10/21/2014 Michelle Obama: “Six things I like about you”
Today, First Lady Michelle Obama sent an email to Democrats thanking them for everything they do to support Democratic candidates. Here’s what she wrote:
I know you've heard me say this before, but I don't think anyone can hear it enough: I'm so grateful to you for your support, and I'm so proud of everything that we've accomplished together. At the end of the day, I think you're great -- and here's why:
You're committed. If you've posted on Facebook about these elections or talked to a friend -- you've done more for this election than your vote alone.
You care about the future. These elections are about the country and world we want to leave for our kids and grandkids. You get that.
You're smart. Smart people are tuned in to these elections because they know how much ground we can gain.
You like Barack. I think he's pretty cool, too.
You are standing by your convictions. Each time you chip in that extra $5 or $10, you are putting your name and your hard-earned money behind Barack and Democrats. It makes me so proud -- and so grateful.
You've got a lot of friends. With hundreds of thousands of Democrats across the country coming together to elect leaders who share our values, I think you're in good company!
I hope this makes your day, and I hope you'll think about chipping in that $3 before it's too late:
10/13/2014 Hillary Clinton: “These women can win—but not without your help”
This morning, Hillary Clinton sent an email supporting Democrats in the home stretch of campaigns across the country. Read it below:
We have so many reasons to be hopeful this November.
Democrats across our country are fighting for hard-working American families to have a fair shot at the American dream.
Strong Democratic women like Alison Lundergan Grimes, Michelle Nunn, and Natalie Tennant give me hope. They're running to join great leaders like Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu, and Jeanne Shaheen in the United States Senate, where they will stand up for our values and our future.
I take hope from all our terrific Democratic women running for governor, including Mary Burke, Martha Coakley, Wendy Davis, Maggie Hassan, and Gina Raimondo. You can count on them to always put our families first.
With your help, we'll keep building an organization that can go door-to-door and have meaningful conversations with voters about the issues that matter most to them. We can cut through the fog of negative ads on TV in Kentucky, North Carolina, or Iowa. We can bring our message and our values to the American people. And remember: When Democrats show up, we win -- and America wins.
We can do this. But we all need to step up and do it together. Will you join me?
10/10/2014 DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Texas and Wisconsin Voting Decisions
Washington, DC – In response to decisions by courts to strike down photo ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“With less than ten days before early voting starts in Texas and Wisconsin, I am pleased with the judicial decisions yesterday striking down burdensome photo ID laws in those states.
“Photo ID laws have been put forward as a solution to the virtually non-existent problem of voter impersonation. As the federal judge ruled in the Texas case, the GOP written photo ID law ‘creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose.’
“The Democratic Party is committed to expanding the vote, because our nation is stronger when more people participate in the process. We will continue our efforts to register and turn out more voters, and push back against Republican efforts to restrict access to the ballot box.
“Democrats believe that voting should be easier and more convenient. Even as we applaud these court actions, we know that changes this close to Election Day may cause confusion. If voters have questions regarding when to vote, where to vote, or what they need to bring with them to their polling location, they can find the rules of the road for their state at IWillVote.com or VoyAVotar2014.com.”
10/09/2014 DNC/RNC Statement on FEC Convention Funding Decision
Washington, DC – The Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee today released the following statement after the Federal Election Commission agreed the party committees may establish convention committees that can raise federal funds under separate limits, solely to finance expenses for their 2016 nominating conventions. Convention expenses would have previously have been paid for with federal funds:
“We appreciate the FEC’s recognition that, as the party convention committees adjust to the loss of public funding, they have authority to raise funds that will help pay the costs of their national conventions. This is an important, if modest, first step for the parties in continuing to meet their historic responsibility to conduct conventions, which play such a vital role in our democratic process.”
10/08/2014 Bill Clinton: “What you’re seeing from our opponents right now is unprecedented”
With less than one month until election day, President Bill Clinton emailed Democrats yesterday to ask them to do what they can to help elect candidates across the country. Read it here:
Hey there --
There's an election around the corner, so I've been traveling around the country to help Democrats who are standing up for the values you and I believe in.
I've been in Kentucky with Alison Lundergan Grimes, in Florida with Charlie Crist, in Iowa with Bruce Braley, in Arkansas with Mark Pryor, and several other states. These folks are real leaders with great ideas about how to expand the middle class and make sure that every American has a fair shot at success. They do us proud.
What you're seeing from our opponents right now is unprecedented. They're willing to say just about anything to tear down our candidates, and they're willing to spend whatever it takes to get traction. And if we don't step up, it could work.
We've got a chance to do something great here in 28 days -- but it won't happen without your help.
Please do what you can to support Democrats today:
10/08/2014 DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Christie Campaigning in Florida
Washington, DC – DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement today in response to Governor Chris Christie’s trip to Florida to campaign for failed Governor Rick Scott:
“Voters can tell a lot about their leaders by the company they keep and Rick Scott continuing to surround himself with failed Republicans like Chris Christie says a lot about Scott.
“Christie, like Scott, has slashed education funding while giving billions of dollars in tax breaks to corporations and business interests. Scott won't fight for equal pay for women and Christie vetoed equal pay legislation. Scott said that raising the minimum wage made him ‘cringe’ while Christie vetoed a minimum wage increase.
“Of course, birds of a feather tend to flock together. Scott presided over a company given a $1.7 billion fine - the largest Medicare fraud fine in history at the time. And Christie presided over Bridgegate – allowing a culture to exist in which his own senior staff ordered the closure of three lanes of traffic for four days on the George Washington Bridge – the busiest in the world.
“As a result of their failed policies, both their states' economies suffer. Florida has the third highest number of workers that earn the minimum wage or less while New Jersey under Christie’s failed leadership, ranks near the bottom in private sector job growth. Florida can do better - and the nation can do better. That’s why next month voters will elect Charlie Crist and Democrats across the country.”
10/06/2014 DNC Chair Rep. Wasserman Schultz’s Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality Cases
Washington, DC – Today, the United States Supreme Court declined to take up appeals from five states seeking to prohibit gay marriages. In response, DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement:
“Today’s action by the Supreme Court continues the steady march of progress towards equality. In recent years, we have seen the end of the discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and last year the Supreme Court struck down DOMA. This decision brings marriage equality to couples in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. It clears the way for same sex couples in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming as well.
“While this is a significant step forward for the LGBT community, there is considerable work that remains to be done. Unfortunately, marriage equality is still denied to same sex couples in several states, and some LGBT workers can still face discrimination in the workplace based on who they are or who they love. The Democratic Party is committed to ensuring that our nation continues to move in the right direction on LGBT equality.”
Washington, DC – DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement marking the celebration of Eid al-Adha:
“As Muslim Americans gather to celebrate Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, we extend our best wishes.
“This year, Eid al-Adha coincides with the recognition of Yom Kippur, serving as a reminder of our shared roots at the deepest levels. The values that we share, such as the importance of charity, are what bring us together.
“I would also like to offer my prayers to those making the Hajj this year for a peaceful and safe journey.”
10/21/2014 Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz 10/20/14
3:20 P.M. CDT
MR. SCHULTZ: Good afternoon. Welcome to Chicago. I’ll just give you one brief announcement up top and then I will take your questions.
As the President has in recent days, (audio drop) -- the President has held discussions with eight of his counterparts in recent days, and those eight countries have pledged at least $300 million in financial contributions to date.
(Inaudible) why this administration has been so focused on marshaling the global resources needed to tackle this virus at its source in West Africa (inaudible) from around the world the past few weeks.
Q I'm sorry -- today or to date?
MR. SCHULTZ: To date.
Q At least how much?
MR. SCHULTZ: $300 million in financial contributions to date while also committing to significant contributions in personnel, aircraft and resources on the ground. We believe this is American leadership at its finest, and we’ll continue to lead the charge to muster additional international support just as we contribute significant resources of our own.
With that, I’m happy to take questions.
Q Can you just clarify on that -- the briefing will be a telephone briefing -- because she’s back in Washington -- with Monaco? And then, did he talk to any leaders today or any other readouts? Or we’ve just had the ones that you’ve already read out?
MR. SCHULTZ: He’ll be speaking to Lisa this afternoon via phone. And I don’t have any additional foreign leader calls to read out to you that occurred on this trip.
Q Eric, can you talk a little bit about Ron Klain -- when he starts and exactly what his role will be, who he’s going to be facilitating with? And exactly how you see him playing out at least in his is first week and going forward?
MR. SCHULTZ: Yes, thank you, Katie. Mr. Klain will start on Wednesday. He will be our -- coordinating the administration’s whole-of-government Ebola response. He will report directly to the President’s Homeland Security Advisor, Lisa Monaco, and the President’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice. He’s going to ensure that efforts to protect the American people by detecting, isolating and treating Ebola patients in this country are properly integrated but don’t distract from the aggressive commitment to stopping Ebola at its source in West Africa.
Q Are you able to say why the Wednesday start date? He was -- the announcement was Friday, it’s not that long of a period, but some people are wondering why he didn’t take part in some of the meetings that have already happened. What’s the reasoning behind that?
MR. SCHULTZ: Thanks, Jeff. As you point out, it is not that long of a lapse. And as a student of the federal government, you’ll know that the onboarding process usually takes much longer -- weeks or months. Fortunately, in this case, we were able to expedite that process because Mr. Klain has already been a member of the administration, so we were able to sort of get that done very fast, and we look forward to his arrival in his official capacity on Wednesday.
I can also tell you he’s already been meeting with our Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough, and some other folks to get read up so that he can start on Wednesday.
Q Was he part at all of the President’s meeting on Saturday? Or has he talked to the President at all about -- other than the job offer that came on Friday?
MR. SCHULTZ: He was not in the meeting that you’re mentioning on Saturday. Again, he doesn’t officially start until Wednesday, and I’m not going to read out sort of other private conversations.
Q Can you tell us whether he’s going to get paid?
MR. SCHULTZ: He will be paid. And as you know, that as part of our annual release reports, those will be on the website. I don’t have his salary in front of me.
Q Can we talk about Turkey, Eric?
Q Just to get confirmation on this that he is not going to testify before Chairman Issa’s committee on Friday, is that correct?
MR. SCHULTZ: That is correct. But the administration will have representatives there.
Q Can you tell us when they’ll be at?
MR. SCHULTZ: That would be day three of his tenure.
I’m happy to talk about Turkey.
Q Great. Can you clarify one thing? Did Turkey agree or consent to the U.S. airdrops of supplies to the Kurds?
