A Jewish Case for Voting Libertarian

by Brian Kresge, Gary Johnson Campaign’s Jewish Outreach Director

William Weld (l) and Gary Johnson (r).

Governors William Weld (MA) and Gary Johnson (NM).

In 2016, we’re seeing one of the most heated, if not unusual, races in recent history. Two candidates without precedent: a celebrity narcissist and questionable businessman, and a scandal-clad professional politician who happens to also be the first female major party nominee.

The voting calculus could follow the usual “lesser of two evils” formula. The argument that we must choose merely on the merits of how bad the other is may hold interest for those Jews with moral constructs that put Clinton below Donald Trump on their scales, or for those wary of the beleaguered relationship with Israel these last eight years.

I urge proponents of a “lesser of two evils” argument to reread our Jewish proof texts. [Read more…]

Meet the Delegates: Joe Smallhoover – Democrats Abroad

Joe SmallhooverJoe Smallhoover is the Chair of Democrats Abroad France. We tried unsuccessfully to find some time together during the convention, but finally a mutually workable time a few days afterwards.

While he lives in Paris now, Joe was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Upper St. Clair, PA. He attended Washington and Jefferson College and Duke University. He holds an MA in Germanic languages from the University of Virginia and did advanced studies in Europe on a Fullbright, as an exchange teacher before returning to the US to obtain a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He has lived in Paris since 1985, and has practiced law in France, Belgium and Germany.

DocJess: Where did you get your interest in politics?

Joe Smallhoover: I have been involved since I was in diapers. My grandfather was the Chair of the Allegheny County Commissioners from 1934 until the late 1950’s and active in the Democratic Party all his life. I grew up in that household and was treated to seeing state and local dignitaries on a regular basis and learned the ins and outs of politics.

DJ: Democrats Abroad is a group of ex-pats…

JS: Let me stop you. Often people say “ex-patriots” instead of “expatriates” as if we are not patriotic Americans. We certainly are patriotic, and one of the ways we show that is by voting. We just happen to be living outside the country and prefer to be called Overseas Americans or Americans Abroad.

DJ: Sorry, I meant no disrespect.

JS: I know. It’s a common theme we deal with.

DJ: So. If I lived outside the country, how would I join Democrats Abroad? What exactly do you do?

JS: Democrats Abroad (DA) is recognized as a state party by the Democratic National Committee and we even have our own primary. The French and English groups are the oldest within the umbrella of DA, both chapters having been formed in 1964. We have committees in 41 countries, active but less organized committees in another 20 countries, and members from 160 countries.

If you are an American abroad, you can vote in the state primary of the state you lived in just prior to moving overseas, or you can participate in the Democratic primary as a part of DA.  Democrats Abroad, by the way, also participates directly in the DNC, with seats on various committees.

DJ: Is that true for the general election?

JS: Overall yes, in most cases. Federal law says that Americans living abroad can participate in Federal elections. There is a Federal ballot that can be used, or in some states, Americans abroad can file an absentee ballot for that state which would include all the offices on all the other ballots for that state.

However, some states will make you pay state income taxes if you vote on the state ballot because it establishes part of a residency requirement. Some states won’t charge taxes. It’s a fluid situation as states do change their rules over time. I lived in California just before I moved to France, and it used to be that you had to pay state taxes to vote absentee in state and local elections, but that was changed a few years ago.

Many states have an overseas ballot that is a Federal ballot. These ballots are both for civilians overseas as well as uniformed (military) voters. The rule is you can file one ballot or the other, not both.

DJ: What do you do to encourage voting?

JS: In France, we have an event every week across the land. We have multiple talks on issues that affect people. We also have caucuses, such as the Minority, Women, LGBT, and Youth. We have programs to discuss topics like the environment, economy, etc. We hold dinner debates, as well as social events. We are active and embedded in the American community overseas.

