and apparently American Jews aren’t buying it either.”