MR. SCHULTZ: Josh, as you know, we actually read out a conversation between President Obama and President Erdogan earlier this weekend. I’m not going to get into the Turkish response, but I can tell you that the President made clear, as have other members of the administration, we are interested in doing this, and the urgency by which we see it.
Q So they did not talk about Turkey’s response, but instead what the U.S. said. Did the United States offer Turkey anything to get them to agree to allow this to happen?
MR. SCHULTZ: Well, I can tell you that the President made clear why we consider it urgent and essential to resupply the fighters in Kobani who are in a desperate situation in their struggle to counter ISIL’s assaults on the city.
I’d also tell you that the United States and Turkey have a shared interest in defeating ISIL, seeing a political transition in Syria, and bringing stability to Iraq. I’d also, lastly, draw your attention to statements from the Turkish Foreign Ministry today that Turkey intends to facilitate the crossing of Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga into Kobani. We continue to work closely with Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government Authorities on a suitable way forward to support opposition groups in Kobani and over the long term degrade and defeat ISIL.
The President and Secretary Kerry have had productive conversations with Turkish leaders on this issue during the past several days and conveyed the urgency of supporting the opposition fighters in Kobani who are standing against ISIL, again, as recently as that Saturday night conversation.
Q We now know that those -- the arms shipments that we dropped to them basically consisted of small arms. What kind of a difference does the U.S. anticipate that basically rifles will do for the Kurds in fighting the well-armed Islamic State militia groups?
MR. SCHULTZ: Thanks, Josh. As you point out, the aircraft delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies that were provided by the Kurdish authorities in Iraq. I think I’m going to leave it to the experts to describe this, but I think there’s been very specific needs articulated by the Kurds in order to take the fight to ISIL. And I think that given the United States’ unique capabilities, that's what -- the role we were able to play is transport those.
Q We're two weeks out basically from the election. So far this trip, obviously two fairly blue states -- Democratic governor races, not the Senate races. Is there any anticipation that in these final two weeks the President will get his voice back and will go to some tougher places where Democratic Senate candidates are facing -- maybe right on the edge, Iowa, Colorado, North Carolina, some of those places?
MR. SCHULTZ: Thanks, Mike. As I think you’ve seen, we put out a rundown of places the President is going to be campaigning over the next few weeks on behalf of Democratic -- there was one senator in Michigan, and so if I don't have any updates to you -- for you on that rundown at this point, I can say clearly the President articulated better than I could what’s at stake both -- twice yesterday. So as you point out, there’s a variety of members of folks in cycle that he’s appeared with and will be appearing with in the next few weeks.
Q What’s the big thing this afternoon at his house?
MR. SCHULTZ: As I mentioned, he is doing a little bit of work from home. He’ll be receiving the briefing from Lisa Monaco. He’s also going to be doing a couple of interviews with African American radio stations, like he’s been doing in the past week or so.
Q Is he glad to be home?
MR. SCHULTZ: He is. I think Chicago is always a great place for him to recharge his batteries.
Q Just to clarify, the interviews, the African American radio interviews are campaign-related, or otherwise?
MR. SCHULTZ: Yes, they’ll be -- they’ll cover the waterfront I assume. I’m not the host.
Q They're not specifically targeted in places to turn out the vote or what --
Q What are the stations?
MR. SCHULTZ: I will see what I can do to get those for you. I don't think any of them are airing today.
Q Eric, can you flesh out the President’s schedule for the rest of the week at all for us?
MR. SCHULTZ: I don't have too much to add. I do -- as I said, we’ll be headed back to Washington tonight, and I think we’ll be in Washington for most of the week.
Q No additional travel at this point --
MR. SCHULTZ: At this point, I don't have anything to add on that.
Q Does President the President have a response to the news out of Nigeria that Ebola has been basically eliminated there, as well as the news in Dallas that the contacts of Mr. Duncan are free of Ebola, and in Spain where the nurse no longer has Ebola?
MR. SCHULTZ: Again, the President is going to get briefed on this this afternoon, so I don't have a readout of that briefing. But I can tell you that, as we’ve said, the best way to protect the American public from Ebola is to stop the disease at its source in West Africa. And there is no country better prepared to confront the challenge Ebola poses than the United States. And that's why we are leading the international coalition to stamp it out at its source, and we have been doing that since March when the first cases appeared, and we’ve stepped up that effort since.
Q He’s got a follow-up.
Q On the $300 million, are there any details yet on which countries have stepped up, which countries are not on that list yet? Is the President pushing for more money out of other countries, as well?
MR. SCHULTZ: The President is always pushing for more. Obviously, this is an issue that's going to require significant resources across the board, and that's why I think you’ll continue to see him push international partners for this.
In terms of the details on what other countries have announced, I’m going to let those countries speak for themselves. I do know that some countries like Sweden and the U.K. have put out in detail what they’ve contributed.
Q Over Friday and the weekend, there have been more and more people calling for an Ebola-based travel ban. Is the administration still against that? And also, there have been a number of reports showing just the climate of fear in the United States -- people keeping their kids away from school, and that sort of thing. What does the President and the administration say to those types of stories of people who are keeping children out of school and canceling events because someone may have been in a place where Ebola may have been?
MR. SCHULTZ: On the travel ban, I think you all heard the President discuss this I believe on Thursday in the Oval Office -- last week, late last week in the Oval Office. Our position hasn’t changed, and that is that our focus is on reducing the risk to the American people, and a travel ban would not do that.
Our top priority is the health and safety of the American people, and that’s why, right now, travelers from those countries are subjected to screening prior to departure from West Africa and they’re also subject to additional enhanced screening upon arrival in the United States.
We’re going to let the science and the doctors guide our policymaking here, and it seems that without question there is agreement that a travel ban would impose -- would make it harder for critically needed personnel and supplies to surge into West Africa where the problem exists.
Q Eric, I wanted to ask about suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards receiving millions of dollars in Social Security payments from the government after being forced out of the U.S. as leverage to get them to leave. Both the Justice Department and the Social Security Administration have refused the AP’s request to provide a total number of who received the payments and how much they received. And considering your administration’s commitment to being the most transparent administration in history, I was wondering why the administration believes it’s in the public interest to keep information private about suspected Nazi war criminals.
MR. SCHULTZ: Josh, I did see that story from your Associated Press colleague, and I would tell you that the Justice Department did say that they have aggressively pursued Nazi criminals and brought over 100 of them to justice. The Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice also worked together within the confines of current law to cut off benefits for criminals that shouldn’t be receiving them.
Q Okay. So you’re comfortable with the federal agencies citing U.S. privacy laws to guard information about individuals who have been kicked out of the United States because of their Nazi past?
MR. SCHULTZ: I’m not sure I said that. What I do think we are -- our position is we don’t believe these individuals should be getting these benefits. As the Justice Department has said, they have worked aggressively to pursue Nazi criminals with the aim of ensuring they’re brought to justice. The Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice have to work together within the confines of the law to cut off these benefits for these criminals.
Q Eric, reports over the weekend that concern amongst some growing on the Hill about the possibility of the administration trying to unilaterally at least ease or roll back sanctions on Iran as a part of an upcoming nuclear deal. What’s the administration reaction to those who have concerns that you’re trying to go about it alone?
MR. SCHULTZ: Yes, I saw that story, too, and it’s wrong. The administration believes that Congress has a very important role to play on Iran’s nuclear issue -- on the Iran nuclear issue. As I think -- if you read it, our take was that the story conflated two separate issues: When and how congressional action will be needed to suspend and/or lift the sanctions, and whether we believe they should take up and up-or-down vote on the deal.
The notion that we are trying to avoid congressional input and consultation on this is preposterous. This is an issue where we’ve talked to Congress intensively, will continue to consult with Congress heavily.
And on sanctions, we have made absolutely clear publicly in testimony and in private discussions on the Hill that in the first instance we would look to suspend sanctions, and then only if after Iran has upheld its end of the arrangement would we look to terminate that sanctions. But this is for a good reason -- suspension makes it easier to snap the sanctions back into place if the deal isn’t upheld.
Q -- as a representative of that -- of the news organization with that story -- so you’re saying that you want consultation and input from Congress, but what are you saying specifically about an up-or-down vote?
MR. SCHULTZ: I’m saying -- so I’m not going to preview anything from here while those negotiations are still ongoing.
What we take issue is with the suggestion that we’re not in heavy consultation with Congress on this, and we’re not working very, very closely with them. And we’re not looking to go around them.
Q But just to clarify, that suspension of sanctions that you discussed is something that the administration believes it has the authority to do without a vote from Congress, is that correct?
MR. SCHULTZ: Our position has not changed. And whether we believe Congress should take an up-or-down vote on the entire arrangement, if we get one --
Q What is the position that hasn’t changed?
MR. SCHULTZ: First, the notion that we’re trying to go around Congress on this is preposterous. Second, on the sanctions that we would look to suspend, if Iran has upheld its end of the arrangement, we would look to lift or terminate sanctions, and this is for a good reason. Suspension makes it easier to snap sanctions back into place if the deal isn’t upheld.
But it’s way too early to speculate on which sanctions will require legislative versus executive actions to suspend or lift. So I’m not going to get ahead of that from here today while the negotiations are ongoing. That wouldn’t be prudent. But suffice to say, if we do get a comprehensive arrangement, it is absolutely true that the sanctions regime we have in place cannot be undone without congressional action.
Q As opposed to the -- you’re drawing the distinction between the suspension and a permanent kind of revoking of it.
MR. SCHULTZ: What I said is, up top, how we thought the story unfortunately conflated two issues.
Q Last question on Ebola. Will the administration be seeking additional funds from Congress? And if so, can you give us a sense of how much and when?
MR. SCHULTZ: (Inaudible.) I’d also say that we’ve heard a lot -- we’ve heard a lot of interest from Congress in terms of dedicating resources to solving this problem and the urgency of it. So if we were to send up a request, I assume that there would be widespread support. So we welcome that, but at this point there’s nothing to announce.
Q Eric, there were reports this morning, since Josh’s last briefing, that members of Congress have been in discussion with the White House about potential options for additional funding. Can you confirm at least that those discussions are underway?
MR. SCHULTZ: I don’t have any sort of private meetings or conversations to read out. It wouldn’t surprise me that we’re always in touch with members of Congress, especially on an issue like that. But I don’t have specifics in terms of any specific meetings or consultations.
Q Is it a little weird or a little out of the ordinary that the President won’t be doing campaign events, or that there aren’t any campaign events on the schedule for this week, just two weeks before an election?
MR. SCHULTZ: I don’t think it’s weird given everything that we are trying to manage. As I think we’ve said now for some time, there’s a lot of significant, complex situations going on both around the world and here at home. And I think a lot of those issues have dominated the President’s time.