I started an internet site close to 30 years ago, before it was popular, after someone complained he couldn’t find Democrats Abroad. It was a nascent, flat site, but it was a start and I saw the benefit of early adoption. Now, we’re active on our websites, and we leverage social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to do as much outreach as possible so people can find us easily.

DJ: Do the Republicans have something similar?

JS: They tried, but they were more about fundraising. They’ve dissipated. They’re smaller than DA by at least a factor of 10, and they are not active in as many places. We have precincts and wards and a “county/state” structure while the Republicans have some elections but they’re relatively small, and most of their folks are involved by appointment and not election.

DJ: Was this your first convention?

1928-democratic-national-convention-ticket-valueJS: No. A member of my family has been present at every convention since 1928. I have attended all the conventions since 1996.

DJ: What did you think of Philadelphia?

JS: Each convention is a little different because of the dynamics of delegates, candidates and the city itself. Philadelphia was very welcoming. It was a wonderful feeling, being a native Pennsylvanian. The convention was smoothly organized. There were very few glitches that make being and attending difficult. Except meals were difficult. The lines were long and once you were in the arena there weren’t any other nearby options. But that’s to be expected and taken in stride.

The convention itself was absolutely spectacular. The speakers were tremendous and there were a number of surprises like Khizr Khan. When he held up a copy of the Constitution, it was one of the most powerful things I’d ever seen at a convention.

I also appreciated Gabby Giffords. I’d met her in Paris before she’d regained the power of speech, and to see her take the podium, and speak, well, all I could think was if she could do this with her limitations, imagine how much brilliance must be locked inside of her.

DJ: And Larry Sanders?

JS: We had all seen him tear up in private, and were overwhelmed by the pride he had for his brother. It was very powerful, and then, we got to see his brother react. It was a moment that won’t soon be repeated.

DJ: One last thing. Some of my readers either live overseas or have kids who live overseas. How do they connect with you?

JS: Our site is www.democratsabroad.org and if they need to register, they can go directly to www.votefromabroad.org/vote. As long as someone makes the deadline, which differs in the various states, a ballot should be automatically sent, although one can download a Federal write-in absentee ballot as a substitute. All the instructions are available on the website.

See our full series of delegate interviews.

PA Veterans Find Trump’s Remarks Offensive

Ahead of Donald Trump’s event in Mechanicsburg on Monday, Pennsylvania veterans condemned Trump’s offensive remarks and called on Trump to apologize to a Gold Star family he personally attacked multiple times over the weekend.

Donald Trump has attacked the US Armed Forces repeatedly: Calling it weak and ineffective, accusing our soldiers of stealing reconstruction money from Iraq, and denouncing prisoners of war for being captured.

Congressman Chris Carney, a former Commander in the United States Navy Reserve:

Folks like me who have served this country honorably for many years are absolutely disgusted at Donald Trump and what he said about those who have sacrificed for this country. It is clear Trump has neither the temperament nor the experience to be Commander-in-Chief and to lead the forces of the United States – especially when we have such complex issues bedeviling the country and the world right now. It is unfathomable that a man like that would want to sacrifice the honor of the military for his ego. Anybody who looks at this objectively will realize that Donald Trump is as hollow as it gets when it comes to being Commander-in-Chief.

Donald Trump has called for the military to violate the Geneva Convention’s ban on torture and conduct reprisal killings of the family members of enemy soldiers and terrorists: “We’re going to have to do things that are unthinkable.”

However, as retired Army Major General Gale Pollock pointed out, our soldiers have all taken an oath to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” and are required to refuse illegal orders.

We asked Pollock what protocol troops and officers are trained to follow if they are given an illegal order. She responded that you are supposed to raise the issue with the person who gave the order and explain why you believe the order to be illegal. If this does not solve the problem, then the issue must be brought up the chain of command. This is why the question of illegal orders issued by the commander-in-chief is especially problematic. To whom could our military appeal to countermand such illegal orders? This would raise the specter of a constitutional military-civil crisis where our military leaders were forced for the first time in US history to ignore the orders of its civilian leadership.