Given that the elections are a few weeks away, obviously that is a priority as well. So I think you’ll see the President, as you did yesterday, campaign when he can. But obviously given that Lisa Monaco is briefing him this afternoon on a briefing on the Ebola response, we’re focused on managing those problems as well.
10/21/2014 Notice to Congress -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Situation in or in Relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
- - - - - - -
CONTINUATION OF THE NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH
RESPECT TO THE SITUATION IN OR IN RELATION TO
THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
On October 27, 2006, by Executive Order (E.O.) 13413, the President declared a national emergency with respect to the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and, pursuant to the International Emergency Economic
Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706), ordered related measures blocking the property of certain persons contributing to the conflict in that country. The President took this action to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States constituted by the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been marked by widespread violence and atrocities that continue to threaten regional stability. I took additional steps pursuant to this national emergency in E.O. 13671 of July 8, 2014.
This situation continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared in E.O. 13413 of October 27, 2006, as amended by E.O. 13671 of July 8, 2014, and the measures adopted to deal with that emergency, must continue in effect beyond October 27, 2014. Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency with respect to the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared in E.O. 13413, as amended by E.O. 13671.
This notice shall be published in the Federal Register and transmitted to the Congress.
10/21/2014 Letter -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Situation in or in Relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
Section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90 days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date.
In accordance with this provision, I have sent to the Federal Register for publication the enclosed notice stating that the national emergency with respect to the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared in Executive Order 13413 of October 27, 2006, is to continue in effect beyond October 27, 2014.
The situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has been marked by widespread violence and atrocities that continue to threaten regional stability, continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13413 with respect to the situation in or in relation to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
10/20/2014 Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi
Earlier today, Vice President Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. They continued their discussion of the political and security situation in Iraq, regional developments, progress of Iraqi Security Forces in their efforts to counter ISIL, and U.S. support for those efforts pursuant to our Strategic Framework Agreement.
10/20/2014 Remarks by the President at a DNC Event-- Chicago, IL
4:44 P.M. CDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you. Well, I want to thank Barbara for not just today but for just being a friend for so many years -- as is true for a lot of people in this room. When I look around, I see folks who had my back very, very early on and made a big bet on me. And I could not be more grateful.
And it's just good to be home, especially when the weather is reasonable, which doesn’t happen often. (Laughter.) And I'm glad that I got the kids back. We're starting to get to that point where Malia and Sasha are projecting out and thinking of their escape. And sometimes I start getting a little choked up when I look at them because they’re growing up too fast. So I'm glad to have them here, spend a little time with mom. And they look like they enjoy it. (Laughter.)
I'm going to be very brief at the front, and then we'll have some time for questions. I want to thank Henry Muňoz, who is our tireless chair of the DNC Finance Committee, and just does a great job -- and always dresses well. (Laughter.) And wears things that I cannot pull off. (Applause.) Maybe as ex-president, I'll get some tips from him. (Laughter.) I try a tan suit and that's like -- (laughter) -- folks go crazy. And Henry has got the purple checks and everybody thinks it's cool. I don't know what happened. (Laughter.)
When we think back to when I first took office, one of the nice things about being home is actually that it's a little bit like a time capsule because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some -- (inaudible) -- newspapers and all kinds of stuff. We always thought we’d be back every month and we’d kind of get everything in order and filed, and it hasn’t happened. But it's useful, actually, to take a look at some of these old articles to remind ourselves of where we were when we took office and to think about the progress we've made over the last six years.
I mean, we were in the midst of almost an unprecedented economic crisis, losing 800,000 jobs a month. Unemployment went above 10 percent. We now have an unemployment rate that is at 5.9 percent. We've created over 10 million jobs and 55 months of uninterrupted private sector job growth, the longest in American history. The deficit has come down as rapidly as it has in decades, cut it by more than half.
We've got not only 10 million more people with health care that didn’t have it before, but the cost of health care, health care inflation, has actually gone up slower than any time in the last 50 years. And as a consequence, we've saved about $188 billion over the next 10 years in projected Medicare costs, all of which is contributing to lower deficits, but also is saving people in their pocketbooks, because the average family that has health insurance is probably paying about $1,600 less per family than they otherwise would be paying if inflation had gone on the same clip as it was.
Energy is booming in this country. We've doubled the amount of clean energy. Solar energy has gone up tenfold, wind energy by threefold, all of which is contributing not only to a stronger economy and creation of jobs, but has also meant that we've reduced carbon emissions that create climate change faster than any other advanced nation.
College enrollment is up, high school graduations up, reading scores up, math scores up. There’s almost no economic measure by which we're not doing better than we were when I took office. And if people were applying the same test that Ronald Reagan said -- are you better off than you were -- the answer is yes.
But people are still anxious. And they’re anxious for three reasons: One, internationally, we're seeing a tumultuous time in the Middle East. And although the direct threats against us are not imminent, what is true is, is that what’s happening with ISIL, what’s happening with respect to Iraq, with Syria, has a destabilizing effect that we have to pay attention to. And the United States is the only country that can galvanize the world community to help do something about it.
The Ebola crisis, which obviously has generated the only -- has been the only story here in the United States for the last couple of weeks, is not an outbreak and epidemic here. We've had one case of a person dying from Ebola that brought it in from outside; two nurses who, thankfully, seem to be doing better. To give you some sense of perspective, around 20,000 to 30,000 people die of flu every year. So far we've got one person dying of Ebola. But people are understandably concerned, in part because they’ve seen what’s happened in Africa. And this is a virulent disease and it is up to us, once again, to mobilize the world’s community to do something about it, to make sure that not only we're helping on a humanitarian basis those countries but we're not seeing a continued epidemic and outbreak that can ultimately have a serious impact here.
The situation in Ukraine and Russia’s aggression -- that has concerned people. So you have this sense of uncertainty overseas.
Here at home, the concern is, is that although the economy is doing better, wages and incomes have not gone up. And the vast majority of growth, productivity increases, profits, wealth has accrued to folks at the very top of the economic pyramid, and we have not seen wages and incomes for ordinary folks go up for a couple of decades. And that makes people feel, even if things have gotten better, that they’re still concerned about not only their future but their children’s futures.
And finally, there’s a sense that things simply don't work in Washington and Congress, in particular, seems to be completely gridlocked. And so all of this adds together to a sense on the part of folks that the institutions they rely on to apply common-sense decisions and to look out for working families across the country, that those institutions aren't working the way they’re supposed to.
Now, here’s the good news. First of all, progress is well within our reach -- continued progress. There’s some very sensible steps that we can take to make sure that we increase the minimum wage, that we have fair pay for women, that we rebuild our infrastructure, that we invest in early childhood education
-- all of which would accelerate growth, increase wages, increase incomes and make people feel better about their own economic circumstances. We also know that the challenges overseas, as tough as they are, are ones that can be solved if we just apply the steady leadership and build the coalitions that are necessary as we're doing in Iraq and as we'll do in terms of tackling the Ebola crisis.
And the third problem that people are worried about, which is gridlock in Washington, is solvable by making sure that people actually vote in midterm elections. Because it's not true that we have this complete dysfunction in both parties. There’s no false equivalence here. Democrats are for things that the majority of the American people are for. You don't see the Democratic Party captive to some wild ideological faction. We're pretty much offering raising the minimum wage, or fair pay legislation, or rebuilding roads and bridges -- stuff that used to be considered mainstream by both Democrats and Republicans. So the problem is that the House of Representatives in particular, but there’s a certain faction of Republicans in the Senate as well, have just decided that we are going to not do anything and obstruct any possible progress. And democracy has a cure for that -- it is people voting.
And Democrats do have one congenital defect, and that is that we do not vote in midterms. That's what happened in 2010, and that's what could happen this year unless we're mobilized, organized and focused. And that's why your attendance here today is so important.
I have absolute confidence in our ability to tackle every single challenge that's out there. But in order for us to tackle it effectively we've got to have a Congress that functions.
And so whenever people ask me how am I doing I say, actually, I'm doing pretty good. I love the work. It is an extraordinary privilege to every single day be able to work on behalf of the American people. And we're making steady progress just through executive actions and the work we're doing in terms of mobilizing around the Ebola crisis, or the work we're going in terms of pulling the coalition around ISIL. Those are things that we can get done, and we'll chip away at these problems and eventually they’ll get resolved.
But if I really want to see America get to where it should be by the end of my term, I've got to have a Congress that can get some things done. They don't have to agree me on everything, but some basic stuff that the majority of the American people agree with we should be able to go ahead and get done.
And for that, we've got to have a decent turnout in the midterms. And that's what the DNC is all about. And that's why I'm so grateful for all your support. We're going to make one last push in these last several weeks. We've got a lot of just nail-biter races, and if we do what we're supposed to do, then I'm actually confident that we can get it done.
10/20/2014 President Obama Announces 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference
WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, December 3, President Obama will host the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC. The conference will provide leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and members of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Each federally recognized tribe will be invited to send one representative to the conference. This will be the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference for the Obama Administration, and continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and to improve the lives of Native Americans. Additional details about the conference will be released at a later date.
10/20/2014 Background Conference Call on Aerial Resupply of Forces Fighting ISIL Near Kobani, Syria
10:25 P.M. EDT
MS. MEEHAN: Hi, everybody. This is Bernadette. Thanks so much for joining us late on a Sunday night. This is a background conference call to discuss the aerial resupply of forces fighting ISIL near Kobani, Syria. This call is on background so you may use quotes attributable to senior administration officials.
We have three officials with us tonight. I will introduce them just for the purposes of this call, and then I will turn it over to our first senior administration official to give you a laydown before we go to questions.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, everybody, for getting on the call. I’ll just make some brief opening comments and turn it over to my DOD colleague.
So as you know, this evening, our time, overnight in Syria, the United States military delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to the forces fighting against ISIL on the ground in Kobani. These supplies were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq, and they were focused on enabling forces -- including, of course, Kurdish forces in Syria -- to continue their fight against ISIL.
This is a part of the President’s broader strategy to pursue a campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL wherever they are. And we’ve, of course, been focused on our military efforts in Iraq and Syria these last several weeks.
What we’ve seen in Kobani, specifically -- well, first I should say in Syria, more generally, our strikes have been focused on degrading the ISIL safe haven there. So targeting sources of financing such as mobile oil refineries, targeting command and control targets and supply lines that help support ISIL operations in Iraq. But we’ve also taken a significant number of strikes in the vicinity of Kobani.