“After 36 years in the Army, I believe very strongly in the values we share in the military. Loyalty duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” said I think we have seen a trend of the military being insulted, whether it’s our prisoners of war, men who sacrificed their lives, or veterans. I am just really troubled by this, and I think it’s important we recognize that these behaviors, these accusations are unacceptable for a leader in America. Pennsylvanians respect the men and women who serve. And I would hope that many of us would be offended by the continued insults against our military that Mr. Trump has offered.


Last week, Mr. Khizr Khan the father of a Muslim American war hero gave a moving speech at the Democratic National Convention. He also called out Donald Trump’s offensive and divisive religious discrimination that would have prevented their son – an Army captain who gave his life to save other soldiers in his unit – from even entering the United States of America.

Fmr. Navy Lt. Commander Manan Trivedi was the battalion surgeon with the first units to cross the Iraq border in 2003.

Frankly, I find Donald Trumps latest rhetoric disgusting, disgraceful and reprehensible towards veterans. It’s just one more piece of proof that he lacks any kind of judgement to be our Commander-in-Chief. Unfortunately, I have seen first hand the ultimate sacrifice that people like Captain Khan and so many others have made. For Donald Trump to denigrate his family and service is beyond the pale.

For him to attack a mother who is still grieving for her son. It’s shameful.

This is not the first time for Trump. Remember his comments about Senator John McCain. Time and time again, Trump has insulted our veterans, and our men and women in uniform deserve better.

Meanwhile, Trump’s most vitriolic supporters are praising him for refusing to apologize to the Khans including Trump’s advisor Roger Stone who called Khizr Khan a “Muslim Brotherhood agent”. Similarly, the white nationalist video blogger Ramzpaul and the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer spouts hatred:

So, an Islamic terrorist from Pakistan infiltrates the US military, with the intent of getting high-quality training to use in his jihad against Whites, and also perhaps for the purpose of sabotage, and accidentally gets his dumbass killed.

And now, the Jews tell us we’re supposed to celebrate him as a hero? Just because he’s dead? […]

I am hereby calling for the Khan family to be immediately deported to Pakistan. What’s more, I want their terrorist son’s body dug up and shipped back with them.

This terrorist filth has no more right to rot in our ground than he had to walk on it.

Trump’s comments on the Khan family are the latest in a series of his disrespectful rhetoric and record aimed at American veterans and military families such as lying about donations to veterans’ charities, firing employees because of their military service and verbally attacking prisoners of war.

Angry Words From the Father of a Muslim-American Patriot

Mr. Khan with Pocket sized Constitution. Photo: Freeze Frame from DNC Video Feed.

Mr. Khan with Pocket sized Constitution. Photo: Freeze Frame from DNC Video Feed.

Editor’s note: Attacks and counter attacks are raging over this speech. Updates have been added at the end of this article.

One of the most emotional moments during the last night of the Democratic National Convention centered around the story of fallen Army Captain Humayun Khan and the convention address by his bereaved father. Captain Khan, a University of Virginia graduate, was killed in action in Iraq in 2004. He was one of 14 American Muslims to give his life serving the United States during the decade following 9/11.

In a video released at the convention, Hillary Clinton is shown paying tribute to Captain Khan during a speech on national security that she delivered shortly after Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States.

The video was followed by a stirring speech by Khizr Khan, the fallen captain’s father. Khan slammed Donald Trump for his divisive and discriminatory policies. Holding a copy of the Constitution, he asked whether the Republican nominee had ever read it and also whether he had ever been to Arlington Cemetery. “Go look at the graves of the brave patriots,” he said, “who died defending America — you will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Donald Trump should fear the wrath of Khan for scapegoating a religion and giving ISIS exactly what it wants.

Editor’s Note:

Since Mr. Khizr Khan’s respectful and dignified speech explaining why he disagreed with Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States, Trump has hit back describing himself as having been “viciously attacked.”

Senator John McCain and veteran’s groups have strongly criticized Trump for disparaging the family of a brave fallen soldier.

Wednesday Night: The Speeches

It was surprising how hard last night’s speakers went after Donald Trump. I had thought they would all stay positive, in diametric opposition to the RNC’s no-ideas-only-hatefest last week. But the main speeches were intertwined with condemnation of Trump, and positiveness of we Americans, democracy, the Democratic Party, and Hillary Clinton. It’s hard to pick a favorite between Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden. It really is. For different reasons, both were masterful. Mike, for being a billionaire and an Independent talking honestly about what a con artist Trump is, and for showing all of us how the rich really act. Uncle Joe, for reminding us what it means to be proud, patriotic Americans with liberal values. [Read more…]

Day 2 and You Are There

orange barrietI attended two terrific events yesterday. A Taste of Emerge was an introduction from the group Emerge, which trains women to run for office. The Future of Healthcare was a panel discussion. They are each detailed below. At the end of the second event came the high point of my experience of this convention. A compliment I will not soon forget. [Read more…]

#DNC Second Night Program Tuesday, 7/26

DNCC Logo

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bestrated1/3025762169

President Bill Clinton. Photo: Timothy K. Hamilton.

People on the program for Tuesday night include President Bill Clinton,  Actress Meryl Streep, and performer Alicia Keys. Earlier in the evening House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer are among the many speakers.

Twitter and CBSN are partnering to provide live streaming of the DNC over the Internet. Our reporters from the Philadelphia Jewish Voice will be on Twitter at @pjvoice. Other networks are on Facebook. PBS will also provide full coverage. The major networks will have special DNC reports from 10 PM to 11 PM each evening of the Convention.

The Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) announced the program for the second day of the Democratic National Convention being held in Philadelphia from July 25 to July 28.

In Philadelphia, Democrats are laying out the clear stakes in this election – a choice between building walls and tearing people down or an optimistic unifying vision where everyone has a role to play in building our future.

Bill Clinton at DNC

Bill Clinton at DNC:”Hillary is the best darn change maker…”

On Tuesday night, Democrats will highlight Hillary Clinton’s lifetime of fighting for children and families. No matter the odds, Hillary has spent her life fighting for children, families and those who have been forgotten and left behind. And she has a long record of getting things done and delivering results. She’s a change maker, who looks for ways to make a difference in people’s lives every day.

The program is listed below:

4:00 PM – 5:00 PM (EDT)

Call to Order
U.S. Representative and Convention Chair Marcia Fudge

Invocation
Dr. Ima Sherman Jackson

Presentation of Colors
Colonel Charles Young
American Legion Post 682

Pledge of Allegiance
Mallory Weggemann

National Anthem
Timmy Kelly
Timmy Kelly is from Pennsylvania and sang the National Anthem at the campaign launch in New York.

Remarks
Former U.S. Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Harkin will speak on the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law he wrote and helped pass.

Remarks
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes

5:00 – 7:00 PM (EDT)

Nominating Speeches and Roll Call Vote

Remarks
Governor Terry McAuliffe

7:00 – 10:00 PM (EDT)

Remarks
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Women of the House

Remarks introducing Video Message
Former State Senator Jason Carter

Video Message from President Jimmy Carter

Remarks
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer

Host for the evening: Actress Elizabeth Banks

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: KIDS AND FAMILIES

Remarks
Thaddeus Desmond
Thaddeus is a child advocate social worker in Philadelphia

Remarks
Dynah Haubert
Dynah is a lawyer who works for a disability rights organization

Remarks
Kate Burdick
Kate is a staff attorney at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia

Remarks
Anton Moore
Anton founded and runs a non-profit community group that strives to bring awareness and educate youth on gun violence

Remarks
Dustin Parsons
Dustin is a 5th grade teacher in Arkansas

Remarks
Daniele Mellott
Daniele and Mark Mellott’s adoption of their son was made possible through the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act that Hillary championed as First Lady.