And we’ve done so for a number of reasons. First of all, we want to help prevent the humanitarian catastrophe that could result from the complete fall of that city into ISIL’s control and the massacre of civilians and Kurdish fighters that could follow that event.
Also what we’ve seen over the course of the last several days and weeks is ISIL surge its resources towards Kobani; masses of fighters and weapons and heavy weapons. That, frankly, has presented an opportunity. As ISIL has finite resources, we look for any opportunity to take out those resources and to degrade the organization. And that's exactly what CENTCOM has been doing -- even as brave fighters have been fighting against ISIL on the ground.
So as we’ve seen ISIL commit those significant resources to try to overrun the majority Kurdish-Syrian city of Kobani, we have been able to come to the support of those fighting on the ground while also achieving some significant results in degrading ISIL.
However, the fact of the matter is that the forces fighting on the ground have been in a tough fight for a number of weeks now. And it certainly came to our attention that they are running low on supplies. For that reason, the President determined to take this action now to resupply those who are defending Kobani from the air with supplies provided by the Kurdish authorities in Iraq. And as you may know, we’ve been discussing for a number of days now how to facilitate the resupply of these forces inside of Kobani. This allowed us to do that in a timely fashion.
I’d just say a couple of other things. I think what this represents is the President recognizes this is going to be a long-term campaign against ISIL; and that we need to look for whatever opportunity we can find to degrade that enemy and to support those who are fighting against ISIL on the ground.
We have taken steps to facilitate the urgent resupply of both military forces and civilians throughout this campaign. You’ll recall, for instance, that we expedited the delivery of military assistance to Kurdish forces and Iraqi security forces earlier this summer when ISIL was bearing down on population centers, specifically Erbil and Baghdad. We also provided aerial resupply to civilians who were endangered from an ISIL siege in both Amerli and Mount Sinjar inside of Iraq. So we are going to be opportunistic in this campaign. We're going to take the steps that are necessary to provide support for those who are fighting against ISIL, and importantly, we are going to take steps to degrade ISIL. And if we, again, see ISIL massing forces, massing equipment, and presenting us with an opportunity to set back ISIL capabilities, we're going to act. And that's what we’ve done around Kobani here in recent days, and that's what we’ll continue to do wherever ISIL targets present themselves in Iraq and Syria.
With that I’ll turn it over to my DOD colleague to go through the specifics of the operation.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thank you, I’ll make this short, just provide some facts here. These airdrops were conducted by three U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft that are deployed to the Central Command region. The airdrops consisted of 27 bundles total of small arms, ammunition and medical supplies. As the previous briefer indicated, these were all supplies that were provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.
We are still assessing the completion of the mission, but every indication that we have is that the vast majority of those bundles were successfully delivered to Kurdish forces. Again, we're still working through a complete assessment right now.
The mission began at about 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time. That's when the aircraft lifted off, and we know that they all exited safely from the area at about 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The aircraft were met with no resistance from either the air or the ground. And I think that's pretty much it for the facts.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Great, we’ll go our State colleague now to give some context.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would just add from a diplomatic side, just building on what my colleague said, obviously there’s been a great amount of diplomacy over the past couple weeks regarding the ISIL campaign generally, and a very broad scale ISIL campaign across multiple lines of effort, one of which, of course, is military support to those who are resisting ISIL. And that includes the travel of General Allen and his team to Iraq, to Turkey, to the region, including up in Erbil a couple weeks ago. Tony Blinken was in Erbil and in Dohuk, just only a few days ago. And obviously, Kobani, the situation there has been an ongoing topic of conversation. And it will continue to be a topic of conversation in these diplomatic engagements and deliberations, including all the high-level phone calls that we’ve also been reading out.
With that, I’ll close.
Q Hi, can you hear me?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, I got you, Karen.
Q A couple of questions. Can you tell me if you believe that ISIL forces in the vicinity of Kobani have any anti-aircraft capability at all? And what sort of protection accompanied the C-130s? And secondly, when you say small arms, specifically what kind of arms are you talking about?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hey, Karen. We still don't have any indication that ISIL is in possession of anti-air capability. And that's been our assessment for some time now, and that's still what we believe. The C-130s did not have escort with them, fighter escort. But I would add that fighter aircraft remain on standby throughout the region should they be needed, but there was no escort. And there typically isn’t for missions like this.
I’m sorry your last question was on the specific arms. I don't think -- in fact, I don't have the specifics. These were -- this was Kurdish equipment, Kurdish arms, Kurdish ammunition that was provided to them -- small arms and ammunition, personnel-type materiel that was provided, again, by Kurdish authorities. And I just don't have the breakdown of exactly what types they were.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’d just add, Karen, that what we were focused on is providing the type of materiel that could help them sustain their fight. So there are very specific needs to flow out of the fact that they’ve been engaged in the fight against ISIL in Kobani for some time now. And so this is meant to provide resupply of the type of equipment and medical and food supplies that they need.
And again, this is something we’ve been discussing for a period of days now with Kurdish authorities in Iraq who wanted to help come to the aid of those who are fighting ISIL in Syria. And so therefore, as we have said throughout this campaign, the U.S. military has some unique capabilities that we can bring to bear in support of partners. And in this instance, we're able to use our unique capabilities to provide this resupply to the forces fighting against ISIL in Kobani.
Q Yes, my question is was the Turkish government given notification in advance? And was there any communication with Turkish authorities? Did they express any opposition to this mission?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, I’ll start on this, and my State colleague may want to add to it. We have made clear to the Turkish government for some days now the urgency of facilitating resupply to those forces, including, of course, Kurdish forces who are fighting against ISIL in Kobani. We’ve communicated with the Turkish government at a range of levels. President Obama spoke to President Erdogan yesterday and was able to notify him of our intent to do this, and the importance that we put on it.
I won’t characterize the Turkish response. The Turkish General Office can speak for themselves on this matter. Clearly, we understand the longstanding Turkish concern with the range of groups, including Kurdish groups that they have been engaged in conflict with at times, even as they’ve also been engaged in peace talks.
However, our very strong belief is that both the United States and Turkey face a common enemy in ISIL, and that we need to act on an urgent basis to do whatever we can to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. And we’ve been able to enlist Turkish cooperation in that effort in a number of ways, even as we’ve continued to have discussions about the best way to move forward both in Kobani and in the broader campaign.
So I expect that this will continue to be a topic of discussion with the Turkish government in the days to come. And what we want is to work cooperatively with our ally in this effort.
But I don't know if you want to add.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Again, I would just build on what I said in the opening about the level of engagement with Turkey. And so to trace it from two weeks ago with General Allen’s trip, he spent about 48 hours in Ankara for very in-depth and detailed talks on just a host of range of issues, including the situation of Kobani, which is one of many issues. And then that was followed by a trip from CENTCOM and EUCOM on a mil-to-mil conversation last week, and also just the regular communications at high-level. On Friday, Secretary Kerry spoke with Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu on a number of issues. And then the Turks remain one of our closest partners here, a very valued NATO partner. We welcome their agreement to host training sites for the Syrian opposition, which was a big step forward of recognition that we face this common threat in ISIL, have to combat it together. And we're working with them on a whole host of other initiatives.
I’d also say the Turks on Kobani have about 180,000 refugees that they're caring for across their border. They’ve provided some artillery support for the fighters in Kobani. So this is really a multi-faceted campaign. And even as the operation tonight to resupply the fighters in the town, we're continuing on an ongoing basis to explore other ways with talking to the Kurds, talking to the Turks as well, to provide additional support on a more sustainable basis. So this is kind of a continuum here, and you might see more in the days ahead.
Q I just wanted to ask if the Syrian-Kurdish militia is calling in airstrikes for the U.S. and how these airstrikes are getting called in.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: What I can tell you is that we use various sources of information at our disposal to make sure that we’re -- that our airstrikes are as precise and as effective as possible. And it would not be prudent for us to talk about the various ways that we go about getting the information that we do. But that’s as far as I think I’m going to go.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I got one thing on the -- kind of traces back on the immediate fall of Mosul and the decisions that were made by the President immediately not only with the intelligence surge we talked about, setting up of joint operation centers in Erbil and in Baghdad really just almost immediately after that very urgent situation. And what we meshed and placed on a very fast basis and then built from that time has given us the platform in a number of ways to be able to act with precision and real efficacy when the President made the decision to act.
So I think if you go back and build the number of steps that led to the things that we’re doing now, the fact that we’re striking with such precision is because of the decisions that were made very early on as we built this platform that has allowed us to take the fight to ISIL. Again, I think it’s been a continuum, it’ll continue to be a continuum. This will be a long-term effort, but we’re able to do these things because of our extraordinary colleagues at the Department of Defense and the pilots who fly these airplanes, and the -- crews and everything. It’s just really amazing. And we’ve just been (inaudible) seen our joint operation center in action. But it’s really just the decisions that were made on a really rapid basis during the crisis this summer, and that foundation has allowed us to do a lot of the things we’re doing now.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’d just add one quick point to that because I think it’s important. The sequencing has allowed us to build this platform for action in both Iraq and Syria. So in both cases we were able to dedicate important ISR resources and intelligence-gathering resources to support our efforts in Iraq and Syria, just as we are able to support forces on the ground who are fighting in Iraq and Syria.
I think what we are aiming to demonstrate is, over the course of the last several months ISIL has sought to be able to control the battlefield in this space. And I think the message we’re sending is that they’re not going to be able to do that anymore. We’re going to be opportunistic in taking whatever action is necessary to target ISIL forces until we see those targets present themselves.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would only add one other thing. The Kurdish resistance against them on the ground has been impressive, and the airstrikes have certainly made a difference in stemming some advances. But these fighters on the ground have also taken out targets. And the targets keep presenting themselves, we keep hitting them from the air, but these guys are hitting them from the ground as well. And again, this airdrop was meant to help sustain their efforts to do exactly that.
Q Is this the first time that the United States has provided weapons that is lethal assistance, albeit from a third party, to the Syrian rebel fighters? Secondly, why did the United States military not simply provide U.S. arms and small weapons directly to the Syrian Kurds? And third, the Defense Department last week, I believe, estimated that there were hundreds -- only hundreds of civilians remaining in and around Kobani. So why does this now appear to be a potential humanitarian catastrophe if it were to fall to the Islamic State fighters given that the majority of civilians are long gone?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sure, I can take those. Good question. On your first question, we have for some time provided support to the Syrian opposition rooted in, again, our determination initially to develop not just a counterweight to ISIL but a counterweight to the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad. And so, as you know, we’ve been ramping up that assistance for some time now.
Last spring, we announced publicly after the initial finding of the use of chemical weapons on a smaller scale than they were later used in Syria that we were going to begin to provide military assistance to the Syrian opposition. And we have said that that would include assistance to the armed Syrian opposition.
We do not describe the specifics of what types of assistance we provide to the opposition for a variety of reasons, but I’d just note that the decision to provide military assistance is one that we took last year, and we’ve also been able to coordinate the types of assistance we provide to the Syrian opposition with friends and partners in the region -- well, particularly in the region and some around the world.
I would add though that we needed, when the campaign against ISIL ramped up, to be able to substantially ramp up our ability to train and equip the Syrian opposition. And that’s why we went to Congress and very much appreciated their support for the program that will allow us to train and equip a fighting force that can counter both ISIL and serve as a counterweight to Assad in Syria. And one of the lines of effort that we’re focused with the coalition is standing up that program to train and equip the Syrian opposition.
What we have here is a specific and urgent need for resupply for these specific forces fighting in Kobani, and that’s why we took the action of using our unique capabilities to facilitate a resupply from Kurdish authorities in Iraq. And as you know, we’ve been discussing this notion of how to facilitate this resupply for a period of days now. And the fact of the matter is that this was the quickest way to get the job done – we continue to explore how we can support those who are fighting in Kobani going forward.
Of course, the best way that we’re supporting them is with airstrikes. And we’ve already seen our airstrikes have an effect on ISIL. We’ve seen those airstrikes have an effect on the battlefield. But ultimately we also want to make sure that those who are fighting bravely on the ground have the support that they need.
In terms of why Kurdish resupply -- again, our concept in this campaign has been that the United States is going to use its unique capabilities in the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, but we very much want to empower those forces who are fighting on the ground first and foremost. And what we’ve seen is forces step up in Iraq, both the ISF but also Peshmerga forces. And they wanted very much to be able to facilitate this resupply of Kurdish forces who are fighting in Kobani. And so, therefore, we were able to work cooperatively with them to get the job done, drawing of course on the close coordination we’ve had with them through the joint operation center and through our coordination over the last several weeks.
In terms of the numbers of civilians and how that relates to a humanitarian crisis, look, the bottom line is, what we’ve seen when ISIL moves into a town or city is them massacring men, women and children without any regard for basic standards of humanity and decency. And so insofar as there are hundreds of civilians in Kobani, those civilians are at risk of massacre. Now, insofar as there are Kurdish forces fighting in Kobani, they’re at risk of a massacre -- because what we’ve seen is ISIL not take prisoners and abide by international conventions, but rather we’ve seen the slaughter of forces who have found themselves in ISIL’s way, and particularly when there’s forces that put up a tenacious battle as these forces in Kobani have done.
I would note, however, that this is not simply the humanitarian interest that compels this action, as important as that is. This is an opportunity to strike blows against ISIL. And what we’ve seen is ISIL determined that Kobani was important to them, and surging their finite resources to this town. And that’s provided opportunities for us to target ISIL from the air, just as these forces have also fought them on the ground.
And so when we see, again, opportunities to target ISIL, we’re going to take them and we’re also going to -- want to work in support of those forces on the ground when we can. And again, that’s going to take different forms; obviously, in Iraq, we’re able to coordinate with security forces -- Iraqi security forces, Peshmerga forces, who are organized, who we can have a joint operation center with, who we can share information with, who we can continue a train-and-equip relationship with.
In Syria, we’re going to have this train-and-equip relationship with the opposition. But where we can be opportunists, again, in supporting forces fighting on the ground, we’ll look for ways to do that. And that’s certainly been the case in Kobani.
We’ve got time for a couple more questions.
Q Yes, is this a one-off airdrop? Or if supplies run low again, will you do this again?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So that’s a good question. Again, we’ve been looking at ways to provide resupply -- for instance, discussing ways that there could be resupply over land into Kobani. That’s something, obviously, we have to discuss with the Turkish government.
We felt that there was a unique window here where there was both the emergency of forces running low on supplies on the ground, the opportunity to provide this resupply from the air, and Kurdish authorities in Iraq stepping up to the plate to offer their support and assistance.
I think going forward what we’re going to do is just assess both the needs of those forces fighting in Kobani as well as the different vehicles available to provide continued support. So it’s not necessarily going to be a sustained effort that will take this particular form, but we’ll do what’s necessary.
And again, what we’re committed to doing is looking at this as a long-term campaign, looking at steps that we’re going to need to take to adapt to circumstances, to stay one step ahead of an opportunistic enemy. And we’ll continue to consider what the best way is to support these forces even as we remain very focused on supporting the opposition that we’ve been partnered with in Syria for some time now who will be the focal point of our train-and-equip efforts.
Q Hi. The (inaudible) U.S. officials kept saying that despite the U.S. strikes on Kobani, the city may fall. So to what extent those talks can prevent the immediate fall of Kobani, in your intelligence assessment?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Obviously, there are no guarantees in what is a very difficult fight on the ground. We do know our airstrikes are able to make a difference in degrading ISIL, have removed hundreds of ISIL forces from the battlefield, degraded its equipment.
What this resupply will do is provide -- fulfilling an urgent need for those forces who are fighting against ISIL on the ground. But it still remains a very fluid and contested situation.
What we’ve already made clear is ISIL is going to suffer significant losses with forward focus on Kobani. And what we’re trying to do with this resupply is support those who are seeking to inflict greater losses while also defending their own homes and their own town.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Look, we’ve conducted more than 135 airstrikes against ISIL I think in Kobani alone -- in and around Kobani alone. And combined with the resistance on the ground -- and that’s an important point to make -- combined with that resistance on the ground, we believe that the strikes and all that activity have definitely slowed ISIL’s advances into the city.
As the previous briefer mentioned, we know we’ve killed hundreds of their fighters, and this is just around Kobani. And we’ve destroyed or damaged scores of pieces of their equipment and their fighting positions, and we continue to do that. I mean, it’s a very dynamic process and it changes from day to day as they change their tactics and change their positions in and around Kobani.
But I would agree that the situation there, we assess that to remain uncertain and tenuous. And as the Central Command Commander mentioned just last week, we still think it’s possible that the town could fall. But that said, again, the Kurdish resistance has been very impressive. They have slowed the advances into the city. They’re fighting hard. And this resupply will allow them to continue to fight hard, and again, to hit targets as they are presented.
The more this enemy wants that town, the more targets they’re presenting, the more resources they’re adding to it, the more opportunities we have to go get them, not just from the air but from the ground. This resupply will allow them to continue to go after ISIL.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I would just add -- this is official number three -- I would just add, in terms of the multifaceted nature of this -- I mean, as we’re -- the activity over Kobani (inaudible) we’re also -- there are strikes recently in the vicinity of Bayji, Iraq supporting Iraqi security forces there. We’ve also been very aggressively engaged with Iraqi political officials in terms of completing their cabinet, which was completed yesterday, with a minister of defense, a minister of interior, a new minister of finance -- it is a Kurd, Hoshyar Zebari, which really kind of helps between the Baghdad-Erbil cooperation.
So there’s an awful lot going on. Again, to kind of build a foundation and the platforms we’re going to need to succeed, to help our partners succeed over the long term. So Kobani is important because ISIL has made it one of its main focal points, has flooded resources to it. And as this is going on, there’s a number of other things going on here which are all kind of part of this comprehensive campaign.
And then even beyond the theater, in terms of shutting down the foreign fighter network, shutting down the finances, the de-legitimization -- all of these things are going on in parallel, it’s all part of the comprehensive nature of this.
MS. MEEHAN: Thanks, everyone, for joining the call tonight. Just as a reminder, this call was on background. You’re welcome to use quotes from the call, but they must be attributed to senior administration officials, no names.
10/19/2014 Remarks by the President at Anthony Brown for Governor Rally
Dr. Henry A. Wise Junior High School
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
5:20 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello! (Applause.) How’s it going, Prince George’s County? (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Give it up for Anthony Brown, your next governor. (Applause.)
It is good to be here at Henry Wise Junior High. (Applause.) I know it's tough to be at school on a Sunday. (Laughter.) But it’s great to be with one of the best governors in America, Martin O’Malley -- (applause) -- your next Lieutenant Governor, Ken Ulman -- (applause) -- one of the best congressional delegations around -- Steny Hoyer is in the house. (Applause.) Donna Edwards is here. (Applause.) Elijah Cummings; John Sarbanes; Chris Van Hollen; your Attorney General, Doug Gansler; P.G. County Executive, Rushern Baker. (Applause.) And it’s good to be with all of you. (Applause.)
Michelle says hello. (Applause.) Sasha, Malia, Bo, Sunny -- they all say hi. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you back. (Applause.)
We are here for one reason. You just heard from him. As a first-generation American, Anthony was blessed with parents who taught him the value of service at a young age. After college, he served in the Army. After law school, he chose to reenlist in the Army Reserves. He led men and women on a tour of duty in Iraq. He earned a Bronze Star. As a public servant right here in Maryland, he’s worked to create jobs and open the doors of Pre-K to more of our kids. (Applause.) He’s drawn on his own family’s experience to battle domestic violence, working tirelessly to drive down the rate of domestic violence here in Maryland.
Anthony Brown has not just devoted his career to fighting for you, he’s devoted his entire life to fighting for you. And that’s what this election is all about -- who is going to fight for you. (Applause.)
Now, this country has made real progress since the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. Over the past four and a half years, our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs. (Applause.) For the first time in six years, unemployment is below 6 percent. (Applause.) A housing market that was reeling is now rebounding. An auto industry that was wheezing is now roaring, going forward. A manufacturing sector that was shedding jobs for more than a decade is now growing at nearly twice as fast as the rest of the economy. We are less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly three decades. (Applause.) Six years ago, only two states allowed everybody to marry whoever they love; now it’s more than 30. (Applause.) About 10 million Americans have gained the peace of mind of health insurance just in one year alone. (Applause.)
So, Maryland, we have made progress. Don't let other folks say otherwise. But tonight we’re here because we know we’ve got more work to do. We are not finished. As long as there’s a worker out there still looks for that new job or better job; as long as a family still looking for a job or a better job, as long that a family that has two folks working is still having to struggle making ends meet, as long as a child finds the door of opportunity locked, our fight will continue. We are fighting to make sure that every child in America, no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter who you love, no matter what your last name is, no matter how you worship, you can make it here in America if you try. (Applause.)
And we face a lot of challenges -- from stopping the spread of disease to combating violent extremism, to tackling climate change that threatens the world that we leave to our children. But the defining issue of our time, the defining challenge is making sure this economy works for every single American -- (applause) -- every single person inside of Maryland, all across this country. We've got to make sure that everybody has got a fair shot.