Remarks
Jelani Freeman
Jelani grew up in foster care and is a former intern in Hillary Clinton’s Senate office. Since receiving his law degree, he has worked to bring opportunity to kids at risk.

Remarks
Democratic National Committee Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation Donna Brazile

Remarks
Eagle Academy Principal and Students
As a senator, Hillary Clinton supported the creation of the Eagle Academy to educate at-risk youth in New York City.

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: SOCIAL JUSTICE

Remarks
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

Remarks
Pittsburgh Chief of Police Cameron McLay

Remarks
Actor Tony Goldwyn

Remarks
Mothers of the Movement
Sybrina Fulton, Geneva Reed-Veal, Lucy McBath, Gwen Carr, Cleopatra Pendelton, Maria Hamilton, Lezley McSpadden, and Wanda Johnson

Performance
Andra Day

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: WOMEN AND FAMILIES

Remarks
President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards

Remarks
Actresses America Fererra and Lena Dunham

Remarks
Mayor of Columbia (SC) Steve Benjamin

Remarks
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

FIGHTS OF HER LIFE: STANDING UP FOR 9/11 FIRST RESPONDERS & SURVIVORS
Introduction by Actress Debra Messing

Remarks
Joe Sweeney
Joe was a detective with the NYPD on September 11, 2001. When the towers were hit, he rushed down to the World Trade Center and began digging through the rubble for survivors.

Remarks
Lauren Manning
Lauren spent more than 6 months in the hospital after 9/11 recovering from severe burns. As senator, Hillary Clinton helped Lauren get the care she needed.Remarks
U.S. Representative Joseph CrowleyFIGHTS OF HER LIFE: HEALTH CAREIntroduction of Speaker
Actress Erika AlexanderRemarks
Ryan Moore
Ryan has spondyloepiphyseal Dysplasia dwarfism and has known Hillary Clinton since 1994 when they met during the fight for health care reform. Ryan has stayed in contact with Hillary ever since.Remarks
Former Governor of Vermont Howard DeanFIGHTS OF HER LIFE: SECRETARY OF STATE

Remarks
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar

Remarks
Ima Matul
Sex Trafficking Survivor & Advocate

Remarks
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright

10:00 – 11:00 PM (EDT)

Remarks
President Bill Clinton

Introduction of Film
Actress Meryl Streep

Performance
Alicia Keys

 

Live Blog: The Democratic National Convention Begins

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice is on site this week at the Democratic National Convention. Publisher Dan Loeb, President Bonnie Squires, Vice President Ken Myers and writer Jessica Weingarten will be providing reports, photos and updates. Follow below from most recent to earliest.

Please refresh this page frequently or follow our twitter feed for updated content.
[Read more…]

DNC Statement on Released Emails

Democrat-donkeyOn behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email. These comments do not reflect the values of the DNC or our steadfast commitment to neutrality during the nominating process. The DNC does not — and will not — tolerate disrespectful language exhibited toward our candidates. Individual staffers have also rightfully apologized for their comments, and the DNC is taking appropriate action to ensure it never happens again.

“We are embarking on a convention today that — thanks to the great efforts of Secretary Clinton, her team, Senator Sanders, his team, and the entire Democratic Party — will show a forward-thinking and optimistic vision for America, as compared to the dark and pessimistic vision that the GOP presented last week in Cleveland. Our focus is on electing Hillary Clinton, Tim Kaine and Democrats across the country, thanks to Democratic Party that is strong, unified, and poised for victory in November.”

Donna Brazile, Incoming Interim Chair
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Secretary 
Andrew Tobias, Treasurer 
Raymond Buckley, Vice Chair, ASDC President 
Maria Elena Durazo, Vice Chair 
Mayor R.T. Rybak, Vice Chair 
Henry R. Muñoz III, National Finance Committee Chair