So when you cast that vote, you’ve got a choice to make. And it's a choice that’s more than just between two political parties or even between two candidates. It’s a choice about two very different visions for America. Who’s going to fight for you -- that's what it boils down to. Who’s going to fight for your future?
Now, look I believe that Republicans are patriots. I think they love their country. They love their family. But they are a broken record -- (applause) -- they keep on offering the same, tired, worn-out theories. Time and again, they offer the same economic theories that have undermined the middle class in this country. (Applause.) You ask them, what are you going to do to make the lives of Americans better, they’ll say, well, we're going to give tax breaks to folks at the top. We're going to make fewer investments in things like education. We're going to loosen up rules on big banks, and credit card companies, and polluters and insurers. They want to skinny down the safety net for folks who have invested and put money into those safety nets.
We have tried all those things. We tried them before I cam into office. We know they did not work. And they’re not changing their tune. Every time the Republican Party leaders in Washington have had to take a stand on an issue that would help the middle class, what did they say?
THE PRESIDENT: They said no. They said no to the minimum wage. They said no to fair pay. Think about that. How are you going to say no to fair pay? Why would you say no to women getting paid the same as men for doing the same jobs? (Applause.) Not only did they say no to helping young people refinance their student loans, they voted to change the rules so that students would pay more on their loans.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: The only thing they said yes to was another massive tax cut for millionaires. I know that's surprising, but that's what happened. So you know who they’re fighting for, and it ain’t you. It's not you. They’re not -- (laughter.) The same Washington Republicans who blocked a $2.85-an-hour raise for some of the hardest-working folks in America -- the folks who clean out the bedpans and folks who make the rooms and -- they made it clear, if they win, one of the first things they’ll do is change the rules so they can jam tax cuts for the wealthy through Congress one more time. Their leadership even said that tax cuts for those at the top are -- I'm quoting here -- are “even more pressing now” -- that's what they said -- tax cuts for the rich are even more pressing now than they were 30 years ago. (Laughter.)
Now, keep in mind, we're at a time when nearly all the gains of the recovery go to the top. So it's pretty hard to say now is the time to cut taxes for those folks more. That's the wrong vision for the future.
The good news is Anthony Brown has a different vision. (Applause.) Ken Ulman has a different vision. (Applause.) They’ve got a vision rooted deeply in the American Dream. A vision that says prosperity doesn’t trickle up -- or doesn’t trickle down from the top, it grows from a rising and thriving middle class, with more ladders of opportunity for folks who are willing to work hard to get into the middle class.
The wealthiest Americans don’t need another champion. Well-banked corporations don’t -- they’ve got lobbyists. They don't need another champion. You do. (Applause.) Opportunity for a few Americans is not what America is all about. Opportunity for every American is what America is about. (Applause.) And that's what Anthony Brown understands.
So we believe in an economy that grows for the many, not just the few. Anthony Brown’s not running around promising carve-out giveaways for folks at the top, he’s running to make investments in things that benefit everybody -- infrastructure that creates good jobs, education that helps more young people get ahead -- (applause) -- job training that helps workers earn new skills.
We believe in this country every child should enter school ready to learn. (Applause.) And if you elect Anthony Brown, he’s going to open high-quality Pre-K to every family who wants it. (Applause.) And I want to be a partner with Anthony Brown in this effort, and we'll make that happen if you vote. (Applause.)
We think in this country, some higher education is the surest path to the middle class. So Anthony is not running to cut education. Under Anthony and Martin O’Malley’s watch, more Maryland students are graduating from high school, more students are enrolling in college. (Applause.) They are completing their degrees more than ever before. They’ve done more in this state to hold down the growth of public tuition than any state in America. (Applause.) And if you elect Anthony Brown, he’s pledged to keep on that path.
We believe that in America, nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise their families in poverty. (Applause.) Now, just so you understand, we had one Republican governor say just a while back that the minimum wage doesn’t serve any purpose. Well, tell that to millions of Americans who desperately need a raise. (Applause.) Anthony Brown understands it serves a purpose. And because he and Governor O’Malley have already got the job done, some of Maryland’s hardest workers are going to get a raise to $10.10 an hour. (Applause.) You know who Anthony is fighting for.
Right here and across the country, Republicans are running for office, taking their cues from party leadership in Washington. Just recently, they had the brass to call the minimum wage nothing but “an election-year stunt.” If you are working full-time at a hard job, and a dirty job, and you're making $14,000 and $500 a year, you can't make it. Twenty-eight million Americans would benefit from an increase to $10.10 an hour. That is not a stunt. That is looking out for folks who need some help, who are working hard and are trying to do right by their family. (Applause.) Let’s follow the lead of Anthony Brown. Let’s get more folks in there that are going to fight for working-class families.
We believe America is stronger when women are full and equal partners in this economy. (Applause.) Earlier this year, Republicans said no to a fair pay law. One of the candidates they’re running right now says, “You could argue that money is more important for men.” That's what he said.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Now, I don't know what women he was talking to. (Laughter.) He wasn’t talking to you, was he?
THE PRESIDENT: Say no. (Laughter.)
Look, if we’re going to strengthen the middle class in this century -- we're not talking about the 17th century -- we need leaders who belong to the 21st century. (Applause.) Let’s make sure women get paid fairly. (Applause.) Let’s make sure women can take time off for a loved one who’s sick, for a child who’s sick without losing their job. (Applause.) Let’s make sure every woman can make and control her own health care choices -- (applause) -- not her boss, not an insurer, not a politician. (Applause.) We don't need policies and we don't need politicians that belong in the ‘50s.
Because the fact is women -- she said “rule.” (Applause.) That's true in my house. (Laughter.) The fact is that women are now increasingly the main breadwinners in the family. (Applause.) So this isn't just a women’s issue. When women succeed, America succeeds. (Applause.) And Anthony Brown understands that.
We believe that in America -- (audience interruption.)
AUDIENCE: Booo -- (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, it's okay. It's okay. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no. Hold on a second. Hold on. Hold on a second. Hold on, hold on. Hold on. Hold on. Hold on a minute. Hold on a minute. First of all, I couldn't quite here the young man. But -- hold on. But I think actually he was concerned about immigration reform. And the problem is I'm actually for immigration reform -- (applause) -- and the reason we haven't done immigration reform is because Congress -- congressional Republicans in the House of Representatives have been blocking immigration reform.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: So the reason I say that is because we have to have compassion. If you have a family member who, because we have not fixed a broken system, is worried about being deported, then you're going to be worried, too. Of course, he should be protesting the folks who are blocking it. (Applause.) But that's okay.
Look, we believe in an America where everybody gets a chance. (Applause.) That includes making sure that we've got an immigration system that continues to be true to our traditions, which is that we're a nation of immigrants. (Applause.) Some came by choice; some just came. (Applause.) But we have made a life for ourselves here. And we can't then close the door behind us.
We also believe in an America where nobody should go broke just because you get sick -- (applause) -- where everybody should have access to quality, affordable health care. And thanks to Obamacare -- (applause) -- the share of Americans with health care is up. (Applause.) The growth of health care costs is down. (Applause.) No American can ever again be dropped or denied coverage because you’ve got a preexisting condition. (Applause.) No woman can ever again be charged more just for being a woman. (Applause.)
So Republicans can keep pledging to repeal this law and deny its protections and the peace of mind that millions of Americans have. But Anthony Brown and I are going to work together to make sure this law works even better. (Applause.) We’re going to get more folks in Maryland covered, more Americans getting the economic security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health care provides.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thank you!
THE PRESIDENT: So, look, the bottom line is this: The Republican Party can keep telling you what they’re against. They’re against -- I mean, you know they’re against me. (Laughter.) We know that. I mean, you all know if I propose something they’re against it. (Laughter.) If I said, apple pie is a great pie, they’d say, no, it's not. (Laughter.) We don't like apple pie. (Laughter.) So we know they’re against me. They’re against affordable health care. They’re against the minimum wage. They’re against equal pay laws. They’re against immigration reform. They deny climate change exists at all. But the good news is Democrats keep telling you what we're for, and the things we're for, and the things that will help working families. (Applause.) You deserve leaders who don't root for failure; don't try to refight the old battles; don't try to peddle fear. You deserve action that’s focused on your lives, on your hopes, on your aspirations for your kids. (Applause.)
And that’s why you have to vote. (Applause.) That's why you’ve got to vote here in Maryland. (Applause.) You know, sometimes I hear folks say, oh, you know, the system is fixed, and these folks are trying to make it harder to vote, and this and that, and there’s always a reason. But you know what, there are no excuses. The future is up to us. If you want better policies out of Washington, then you’ve got to vote for it. (Applause.) If you want good policies to continue in Maryland, you’ve got to vote for it. (Applause.)
If you don't think we need more tax loopholes for companies shipping jobs overseas, and instead think we should give tax breaks to companies that are investing here in Maryland, here in America, you’ve got to vote. (Applause.) If you think we don't need more tax breaks for millionaires but we do need tax breaks to help working families pay for college for their kids, you’ve got to vote. (Applause.)
If you believe we shouldn’t saddle students with even bigger loan payments, should make it easier for them to pay back student loans, you’ve got to vote. (Applause.) If you think Congress should stop trying to deport striving young dreamers and pass immigration reform that they’ve blocked for a year, you’ve got to vote. (Applause.)
If you believe we shouldn’t be cutting workers’ wages, but guaranteeing hardworking Americans that they get an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, you’ve got to have your voice heard and you’ve got to vote. (Applause.)
On every one of these issues there is a clear choice. On every one of these issues, Anthony Brown is on your side. (Applause.) And you know this. I mean, I'm just telling you what you already know. In state after state, the Republicans on the ballot are not for what will help you and what you believe. But you know what? They vote. The only plan they’ve got right now is to try to make you so afraid, so discouraged, to tell you -- to remind you everything that's not working right -- that's their plan, is to just make people feel like government can't work. They don't offer new ideas to address it. They want to get you cynical so you don't think you can make a difference; so you won't get involved; so you won't organize; so you won't go out and vote.
Well, you know what, I'm banking that that strategy is not going to work. (Applause.) I think it underestimates the American people. (Applause.) We know folks are still struggling. That’s why we’re here. They’re exactly why we’re still in this fight. But don’t buy what they’re selling. Because despite the cynics, America is making progress. Despite unyielding opposition, there are workers who didn’t have jobs when I came into office who’ve got a job now. (Applause.) Despite the cynicism, there are folks who’ve got health insurance right now who didn’t have it before. (Applause.) There are kids who’ve got Pre-K who didn’t have it before. (Applause.) There are college students who are going to college who couldn’t go before. (Applause.) There are troops who were serving tour after tour who are now home with their families today. (Applause.)
Don’t let them sell that kind of just constant cynicism. You have a right to feel proud and optimistic about this country’s future. Being optimistic, even when times are hard -- especially when times are hard -- that is the birthright of America.
You know, cynicism and fear didn’t put a man on the moon. Cynicism and fear never won a war. It never cured a disease. It never built a business. It never fed a young mind. Cynicism didn’t lead folks to march for civil rights and women’s rights and worker’s rights. (Applause.)
Cynicism is a choice. And hope is a better choice. And we're selling hope. (Applause.) That's what Anthony Brown is about, is hope. (Applause.) That's what Ken Ulman is about, is hope. (Applause.)
Hope gives young soldiers the courage to storm a beach. Hope gives people the strength to march for their rights -- (applause) -- for workers’ rights, and civil rights, and gay rights, and immigration rights. (Applause.) The belief that there are better days ahead, the belief that together, we can build up our middle class and hand down something to our kids. (Applause.)
I am profoundly optimistic about this country’s future. And I need all of you to be, as well. (Applause.) And that means getting involved. Anthony Brown has devoted his life to fighting for you. You now need to fight for him. (Applause.) You need to knock on doors, make some phone calls, talk to your friends, talk to your neighbors. Go to AnthonyBrown.com, volunteer. Find your polling place. And I don't just need you to vote -- go find your friends and vote. (Applause.) Get your cousin to vote. Get your uncle to vote. And right here in Maryland, you can start voting this Thursday.
Because if we elect more governors like Anthony Brown, if we fill more statehouses and Congress with leaders who reflect the values and hard work and common decency of the American people -- we're not just going to win an election, we're going to keep rebuilding this economy so it works for everybody. (Applause.) We’re going to keep advancing the American Dream for everybody. We're going to make sure America is for everybody and that America’s best days are still ahead. That’s what we're fighting for.
10/19/2014 Remarks by the President at Overflow Rally
Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School
Upper Marlboro, Maryland
4:55 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, Maryland! (Applause.) How is everybody doing? (Applause.)
So I’m going to make a long speech in there. (Applause.) But I had to come to the folks who didn’t get a seat. (Applause.) Because this is a group right here that is truly enthusiastic. (Applause.) And you’ve got a good reason to be enthusiastic, because you have an outstanding candidate for governor in Anthony Brown. (Applause.)
And the Brown-Ulman ticket is one that is going to continue the legacy of Democrats here in Maryland, people who are going to fight on behalf of those who are middle class, folks who are working hard to get into the middle class, people who work hard every single day, didn’t always get started in the best of situations but because they carried out their responsibilities, because they did the right thing, well, they’ve been able to get their little piece of the American Dream. (Applause.)
And the measure of every elected official should be how much are they working hard on your behalf every single day. And this man right next to me, every single day he is going to be thinking about how he can help young people afford college, and how we’re going to make sure that everybody has health care in this country, and how we can create good jobs in Maryland and make sure they pay a good wage, and how seniors are going to have the protection of Medicare and Social Security, and how you can save for a retirement with dignity and respect. That’s what he cares about. That’s what he’s going to work on.
But I’ve got a very simple message, which is this will be a done deal if you vote. (Applause.) But it’s not enough just for you to vote. You’ve got to get your family to vote. You’ve got to get your friends to vote. You’ve got to get your coworkers to vote. You’ve got to get that cousin Pookie sitting at home on the couch -- (laughter) -- he’s watching football right now instead of being here at the rally -- you’ve got to talk to him and let him know it is not that hard to exercise the franchise that previous generations fought so hard to obtain. If we do that, then you’re not only going to be able to continue a great legacy here in Maryland, but you’re also going to have one of the finest young public servants leading the charge here in Maryland.
So I need everybody to make sure you are working hard finishing up in these last few weeks. I love you. God bless you. I’ll come around and shake a few hands, then I’m going to go into the big rally. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.)
10/19/2014 Readout of the President's Call with Turkish President Erdogan
The President called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last night to discuss Syria, particularly the situation in Kobani, and steps that could be taken to counter ISIL advances. The President expressed appreciation for Turkey hosting over a million refugees, including thousands from Kobani. The two leaders pledged to continue to work closely together to strengthen cooperation against ISIL. They also discussed the need for continuing close cooperation on efforts to consolidate peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Angelica Valencia was fired when doctor's orders limited her from overtime during her pregnancy, but was helped by New York City's Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, writes Rachel Swarns.
Ms. Valencia, who has been out of work for nearly three months, can return “immediately without loss of seniority and without fear of retaliation,” Jeffrey D. Pollack, a lawyer who represents the Fierman Produce Exchange, wrote in a letter to Ms. Valencia’s lawyers.
Ms. Valencia, who earned $8.70 an hour as a potato packer for Fierman in the Bronx, was told by her supervisors in August that she could not continue working unless her doctor gave her a full-duty medical clearance. (Ms. Valencia, who had a miscarriage last year, was told by her doctor that she should work only eight hours a day, no overtime.)
While Smith admits to having studied some science in college, most of his science credentials come straight from Congress: he’s already served on the science committee for the past 26 years. His votes reflect a pattern of opposition to climate change and alternative energy efforts, sympathy to large industry in matters of copyright and patent law, deference to law enforcement on privacy issues, and moral policing of the internet.
Smith’s record on energy and the environment represents one of his most controversial policy arenas. He voted to bar the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, voted no several times on tax credits for renewable energy and incentives for energy production and conservation, voted against raising fuel efficiency standards, and rejected implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. Opponents of the appointment have observed in recent days that Smith, like his predecessor Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), have expressed skepticism about man-made global warming—a question that suffers no serious objection in scientific literature, but has become a contentious topic of debate after conservative groups cast it as a social problem in the 1990s.
The visits from the staffers, who work for the U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees NSF, were an unprecedented—and some say bizarre—intrusion into the much admired process that NSF has used for more than 60 years to award research grants. Unlike the experts who have made that system work so well, however, the congressional staffers weren’t really there to judge the scientific merits of each proposal. But that wasn’t their intent.
The Republican aides were looking for anything that Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), their boss as chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, could use to support his ongoing campaign to demonstrate how the $7 billion research agency is “wasting” taxpayer dollars on frivolous or low-priority projects, particularly in the social sciences. The Democratic staffers wanted to make sure that their boss, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), the panel’s senior Democrat, knew enough about each grant to rebut any criticism that Smith might levy against the research.
The most immediate problem with all of this is that Rep. Smith is threatening the NSF's promise to researchers that its peer-review process remains confidential. The fundamental principal of research is the ability to make mistakes, to follow theories, unabashedly, and then take the harsh reviews and critiques of your scientific community. Here's how Smith goes about it all:
How did things get to this point? For the past 18 months, Smith has waged a very public assault on NSF’s storied peer-review system. He’s issued a barrage of press releases that ridicule specific awards, championed legislation that would alter NSF’s peer-review system and slash funding for the social science programs that have supported much of the research he has questioned, and berated NSF officials for providing what he considers to be inadequate explanations of their funding decisions.
10/20/2014 Student loans and school funding cuts force Republicans on the defensive
Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA)
The Republican education agenda—privatization in the name of "school choice" and funding cuts—generally gets positive media coverage. But Republicans are getting an ugly reminder this election season that actual voters aren't so gullible. Democrats, meanwhile, have found in education a set of powerful messages that seem likely to mobilize turnout among the drop-off voters who vote Democratic in presidential years, then stay home in midterm years:
Accusing Republicans of cutting programs for students while giving tax breaks to the rich motivates diffident voters more than similarly partisan messages on reproductive rights, the economy or health care, veteran Democratic political strategist Celinda Lake found in a series of focus groups and polls.
Lake’s research, commissioned by MoveOn.org, included a survey of 1,000 Democratic voters who said they weren’t sure they’d bother to vote in the key states of North Carolina, Michigan, Kentucky, Colorado and Iowa. Coupling the education theme with talk about the middle class falling behind was “nearly a slam dunk with these targets,” Lake wrote.
Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg came to a similar conclusion after polling 2,200 likely voters in battleground states. They found that unmarried women in North Carolina and Georgia were particularly swayed by messages about expanding access to early childhood education. In Iowa and Colorado, affordable college loans hit the mark. Combining those issues with an appeal to raise the minimum wage, they wrote, creates a “powerful, populist opportunity to shift the vote.”
Education unions are taking advantage, running ads and mail pieces against Republicans who have cut education funding or voted against lowering student loan interest rates. Republicans, meanwhile, are mostly trying to change the subject to terrorism, brown immigrants, Ebola, and the traditional divide-and-conquer—stirring up fear rather than addressing the underfunded schools and student debt affecting so many Americans—but some, like Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, and North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis, have been forced on the defensive about education.
Education touches the vast majority of voters, from overcrowded grade school classrooms to adult lives shaped by enormous student debt, and the Republican agenda would make these things worse. Why not? Their wealthy donors don't have to worry about any of that.
10/21/2014 Daily Kos Elections ad roundup: With his career on the line, Lee Terry doubles down in Omaha
•NE-02: Republican Rep. Lee Terry and the NRSC recently made news for portraying Democrat Brad Ashford as weak on crime, airing a pair of controversial spots. Terry is doubling down in his newest ad.
Terry features Sgt. John Wells, president of the Omaha Police Officers Association, hitting Ashford for supporting the Good Time Law. Wells argues that Ashford's policies can get people killed by releasing violent criminals out onto the streets. Terry's poll numbers are reportedly shaky, and his party is worried about him, which helps explain why he's running these types of ads. Also for the GOP, Fuels America praises Terry for his support for alternative fuels.
On the other side, Ashford hits Terry's negative ads. Ashford features a quote from the Omaha World Herald vouching for Ashford on public safety.
Head below the fold for a roundup of campaign ads from races around the country.
10/20/2014 Terri Lynn Land the latest Republican to oppose a federal minimum wage
Terri Lynn Land
Add Michigan's Terri Lynn Land to the list of Republican candidates who don't have the nerve to argue for a lower minimum wage in their own states, but also don't think there should be any federal minimum wage at all. Responding to a questionnaire asking if she supported raising the minimum wage, Land began with some blah blah blah about how she supported the Republican move to raise Michigan's minimum wage a tiny amount, a move that only happened to keep a much larger increase from getting a ballot vote in November. So that was a bold stand, supporting the current law, and the fact that it kept her from facing voters who'd turned out to vote for a higher wage. Land concluded with this:
As a general rule, I believe this issue should be handled by the states, not the federal government.
So Terri Lynn Land believes there should be no federal floor on wages. However low politicians in any given state think they can get away with pushing down wages, that should be fine and dandy. Bear in mind that Land is seeking election to the United States Senate, a part of the federal government that she doesn't think should be involved in the issue of the minimum wage. In translation, if elected to the Senate, Land will not be voting to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Land is just the latest Republican to oppose the federal minimum wage. Iowa's Joni Ernst also thinks states should be allowed to go as low as they want, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker thinks the minimum wage doesn't "serve a purpose."
10/21/2014 Bobby Jindal on top of Ebola thing, signs executive order that will do precisely nothing
Way to lead, Bobby.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) wins the award for dumbest Ebola response of the week, with most of the week still ahead of us.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed an executive order requiring that state officials monitor travel to and from the countries most affected by Ebola in West Africa.
The Republican governor, one of first major political figures to call for a travel ban from Ebola-stricken countries, issued the order on Monday in response to what he called insufficient action from the federal government.
“[T]he federal government, to date, has failed to implement protections at the national level to prevent the entry of the Ebola Virus Disease into the United States of America,” Jindal said in the order.
He should be making sure officials are monitoring the border with Texas.
Jindal calls this a "precautionary, common-sense measure." Except the part where the Obama administration has restricted all travelers coming from the affected West African countries to be funneled through five airports in the U.S. where they can be screened for the disease. None of those airports is in Louisiana.
Congratulations, Bobby, for being both the most panicked and most redundant governor in the land.
While leaks from the federal investigation of police officer Darren Wilson's shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, August 9 are starting to appear, concerned citizens in Ferguson and beyond have a plethora of unanswered questions they'd love ask to Wilson—not only about his mindset, but his actions the day Brown was killed. To begin, here are 15 questions:
1. When your SUV pulled up alongside Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson as they were walking along Canfield Drive, did you tell them to "get the fuck on the sidewalk?"
2. When you pulled away from Brown and Johnson on Canfield Drive, why exactly did you decide to put your SUV in reverse to confront them again? Your chief says you did not know about the earlier convenience store incident where it is alleged Mike Brown stole some cigars. Was it to express your anger that they didn't obey your earlier command to "get the fuck on the sidewalk?"
4. When you arrived back at where Brown and Johnson stood, if you did not know about the store incident, why exactly did you open your door to confront them? Did you intend to arrest them for jaywalking?
5. Precisely how far away was your door from Brown and Johnson when you flung it open?
6. Did you believe Brown or Johnson were armed at any point during your confrontation?
7. Reports have surfaced that you told federal investigators that you were repeatedly punched and scratched by Brown through your SUV window. Why did you not see the medic who arrived on the crime scene? Why do no photos or videos or eyewitness reports from the scene have evidence of even a shadow of an injury, or you touching or favoring any injury?
8. It's been reported that you claim that Brown "went for, or lunged for," your gun. Was this when the gun was within inches of his face before you fired two shots at him through your window and hit him with one?
13. Before you fired the two fatal shots into Brown's eye and the crown of his head, as he was falling down, you had shot him a total of four times already. Did you still believe him to be a threat to you at that point?
14. No record exists of you ever radioing in for backup or support at any time. Did you use your cell phone to call for backup? Who else did you call and why?
15. Who first told you not to create a report after you shot and killed Brown, and what reason did they give you for such a request?
10/21/2014 Ad shows Wisconsin voters the real Glenn Grothman in all his nutso glory
A new ad from Wisconsin Democrat Mark Harris calls voters' attention to a few of the crazy-extreme highlights of Republican Glenn Grothman's political career:
Even Republicans say Glenn Grothman is too bizarre to be our congressman. Grothman claims that preschool causes psychological damage on children. Grothman said single parents are committing child abuse, and Grothman opposed laws requiring women get equal pay for equal work, saying that "money is more important for men."
"I'm Mark Harris. I've cut government spending and cut debt. I approve this message, because that's what I'll do in Washington."
And as astounding as those Grothman statements are, they're just scratching the surface. This is a man who has said "Quite frankly, it's scandalous that lawyers are leading people to believe that the lead paint in these houses is responsible for the increases in the (lead) levels in their blood." Scandalous!
10/21/2014 Republicans concede Ebola travel ban talk is just politics
Republican leaders, the New York Timesreports, are actually astute enough to realize that a travel ban on Ebola-affected countries really isn't something that can actually happen, since there aren't any direct flights from West Africa to the United States and for a variety of other reasons. So they're "refining" their position, to now call for just a temporary suspension of visas out of those countries. But in the meantime, they're still out on the stump screaming Ebola.
Days of news media fixation, mounting public concern and political pot-stirring have created an odd dichotomy in which leadership aides on Capitol Hill are urging caution while candidates on the campaign trail are pressing hot buttons. House Republican leadership aides have repeatedly said lawmakers are not calling for an actual ban of airline flights, even as the likes of Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, and Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, have done just that. […]
Mr. McConnell, said a spokesman, Don Stewart, was "using shorthand" last week when he said, "It would be a good idea to discontinue flights into the United States from that part of the world." He, too, supports a temporary suspension of visas, a position put into legislative language on Monday by Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who vowed to press visa-suspension legislation when Congress returned in November.
Yes, they're calling for a travel ban because that sounds like the toughest thing that they can use to keep Ebola fear whipped up, and then concede that they're smart enough to know it won't work, so here's this other thing that maybe they could support while they're still yelling for a travel ban. Meanwhile,
In reality, Republicans are not planning a legislative response, at least for now, Republican leadership aides said Monday. They merely want their voices heard.
Oh, of course. Sure that's all they want, just to be "heard."
10/21/2014 Midterm Calculus: Why House Republicans Alienate Hispanics: They Don’t Need Them
Even if they did not receive a single vote from a Latino, anywhere in the United States, Republicans could most likely retain control of the House.
10/21/2014 First Draft: First Draft Video: Shaheen on Fixing Washington
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, argues for changing some of the Senate’s rules of procedure in the latest installment of our video series about fixing Washington.
10/21/2014 First Draft: Back to Blunt: Christie ‘Tired of Hearing About’ Minimum Wage
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey reverted to his blunt style in a speech in Washington on Tuesday, offering a fiercer and more partisan perspective than he has on behalf of Republican candidates.
10/21/2014 A Holder Legacy: Shifting Terror Cases to the Civilian Courts, and Winning
The success of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. in reversing the Bush administration’s emphasis on trying terrorism suspects in secret prisons or at offshore military tribunals may be one of his most significant achievements.
10/21/2014 First Draft: Today in Politics
President Obama said he believes the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states, but he supports the Supreme Court’s incremental approach.
08/04/2013 Hendrik Hertzberg: Anthony Weiner’s all-digital sex scandal.
It’s been another political season of impressively gaudy sex scandals, further confounding America’s hard-won reputation as a nation of censorious puritans. The paradox isn’t so surprising, when you think about it: the broader the range of sex-related activities deemed immoral, unnatural, or . . .
07/28/2013 John Cassidy: Don’t give up on Detroit.
If you were to visit the Detroit Institute of Arts, home to Diego Rivera’s magnificent murals depicting scenes at the Ford Motor Company in the early nineteen-thirties, and then take a stroll through the surrounding streets, you might be surprised at what you would find: coffee shops . . .
07/21/2013 Jelani Cobb: The folly of Stand Your Ground laws.
For some years, the N.R.A.’s approach to gun-rights advocacy has amounted to a variant of the old Maoist dictum, to the effect that democracy flows from the barrel of a gun. In March, the group provided a novel twist on the theme of sidearm liberty when it . . .
07/14/2013 George Packer: Why Egypt is a foreign-policy puzzle.
American foreign aid has always been an awkward exercise in high-minded self-interest—humanitarian goals balanced uneasily with strategic calculations. Whenever these two come into conflict, Presidents inevitably find a way out of their loftier commitments. In 1947, when Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed a huge . . .
06/30/2013 Jeffrey Toobin: The end of DOMA and the future of gay rights.
The Supreme Court’s embrace of gay rights last week had an almost serene majesty. The obvious correctness of the Court’s judgment, its curt dismissal of a monstrous injustice, had a grandeur that requires little elaboration. Yet the decision had its roots in something prosaic and largely . . .
06/23/2013 Steve Coll: Obama sends weapons to Syria.
The carved minaret above Aleppo’s twelfth-century Umayyad Mosque collapsed in April. The city, which is Syria’s most populous, has endured Hittite, Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule, little of it benevolent. But this year, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have delivered a distinctly . . .
06/16/2013 Hendrik Hertzberg: Difficult questions about the N.S.A.
Since the first week of June, when the Washington Post and London’s Guardian, doing the work that journalism is supposed to do, published detailed news of the National Security Agency’s gigantic programs of cell-phone and Internet information-gathering, the world has been riveted. These were . . .
06/02/2013 Steve Coll: Why journalists deserve better protections.
In 1969, when nothing excited the public’s interest like the depredations of drug fiends, the Louisville Courier-Journal sent a reporter named Paul Branzburg to penetrate Kentucky’s marijuana underground. He published eyewitness accounts; a photograph accompanying one of them showed hands hovering over a pile of . . .
05/26/2013 William Finnegan: The struggle for immigration reform.
It was edifying while it lasted. A bipartisan immigration bill, supported by an unusually wide coalition of business, labor, church, and humanitarian groups, made its way through the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the baying over Benghazi and the Internal Revenue Service was fierce and rising . . .
05/19/2013 Elizabeth Kolbert: What’s at stake in Obama’s Keystone decision.
A lot of what’s known about carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be traced back to a chemist named Charles David Keeling, who, in 1958, persuaded the U.S. Weather Bureau to install a set of monitoring devices at its Mauna Loa observatory, on the island of Hawaii. By . . .
10/17/2014 Turning mushroom hunting into gold in the Yukon
In Canada's Yukon Territory, Bob Simon found a man whose technique for finding mushrooms inspired him to create a method to find gold that's made him the Yukon's biggest gold prospector
10/10/2014 Behind the arrest of public enemy number one
Bill Whitaker speaks with the men who worked to finally capture Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, Sinaloa drug cartel kingpin who out-foxed his pursuers for 13 years
10/10/2014 FBI director on privacy, electronic surveillance
FBI Director James Comey speaks with Scott Pelley about our lives online and the need for government electronic surveillance, but only with a court order
10/05/2014 FBI director on threat of ISIS, cybercrime
In his first major television interview, FBI Director James Comey speaks with Scott Pelley about the threat of Americans joining ISIS and the dangers posed by cybercrime and cyber espionage